Kafkatrapping

Excellent way to describe this fallacy:

One very notable pathology is a form of argument that, reduced to essence, runs like this: “Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of {sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression…} confirms that you are guilty of {sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression …}.” I’ve been presented with enough instances of this recently that I’ve decided that it needs a name. I call this general style of argument “kafkatrapping”, and the above the Model A kafkatrap.

My reference, of course, is to Franz Kafka’s “The Trial”, in which the protagonist Josef K. is accused of crimes the nature of which are never actually specified, and enmeshed in a process designed to degrade, humiliate, and destroy him whether or not he has in fact committed any crime at all.

There are many variants on the kafkatrap as well:

The Model C: “Even if you do not feel yourself to be guilty of {sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression…}, you are guilty because you have benefited from the {sinful, racist, sexist, homophobic, oppressive,…} behavior of others in the system.”

The Model D: “The act of demanding a definition of {sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression} that can be consequentially checked and falsified proves you are {sinful, racist, sexist, homophobic, oppressive}.”

The Model L: “Your insistence on applying rational skepticism in evaluating assertions of pervasive {sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression…} itself demonstrates that you are {sinful, racist, sexist, homophobic, oppressive,…}.”

The Model M: “The act of arguing against the theory of anti-{sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression} demonstrates that you are either {sinful, racist, sexist, homophobic, oppressive} or do not understand the theory of anti-{sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression}, and your argument can therefore be dismissed as either corrupt or incompetent.”

The Model P: “Even if you do not feel yourself to be guilty of {sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression…}, you are guilty because you have a privileged position in the {sinful, racist, sexist, homophobic, oppressive,…} system.”

The Model S: “Skepticism about any particular anecdotal account of {sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression,…}, or any attempt to deny that the particular anecdote implies a systemic problem in which you are one of the guilty parties, is itself sufficient to establish your guilt.”

Model T: Designated victims of {sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression} who question any part of the theory of {sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression} demonstrate by doing so that they are not authentic members of the victim class, so their experience can be discounted and their thoughts dismissed as internalized {sin, racism, sexism, homophobia, oppression}.

The whole essay is definitely worth the read.

 

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2 Responses to Kafkatrapping

  1. Patrick says:

    This is a really good read, but I have to disagree with the writer of that essay on how to use the fallacy. He says in the comments below it:

    “One of the purposes of this essay is to give people a more precise language with which to object. Now you can say “Oh, I see. That’s a Model P kafkatrap. Go f*** yourself.””

    Isn’t that a fallacy fallacy? Where calling out a fallacy is considered a counterargument in itself and discussion ends.

  2. >Isn’t that a fallacy fallacy? Where calling out a fallacy is considered a counterargument in itself and discussion ends.

    Remember, in kafkatrappers you’re not dealing with people with a lot of interest in rational argument. Often they barely even have the capacity to recognize one. So cutting your losses and getting out ids often the wisest course.

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