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Moral Moments

Calling a Spade a Shovel

by Joel Marks

Does rational argument ever change anybody’s mind? I hope so. Otherwise I’m wasting my time being a philosopher, unless building arguments is worth doing for its own sake (like painting pictures – impressionists need not win over classicists, etc., for their work to have value). It does seem to me to be a common experience to have my mind changed in this way. A life steeped in philosophy has given me a degree of flexibility of intellectual commitment (which in turn can influence my feelings and behavior), so that I am often taken aback (and at times appalled) by the rigidity of belief and aversion to argument shown by others (to the point where they will deem it rudeness or an attack for me to question what they are saying or thinking).