Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2012 December 9

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December 9[edit]

Is this article wrong in its assertion about analytic and synthetic distinction?[edit]

I would like to share my findings about this article. The statement -' the tree is 120 feet tall" is not a synthetic proposition but analytic per se. Analytic synthetic distinction concerns itself with the linguistic structure and not the substance of the terms in the proposition. Therefore if the predicate is contained in the statement it is an analytic example. However, although it is analytic the substance of the terms require experience for you to say that the tree is 120 feet, therefore the proposition "the tree is 120 feet tall is a synthetic a posteriori statement and not synthetic.

Here is the article:

"An analytic claim, the predicate is contained within the subject. In the claim, “Every body occupies space,” the property of occupying space is revealed in an analysis of what it means to be a body. The subject of a synthetic claim, however, does not contain the predicate. In, “This tree is 120 feet tall.” — Preceding unsigned comment added by Joshua Atienza (talkcontribs) 02:14, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

(1) What is "this article"?
(2) Are you aware this is a Reference Desk, a place you come to if you have a question requiring a reference?
(3) Do you have a question?
(4) What is it? -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 02:43, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Sorry If I have not included the question. I am currently urinalysis all possible articles with regards to epistemology and I believe that this reference desk will not only help me find a reference but help me in assuring the correctness of the reference.

Before we can opine on whether the reference is likely to be correct, we need to know more about the reference (such as: what exactly are you quoting, who was it's author, where was it published? etc.) Blueboar (talk) 03:36, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
And we need to know what "I am currently urinalysis all possible articles" means. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 03:55, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
No, Jack, actually we don't, at least don't wish to, lol. μηδείς (talk) 04:59, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Sounds like their analysis is insufficiently anal, thus leaving them pissed off. StuRat (talk) 06:40, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Can we please not make fun of a questioner's poor English? The OP obviously means "analysis".
I was not making fun of anyone. A simple spelling error is nothing, but the word the OP used seems very specifically chosen. Presumably for a good reason (that's me practising AGF, btw). But it doesn't make much sense to me. Hence my request for clarification. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 10:17, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
That said, I am concerned that s/he is offering "my opinions" and "analysis". On wikipedia we report other people's, published work. We do not do original research. If the OP could explain more what they are trying to do, we could offer guidelines on whether it is suitable for inclusion. Rojomoke (talk) 07:49, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Joshua is getting it from here:
Anyway, that article is right, Joshua. The author, Matt McCormick , certainly knows more about it than me, so my word isn't worth anything compared to what you already have (and—while I don't mean to impugn the people on this board—for this topic McCormick's likely to equal anyone here on the reference desk).
When Kant and other philosophers on this topic say that an analytic claim is true or false on the ground of whether the subject does or does not contain the predicate, they are speaking about the concepts to which the words refer. They are not making a linguistic claim nor speaking about the words themselves. This may be a bit confusing, because "predicate" and "subject" are more usually used with reference to grammar/linguistics, but not in this case. "Predicate" is better thought of as "property", and "subject" as "particular" or "individual". --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 08:32, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Big government[edit]

I hear Americans (or Republicans anyway) complain that their government is too big. What do they mean by "big"? Too fat, too far reaching into people's lives, too expensive, maybe? Astronaut (talk) 03:51, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

