The Instigator
Con (against)
The Contender
Pro (for)

Are PC adherents really tolerant liberals?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/19/2017 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 800 times Debate No: 101142
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
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We live in an age of political turmoil. Class war has reared its ugly head again, yet this time the left wing, however that is defined now, seems to stand with the establishment and the elites against the working class and those economically oppressed, whereas in the past the middle class left wing used to stand with the workers against the establishment and elites.

The term 'tolerant liberal' seems at best rather strange, and at worst a complete oxymoron. The 'no platforming' censorship loving privileged left seem to be completely intolerant and illiberal if anyone disagrees with them, on almost any point. The most extreme of the PC/identity politics crowd, for want of a better term, seem to be more like the adherents of a fanatical cult or extremists of a religion, than anything most people would say was truly liberal.

I find the whole political situation depressing. I care neither for pseudo left 'liberals' claiming to be against 'populism', nor the fake opposition to them.




I know that "PC culture" and anything people can label "SJW" often becomes vitriolic. I ask that Con and all judges keep their personal opinions out of this debate. Let this debate be one of reals over feels -- bring your own biases, but leave them at the door. May truth prevail.


I, personally, do not believe that attempting to reform language/culture will work -- and that it will bring more backlash than progress. However, my thesis is that that "PC Adherent" (PC-ists?) are tolerant liberals in intent if not in outcome. I believe that "PC-ists" want to promote liberal values, such as acceptance of marginalized groups, but do so through futile and counterproductive means.


Con presents a somewhat convoluted [1] thesis statement. Con makes empirical statements about what "PC-ists" do and believe. Unfortunately, there are no good statistics on the beliefs of "PC-ists". (And indeed, Con presents none.) While it is known that Americans overwhelmingly feel that political correctness is a problem [2], there is no good data on what the "identity politics crowd" genuinely believes or does [3]. As such: it is impossible to make empirical statements about what "PC-ists" do and believe. Regardless of whether Con is right or wrong, their assertions above are just personal opinions -- not empirical facts.

[And should Con feel the need to bring up examples of "PC culture gone mad", let me note that these are anecdotes (anecdata?) rather than, well, data. This would be equivalent to me bringing up examples of "anti-PC people" being bigoted and concluding that "people who oppose PC are bigoted". Examples cannot become statistics.]


As such: this debate can only take place in a philosophical sense. (Or else there will be no debate at all.) The question is one of logic and truth, rather than one of statistics. Although statistics are scarce, the concept of "political correctness" is itself a philosophical one, and is somewhat well-developed. Broadly, "political correctness" is the idea that it is the duty of individuals to promote language and policies that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of disadvantaged groups within society [4]. My fundamental syllogism, loosely, is:

1.1: Premise: PC-ists attempt to promote inclusive culture.

1.2: Premise: Inclusive culture is an important liberal value.

1.3: Conclusion [from 1.1 and 1.2]: PC-ists attempt to promote an important liberal value.

1.4: Premise: PC-ists do not promote any values as important to conservatism that are as important as inclusive culture is to liberalism.

1.5: Premise: Those who attempt to promote (on net) liberal values more than conservative values are liberals in intent.

1.6: Conclusion [from 1.4, 1.5, and 1.6]: PC-ists are liberals in intent.

Let me support my premises.

Premise 1.1: PC-ists attempt to support inclusive culture.

Political correctness holds that a variety of current cultural norms promote bigotry. Take the classic example: Calling trans-folk (etc.) by non-preferred nouns or pronouns. This is called "misgendering". Misgendering promotes bigotry against trans-folk and/or causes trans-folk to feel that they are devalued within society. In turn, this bigotry and devaluation may cause trans depression and suicide -- and generally prevent trans-folk from advancing withing society to become equally valued citizens [5][6][7][8].

Political correctness holds that, through aggressive individual action and institution policy & government policy, we can prevent people from holding these bigoted attitudes and "speed up" social progress towards a genuinely equal society. Regardless of whether this is true, PC-ists certainly have these intentions. (Or else they would definitionally not be PC-ists.)

Premise 1.2: Inclusive culture is a liberal value.

Inclusive culture -- in which all citizens, regardless of personal traits (eg, transgender identity), may freely interact without fear of undue prejudice -- is generally seen as a liberal value. How else can we truly ensure that citizens have equal rights de jure (under the law) and de facto (in practice), if many members of society are themselves prejudiced?

Premise 1.4: PC-ists do not promote any values as important to conservatism that are as important as inclusive culture is to liberalism.

I will allow Con to raise specific objections to Premise 1.4. If the other premises stand, then it is Con's burden of proof to prove that any conservative values promoted by PC-ists are more important than the value of inclusive culture is to liberalism.

Premise 1.5: Those who attempt to promote (on net) liberal values more than conservative values are liberals in intent.

I doubt this is controversial. If one must promote ONLY liberal values in order to be seen as liberal, then nobody would be liberal (as nobody is 100% liberal about all positions at all times in all circumstances, etc).

If my premises follow, then my conclusion follows. If you believe that my conclusion follows, then you must vote Pro.


If my opponent rejects this premise and wishes to debate the empirics, they are free to do so. However, if they choose to do so, then the burden of proof falls on them to prove that "PC-ists" are really tolerant liberals.

I have asserted that no statistical evidence exists on this issue. As such, the null (assumed) hypothesis should be one of lack of knowledge: we don't know what PC adherents believe, so *we* [outside observers] can't conclude whether they're tolerant liberals or not. [Since no statistical evidence exists, it cannot be Pro's duty to produce this nonexistent evidence.]

The next most reasonable assumption is that PC adherents are liberals, because the people who are most likely to think that political correctness isn't a problem are Democrats [5], and Democrats almost always identify as liberals & believe in tolerance. As such: the secondary null hypothesis should be that PC-ists correctly identify their own beliefs.

In short: If Con wishes to go down this road, it's their duty to convincingly prove that "PC-ists" aren't really tolerant liberals. If they fail to do so, then Pro should succeed, because we assume that PC-ists correctly identify themselves as tolerant liberals.


Thanks for reading this debate!


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Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Intolerant_Liberal 3 years ago
Ask me what you don't understand, and I'll see what I can do.
Posted by SirHarrison0 3 years ago
The difference is, those word/words have different means with every person. so if you put those words down, define them.
Posted by Intolerant_Liberal 3 years ago
I can't be arsed. They seem pretty self explanatory, unless you've been living up in the mountains for the last thirty years!
Posted by dipper 3 years ago
You use a lot of vernacular in that opening proposal that's honestly not expressed plainly enough to even be sure what you're talking about.

Please define the following terms:
"political turmoil"
"Class war"
"the establishment"
"the elites"
"the working class"
"those economically oppressed"
"privileged left"
"identity politics"
"pseudo left liberals"
"fake opposition"

Also, most importantly, "PC adherents" and "tolerant liberals" since those are terms literally in your thesis statement.
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