Black and White and the Gray Area

Often times when I speak with someone about libertarianism, they resort to a phrase like: “Not everything is so black and white, there’s a gray area”. And then they act like they just made a point and wait for my response. The problem is that people have a tendency to use this phrase in an ambiguous fashion as their conclusion or main point and assume that the debate can appropriately end here without further resolution. They use it as a barrier and escape strategy from the debate when they don’t know how to answer a question. What they usually mean by the phrase is that there are complicating factors and variables that bear on the matter at hand, or that there are exceptions to certain commonly held rules. That’s quite possible. So, they should state those additional relevant factors and exceptions, and JUSTIFY them, instead of fleeing by using the “gray” phrase. (For a full discussion on the inappropriate use of this phrase, see my essay on this subject in the essay section).

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