Fritz Iversen


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The Power to Demolish Bad Arguments

I think you are on the right track.

The problem is, "specifity" has to be handled in a really specific way and the intention has to be the desire to get from the realm of unclear arguments to clear insight.

If you see discussions as a chess game, you're already sending your brain in the wrong direction, to the goal of "winning" the conversation, which is something fundamentally different than the goal of clarity.

Just as specificity remains abstract here and is therefore misunderstood, one would have to ask: What exactly is specificity supposed to be?

Linguistics would help here. For the problem that is negotiated grows out of the deficiencies of language, namely that language is contaminated with ambiguities. Linguistically specific is when numbers and entities (names) come in. 

With "Acme" there is already an entity - otherwise everything, even the so-called specific argument - remains highly abstract. Therefore, the specificity trick in the dialogs remain just that - a manipulative trick. And tricks don't lead to clarity. 

Specificity would be possible here only by injecting numbers: "How many dollars does Acme extract in surplus value per hour worked by their workers?"

After that, the exploitation would have been specifically quantified and one could talk about whether Acme is brutally or somewhat unjustified exploiting the workers' bad situation or whether the wages are fair. 

The specific economics of Acme would, of course, be even more complicated, insofar as one would have to ask whether much of the added value is already being absorbed by overpaid senior executives.

At the end of any specific discussion, however, the panelists must ask themselves what they want to be: fair or unfair? Those who want to gain clarity about this have to answer it for themselves.

Then briefly on Uber: Uber is a bad business idea. It's bad because it can only become profitable if Uber dominates its markets up to the point that they don't have no competition anymore. Their costs are too high. A simple service is burdened with huge overhead costs (would have to re rechearched specifically, I know), and these overhead costs are then partly imposed on the service users when user are in desperate need, partly on the service providers.

Even with Uber, you can debate back and forth the specific figures for a long time. In the end, users have to ask themselves: Do I want to use a business model that is so bad that it can only exist as a quasi-monopolist? 

I don't do that because I don't want to.

If someone like Peter Thiel, for example, is such a bad businessman that he only can survive in non-competitive situations, then he might say: Zero competition is my way of succeeding since I can't make money as soon as there is some competition. Fairness doesn't matter to me.   

Hoewever, Specificity is healing. That's right. When one talks, one can never talk specifically enough. However, many ideological debates suffer not from too many abstract concepts, but often from false specificities. Specificities, after all, are always popular for setting false frames. In the end, clarity is only achieved by those who really want clarity, and not simply by those who want to win.