It means several things, including those you list (except for obese). Part of the reason for its existence is to have a common term to repeat in political discussions, at which point "big" can (and usually does) become an empty word.--MarshalN20 | Talk 03:57, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
The general theme is "doing things which are better done by private individuals and industry". Private individuals and industry do tend to be more efficient, but don't always have the public interest in mind. For example, private insurance may be more efficient, but they achieve that efficiency by denying insurance to those with pre-existing conditions, refusing any new treatments as "experimental", and dropping anyone who makes too many claims. StuRat (talk) 04:03, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
I hear Communists (or Progressives anyway) want to fundamentally transform the United States of America. But heck, some people think voting's the best revenge. There is something very easy to read and understand called the Constitution of the United States, but I would highly recommend against reading it if one wishes to keep one's illusions. μηδείς (talk) 04:57, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
It's an old complaint, dating back to the 1933 New Deal programs, but with the rise of the Tea Party movement and the predominant influence of Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers, any form of government activity which is either non-military or does not predominantly benefit ultra-wealthy individuals or large corporations is automatically considered "too much government" in the eyes of some... See also Night-watchman state. -- AnonMoos (talk) 06:51, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
It's even older than that. If you look at the Copperhead movement of the 19th century, you find a group who spread lies about the President somehow being African out of fears that he was going to legalize a form of marriage they didn't approve of before making backdoor deals with majority-Catholic immigrant day laborers (the Irish, and totally not the Mexicans) and Semitic merchants (the Jews, totally not Arabs) at the expense of "working" people, and generally have the federal government "squash" states' rights (as if the total failure of the Articles of Confederation didn't necessitate that and as if the Whiskey Rebellion didn't seal the deal). Ian.thomson (talk) 02:24, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
When Americans say the government is too big, they usually mean taxes and spending are too high, regulations are too numerous and stringent, gun laws are too limiting, and the poor receive too much welfare. They don't mean that the government places too many restrictions on abortion or same-sex marriage, that criminals or illegal immigrants are being treated too cruelly, or that the country's foreign policy is too imperialistic. Basically, "too big" means "too many limitations on us", but not "too many limitations on people not like us". -- (talk) 08:33, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes. Exactly. There's an increasingly more-open racist, sexist, religionist, and about anything-ist that you can think of tone to the arguments made by the teabaggers and the GOP and the rest of that crowd. It used to be called "states' rights", which was a euphemism for the right to have Jim Crow Laws, and inferior education and social access for non-white males. And the white male supremacists in America don't like seeing their power erode. Hence the talk of "secession" (hey, it worked pretty well in 1861), where they wouldn't have "big government" requiring them to provide equal access. As for Limbaugh putting a Santa Claus hat on Obama (as opposed to donning a Scrooge hat himself), the term "don't shoot Santa Claus" has been around at least since the FDR days. And as usual, it's typically those who already have access to resources who use that expression against those who don't. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 12:59, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Calling people teabaggers is no different than calling them cocksuckers--it's highly offensive and, Frankly, beneath you. μηδείς (talk) 20:16, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Au contraire, mon amigo... It was the tea party themselves who first used the term "teabaggers".[1]Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:14, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

The simple answer: government expenditure divided by GDP. MMMMM742 (talk) 12:40, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

It's a little late to respond to StuRat, but the relative efficiency of the private sector depends on one's perspective. The private sector is certainly more efficient at delivering compensation to executives and perhaps shareholders than the private sector but not at delivering services such as healthcare to the public. In fact, the American healthcare system, with its dominant private sector, is vastly less efficient (higher costs, often worse results in terms of infant mortality, death rate, or any number of other measures) than the healthcare systems of other countries with government-run healthcare systems[2]. Within the United States, public parts of the healthcare system, such as Medicaid, are measurably more efficient in terms of public health outcomes than privately run parts of the system[3]. The Republican claim that the private sector is always more efficient is purely ideological and without any clear basis in fact.
In fact, the entire Republican case against big government seems to be ideological. There is simply a conviction that government should be limited to functions that the private sector cannot perform, and excluded from functions where the private sector's performance is merely problematic or inferior. Most present-day Republicans also oppose any government role in social welfare, including poverty relief. They oppose any government role in healthcare or even pensions (i.e., social security), believing that those functions can and should be transferred to the private sector. Some oppose public education as well. For many Republicans, government has no proper role beyond military defense, the judicial system, and perhaps police functions. To the extent that government offers any services other than these, it is too big for many Republicans. Marco polo (talk) 22:37, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
It's not all about efficiency. At least, not to me. To me, the main point is that the government is the one thing you can't route around. If you don't like your boss you can look for another job, and if you're good enough, you'll find one that has more congenial policies. If you don't like your medical insurance, pay for your care yourself, and then you can choose what you want done. But once government takes it over, there's just the one way, which is their way. That's why Canadians with the means to do so come to the States for medical care that their government doesn't think they need, or need enough, or need yet. To route around government, most of the time, you have to actually move to another country, which is generally harder than (say) finding another job. --Trovatore (talk) 02:38, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
There is another model where governments and the private sector both participate in an industry or service area. That way there is even more choice. HiLo48 (talk) 03:07, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Well, not much choice for the folks who have to pay for it. Still, yes, if I had to pick one of the two, I would prefer the British medical system to the Canadian one. --Trovatore (talk) 03:27, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Not sure what you mean by "the folks who have to pay for it". HiLo48 (talk) 03:29, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Taxpayers. --Trovatore (talk) 03:30, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, that's obviously WHO you meant, but maybe you're not understanding what I meant. In Australia, we've had models in several industries where both government and the private sector participated. These included banks, insurance companies and telecommunications. If you chose to do business with a non-government business, you obviously paid nothing to the government business. The government businesses did not generally live off taxes at all. In fact many paid dividends to the government. HiLo48 (talk) 03:49, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Oh. Well, that is different. But in that case I'm not sure what the advantage is of involving a political body. What does government bring to the party, over just another entrepreneur? Is the government enterprise given special treatment? --Trovatore (talk) 04:20, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
What it normally means is that government is doing things the speaker does not, at the moment, benefit directly from (or does not recognise as such). Or that he thinks his or her potential voters dislike. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 22:45, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Or that his campaign contributors think they (as CEOs or shareholders) could profit from doing instead of government. Marco polo (talk) 22:49, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Beach nourishment and coastal Armoring in the USA[edit]

