Slippery slopes are themselves a slippery concept. Imagine trying to explain
them to an alien:
"Well, we right-thinking people are quite sure that the Holocaust happened, so
banning Holocaust denial would shut up some crackpots and improve the discourse.
But it's one step on the road to things like banning unpopular political
positions or religions, and we right-thinking people oppose that, so we won't
ban Holocaust denial."
And the alien might well respond: "But you could just ban Holocaust denial, but
not ban unpopular political positions or religions. Then you right-thinking
people get the thing you want, but not the thing you don't want."
This post is about some of the replies you might give the alien.
Abandoning the Power of Choice
This is the boring one without any philosophical insight that gets mentioned
only for completeness' sake. In this reply, giving up a certain point risks
losing the ability to decide whether or not to give up other points.
For example, if people gave up the right to privacy and allowed the government
to monitor all phone calls, online communications, and public places, then if
someone launched a military coup, it would be very difficult to resist them
because there would be no way to secretly organize a rebellion. This is also
brought up in arguments about gun control a lot.
I'm not sure this is properly thought of as a slippery slope argument at all. It
seems to be a more straightforward "Don't give up useful tools for fighting
The Legend of Murder-Gandhi
] on Less Wrong's
[/lw/2vj/gandhi_murder_pills_and_mental_illness/] The Adventures of
Murder-Gandhi: Gandhi is offered a pill that will turn him into an unstoppable
murderer. He refuses to take it, because in his current incarnation as a
pacifist, he doesn't want others to die, and he knows that would be a
consequence of taking the pill. Even if we offered him $1 million to take the
pill, his abhorrence of viol