(1) If claim C is true, X is the case.
(2) I find X difficult, inconvenient, repulsive, or undesirable in some other way.
(3) (So) claim C is false.
Of course, this isn’t a valid argument. It’s missing a premise:
(4) If I find X difficult, inconvenient, repulsive, or undesirable in some other way, X is not the case.
Premise (4) is deeply flawed. A person can’t properly determine whether many things are the case simply by her emotive responses to them; there are many truths that she’ll find difficult, inconvenient, repulsive, or undesirable, and many falsehoods that she’ll find easy, convenient, compelling, or desirable.
Let’s look at a couple of examples.
First example: let C = “Christianity is true” and X = “I ought to love my enemies.” I don’t find it easy or convenient to love those who oppose me or stand against what I find deeply important. But that’s irrelevant to whether I ought to love my enemies: if Christianity is true, I have a moral duty to serve Jesus as king, and he’s commanded me to love those who frustrate or oppose me.
Second example: let C = “naturalism is true” and X = “my life has no ultimate meaning, value, or purpose.” I don’t find the idea that my life has no ultimate meaning, value, or purpose compelling or desirable. But that’s irrelevant to whether naturalism is true: I can’t properly reject naturalism just because I find its implications depressing or unpleasant.
If someone uses this kind of flawed reasoning in conversation with me, I find it helpful to say, in a gracious and respectful way, “I understand that you don’t like what claim C entails. But we generally can’t decide what is and isn’t the case about reality just by how we feel about its implications. So I think we should get back to discussing C on its own merits—or, if you think you have good reasons to hold that the implications of C are false, let’s discuss them.”
Image from Wikimedia Commons.