December 18, 2008

Making My Case For NAFTA Trade Dispute

As I am about to submit a formal notice of Arbitration based on a number of arguments. I thought I would bring back a piece I wrote earlier on the steps leading me to actually filing my claim more then anything it is a protectionism claim against American health companies that want to enter the Canadian market. When Canadian publicly traded companies can acquire and build surgical facilities throughout the US unhampered by any US government agency. There is something fundamentally wrong with this one-sided trade dispute that has been going on for so long.  


Arguments and Theories

By Melvin J. Howard 

 Deep thinking what does that mean we all use the word logic but what does the word mean? It is the science or study of how to evaluate arguments and reasoning. Logic is a way to allow us to distinguish correct reasoning from poor reasoning. Logic is important because it helps us reason correctly without correct reasoning, we don’t have a viable means for knowing the truth or arriving at sound beliefs. I have a personal interest in logic and how the mind works. Because of a disorder that I have had since adolescent I have to write constant notes to myself on daily activities to keep my bearings. 

Logic is not a matter of opinion when it comes to evaluating arguments; there are specific principles and criteria, which are used. If we use those principles and criteria, then we are using logic. This is important because sometimes people don’t realize that what sounds reasonable isn’t necessarily logical in the strict sense of the word. The ability to use reasoning is far from perfect, but it is also our most reliable and successful means for developing sound judgments about the world around us. In general, our ability to survive depends upon our ability to know what is true, or at least what is more likely true than not true. For that, we need to use reason. I had a very good friend whom was my lawyer he passed away a couple of years ago. His passing was a terrible lost to me personally and professionally. We were roughly the same age we had some of the same ideas about life. But we were the polar opposites when it came to style he was downtown I was uptown. But we clicked he knew how my mind worked better then my ex-wife that tells you how much time we spent together. My relationship with him lasted longer then my marriage. 

But what Dave gave to me was more important then any legal advice he taught me how to think in terms of logic and reason. Of course, reason can be used well or it can be used poorly and that is where logic comes in. One of the things he taught me was never to make any decisions on emotional bases. For example when ever I got news that I did not like from him. Whether I did not get the deal I wanted or we had to delay a particular item. I would not have none of it I would instruct him to take legal action ASAP. Well Dave caught on to my emotional state of mind so he would send any news that I might not like at 4:50 p.m. on Friday’s  then he would leave his office. To late to respond to anything so it left me steaming all weekend long. Well what do you think happened it gave me enough time to really look at the issues involved and allow me to do some critical thinking? Years after he finally told me what he was doing and we both laughed about it he got me.  This is what happens to people who come in to contact with the court system for the first time. They will go into court very emotional, thinking that I will just tell my side of the truth and I am done. There are a number of variables that have to be taken in to account. The Greek philosopher Aristotle is generally regarded as the “father” of logic. Others before him discussed the nature of arguments and how to evaluate them, but he was the one who first created a system for doing it. Whatever the subject matter logic is applicable anywhere that reasoning and arguments are being used. If we don’t apply the criteria of logic to our arguments, we cannot trust that our reasoning is sound. 

When a lawyer makes an argument for a particular course of action, how can that argument be properly evaluated without an understanding of the principles of logic? When a CEO makes a pitch for a product, arguing that it is superior to the competition, how can we determine whether to trust the claims if we aren’t familiar with what distinguishes a good argument from a poor one? Here is where we have to use critical thinking, critical thinking is an effort to develop reliable, rational evaluations about what is reasonable for us to believe or disbelieve. Critical thinking makes use of the tools of logic and science because it values skepticism over gullibility or dogmatism, reason over faith, science of pseudoscience, and rationality over wishful thinking. Critical thinking does not guarantee that you will arrive at the truth, but it does make it much more likely than not you will. 

Open Your Mind

A person who wishes to think critically about something like politics or religion must be open-minded. This requires being open to the possibility that not only are others right, but also that you are wrong. Too often people launch into a frenzy of arguments apparently without taking any time to consider that they may be mistaken in something. Of course, it is also possible to be too “open-minded” because not every idea is equally valid or has an equal chance of being true. Although we should technically allow for the possibility that someone is correct, we must still require that they offer support for their claims if they cannot or do not, we may be justified in dismissing those claims and acting as if they weren’t true. Even if you have clear logical reason for accepting an idea, you also probably have emotional and psychological reasons for accepting it. Reasons which you are not fully aware of. It is important though, that you learn to separate the two because the latter can easily interfere with the former. 

Don’t Jump 

It’s easy for people to quickly go to the first and most obvious conclusion in any sort of dilemma, but the fact of the matter is the obvious conclusion isn’t always the correct one. Remember all those TV crime dramas that you thought you had wrapped up in 15 minutes only to be wrong at the end of the show. Unfortunately, once a person adopts a conclusion it can be difficult to get them to give it up in favour of something else after all, no one wants to be wrong, do they? One of the most important things to watch out for in arguments is the influence of bias or vested interest and every human has them. Both are variations on the same sort of problem, although there are differences that require mentioning each separately. Bias occurs any time that facts are interpreted in a way that unreasonably favours one position over another; vested interest is a cause of bias in which one will personally and specifically benefit if people adopt a particular position. Ultimately, some sort of bias is always going to exist we all have our passions, desires, and preferences. We wouldn’t even be debating particular issues unless we cared about them in some way, so the very nature that we are participating in a debate or discussion is itself evidence of some sort of bias. 

Having a bias, however, is not the same as allowing one’s reasoning and arguments to succumb to bias. In critical thinking the person makes a sincere effort to recognize and acknowledge their biases, ultimately taking them into account when weighing evidence and logic so as to ensure that those biases don’t unfairly tip the scales in an inappropriate direction. It is also important to listen when someone points out possible biases because, quite frankly, we often aren’t good at noticing when we have biases that influence our thinking. A vested interest is a particular cause of bias, which occurs not simply when one unreasonably favours a preferred perspective, but in fact favours a perspective, which provides them with specific benefits. An obvious example of vested interest would be anyone who is paid to promote a product in commercials. 

There are also many ways in which a person can have a vested interest which aren’t quite so obvious. A person might, for example, discount allegations of unethical or illegal conduct against a company they have stock in. They might also favour any reports that improve the image of their case on the assumption that anything, which makes their theory look better, must therefore make them look better as well. You can also identify backwards-looking examples of vested interest because people seem to have a strong interest in defending decisions that have already been made i.e. the wrongly convicted no one wants to be wrong. Similar behaviour can be seen when it comes to political candidates or political parties voted for in the past. Example some people are upset they did not get the candidate they voted for in their party. So they will vote for the opposite candidate in the other party for spite this not logical! So as I go into the new year I go into it to knock down the walls of protectionism in Canada’s health care system which has proved time and time again is a failed policy. We want fair treatment that is what this is all about.