Pot/Kettle Fallacy

Chris (Stumbling and Mumbling) get in a well-aimed shot at Oliver Kamm for his trenchant criticism of the Greenpeace activists who disrupted yesterday’s CBI conference, which appears in today’s Times.

Kamm’s expansion of a bit of typical Greenpeace rhetoric – a claim that the intent behind the protest was “to stop Tony Blair delivering his speech

11 thoughts on “Pot/Kettle Fallacy

  1. The problem with making pompous accusations about other people’s fallacies is that you look a complete tosser when you show you don’t know what you’re talking about. Apart from not having a clue what, e.g., poisoning the well means, you haven’t read Kamm’s case on Iraq. Here’s what he said about Iraq’s WMD on his blog in June 2003. ” I doubt we’ll find much evidence of Saddam’s weapons programme. The threat seems to have been more an inchoate capability allied to a tyrant’s megalomania than a large stockpile of military hardware. And if that reading proves accurate, then I am more than ever convinced President Bush and Tony Blair were right to go to war.”

    You can disagree with his view, but your claim that “his heedlessness of facts is no longer in dispute”, which you thought so clever, is plain stupid. It’ll be a long time before you get a Times column.

  2. George:

    1. I’ve no ambitions to write for the Times.

    2. On the subject of logocal fallacies, it seems I’m going to have to explain things.

    Kamm’s uses the poisoning the well fallacy when he claims, at the end of his piece, that the actions of two Greenpeace activists negate any possible contribution to wider political discourse – as noted by Chris in his articles.

    The parallel Kamm draws between Greenpeace and Williamson is an obvious Straw Man in addition to using guilt by association in linking Williamson’s support for fascism with Greenpeace’s actions via their shared concern for the environment, the appeal to spite comes in the reference to ‘contempt for democracy’ and the composition fallacy arrives in the form of extrapolating the values of an entire organisation from the actions of two individuals.

    As for the reference to his ‘heedlessness of facts…’ is both a thought exercise, hence the comment ‘not a bad fit’ rather than a claim that it exactly mirrors Kamms views.

    In any case you quotation serve to vindicate rather than that statement as is demonstrates Kamm’s heedlessness of the fact that in the absence of WMD, there was no legal justification in international law for the 2003 invasion.

  3. Thank you for confirming that you’re a complete tosser. If you want to pontificate on logical fallacies you should learn what they are and how to spell logical. Kamm doesn’t argue ‘that the actions of two Greenpeace activists negate any possible contribution to wider political discourse’. He argues that the actions demonstrate a characteristic of Greenpeace’s ideology i.e. that they don’t understand value pluralism. The parallel he draws is not guilt by association but a common factor. The ‘contempt for democracy’ is an accurate description. The ‘fallacy of composition’ shows you’re as ignorant as you appear, because the two people were there representing the organisation. Kamm tells us that, you dimwit, when he refers to correspondence from Greenpeace about the action and how they’d been misquoted.

    I’m not surprised that having humiliated yourself by not checking what Kamm ever said abut WMD you desperately shift your ground on to something else. Kamm of course claims that there was legal justification for war in absence of WMD in UN Security Council Resolutions 678 and 687. But having shown you’re a dishonest debater, an ingnoramus and a half-wit, you’ll no doubt try a diversionary tactic somewhere else.

    Good thing under the circs that you’ve no ambition to write for The Times, because you haven’t got the intelligence or the knowledge even to write comments on a blog.

  4. GC

    I am not quite sure what your problem is here. This is a blog where people come to read and discuss ideas not to wade in with offensive and derogatory comments.

    If you disagree, then i am sure that unity and other posters here will be happy to engage you in debate and you may have convinced us with the strength of your argument. As it is, i am surprised that unity even dignified your comment with a response and i didn’t bother reading your second post.

    If you have something to say – then say it. otherwise fuck off to the playground if you are going to be a childish little brat.

  5. Kamm doesn’t argue ‘that the actions of two Greenpeace activists negate any possible contribution to wider political discourse’

    Kamm’s actual comment in the article is…

    Greenpeace has likewise given definitive evidence that its voice should be discounted and derided in public debate.

