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Saturday, February 08, 2020

Is accusing someone of virtue signaling a form of virtue signaling?

How twitterers are logically spaghettifying their own metaphysical tu quoque in a logical black hole

T he latest thought bubbling up from the tar pits of the Internet is that accusing someone of virtue signaling is itself a form of virtue signaling. It is also said that the term ‘social justice warrior’ is out of bounds—a slur of the sterling reputation of wise and upstanding citizens crying out to save the world from, I guess, whatever we got.

This is, of course, a transparent attempt to neutralize any criticism that might be directed against themselves, sort of a metaphysical tu quoque as a philosophy of life.

It's also an example of the strategy of winning arguments by defining whatever your opponent says as inadmissible, but there's a problem: if calling somebody an SJW means you're an SJW, then saying so also makes you one, and you become logically spaghettified as you fall into a black hole of recursion.

It invalidates all the other arguments this tribe tends to make, most of which depend on the rhetorical validity of name-calling: it now means that calling somebody homophobic is a form of homophobia, calling somebody racist is racist, and calling somebody Hitler makes you a Nazi.

It's a wonderful example of a self-refuting argument: accusing someone of virtue signaling because they accused you of virtue signaling means you really are virtue signaling, and therefore the original accusation is true.

Seriously, do people on Twitter not think these things through?

What is virtue signaling

What is virtue-signaling, anyway? It's an assertion that the motive for someone's speech is not to convey information, but to convince the audience that one's motives are noble. The signaler is driven by the fear of being thrown under the bus. It's a cry of submission to the herd, a demonstration of support for group values. Accusing someone of virtue signaling is a way of pointing out that their motivation is insincere.

Because virtue signaling is purely instrumentalist, it's detached from the need to be factual, so we get hyperbole, or exaggeration for effect. For instance, a virtue signaler might say

There is a scientific consensus that there are 36 quadrillion different genders.

This is obviously nonsensical, but it's not intended to convey information. It's an argument to authority that says if you disagree, you are ignorant and therefore sit down and shut up. But it's also a form of virtue signaling, mainly because it is nonsensical.

The identitarian left also says we can't call anyone anything, or talk about them, or adopt any of their customs, unless we are that thing. We couldn't, for example, write a book about Mexicans unless we are Mexicans. Doing so is ‘cultural appropriation.’

But they also claim if we identify as something, we automatically are that thing. If I claimed to be a Mexican, that makes me one. If I claimed to be a womxn, I should be allowed to stand in line in front of the Ladies' room for three hours and talk about tampons with the rest of them.

Again, did they not notice these things are contradictory? How much time are they putting into this?

feb 08 2020, 6:33 am

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