Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


One Likes to Believe in the Freedom of Music ~ Dylan

This video was one episode of a T.V. show on CNN called Crossfire. The debate at the time was to discuss the proposed ideas of censorship on albums in music. The argument written down below is on the side of censors, represented here by John Lofton, newspaper journalist.  The argument at the time was spearheaded by the “Parents Music Resource Center,” which was an organization of concerned parents who were targeting specific musical artists for releasing what they deemed to be inappropriate content in their music. One of their main targets was musician Frank Zappa who is shown in this video fighting against this argument below.

All songs with inappropriate lyrics are immoral in content

All immoral content are to be censored

Therefore, all songs with inappropriate lyrics are to be censored

All X are Y

All Y are Z

/ All X are Z

This argument as it follows the form described above, is valid. And as with most arguments, the debate seems to boil down to the factual correctness and soundness of the argument. The premises here are completely subjective in this instance. Morality is completely an idea of your own mind and/or the ideas that were instilled in you by others as you grow up. Even the very idea of “inappropriate” is completely subjective to everyone’s own individual ideas. So on this ground, we can’t really say if these premises are true are not. Only your own personal opinion can decide whether it is factually correct or sound in your own mind. In my own personal opinion and as the title of this video (ripped from a Rush song) might suggest, I would have to say I am in a certain degree on the side of Frank Zappa, being completely bias since he is a personal hero of mine, but I also think that a great point is brought up by Zappa in the way of an anti-censorship rebuttal (4:35 in the video.) He basically says that hearing the deemed “inappropriate” side can help you make up your own mind on what is inappropriate to you. And I am completely for people making up their own personal decisions on any subject for themselves. But again, that is just an example of one person’s opinion on this subject. The factually correctness of this argument is completely up to you.

The result of the argument ended up becoming the Parent Advisory sticker put on album with lyrics deemed inappropriate. I think that this is an excellent argument to look at. The whole idea of censorship is such an important idea to discuss as humans. How far do we want to go in controlling other people’s work? Is it moral to censor things because we deem them immoral? And who gets to decide what constitutes as immoral? As I stated before, I personally believe that an artists work should be left up to the artist and that. But then again, is it for there to be a label to warn people about inappropriate lyrics in a piece of music so that they have a fair warning? Should there be a line of protection against things deemed inappropriate? Should there be censorship in music?



Busking Debate ~ Dylan


In Ottawa, a rule in the world of busking has banned street performers from being able to have amplification with them during their performances. A street variety performer who’s act involves talking, argues the fact that with this new rule, women street performers are not going to be able to work anymore by themselves as street performs as they do not have the volume to be able to be heard without the help of microphones. Her argument with the rules is as follows:

All streets performers are forced to speak loud

No women are able to speak loud

Therefore, no street performers are women

Her argument follows the form of:

All X are Z

No Y are Z

/No X are Y

This makes this argument a valid argument as the form is correct. To be a street performer who’s act requires you to be heard you must be able to speak loud enough over all the crowd and other ambient noises. But the factually correctness and soundness of the argument is a little more ambiguous. In the article, they bring in voice specialist Dr. Brian Hands.  Dr. Hands states that women actually have thinner vocal chords, which makes their voice less powerful. When I first read this it actually surprised me, but we’ll get to that a bit later. He also says that normally the learned processes in childhood make women voices typically quiet.

And while Dr. Hand does confirm all this to be true, he does also state that with proper vocal training women are still able to speak just as loud as men. So in a sense, this makes her argument not completely factually correct and sound. While it’s true that by the nature of biology women may have thinner vocal chords, it still does not mean that women are not able to speak at a loud enough volume to be heard on the street at all. In my own personal experiences in situation where you must be heard such as in the theatre, I’ve actually had more experiences where all the women are much louder than a lot of the men which is why I said I was so surprised that when I found out that women have thinner vocal chords then men, because I always thought women to have been louder in any performance situation I’ve ever been a part of. So because her argument is saying that women are not able to speak loud enough to be street performers is false, the argument is not factually correct or sound.

The effects of this have a lot to do with continuing debates of discrimination against the sexes. Is this discrimination? I mean some could argue it is, for it could be harder for some women to speak loud enough to be heard, making them unable to still work as a street performer. But some could also argue that its not, for proper and safe vocal training could enable them to be able to be heard. And some could argue too that voice has absolutely nothing to do with gender at all, and is a completely different thing to every individual. So it draws a very interesting line in the sand for us to examine. Where is line where we decide between actual discrimination and some things just being easier for some people to do, but with proper practice everyone being able to do? And how much do we separate the two sides? These are very interesting questions to examine and take a look at and to examine as a society at large.



The Logic of Nigel Tufnel ~ Dylan

Stonehenge was built in a cold climate

Aliens don’t build in cold climates

Therefore, Stonehenge wasn’t built by aliens

This is a great twist of a valid argument where the conclusion that we’ve arrived to is one that we can agree on and is backed up by science, but the way that we’ve come to it is not completely based in fact. While the conclusion may be true, the section of premises may not be completely factual. We know for sure that Scotland, where Stonehenge was built, is a very cold place. But the second premise is one that we can not tell for sure yet. We don’t know for sure if aliens don’t build in cold climate. I could assume that if they were able to travel the vast highway that is space to our blue marble of a home that they would have to build some sort of intergalactic traveling space craft in the deep cold of space somewhere. But, in any case, this argument comes from the vast, mysterious, dark, and confused mind that is Nigel Tufnel (character from the movie Spinal Tap, played by Christopher Guest) and according to him, aliens do not like cold. But until we have complete and solid proof that interstellar travels do not enjoy creating works of wonder in minus zero weather, we can not know for sure weather this argument is factually correct or sound.

Besides being an interesting look into factual correctness, this is a great comedic look on science and scientific arguments that Nigel Tufnel  proposes and I think that it is a great examination of scientific argument. I think that there is some work of a genius in this small little statement said at the end of a video. First of all, it is a great commentary on comedy and just how much comedy can really be a thought provoking message wrapped in a silly exterior. It shows us just how far comedy can go in blurring the line between reality and fantasy, and blending the two together.  Secondly, it is a great commentary on science, and how we reach conclusions in science and asks some great questions about the subject. If we all reach the same conclusion but with different methods, even if some methods may themselves not be correct, are all the conclusions as correct as one another? All in all, this is a great satirical argument to examine that is really a great look into the mind of comedy, and the mind of logic.

“It’s such a fine line between stupid and… clever.”

-Nigel Tufnel