It's not anything that automatically refutes someones arguments, it just tells me that when it comes to that subject, they're an asshole. And when someone is being an asshole, I just don't care about their arguments.
But that's too bad. Better to do what a hypocrite proposes if it's the right thing, than to ignore it because of what he does.
Here's a nice article on the topic:
There are many reasons a charge of hypocrisy might be reactionary and counter-productive. First of all, the hypocrisy mindset pays too much attention to people's personal lives and too little to their programmatic or ideological outlook. If someone is a visionary, or is trying to solve a widespread problem, it's likely that his personal life will reflect the problem whereas his policies will reflect the solution. It would then be pretty stupid to accuse him of saying one thing and doing another -- especially if everyone were pretty much in the same boat, at least until an alternative infrastructure is set up. A charge of hypocrisy might well be a pre-emptive strike designed to stymie future solutions to universal problems.
Consistency is the hobgoblin of petty minds. Wanting things to be less complex, and wanting people and societies to be without internal contradictions is understandable, but small-minded. It ignores the fact that it is often only by sinning ourselves that we can learn exactly why sinning is bad. At a certain point we are all saying one thing and doing another. This is, apart from anything else, a sure sign of our complexity, and of our capacity to rise above our current way of living and search for alternatives, no matter how deeply we're mired. Allow it, brothers!
We often strike down people with a spotted reputation only to replace them with people who are unapologetically evil. We hate to be preached at so much that we ignore the sermons we need to hear and prefer unalloyed corruption. At least it's consistent, right? At least there's no hypocrisy there! At least change is taken off the agenda! Thank Christ "hypocrisy" has absolved us of the need to feel wrong, and to make a painful change!
There are 100 people in a room, all doing A Bad Thing. They know it's a bad thing, a thing that will damage the room and everyone in it, but they can't stop. Suddenly a Visionary makes a powerful and moving speech. "We must stop doing The Bad Thing!" he says. His speech is effective: everyone stops. Except the Visionary himself, who keeps doing it. This, however, is a minor detail: the room is a better, safer place. Instead of 100 people doing The Bad Thing, only one is doing it. Suddenly a Commentator gets up. "Suckers!" he shouts. "You've stopped doing The Bad Thing, but the man who made you stop still does it! You've been had... by a hypocrite!" Soon everyone in the room is doing The Bad Thing again.
But tell me, please, who has damaged the room more, the Visionary or the Commentator? Who has the best chance of helping the room?
But it's quite another thing if someone tries to convince you to behave one way while s/he secretly behaves differently- and it is to his/her personal benefit and (perhaps) to your detriment to do so.
For example, if somebody makes a 'moral' claim that all feezos should be in the public domain in order to convince others to donate their efforts, but that person makes a best-in-class feezo based on all the others' work and doesn't release it into the public domain, that person is a hypocrite with bad motivation. I don't like those people. I don't excuse those people. Any public good that comes of it is likely accidental, although I am sure they will try to convince you otherwise.
So I agree with sbov with the following addition: I don't care about the hypocrite's arguments of persuasion. I won't throw out a good idea just because it comes from a hypocrite. But I won't believe it's a good idea just because the hypocrite says so even if the hypocrite is an expert in the area being discussed. I will seek other ways to validate his claim. And yes, I know, we should always do this, so I can state this a different way: I won't use the hypocrite to validate a claim.
>"I think the concern of hypocrisy keeps us small. It keeps our world small, it keeps our horizons limited, and it keeps our self-worth as low as it can conceivably go. Because we’re defining ourselves in large part by what other people claim that we are. When the truth is, we’re all a goddamn mess. [...] The people who obsess most about hypocrisy are the people who are least willing to change. They have the least room to change. If you set yourself up as this paragon of perfection, then you have a lot to lose by being shown as anything but 100%. But, like, once you allow yourself to be imperfect in this weird wabi-sabi way, your world gets a lot bigger."
You just gave a perfect example of the narrow minded logic explained in the article, that cares not what is good for them to do, but if the guy that advocates it is "consistent".
Not to mention the other three paragraphs I quoted, that explain why "avoiding being hypocritical" is not always possible.
To put it in very crude way, if you see a beaten-down meth addict telling you "just say no to meth", I'd say DO listen to him, even if he's doing it.
In the room example it is stated the bad thing affects everyone in the room to some detriment. Even though the visionary got everyone to stop, the eventual outcome is the detrimental one since the visionary keeps doing the bad thing. Therefore, in the end it doesn't matter if one of them or all of them does the bad thing. So, the fact that the visionary was a hypocrite has doomed them all. Only when the visionary is not a hypocrite can they all be saved. I believe the bad thing in a room is not a good example of the point to be made. This is more about the potential stupidity of groups of people following leaders (visionary and commentator both) without thinking for themselves. The best thing for the self-interest of the people involved was to individually decide to leave the room.
No, it's not the detrimental one at all. 1 person doing a bad thing (e.g farting in a room) is not at all the same as 100 persons doing a bad thing (e.g farting in a room).
>Therefore, in the end it doesn't matter if one of them or all of them does the bad thing. So, the fact that the visionary was a hypocrite has doomed them all.
No, it's their giving importance not to the idea of doing the good thing but to the consistency of the visionary that doomed them all. That's the whole point of the article.
>Only when the visionary is not a hypocrite can they all be saved.
No, they can also be saved if they STOP being obsessed with consistency in the visionary, and instead evaluate the visionary's ideas _in themselves_ and in how they benefit them all.
