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How does one know the difference between these terms? If anybody has some tips or maybe a scheme I would be grateful.

asked Sep 14 '11 at 22:38

Yernaz's gravatar image


edited Sep 14 '11 at 23:41

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

"Evasion" is the lowering of your degree of (conceptual) awareness. To evade is to not make yourself aware of the various connections between everything you know; to ignore or deny what you know. Example: "I know that smoking causes cancer, but I will ignore it". Evasion is more than merely ignoring facts: you are also evading when you believe something in lack of evidence or, worse, despite the evidence. Example: "I believe in God, not because there are any reasons to believe in God, but because I want to believe in God". Observe that in both cases you are putting your emotions above the facts of reality.

Failing to make connections, due to intellectual passivity, is not necessarily the same as evading. It is drifting. Example: You become aware of a pattern in the economy (price inflation and the Fed printing more money) but you simply do not bother to connect it to what you know about economics and everything else that is relevant.

Context-dropping is, as John Paquette said, what you end up with when you fail to connect some relevant knowledge. Context-dropping is not necessarily done on purpose (in which case it is an evasion). It can be the result of failing to make a connection because of a mistake. Or maybe you are simply ignorant of the relevant facts. It can also be the result of having a bad habit of not making connecting, i.e., of drifting too much.

Any version of the broken window fallacy is an example of context-dropping. Example: You argue that government stimulus would be good for the economy, because it would create new jobs, but you fail to connect the fact that for each stimulus dollar the public sector consumes, there will be one dollar less for the private sector consumes. This policy will, therefore, not create any new jobs. At best it will only create some jobs in one sector at the expense of another. (In fact, since the precondition for any economic growth is savings, this policy of government consumption actually undermines the creation of more wealth and jobs in the future.)

Now, what is a "rationalization"? A "rationalization" is an attempt to cover up your emotions with arguments. The purpose is to make your emotions seem rational. Example: "Why should I not download this song? I will never buy it anyway, so what's the harm?" (See any random teenager who illegally downloads music.) Or: "I want to believe in a God, because it would make me feel better, therefore I will formulate this elaborate philosophy to justify the belief in God." (See here, for instance, William James or, for that matter, Immanuel Kant). Or: "I don't hate the rich, but they have to pay higher taxes to balance the budget!" (Why not just cut government spending instead? See, for example, Mr. Barack Obama.)

answered Sep 24 '11 at 11:01

Carl%20Svanberg's gravatar image

Carl Svanberg ♦

edited Sep 24 '11 at 11:02

Great answer.

(Sep 24 '11 at 11:38) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

I think this is best answered by visiting http://aynrandlexicon.com and looking up these terms.

In general, though, "evasion" denotes any volitional act of avoiding awareness.

Context dropping is a cognitive error, a failure to relate a fact to its necessary context, which might be intentional (in which case it is a form of evasion).

Rationalization is, as Carl says, the act of faking rationality -- of whitewashing the fact that you are making choices based on your emotions.

I believe that context dropping can be an innocent error, like forgetting, while rationalization cannot be.

answered Sep 15 '11 at 09:00

John%20Paquette's gravatar image

John Paquette ♦

edited Sep 24 '11 at 11:37

If one had never related a fact to its necessary context due to drifting, is it valid to call this context dropping since the verb dropping depends on the premise that something was held in the first place?

(Jul 31 '14 at 14:00) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

The idea of context dropping arises from a knowledge that any assertion applies within and requires a context.

It's knowing this fact that allows us to assert that someone making an assertion is ignoring context.

The idea of "context dropping" doesn't actually imply that the person ignoring context ever held the context. The context is not being dropped relative to some past state of mind, but relative to proper epistemic behavior.

(Jul 31 '14 at 14:09) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

So, context dropping is simply an act of omitting epistemically necessary context in an assertion. There's no requirement that you've held the requisite context in the past.

(Jul 31 '14 at 14:12) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image
  1. Had context in the past. Now no longer have it due to evasion or forgetfulness => context dropping.
  2. Never held context. Context is presented but refusing to integrate => context dropping?
  3. Never held context. Context is not provided => Context dropping?

I may agree that #2 is context dropping but I find it hard to agree that #3 is context dropping.

(Jul 31 '14 at 14:42) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

Right. If you just don't know that something is an important piece of context, that's not context dropping.

Context dropping regards proper epistemic behavior as opposed to complete epistemic content.

That is, if you ignore the need for context, or forget to consider it, you are dropping context. If you merely don't know something which is a valuable piece of context, that's not context dropping.

(Jul 31 '14 at 14:44) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

When we say that someone is dropping context, we presume they have at least implicit knowledge of the context they are omitting.

But if we have no reason to expect them to be aware of such context, we can't say they are dropping it.

(Jul 31 '14 at 14:48) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

In most cases of genuine context dropping, it's quite clear that the person dropping the context is focusing only on facts which bolster his case, and omitting context which would serve to undermine it.

(Jul 31 '14 at 14:51) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image
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Asked: Sep 14 '11 at 22:38

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Last updated: Jul 31 '14 at 14:51