    Which seems to fit very well the contention that he is arguing for a unqualified negation of any contribution Greenpeace might make to wider political discourse and fits ‘poisoning the well’ very nicely.

    Guilt By Association:

    Kamms argument goes as follows.

    A: Williamson (noted environmentalist) supported fascism.

    B: Greenpeace are environmentalists.


    Greenpeace ‘support’ [a form of] fascism – fascism being the fashionable byword in such circles for anything which may appear contrary to democracy.

    Guilt by Association cannot function without drawing attention to a common factor as, logically, if there is no common factor there is no basis for association.


    Aside from noting that my reply was written before Kamms retraction, Kamm was still extrapolating the supposed views of an entire organisation from the actions of two activists and a misquoted comment from one ‘spokesperson’ – I doubt very much that the membership of Greenpeace is anything like so homogenous in its views on nuclear power as Kamm tries to suggest.

    UN Resolutions

    Actually I haven’t shifted my position all. Oliver and I merely disagree in our interpretation of the legal position which formed the justification for the invasion.

    Resolutions 678 & 687 were passed in 1990 and primarily deal with two issues – withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait and destruction of WMDs under UN supervision.

    As we now know, at the time of the 2003 invasion there were no Iraq forces in Kuwait and no WMDs – relying on 687 in particular as authorisation for war is pure legal sophistry.

    You’ll also note that, unlike you, at no time here have I found it necessary to resort to Ad Hominem attacks on Kamm.

    Kamm puts forwards a particular point of view on Greenpeace, one that I disagree with – I respond by challenging that view, not Kamm personally but his view he puts forward.

    The point being made in drawing attention to logical fallacies in Kamm’s argument is simply that he is indulging in a bit of rhetoric and sophism rather than putting forward a reasoned argument in support of his opinions – which is about par for the course for an op-ed column in a newspaper. This [style of argument] is also a legitimate topic of debate even if you must insist on interpreting everything as a kind of intellectual pissing contest – one, I might add, you’ve already lost by virtue of having nothing of consequence to offer in support of your own views but a string of lame-brained ad hominem attacks.

    If the best you’ve got to offer here is ‘Huh. Huh. Huh. Beavis. You made a spelling mistake’ then I’d get back under your rock not bother.

  6. Let’s take this slowly. You’ve claimed there are errors of logic in Kamm’s piece but shown yourself incapable of grasping what elementary logic is. You’ve shown yourself to be dishonest by shifting your ground when your accusations have been debunked. And you’ve proved incapable of giving an accurate account of a simple article. Congrats on putting together the most embarrassing piece of sub-undergraduate posturing I’ve seen for a while.

    a) Which seems to fit very well the contention that he is arguing …

    It’s sensible of you to try and wriggle out of your original comment by saying ‘seems to fit’ instead of ‘fits’, but you still get it wrong. Kamm does not argue that the actions of two individuals invalidate Greenpeace

  7. For some reason my HTML didn’t work. Kamm’s views on international law are here — http://www-hjs.pet.cam.ac.uk/sections/governance/document.2005-12-01.8183130942

    I give the link because ‘Unity’ (as in Mitford?) couldn’t be bothered to track them down.

    Bloggers4labour is the genius who printed Kamm’s neat but obvious spoof address by Tony Blair about Walter Wolfgang as if it was fact, and had to be corrected by several commenters. It’s not surprising he’s so pompous and po-faced.

  8. I don’t consider that Tony Blair thing to have been either a proper spoof, or to have even been ironic, therefore I don’t feel a fool not to have “got the joke”.

    Completely irrelevant to this discussion, of course.

  9. Every single writer and commenter on Kamm’s spoof ‘got the joke’ apart from ‘Bloggers4Labour’– who couldn’t see it even when his commenters pointed it out! Obviously it’s entirely Kamm’s fault — how dare he not vet his readers to filter out the cretinous literal-minded. Or at least put a footnote saying ‘Joke’ so that they don’t expose their condition in public.

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