In the last post we examined the following assertion from a factual perspective. In this post we’ll review it within a moral framework. This will provide an example of how differing assumptions can lead to dramatically different conclusions.
Assertion: President Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, recently said that it was okay to tax wealthy citizens for the health care of others because, “The president believes that the richest 1% of this country has had a pretty good run of it for many, many, many years.”
Assumption: The government should (should not) tax the wealthier portion of the population to provide benefits for the portion that is less wealthy.
- Paying taxes is not voluntary; i.e. all citizens are forced to pay taxes.
- If one believes that it is acceptable to use force to transfer money from a wealthier group of citizens to a less-wealthy group, then President Obama’s belief is moral.
- If one believes that using force as a means of wealth transfer is not acceptable, then the president’s belief is not moral.
- The morality of the belief is therefore dependent on the view of the one that holds the governing assumption.
Conclusion: The Assertion is conditionally true or false from a moral perspective, depending on the governing assumption. This is an example of why many arguments tend to go around in circles and be irresolvable, because the parties doing the arguing are starting with different baseline assumptions. Resolution of such arguments is dependent on digging deeper and challenging the assumptions, which engineers call a root cause analysis. In future posts we’ll see how this analysis method can be used to help break endless debates and come to some reasonable conclusions. But first we need to learn how to avoid emotional blockages.
Put On Your Emotional Armor