On Assessing Arguments

Aaron Ross Powell
1 min readFeb 23, 2016

Let’s say you believe X is true. You know that many smart, well-educated people believe X — including you! — but also that many smart, well-educated people disbelieve X.

If you come across what strikes you as an obvious, airtight argument for the truth of X, but don’t routinely engage with smart, well-educated people who disbelieve X, then stop a moment and reassess how certain you should be about the obviousness and airtightness of that argument.

Chances are those smart, well-educated people who disagree with you have heard the argument before and have a reasonable — though not necessarily correct! — response. Smart people tend not to hold considered beliefs for conspicuously dumb reasons.

Aaron Ross Powell

Host of the ReImagining Liberty podcast. Writer and political ethicist. Former think tank scholar.