Logical Fallacies: 1. Argumentum ad Temperantiam

 

Three years after his YouTube videos showing that “Economics is Fun,” Madsen is doing a series on “Logical Fallacies.” They mark the forthcoming release of Bloomsbury’s second edition of How to Win Every Argument. Madsen’s basic point is that errors of logic litter public and private discourse, and a working knowledge of logical fallacies will steer you towards what the evidence supports and away from what it does not.

More mischievously, it will enable you to have a great deal of fun poking holes in the arguments opponents put forward. Nowhere is this more true than in public life. The halls of Westminster and the media studios ring with fallacies, and you will enjoy identifying them. The book explains 90 of them, and Madsen intends to post brief videos on 20 of these over the next few weeks. The first is the Argumentum ad Temperantiam. We hope you enjoy them.

You can pre-order the new edition of Dr Madsen Pirie’s How to Win Every Argument here

New ASI paper: the Green Noose

According to a new ASI paper, written by Tom Papworth, and entitled The Green Noose, we can blame the Green Belt for the UK’s housing woes.

It says:

• Despite academics, politicians, and international organisations recognising that the UK is facing a housing crisis, it is currently far less developed than many imagine, especially when compared to similar countries. Indeed, only two members of the EU 27 have less built environment per capita than the UK: the Netherlands and Cyprus. 90% of land in England remains undeveloped, and just 0.5% would be required to fulfil this decade’s housing needs.

• Green Belts are not the bucolic idylls some imagine them to be; indeed, more than a third of protected Green Belt land is devoted to intensive farming, which generates net environmental costs.

• The concept of ever-expanding urban sprawl is mistaken and pernicious. In addition, Green Belts can give rise to “leap-frog development”, where intermediate patches of land are left undeveloped due to restrictions, a phenomenon indistinguishable from what many understand urban sprawl to be.

• By encouraging urban densification, Green Belts take green space away from those places where it is most valued. Each hectare of city park is estimated to be of £54,000 benefit per year, compared to a mere £889 per hectare for Green Belt land on the fringe of an urban area.

• There are substantial welfare costs of Green Belts. They have made accomodation more expensive and smaller, increased costs for businesses (especially relative to other European cities), and have contributed to the volatility
of house prices.

• The avenue of reform we favour is the complete abolition of the Green Belt, a step which could solve the housing crisis without the loss of any amenity or historical value – if only politicians and planners had the courage to take it.

• Failing this, we conclude that removing Green Belt designation from intensive agricultural land would also enable the building of all the housing required for the foreseeable future, and could help ameliorate the catastrophic undersupply of recent decades.

• In the short term, simply removing restrictions on land 10 minutes’ walk of a railway station would allow the development of 1 million more homes within the Green Belt surrounding London alone.

Click here to read the full press release.

The ASI is hiring paid gap year employees

The Adam Smith Institute is looking to hire two 18-19 year olds in between A-levels and university as paid gap year employees, working with the think tank on organising events, putting out publications, managing our database, handling merchandise, and running the office.

The role is open to applicants of all political stripes (lively debate is welcomed), and they need have no specific experience. It is, however, crucial that the candidate is open-minded, inquisitive, friendly, eager to learn and curious about politics and think-tanking.

The specific duties will be split evenly across the two successful applicants, and will include:

☻Organising lunches and dinners
☻Keeping a database up to date
☻Selling ASI merchandise
☻Doing secretarial work for the directors
☻Setting up and cleaning up events
☻Mailing publications out to subscribers
☻Logging RSVPs for events
☻Supporting donor relations
☻Meeting a wide range of interesting & important people
☻Learning about social & political science
☻Socialising with the staff
☻Carrying out self-directed research
☻Writing blog posts

Previous interns have gone on to work with the Adam Smith Institute, including the ASI’s current Research Director, Sam Bowman, and Head of Digital Policy, Charlotte Bowyer, who was a Gap Year intern in 2009-10.

The role will pay £700-1000/month (depending on experience), and is strictly limited to students on a gap year. It will last 2-9 months, starting from late October. All applicants will interview with President Madsen Pirie and Research Director Sam Bowman at the Adam Smith Institute offices in Westminster in mid-October and successful applicants will start from late October.

Please send a CV and cover letter of around 500 words to gapyear@adamsmith.org by 13th October

Looking at the world through neo-liberal eyes

Adam Smith Institute President, Dr. Madsen Pirie, explains why he is willing to own the usually-derogatory term neo-liberal, and explains why the world actually shows us the success of the much-maligned perspective.

I spoke at Brighton University as part of their seminar series on neo-liberalism.  The term ‘neo-liberal’ is usually used in a derogatory sense, though I chose not to use it that way.  I was the only speaker in the series to speak in favour of neo-liberal ideas, and my title was “Looking At the World Through Neo-Liberal Eyes.”  I began by quoting an old Chinese proverb: “Never criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.  That way you are a mile away when you voice your criticism; and you have his shoes.”  I invited the audience to see the world briefly as it looks through neo-liberal eyes.  These were the points I made.

1.  Value is in the mind, not within objects.

Value is not a property of objects or a quality they possess.  Although we talk of objects “having value,” we mean that we value them.  Value is in the mind of the person contemplating the object, not in the object itself.  If value resided in things, it could theoretically be measured objectively and we would all agree on what it was.  There would then be no trade, for exchange takes place when each person values what the other person has more than they value what they are offering in exchange.  A trade gives each of them something they value more, and thus wealth is created by the exchange.  When people make the mistake of supposing that value resides in objects, they ask how it arrived there, and come up with fallacious ideas such as Marx’s labour theory of value.  An object can take masses of labour to produce, but if no-one values it, it will be worthless.

Read the whole thing.