Motte and Bailey Doctrine

Anything that doesn't fit anywhere else below.

Moderators: Calilasseia, DarthHelmet86, Onyx8

Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#1  Postby Spearthrower » May 13, 2019 2:42 am

I wanted to share this short article because I think it's got a great explanation of a particular form of argumentation which seems to be becoming very popular these days.

http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/20 ... doctrines/

The article is more concerned with explaining when this amounts to a doctrine or an overarching network of argumentation, whereas I am mostly interested how it is used fallaciously for rhetorical points, and for misleading discourse.

The name is based on the type of fortifications introduced into England by the Normans post invasion.

The motte is an unassailable structure of stone set on top of an earthwork, while the bailey is the surrounding area usually inhabited by the townsfolk with some very basic defenses. When ne'er-do-wells threaten the town, the people pick up their stuff and retreat into the stone motte where they hope to wait out the depredations of the invaders. The bailey is the desirable ground, but it's very open to being attacked.

The point, here, is that the bailey is not easy to defend, although some show of defenses is necessary to stop bandits and small bands of raiders.

Analogously, when it comes to discourse, the term signifies a similar retreat from indefensible positions into much more difficult to overcome territory.

An argument is made from the bailey which is egregious, spurious, and indefensible... if it remains unchallenged, then the work being done in the bailey can continue. This is the ground the proponent wants to keep, but knows it's not going to stand up well to assault.

So, when the argument is actually assailed, the proponent then hoofs it back into the stronger motte with much more defensible arguments, even though that wasn't the point being contested.

In this way, the proponent seeks to keep both grounds as their interlocutor is now apparently obliged to attack a very stout position which is hard to overcome when all they'd really set out to do originally was attack the bailey.

... once a Motte and Bailey Doctrine is in place, it offers extensive opportunities for deceitful trickery in argument. The basic fallacy that is available is offering the arguments for doctrines in the Motte as if they were arguments for the doctrines in the Bailey. The crudest such fallacy would have the form ‘Motte, therefore Bailey’, and certainly, despite its crudity, there is no shortage of such argumentation. Something similar is going on in the strategy of advancing the Bailey and then retreating to the Motte when criticised. On such foundations, a myriad of persuasive fallacies may be built, and indeed, that myriad is the very point of the Motte in a Motte and Bailey Doctrine: without it the Bailey is lost.



So how does one overcome this? I would say it's fairly simple: remember you only ever intended to sack the bailey and never had any intentions over the motte in the first place, and even if they stand at the top of their castle calling out that your father was a hamster, you've still taken the ground they desperately wished they could defend, so now you're free to ransack what they treasure most and all they can do is hope you leave.
I'm not an atheist; I just don't believe in gods :- that which I don't belong to isn't a group!
Religion: Mass Stockholm Syndrome

Learn Stuff. Stuff good. https://www.coursera.org/
User avatar
Spearthrower
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 23910
Age: 43
Male

Country: Thailand
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#2  Postby laklak » May 13, 2019 2:44 am

Helps if you fart in their general direction.
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. - Mark Twain
The sky is falling! The sky is falling! - Chicken Little
I never go without my dinner. No one ever does, except vegetarians and people like that - Oscar Wilde
User avatar
laklak
RS Donator
 
Name: Florida Man
Posts: 19475
Age: 65
Male

Country: The Great Satan
Swaziland (sz)
Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#3  Postby Thommo » May 13, 2019 3:00 am

Spearthrower wrote:http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2014/09/motte-and-bailey-doctrines/


Very much enjoyed this. I found every word of it decidedly agreeable and well thought out.
User avatar
Thommo
 
Posts: 25949

Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#4  Postby Spearthrower » May 13, 2019 3:03 am

Examples:

bailey: men are superior to women
challenge sexism
motte: so you're saying that men and women are identical?

bailey: the gender pay gap is a myth
challenge with facts
motte: if men took months off work caring for their children, they'd get paid less too

bailey: white nations are being subjected to genocide by immigration
challenge delusional racism
motte: why is it racist to want to preserve our history and culture?

bailey: man-made climate change is fake science
challenge scientific claim
motte: climate changes occurred before humans even existed
I'm not an atheist; I just don't believe in gods :- that which I don't belong to isn't a group!
Religion: Mass Stockholm Syndrome

Learn Stuff. Stuff good. https://www.coursera.org/
User avatar
Spearthrower
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 23910
Age: 43
Male

Country: Thailand
Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#5  Postby aban57 » May 14, 2019 12:24 pm

So when JayJay talks about atheist ideology messing up with creation story, and then, when debunked or asked to provide evidence for it, just goes in trying to impose his christian ideology, can we say it's a case of Motte and Bailey doctrine ?
User avatar
aban57
 
Posts: 6578
Age: 39
Female

Country: France
Belgium (be)
Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#6  Postby Spearthrower » May 14, 2019 12:37 pm

Not really, although he may think so. Christian ideology with respect to understanding life is not a strong fortification, or else it wouldn't have been overthrown a century ago in favour of evolutionary theory.

