It has been brought to my attention that some people are concerned about Omenya's actions in this thread, so I'll provide a public explanation in here.

First and foremost, Omenya was being instructed by me. This time, I consider this fact very relevant to the situation because of one and very important fact: I have Bachelor Degree in Philosophy, specialized in Eristic Dialetics, which also required me to study Sophistry. So, This post is no longer from me as a moderator, but as an expert in this subject with 5 years of extense studies and 8 more years of experience in this field.

First point: "Sophistry is the usage of fallacious arguments, specially with the intention of deceiving".

This definition is FALSE. This is a misinterpretated definition that became common enough to make many Sophists shut up and let people believe in something that’s very wrong.

“Oh, but Google says-“

Google isn’t always right, it’s also made by people, and if people were always correct we wouldn’t need specialists on anything.

So, what’s Sophistry? What’s REAL Sophistry? Well, the actual definition of Sophistry is “The art of bending reason with logic to justify someone’s views and opinions”. That doesn’t mean deceiving other people. In fact, historically speaking, sophistry as a deceiving maneuver is the least used tactic in argumentation, even more because real Sophistry requires the arguments to be correct and well used. Using fallacies to deceive is just…using fallacies to deceive people, and that’s not lying either, that’s simply misleading people. See, misleading people doesn’t mean trying to purposefully lie to them, people might simply be wrong!

Back to Sophistry, some people still argue against the real definition. Well, did you know? The first lawyers of mankind were Sophists. Unlike common knowledge, argumentation that is not around facts, ergo, argumentation that involves any kind of interpretation consists of the following stages: reason, logic, basis, argument, explanation and corollary, although the latter isn’t as used, even if it’s as necessary as all the others. As you go from reason to corollary, Sophistry becomes more and more important. Dialetics are fully present on reason, mostly present on logic, partially present on basis, until it’s fully absent on corollary. Conversely, Sophistry is fully absent on reason, slightly present on logic, partially present on basis, until it’s fully present on corollary.

Do you still think that Sophistry is fallacy aimed to deceive others? Well, remember the statement about Sophists being lawyers? This is true. Every lawyer is a Sophist, including a lawyer who would defend a friend/relative/yourself in case you happen to be attacked by a criminal in any illegal ways. In case your skepticism prevents you from understanding that fighting for your rights is far from deceiving others, here’s a more concrete example. It’s a well known case – at least in the world of Philosophy – that when Socrates was alive, Greece had to go to war, and he was summoned to fight. Socrates knew that he was going to be a deadweight, for he had no training, no physical condition and no skills with swords. He knew he would be killed on the battlefield and probably on the first combat he entered, so he simply ignored the call and deserted the army, which was a grave crime in Greece back at that time. A crime punished by death. However, Socrates was granted a fair trial and the right to defend himself. This was Socrates’ argument on his defense:

“I am not able to fight. I can’t stand any physical effort. I am overweight, lazy and spoiled. I would easily be killed. Anyone here could take a knife and stab me right now, for not even my best efforts would save my life from your wrath. On the other hand, I am intelligent. I have extensive knowledge on Philosophy, I am able to pass this knowledge along to anyone here who wants my services as their teacher, and I can produce more and more knowledge with my classes. You may think that grabbing a sword and going to the battlefield is of use to our country, but what use would I be if I went to fight and got killed? I’d give our army perhaps on extra moment of solace, sacrificing my life for nothing, while, by staying here and putting my intelligence to good use I can contribute much better to our country, specially as I have enough money to buy food and live for a very long time. I am a much better addition to Greece as an intellectual than I could ever be as a soldier. As you can see, my defection wasn’t an act of treason, but an act of loyalty. Treason would be to throw away my life on the tip of a sword instead of living long enough to pass my knowledge on to as much citizens as possible”

With this argument, Socrates was pledged not guilty from deserting the greek army.

