Elec­tion talk

Waikato Times - - Comment & Opinion - Write to: Editor Waikato Times, Pri­vate Bag 3086, Hamil­ton 3240, or email editor@waika­to­times.co.nz. Let­ters may be edited or de­clined and should not ex­ceed 200 words. Full res­i­den­tial ad­dresses and phone num­bers are re­quired and, if pos­si­ble, day­time p

Around gen­eral elec­tion time, we see and hear ex­am­ples of fal­la­cious ar­gu­ments be­ing made, ei­ther un­wit­tingly, or de­lib­er­ately in or­der to de­ceive. Any ar­gu­ment which con­tains a fal­lacy is im­me­di­ately ren­dered in­valid. For ex­am­ple: ‘‘Party A got more votes than any other party, there­fore the ma­jor­ity of vot­ers want them to form the next gov­ern­ment; even though more peo­ple com­bined voted for par­ties other than that mi­nor­ity leader.’’

I sug­gest that all stu­dents should be thor­oughly grounded in the prin­ci­ples of log­i­cal and eth­i­cal de­bate, es­pe­cially those at high school and ter­tiary lev­els. There is no pos­si­bil­ity of cov­er­ing this com­plex sub­ject in an 800-word col­umn, let alone a let­ter to the editor; suf­fice to say that there are three broad cat­e­gories of fal­lacy: for­mal, psy­cho­log­i­cal, and ma­te­rial.

The ethics of rea­son­ing and fair de­bate should be taught to all stu­dents; and this should take prece­dence over com­pelling all stu­dents to learn lan­guages other than the main tongue of the coun­try. Sec­ondary lan­guage tu­ition should be avail­able where stu­dents choose that op­tion. I had friends who learnt He­brew with no more than Sab­bath Day lessons, so why tie up the schools with com­pul­sory al­ter­na­tive lan­guages? Hon­est de­bate comes first.

Hugh Webb


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