David R. Henderson  

Is Bryan Caplan Hypocritical?

PRINT
Preference Falsification: A Ca... Christina Romer vs. Bloggers...

In a discussion last week about the fact that Bryan Caplan, who opposes government funding of higher education, nevertheless works in a government-funded university, one commenter, Chipotle, wrote:

If you were walking home one night and you saw a cat burglar emerge from the home of a stranger with a bag of loot and, upon his seeing you, he offered you some of the cash he had pilfered, would you take it?

I know Bryan well enough to be positive that he wouldn't. Chipotle used this analogy to argue that Bryan shouldn't take government funds.

But the analogy doesn't work. Here's why. If Bryan or I or you see a cat burglar stealing, not only would we not share in the loot, but also we would likely call the cops or whoever is enforcing the law. We could have some confidence that the cops would stop the guy and return the loot to its rightful owners. That's where the analogy breaks down. If we "call the cops" on a government that forcibly takes people's wealth, they would think we were nuts. If we don't call the cops but also refuse to take jobs in organizations funded by coercion, the entity apparently analogous to the cat burglar still goes scot-free.

So what's the best we can if we can't call the cops on the government? It's what Bryan and Arnold and I are doing: argue vociferously against government taking people's stuff.

I dealt with this issue before starting my second year of college at the University of Winnipeg, a government-funded institution. Earlier that summer, I had quit a cushy, well-paying job in a government-run national park because I couldn't justify the government engaging in the particular activity it had engaged in. I wrote about this in Chapter One of my book, The Joy of Freedom: An Economist's Odyssey. The rest of the summer, I was re-reading and pondering Ayn Rand and started to conclude that I shouldn't go back to college and receive government funds. Then I realized that by that same principle, I shouldn't walk on government-funded streets. Then I realized that government had its hand in so many things that I couldn't live a normal life (and, indeed, probably couldn't even live--think of getting food or going to work without going on government roads or sidewalks) without using many things funded by government. That caused me to, as Ayn Rand liked to say, "check my premises."

Here was the conclusion I reached. I would take advantage of these things that government funds but never let those funds stop me from criticizing government when I thought it was wrong and would NEVER advocate funding of those things government did that I thought were wrong. So, for example, I have never advocated that the Naval Postgraduate School exist and have never fought, wrote, or argued for funding it. I would bet that Bryan has reached a similar conclusion about George Mason University.

I thought that in that same thread, rpl had it right when he said:

Count me among those who see nothing hypocritical in Bryan's stance. Is Bryan excused from laws on taxation, or drug use, or jaywalking if he happens to disagree with them? In fact, he is not. Why, then, should he be expected to refuse benefits when the state chooses to grant them? I don't see anything inconsistent in simultaneously advocating against a policy and accepting the benefits of that policy should you happen to be outvoted. To declare otherwise is to create a social order in which being principled means being a sucker.

Comments and Sharing


CATEGORIES: Economics of Crime



COMMENTS (35 to date)
jc writes:

Good point about checking premises. One might also inject a bit of agency theory into a 'turning lemons into lemonade' background.

As noted, Bryan has no power to eliminate government spending in this regard. He might think: "(1) If I had my way, I'd eliminate it, but the real world doesn't afford me that option. (2) The best real world option, then, is to make sure that those who ultimately foot the bill get their money's worth. (3) They want scholars to educate students. I'm good at both being a scholar and an educator. (4) Therefore, under our current system, I'm making the optimal choice for both myself and society."

Thus, he will try to convince society to adopt a better choice set, and if it ever does, he will pick the best available choice in that set; but in the meantime, he'll do the best thing he's currently allowed to do.

Or if we're in a more cynical mood. :) He may say: "I am exhibit A, living proof that people will maximize their self interest at the expense of others when government affords them that opportunity, even when they believe that's wrong. If you keep letting me do this, I will. I'm human. I can't help myself. And I believe that very few others can help themselves. So we must change the rules. The best thing I can do is to continue to be walking, talking proof."

SydB writes:

I think there are several important points:

(1) Charges of hypocrisy are ad-hominem and irrelevant to the argument (or premises)--that's why in fact I gripe about people whining about ad-hominem, whether it be Kling or Mankiw or Caplan--it's a distraction from a distraction;

(2) An individual working in an organization can and should criticize much about the organization to improve it, could leave, but often opts-in to continue the criticism, to change the organization. There's nothing wrong with that.

