The following argument is unsound:
- Obama is president.
- Therefore, libertarianism is true.
By pointing out that the argument is unsound, I don’t thereby reveal that I’m secretly a fascist. I don’t thereby declare that libertarianism is false. I just explain that the argument doesn’t succeed in establishing its conclusion.
The following argument begs the question, if used against atheists.
- Everything the Bible says is true.
- The Bible says Jesus is the son of God.
- Therefore, Jesus is the son of God.
By pointing out the argument begs the question, I don’t thereby dispute the conclusion or reject Christ. Rather, I just mean to say that the argument assumes the thing being disputed.
Well, yeah, duh, that’s obvious. But even though everyone knows in the abstract that this is obvious, I frequently see exchanges among libertarians that go as follows:
Libertarian J: Hans Hermann-Hoppe’s “argumentation ethics” argument is among the silliest philosophy arguments I’ve ever seen, and when I say that, I mean to include essays I gave failing grades back when I was TAing for David Chalmers.
Libertarian S: Really? You think that? So, you must be a communist then.
Libertarian J: No, I just mean that I think it’s a terrible argument for its conclusion. I’m not disputing the conclusion. I’m just saying that that argument doesn’t come close to establishing its conclusion.
Libertarian S: Why do you want to aggress against innocent people!
The exchange above is of course fictional.