Democracy is a logical fallacy

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philosopher
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Democracy is a logical fallacy

Post by philosopher » Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:35 pm

Democracy = Majority is always right.

This is the same as the logical fallacy known as Argumentum ad Populum, appeal to the majority, the belief that any argument is valid if the majority believes in it...

Well, if the majority so choose to believe fairies visit us from Mars, it must be true!

- I guess not...

In Turkey they abolished human rights, like the right to free speech, free assembly and re-instated dictatorship - all with the majority of the vote.

Many other dictators throughout history came to power through democracy, and by the majority of votes, abolished democracy.

This is the reason I am not a democrat, and never will be. I do believe in the right to speak against the government, and even the right to challenge the opinions of the majority of people.

Socrates was executed because the majority thought he deserved no right to life because he spoke against the majority of the opinions of the people.

Abolish democracy, for the sake of human rights!

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Sir-Sister-of-Suck
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Re: Democracy is a logical fallacy

Post by Sir-Sister-of-Suck » Sat Jun 30, 2018 11:22 pm

philosopher wrote:
Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:35 pm
Democracy = Majority is always right.
What you've done here is taken an idea and extrapolated it to its most radical interpretation in order to show how it doesn't work; That is actually pretty fallacious.

Even if we were talking about a full democracy, without any checks and balances - like any of the western world has - you don't need to believe we should apply it because the majority is always right.
This is the same as the logical fallacy known as Argumentum ad Populum, appeal to the majority, the belief that any argument is valid if the majority believes in it...
What you're attempting to do is not quite a direct application of that fallacy - an 'appeal to majority' is committed when an argument is made that something is true because the majority of people believe in it. People never make the argument that democracy is correct because the majority of people believe in it - democracy itself is a concept that involves a majority of people establishing a rule, but that's not to say it necessarily makes that rule correct.

So if someone arrived at the idea that democracy is valid because the majority of people believe in it, than that would be fallacious.

The fact that it is an idea that uses the majority of people to decide stuff, does not make it fallacious, even according to
'Argumentum ad Populum'.
Last edited by Sir-Sister-of-Suck on Sat Jun 30, 2018 11:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Sir-Sister-of-Suck
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Re: Democracy is a logical fallacy

Post by Sir-Sister-of-Suck » Sat Jun 30, 2018 11:43 pm

philosopher wrote:
Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:35 pm
- I guess not...

In Turkey they abolished human rights, like the right to free speech, free assembly and re-instated dictatorship - all with the majority of the vote.

Many other dictators throughout history came to power through democracy, and by the majority of votes, abolished democracy.

This is the reason I am not a democrat, and never will be. I do believe in the right to speak against the government, and even the right to challenge the opinions of the majority of people.

Socrates was executed because the majority thought he deserved no right to life because he spoke against the majority of the opinions of the people.
Well, you're onto something that tyranny of the majority is a real thing, but I've never actually found it to be the best argument for something like checks and balances in a democracy. The problem is any solution that I've seen only switches the position of potential tyranny to someone else. It's why I never understood that particular argument for the electoral college, it's creating a disadvantage for the majority's choice, but it's just as likely that a tyrannical ruler could be elected by random chance.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Democracy is a logical fallacy

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Jul 01, 2018 12:34 pm

Sir-Sister-of-Suck wrote:
Sat Jun 30, 2018 11:22 pm
philosopher wrote:
Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:35 pm
Democracy = Majority is always right.
What you've done here is taken an idea and extrapolated it to its most radical interpretation in order to show how it doesn't work; That is actually pretty fallacious.
You're quite right. That's exactly what he's done. It's a kind of "slippery slope" fallacy, that goes something like, "If you consult the majority, you must believe the majority is infallible." Non-sequitur: it does not follow.

Of course, no such full-slope slide is logically necessary. You could consult the majority for many reasons, with many beliefs behind it. For example, you could believe that axiom (that is sometimes attributed to Churchill, and sometimes to Disraeli, and sometimes to others) that says, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for every other." In other words, you could argue quite cogently that while majority decisions are far from infallible, or far from morally perfect, the consulting of majority wishes is pragmatically a better option than, say, dictatorships, monarchies, clerical rule, rule by caste or rule by strident minority.

