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.

E.g.,

  • 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.

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