Arguing in Bad Faith

The last thing I want to do is affix my public name to anything political. In saying this and noting to myself that this is only the second post I’ve publicly written, I have already realized that if I declare my belief that a particular person argues or is arguing in bad faith then other people are going to be inclined to believe that I lean one way or another on a particular issue. As I’ve already said in my first post, no one is looking anyway.

A definition the term

To argue in bad faith is to willfully engage in verbal conflict with a person who appears to have an opposing opinion in such a way that the merits of either viewpoint are disregarded.

A few additional points to think about:

  1. Arguing in bad faith can still occur during violent agreements
  2. Those using sign language can happily argue in bad faith if they so choose to

For those that already know about Logical Fallacies; to argue in bad faith is to knowingly apply a logical fallacy to your argument in order to win.

When does this happen?

I am more apt to notice this behavior when reading or listening to political discussions. I’m sure that you will find people practicing this at other times though.

ok but give me some examples

I’m getting there: but first, a promise. I will never use the terms “Let’s talk about” or “We need to talk about” unless I am directly mentioning how I will never use those terms. I find them to be unnecessarily snarky and belittling to the reader.

With that, I’ll get into specific examples.

“Mr. Cohen committed four- four distinct federal crimes over a period of several years. He was motivated to do so by personal greed and repeatedly- repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends, but the democrats don’t care. They don’t care, they just want to use you Mr. Cohen. You’re their patsy today. They’ve got to find somebody somewhere to say something so they can try to remove the president from office.”

Representative James Jordan from Ohio’s 4th District 2019-02-27

In James Jordan’s opening remarks for the public Michael Cohen hearing he attempts to persuade the public in multiple ways. Firstly, he attacks Michael Cohen’s credibility. I would not immediately consider this to be an example of arguing in bad faith due to the fact that Mr. Cohen had previously been proven to have lied to congress under oath. For the sake of Michael Cohen, one would hope that the evidence which was brought to the hearing is definitively able to prove the truth in his testamony. If, after being presented with admissable evidence, Mr Jordan were to continue to attack Michael Cohen, this would be proof that he is arguing in bad faith for that particular instance.
Representative Jordan absolutely argues in bad faith when he begins to speak about the motives from the democrat representatives on the committee. I see the irony in calling someone out for arguing in bad faith by claiming that they have stated someone is arguing in bad faith. Unfortunately I’m not able to see into the mind of Jim Jordan, nor am I able to do so for the Democrat members of the House Judiciary Committee. It is likely that both sides of the aisle are committing this sin. I’m not a political expert and perhaps the democrats will do anything to remove the president from office. Until this has been proven, stating such as a fact is not a valid way to present an argument though.

“Mr. Sloan, why was the involved in the caging of children and financing the caging of children to begin with?”
“Since Wells Fargo financed the building of [The North Dakota Access] pipeline in an environmentally unstable way, why shouldn’t the bank be held responsible for financing the cleanup of the disasters from these projects”

Representative Alexandrea Ocasio-Cortez from New York’s 14th District 2019-03-12

In her attacks against the CEO of Wells Fargo, or rather, Wells Fargo itself, AOC appears to purposefully invoke false equivalence as well as the straw man. She is appealing more toward the concept that her argument is correct than toward the idea that she should need to prove it. Perhaps, instead, she could have framed the first statement in a way that asks why Wells Fargo allowed its investees to use their money to “put children in cages”. This way, she could have still enforced the point of which she believes it was bad that the bank was involved with an entity which treated children in this way without falsely stating that they were directly involved. It could have also led into an argument that if Wells Fargo did not know about these behaviors, then they should begin to provide such an oversite to the way that their investments are used to ensure their money is used in humane ways.
Likewise, by stating that Wells Fargo should be directly held responsible for financing the clean up of the Keystone Pipeline, she is neglecting the fact that such a project should be insured against such disasters. Wells Fargo should have also considered whether project was not insured when providing the money to TransCanada Corporation. If it was not, or if they did not have an actionable resolution for cleanup in the event of a spill, then Wells Fargo would need to be held accountable for bad lending practices. Perhaps this is what she was trying to get at in her argument. Like James Jordan did before her though, she used bad tacticts when relaying her message.

In conclusion to all of what I have said, I want to ensure recognition that working as a Representative or Senator is hard. There are many, many issues that one needs to be aware of in order to do the job and while doing so, it is vital that they are effective in convincing their fellow elected members, their consituents, and the remaining public that the implications of the solutions to the problems being debated are important to think about. I simply wish that the method in which this debating occured would lean harder on fact than emotional appeal.
Certainly just providing two examples is not enough proof to state that my observation is fact. I’m just too lazy to dig out other cases where this has happened. I’m sure that you, reader who does not exist, will be able to pick up on when this tactic is used when it is so obviously deployed in one of the future arguments you happen to partake in or observe.