Here is a man who is in favor of the state recognizing same-sex marriage. He reads a speculative article in Newsweek that suggests that STD rates even among heterosexual people may run higher because same-sex marriage is illegal. The argument seems implausible to him; he is a professor of biology at a state university. He imagines that if he could make this argument cogent, it might be persuasive in Washington, but he doesn't try to make the argument because he doesn't believe the data is there. [Or: he applies for a grant and runs some experiments, but discovers relatively inconclusive data, and pursues the line of thought no further, despite knowing that if the data were more conclusive, it would help the case for same-sex marriage.]
Now here is a man who is in favor of the state recognizing same-sex marriage. He reads a speculative article in Newsweek that suggests that STD rates even among heterosexual people may run higher because same-sex marriage is illegal. Although the article seems implausible to him, he decides to try to discover some data along these lines just to help the cause of same-sex marriage. He applies for a grant, and runs studies where he gets relatively inconclusive data; then he makes charts to make the data look as conclusive as possible, and contacts his friends who have friends in Washington. The charts are smattered across the evening news, and the headlines in the New York Times read, "Legalizing Gay Marriage May Reduce STD rates -- in Heterosexuals!"
In my hypothesized view, this is the difference between moral people and sophists. A sophist will say anything to achieve his ends. A moral person requires that the ends are not deceptive or manipulative.
And this is the only thing keeping me from trying to propagandize all of my students into being afraid of their "carbon footprint." See, I dislike exhaust. It hurts my asthma, and I find it unaesthetic. Indeed, I've tried to tell my students that they should not only not litter, but also that they should drive less, and not work for polluting companies--but I've always made those requests on the grounds that I find the results of those pursuits ugly or unappealing to me. But guess what: my students find me laughably unpersuasive.
Now it occurs to me that I could persuade them by telling them that the very planet they depend on for existence is going to die in one generation if they don't stop littering, stop driving, and stop working for polluting companies. But that would be deceptive and manipulative, despite the fact that it would serve my ends--and so I refrain from making the argument, because I'm a moral person and not a sophist.
Okay now I'll listen to how this hypothesis is flawed.