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    Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!



    Opinion Rights

    By Jamie Whyte
    Omissions and additions by Marc O’Brien- Member of the Oxford University (DCE) Philosophical Society.

    What precisely is the right to hold an opinion?

    People are reluctant to change their minds even in the face of evidence and argument. Instead they will often accuse you of violating one of their rights, namely the right to hold their own opinion.

    Everyone seems to think that they have this right or that we all have this right.

    The idea that we do not simply hold our beliefs, but that we are entitled to hold them, is a truism of modern democracy. But like many such truisms - it is false.

    We are not really entitled to our opinions, nor should we be, because such an entitlement is the enemy of intellectual progress. It creates a kind of intellectual protectionism analogous to economic protectionism that restricts free trade of ideas and so too the progress that comes with that free trade.

    Rights versus Liberties

    To see what’s wrong with the idea that we have a right to our opinion we need only understand one fact about rights - simply that they entail duties. In fact rights are defined by the duties that they create.

    Your right to life means that everybody has a duty not to kill you. This isn’t something that the government might or might not associate with your right to life – it is your right. A law that fails to impose on others a duty not to kill you would fail to establish your right to life. Answers to the questions of other’s duties are what defines and delimits your rights.

    If a right is ever claimed then the test that such a right really does exist requires that we should ask what duties are implied. Duties and rights are flip sides of the same coin. Where there are rights there will always be implied duties. It will be obvious, when asking what duties are implied by a supposed right, whether that right is reasonable to expect.

    It was once claimed by the Australian Prime Minister that every child has a right to be loved. However, there are many such things that it would be nice to have, like every child being loved or everyone having £1000,000.00 but just because something would be nice to have it does not automatically follow that we have the right to it i.e. that someone has the duty to provide us with it.

    There are two kinds of rights, namely, claims and liberties.

    1. Claims are entitlements or positive rights such as contracts where if you have a claim on something that implies that someone other has a duty to provide you with it. If one side of the contract is fulfilled then there is a claim with regard to the other side.

    2. Liberties are weaker types of rights. If you have a liberty to live then it just means that others must not inhibit you or interfere with you in your exercising of that liberty. Others are not obliged to provide you with anything – they simply cannot inhibit.

    Rights and claims are irrelevant to the issue

    The idea that we have a claim on our beliefs, the idea that our right to believe what we want is a claim, is absurd - it just doesn’t make sense. What would it mean to say that you have a duty to provide me with a certain belief? For example, I’d like to believe that I’m immortal, but I can’t, and if nobody can provide me with that belief then who do I sue for failing to give me that belief?

    So, if we have a right to our beliefs – they must be a liberty, not a claim. It must mean that others have a duty not to force us to change our beliefs. Now, you might be sympathetic to this idea, you might think that nobody should force anybody to change their beliefs about anything. But this is a hopeless ideal, because the only way to get beliefs is to have them forced upon you.

    Elimination of the need for protection of opinions

    Choosing our opinions

    Believing something is not a matter of choice. You can test this for yourself – try to believe that you are the king of England or that you can fly. Believing is not like dressing. You can’t pick the beliefs that suit you. Believing something is more like getting freckles, stand out in the sun and they are forced upon you.

    Political coercion

    Beliefs are not forced upon you by threats of violence or other penalties. That kind of force, political coercion, cannot change what you believe. If you are threatened to be fed to the lions unless you give up your belief that London is in England, you may say that you no longer believe it, but the threat will not actually have changed your belief, you’ll be merely lying to save yourself.

    Sensory-evidence and argument

    Beliefs can be acquired and changed only in certain ways, most often they are forced upon you by the interaction of your senses with reality. Few of you will now believe that I have a large tattoo of Hillary Clinton on my stomach, but if I were to open my shirt and reveal one you would soon believe it and, importantly, with no choice in the matter.

    Even when beliefs are not acquired directly from our senses, but are instead arrived at by a process of considering evidence and arguments, it still is not a matter of choice what you end up believing. Either the evidence or the arguments convince you or they do not - we can’t choose how our minds will react to these arguments any more than we can choose how our skin freckles in the sun.

    In short, our beliefs are not formed and changed by either personal choice or political coercion such as threats and bribes. They are formed and changed by the force of argument and evidence including what comes directly via our senses.