I've been reading Thomas Paine's "The Rights of Man" recently. And it's interesting to see how American-style democracy emerged as the opposite of Burke-style rule-by-hereditary-right. In fact, the idea of human rights, which the OP claims require the banishing of democracy, actually are the basis of democracy. The idea that each person had a value and a right to speak into the political system was not countenanced by any of the monarchical, hereditary or elite systems in Europe. And these were what Paine was at pains to refute.

Not only that, but the checks-and-balances are an expression of belief that even the ordinary man is NOT infallible. The idea was that too much power simply ought not to be granted to any one person over any other, since all men were fallible and potentially corruptible. Only be limiting the scope of each individual's governmental power could the freedom of the people be safeguarded -- so small government, with strict limits, became the American standard.

I'm not American. But I admire the foresight in some of this. They certainly made great strides in the formulation of democracy -- and not on the basis of some idealization of the majority, but on the more pragmatic considerations of both the rights of men and limited trustworthiness of mankind.

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Re: Democracy is a logical fallacy

Post by surreptitious57 » Sun Jul 01, 2018 1:25 pm

Democracy is a system of government not a logical fallacy and therefore comparing it to one is actually fallacious
And it is not that the majority decision is always right but the one that is implemented for reasons of practicality

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Democracy is a logical fallacy

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Jul 01, 2018 1:36 pm

surreptitious57 wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 1:25 pm
Democracy is a system of government not a logical fallacy and therefore comparing it to one is actually fallacious
And it is not that the majority decision is always right but the one that is implemented for reasons of practicality
I think the OP was not saying "democracy IS a logical fallacy." I think he was saying, "Belief in democracy requires us to believe a logical fallacy." That's quite a different proposition. He isn't guilty of a category error there.

But I agree with you that practicality, not ultimate "rightness" is the reason given by Paine for preferring democracy over dictatorship or hereditary monarchy.

philosopher
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Re: Democracy is a logical fallacy

Post by philosopher » Sun Jul 01, 2018 1:57 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 1:36 pm
surreptitious57 wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 1:25 pm
Democracy is a system of government not a logical fallacy and therefore comparing it to one is actually fallacious
And it is not that the majority decision is always right but the one that is implemented for reasons of practicality
I think the OP was not saying "democracy IS a logical fallacy." I think he was saying, "Belief in democracy requires us to believe a logical fallacy." That's quite a different proposition. He isn't guilty of a category error there.

But I agree with you that practicality, not ultimate "rightness" is the reason given by Paine for preferring democracy over dictatorship or hereditary monarchy.
You're right, what I meant was democracy is LIKE (read: similar to) a logical fallacy, the title is wrong, but too late for me to edit.

What I meant by the logical fallacy is that belief in democracy to make any rules of law, is similar the Argumentum ad Populum-fallacy.

Don't know how to explain further, but you did it quite well. Thanks!

Besides, there is an alternative to democracy that is not dictatorship: Rule by experts!

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Democracy is a logical fallacy

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:10 pm

philosopher wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 1:57 pm
Don't know how to explain further, but you did it quite well. Thanks!
It's only fair. I didn't think you meant what he was attributing to you. You're quite welcome.
Besides, there is an alternative to democracy that is not dictatorship: Rule by experts!
Plato thought that, too. He argued for "philosopher kings" to rule.

But there's a number of problems with that idea, and with the idea of "expert" rule. What's an "expert"? Who gets to say who is an "expert," and who is not? Are we talking merely an "expert in political systems," or an "expert in academic knowledge," or an "expert social engineer," or an "expert in controlling the masses," or an "expert in" something else? Does such an "expert" have to be a "good" person, morally? And how do we determine what a "good" person is? Who gets to say that?

You see the many problems. And they can hardly be rushed past, since failure to treat one of them seriously could have very dire consequences. For example, by rushing past the question of whether "expert" knowledge is political or moral, we could end up with rule by an expert manipulator with no moral conscience at all...very bad, we'd all agree. Equally, by preferring a "moral" leader to a "practical" one, we could end up with somebody who means well but lacks the applied knowledge to do us any good.

In practical terms, rule by experts turns out to mean, "rule by whomever somebody proclaims an expert." But who is that "somebody"? And how do we know he or she has the right take on what an "expert" is?