Does most of the funding for all of the United States coastal armoring and beach nourishment projects come from taxpayer money (federal, state, and local government funding)? Thanks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:08, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Sure. I suppose some beachfront property owners might make a modest effort on their own, but the scale really requires taxpayer funded government action. StuRat (talk) 07:10, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Very few property owners could afford it. The whole effort is regulated by Coastal Zone Management Act. OsmanRF34 (talk) 15:06, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
The OP should be very interested to read the works of Orrin H. Pilkey who is something of an expert on the topic. --Jayron32 01:53, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

Is it true that Ted Bundy helped police catch Gary Ridgway?[edit]

Keeeith (talk) 13:16, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Our article on Ridgway has the answer to your question. It depends on how liberally you define "help". — Lomn 14:21, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Thank you, I'm reading it right now. Keeeith (talk) 14:24, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

In Christianity, is possible to see heaven and hell as just states of mind?[edit]

Or are they places you go to. OsmanRF34 (talk) 14:52, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

The states of mind deal is pretty much how Meister Eckhart and a number of other mystics and theologians saw it. When you're dead, you have no physical body, so "place" has a different meaning. Hell would be the absence of God, and yet God is omnipresent. Thus, concludes Eckhart and other mystics, hell is the sinner sitting in the same "place" as the saint, but driving himself insane denying the presence of God and feeling the warmth of His love as hellfire instead.
Also, before the 11th or 12th centuries, almost all Christian theologians assumed Idealism (that ideas, not matter, are the truest and most basic level of existence) as a common ground for all other theology. Ian.thomson (talk) 15:01, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
There is tremendous variation about what "heaven" and "hell" are meant to mean in Christian theology. There was an excellent article in The New Yorker very recently about this. The short version is that the Bible is actually very unclear and contradictory on whether heaven and hell are meant to be literal places, and these inherent ambiguities have not been helped by translation issues, either. There is, as with most things in the Bible, sufficient leeway for multiple interpretations to be valid even within a literal reading of scripture, much less a reading that sees the scripture as allegorical or metaphorical. --Mr.98 (talk) 14:59, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Mainstream Christianity has always taught a bodily resurrection of the dead (see e.g. 1 Corinthians 15), so that not only the mind, but also the body will experience the afterlife. But of course throughout history people calling themselves Christians have taught just about everything one could think of, so to say whether it is 'possible' depends on your definition of Christianity. - Lindert (talk) 15:05, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Mainstream Christianity has taught that the body will be resurrected at the final judgement, but has historically varied as to whether the soul dies in the mean time or waits in heaven or Hades. Mainstream Christianity has only recently given widespread acceptance to William Tyndale's Biblical literalism. And throughout history, devout Christians (not just nominal ones) have taught a variety of doctrines, even back to the founding of the religion (c.f. Mark 9:14-30), and there are those who do not believe but teach "correct" doctrine (see how the state churches of Iceland and Norway have 70%-90% membership, despite only 30%-40% of the general population actually admitting any belief in God). Ian.thomson (talk) 20:48, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I was indeed referring to the final judgement. If at any time people's bodies will be in heaven, then that rules out the possibility that heaven and hell are just states of the mind. I don't think nominal/atheistic 'Christians' are very relevant here. - Lindert (talk) 23:07, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
You said that mainstream Christians has always taught a physical heaven (assuming Biblical literalism as evidence for this), and then described those who taught otherwise as "people calling themselves Christians." I've pointed out that Christianity, even mainstream Christianity, has varied in its views on the afterlife throughout history, and brought up the nominal/atheistic Christians to point out that narrowly correct doctrine is not equivalent to faith (which both theologians and anthropologists agree on is a better means to define whether one is Christian or merely calling themselves one).
Is this clearer to you now? Ian.thomson (talk) 23:15, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
That's why I said that it may depend on your definition of Christianity. I didn't even say anything about a 'physical' heaven, only that there would be bodies there. That is just plain biblical language, and you don't need to presuppose 'Biblical Literalism' for that. The problem with accepting just anything as Christian, (aside from theological implications), is that in this way it becomes literally impossible to say anything meaningful about Christianity. - Lindert (talk) 23:24, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Wait, are you seriously not admitting that taking the Bible at it's face value is taking the literal interpretation? The mainstream standard for what is or is not Christian has universally been faith in Christ crucified and resurrected, almost always combined with the Trinity and the Incarnation, not what form the afterlife takes. As I've pointed out repeatedly, the literalist view you've put forth is not universal among Christians, and has only become common and serious in Western Christianity within about the past five centuries. It is mainstream for English speakers now, but not throughout the whole history of the religion throughout the whole world, even narrowing it down to those who accept the Apostles' Creed, or even the Nicene or Chalcedonian creeds. Ian.thomson (talk) 23:35, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, I don't think we're getting anywhere. I think you are quite mistaken about Christian beliefs throughout history, but this is not the place for debate. - Lindert (talk) 23:46, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The view of heaven and hell as "experiential states" instead of places is common in the Greek Orthodox Church. It was an important piece to the teachings of Meister Eckhart. Pope John Paul II wrote that heaven and hell were states, not places. That's three pieces of evidence that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches (the majority of the Christian Church throughout history) take an idealist view of the afterlife, and have done so as far back as the 13th century. You have cited no evidence except WP:PRIMARY original research. Don't you dare insult me again, when you can't even acknowledge you're taking a literalist personal interpretation and treating it as a universal truth. Ian.thomson (talk) 23:55, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