    Perverse implications

    So a right to hold onto your beliefs is not a protection against political coercion – it’s a protection against evidence and argument, it obliges other people not to prove you wrong.

    Being nasty to someone who holds a belief you differ with is very different from critiquing those beliefs. One just should never be nasty, whether the matter is one of differing opinions or not. Everything can be questioned without ever any need for nastiness. We argue to get at the facts and we quarrel to get at each other – one should never quarrel.

    We cannot simultaneously have a right to hold our opinions and a right to express them, these rights are quite at odds with each other. If you are to respect my right to my opinions you must not say anything that might change my mind. You would need to remain silent, as I, lest we inadvertently change each others beliefs - thus violating each others rights.

    The right to your own opinions therefore creates intellectual protectionism. It shields belief from competition with other beliefs and this intellectual protectionism promotes falsity because it shields false beliefs from public refutation. The idea that people are entitled to their opinions is the enemy of intellectual progress. That’s why it is not just a silly idea but a dangerous idea.

    Scenarios obviating the irrelevance

    If you consider ordinary everyday beliefs then the idea that people violate our rights by changing our opinions is clearly absurd. No one thinks there either is or should be such right.

    Consider the example of a friend crossing the road who is obviously of the false belief that there are no cars coming – are you obliged to let her keep that belief? Obviously not – in fact she would thank you for changing her beliefs.

    The list of matters on which no one seeks protection of their beliefs is almost endless, no one will complain if the butter is not where they think it is or if they have not received the change that they were owed or that they have got a crumb on their lip. In all such matters no one is an intellectual protectionist.

    Arbitrary invocations of the irrelevant right

    Yet on certain matters many people do take this alleged right to hold an opinion seriously. Some beliefs are deemed special and their robust scrutiny is constrained – either by good manners or corporate codes of conduct or in some cases by the law. The culture of respect for beliefs that are associated with our supposed identities means that someone with utterly preposterous beliefs can go through even a university degree without having them ever challenged. This typically involves topics such as religions, sexes or sexualities. The law even goes so far as to charge people for inciting religious hatred or hatred on the grounds of criticism of sexuality – this is not the inciting of a racial crime but merely the crime of inciting feelings in people.

    Invoking the right is only necessary when our beliefs are false

    We all should of course dislike racial hatred or hatred of differing sexual beliefs but we should all dislike the protection of our beliefs even more - because once the idea of intellectual protectionism is accepted all sorts of people will seek it for their beliefs. And, as with economic protectionism, those who get preferential treatment will be those who need it and who can lobby successfully. Keep in mind that the truth never needs protection – in this context it is only falsities that do.
    Intellectual protection will be sought by people with obviously false beliefs and will be achieved only when enough people, or when important enough people, can be gathered to give it political influence. So, perversely, the more widespread a falsity the more likely it is to be protected.

    The politics of protectionism is never required to protect true beliefs, true beliefs do not need protection, instead we should give up on the whole idea of opinion rights, the answer is in fact to deny that anyone has a right to his opinion.

    The Irrelevant Right

    The cliché is most often employed fallaciously in defence of some evidently inconsistent or blatantly false opinion. Two people might be debating and disagreeing over the reasons for George Bush’s invasion of Iraq and just after the moment one participant demonstrates an inconsistency between two claims, or a claim and its implications, made by the other participant the other participant retorts “Well, I do have a right to my own opinions”. The fallacy is in the assumption made by the second participant that such a retort somehow constitutes a satisfactory reply to the identified inconsistencies. The fact actually is that such a retort is utterly irrelevant. The discussion is about an invasion of Iraq and not about people’s opinion rights. Bringing up the matter of opinion rights in the middle of a discussion on reasons for an invasion of Iraq is just as relevant to the topic as changing the subject to the matter of whether whales are warm blooded or whether in fact it does, in Spain, rain mainly on the plains.

    People do not appeal to the right when they are admitting that their opinion is false. The right is only appealed to when a person wishes their opinion to be considered a true opinion or an opinion that, in some mysterious personal way, should remain a truth of sorts.

