Political Discourse & Variations in Axioms

This post makes a very important point, one that I wish was better understood across the political spectrum.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that debates re. various political issues often boil down to:

1.  Differences in definitions; and

2.  Differences in fundamental presumptions (i.e., axioms) regarding human nature, the world, ethics, etc.


  • The nature vs. nurture debate;
  • Differing definitions of “personhood” in the abortion debate;
  • Originalist vs. “living constitutionalist” approaches to constitutional law

I’m sure there are many others.

For my part, I noticed #1 many years ago; notice of #2 – frequently a root cause of #1 – came later.  Methinks, however, many people never realize such differences at all; instead, they

  • (at best) talk past their opponents, and fail to realize why said opponents never come around to their POV; or
  • (at worst) fail to see where their opponents are coming from, and instead conclude that those opponents are guided by malice, ignorance, or irrationality, rather than reasoning derived from different starting presumptions.

I find both such practices unwelcome, & unhelpful to the cause of rational discourse.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: