Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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L.N.
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Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by L.N. » Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:33 am

When one accuses another of "virtue signaling," it is in essence calling the other person a liar. The assertion is that the "virtue signaler" has not spoken a sincere position or been truthful about his or her opinion, but rather is deceptively parroting some perceived admirable position for the ulterior purpose of appearing to be virtuous.

In truth, one probably cannot know for certain that the accused "virtue signaler" is not speaking his or her genuine thoughts. One probably cannot know for sure that the accused "virtue signaler" is merely posturing for the purpose of his or hear self-aggrandizement. More likely, when we accuse another of "virtue signaling," we are speaking an untruth about another.
... when one knows overt sharp speech to be untrue, incorrect, and unbeneficial, one should on no account utter it.
Source.

People are starting to catch on about these types of accusations and the role they play in damaging the potential for civil discourse.
The real problem, of course, isn’t the signaling part: Everyone is signaling all the time .... Those who accuse others of virtue signaling seem angry about the supposed virtues themselves — angry that someone, anyone, appears to care about something they do not. Another Twitter user, defending Donald Trump after the infamous ‘‘Access Hollywood’’ tape, wrote: ‘‘Stop virtue signaling. It doesn’t work. Are you saying you never talked dirty in a [private] conversation?’’ The logic here is not that Trump or his actions were morally correct, but that no one else is, either, and anyone who claims otherwise is lying.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/08/maga ... er-is.html

Right Speech teaches a different approach to addressing others. As do TOS:
Mutual respect and friendliness should be the basis of all interactions.
Related topic in Study Group.
Related topic in Sila.
Another related topic in Sila.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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DooDoot
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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by DooDoot » Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:30 am

L.N. wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:33 am
When one accuses another of "virtue signaling," it is in essence calling the other person a liar.
My impression is it is also calling the other person a hypocrite. For example, Hillary Clinton campaigned on all of the jargon of embracing diversity, women, etc, however spent her time in office engaging in wars murdering diversity, women, etc. So it seems virtue signaling is taking a moral position on a certain issue while not taking a moral position on other issues or similar issues.

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binocular
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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by binocular » Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:10 pm

L.N. wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:33 am
When one accuses another of "virtue signaling," it is in essence calling the other person a liar. The assertion is that the "virtue signaler" has not spoken a sincere position or been truthful about his or her opinion, but rather is deceptively parroting some perceived admirable position for the ulterior purpose of appearing to be virtuous.
Ah. This whole problematic dynamics comes from people refusing to have an actual conversation, but wanting to settle things quickly, preferrably with one-liners.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:42 pm

L.N. wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:33 am
When one accuses another of "virtue signaling," it is in essence calling the other person a liar. The assertion is that the "virtue signaler" has not spoken a sincere position or been truthful about his or her opinion, but rather is deceptively parroting some perceived admirable position for the ulterior purpose of appearing to be virtuous.
Virtue signalling might be a form of lying, but is not so in essence. The virtue-signaller, to the extent that they have thought about the topic, might not be misrepresenting either the state of the world to which they refer, or their own beliefs about it. When I accuse someone of virtue signalling, I am in essence calling them not a liar but a bullshitter. The difference is made clear in Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt's paper On Bullshit:
What bullshit essentially misrepresents is neither the state of affairs to which it refers nor the beliefs of the speaker concerning that state of affairs. Those are what lies misrepresent, by virtue of being false. Since bullshit need not be false, it differs from lies in its misrepresentational intent. The bullshitter may not deceive us, or even intend to do so, either about the facts or about what he takes the facts to be. What he does necessarily attempt to deceive us about is his enterprise. His only indispensably distinctive characteristic is that in a certain way he misrepresents what he is up to....It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.
http://web.archive.org/web/200402120548 ... es/bs.html
In truth, one probably cannot know for certain that the accused "virtue signaler" is not speaking his or her genuine thoughts. One probably cannot know for sure that the accused "virtue signaler" is merely posturing for the purpose of his or hear self-aggrandizement. More likely, when we accuse another of "virtue signaling," we are speaking an untruth about another.
Even setting aside the above, there are two things wrong with this. The first is that it is invalid reasoning, based on the substitution of pronouns. "One" is less determinate than "we". If "one" could not know for certain, then indeed "one" should not accuse another of virtue signalling. It would be just like accusing another of theft, if "one" did not know for certain that they had stolen something that did not belong to them. If "one" - let's call him Fred - does not know things for certain, he should be careful with his accusations. But the converse may also be true. If another "one" - let's call her Freda - does know for certain that another engaged in theft or virtue signalling, then presumably (i.e. based on the logic of your argument alone) she could make that accusation. "One's" lack of knowledge does not mean that it is more likely that we are speaking an untruth. It just means that those with a lack of knowledge are speaking an untruth. In terms of virtue signalling, it merely means that if you can't spot when a person is bullshitting, then it's probably best not to accuse them of it. If you do have that ability, though, there is no such constraint. Another's incapacity does not make my error "more likely". That's a false inductive argument.

The second thing wrong is that certainty in knowledge sets the bar at an impossibly high level. We don't speak an "untruth" about something just because we don't know for certain. That would make much of scientific discourse "untruth". Apart from logical truths, there's not much that we do know for certain, but that doesn't mean that whatever else we speak of involves an untruth. The injunction
when one knows overt sharp speech to be untrue, incorrect, and unbeneficial, one should on no account utter it.
is not breached when one calls someone a virtue-signaller or a bullshitter, providing we do not know it to be untrue.
People are starting to catch on about these types of accusations and the role they play in damaging the potential for civil discourse.
Well, some people don't like the term, for sure. Here is David Shariatmadari of the Guardian attempting to discredit the term.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... ll-by-date

To which I think the best response is MRDA. The Guardian has the same interest in stifling talk of virtue-signalling as bankers have in stifling talk of excessive profiteering. Just another attempt to protect the interests of bullshitters.

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L.N.
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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by L.N. » Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:56 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:42 pm
The injunction
when one knows overt sharp speech to be untrue, incorrect, and unbeneficial, one should on no account utter it.
is not breached when one calls someone a virtue-signaller or a bullshitter, providing we do not know it to be untrue.
Please provide canonical support for your proposition that one standard for Right Speech is that it is ok to call other people names (such as bullshitter) so long as one does not know it to be untrue.

Accusing someone of "virtue signaling" is playing the person, not the ball. It is damaging to the prospects for civil discussion, for the reasons discussed above, and none of the arguments you make shows otherwise. I understand you many others here disagree, but name-calling and personalized put-downs are commonly regarded as contrary to Right Speech, for reasons discussed here and in related Topics.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:26 pm

L.N. wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:56 pm
Please provide canonical support for your proposition that one standard for Right Speech is that it is ok to call other people names (such as bullshitter) so long as one does not know it to be untrue.
I'm not making any such proposition.
Accusing someone of "virtue signaling" is playing the person, not the ball.
You'll have to explain what you mean by this metaphor. Is accusing someone of "playing the person" playing the person, not the ball?
It is damaging to the prospects for civil discussion, for the reasons discussed above
It might be - I don't know - but I don't think there is much point in civil discussion with virtue-signallers and bullshitters.
name-calling and personalized put-downs are commonly regarded as contrary to Right Speech
Again, you may be right, but what is "commonly regarded" does little but tickle my inner anthropologist.

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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by Dharmasherab » Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:08 pm

Let me make things simple and clear by giving some examples of virtue signalling -

Leonardo Di Caprio made a documentary with Al Gore about concern for the environment and explained about carbon footprints yet neither one of them would have any problem in flying in their private jets from one continent to another. Its like when J K Rowling (author of Harry Potter) was tweeting about how the UK should accommodate refugees yet she remained silent when she was asked as to how many refugees she herself would accommodate in any of her mansions. Its like when John Lennon sang a song where he imagines a world without money whiles selling records and storing millions of pounds in his bank account.

These are all examples of virtue signalling where they would want you to ride your foot bike to work whiles they take their private jets all around the world. It is where they would expect refugees to settle in your neighbourhood but they themselves live away from all of that in their mansions.

Such people are known as 'gulfstream liberals'. They would expect you to lower your standard of living while they continue to live their lives in their privileged positions. Urban Dictionary definition of gulfstream liberal

But note that not all ‘virtue signallers’ are gulfstream liberals. You find plenty on social media. They are called 'social justice warriors' also known as neoprogressives. Urban Dictionary definition of social justice warrior. Gulfstream liberals share an overlap with SJWs even though they are not completely mutually inclusive.

The Brain of a Social Justice Warrior/Progressive

As for me I dont occupy any part of the political spectrum. For the record I have never voted in any general election (to elect ministers or prime ministers) or any presidential elections and have no plans to do so in the future. I am just saying this in case someone was about to call me names which I dont identify myself with. Because whatever name a person will call me as a political epithet - I dont share those views. I prefer to distance myself from politics as much as possible.

The bottom line is considering something as virtue signalling is correct when used in the correct context which I have shown above with examples. Therefore it is right speech when used correctly. It only becomes wrong speech when used incorrectly beyond its intended meaning.

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Aloka
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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by Aloka » Sun Nov 26, 2017 12:25 am

I 'd never even heard of the term "virtue signalling" until I read this topic title.

Ah well, there's an old saying "ignorance is bliss"... which might even be true in the 21st century!

Goodnight all.

:zzz:

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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by binocular » Sun Nov 26, 2017 12:40 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:42 pm
The injunction
when one knows overt sharp speech to be untrue, incorrect, and unbeneficial, one should on no account utter it.
is not breached when one calls someone a virtue-signaller or a bullshitter, providing we do not know it to be untrue.
It is a breach of that injuction, because calling someone a virtue-signaller or bullshitter is unbeneficial. It doesn't make them change their ways or improve the communication; all it ever seems to do is make them dig their heels in even more.

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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by binocular » Sun Nov 26, 2017 12:58 pm

L.N. wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:56 pm
Accusing someone of "virtue signaling" is playing the person, not the ball.
The thing is that an accusation of virtue-signalling normally comes after someone has played the person and not the ball, and as such is aimed at this person who has played the person and not the ball to begin with.

It's the virtue-signaller who plays the person and not the ball, and then resents to be called out on it.
It is damaging to the prospects for civil discussion, for the reasons discussed above, and none of the arguments you make shows otherwise.

It's virtue signalling that is damaging to the prospects for civil discussion.
I understand you many others here disagree, but name-calling and personalized put-downs are commonly regarded as contrary to Right Speech, for reasons discussed here and in related Topics.
That's an incorrect assessment of the situation. It's not that people here would advocate for name-calling and personalized put-downs. It's that when someone engages in name-calling and personalized put-downs, that some others respond in kind, considering it fair game to do so. And when people play fairly, it remains at that.

But the virtue signaller wants to subvert this dynamic to their own favor, by being the first to cry foul, as if casting the first stone would make them innocent. It's this subversion that many people resent, and to which they respond with name-calling and personalized put-downs.

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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by mal4mac » Sun Nov 26, 2017 1:37 pm

L.N. wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:56 pm
Please provide canonical support for your proposition that one standard for Right Speech is that it is ok to call other people names (such as bullshitter) so long as one does not know it to be untrue.
The Buddha often calls someone a "foolish man", how's that any different from calling someone a "bullshitter"?