    Interpreting the cliché to exclude the possibility of falsity – that is to mean that we are entitled to have all our opinions be true – has its own unavoidable problems. The entitlement cannot be used to decide who is correct in the debate – both participants have a right to their own true opinions but since the two participants are in disagreement one of them must be suffering a rights violation as in at least one of them must have a false belief. So even if we had the right to true beliefs- that would only show that it is a right being violated all the time, on precisely those occasions when our true opinions are in fact false.
    In any dispute, to know whose right to a true belief is being violated we would first need to work out whose belief is false. That is we would need to settle the original dispute and a diversion on the matter of rights would get no one closer to answering the question of whose beliefs are false and therefore whose right is being violated.

    Equivocating on the word “Entitlement”

    In the one sense the word “entitlement” in the expression “We are all entitled to our own opinions” it has a political or legal interpretation. This interpretation in fact means that everyone, in a democratic society, is fully entitled to EXPRESS any opinion they might wish to share no matter how groundless that opinion might be. The right to express an opinion is very different from the right to hold an opinion. The right to express any old weird opinion is not in any way the same as the right to hold the opinion on the grounds that it is also true. But this is not what people mean when they appeal to any opinion rights – they don’t mean to say “Yeah, I know my opinion is obviously false but none the less I like to exercise my democratic right to express any old nonsense uninhibited, if you don’t mind”. What they normally mean, confusedly, is that since they have the right to express any old opinion no matter how absurd their every opinion might be each such opinion anyway therefore should be considered equally as valid as any other.

    In the second sense of the word “entitlement” in the expression “I am entitled to my opinion” it has an epistemic interpretation in that because the opinion is a justified true belief supported by argument and evidence the entitlement is like a right to boast which depends on having done something worth boasting about which can only be conferred upon you by your antagonist persuaded.

    Here is a syllogistic illustration of this confusion by unwitting equivocation…

    1. If someone is entitled to an opinion then her opinion is well-supported by evidence and argument.
    2. I am entitled to (express) my opinion (as is everyone in a democratic society).
    3. Therefore my opinion is well-supported by evidence and argument.

    The syllogistic argument above is in fact no better than this syllogistic argument…

    1. Hot dogs are better than nothing.
    2. Nothing is better than a life of eternal happiness.
    3. Therefore hot dogs are better than a life of eternal happiness.

    People therefore appealing to any right to hold their opinions, just when a possible inconsistency is being highlighted for scrutiny, are unwittingly equivocating – they are confusing the political sense of the word with the epistemic sense of the word and thereby effectively changing the subject to a topic utterly irrelevant to the matter at hand. It would be cruel to diagnose them as suffering from ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) but it would be in order to request that they stay focused on the topic at hand.

    People have the right to express their opinions such has expressing any old disapproval of someone elses expressed opinion. But no one has the right to hold any old opinion they please - that is an entirely different matter.

    The only time people invoke the right to their opinions is when they have suddenly realised they have no grounds upon which they can hold those opinions and thus are left instead with nothing but selfish motives for holding those opinions.
    Last edited by DTLarca; 18-12-2010 at 03:46 PM.


    Only the dogmatist says he will never change his mind. We all know that some of our opinions are wrong but none of us know which they are for if we did then they just wouldn't be our opinions. - JS Mill.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    And I don't have the right to question the relevance of this post on a refrigeration forum?
    Grizzly

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Z Z Z Z z z z z zzzzzzz

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly View Post
    And I don't have the right to question the relevance of this post on a refrigeration forum?
    Grizzly
    I agree 100% but I am not allowed to

    Fridge forum with k*******d poster

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    The trouble comes when people identify themselves with their beliefs, then if their beliefs are challenged or worse, proved wrong, where does that leave them and their identity?

    We are none of us truly made of opinions, either ours about ourselves or others opinions of us, though it sometime feels like we are.

    Labels come into play, we put up with more from people we see or label as a friend, and are quick to anger at people we see as otherwise. So a friend pointing out some inconsistency may well be resolved with some mickey taking etc but a stranger may get told where to go! It is and we people are very complex.

    One thing to be mindful of is that everyone believes their own opinions just as much as we do ours, this fact may well go to explain their reaction to them being brought into question.

    A truly accomplished being is able word things in such a way that others can see and accept the point he or she if making. If education and informing is your aim then it is important to not only be correct (whatever that means) but to be understood and accepted too.

    I have no accomplishments,

    Jon



    (this thread has been posted in the hobbies section and i believe that philosophy is one of Marcs hobbies so...)