Was Socrates using fallacies to deceive the people? No . He wasn’t using any fallacies nor was deceiving others. Surely, he was probably being lazy and perhaps a bit of a coward, but his argument makes sense, for an intellectual is much more productive as an intellectual than as a fighter, and he was simply justifying his position. If we stop and analyze his argument with dialetics and apply all the previously mentioned steps, we will also be able to find that he was also criticizing the old laws that forced every able citizen to go to war. I could develop further on this from a sociopolitical point of view, but I’ll save this for another occasion.

“So real Sophistry is far from being a dishonest weapon to mislead others, got it! But why is it defined as such?”

There is a very simple explanation. While people who dislike Sophistry would take pride of being rhetorical or masters of dialetics, the reason behind this misleading definition is much petty. Rhetorics, the ‘masters of dialetics’, and Sophists, the ‘first lawyers of mankind’, were contemporary. Back in ancient times, there was a school focused on Rhetorics and one school focused on Sophistry, and they were rivals. Rhetorics believed logic to be cold and unchanging, while Sophists believed that a good argument could make any point valid. Nowadays it’s possible to understand that both were wrong, as they are, in fact, two parts of a complete argumentation, but back then the Rhetorics “won” their rivalry with Sophists and made their ‘definition’ about Sophistry be passed on and on.

That’s right. The definition of Sophistry found on the internet was an euphemism made by Rethoric experts.

But, wait, there is more! They are trying to convince others from their personal point of view with their own opinion.

Yes, that’s right again! The current definition of Sophistry, while incorrect, is a Sophism by itself! They didn’t have the intention to deceive others, they simply based their knowledge at the time and ended up believing that Sophists were dishonest. As this was mere interpretation based on knowledge, they went from their Rethorics to the Sophistry of believing that Sophists were evil, not knowing about the aforementioned process that comprises both Dialetics, the base of Rhetoric, and Sophistry.

What’s the relation between the incorrect definition, the correct definition, and what happened in this thread?
Simple. Mercenario said that Valkure needed to work on her sophistry, and, based on the wrong definition of the word, she believed to be accused of lying. Even if he was coming from the same misdefined concept, he wasn’t still making such accusation. Correct, using fallacies to deceive isn’t sophistry, it could be qualified as lying, which is still not the case and not what he meant. By saying that Valkure needs to work on her Sophistry he simply said that her arguments are not good.

Much to the dismay of many people, he is correct on his statement. Valkure’s arguments are lacking. I’m not entering the merit of her point itself, but a good enough argument leaves no doubts not space for contesting, as it’s supposed to provide all answers and elucidate all doubts. Although many people would contest this statement and claim that there’s no absolute truth, and there is none of such thing, it’s not really hard to provide arguments to cover all doubts. How? By debating. When a debate is extended so long that the same doubts keep reappearing over and over without receiving proper explanation, someone is doing something wrong. When the person making the questions is not listening to the answer, they start with ad hominem, but when the person providing explanations is not being able to provide answers without tripping on their own words and contradictions, then the person is not providing good quality arguments. In theory, this is very hard to spot, but in practice this is rather very easy: if the listener is failing to understand the answer, it becomes obvious that they are not up to the required intellectual level of the debate or are being plain dishonest by trying to manipulate the speaker into looking bad. When the speaker is failing to explain their point to the listener(s), their contradictions become bigger and bigger until it becomes fully obvious that they are failing to build a proper speech or are falling for any tricks from the listener. Regardless, in all cases, we fall to Schopenhauer’s statement on debating:

“A person who resorts to personal insults is no longer committed to being right in any way or shape, they just want to demoralize their opponent”.

This was not the case. Mercenario criticized Valkure’s capability of building an argument in the specific case debated in this thread, which is by no means a personal attack, so acting on it not only is a bad move, but can and will also constitute slandering.

As you can see, there were no offenses here, simply the thread being derailed by misconcepts and misunderstandings. Valkure wasn’t being attacked and Omenya’s actions were correct.

Have a great day.