‘Special Pleading’ from the book industry: they just can’t help themselves

Three things you can count on – in Australia, at least: death, taxes, and authors and publishers whingeing about what ‘special snowflakes’ they are and how they deserve exemption from both market forces and taxation.

In her magnum opus, Stebbing talks about special pleading:

[pp.48-49] The fallacy of special pleading is extremely common. I imagine that few, if any, of us escape it altogether. It is so difficult to be detached from one’s own circumstances and regard other people’s troubles and pleasures as we do our own … If [arguments in favour of a particular policy or programme are] sound, [they] will hold both in your case and in mine. An exception in my own case, just because my own interests are peculiarly important to me, can never be correctly maintained. Accordingly, I ought (and this, you will remember, is a logical ought) to test my argument by seeing whether it holds in your case too. Unless I do this I shall be thinking unclearly, perhaps even dishonestly.

[pp.161-162] The fallacy of special pleading might be considered as arising out of a false claim that circumstances have altered the case; the falsity consists in the claim that the circumstances are relevantly different, whereas, in fact, the differences are not relevant.

And here’s the latest bout of special pleading from the ink-stained snowflakes, this time penned by Tom Keneally and printed, together with a photo of the author in head-tilt pleading mode, on page 16 of the Weekend AFR of 30 April:

Books are a special case for protection

On Friday the Productivity Commission draft report on intellectual property recommended the government repeal parallel import restrictions for books – to take effect no later than the end of 2017.

Publishing and bookselling in Australia are subject to parallel importation rules (or restrictions, depending on how you look at them. I hope that’s the most boring sentence I ever have to write.

No, Tom, it’s not. Not by a long shot.

I’ve tried writing about it. I can’t. It’s just so appalling. Like being forced to watch ‘Two Girls One Cup’.

I’ll just leave you with the last paragraph. See if you have the stomach to get to the end.

And it cannot be irrelevant that books are not toothbrushes, as admirable for their purposes as toothbrushes are. Books are our magical doors, our personal treasures, cherished possessions loanable only to closest friends. In the name of the totalitarian Moloch of a free market, some are willing to cut out of the picture not only the present emerging writers of Australia, but writers of the future, and with them the wonders that could be created by them, the beloved artefacts of the spirit of our community.




About Stebbing Heuer

A person interested in exploring human perception, reasoning, judgement and deciding, and in promoting clear, effective thinking and the making of good decisions.
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