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Psychologists think they're experimental psychologists.
    Experimental psychologists think they're biologists.
    Biologists think they're biochemists.
    Biochemists think they're chemists.
    Chemists think they're physical chemists.
    Physical chemists think they're physicists.
    Physicists think they're theoretical physicists.
    Theoretical physicists think they're mathematicians.
    Mathematicians think they're metamathematicians.
    Metamathematicians think they're philosophers.
    Philosophers think they're gods.

    Just an opinion.

    Stu

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by monkey spanners View Post
    The trouble comes when people identify themselves with their beliefs, then if their beliefs are challenged or worse, proved wrong, where does that leave them and their identity?

    We are none of us truly made of opinions, either ours about ourselves or others opinions of us, though it sometime feels like we are.

    Labels come into play, we put up with more from people we see or label as a friend, and are quick to anger at people we see as otherwise. So a friend pointing out some inconsistency may well be resolved with some mickey taking etc but a stranger may get told where to go! It is and we people are very complex.

    One thing to be mindful of is that everyone believes their own opinions just as much as we do ours, this fact may well go to explain their reaction to them being brought into question.

    A truly accomplished being is able word things in such a way that others can see and accept the point he or she if making. If education and informing is your aim then it is important to not only be correct (whatever that means) but to be understood and accepted too.

    I have no accomplishments,

    Jon



    (this thread has been posted in the hobbies section and i believe that philosophy is one of Marcs hobbies so...)
    Me-thinks you have such a nice way of putting things.
    I have no beef just questioned the relevance that's all.
    Grizzly
    Jon.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by stufus View Post
    Psychologists think they're experimental psychologists.
    Experimental psychologists think they're biologists.
    Biologists think they're biochemists.
    Biochemists think they're chemists.
    Chemists think they're physical chemists.
    Physical chemists think they're physicists.
    Physicists think they're theoretical physicists.
    Theoretical physicists think they're mathematicians.
    Mathematicians think they're metamathematicians.
    Metamathematicians think they're philosophers.
    Philosophers think they're gods.

    Just an opinion.

    Stu
    Sounds about right - In fact I study philosophy because I believe I created the universe in a previous life. I now just need to work out what might have created me.
    Only the dogmatist says he will never change his mind. We all know that some of our opinions are wrong but none of us know which they are for if we did then they just wouldn't be our opinions. - JS Mill.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Hmmm? ...... is a reality check needed? .... I have seen simillar before..... the route it takes and the end game ..... section 2 comes to mind, well my mind anyway, others may be further distracted?


    Some say reality is an elusion and, genius is on the brink of insanity . . . who knows?
    Reality is an elusion created by alcohol deficiency. Quaff and enjoy. [Yorkshire, UK]

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    What is wrong with this post?

    It is in the correct section i.e. hobbies.

    If people do not like the post (or poster) then at least keep the remarks " relevant ".

    I quite like philosophy and, although I don't really "get it", think it has a valid role in the science/ engineering community.
    Quidvis Recte Factum Quamvis Humile Praeclarum.

    Latine dictum, sit altum videtur.

    Si hoc comprehendere potes, gratias age magistro Latinae.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Surely it is neccessary for us to hold an opinion, even if only to start/have a debate and benefit from someone elses opinions, we can then process all the information and opinions available to us and continue to grow, or in my case to realise how ignorant I am on so many subjects.

    I will have to read fully and reflect a few times the top post, I like these Philosophy posts, we are constantly being told not to poison our bodies with Alcohol, drugs saturated fat etc. but we dont seem to consider how we feed our minds.

    Someone once said "If the human brain was simple enough to be understood, we would be too simple to understand it".

    Cheers
    Tutto il Mondo e un Paese

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by DTLarca View Post
    Sounds about right - In fact I study philosophy because I believe I created the universe in a previous life. I now just need to work out what might have created me.

    God created you, so if you created the universe in a previous life, what does that make God??

    coolrunnings

    .

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by cool runings View Post
    God created you, so if you created the universe in a previous life, what does that make God??

    coolrunnings

    .
    That makes god now a refrigeration tech on earth who is trying to work out who created him before he created the universe
    Only the dogmatist says he will never change his mind. We all know that some of our opinions are wrong but none of us know which they are for if we did then they just wouldn't be our opinions. - JS Mill.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by El Padre View Post
    Surely it is neccessary for us to hold an opinion, even if only to start/have a debate and benefit from someone elses opinions, we can then process all the information and opinions available to us and continue to grow, or in my case to realise how ignorant I am on so many subjects.

