Saturday, May 24, 2003

slippery slopes

(executive summary: no real (or local) point, just an interesting and well thought out article by someone whose politics are not mine, addressing a subject of mutual interest.)

Volokh & Newman's in defense of the slippery slope (via Arts & Letters Daily) - "the realities of the political and judicial processes can make the slippery slope - or, more precisely, several different kinds of mechanisms lurking behind the label "slippery slope" - a real concern..." -very clear, logical thinking, much appreciated. It's always bugged me to see the Slippery Slope metaphor derided/discounted as merely a logical fallacy - logical fallacies can still be empirical truths.

...Arguments such as "Oppose this law, because it starts us down the slippery slope" have earned a deservedly bad reputation, because they're too abstract to be helpful.
What is valuable is the ability to identify ways in which slippage might happen and to tell listeners a plausible story about how this first step might lead to specific other ones. Cataloging and analyzing the mechanisms of the slippery slope - mechanisms such as the cost-lowering slope, the attitude-altering slope, and others - can help us further develop this ability.
What I also liked about the article was its sensible tone, which was not at all the "sneering tone of certain libertarian publications" (Lee Felsenstein quote) (Volokh is a libertarian is he not?). Example: "It's quite rational for people to look to legal rules for pragmatic or moral guidance when they have neither the time nor expertise to investigate the matter on their own."

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