I've said nothing about you except that I think you're wrong. If you consider disagreement an insult, then I'm sorry there's nothing I can do about that. And again, I will not debate here. - Lindert (talk) 00:02, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
You've cited no sources, provided no evidence except a little original research, and then you pull this whole act of "I'm not going to defend my position but continue to insist you're mistaken even though you've presented plenty of evidence that I'm wrong?" That's totally respectful and a sign of an educated person who has the slightest clue of what they're talking about. Ian.thomson (talk) 00:07, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Lindert: I've got to agree with Ian here. You say you 'won't debate', but what this means in practice is that you're refusing to acknowledge or engage with the fact that you've given factually inaccurate information to an honest enquirer on the RefDesk. This isn't a matter of opinion, and it isn't about the unseen truths of religion: it's about the documented beliefs of faithful Christians of many denominations down the ages. Ian has provided plenty of evidence of the variation and variety of belief on the topic of the afterlife, and you've essentially put your fingers in your ears and refused to listen, apologise, or recant. You are wrong. Jesus himself said that in the afterlife, we would be 'like angels - not marrying or being given in marriage' (in the question about the woman married seven times - responding to those who were mocking the reality of the resurrection by taking a logically absurd conclusion from the idea that the resurrected would once again be like mortals). St Paul said "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be the last trumpet." Again, the idea of the radical differentness of the future state is emphasised. Not a scriptural source, but a good example of medieval Catholic belief, is Dante, who shows souls in the temporal realm of Purgatory having 'airy bodies', which have only the physical properties necessary at any given time; the spirits in Heaven, no longer requiring any such properties, are beings of increasingly pure and abstract form, culminating in the vision of God as pure Love. AlexTiefling (talk) 00:23, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Why should I recant or apologize while I am not convinced of my error? To do so would be dishonest. Anyway, since you insist: I never denied a variety of views on the afterlife, nor did I make any assertions about the nature of the resurrected body, nor would I deny 'the radical differentness of the future state'. The only point I made was that the resurrection of the dead has always been maintained in mainstream Christianity. I could cite many creeds, ancient and modern to show this, but Ian has already agreed to this (see above). Regardless of any particular view, resurrection by definition involves bodies. Regarding pope John Paul II, who is quoted above, he certainly does not ascribe to the view that heaven and hell are nothing but states of mind. Otherwise he could never uphold the dogma of the bodily assumption of Mary: "the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory". Also, Jesus in Matthew 10:28 said "be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.". If heaven and hell are just states of mind, these statements do not make any sense. If a body can enter a state of mind, then it is no longer just a state of the mind, but of the body also. Finally, would you be so kind as to tell which exact parts of my posts are 'factually inaccurate'? Thanks. - Lindert (talk) 11:29, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
OsmanRF34 -- you could read the book The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (it's pretty short) for a perspective by a Christian with a strong desire to remain doctrinally orthodox, but also to discard the tired old symbolism of tails, horns, pitchforks, harps, halos, etc. and get beyond traditional hellfire-and-brimstone preaching... -- AnonMoos (talk) 17:17, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Seleucid Empire[edit]