    I will have to read fully and reflect a few times the top post, I like these Philosophy posts, we are constantly being told not to poison our bodies with Alcohol, drugs saturated fat etc. but we dont seem to consider how we feed our minds.

    Someone once said "If the human brain was simple enough to be understood, we would be too simple to understand it".

    Cheers

    You see from my point of view, I have an oppinion because I was given free will.
    Therefore if I have free will I have the right to oppinionate about anything and everything.

    That does not make me right but it does not change the fact that I have free will.

    Philosophy is word play.

    Anybody who has the ability can dominate a conversation, if they know how to.

    Mostly they are people who yern for somthing they can't achieve, so they construct language to exclude the uneducated and illinformed.

    Right is right and wrong is wrong, but what is right?

    coolrunnings

    .

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by DTLarca View Post
    That makes god now a refrigeration tech on earth who is trying to work out who created him before he created the universe

    Now there you go..
    There is a humorous side to you afterall

    I might get to like you

    all the best

    coolrunnings

    .

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by cool runings View Post
    You see from my point of view, I have an oppinion because I was given free will.
    I believe I have free will too - but how do we know we have free will?

    Quote Originally Posted by cool runings View Post
    Philosophy is word play.
    Rhetoric is the art of persuasion - persuading people of some position. The position can either be a truth or a falsity.

    Philosophy is different - it is argument and evidence based. And it follows rules that cannot be broken. in other words they are laws.

    In physics you have laws such as that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but only converted, transfered, concentrated or diffused.

    In philosophy you have the first law - the law of non contradiction - that something cannot both be and not be at the same time. If you say to me you were in Paris all day yesterday and then to someone else that you were in Barcelona all day yesterday you would have broken the first law of philosophy - the law of non contradiction. If you tried to explain how you were in some metaphysical way in both Paris and Barcelona yesterday you would be merely playing with words - the philosopher will not be fooled by your words

    Quote Originally Posted by cool runings View Post
    Anybody who has the ability can dominate a conversation, if they know how to.
    Dominating a conversation versus identifying falsities or inconsistencies in another's arguments are two different things.

    Quote Originally Posted by cool runings View Post
    Right is right and wrong is wrong, but what is right?
    Exactly - and the only possible way of knowing what is right or even whether knowing right will never be possible is to philosophise on the question sticking to or employing the growing arsenal of rules being built by philosophers as physicist stick to the growing arsenal of laws being built by physics.
    Only the dogmatist says he will never change his mind. We all know that some of our opinions are wrong but none of us know which they are for if we did then they just wouldn't be our opinions. - JS Mill.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by DTLarca View Post
    I believe I have free will too - but how do we know we have free will?



    Rhetoric is the art of persuasion - persuading people of some position. The position can either be a truth or a falsity.

    Philosophy is different - it is argument and evidence based. And it follows rules that cannot be broken. in other words they are laws.

    In physics you have laws such as that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but only converted, transfered, concentrated or diffused.

    In philosophy you have the first law - the law of non contradiction - that something cannot both be and not be at the same time. If you say to me you were in Paris all day yesterday and then to someone else that you were in Barcelona all day yesterday you would have broken the first law of philosophy - the law of non contradiction. If you tried to explain how you were in some metaphysical way in both Paris and Barcelona yesterday you would be merely playing with words - the philosopher will not be fooled by your words



    Dominating a conversation versus identifying falsities or inconsistencies in another's arguments are two different things.



    Exactly - and the only possible way of knowing what is right or even whether knowing right will never be possible is to philosophise on the question sticking to or employing the growing arsenal of rules being built by philosophers as physicist stick to the growing arsenal of laws being built by physics.

    Ok..


    If I admit that you might be better educated than me and have learnt how to philosopise (spelling), how can we possibly carry on??

    Will I always be wrong or will my oppinion be valid even if I can't debate why?

    Cheers

    coolrunnings

    .

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Greetings,

    The word Philosophy makes me think of the big questions, why are we here etc. questions that challenge us to expose ourselves more than we are used to, for some that might be their greatest fear.

