The Owner and I are in the Woods when she reads that there are People who want to tear down the Statue of Winston Churchill. That is terrible, she says. Sir Winston Churchill’s statue does not Commemorate the Profits of Slavery, it commemorates his Pivotal role in the Defence of the Free World against a Racist Ideology.
I thought you said there was No Place for statues commemorating Racism in our Public Spaces, I say. Is Sir Winston not said to have shared some of the Colonialist and Racist Views of his Time, I say. Have you not already agreed that the Statues of all suspected of Racism be Thrown into the Sea?
I have not, says the Owner. I may have personally supported the Throwing of Edward Colston into the sea, given the extreme nature of his views and the lack of any Compensatory achievements. However I do not agree that Sir Winston deserves the same. Nor do I agree that is is for the crowd to decide. That is a Slippery Slope argument. Slippery Slope arguments are Philosophical Fallacies.
I do not see why, I say. We are Standing on a Slippery Slope right now, I say. It looks Extremely Steep and Extremely Slippery, I say. How can that be a Fallacy? I say.
The fallacy of the Slippery Slope, says the Owner, is that it takes the form that from a given starting point One can, by a series of incremental inferences, claim that a particular conclusion is inevitable from the First Step.
That sounds right to me, I say, looking at the Slope.
It is not right, says the Owner. The Slippery Slope argument tries to suggest that certain things are inevitable from other things. The incremental steps rely on claims of inevitability that do not always bear scrutiny. For example I could use a Slippery Slope argument to suggest that, should the Moral Dog fail to come when called he will not Please the Owner, The Owner who is not Pleased will not offer Cheese, Without Cheese the Moral Dog will be Dejected, A Dejected Moral Dog sinks into Melancholy, and A Melancholy Moral Dog will Fade Away. Thus the Slippery Slope argument would claim that if the Moral Dog does not come when called he will Fade Away.
That Sounds Very Dangerous, I say. Look, I am Right Here, I say.
It is not Dangerous because it is not True, says the Owner. None of those small causal Steps were as inevitable as I implied, says the Owner. Thus if the Owner is not Pleased today and does not offer Cheese that does not mean she will Never Offer Cheese. Dejection is not Permanent. Even the most determined Moral Dog will not Fade Away Merely through Melancholy. Sometimes the Slippery Slope is not a Slope at all. Not all Slopes are Steep and not all Slopes are Slippery.
That is a relief, I say. So when the Same Crowd that toppled Edward Colston with your Moral Support for Living off the Benefits of Enslavement now seeks your Moral Support to topple Sir Winston Churchill you would withhold your Moral Support because you feel that, even though the Racist Views of his time are deplorable today, the Actions which his Statue commemorates were Pivotal in Defeating Racists. He is not therefore Inevitably also cast aside.
Exactly, says the Owner. The Leap from Throwing Mr Colston into the Water to casting Sir Winston aside is not a Roll down an Inevitable Slope but a series of steps along a road. The Fact that many people supported the Crowd in its first Judgement does not Inevitably mean it will Support them in its Next. How would you feel if the next victim of the crowd was Greyfriars Bobby because he Bit a Policeman?
Did he? I ask.
Almost certainly, says the Owner.
Then I agree with you, I say, showing my Exuberance and Agreement in the Usual Way.
Argh, says the Owner.
What are you doing down there, I ask the Owner.
Thanks to the Moral Dog’s exuberance I have fallen down the Slippery Slope, says the Owner.
I get the feeling that, just occasionally, the Slippery Slope really does mean there will not be Cheese.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.