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I asked about the propriety and validity of fence sitting here, but the many instructive answers now advance a new question: what is it exactly?

It is fence-sitting only if you say that they do disagree, that there is only one point of disagreement, and yet that they both have a point on that point. That makes no sense.

User alanf asnswers:

This passage is correct. It can't be the case that on a single point the two sides have a substantive disagreement and they are both right.

They can both be wrong, in which case you should say so. This can happen in subtle ways. It could be the case that the facts of the case are compatible with both sides' conclusion being correct. In that case, both sides should be considered wrong. It is a criticism of each side's position that they have not ruled out the opposing side's position.

My English is basic, so would someone please simplify and explain this?

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  • > I asked about the propriety and validity of fence sitting here, but > the many instructive answers now advance a new question: what is it > exactly? > > It is fence-sitting only if you say that they do disagree, that there > is only one point of disagreement, and yet that they both have a point > on that point. That makes no sense. > > User alanf asnswers: > > This passage is correct. It can't be the case that on a single point > the two sides have a substantive disagreement and they are both right. > > They can both be wrong, in which cas Apr 17 '19 at 14:05
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Two sides have made an argument. They disagree in a single point. Since they disagree in a single point, at least one side must be wrong. They cannot both be right yet disagree in a single point. So if you examine both sides' arguments, and you tell us that both sides have a point, then you haven't examined the arguments well: One side, possibly both, are wrong, but you haven't figured out which one. You are sitting on the fence, and not passing the test.

About alanf's answer: When we make an argument about something, we can make weak or strong arguments. I'll make a weak argument about arithmetic: 2 plus 2 is probably some number or something else. Because this argument is so weak, it is correct, but so weak that it is useless. Now I'll make a strong argument about arithmetic: 2 plus 2 equals π. It happens that this argument is wrong. But it's a strong argument, which means we can examine it and without a shadow of a doubt say whether it is right or wrong.

Another weak argument: 2 plus 2 is not a number, but I might be wrong. This is so weak that it is actually true (because I am indeed wrong as I said). It is so weak that our two arguments contradict each other and are still both right. Here alanf says quite rightly that we should reject both arguments. They are two weak. Neither argument is strong enough to refute the other, so we can consider them both wrong. If you examine both arguments, which seem to be contradictory on a single point yet both right, you must call them out on their weakness. You must say tht these arguments are just too weak and therefore can be considered both to be false. If you don't do this, you are sitting on the fence and not passing the test.

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  • Thanks. Would you please explain 'It is so weak that our two arguments contradict each other and are still both right.'? In the previous sentence, you just said that ' (because I am indeed wrong as I said)'? Also, is it wrong because you admitted in the argument itself that 'I might be wrong'?
    – NNOX Apps
    Sep 30 '14 at 7:40
  • Will you please to respond in your answer, and not as a comment? I don't apprehend how it answers my questions.
    – NNOX Apps
    Sep 30 '14 at 7:41
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In a particular case the facts might be consistent with both sides' conclusion being correct, in which case they are both wrong. For example, a witness to a crime might report that he came across the suspect next to the broken window of a jewellery store. The prosecution might say that he did it using this evidence. The defence might say he did not do it because he was just standing next to the window rather than putting jewels in his pockets. But they would both be wrong. Without more information the suspect's presence next to the broken window doesn't mean much. The suspect might have heard a window breaking and come running to see if anybody got hurt, so the prosecution could be wrong. The suspect might have heard the witness coming and decided to stop putting jewels in his pockets, so the defence would also be wrong. If the defence and the prosecution made no further arguments you would have to say they are both wrong on this point.

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