Sunday, June 10, 2012

Logic and censorship

Can logic help us with arguments about sexual morality, censorship and so on? Only so far it can expose contradictions and fallacies. At some point in any such argument, someone will invoke a principle or universal proposition, and the problem with principles or universal propositions is that they do not allow exceptions. The proposition 'all swans are white' is false so long as there exists one black swan. It's quite binary. So anyone who asserts such a principle cannot allow any exception to it, without modifying it in such a way that it is still a principle, i.e. such that it contains no arbitrary exceptions or modifications or special pleading. For example, the guy arguing here is dangerously close to a principle:
That's how repressive regimes begin. First you start with the sexual content that offends people, then you move on to the religious content, and finally, the political content. Funny how it's always the people screaming "freedom" and "liberty" the loudest who are always trying to curtail it.
This is called the 'slippery slope' argument. As soon as you are on the slope, you will always slide to the bottom, therefore you must not get onto the slope in the first place. In this person's case, being on the slope means having an image filter on Wikipedia, and the universal principle being "You must not filter out content that offends people". But such a principle allows no exception. Would this person not want to 'filter out' content such as child pornography or torture pornography or snuff pornography?

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