Economic Sophisms/115

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"that she has not received the money gratuitously, but has given us in exchange a thousand horses, which we have judged to be worth the £20,000.

Is it worth while exposing seriously such an abuse of language? Yes; for these terms are used seriously both in newspapers and in books.

Do not let it be supposed that these are instances of a mere lapsus linguæ on the part of certain ignorant writers! For one writer who abstains from so using them, I will point you out ten who admit them, and amongst the rest, the D'Argouts, the Dupins, the Villeles—peers, deputies, ministers of state,—men, in short, whose words are laws, and whose sophisms, even the most transparent, serve as a basis for the government of the country.

A celebrated modern philosopher has added to the categories of Aristotle the sophism which consists in employing a phrase which includes a petiiio principii. He gives many examples of it; and he should have added the word tributary to his list The business, in fact, is to discover whether purchases made from foreigners are useful or hurtful. They are hurtful, you say. And why? Because they render us tributaries to the foreigner. This is just to use a word which implies the very thing to be proved.

It may be asked how this abuse of words first came to be introduced into the rhetoric of the monopolists?

Money leaves the country to satisfy the rapacity of a victorious enemy. Money also leaves the country to pay for commodities. An analogy is established between the two cases by taking into account only the points in which they resemble each other, and keeping out of view the points in which they differ.

Yet this circumstance—that is to say, the non-reimbursement in the first case, and the reimbursement voluntarily agreed upon in the second—establishes betwixt them such a difference that it is really impossible to class them in the same category. To hand over a hundred pounds by force to a man who has caught you by the throat, or to hand them over voluntarily to a man who furnishes you with what you want, are things as different as light and darkness. You might as well assert that it is a matter of indifference whether you throw your bread into the river, or eat it, for in both cases the bread is destroyed. The vice of this reasoning, like that applied to the word tribute, consists in asserting an entire similitude between two cases, looking only at their points of resemblance, and keeping out of sight the points in which they differ.