A drunk who says alcoholism is bad for one's health is right.

Now, we have to be fair: All the arguments about how Al Gore should live a particular life style (house size, etc) since he believes in global warming are similarly ad-hominem. And that sort of illogic is rampant at places like Faux News.

Damien writes:

To play devil's advocate, isn't one of the issues whether there is a viable alternative available to you? In the case of government-funded streets, there is often no viable alternative. I wouldn't call staying at home a viable alternative since it imposes a disproportional burden on you relative to the costs of paying for government-funded streets (how much could cost per-capita on a per-year basis?). Yet, in the case of employment by the state, there are often many viable alternatives. You could for instance work in the private sector; I'm sure there's lots of positions open to PhD economists.

In moral terms, would it be acceptable to take the loot if
a) the cat burglar is masked and there is no way for you to call the police before he runs away
b) there are other people on the street who are willing to take the loot if you don't get it first.

I think this situation is a better analogy since it also presupposes that the burglar will get away scott free and that some of the loot will be given away anyhow.

Similarly, how far can the "just doing my job", "I'm just a small cog in a be machine" defense be taken? I believe it is open to the charge that, in qualitative though not in quantitative terms, it is similar to the defense offered by war criminals. After all, if you're a soldier in a Einsatzgrup, it doesn't make much difference whether you kill a prisoner or not. You're surrounded by other soldiers who'll gladly do it. Similarly, if Eichmann hadn't been willing to do his job, he'd have simply been replaced by another person. rpl's argument applies to these situations (it is possible to say "I privately disagreed with what my actions accomplished, but I did them anyway because I derived an interested from it"; this, I think, is basically the very definition of hypocrisy).

Do note that I don't believe that Bryan is not justified in teaching at GMU. I also don't know that Bryan's position on taxation is (is it exactly the same as theft?). I just wanted to underline some issues I had with the arguments in this post.

Badger writes:

The Al Gore analogy is not correct. Al Gore represents the classical case of "do what I say but don't do what I do." He's a hypocrite, period. Caplan is not a hypocrite because he doesn't "ask" us to do what he doesn't do, or to not do what he does. If I would ever catch him "asking" that, I would stop reading his texts immediately, since I detest hypocrisy.

That's also why we won't probably ever see Caplan being ridiculed in a South Park episode: it's not easy to make fun of people that aren't hypocrites.

Allan Walstad writes:

Unlike the cat burglar in the analogy, the government is not just stealing from strangers, it's stealing from us. Why shouldn't we get back some of our money if we can?

The state is so deeply involved in higher education that alternative college-level teaching opportunities outside its web of subsidy are limited--severely limited, if you include financial aid to the students themselves. If I hadn't taken a faculty position at UPJ, someone else would have. No purpose is served by cutting off my own nose.

But it's not clear to me that Al Gore escapes the hypocrisy rap. How is he disadvantaged by simply living the lifestyle that he thinks others should live? No one would blame him for plugging in his toaster just because the power company is generating electricity from coal rather than wind. But if he advocates smaller homes, lower thermostats in winter and higher in summer, smaller more fuel efficient cars, etc, what would be stopping him from leading by example?

Frederick Davies writes:

I think people twist themselves in knots over this unnecessarily: if you are fighting Government, and Government is stupid enough to give you money for you to fight it, you take the money and give them hell. The second rule of the Art of War is: "Use your enemies' weaknesses against themselves." Government is not an honorable institution, so it does not deserve any honorable behaviour on our part.

Adam Ozimek writes:

Wouldn't you take the money from the cat burglar and give it back to the stranger?

SydB writes:

You guys can't have it both ways. Either Caplan should lead by example by starting a libertarian nirvana, or you should give up the ad-hominem approach to argument. Al Gore's life style has nothing to do with his argument on whether global warming is real or not, nor on whether his policy proposals impact people--including himself.

Caplan often proposes that people live in a way he doesn't because he proposes removing the regulations and constraints that many believe make their lives positive--or reduce the negative. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but Caplan makes arguments that affect the public space.

You guys simply don't like Al Gore, or don't believe in Global Warming, and therefore give up reasonable modes of argument because you want to go ad-hominem on him. Modus operandi for Faux (e.g. stock market up, Obama bad, stock market down--Obama bad; stupidest news channel ever). Worse: you guys are hypocrites about hypocrisy. That makes you meta-hypocrites. Yuck.

