Random Scribbles: Can businesses think?

[Random Scribbles are my occasional posts of half-formed thoughts, half-baked ideas, and off-the-cuff observations.]

Bret Stephens is a good journalist. He obviously knows the worth of a provocative headline.

Today’s Wall Street Journal published his latest opinion piece, “Can Environmentalists Think?”  It got my attention.

I see what he’s doing here.  He’s crafting an argument in favor of his own beliefs, which is what all good opinion pieces do, I guess. But I think there is a logical fallacy here, though I can’t be bothered to look up the name for it.

Rather than pick the column apart bit by bit, I’m going to stick to the headline. My response is, “well, can businesses think?” To which he might respond, what kind of business are you referring to? They are not all the same.

Exactly.

Stephens is painting a generalized portrait of an environmental movement that is out of touch with reality to promote his belief that the Keystone XL pipeline by rights ought to be constructed. Never mind that TransCanada already has a pipeline, the Keystone pipeline running from Alberta to Illinois and Oklahoma, that began operation in 2010 without much ado. Never mind that the XL pipeline will be transporting crude from Canadian tar sands, a process that has a worse reputation than the so-called fracking.

Anyway, his point is that the environmental movement needs to be capable of reasoned thought. My feeling is that it is reasoned thought that is being exercised right now so that we are absolutely sure that the Keystone XL pipeline should be built. TransCanada does not seem to be exercising that same level of reasoned thought. Maybe businesses can’t think.

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