The argument from effect, and why it’s counter productive

The argument from effect is the most widely used argument in the libertarian political movement.  It can be a rather effective debating tool, and it goes something like this:

Without a government XXX lives would be saved


Without a government *insert service here* would be better

Now, these are perfectly fine arguments, but people generally don’t care about the argument from effect.  People will do anything, just as long as they think that doing it is moral.  That is, if it is the right thing to do.  Arguments that appeal to morality are called, likely enough, Arguments from morality.  They go something like this:

We have a responsibility to the *Insert race/age group/etc here* to provide them with *insert service here* therefore, we are going to tax you.

Now think about the above statement for a moment. How many times have you heard this being used by a politician?  It’s practically every word that comes out of his mouth.  Why?  Because it works, brilliantly!

Since arguments from effect do not work, because people in their hearts do not respond to the effects of actions, it seems that we should not focus on them at all.  Arguments from effect only work when people are already agreeing with your premise, Which is not the case as of yet.

Arguments from morality work, however, because people want to do the right thing, unless of course they are sociopaths.   Of course, there is no changing a sociopath, so best avoid them.  They seem to congregate in Churches and in City Hall, so it’s probably best to stay away from them.

Arguments from effect are not useless however, and they are hardly unused.  In your debates, you are likely to come across this:

You:  Government by it’s very premise is immoral

Statist: Why do you say that?

You:  The government uses taxation, which is involuntary, and when someone involuntarily takes your money, it’s called theft.  Theft is immoral, therefore government is immoral.

Statist: but what about the roads!?!?!?

Now, one could counter this with an argument from effect, like the roads would be taken care of better, and we could get mountains of statistics to back this view up, but this course would most likely end with you gathering more and more statistics and them resolute in their views.

The other option is that you continue using the argument from morality:

Statist: But what about the roads?

You: Do the roads really matter so much in the face of millions of people being stolen from?  Do long strips of asphalt really matter more to you than the wellbeing of your family?  Or even a stranger’s family?  Does the asphalt really matter if your neighbor is being robbed at gunpoint?  I would think not.

Statist: Yes, the roads are more important

You: Run away quickly, this guy is a sociopath!

So, either the guy will agree with you, or he is stone crazy.  It’s as easy as that.

Now, if the guy agrees with you, but has questions, that’s where the argument from effect comes in. But the Argument from morality is the shovel for planting the seed of the tree of truth.  The argument from effect is like a pruner to trim the tree once it is grown


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