SydB writes:

Here. How's this:

Al Gore (AG) lives in a large home that be believes should be taxed at a higher rate.

Bryan Caplan (BC) accepts and uses property that be believes is wrongfully stolen from others.

Contemplationist writes:

SydB

That doesn't quite work. Al Gore can quite easily live in a smaller house, do video conferencing among other things to reduce his 'carbon footprint' voluntarily. Bryan can't not use roads, bridges, regulated-utilities etc.

Pedro writes:

I think the logical corollary of the argument by which Caplan is a hypocrite is that unless you happen to agree with the exact package of State policies at each moment in time, you are a hypocrite.

Furthermore, people wielding this argument often make the distinction between refusing a personal benefit acquired through means considered immoral and actively bringing harm to yourself by refusing to comply with rules you disagree with. I see little difference between the two but, even if there were, there are a myriad examples that can be used to argue that nearly everyone, by this same token, is a hypocrite.

On the one hand, consider someone who thinks banks should be nationalised or that the actions of financiers are borderline criminal. Should it not follow, then, that such individuals should refuse to have a bank account or credit card or access to any of the benefits of modern finance?

Or someone who vehemently opposes the Iraq war. Should they not refuse to fund this war by refusing to pay taxes until it is ended? In either case, there is always a choice and every choice has consequences. The degree of discomfort brought by each of those consequences obviously differs, but I see little traction in arguing that it is enough to set them apart entirely.

Finally, if it were the case that it would be hypocritical for anyone getting government funding to criticise it, then how could it be immoral for someone to argue against a totalitarian state who would collect 100% taxes and control all economic activity? Would people be expected to die for their principles?

Eli Rabett writes:

Al Gore does video conferencing, as a matter of fact he wrote the legislation that made video conferencing possible. Bryan Caplan is a tax sucking hypocrite.

Badger writes:

To SydB: wrong again. Has Caplan ever lectured people on a supposed moral obligation of not to work for a company that receives government money?

Al Gore on the other hand is clearly a hypocrite. Only a hypocrite can make money out of telling people that they should "reduce what they can, offset the rest," and simultaneously live like a maharajah, a nabob.

EF writes:

Who cares if someone is hypocritical or not? Ok, let me explain: this hypocrisy-principle debate is just an ego match, like the Russell Crowe character in American Gangster. Human beings are complex, and rightly so! Only people with a distorted sense of what human beings are harbor these sort of debates within them. Honestly, as Richard Dawkins has said, we are a purpose driven animal and the irony is that there is no purpose. We can propose a purpose and follow it for sure. We set our purpose, but in doing so, we assume that our purpose should be validated by others, namely I'm right and you're wrong. Therefore, we look for truth out there. But unlike (or indeed, very much like it), science, our purpose to get the truth out sounds very much like "to get MY/OUR truth out". An epistemological problem, yes... but I tend to think that before becoming one, it is a reaffirmation of self against others, and as such, a social imperative.

Like Tyler Durden, I say "never be complete" because underlying these principles, lies a very authoritarian trait, even when in libertarians it is harder to identify because it seeks to decouple itself from power. Libertarians have a point when they say that a true democracy is where everyone can do as they please if they don't harm other, but what if all you want to do is to work for "big government"? What if I don't want to be a libertarian in a libertarian society? How can you enforce it? Will I be a burglar, or if I become a politician in a libertarian society, be tried as a Robin Hood character by winning votes by currying political favors? I don't know the answer, but it won't be pretty!

Asking these sort of questions is just a demonstration of a deep, underlying uneasiness about one's life, something that haunted for example, Ayn Rand for most of her intellectual career - the episodes of her personal life being the most telling of all. Being a hypocrite or not is not an evil thing, it's not pretty but honestly, does it harm someone? Yes, it makes your social stance be less so, but if you really don't care? Why bother? Just deal with it. No, because in the end, only a liar will say that he will not care at all, or even worse, will justify its actions by some deus et machina. Ayn Rand, for example, was deeply hurt when Branden "cheated" on her, but she cloaked it because of he being irrational. But along the ride, she justified her actions "rationally" during the therapy "sessions" - it was not because I'm ugly, or the other girl is prettier or whatever.

People like telling lies to justify themselves, and that is precisely what this post does. Honestly, being uncomfortable about one's stance in life is hard, but it is right. That's why I say, be uncomfortable and deal with it.

