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Practical Suicide.

In this chapter author Greg Koukl unpacks another form of self-refuting (or suicidal) argument. This time the spotlight is on particular “points of view [that] fail the pragmatic test;”[1] that is, those arguments where “There is no logical contradiction, strictly speaking, just a practical one.”[2] For example, consider the moral relativist (MR) who wants to say, “You shouldn’t judge others for their beliefs.” Koukl offers a step-by-step response:

MR: You shouldn’t judge others for their beliefs.
You: Why not?
MR: Because it’s wrong.
You: Well, if it’s wrong to judge others then why are you judging me right now?

This is not a simple trick of language or intellectual sleight of hand. The person espousing this type of view (that is, a view that cannot be applied to himself) must be shown his mistake. First, clarify what the person is actually saying. Then see if it holds up under scrutiny. Of course, as Koukl has exhibited in his book thus far, the best way to clarify someone’s argument is by using Columbo, i.e. “What do you mean by that?” or, in this particular example, “Why not?”

Like the others listed, developing Practical Suicide takes time and practice. Nevertheless, these tactics force “the other person to think more carefully…”[3] And that’s the goal.

Check back next week for Chapter 9: Sibling Rivalry and Infanticide.

*Greg Koukl is Founder and President of Stand to Reason. Please do yourself a favor and buy his excellent book here!

[1] Greg Koukl, Tactics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), 121.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 57.

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