Victor Reppert has posted a rather perplexing response to a little post we did over here. For some odd reason, he has chosen to construe our post as a personal attack on him.
To begin with, we did him the courtesy of plugging a recent post of his. He should take it as a compliment that we’re advertising his wares. Why is he so defensive? If I plug your work, and you take offense, it seems to me that your reaction betrays some sort of inferiority complex.
Now, it’s true that we framed our post as comparison between one philosopher and another. However, we never accused Reppert of being a charlatan. We simply pointed our readers to two different treatments of the health care debate, and invited them to judge for themselves. We never said which we which. We left that up to the reader.
And, to judge by Reppert’s reaction, he took us up on the offer. For him to infer that we accused him of charlatanry strikes me as a bit self-incriminating. Does he react the same way when he’s shown an inkblot?
“My job as a philosopher is sometimes to ask question, rather than to answer them.”
He did more than ask a question. Rather, he posed a loaded question, which took the form of an implicit argument from analogy: “Is health care something like a car, which most of us think we can have only if we can afford one, or like having a fire department available to put a fire out if your house in burning down, which is and, we think should be paid for by the government.”
One job of a philosopher is to know how to formulate sound arguments from analogy. Is his “question” a sound analogy? Or does his question overlook some gaping disanalogies?
“I pointed out that there were some things which were ‘socialized’ and some things which were not socialized, and asked whether health care is something that should be socialized or not socialized…A simple ‘capitalism good, socialism bad,’ or the reverse, won't do the job.”
I agree with him that that’s simplistic. And that’s the problem. He caricatured the opposition to Obamacare by grossly oversimplifying the objections.
Who is he using as a representative opponent of Obamacare? Is it some rightwing popularizer like Rush Limbaugh, or is it a more sophisticated opponent like Thomas Sowell?
At the risk of stating the obvious, one job of a philosopher is to attack the strongest version of the opposing position. Has Reppert made the slightest effort to do that?