The point made against Caplan hits the spot and the argument against is weak, at best - and it extends to all arguments stated against me, Al Gore or by people in Fox News. The enemy is not hypocrisy, but our obsession with pop-principles and neat squares where to frame our lives. but life is a jagged, ugly frame, that is not neither neat and will never be complete.

But what is so wrong about being hypocritical? The cool thing about South Park (for example, since it was mentioned in one of the posts) is that these guys are critical of themselves too, and put their ideas on the spot. In fact, being a good principled person IS ABOUT BEING A PROUD SUCKER for the better or, conversely, being a brutal sociopath, for the worse. Indeed, that is what many people do in history - for better, Jesus Christ, who could did not profit from it or, Mandela when he matured, who profited from it by gaining international prestige and recognition in life. But for worse, we could argue that totally principled people are like Hitler or some "Hannibal Lecter", people who can do a lot of harm! And that's is why a lot of people are not totally principled to begin with, because it's too damn hard.

People are not wired to be discrete automatons, although some people would like that -- and that's ok. Because for every saint there is a sociopath, and therefore, we cannot strive to build a government of saints the same way we should not strive to concoct a government of sociopaths. We have to live with a mix, and ergo, we have as Leibniz put it, the best of all possible worlds. We can be principled to some degree, and therefore, hypocritical on another. Only Hannibal Lecter would run a similar path of principles... because he's a sociopath! Human beings are complex, and they can jump between hypocrisy and principles, and that's ok. So Bryan, go on and mooch out of the government, after all you have to eat to write!

Philo writes:

If public employees (such as Bryan Caplan) are not entitled to their salaries (benefits, stipends, etc.), what are we to think of those who do business with them? May one sell Caplan a loaf of bread, *accepting his money* in exchange? (But perhaps *some* of his money is legitimately his, not being part of his salary; would this matter?) Presumably welfare recipients, recipients of government research grants, and other direct beneficiaries of governmental largesse are also guilty of *receiving stolen property*. How about the employees and stockholders of companies with government contracts or subsidies?

As one's hypothetical connection with governmental theft becomes less and less direct, at what point does it become morally acceptable?

A libertarian needs a principled way of dealing with the moral dilemmas that confront anyone who lives in a largely non-libertarian world.

Ben Kalafut writes:

"A libertarian needs a principled way of dealing with the moral dilemmas that confront anyone who lives in a largely non-libertarian world."

Moral dilemmas like "Should I shoot everyone with glasses pursuant to Mr Pot's orders?"

There are few if any real moral dilemmas confronting the libertarian living in Western liberal countries, unless he joins the police force and victimless crime is an issue. The libertarian's position is "there's a better way of doing things"

I will concede that there is a profoundly stupid breed of "libertarianism" out there that is not about building a free society but instead about two moral commandments: (1) Think of the government as your personal agent and (2) Initiation of force is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Private property is clearly incompatible with noninitiationism, and even if it is accepted in some mystery of faith, no human action is compatible, not even suicide. It's a stupid, naive belief for people who can't be bothered to think about the questions at hand or at least read Nozick, Schmidtz, or (David) Friedman. The moral dilemmas come not from being libertarian, but from being stupid. The libertarian who isn't stupid doesn't somehow become a hypocrite by acting according to the "principle": "What moral dilemma?"

David C writes:

I think SydB's analogy is incorrect, but there is a different reason why Al Gore's actions are perfectly morally justifiable.

The reason for the difference is that Al Gore could choose to not live in a large house and reduce his carbon footprint. But I still think that there's another aspect of this whole thing which David Henderson's argument didn't get to. Adam Ozimek references this other aspect quite nicely:

"Wouldn't you take the money from the cat burglar and give it back to the stranger?"

There's nothing wrong with emitting carbon dioxide if doing so reduces other peoples' carbon footprint even more. In the case of Bryan Caplan, his having a job at a university puts him in a position to preach to others about why he supports a limited government (practically no government) approach. If Libertarians refused to work for public universities, that would likely significantly increase the number of authoritarian policies being advocated in schools.

In Al Gore's case, if he holds lots of fundraising parties, it can be cheaper and more convenient to own a large house than to rent out ballrooms all the time. He can also allow important guests to stay the night instead of having them go to a hotel during business meetings. A person as high profile as him might need to live in an expensive neighborhood if they're worried about security issues. There are a lot of other reasons why such a person might own a large house. The other criticisms of him (airline flights, ownership of green companies) can be justified along these same lines.

