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Citing proverbs vs genetic fallacies

Brian63

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Think of any proverbial sayings or powerful expressions you heard in life that have inspired your attitude. Now think of the person who said those. When we publish those remarks in public or even just think about them privately, should it matter who the actual person was that said them? Does that change their value? No. It would be committing a genetic fallacy to evaluate a claim on its origin rather than its own merits. The original person who spoke that expression may have been a respected and public figure or an anonymous nobody on the internet or anybody else. Regardless of who it was, the value of the claim should be evaluated on its own and not by its author.



At the same time though, it seems awkward to NOT cite the author of a good phrase when also repeating their phrase. There is an urge to give people a quasi-copyright for any expression that they created, so that others cannot pretend to have come up with it themselves. If the person is a well-renowned and respected person, then citing that person will also help in marketing the message than if it was an unknown source or a disrespected person.



So there are those 2 competing forces that I see when good expressions are given and then the author of them is also cited. It presents a dilemma about which behavior we should favor or disfavor. I lean towards the former, and not citing the author of an expression. Judge an expression based on its merits rather than on the person who authored that expression, and do not even cite their names.



Do you have thoughts on the matter?
 

steve_bank

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I sometomes womder how some people manage navigate life constantly creating conundrums and not exploding in a cataclysmic blast.

Sayings become colloquial/cultural expressions with the meaning clear.

If yiu are old enough to rember the TV show Paladin. It was about a western gunslinger who went around constantly quoting philosophers, literature, ad poets citing the writers. In real life what a pain in ass.

If you are wring something the public will see ethics requires you to cite sources of anything notini common usage.

Sheesh...I must have the wisdom of Solomon and the Patience of Job...or not.
 

Brian63

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I am not clear on the meaning or points you are making, sorry.
 

steve_bank

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Genetic fallacy is a new one for me, although I have seen it manifested in different nameless variations in the work place.




The genetic fallacy (also known as the fallacy of origins or fallacy of virtue)[1] is a fallacy of irrelevance that is based solely on someone's or something's history, origin, or source rather than its current meaning or context. This overlooks any difference to be found in the present situation, typically transferring the positive or negative esteem from the earlier context. In other words, a claim is ignored in favor of attacking or championing its source.

The fallacy therefore fails to assess the claim on its merit. The first criterion of a good argument is that the premises must have bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim in question.[2] Genetic accounts of an issue may be true, and they may help illuminate the reasons why the issue has assumed its present form, but they are not conclusive in determining its merits.[3]

In The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (1995) it is asserted that the term originated in Morris Raphael Cohen and Ernest Nagel's book Logic and Scientific Method[4] (1934). However, in a book review published in The Nation in 1926, Mortimer J. Adler complained that The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant was guilty throughout of "the fallacy of genetic interpretation." Adler characterized the genetic fallacy generally as "the substitution of psychology for logic."[5]

Think of any proverbial sayings or powerful expressions you heard in life that have inspired your attitude. Now think of the person who said those. When we publish those remarks in public or even just think about them privately, should it matter who the actual person was that said them? Does that change their value? No. It would be committing a genetic fallacy to evaluate a claim on its origin rather than its own merits. The original person who spoke that expression may have been a respected and public figure or an anonymous nobody on the internet or anybody else. Regardless of who it was, the value of the claim should be evaluated on its own and not by its author.



At the same time though, it seems awkward to NOT cite the author of a good phrase when also repeating their phrase. There is an urge to give people a quasi-copyright for any expression that they created, so that others cannot pretend to have come up with it themselves. If the person is a well-renowned and respected person, then citing that person will also help in marketing the message than if it was an unknown source or a disrespected person


As I said, self manufactured ethical conundrums. There is an expression that says something about baeting yourself up. Souds like yiu are moralizing. Are you making an ethical point?

Most general language is contextual. "Fuck you!' can be either positive or negative.

Depending on the context of the usage, the issue of origins and meaning then and now and who said it can be appropriate.

I am not religious bu I grew up with biblical sayings common in culture. Wisdom of Solomon, pationce of Job.

There are some atheists who will get upset over any usage of biblical metaphors and will argue the negatives of the source and Christianity.

If yiu try to shoe horn all of it into a neat logical framework it will never seem right to you.
 

Brian63

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As I said, self manufactured ethical conundrums. There is an expression that says something about baeting yourself up. Souds like yiu are moralizing.

What is "moralizing"? I am trying to think of the most helpful approach overall. Should I not?

If we continue in the habit of citing the author of expressions, then we would develop the bad tendency to think that the author of expressions determines their merit. That would be committing the genetic fallacy, in addition to idolizing such people. We should evaluate the merits of an expression on the logic and consistency with our own goals---regardless of who said it.