"6. "Of whom do you know, foolish man, that I have taught to him the teaching in that manner? Did I not, foolish man, speak in many ways of those obstructive things that they are obstructions indeed, and that they necessarily obstruct him who pursues them? "

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .nypo.html
- Mal

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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:01 pm

binocular wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 12:40 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:42 pm
The injunction
when one knows overt sharp speech to be untrue, incorrect, and unbeneficial, one should on no account utter it.
is not breached when one calls someone a virtue-signaller or a bullshitter, providing we do not know it to be untrue.
It is a breach of that injuction, because calling someone a virtue-signaller or bullshitter is unbeneficial. It doesn't make them change their ways or improve the communication; all it ever seems to do is make them dig their heels in even more.
That's certainly what some people might find happens when they try it. But extrapolating from that is faulty inductive reasoning; hence your phrase "all it ever seems to do" is apposite here. There is no logical necessity that overt harsh speech is unbeneficial. The Buddha allows it, and says it might be beneficial.

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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by binocular » Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:04 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:01 pm
That's certainly what some people might find happens when they try it. But extrapolating from that is faulty inductive reasoning; hence your phrase "all it ever seems to do" is apposite here. There is no logical necessity that overt harsh speech is unbeneficial. The Buddha allows it, and says it might be beneficial.
When the Buddha says it. The Buddha can be brutally frank, because of his special status. But ordinary people, when they're trying to be brutally frank, they're usually just frankly brutal.

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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:14 pm

binocular wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:04 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:01 pm
That's certainly what some people might find happens when they try it. But extrapolating from that is faulty inductive reasoning; hence your phrase "all it ever seems to do" is apposite here. There is no logical necessity that overt harsh speech is unbeneficial. The Buddha allows it, and says it might be beneficial.
When the Buddha says it. The Buddha can be brutally frank, because of his special status. But ordinary people, when they're trying to be brutally frank, they're usually just frankly brutal.
Not just when the Buddha says it. His injunction is framed as a general conditional imperative, addressed to a group of monks. The pronoun is translated as "one", not "I".

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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by Aloka » Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:16 pm

binocular wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:04 pm

When the Buddha says it. The Buddha can be brutally frank, because of his special status. But ordinary people, when they're trying to be brutally frank, they're usually just frankly brutal.
:clap:

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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by Dhammanando » Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:17 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:42 pm
To which I think the best response is MRDA.
MRDA is a response that could use a bit of clarification when addressed to someone who doesn't know what "All animals are equal..." means. I mean it could easily be mistaken as referring to the heteronymous Serbian footballer, Dragan Mrđa. And if it was, it would be all your fault!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MRDA_(slang)


.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:22 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:17 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:42 pm
To which I think the best response is MRDA.
MRDA is a response that could use a bit of clarification when addressed to someone who doesn't know what "All animals are equal..." means. I mean it could easily be mistaken as referring to the heteronymous Serbian footballer, Dragan Mrđa. And if it was, it would be all your fault!
Indeed, and I might also be accused (by those unfamiliar with the language, or used to txtspk) of advocating murder. That would also be my fault.

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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by L.N. » Sun Nov 26, 2017 5:18 pm

Dharmasherab wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:08 pm
Let me make things simple and clear by giving some examples of virtue signalling -

Leonardo Di Caprio made a documentary with Al Gore about concern for the environment and explained about carbon footprints yet neither one of them would have any problem in flying in their private jets from one continent to another. Its like when J K Rowling (author of Harry Potter) was tweeting about how the UK should accommodate refugees yet she remained silent when she was asked as to how many refugees she herself would accommodate in any of her mansions. Its like when John Lennon sang a song where he imagines a world without money whiles selling records and storing millions of pounds in his bank account.
None of these examples constitute "virtue signaling" as I understand the term. Wikipedia definition ("... usage of the term has been criticized for misusing the concept of signalling and encouraging lazy thinking").
... Such people are known as 'gulfstream liberals'.
Maybe they are, but this is just more name-calling.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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L.N.
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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by L.N. » Sun Nov 26, 2017 5:42 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:17 pm
MRDA is a response that could use a bit of clarification when addressed to someone who doesn't know what "All animals are equal..." means. I mean it could easily be mistaken as referring to the heteronymous Serbian footballer, Dragan Mrđa. And if it was, it would be all your fault!
Bhante,