SydB writes:

My analogy would sink if it were a ship but I think it's still relevant (analogies are always full of holes).

A person who lives in a big house and who argues that people who live in big houses should be taxed higher is not a hypocrite. That person is proposing a policy that impacts himself and others. There is no hypocrisy. He is not preaching that people should live in smaller houses. He's preaching that taxes should be higher on carbon and then see what comes of it--let the market decide.

A person who argues that taxation is theft yet uses goods and services derived from those stolen goods--perhaps even education and salary, let along roads and other services--is participating in the dissipation or laundering of those stolen goods and is therefore much closer to hypocrisy than the guy in the big house. That person is engaging in what he considers to be a criminal enterprise.

Note that I'm not calling Caplan a hypocrite. I'm calling the people who call Al Gore a hypocrite hypocrites if they don't call Caplan a hypocrite.

(Ok, this is too much. Time to move on.)

Loof writes:

David C. says:
“There’s nothing wrong with emitting carbon dioxide if doing so reduces other peoples’ carbon footprint even more…[with Al & Bryan] in a position to preach to others…”

Not “nothing wrong”. I believe Wikipedia is about right defining hypocrisy as: “the act of persistently professing beliefs, opinions, virtues, feelings, qualities, or standards that are inconsistent with one's actions. Highly relevant to hypocritical behavior is “persistently professing”.

Even a five-year old knows particular hypocritical behavior yelling out: “That’s not fair!” If Al or Bryan can behave badly, to be fair, why can’t everybody?

I haven’t been in an US high school in 40 years: since refusing a job; it was propagandist. At the other end of my 30-year career as an entrepreneurial educator: refused a university position in Asia due to lack of freedom of speech. Never been hypocritical in regard to propaganda and freedom of speech, but after retiring from teaching as a career, do display some hypocritical behavior believing in adhering to law and illegally teaching for free now, though at least I'm not "persistently professing" about it.

another bob writes:

If I favor school vouchers because I believe that the free market is a better way to improve schooling than centralized control, am I more credible as a critic if I;

A) Pay for my child to attend a private school,
B) Send my child to public school,
C) Both?

It's not a matter of hypocrisy, it's more a matter of credibility.

Same with people who advocate higher taxes but don't send more money to their favorite government entity.

Same with people who think they can whip up a few regulations to 'fix' banking/schooling/ immigration/whathaveyou but have never been a banker, teacher, etc... They just aren't very credible.

Aiming for tenure at a tax payer institution simply destroys a libertarian's credibiity.

RL writes:

Assume Chipotle's argument is consistent. Then a government bigger than that desired by libertarians can always succeed against its libertarian opponents. It simply passes a law subsidizing libertarian criticism of government. All libertarians are immediately silenced.

GabbyD writes:

there is a huge difference.

you mentioned that you couldnt live a normal life without the govt.

thats due to the notion of substitutability.

you can substitute WHERE you work

you CANNOT substitute whether or not you pay taxes, take roads, etc...

you argue that all govt services are non-substitutable with private service, which is patently wrong.

Loof writes:

Another bob makes a good point about credibility, especially in teaching. However, saying it’s “not a matter of hypocrisy” is incorrect. It matters, just less than credibility. For principled people hypocrisy always matters a lot.

JW writes:

[Comment removed for supplying false email address. Email the webmaster@econlib.org to request restoring your comment privileges. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog.--Econlib Ed.]

Mike writes:

You mentioned Ayn Rand. But I don't know if you know she addressed this very subject in a couple of articles, most notably "A Question of Scholarships."

Doc Merlin writes:

@SyBd

This particular charge of hypocrisy is actually relevant, its more than just ad homonym name calling. Its a common enough charge leveled, and I was glad to read David and Bryan's replies.

Wrt Gore, his actions are well beyond Bryan's.
Bryan isn't contributing to the problem he is trying to fight much more than the average. He is also using his position as an employee of the state to shrink the state.

Gore is many standard deviations worse than the average wrt the problem he is claiming to try to solve. In his position, he seems to go out of his way to use more CO2, just buying offsets to compensate.


@RL: that is another really good point.

Ray Gardner writes:

P.J. O'Rourke told a story a few years ago about buying a farm and getting some kind of subsides or something. Someone said "But you're a libertarian!" To which he replied "Hey, if they're giving money away, I'm taking it" or something to that effect.

