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Deficit & Dependency II: The Dependency Argument

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In response to the progressive proposals to provide new and expanded benefits to Americans, the right has made use of two stock arguments. The first is the deficit argument, which I addressed in my previous essay. The second is the Dependency argument. The gist of the Dependency argument is that if people get assistance or benefits of a certain sort, such as unemployment benefits or childcare, from the state, then they risk becoming dependent upon the state. Since this dependence is claimed to have negative consequences, such assistance and benefits should be limited or not provided. This can be seen as a utilitarian argument. There are numerous variations of this argument which tend to focus on specific alleged harms. For example, it might be contended that if unemployment benefits are too generous then people will not want to work. As a specific illustration, in  April, 2020 Senator Lindsey Graham argued that public financial relief for the coronavirus would incentivize workers to leave their jobs. Other alleged harms include damage to the moral character of the recipients of such benefits and, on a larger scale, the creation of  a culture of dependency and a culture of entitlement. While this argument is passionately advanced by many on the right, there are two main issues that need to be addressed. The first is whether the argument is being made in good faith. The second is whether the argument is a good one from a logical standpoint. Bad faith argumentation can occur in a variety of ways. One way is for a person to knowingly use fallacies or rhetoric as substitutes for good reasoning. Interestingly, a person can use fallacies and rhetoric in good faith when they do so unintentionally. In such cases, they are using bad logic in good faith. Another way is for a person to use premises they believe are untrue. Naturally, a person can make untrue claims in good faith—they do not realize their claims are untrue. Another way a person can argue in bad faith is to. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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