No, We Aren’t Immune to Dogmatism

Bad Arguments Vol. 48


As libertarians, we like to envision ourselves as more advanced that those who blindly follow the stances of the prevailing political stances of progressivism and conservatism. We opened our eyes to the possibility that the overton window is too small and that we need to look outside of it to find solutions to our problems. The issue of dogmatism is one that we firmly believe is at play in the current political climate, but rarely do we bother to shift that mirror towards ourselves to see if we too are not guilty. Sadly, I’d say that we are not immune.

Ask yourself these questions: Do you always find yourself as the only “objective” person in a debate while the supports of the opposed positions are all biased? Do you believe that any ideology other than yours is going to universally be terrible? Do you think that there is “no way whatsoever” that someone could argue against one of your political or moral stances? If you have said yes to any of those, it might be time to review both your stances and the way you approach discussing them.

Dogmatism is a fallacy due to the way it influences arguments. The most common version of this in debate is when a value statement, or doctrine, is treated as obvious fact and thus any counters are simply hand-waved away as some deficiency in the opposition. Worse still, having this mentality usually results in the use of other fallacies to defend it, especially when cornered on it. Allow me to give a few examples.


“Abortion is murder no matter what and it would take someone evil to say otherwise.”

“The stats don’t matter, children are dying from gun violence so we need to ban them before more die.”

“The market can always do things better than the state. The only reasons the market ever fails is because of unforeseen factors so we can’t count those.”

Any of those positions could make sense to believe in or to disagree with, however, each one of those particular statements involves some form of logical fallacy in order to support them, and aims primarily to dismiss the opponent and the discussion rather than to prove its case. This is caused, in general, by having a dogmatic belief in the stances. It needs to be noted that you can believe in a stance to a firm and near absolute level without it reaching true dogmatism. I wholeheartedly believe that markets can and would perform better than state alternatives in practically every situation. That said, I can still acknowledge when a state program has worked, I can still discuss evidence of pros and cons to the market approach, and I can avoid utopianism in trying to paint a free market economy as a perfect world where all ills are solved.

Dogmatism is especially dangerous to the liberty movement. We are already perceived to be on the fringe of politics; a small group believed to be wrong simply by being outside of the normal spheres of discussion. By taking our beliefs to the levels of dogmatism we are only, ultimately, proving them right.

Read more from Killian at Think Liberty here.


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