JJ plays a Matryoshka (Babushka) doll game where the exposure of one failed argument for his proposition simply reveals yet another layer of argument for that position, which when shown flawed reveals another layer of argument for that position, and so on until whatever it is he's now arguing about has no relationship whatsoever with his initial proposition.

JJ sets out to prove that that up is down, and ends up talking about the comparative length of rhinoceros species' penises.
Last edited by Spearthrower on May 14, 2019 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I'm not an atheist; I just don't believe in gods :- that which I don't belong to isn't a group!
Religion: Mass Stockholm Syndrome

Learn Stuff. Stuff good. https://www.coursera.org/
User avatar
Spearthrower
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 23910
Age: 43
Male

Country: Thailand
Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#7  Postby aban57 » May 14, 2019 12:45 pm

Ok I missed the stronghold part. Thanks.
User avatar
aban57
 
Posts: 6578
Age: 39
Female

Country: France
Belgium (be)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#8  Postby Cito di Pense » May 14, 2019 12:50 pm

aban57 wrote:Ok I missed the stronghold part. Thanks.


JJ's got a stronghold of something. There's definitely a particular grip that aids in achieving transcendence.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
User avatar
Cito di Pense
 
Name: Amir Bagatelle
Posts: 28347
Age: 22
Male

Country: The Heartland
Mongolia (mn)
Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#9  Postby Sendraks » May 14, 2019 1:13 pm

Its a bit of a cross post but, Shapiro is a good example of someone who engages in this fallacy on a regular basis. His defence from the Bailey is to try and bully his opposition into submission but, more often than not he just retreats straight to the motte.
"One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion." - Arthur C Clarke

"'Science doesn't know everything' - Well science knows it doesn't know everything, otherwise it'd stop" - Dara O'Brian
User avatar
Sendraks
 
Name: D-Money Jr
Posts: 15120
Age: 103
Male

Country: England
Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#10  Postby Spearthrower » May 14, 2019 1:17 pm

Sendraks wrote:Its a bit of a cross post but, Shapiro is a good example of someone who engages in this fallacy on a regular basis. His defence from the Bailey is to try and bully his opposition into submission but, more often than not he just retreats straight to the motte.



It was being exposed to alt-right arguments (not Shapiro specifically as the only time I've watched him was melting down with Neil) which finally made me go and find a name for this form of argumentation and so discovered the above article.
I'm not an atheist; I just don't believe in gods :- that which I don't belong to isn't a group!
Religion: Mass Stockholm Syndrome

Learn Stuff. Stuff good. https://www.coursera.org/
User avatar
Spearthrower
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 23910
Age: 43
Male

Country: Thailand
Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#11  Postby laklak » May 14, 2019 1:45 pm

It falls into the wider category of "a load of bullshit".
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. - Mark Twain
The sky is falling! The sky is falling! - Chicken Little
I never go without my dinner. No one ever does, except vegetarians and people like that - Oscar Wilde
User avatar
laklak
RS Donator
 
Name: Florida Man
Posts: 19475
Age: 65
Male

Country: The Great Satan
Swaziland (sz)
Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#12  Postby TopCat » May 14, 2019 5:40 pm

Spearthrower wrote:I wanted to share this short article because I think it's got a great explanation of a particular form of argumentation which seems to be becoming very popular these days.

http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/20 ... doctrines/

Like Thommo, I enjoyed this too. One thought occurs though...

If "Motte, hence Bailey" is false, then am I right that it doesn't follow that "Not Bailey, hence Not Motte"? I looked up Modus Tollens, which says:

If A, then B
Not B
Therefore not A.

However if B doesn't follow from A, then Not B doesn't (on its own) imply Not A.

In other words, just because they distract attention with an easily debunked Bailey, doesn't mean in itself that their Motte is also unsound. So it needs to be separately debunked?

I'm not an accomplished logician, so happy to be schooled here.
TopCat
 
Posts: 703
Age: 56
Male

Country: England
United Kingdom (uk)
Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#13  Postby scott1328 » May 14, 2019 6:46 pm

You are correct.

If it is NOT the case that A->B then it is also NOT the case that ~B->~A

Therefore, given ~B, one can conclude neither A nor ~A
User avatar
scott1328
 
Name: Some call me... Tim
Posts: 8418
Male

United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#14  Postby Evolving » May 14, 2019 6:59 pm

But presumably the garrison of the motte wouldn't be bothering with the bailey if it weren't doubtful about the motte's defensibility.
How extremely stupid not to have thought of that - T.H. Huxley
User avatar
Evolving
 
Name: Serafina Pekkala
Posts: 11553
Female

Country: Luxembourg
Luxembourg (lu)
Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#15  Postby Thommo » May 14, 2019 7:55 pm

TopCat wrote:In other words, just because they distract attention with an easily debunked Bailey, doesn't mean in itself that their Motte is also unsound. So it needs to be separately debunked?

I'm not an accomplished logician, so happy to be schooled here.


As Scott says, correct.

The only complication might be that the bailey might be something that you agree with or that is not clearly wrong and cannot be easily debunked (this being the point of its defensibility). You may have no intention of debunking it.

