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Paths Forward Short Summary

When there's a disagreement, ask yourself: "Suppose hypothetically that I'm wrong and the other guy is right. In what way would I ever find out and learn better?" If there's no good, realistic answer then you're bad at paths forward.

There exist methods for finding out you're mistaken about disagreements that aren't overly time consuming, and paths forward discusses them. (This has some overlap with Popper, but also adds ideas like having a public, written account of your position, by you or someone else, that you believe is correct and will take responsibility for. Popper didn't cover how to address all criticism without it taking too long.)

If you want to understand how paths forward work, go through these links:






Elliot Temple on September 14, 2016

Comments (1)

Paths Forward and Debating Ayn Rand

copy/pastes from facebook. context: talking to an Ayn Rand hater at:


I think it's important to write criticism of stuff you disagree with, rather than judge it's bad in your own head but don't ever expose your reasoning to criticism. Being fallible, it's possible you misunderstood the thing you didn't like, or didn't think of an argument that changes which ideas are correct. i've written a lot on this topic such as http://fallibleideas.com/paths-forward

If someone else had already written something good enough, then you could endorse it, and take responsibility for it, instead of writing your own. Then it would speak for you, but also any mistakes in it would be your own.

Alternatively, if no one writes criticism of Rand, then how should Rand fans like myself ever change our minds? What's to persuade or correct us? If the state of the public debate is that Rand is unanswered, then I don't think you can blame people for agreeing with her.

People look at the situation and think, "There are 500 criticisms of Objectivism. But if I pick one and endorse it, I may get a reply pointing out that that particular one I chose was poorly argued, made factual errors, contained internal contradictions, made ad hominem attacks, etc. So I don't want to pick one, I just want to non-specifically point at the whole body of literature and claim some of the arguments are good without giving any examples." That method – there's a good criticism *somewhere*, but I won't specifically commit myself to anything – prevents critical rebuttals.

curi at 3:36 PM on September 18, 2017 | #9037

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