The Epistemic Reason Not To Flame

Andrew Sullivan —  May 30 2012 @ 3:00pm

Kevin Vallier wants his fellow bloggers to stop name-calling:

[T]hat’s one problem with being mean: it often indicates that you aren’t a reliable judge of argumentative quality. Bloggers get mad and nasty when they’re emotionally invested in the outcome and emotional investment signals potential bias. After all, being mean isn’t the only way to help people sift through good and bad arguments. You could simply stick to the argument or state a clear, dispassionate judgment about whether a particular argument is legitimate or not … [W]e bloggers mostly encounter one another only in blog form, with all the relevant personality and historical information that leaves out. In the blogosphere, I’m not sure we even have enough evidence to reduce our epistemic credences in cases of epistemic peer disagreement (assuming we can even justify our judgments about who our epistemic peers are!). We just don’t know the ultimate sources of disagreement in specific cases. And in the absence of sufficient evidence of vice, we should be respectful and kind.