X or Not X, Versus: X or Y

June 29, 2018 General Insights No Comments

This is a straightforward blog, although you may need to keep your attention focused on the logic.

For instance:

Freedom of speech: are you for or against it?

… (just enough time for your immediate answer.)


Until recently, I would hesitate a bit, then say yes.

Now let’s put ‘freedom of speech’ versus ‘the intention behind freedom of speech’.

If a blatant madman gets ‘freedom of speech’ on the Internet (as he does)

then the intention behind freedom of speech is clearly violated. So, what is more important: freedom of speech or the intention? From a humane standpoint, according to me it’s clearly the latter. Choosing for the madman’s freedom of speech, is also choosing for his – possibly disastrous – influence on many others. Among many other things, this eventually diminishes the freedom of speech of these others.

Are you for or against X? Some logic.

If X is clearly incompatible with Y, then you are, by being for X, also against Y.

The issue is, in such case:

Are you (for X) XOR (for Y)?

‘XOR’ = either this or that, not both at the same time.

As always, this logic is quite simple. IF you are for both, then at least one of the premises should be revised. You have to change your X or your Y, or both.

‘To X or not to X’, a big divider

“Are you for us or against us?” Put this way, it has quite a chance to divide people. Compare this to ‘for X’ or ‘for Y’. This admonishes the comparer to look more into what ‘X’ and ‘Y’ are, or stand for. There is more chance to get the comparer ‘for X’ and not altogether ‘against Y’, thus also a bit ‘for Y’. It can make him think a bit more ‘for Y’.

For example, I’m definitely ‘for freedom of speech’… but even more ‘for the intention behind it’. Without X/Y-ing the issue, ‘freedom of speech’ looks more sacred than after. So, after, I can manage ‘freedom of speech’ with more nuance.

‘X or not X’ precludes an overlap with Y, easing the road to show things as a zero-sum game: either X wins or X loses. ‘The other’ is only important in making X lose.

Still, I often encounter this confusion

Being ‘for or against something’ is frequently a fight where the issue should be reframed as to this blog. It’s a trap that is easily fallen into, but also easily gotten out of. It takes in many cases just a bit of patience, criticism and, well, logical thinking.

Yes or no?

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