Talk:Motte and bailey

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Always Intentional?[edit]

Even though Motte and Bailey's are often intentional, they don't necessarily need to be. Some cases where they might not be intentional:

  • The ambiguity might be subtle enough that speaker himself doesn't see the difference.
  • The speaker might believe it is ok to hold both beliefs. This sometimes happens with modern churches, which will teach the literal version of God/Jesus and will also teach a more conceptual version. They'll do this to "cater to different people" or be more "open-minded".
  • Perhaps the speaker believes the Motte is an adequate argument for the Bailey, essentially being an appeal to common sense.

Turkeypotpie (talk) 18:37, 1 February 2017 (UTC)

I'm not sure that the article says it's intentional. It can very well be a subconscious bias or reflex that people have. If you want to clarify along those lines, you are welcome to; we could always use new users to help improve the site. CorruptUser (talk) 20:16, 1 February 2017 (UTC)

List of MaB Arguments?[edit]

So... Do we have a shortlist of MaB examples? CorruptUser (talk) 13:31, 26 August 2017 (UTC)

ContraPoints just did a video o Jordan Peterson doing this and there's this video from Alt Right playbook that discusses people using redefinition to make unreasonable things look reasonable and vice versa. Keter (talk) 14:25, 3 May 2018 (UTC)

"He or she" versus singular they[edit]

The formal grammarians probably prefer the former, is there a reason we prefer the latter? ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 21:58, 28 February 2019 (UTC)

That it takes Non-binary gender into account, I guess? RoninMacbeth (talk) 22:08, 28 February 2019 (UTC)
Concise and fair. ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 22:11, 28 February 2019 (UTC)
Perhaps but we really need to find new pronouns, the "they" slips me up a lot. --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario!(Mod) 22:34, 28 February 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, and people keep trying to, but none of them really stick. RoninMacbeth (talk) 22:35, 28 February 2019 (UTC)
That's also true, language is stubborn. --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario!(Mod) 22:37, 28 February 2019 (UTC)
I prefer "they", as it has precedent with the plural "you" having already displaced the singular "thou" in English. Remembering who has what set of pronouns is too complicated for simple-minded me, and if you get offended, I probably don't want to around you longer than I have to anyway. CoryUsar (talk) 00:39, 1 March 2019 (UTC)

Objectivist Example[edit]

Am I correct in believing that the "existence exists" talk of Randians fits into this category of fallacy? On the one hand they can always retreat into the motte of A = A, the tautology that "existence is existence." On the other hand, what they are trying to say or suggest is that SOMETHING exists, and that the existence of something-or-other is a logical necessity, so that the question "why is there something rather than nothing?" is easily answered -- "there is something because A = A." That ontological claim looks like a bailey to me, whereas the tautology is a motte. Fair enough? --Christofurio (talk) 14:06, 19 March 2019 (UTC)

I don't know, man. It's pretty easy to use this term to describe a lot of things, but I have a hard time seeing that example as anything other than just the most inane and useless tautology. ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 14:58, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
For all meaningful values of A, A implies Not-A. That is, for A to be something worth pondering, it must be present somewhere and absent somewhere else. Smerdis of Tlön, wekʷōm teḱs. 17:03, 19 March 2019 (UTC)

Hard times create strong men[edit]

The reasoning why this phrase is a motte and bailey doesn't make sense. Especially the second part. Where did this "militaristic" intrepertation come from? "the argument is that hard times lead to a strong military" Whose argument is that? Nowhere in the phrase is military or war mentioned in anyway, yet the article invents it out of thin air and attacks it. Sounds like a fallacy to me. You can have hard times without military conflict. --2001:999:53:D003:51E:B111:411A:9B03 (talk) 21:56, 22 March 2021 (UTC)

  • I agree. Outside this article on this wiki, I have only ever heard the saying used to mean the first interpretation, never the second. Is this something the alt-right does or something? Brendan Rizzo (talk) 17:35, 9 March 2022 (UTC)

Points of view[edit]

Can one person's motte be another bailey, or two different viewpoints share a motte? Thus OECs and 'scientific interpretations of the origins of the universe' can agree that 'summat weird happened and life emerged (on Earth/in the universe in general) - the motte, with the bailey being Goddidit or 'insufficient present information (until sufficient planets going from (primeval soup of amino acids and other chemicals etc) to life (whether or not as we know it) have been observed'? Anna Livia (talk) 15:38, 29 May 2021 (UTC)

Censorship and Nazi propaganda[edit]

I am going to delete one of the examples, because it does not appear to be a motte and bailey. It is quoted here for your perusal:

"A common strategy to allow objectionable content to remain online is to establish a Motte around censorship. 'Censorship is always bad (Motte), therefore I should be allowed to post Nazi propaganda on any venue I choose (Bailey)'."

The problem is that the motte implies the bailey, in other words, if one accepts the motte, then one must also accept the bailey. This is because the motte is an absolute statement that admits no exceptions. To see this, replace "Nazi propaganda" with "arguments for democracy". It has the exact same form, but most people would accept the second version as valid. In order to disagree with the conclusion while accepting the premise, one first must add an additional premise, such as "People who lack critical thinking skills should not be exposed to bad-faith arguments", under similar logic to why a five-year-old should not be permitted to drive a truck. But then one must moderate the first premise from "Censorship is always wrong" to "Censorship is wrong IF everyone present can recognize a fallacious argument." This is not part of the motte, so the original argument is not a motte and bailey, and should not be listed on this page. Brendan Rizzo (talk) 17:43, 9 March 2022 (UTC)

Uncharitable Whiteness.[edit]

There is an element to this article that seems to go beyond simply identifying motte and bailey strategies, in ways that seems deliberate to flaunt the principle of charity. By which of we wish to maintain rational good-faith, this directly undermines that aim as it can lead to straw-manning. I think it’s fine in the example to point the atypical use of responsibility in regards to white people being responsible for racism, though charitably I would interpret “responsibility” not as “cause to/contributes to” but more akin to “power over/obligation to respond to”. Like if you were a baby sitter and you were told you were responsible for the child under your care, no one is alleging you contributed to that child’s existence. The argument present in the article makes it explicit that this interpretation of “responsibility” I appeal to here is not the intended use, but in this case the argument is sort of a inverse motte-bailey.

Then there is the reference to “privilege” that straight up misunderstands the concept. When people talk of “privilege” in the sociological sense they are talking of broad strokes unearned socioeconomic advantages afforded to certain groups. Even if you are white person underprivleged by class (i.e. you’re homeless) it’s still more than possible that whiteness benefits you in ways that is no afforded to homeless people who are not white. These things can be subtle from people being more inclined to trust you, higher likelihood of having wealthier support networks, less-likely to have violent interactions with the police, etc. Similar to how the risk of sexual assault is much higher for gender minorities, queer people, and women who are homeless over straight men. The existence of underprivileged members of a dominant majority doesn’t cancel out the existence of privilege for being a member of said group. It’s just that privilege is sensitive to different intersections and functions differently in different contexts. There is no bailey in acknowledging that all white people possess white privilege. Like it’s just trivially true no matter how down on your luck you are as a white person, you don’t have to worry about your problems being compounded by anti-black racism. If anything it helps you, though that may not be immediately obvious in the moment. - Only Sort of Dumb (talk) 19:21, 28 April 2023 (UTC)