It’s better to win on logic and fact and ignore motivation. Contrariwise, when you see an argument my motivation, which Austan made three times in as many sentences, you should infer that the arguer has neither fact nor logic to offer.
In 2003, I wrote,
you are teaching by example that making speculative assessments of one’s opponent’s motives is more important than thinking through the consequences of policy options. If everyone were to use such speculative assessments as the basis for forming their opinions, then there would be no room for economics in public policy discussions.
The economics profession is willing to look inward about matters of proper conduct, for example the issue of how women in economics are treated. The method of conducting policy arguments in the media is matter of proper conduct that deserves attention.