Pertinaciously Obstinate

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

David Hume addresses the “trolls” of his time in the first section of his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals:

Disputes with men, pertinaciously obstinate in their principles, are, of all others, the most irksome; except, perhaps, those with persons, entirely disingenuous, who really do not believe the opinions they defend, but engage in the controversy, from affectation, from a spirit of opposition, or from a desire of showing wit and ingenuity, superior to the rest of mankind. The same blind adherence to their own arguments is to be expected in both; the same contempt of their antagonists; and the same passionate vehemence, in inforcing sophistry and falsehood. And as reasoning is not the source, whence either disputant derives his tenets; it is in vain to expect, that any logic, which speaks not to the affections, will ever engage him to embrace sounder principles.


  1. Tim says:

    Says Hume as he blindly adheres to his argument.

  2. Gaikokumaniakku says:

    I have little respect for Hume, but this is a case where the blind pig, Hume, found an acorn.

    The remedies to disingenuous argument include:

    a) authenticated signaling,


    b) argument diagrams.

    Argument diagrams prevent total con men from subverting formal debate.

    Authenticated signaling can be done by professional dedication to academic achievements.

    E.g. I argue in favor of anti-realist philosophy of science.

    Angry people on the Internet claim that I am not sincere because no intelligent could (they claim) believe in anti-realism.

    And then I trot out a long list of the textbooks I have written, all of which are dedicated to showing that Feyerabend and Quine and Martin have convinced me of anti-realist philosophy.

    That’s the theory, anyway. In fact I have not written even a single book, much less an academic textbook.

    So at the moment, I am reduced to saying, “I can’t prove that I’m a sincere anti-realist, but here are books written by far more accomplished scholars, all of whom are sincere anti-realists.”

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