Darwinian Debating Device #20: The “Whataboutism” Tactic
|March 8, 2018||Posted by Barry Arrington under Darwinian Debating Devices|
Whataboutism (also known as whataboutery) is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent’s position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument. How did CR employ it here? Let’s examine it step-by-step.
For example, the vignette Becky’s Lesson is set in an alternate history in which the Nazis won World War II, conquered the world, and completed their Final Solution by completely eradicating all 13 million Jews. In the story, the Nazis control all media and education. They control society with an iron fist and have indoctrinated the society they control to celebrate The Final Solution as a great good, instead of an unspeakable evil. The obvious purpose of the story is to refute the lame materialist assertion that we see all-too-many times in these pages that “morality comes from society.” The story exposes the vacuity of this position by demonstrating that if society determines morality, the Holocaust would have been moral if the Nazis had won the war and controlled societal discourse.
A commenter who goes by “Critical Rationalist” responded to the story not by disputing its logic but by trying to change the subject. CR does not want to talk about Europe in living memory. He wants to talk about the Old Testament stories about the conquest of Canaan over 3,000 years.
Let us say for the sake of argument that CR is right; that the Israelite conquest of Canaan was an example of evil ethnic cleansing. How is that a response to the point of Becky’s Lesson? Of course it is not.
The whole point of CR’s whataboutism ploy is not to refute the logic of the story, but to change the subject. And why is CR so desperate to change the subject? Because he knows as well as anyone that materialists such as he have no answer to the logic of Becky’s Lesson. And instead of admitting that basic truth, they will go to any length to avoid addressing it.