On the other hand, we do cite the author of expressions normally. If Gandhi said something of profound wisdom, the quote gets attributed to him. If someone creates something unique and valuable, we commonly give them credit for it. I am favoring stopping that practice when it comes to expressions and proverbs and such.
 

Brian63

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Here is an example. If it was not someone prominent like Tyson saying the above, it would not get the heavy promotion that it does. It is a common sentiment among atheists though, including all of us who are very non-famous. We just gravitate towards the evaluation of claims based on who said it rather than the claim itself. Even when the author is not an expert any more than the rest of us, they still get more credibility than the rest of us.
 

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Proverbs are, in the respectable cases, merely the "take home" of a much larger ethical or philosophical investigation.

Sometimes, these investigations can contain hidden fallacies that create a harm much worse for it's proximity to truth.

Every proverb must be doubted for this reason.

When I offer proverbs...

"Doubt is the foundation of progress"

I come with suitcase which defends this.

Some proverbs come from those who neither defend their proverbs, not found them on solid stuff.

I like to know where a proverb is coming from so I don't waste my time on picking through garbage.

I acknowledge it could be right but from some sources, it's not worth the effort to find out. I don't take bad gambles except when I actually intend to amuse myself through budgeted "gambling".
 

steve_bank

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As I said, self manufactured ethical conundrums. There is an expression that says something about baeting yourself up. Souds like yiu are moralizing.

What is "moralizing"? I am trying to think of the most helpful approach overall. Should I not?

Quaoting depends on circumstances.
to think that the author of expressions determines their merit. That would be committing the genetic fallacy, in addition to idolizing such people. We should evaluate the merits of an expression on the logic and consistency with our own goals---regardless of who said it.

On the other hand, we do cite the author of expressions normally. If Gandhi said something of profound wisdom, the quote gets attributed to him. If someone creates something unique and valuable, we commonly give them credit for it. I am favoring stopping that practice when it comes to expressions and proverbs and such.
If we continue in the habit of citing the author of expressions, then we would develop the bad tendency to think that the author of expressions determines their merit. That would be committing the genetic fallacy, in addition to idolizing such people. We should evaluate the merits of an expression on the logic and consistency with our own goals---regardless of who said it.

That is moralizing along with the idea of self policing thoughts.

Always citing a reference woud be seen as condescending among other thing including pedantic. It is alwys based on circunsnces and presentation. Using a quote without citng the author is not the same as presenting it as your own.

A balatant exanmple was Malaniaa Trump using Michele Obama's quotes without citing the source.

If you are writing for others to read ethics and civil law requires citing references that are not in dubious common usage. Any quote of the bible or any religious historical scripture wold be considered common usage.

If yiu know who Pat Riley is, when he won his 3rd NBA championship as coach of the Lakers he copywriter the term 'Three-Past'. You can't technically use it for publication without his permission.

As to the fallay itself, it is as common as rain. Politicans use it all the time. A form of ad hom, attack the source not the message. People use it to discredit a good idea.

Historical 'proverbs' often have various interpretations. Changes with times and culture.
 

Brian63

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Sorry, I still have trouble understanding much of what you are trying to say.

You have used the term "moralizing" twice, but still have not defined it. You seem to speak ill of the phrase "self policing thoughts". So we should not police our thoughts?

Using a quote without citng the author is not the same as presenting it as your own.

Agreed. That was never even an issue. My argument against citing an author had absolutely nothing to do with presenting it as one's own. Instead it had to with desiring to avoid committing a genetic fallacy, where we mistakenly judge the merits of a claim or argument based on who said it rather than the substance of the claim itself. If we insist on always attaching the author to a quotation, then we will be more tempted to make bad judgments because we will be basing them on our biases---the author of that quote may be a member of our own tribe or a member of an enemy tribe, and we will end up making conclusions on that instead of the quote itself.

There are many prominent quotations and viewpoints from very well-regarded atheists that I disagree with. Hitchens, Dillahunty, Seth Andrews, etc. Those quotations or viewpoints that they espouse do not receive due criticism though---simply because it is them espousing them. We atheists unfortunately often deify certain people or treat them as unquestionable. We need to stop that. So that is one reason why I have tended to favor stopping the attributing the author of a quote to the quote. The merit of the quote has zero relevance, and it should not, on who said it. It should be evaluated on its own.

When you hear or read some expression that you agree with, ask if there is something else that is biasing you to agree with it, such as the person who said it. Is it someone famous and so you want to be in their good graces? Someone you look up to and you do not want to be disappointed in them? Pretend it was an anonymous source. Would and how would that change your evaluation of the claim itself?

It is simply better freethinking and unbiased evaluation to evaluate a claim based on its own merits rather than whoever said it.

As to the fallay itself, it is as common as rain. Politicans use it all the time. A form of ad hom, attack the source not the message. People use it to discredit a good idea.

Is that an argument that because a lot of people do it, that makes it okay to do it?
 
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