A couple of Libertarians here in AZ got in trouble a few years ago when our public funded campaign deal first got rolling. Apparently they ran for office using public funds, but just threw some parties, and never ran a serious campaign. It seems they were trying to make a statement, but of course that's a little reckless.

Troy Camplin writes:

Ayn Rnad also argued that since the government takes your money in taxes, there's nothing wrong with getting that money back by making use of what the government provides.

As for myself, whatever part of Bryan's salary is paid for using federal funds, I'm more than happy to have my tax dollars go to supporting him and his work. A good investment, indeed, to support someone who is working to make it so I may not in the future have to pay those taxes any more.

John Fast writes:

SydB wrote: A drunk who says alcoholism is bad for one's health is right.

Amen!

Damien wrote: how far can the "just doing my job", "I'm just a small cog in a be machine" defense be taken?

One key difference between getting paid in stolen money (such as taxes) and actually participating in criminal behavior (such as being a war criminal, or a hit man) is that the latter is inherently unethical. It's like the difference between being the gardener of a Mafia hit man, or perhaps tutoring his child, versus being the criminal oneself.


Allan Walstad wrote: Unlike the cat burglar in the analogy, the government is not just stealing from strangers, it's stealing from us. Why shouldn't we get back some of our money if we can?

To that, and for Frederick Davies' entire post: Again, amen! As I've said ever since college, "There's no such thing as stealing from thieves."

another bob wrote: Aiming for tenure at a tax payer institution simply destroys a libertarian's credibiity.

I disagree. I'm aiming for tenure at a government school and see myself like the commandos in Inglorious Bastards.

Nikonman writes:

President Obama just released his tax returns, and they show around $5.5 million in income and he paid $1.8 million, less than 33%, in taxes. The President believes that high income earners, like himself, should pay much higher taxes, which he could do voluntarily but chooses not to. Is he a hypocrite?

Regarding Al Gore, I am told that the single most destructive act one can do regarding CO2 emissions is to fly in a private jet, which Mr. Gore does regularly. Buying carbon offsets doesn't cut it, that's like a fat person joining Weight Watchers and buying someone else's fat points so he can eat more. Can't Mr. Gore at the very least lobby to eliminate private air travel? Does his failure to lobby against private air travel while enjoying its perks make him a hypocrite?

Many Democratic Senators and Representatives voted against the Bush tax cuts, yet all of them take advantage of the lower tax rates - are they also hypocrites?

Ryan Vann writes:

Replace hypocrite with pragmatist and I think you better describe what's going on here.

Loof writes:

Wrt Al & Bryan: differences in degree, for sure; still appear the same in kind.

Also, to say someone is hypocritical is different in kind than saying someone’s behavior is hypocritical. Ad hominen (at the person) falsely judges; pointing out hypocritical behavior can rightly judge, if reasonable.

RL writes:

John Fast: "It's like the difference between being the gardener of a Mafia hit man...versus being the criminal himself"

More precisely, it's like the difference between being a Mafia hit man and being the gardener WHO KNOWS he's working for a Mafia hit man...

Joshua Herring writes:

It's always interesting to me how hypocrisy charges get spun. To a leftist, Bryan Caplan is a hypocrite, even though he's basically arguing for the abolition of his comfortable, tenured job. (Of course there would still be professors in a fully private system, but I doubt tenure would be a common feature.) Contrast this with your average leftist's impression of a doctor who argues for a single-payer healthcare system. They tend to think of the doctor as a hero rather than a hypocrite, even though he, like Bryan, is arguing for a reduction in his comfort level in the name of the public good. My what a difference ideology makes.

As for Al Gore, I agree that charges of hypocrisy are irrelevant ad hominem. His cherry picking of the facts about Global Warming is not, however, and so I would prefer that people arguing against him focused on the fallacies in his arguments rather than his personal character, however lacking it may be.

Troy Camplin writes:

I disagree that attacking Gore for playing private planes is either ad hominem or irrelevant. It is a clear case of hypocrisy: what's good for the rest of us isn't good for him. That's a hypocrite. It's not ad hominem because it is relevant to the discussion of what he advocates, which is relevant to the choices he makes. To say that we should ignore Gore because, after all, he's boring and stupid would be an ad hominem attack. Pointing out that the physician should first heal himself is not.

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top