It's against such abuses that democracy was first contrived. The idea was that nobody's really a trustworthy "expert," with all the necessary virtues to rule embodied in himself. So the best we can do, provisionally, was decided to be a system that checks against and balances off his putative "expertise" with the broadest possible reading of the freedoms of all individuals, regardless of their "expertise," plus a strict limitation on the authority of any one person.

Not a bad idea, if you ask me; certainly better than the obvious alternatives.

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Arising_uk
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Re: Democracy is a logical fallacy

Post by Arising_uk » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:10 am

Immanuel Can wrote:

Plato thought that, too. He argued for "philosopher kings" to rule.

But there's a number of problems with that idea, and with the idea of "expert" rule. What's an "expert"? Who gets to say who is an "expert," and who is not? Are we talking merely an "expert in political systems," or an "expert in academic knowledge," or an "expert social engineer," or an "expert in controlling the masses," or an "expert in" something else? Does such an "expert" have to be a "good" person, morally? And how do we determine what a "good" person is? Who gets to say that?

You see the many problems. And they can hardly be rushed past, since failure to treat one of them seriously could have very dire consequences. For example, by rushing past the question of whether "expert" knowledge is political or moral, we could end up with rule by an expert manipulator with no moral conscience at all...very bad, we'd all agree. Equally, by preferring a "moral" leader to a "practical" one, we could end up with somebody who means well but lacks the applied knowledge to do us any good.

In practical terms, rule by experts turns out to mean, "rule by whomever somebody proclaims an expert." But who is that "somebody"? And how do we know he or she has the right take on what an "expert" is?
...
To be fair to Plato he did lay out an education system that was to produce such 'kings' and also to assign all people to all the castes or class a society need. It was a pretty egalitarian and meritocratic one to boot, males and females were to be educated equally and the curriculum was pretty comprehensive.
Here's a fair description, http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/educa ... tion/40135.

Ironically enough many later systems in the West have tried to emulate his ideas but none appear to have been so egalitarian or meritocratic.

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HexHammer
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Re: Democracy is a logical fallacy

Post by HexHammer » Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:22 pm

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." - Winston Churchill

........the same can be said about philosophy, a bunch of clueless people babbling and raving all day and night!

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henry quirk
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democracy is nuthin' but mob rule

Post by henry quirk » Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:42 pm

'nuff said.

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Arising_uk
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Re: Democracy is a logical fallacy

Post by Arising_uk » Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:59 pm

HexHammer wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:22 pm
"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." - Winston Churchill

........the same can be said about philosophy, a bunch of clueless people babbling and raving all day and night!
Maybe but so are interweebles who misattribute quotes as there is no evidence that Churchill said this and he had a fairly high opinion of the 'average voter'.

"How is that word “democracy” to be interpreted? My idea of it is that the plain, humble, common man, just the ordinary man who keeps a wife and family, who goes off to fight for his country when it is in trouble, goes to the poll at the appropriate time, and puts his cross on the ballot paper showing the candidate he wishes to be elected to Parliament—that he is the foundation of democracy. And it is also essential to this foundation that this man or woman should do this without fear, and without any form of intimidation or victimization. He marks his ballot paper in strict secrecy, and then elected representatives and together decide what government, or even in times of stress, what form of government they wish to have in their country. If that is democracy, I salute it. I espouse it. I would work for it.” — W.Churchill, House of Commons, 8 December 1944

"At the bottom of all the tributes paid to democracy is the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper—no amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance of that point." —W.Churchill, House of Commons, 31 October 1944

More than 'nuff said.

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:06 pm

See, that's the democratic process at ground level: one man, one vote, a vote cast within the broad confines of, for example, a constitution.

What you describe is not 'mob rule', but then what you describe is not pure democracy.

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QuantumT
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Re: Democracy is a logical fallacy

Post by QuantumT » Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:47 pm

Democracy is not the problem, it's the voters.

Because: If any idiot can vote, any idiot can get elected.

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Re: Democracy is a logical fallacy

Post by Necromancer » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:20 pm

For a start, democracy isn't just "majority is right"!

You forget about checks and balances. Especially the courts have a role to play in determining the validity of laws possibly violating human rights (UDHR/ECHR) for example.

Even then, a nation or state is bound by international agreements that also can't be violated without big consequences. Becoming North Korea and facing utter shame may not be a real option or else you may get the entire population in your face, revolting and executing you for the same reason.

Well, well, "a start"... You write the rest...

"No, because life in Soviet Union was superior!" 8)

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