So you might see a motte and bailey where someone chances their luck with a statement about how clear it is that all abortion is morally wrong, and when pressed claim that nobody could possibly think murdering babies is acceptable.

Certainly none of us are going to try to debunk the claim that murdering babies is morally acceptable (there is the odd philosopher who might try, but I just don't think those of us here are so inclined).
User avatar
Thommo
 
Posts: 25949

Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#16  Postby Spearthrower » May 14, 2019 10:28 pm

TopCat wrote:If "Motte, hence Bailey" is false, then am I right that it doesn't follow that "Not Bailey, hence Not Motte"? I looked up Modus Tollens, which says:

If A, then B
Not B
Therefore not A.

However if B doesn't follow from A, then Not B doesn't (on its own) imply Not A.

In other words, just because they distract attention with an easily debunked Bailey, doesn't mean in itself that their Motte is also unsound. So it needs to be separately debunked?

I'm not an accomplished logician, so happy to be schooled here.



No, you are quite correct. However, that's kind of the point in it as a rhetorical strategy. The two propositions are only linked in the most superficial way; not in a way that would satisfy formal logic. Essentially, it's like a bait and switch. Non-acceptance of the desirable argument (the bailey) doesn't infer denial of the sound position (the motte) - that's really just a rhetorical flourish used by the proponent to either stump their interlocutor, or mislead an agreeable audience.

You could thereby deny that the two are linked - deconstruct the notional connection between the two, which would be fine. But then you're also actually being drawn into a tangential discussion which basically means the device has worked to some degree, and if you're not careful and precise, could give the proponent something to work with to continue that misdirection.

Alternatively, you can simply ransack the desirable ground, loot it for all it's worth. Basically mug them of all the ground they wanted to hold and draw them into sallying back out again.
I'm not an atheist; I just don't believe in gods :- that which I don't belong to isn't a group!
Religion: Mass Stockholm Syndrome

Learn Stuff. Stuff good. https://www.coursera.org/
User avatar
Spearthrower
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 23910
Age: 43
Male

Country: Thailand
Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#17  Postby Spearthrower » May 15, 2019 3:04 am

To exemplify that... go back to an earlier cited example:

bailey: white nations are being subjected to genocide by immigration
challenge delusional racism
motte: why is it racist to want to preserve our history and culture?

It's easy to get stuck responding to the motte argument. You might start trying to define culture or talk about historical events which are racist... and thereby basically let them defend their motte.

You don't want to attack that motte, so stay in the bailey rampaging...

bailey: white nations are being subjected to genocide by immigration
challenge delusional racism
motte: why is it racist to want to preserve our history and culture?
response: it's not... but claiming that white nations are being subjected to genocide by immigration is racist because <restate challenge>

Keep doing it never letting the motte argument get any purchase. People who are using this device intentionally are going to get frustrated far more quickly than you because they're stuck waiting in a cramped space they never wanted to be in while you're going to be running around liberally plundering their bailey uncontested.
I'm not an atheist; I just don't believe in gods :- that which I don't belong to isn't a group!
Religion: Mass Stockholm Syndrome

Learn Stuff. Stuff good. https://www.coursera.org/
User avatar
Spearthrower
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 23910
Age: 43
Male

Country: Thailand
Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#18  Postby surreptitious57 » May 15, 2019 3:54 am

One particularly effective method would be to ask them to define their terms
This keeps the focus on the bailey and stops them from introducing any motte

So for example

What is your definition of a white nation
What is your definition of immigration
What is your definition of genocide

If you never challenge their position but just keep on asking questions then they have no choice but to answer them
Challenging the position would not result in any consciousness raising on their part anyway so it is not very effective
And also by just asking questions they are more likely to respond because you are not being deliberately provocative
A MIND IS LIKE A PARACHUTE : IT DOES NOT WORK UNLESS IT IS OPEN
surreptitious57
 
Posts: 10074

Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#19  Postby Spearthrower » May 15, 2019 10:48 am

surreptitious57 wrote:One particularly effective method would be to ask them to define their terms
This keeps the focus on the bailey and stops them from introducing any motte

So for example

What is your definition of a white nation
What is your definition of immigration
What is your definition of genocide

If you never challenge their position but just keep on asking questions then they have no choice but to answer them
Challenging the position would not result in any consciousness raising on their part anyway so it is not very effective
And also by just asking questions they are more likely to respond because you are not being deliberately provocative



Have you ever actually tried that?
I'm not an atheist; I just don't believe in gods :- that which I don't belong to isn't a group!
Religion: Mass Stockholm Syndrome

Learn Stuff. Stuff good. https://www.coursera.org/
User avatar
Spearthrower
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 23910
Age: 43
Male

Country: Thailand
Print view this post

Re: Motte and Bailey Doctrine

#20  Postby surreptitious57 » May 15, 2019 1:34 pm

I may have tried it in the past but it is not something I really do any more
As I have neither the knowledge base or the mental energy to do it justice
A MIND IS LIKE A PARACHUTE : IT DOES NOT WORK UNLESS IT IS OPEN
surreptitious57
 
Posts: 10074

Print view this post

Next

Return to General Debunking

Who is online

Users viewing this topic: No registered users and 1 guest