Seleucid Empire ca. 323 BCE (at the time of Alexander's death)

After Alexander the Great, His empire fractured. The above empire is one of them. Is there a map and hopefully list of what happened (at least in terms of the empires that became after division of Alex's empire) to Alex's empire?Curb Chain (talk) 14:55, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

I'm not sure if there's a map on Wikipedia, but you could check out Diadochi (Alexander's successors) and follow the links from there. Adam Bishop (talk) 15:14, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Oh, actually there is a map in Wars of the Diadochi. Adam Bishop (talk) 15:24, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
commons:Category:Maps of the Seleucid Empire shows many maps of Seleucid Empire and its neighboring states include one labeled Diadochi.
I am looking for the map/political sitiuationsituation right after Alexander the Great's death.Curb Chain (talk) 16:12, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Like this map? --Pp.paul.4 (talk) 16:59, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
That shows only the Selecucid Empire. What are the other empires which came out of the Macedonian Empire?Curb Chain (talk) 21:09, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

I could be reading too much into this, but given the nature of the question and the timing of it, the questioner might find useful information at (and following the links from) this section in Wikipedia. --Dweller (talk) 18:28, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Curb Chain, the situation right after Alexander's death in 323 BCE was the Partition of Babylon. The results of that partition are shown in the map linked at Wars of the Diadochi. The Seleucid Empire as such did not formally come into being until 312 BCE, some 11 years later (though in fact it gradually emerged during a series of wars before that date). Our article Battle of Ipsus has two maps showing the extent of the successor states before and after that battle, which was something of a turning point, particularly for the Seleucid Empire. After Ipsus, southern Syria (broadly defined), including Judaea, came under the control of the Ptolemaic Kingdom, although the region was claimed by the Seleucids. The Seleucids did not gain control of the region for another hundred years, however, and the revolt of the Maccabees, which Hanukkah remembers, did not happen until more than 150 years after the death of Alexander. Marco polo (talk) 22:24, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Almanach de Gotha[edit]

Can anybody provide a link for the volume of Almanach de Gotha for 1806 through 1818? --The Emperor's New Spy (talk) 15:52, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

A:German editions in wikisource. B:French editions in wikisource. C:German editions in genwiki. D:French editions in genwiki. --Pp.paul.4 (talk) 16:49, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

book about Shas party of Israel and Meretz[edit]

Is there any books about Shas party of Israel and Meretz? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Donmust90 (talkcontribs) 18:28, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

For books on Shas, search the online catalogue of the US Library of Congress. There area several titles in English and more in Hebrew. The author's credentials can also be checked on line. What the LOC online catalogue shows for "Merets (political party)" (i.e. Meretz) is meagre and not likely to be comprehensive. If you can't find adequate past and present information from archival and current periodicals (including online resources) and must locate a book, I suggest contacting the Tel Aviv University Libraries to inquire what exists, in what language, and its accessibility. -- Deborahjay (talk) 13:16, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Are you interested solely on present conditions, or are you interested in knowing about their historical roots. "Was the Red Flag Flying There?: Marxist Politics and the Arab-Israeli Conflict in Egypt and Israel, 1948–1965" has some material on the forerunners of Meretz, important to understand the party today. --Soman (talk) 13:57, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

Hugo Chavez's successor[edit]

Who is the constitutional successor to Hugo Chavez should he not survive his surgery? (talk) 22:48, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Nicolás Maduro, the Vice President of Venezuela, according to the latter article. --Mr.98 (talk) 23:48, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Fallacy: A isn't that bad, because B did bad things, too.[edit]