>The best thing for the self-interest of the people involved was to individually decide to leave the room.
In that thought experiment, as in lots of situations in life, there is no "leaving the room". Say, the room is earth, and the visionary is some early ecologist. If someone finds out that he doesn't recycle it shouldn't translate to "oh, hypocrisy, we shouldn't recycle either".
It would much better translate to: "Hmm, the guy doesn't do what he preaches, but we will continue doing it because it does good. He is a hypocrite, but, hey, at least the guy told us about the necessity of doing this thing in the first place, something we haven't figured at the time.".
But that's not a knee-jerk reaction, so it is too much to ask from some people.
It was stated that the bad thing damages the room and the people in it as well; I took this to mean physical damage possibly leading to death because otherwise it doesn't make any sense. Therefore, with the two options that we are apparently forced into, the group is doomed regardless. It's only a matter of time. I say forced into two options because of the artificial restriction that the people cannot leave the room, which was not stated in the original explanation. Another out would be for the group to kill the visionary once he started back to doing the bad thing, remember that this damages them, which showed he could not be trusted and did not care for the well-being of the other people in the room. Is that not an option as well? In the end, the only choice the people had to fit their best interests was to leave the room, unless you can justify the murder of the visionary. But you took that away and I'm led to believe that they have no other options, so in the end they are all doomed regardless of either choice they go with.
Changing the rules, or adding new rules as I respond, to change the thought experiment is not a good way to invalidate my conclusion. For instance, equating a room with the Earth doesn't work for me, that's different situations with different potential outcomes with different options. The bad thing in a room thought experiment, as presented, is simply a bad example if there are only two options allowed.
Now, if we're talking about a situation you are describing, where the outcome is not damaging to the people involved, except for maybe their sanity, then I can somewhat agree with what you're saying.
Practically the problem with this is that unless you know the right thing to do before hand then you can't determine the right thing to do. The hypocrite does one thing and instructs you not to do that thing (or to do another instead) - but by their actions they're showing, rightly or wrongly, that the thing they're counselling against is something they've chosen [to some extent] for themselves.
In the case of the meth addict you assume that they're being helpful because you assume (barring personal wisdom on the matter) that meth is bad, m'kay. But perhaps they just want to keep all the lovely, lovely meth for themselves??
If a person espouses a universal good - avoiding meth is good for everyone. Or if that person espouses a personal good without explaining why it doesn't apply to them - avoiding meth is good for you. But still that person acts opposite to that they espouse - eg take meth. Then they're acting contrary to what they state will be to their benefit.
You can't trust such a person. Either they act in ways that they know are detrimental or they are lying to you about the benefits available by following their actions.
So you can't trust a hypocrites testimony nor can you - without outside knowledge - learn what actions are best to take solely from their testimony.
Coming back to the case in hand. Is it wrong to copy someone's design? We can't tell if Apple Corp consider it wrong or right. All we know is that they're untrustworthy. Then they use legal process to punish someone for allegedly copying a design whilst on the other hand copying a design and show that they're willing to act to the detriment of others who follow their lead. It's kinda hypocrisy+plus: not only do we say not to do that which we do but we'll punish you for doing that which we do.
>narrow minded logic explained in the article, that cares not what is good for them to do, but if the guy that advocates it is "consistent" //
Whatever a hypocrite advocates is basically irrelevant. One should discard their testimony about the good of an action and use outside sources/testimony to establish independently the nature of any good that can be derived by following their instruction. A hypocrite though, as you appear to contend, would be a valid source of ideas just not a sound source of wisdom (ie take their idea but don't follow it without independently examining it).
tl;dr don't trust a hypocrite
Yes, this is where THINKING comes in.
First step, stop caring about anything specific about the person that gave you the advice, and only consider the advice.
Second step, try to think if it's good advice, in itself. If it is, follow it.
The guy being a hypocrite or not should not come into play at all. Neither should trust.
You should not follow some advice because you trust the guy who suggested it to you. You should follow it because you evaluated it.
In particular, if a person's behavior or circumstances conflict with the advice, it becomes important to evaluate why that conflict exists. Is the advice fundamentally sound and there's something wrong with the advice-giver, or is the problem with the advice itself? There may be some subtle implementation detail that you overlook in your theoretical "ignore the person" evaluation, which is actually a fatal flaw with the advice (for example, it may require an unrealistic amount of discipline to undertake.)
Likewise, if a person's advice and their behavior/circumstances match up, it's important to evaluate whether the advice is actually effective. Did this person see this result because of the advice, or because of something else? It's possible the advice is fundamentally sound; likewise, it's possible the advice is a mistaken conclusion based on coincidence. If the person giving the advice is known to be insightful, self-examining, etc. that suggests a greater likelihood of the advice being valuable.
If the person is a domain expert (or probably just 'more likely than you to know about it') and you are not and you have other reasons, past experience perhaps, then trusting their advice with little analysis (beyond eg 'was it a joke') is pragmatic. One can't analyse everything there is simply not enough time.
At some point you must trust others or suffer. It's about balance n'est ce pas?
Also, you're assuming that a charge of hypocrisy automatically means the idea is voided. It's not - a charge of hypocrisy is an accusation of a serious character flaw.
I'm not assuming it's some general law. I know that it happens in lots of real life situations.
E.g people throwing the baby (idea) along with the bathwater (hypocrite).