    I am often surprised to see that so many people struggle (or seem to) just to be in their own thoughts, people appear to need a constant distraction (mobile phone, laptop, newspaper, friend) when they are not doing anything, perhaps I am just good at being lazy?


    Cheers
    Tutto il Mondo e un Paese

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by El Padre View Post
    Greetings,

    The word Philosophy makes me think of the big questions, why are we here etc. questions that challenge us to expose ourselves more than we are used to, for some that might be their greatest fear.

    I am often surprised to see that so many people struggle (or seem to) just to be in their own thoughts, people appear to need a constant distraction (mobile phone, laptop, newspaper, friend) when they are not doing anything, perhaps I am just good at being lazy?


    Cheers

    And that is why I'm not convinced philosophy is a science.

    If Peoples beliefs and oppinions are black and white, right or wrong why are we in the situation we are(humanity) at the moment..

    coolrunnings

    .

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    .

    I'll put it another way.

    By your standards I am wrong and there is no debate on that.

    By my standards, I say I might be wrong lets debate.....

    coolrunnings

    .

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    [quote=cool runings;214231].

    I'll put it another way.

    By your standards I am wrong and there is no debate on that.

    By my standards, I say I might be wrong lets debate.....

    coolrunnings


    There should always be room for debate!
    Tutto il Mondo e un Paese

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Is That So?

    A beautiful girl in the village was pregnant. Her angry parents demanded to know who was the father. At first resistant to confess, the anxious and embarrassed girl finally pointed to Hakuin, the Zen master whom everyone previously revered for living such a pure life. When the outraged parents confronted Hakuin with their daughter's accusation, he simply replied "Is that so?"
    When the child was born, the parents brought it to the Hakuin, who now was viewed as a pariah by the whole village. They demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility. "Is that so?" Hakuin said calmly as he accepted the child.
    For many months he took very good care of the child until the daughter could no longer withstand the lie she had told. She confessed that the real father was a young man in the village whom she had tried to protect. The parents immediately went to Hakuin to see if he would return the baby. With profuse apologies they explained what had happened. "Is that so?" Hakuin said as he handed them the child.



    People's reactions to this story:

    "We are free to tell the mountain that it is too high, the road that it winds too much and the ocean that it is too wet."

    "The master taught the village that perception is a relative phenomenon and that reality simply is what it is despite how people label it."

    "Public criticism is a means for those who do not know themselves well. But for well self-understanding people, it means nothing."

    "We all have responsibilities. sometimes other create them for us. We then have a choice to accept these responsibilities or fight them. The Zen master sees the greater good in accepting responsibilities that he did not ask for or plan on."

    That girl is a lying slut.

    Hakuin must have been aware of his perceived status in the community. He accepted his charge by a member of the community unencumbered. With compassion he completed the mission.

    No matter. That child was as we all once were. The only difference is in being. Hakuin excepted anothers lie for truth as proof of his virtue of ethics and morality.

    "To be in harmony with the world."

    The monks calmness is admirable, but the idea that one should not speak the truth when confronted with a lie is potentially very harmful. Perhaps the monk did not recognize his reputation among the people or the impact it would have on them, because if the daughter never admited to lying about who the childs true father was, she may have created a spirit of cynicism among the people. That even the most 'spiritual' types of people are not really so, but are simply putting on an act is what alot of people would have taken from this situation if the truth never arose. People shouldn't be dependent on the oppinions of others for their happiness, but they should also recognize the impact that their life will make on others and therefore not permit calumny to prevail.

    is that so?

    So what? So what if he was or wasn't the father. Details can not overshadow what is right or wrong. Everyone allowed themselves to be bothered by truly trivial details, and allowed these trivial details to act as ethical guiedelines for action.

    questions lead to the truth. Have you ever heard the following in a conversation "Well why didn't you tell me?! 'Because you didn't ask.' "? It is the same here. Nobody asked Hakuin if he was the father, nobody asked if he would care for the child, and nobody asked for it back. We must learn to ask the right questions of the world around us, and to request, not demand all the time.

    People will act on their own convictions if there is no response.

    Just because everyone "knows" something to be true does not mean that it is.

    People saying something does not make it true...Knowing yourself is the most importent thing.

    No matter what your reputation is, no matter how much your virtue is praised, because it depends on the opinions of others, it does not reflect the Real You.

