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The Motives of our Leaders

Great piece on Crooked Timber about Economic Arguments. This is a response to Arnold Kling’s distinction between arguments of consequence and arguments of motives and why arguments about consequences matter more than arguments about motives. Two random thoughts: 1)typical Marxist thought has ascribed importance to a person’s inner motivations (which usually are determined by economic situation). 2)In typical argumentation, we tend to depersonalize arguments by prohibiting ad hominem attacks. Even polite arguments are supposed not to include analysis of a person’s political motives. On a related matter, intellectuals usually argue as outsiders about an argument. I may feel that George W. Bush was wrong to invade Iraq, but I am not in the military or have a responsibility for a sound fiscal policy. Does that put me in a better or worse position to have an opinion about the matter?

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