I believe your reference is to the following comment made in the "Activism supporting Rohingya" topic:
retrofuturist wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:53 pm
Image
The OP in that Topic stated as follows:
indianromeo wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 12:43 am
Alright in case anyone isn’t noticing, Rohingyan genocide is bad. What are people doing, activism wise? Does anyone have any ideas about how to influence international policy via either the UN or the US, or via international NGO’s?
Several people commented in that Topic that the graphic seemed insensitive to the plight of the Rohingya. The graphic contributes to the (mis)perception that DW includes Members who are pro-Rohingya genocide. It is not clear how the graphic was on-topic in that Topic, other than to assert that there should be no such activism re supporting Rohingya. Thus the criticism of the graphic.

Contrary to your assertions, Bhante, such criticism of the off-Topic graphic does not mean that any person who criticized the graphic "doesn't know what 'All animals are equal...' means," as you allege. In so asserting, you are commenting abut the capacity of individuals to know what "all animals are equal" means. Perhaps you can see how such a comment may be taken personally by those who, in good faith and in friendliness, criticized the graphic. I suspect we all have read "Animal Farm" and understand the reference. However, the underlying implication is that certain members of protected classes are animals.

If someone thinks the reference to "animals" in the graphic could be perceived as a display of insensitivity to the plight of the Rohingya, especially in the context of a Topic about supporting Rohingya, then the "fault," as you put it, lies both with retrofuturist for making the ambiguous comment as well as for those of us who (perhaps erroneously) think we can see how the comment could be taken the wrong way, especially on a Buddhist discussion forum devoted to discussion of Dhamma.

I believe it would be appreciated if you would refrain from making negative personalized comments (i.e. playing the person not the ball) when you disagree with someone, Bhante. However, you may of course do as you wish, and respect for you is unconditional.

:anjali:
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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L.N.
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Re: Right Speech: Virtue Signaling

Post by L.N. » Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:00 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:26 pm
L.N. wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:56 pm
Please provide canonical support for your proposition that one standard for Right Speech is that it is ok to call other people names (such as bullshitter) so long as one does not know it to be untrue.
I'm not making any such proposition.
Of course you are. You wrote:
Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:42 pm
The injunction
when one knows overt sharp speech to be untrue, incorrect, and unbeneficial, one should on no account utter it.
is not breached when one calls someone a virtue-signaller or a bullshitter, providing we do not know it to be untrue.
The proposition asserted is that so long as one does not know a pejorative name (such as "bullshitter") to be untrue, one may engage in such name-calling and doing so will not breach the Right Speech teaching that "when one knows overt sharp speech to be untrue, incorrect, and unbeneficial, one should on no account utter it." If you intended some other meaning, please be more clear.
Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:26 pm
Accusing someone of "virtue signaling" is playing the person, not the ball.
You'll have to explain what you mean by this metaphor. Is accusing someone of "playing the person" playing the person, not the ball?
No, it is not. I would have thought the meaning of the expression "play the ball not the person" is perfectly clear. Perhaps you are more familiar with the gender-specific version, "play the ball not the man." A good clarification of the term is as follows: "We can be bold enough to make a stand and do battle for our views and beliefs. But we must strive to be mature enough not to resort to unnecessary personal attacks upon people with opposing views. The "ball" is our personal view and the "man" is someone with the opposing view." Source.

In other words, the viewpoints expressed are the "ball." The "someone" or person who expresses the view is the "man" or "person." Commenting about accusing someone of "virtue signaling" is playing the ball, as such a comment about the accusation of "virtue signaling" addresses the viewpoints expressed (namely, the viewpoint that of the accuser that the accused has engaged in "virtue signaling"). You, my friend, very often play the man (or person) by making personalized comments about the state of mind or other characteristics of the person rather than addressing the viewpoint expressed. Criticism of viewpoints substantively differs from criticism of persons.

(Edits in bold to correct imprecise wording.)
Last edited by L.N. on Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

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