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07:30 pm: On the value of logical arguments
This post is a pretty good analysis of the value of logic and emotion in debates, I think.
Emotion has more value in argumentation than Burt credits. I agree that it’s not good for constructive debate if Schroeder calls Woodstock an asshole rather than answering Woodstock’s arguments. But emotional expression can be persuasive, and sometimes rightly.

Remember what I said earlier; just because someone has the better logical argument doesn’t always mean that they’re right. Sometimes it just means that they’re the more skilled debater. If someone makes a very logical argument concluding that the highest good requires kicking all puppies to death, our emotional revulsion may protect us from accepting a bad argument merely because it’s well-constructed and hides its holes cleverly. Emotion can be used to test logic’s soundness.

Of course, emotion isn’t the end-all and be-all; sometimes emotion is wrong. Just as we use emotion to test logic’s soundness, logic should be used to test emotion’s soundness. The point is to maintain balance; a wholesale rejection of either logic or emotion is a mistake.

Also, this part, in comments, by the author is good, too:
I kind of believe that everyone is a bigot at some level, some of the time. So for me, saying “you’re a bigot” is often a sort of meaningless statement, because it’s too generalized and nebulous to be useful.

I also think we should acknowledge that “your argument is based on some bigoted premises” is different from “you’re a bigot” as a matter of argumentative fairness. If I just say, “Linus, you’re a bigot,” Linus really has no way to respond. I’m commenting on what’s in Linus’ heart and soul, and Linus has no means available to prove to me I’m wrong. In contrast, if I aim my criticism at Linus’ policy, then I’m forced to come up with specifics, and will therefore give Linus potential grounds to argue on.

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