I'm trying to name a certain popular fallacy. I tried List of fallacies, but couldn't find it, maybe because it's well hidden or because I'm blind ;):
It's a standard fallacy in historical discussions: One person's "evilness" is diminished by stating that other people (variant B: explicitly "good" people) did evil things, too. Example: "Hitler was bad, because he killed so many people." – "So? Stalin killed many people, too." or (variant B): "So? The US Army killed many people, too".
This is of course not the place to discuss historical events or facts, I'm interested in the fallacy... thanks -- megA (talk) 23:07, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Two wrongs make a right - Lindert (talk) 23:14, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Ah, thank you very much. For some reason, from the description on the list, I thought TWMAR was something different... -- megA (talk) 23:26, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Or isn't it and you are lynching Afro-Americans? OsmanRF34 (talk) 23:27, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
That would have the tu quoque angle that I wanted to avoid. -- megA (talk) 23:31, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
The Wikipedia version of that principle is Other stuff exists. Looie496 (talk) 06:16, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
I reckon I could quote 50 fourteen or fifteen year old high school students who have said to me during the past year "But he's doing it too." (Or the equivalent). HiLo48 (talk) 07:30, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
It's sad for the Reference Desk that I've seen it less in my high school (as a student) than here on the Reference Desk. "Israel/Hamas is doing X. So? Hamas/Israel is doing Y", or "The death penalty is barbaric. So? That guy killed (insert number here) people." -- (talk) 08:43, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
So it's OK that your fellow students do it, because the refdesk does it too? --Trovatore (talk) 08:55, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Nope, it's never OK. I do think it's much worse for the Ref Desk to do it than a bunch of high school students, if only because the first aims to be objective. -- (talk) 18:23, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
I don't think that this qualifies as a logical fallacy since "A is bad" isn't a logical statement, it's a subjective one. Also, in some cases, it is appropriate to do such a "but B is worse" comparison, while in other cases it is not. To take the black lynchings versus Stalin's genocide example, there were perhaps hundreds of blacks who were lynched, and millions who Stalin had killed. So, the scale is vastly different. If the World Court had jurisdiction and was deciding where to put it's resources, they should obviously go after the much worse case first. However, if you were in the US and tried to make the case that lynchings were OK because Stalin was so much worse, then, no, that argument wouldn't stand up, as the two have nothing to do with each other. StuRat (talk) 09:07, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
From Lynching: Nearly 3,500 African Americans were lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1968, mostly from 1882 to 1920. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 11:09, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
OK, using that figure and Stalin#Calculating_the_number_of_victims, we get that the US casualties, over a much longer period, were on the order of 1/1000th to 1/20,000th the scale of Stalin's. StuRat (talk) 22:08, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Very true. (As an aside, I'm intrigued as to why you amended your post from "dozens, perhaps hundreds of blacks who were lynched" to plain "perhaps hundreds of blacks who were lynched", which is still way short of the actual figure of "nearly 3,500".) -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 00:40, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Well, I was talking about the period when Stalin was in charge, by which time lynchings in the US had dramatically declined (see my comment on the "much longer period"). However, rather than argue that fact, I thought I'd just use your period, although those numbers made my "dozens" look way off, so I excised it (it wasn't really a mistake, we were just talking about different periods). And hundreds can include 3500, at least in the US, where it's sometimes said as "35 hundred". StuRat (talk) 01:18, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Once you accept or presuppose the premise that someone who kills people is bad, the rest of the argument is logical. The fallacy is unrelated to the truth or the objectivity of that original premise. - Lindert (talk) 15:44, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
One viewpoint is that "in the eyes of God", murdering one person is every bit as sinful as murdering large quantities. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:00, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
We see the Two wrongs make a right fallacy in politics all the time... Political Party A criticizes Party B for something... Party B responds with: "Well, you guys in Party A did the same thing (only worse) when you were in power". The response may point out the hypocrisy of Party A's criticism... but the response is still a fallacy... the fact that Party A did the "bad" thing (only worse) does not make it OK for Party B to do it as well. Blueboar (talk) 17:10, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Well, they could be pointing out that whatever they both did, it's a necessary evil (for example, if they both raised taxes to try to fix a chronic debt problem). Also, if it gives one side an advantage to do it, asking the other side to stop, while you continue, amounts to asking them to perform unilateral disarmament. StuRat (talk) 18:19, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
The book Straight and Crooked Thinking discusses a similar type of argument on pages 27 and 28 at
Wavelength (talk) 06:26, 11 December 2012 (UTC)