What do you believe?

A significant proportion of discursive debate comes down to two fundamental perspectives that people have about the world:

A. The exception proves the rule.
B. The exception disproves the rule.

If you believe A. then you can be accused of totalitarian, tyrannical rhetoric.

If you believe B. you can be accused of moral relativism.

Both of these positions are fundamental epistemic ways of experiencing the world around us, and their rebuttals fall within set strategies of discursive resistance. My question is, what makes both A and B possible? What other ways of approaching the world might there be?



2 Responses to “What do you believe?”

  1. Edmund Standing Says:

    It’s not so much a case of believing A or B as a general rule, but adopting them within specific contexts, surely?

    Each can be valid. Also, B is not necessarily immune to totalitarian usage.


    Human rights activist to a dictator: “Your people live in fear and are deeply unhappy with you as their leader.”

    The dictator then produces a single servile apparatchik character who sings the praises of the dictator.

    Dictator to human rights activist: “This clearly disproves what you are saying.”

    • fuzzytheory Says:

      I think you are totally right. The opposite example to the one you give would be a case where there are more exceptions than the rule, but one still accepting the rule as fundamental. What I think is interesting are those cases where someone privileges A or B, even though the context would suggest otherwise. I think what this points out is a certain perspective that often plays out in scholarship. Both are problematic when taken as dogma, I would think.

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