Culture Wars/Current Controversies

150 Years Ago, a Philosopher Showed Why It’s Pointless to Start Arguments on the Internet

Good old John Stuart Mill.

By Olivia Goldhill

Quartz

Wildly inaccurate facts and spurious arguments are unavoidable features of social media. Yet no matter how infuriatingly wrong someone is, or just how much counter-evidence you have at your disposal, starting arguments on the internet rarely gets anyone to change their mind. Nearly a century-and-a-half ago, British philosopher John Stuart Mill explained, in a few clear sentences, why certain arguments simply won’t go anywhere. As historian Robert Saunders notes, Mill’s analysis neatly applies to heated and futile internet debates.

Screenshot_2020-02-04 Robert Saunders on Twitter John Stuart Mill explains, in 1869, why you can never win an argument on t[...].png

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