Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Portia-Shylock Fallacy

Por. Of a strange nature is the suit you follow;
Yet in such rule that the Venetian law
Cannot impugn you as you do proceed.
[To ANTONIO.] You stand within his danger, do you not?
Ant. Ay, so he says.
Por. Do you confess the bond?
Ant. I do.
Por. Then must the Jew be merciful.
Shy. On what compulsion must I? tell me that.


-The Merchant of Venice Act IV. Scene 1 ll. 171-179

I have decided to draft a more general principle from this post.

The Portia-Shylock Fallacy is the belief that the strength of your moral values, goals, etc. places any mandate of demand on anyone else that they will feel compelled to respect.

Put another way, it is the belief that "You simply have to do (a)" actually compels anyone to do anything.

For example, any plan that requires the Maliki administration to do something without some serious consequences if he doesn't. Arguing "Maliki will have to stop the Shiite death squads" based on nothing more than the fact that we need him to do so for our plan to work, is worthless and stupid.

The one good thing about the Democrats taking over Congress is that Bush now is finally forced to make decisions about how to bring the war to a colse, rather than drag it on endlessly without closer to some resolution. This means that using the Iraqi's unwillingness to fight for our goals (repackaged as a tempoerary inability that can be fixed if we just give Bush more time) as a delaying tactic is no more.

That is all.

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