Jon Cogburn has taken issue with both the content and the tone of Wolfendale’s preface. As he has committed himself to reviewing the book, Cogburn has put himself in a delicate (philosophical) situation. In the name of the diversity of OOO, Cogburn has emphasised on other occasions that he disagrees with Harman on the notion of absolute withdrawal, and on his equation of regional ontologies with illusion. These are not merely divergences of detail, as if one could reasonably hold the hypothesis of absolute withdrawal, but that the known facts don’t bear it out. Cogburn must be arguing the logical case here, holding that absolute withdrawal is incoherent.
He is in fact in agreement with Wolfendale in at least some of his critiques. This means that there is a conflict of loyalties, a conflict between Jon’s loyalty to Harman and his loyalty to argument. In this context it may be reasonable for Cogburn to foreground his differences with Wolfendale to compensate for the later agreement he may have to express. This use of tone as framing device is quite common. In Jon’s case we may gloss: “I may agree with Wolfendale on some points, but we are really miles apart”.
The rational core of the demand to abandon tone and to stick to the arguments may be that rather than totally eliminating tone we should try to ensure that the tone employed is preparatory to a sincere and explicit exploration of the theses and arguments. Some tone, while superficially expressing closure, may be announcing deeper openness. Of course, there will always be the guy whose tone expresses closure all the way down, but he will make no real contribution to the discussion. I do not think this is Jon Cogburn’s case.