Tag Archives: logic

How to Answer “That’s Just Your Interpretation”

There are no facts–just interpretations.” Friedrich Nietzsche Part of a series on truth.

A bit of eccentric logic.

Especially since Nietzsche is presenting it as a fact…

The very thing he himself admits doesn’t exist.

What are we to do with that?

More importantly, what are we to do when people say, “Well, that’s just your interpretation?” when we present them with moral or biblical truths?

Let me show you an easy way to answer that challenge.

Two Problems with “Interpretation”

In the most basic sense, to deny objectivity is to assume something is objectively true.

In other words, the statement “That’s just your interpretation” .

But let’s just accept the argument that morals or biblical truths are a matter of personal preference.

If that’s the case, then only two things can come out of such a stance:

1. Why believe ANYTHING if it’s just perspective?  [We can never prove anything since “interpretation” becomes a circular argument.]

2. Or nothing makes sense if a person asserts everything is a matter of perspective–except theirs. [Leads to contradiction.]

As you can see, you’re not left with much of anything to cling to. And if you hold that position your world and worldview will eventually cave in on itself as absolutes make themselves unbelievably real to you.

Because in the end, whether we are talking about politics, history, theology, relationships, biology or literature–absolutes do exist.

Some Beliefs DO Come Closer to Truth

Now, we may never quite get things right.

And no doubt it’s difficult to get down to the nitty gritty–especially when we’re talking about morals or emotions or theology.

But that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible task. Or objective truth doesn’t exist. In fact, as we’ll see in a minute, some sources come closer to the truth than others.

Take the Wall Street Journal for instance.

For the most part everyone will agree that you can trust it. The National Enquirer, on the other hand, is something most people disregard as hyperbole, exaggeration and bald-faced lies.

No normal person would quote the National Enquirer to prove their point. Quite a different story with the Wall Street Journal.

And the same is true for religious truths.

“Interpretation” Is Usually a Smokescreen

Now, it’s NOT intolerant or bigoted to suggest otherwise. It’s fair game to say, okay, here’s where you are wrong–and here’s why.

In truth, appealing to “interpretation” is often a smokescreen for pursuing one’s own agenda.

Or autonomy.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to see through this smokescreen.  suggests you ask these questions:

1. Do you mean that you just don’t like my interpretation…or that you have good reasons for disagreeing with it?

2. Can a perspective ever be correct?

3. And are some things not a matter of perspective [like chess or abortion]?

Listen: The very fact that we can recognize that some perspectives are better than others indicates that not everything is a matter of interpretation.

After all, if everything is just a matter of interpretation, how can we tell the difference between plausible and silly ideas?

Truth is, we can’t. Give me your thoughts. Brutal and all.

Do You Make These Six Mistakes When Debating?

These six mistakes are arguments that are ambiguous. In other words, they stem from use of language having more than one meaning.

No doubt you’ve seen this yellow diamond road sign. You have a hunch you know what it means, but…

Is the City trying to tell you that the children playing on this street are moving in slow motion? Mentally handicapped? Or…

Merely you, as the car driver, need to slow down along this stretch of street because children live and play here?

Common sense tells you it’s the last one.

Why the confusion? Bottom line: Poor sentence structure. Insert a comma after “Slow” and the meaning becomes clear.

This mistake is known as a fallacy of amphiboly. And it’s part of a class of ambiguous arguments that are unsound because they contain words that can be understood in more than one sense.

Here are five more common fallacies of ambiguity.


Arises when there is ambiguity on stress or tone. Think email or blog comments taken the wrong way or out of context. If someone writes, “It’s impossible to praise this book too highly,” you have to wonder: are they being sarcastic or not? You just don’t know.


Occurs when you regard an abstract word as a concrete one. Commonly known as personification. “The City can do no wrong.” Only a person can do no wrong, not the City.


Stems from a shift in meaning of a key term during an argument. Here’s an absurd example to prove my point: “Only man is rational. No woman is a man. Thus, no woman is rational.” See the shift in meaning on the word “man?” That’s equivocation.


Results when you try to apply what is true of the individual to the whole group. The first violinist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra maybe the best violinist in the country, but…that doesn’t mean that the CSO is the best symphony in the country.


Occurs when you try to apply what is true of the group to each part or member. The Chicago Symphony maybe the best orchestra in the world, but that doesn’t mean the first violinist in the orchestra is the best violinist in the country.

Why do I bring this up? I bring this issue up because I make these mistakes quite often on this blog and elsewhere. And I’ve seen others do the same. My goal is to help us all avoid these mistakes so we can exchange sound arguments as best as we can.

Got any other good examples of these mistakes? Things you’ve seen in your own experience? I’m looking forward to your thoughts.