    I like Richard Bach's Messiah's Handbook from "Illusions": Live, never to be ashamed, if what you do or say is published around the world. Even is what is published is not true.

    Even a large stone cannot stop the river. Its resistance marks its demise.

    Perhaps it is too obvious that "Is that so?" is both a passive challenge to the accusers and an invitation to look more deeply into the matter -- both of which were repeatedly declined. The Hakuin wisely declines to force the issue, accepting minor injustice while avoiding greater disharmony.

    The master has achieved complete acceptance of every person, situation and emotion. He has no fear of being unjustly labeled. He receives the child and gives up the child with the same peace of mind. He is both a detached observer and a complete participant.

    The Zen master taught that there is no difference between truth and lie, because all happenings in life will be experienced through the filter of our sense-organs. That is why he reacted equally to both, the accusation and the apology. Another example that children born out of wedlock are foistered onto others who must then pay for the bundle of joy. No mention is stated of the devestating effects of terminating a baby's initial bonding with a caretaker. I'll bet the monk never recieved a Father's Day card.

    When I read this story for the first time I thought that the only words that Hakuin knew were "is that so?". I then thought that couldn't be right so I read it again. Now I just don't know what to think.

    So what?

    In asking the question "is that so?" perhaps the Zen master was trying to tip the people about truth. It is not subjective. It IS. He may not have believed their apology at the end as true as he did not believe their accusations as true. Their judgement of him was not relevant (to him.) The truth IS the truth and is what matters.

    "You can't tell the whole story by reading the front page"

    Truth is what you make it. In a Society Truth is what most of the people think it is -- or is it ?

    "Truth? What is it?"


    ___________________

    What thoughts do you have on this story?

    Jon
    Last edited by monkey spanners; 20-12-2010 at 10:02 PM. Reason: 1900 ftw!

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Well at least something good has happened here.
    I've always noticed Monkey spanners avatar but nothing has been said about it, and MS hasn't written anything like that before.
    My uncle converted to taoism after my aunt died. He got fairly involved in it, mainly because most of the last few decades he's been working by himself away from family and friends on mine sites in remote areas for long swings before my aunt got sick. Even when she was sick, he still had to do fly in/fly out work for weeks at a time, so he's fairly involved in it, and writes a lot on the internet about it.
    Anyway, it's been a lot of years since my aunts death, and he's hooked up with some scottish lady who he's going over there as we speak to marry over there. He's from the UK himself anyway.
    Reading your posts MS, is like my uncles daily emails.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by cool runings View Post
    Ok..


    If I admit that you might be better educated than me and have learnt how to philosopise (spelling), how can we possibly carry on??

    Will I always be wrong or will my oppinion be valid even if I can't debate why?

    Cheers

    coolrunnings
    Indeed, there is a lot of knowledge we have that we cannot explain why - usually instead we have to demonstrate it. Explain to me how you walk or how you ride a bicycle or how you drive a car or how you know she sitting is feeling edgy.

    Knowledge of "how" to ride a bike is a knowledge very difficult to explain - knowledge of what strawberries taste to you is very difficult to explain.
    Only the dogmatist says he will never change his mind. We all know that some of our opinions are wrong but none of us know which they are for if we did then they just wouldn't be our opinions. - JS Mill.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    You do not have a right to your own opinions!
    That's the OP's opinion - others may differ.
    Engineering Specialist - Cuprobraze, Nocolok, CD Technology
    Rarefied Technologies ( SE Asia )

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by El Padre View Post
    Greetings,

    The word Philosophy makes me think of the big questions, why are we here etc. questions that challenge us to expose ourselves more than we are used to, for some that might be their greatest fear.
    There was a time when it was only philosophers who asked those questions. There was a Greek philosopher called Democritus who speculated that the planets had formed from dust clouds condensing into great masses and that there would be many worlds formed that way across the universe - of course he was later found be wrong, 600 years later, when they realised earth, the center of the universe, was the only planet, and that all else orbited earth, being created just for us.

