It’s common for one side of an argument to demand from the other side a cold, logical, rational reason to justify their position, while at the same time decrying all appeals to emotion as fallacious. The problem with this line of reasoning is that there are no truly objective reasons to make moral judgments about anything. As this essay will investigate, all political motivations are based on emotion.
Usually the person dismissing an argument as emotional is the sort of person who is a bit autistic, perhaps themselves not really in touch with their own emotions. This sort of person has a tendency to dismiss the genuine outrage, horror or disgust of other people as illegitimate motivators. They also have a striking tendency to not realise how emotional their own arguments are.
For instance, on the question of taxation for the sake of paying for social services, many people on the left make the argument that the right are without emotion when it comes to child poverty, mental health services, rape crisis centres and the like. The usual rightist counter to this is to claim that them keeping the maximum amount of their own income is a moral imperative to oppose communism or the likes, and that left-wing “feels” about starving children etc. do not and cannot ever justify the government levying taxation upon people.
What these rightists usually miss when it comes to this line of reasoning are their own emotions that are tied up in the issue.
The government levying taxation upon people is not wrong by dint of some decree from God. It is usually only opposed by those who believe that their personal net return of government services received from this taxation is negative. For these people, a sense of anger arises from feelings of having one’s energy parasitised; a similar sort of anger arises in cases of property theft or gross disrespect.
It can thus be seen that the right wing opposes taxation for emotional reasons. In other words, “muh feels”.
Political questions, when it comes down to it, are all a matter of “muh feels”. Feelings of injustice motivate most of them, and for many people such feelings are unavoidable. After all, the feelings of the population about what is the optimum level of taxation fall along a bell curve with no taxation at one end and full communism at the other, but the actual overall level of taxation must fall on a point on that curve, meaning that many above it will be outraged that it isn’t higher and many below it will be outraged that it isn’t lower.
Even murder fulfills this criteria. After all, what’s wrong with murder other than that it makes us feel bad? If it wasn’t for the fact that a person likely feels terrified when they’re being murdered, or the fact that the people left behind feel bereaved when someone they love is murdered, or the fact that the people in the neighbourhood feel afraid by murders in case they are next, or the fact that other citizens feel disgusted by murder because they consider it a bestial act of brutality, then there would be no reason to even make murder illegal, much less anything else.
Indeed, it could even be argued that, without feels, none of us would be capable of feeling motivated to do anything, and we would simply lie about until we died of metabolic failure.
Although it’s often true that a person does not examine their own emotional impulses and makes political decisions by just lurching from one burst of neurotransmitters to the next, this does not by itself mean that emotional input into decision making is necessarily undesirable, or that a line of reasoning appealing to an emotion is necessarily fallacious.
It could even be that, for a social species, correct decisions cannot be made without some accounting for how people will emotionally react to them. If one drills deep enough, there may not be much more to life than “muh feels”.