Justifying anything you want

by Captain Walker

Categories: Psychology & Philosophy

I’ve touched on ‘justification‘ in several posts over the years. A recent event last week, made me think even more about it.

As always I try to define or refine what I mean by words like justify or justification. Google addicts may now pause to check what the words mean.

What is the concept?

To justify something means that you show how and why some course of action, or a decision is the right one. People who do this are normally personally invested, or directed by an organisation to ‘justify‘. When they come to conclusions, they may believe they are right but not necessarily so. The main point is making the case for X, Y, or Z actions or decisions.

Justifications may be sound or unsound, objectively. But subjectively an individual can make whatever case they like. How sound a justification is, depends on a whole number of things. Importantly logic and sound reasoning are the big issues. In other posts I’ve separated logic from reasoning. Logic stands quite separately because it is nested in mathematical constructs. Reasoning is subject to all sorts of pitfalls e.g. biases.

In 2018 I delineated the concept:

  1. It comprises reasoning.
  2. The form of reasoning is aimed at achieving an end.
  3. Reasoning need not be sound but it can be.
  4. The validity of reasoning depends on how well logic was applied. In other posts I was careful to separate reasoning from logic.
  5. Anybody can reason in a way that serves their ends. Not everybody can reason based on the independent laws of logic.

Recent event

A nameless  highly qualified medical doctor – a gastroenterologist – and I, had a short discussion about ice, in the kitchen of digs where I’m staying at the moment. Yes – I said ice! What – have you got a reading problem? He was purchasing ice cubes in bags from a local supermarket and had stored them in he bottom of the freezer. He told me that I am welcomed to use his ice. I politely declined. I could see that the cubes were not used for months. I could infer that because ice cubes tend to melt and fuse to other cubes if left for a long time (even if the freezer isn’t partially defrosted). I’d have to knock the bunch of cubes on a table top, to separate them from each other.

I said that I just use an ice tray which I refill from the tap. Yeah – with tap water! Chrysst is that a problem?! So he went that he prefers to purchase ice cubes instead of using tap water to make ice. That’s fine – cuz apparently everybody is entitled to make their own choices about anything; even situations prohibited by law. Did I say there was a law about making ice cubes in your freezer? I did NOT!

His rationale for buying ice cubes was, “I don’t know what’s in that water [from the tap]”.  At this point, I’m totally flummoxed. So I say, “You don’t know what’s in the air you breathe either but you breathe it.” Then there was a bit of a stutter and a swift moving on. In case anyone missed it, the operative words are ‘know‘ and ‘don’t know‘.

Annoying interruption

Stupid: Ridiculous! You’re having an argument with a gastroenterologist in a kitchen about ice cubes?

CW: Except there was no argument. I said it was a brief discussion.

Stupid: But you challenged him about what’s in the air he breathes.

CW: Challenge? You are nuts. I simply pointed out that by his form of logic he should not be breathing the air he does, because he doesn’t know ‘what’s in that air’ – recalling that he doesn’t favour making ice with an ice tray filled from the taps, on same grounds.

Stupid: So you’re arguing that he should stop breathing air. You’re trying to kill the man!

CW: Utter rubbish! It is up to him if he wants to stop breathing air on the grounds that he doesn’t know what’s in that air. Suicide is his option. Chrysst!

Stupid: Well, you’re wrong. You can’t go around telling people what water to consume.

CW: Chrysst! I’m not going around telling people what water to consume! Right – I’ve had it. You’re back in the cage or box or whatever.

[collapse]

After that annoying interruption, I had to take a lie down ????. You see how hard it is for me to write these blogs?

Right – where was I?

The reality is that he doesn’t know what sort of water was used to create the ice cubes he purchased from the supermarket. He can’t know what was in that water either. The supermarkets could  be supplying ice cubes made by using basic unfiltered and untreated tap water. The packets are never labelled ‘created from absolutely pure water without germs or chemical contamination‘.

The justification above

So Mr Gastroenterologist has created a form of reasoning that is devoid of logic and has no foundation in evidence.

The way it works is to say “I don’t know what’s in that [water]” as if to imply that something ‘sinister’ may have been in the water used to make ice cubes sold in supermarkets. But he doesn’t know the latter, either. He wouldn’t know or not know ‘what’s in the air he breathes’ when driving down a motorway. By his logic he should stop driving his car on the motorway because ‘Dear God – there could be all manner of toxic gases out there!

How it works, is that you create a silent non-existent comparison (devoid of evidence or any real knowledge), to whimsically support the preferred option.

And think – highly educated people like him – all around the country are ‘reasoning’ (an insult to the word) in the same sort of way.

What does it mean?

I’ve always said, and I’ll say it again and again, “Education, does not teach people how to think soundly and apply the rules of logic”.

Critical thinking skills are not part of the  curriculum in most Western educational systems. And why? Well, George Carlin said it all many years ago in clip below.

What’s next

Nothing. You bugger off, and do as you like. Justify whatever you want!

The reading of posts on this blog is subject to the Terms & Conditions. Unpalatable truths and personal experiences may be told. Nothing posted on this blog is directed at any identified person. On occasions individuals are quoted anonymously. That does not mean that they have been identified to the world. Should any person or organisation reading this blog find something that makes them feel or know that they  are being referred to - any such perceived identification does not mean 'identified to the world'. ‘Stupid' is an impish figment of my imagination who occasionally is allowed to pop up – and does not represent any known individual or individuals. ‘Stupid'  carries the characteristics groups of people with 'social media mindsets'. The treatment of  'Stupid' is not representative of the way people are treated in real life. Adverse inferences made are dismissed in advance. 

While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparing posts on this blog, they make no representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents  and specifically disclaim any implied warranties or fitness for a particular purpose. Posts on this blog do not contain all information available on various topics. Posts contain opinion based on facts, experience and other concepts. Opinions expressed are not advice nor intent on persuading any individual or other legal entity to adopt the opinions.  Posts are not created to be specific to any individual’s or organisation’s situation or needs. All persons are instructed to obey relevant policies and procedures that may apply to them. Departure from such, is at readers' own risk. You should consult with a professional with fiduciary duty to you, when making decisions. The author and publisher shall have no liability or responsibility to any person or entity regarding any loss or damage incurred, or alleged to have been incurred, directly or indirectly, by the information contained on this blog or hyperlinked from this blog. 


Other posts that may interest you...

Focalism and related biases

This bias is quite common. Have you ever been in a conversation where you make a thoughtful point, only to have the other person latch onto a single word or phrase and totally miss your intended meaning? This common phenomenon is known as focalism bias, and it can lead to frustrating misunderstandings and derailed discussions. ... Read more

Starting over with belief

Belief and believing (etc) have been a big part of my attention for many years. Having read a lot on this, I decided to start all over. What I mean is, I’m going back to the roots of belief. There are things that determine beliefs and I will go into that as well. Why should ... Read more

Faulty analogies

In the following weeks I’ll be doing an exploration of several logical fallacies and errors of thinking. I’m returning to this area because it is a difficult one to recall a taxonomy of categorised fallacies and errors. There are some 300-plus logical fallacies on record. Most people cannot name one. What’s the importance of this? ... Read more

And who are you?

Minor and strange encounters with the humans often fascinate me. I’m amused or even bewildered by their thinking and responses. Today another minor encounter, put me to think. I’m walking along on a pavement, on the side of a street (just to be clear), in my home town. A man has just got  out of ... Read more