    We have eastern philosophy, European philosophy and western philosophy. Eastern, it seems to me, is more about social psychology. European, it seems to me, is more about society and politics (existentialism etc). Western, which is analytic philosophy and therefore squarely built upon the foundations of logic, was summed up by AJ Ayer "A (western) philosopher is NOT engaged on an empirical or a metaphysical inquiry. We may speak loosely of him as analysing facts, or notions, or even things. But we must make it clear that these are simply ways of saying that he is concerned with the definition of the corresponding words." For example consider the word "Theory". Many who spend no time relaxed in lazy thought giving time to the question think a theory is something that is not a fact. However, it is true a theory can never be a fact but only in the same way a book can never be a word. Theories comprise facts and laws. Books comprise words and sentences. No facts no theory. No words no book.

    Quote Originally Posted by El Padre View Post
    I am often surprised to see that so many people struggle (or seem to) just to be in their own thoughts, people appear to need a constant distraction (mobile phone, laptop, newspaper, friend) when they are not doing anything, perhaps I am just good at being lazy?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vceIV4Arpmg
    Last edited by DTLarca; 21-12-2010 at 12:00 PM.
    Only the dogmatist says he will never change his mind. We all know that some of our opinions are wrong but none of us know which they are for if we did then they just wouldn't be our opinions. - JS Mill.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by cool runings View Post
    And that is why I'm not convinced philosophy is a science.

    If Peoples beliefs and oppinions are black and white, right or wrong why are we in the situation we are(humanity) at the moment..

    coolrunnings
    Eastern and European philosophies are somewhat scientific but more aligned with the social sciences.

    Modern science however is founded upon western philosophy but also guided by western philosophy. Western philosophy is to science as say traffic lights and speed camera's are to motor vehicle traffic.

    An evolutionist says "It's survival of the fittest" and a philosopher, western philosopher, says "But did the fittest survive?". The evolutionist says "Well, those who per chance did not get killed by the earth quake or the forest fire or the meteor shower or the ice age etc survived". The philosopher says "But were they the fittest?" The evolutionist says "No, I guess not - they survived by chance - they were in the right place at the right time". So the philosopher then says "Okay, so it was not survival of the fittest but rather the survival of the survivors and thus survival of the fittest is a tautology - it actually adds no new knowledge to the theory of evolution?" and the evolutionist replies "Yes, you're right - we need to work a little harder on how our theory is explained, thanks for policing our language."

    You see we use language to think and so if we do not police our language then we are not policing our thoughts.
    Only the dogmatist says he will never change his mind. We all know that some of our opinions are wrong but none of us know which they are for if we did then they just wouldn't be our opinions. - JS Mill.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Survival of the fittest always struck me as an inaccurate description anyway. More accurate would be non-survival of the least fit... but then lucky beats fit.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by cool runings View Post
    .

    I'll put it another way.

    By your standards I am wrong and there is no debate on that.
    Dogmatism - excluding the possibility of being wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by cool runings View Post
    By my standards, I say I might be wrong lets debate.....
    Skepticism - willing to entertain the possibility of being wrong - admitting of the fallibility of the human intellect.
    Only the dogmatist says he will never change his mind. We all know that some of our opinions are wrong but none of us know which they are for if we did then they just wouldn't be our opinions. - JS Mill.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by El Padre View Post
    There should always be room for debate!
    However unwillingly a person who has a strong opinion may admit the possibility that his opinion may be false, he ought to be moved by the consideration that, however true it may be, if it is not fully, frequently, and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth - John Stuart Mill - On Liberty - 1850
    Only the dogmatist says he will never change his mind. We all know that some of our opinions are wrong but none of us know which they are for if we did then they just wouldn't be our opinions. - JS Mill.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by monkey spanners View Post
    Is That So?
    He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that ~ John Stuart Mill 1850

    Your story reminds me of a story from a book on Ethics written by Simon Blackburn who is currently considered the UK's formost respected expert on Ethics.

    Relatively speaking - by Simon Blackburn.

    I was present at a high-powered ethics institute which had put on a forum in which representatives of the great religions held a panel.

    First the Buddhist talked of the ways to calm, the mastery of desire, the path of enlightenment. The panellists all said 'Wow, terrific, if that works for you that's great'.

    Then the Hindu talked of the cycles of suffering and birth and rebirth, the teachings of Krishna and the way to release, and they all said 'Wow, terrific, if that works for you that's great'.

    And so on, until the Catholic priest talked of the message of Jesus Christ, the promise of salvation and the way to life eternal, and they all said 'Wow, terrific, if that works for you that's great'. And he thumped the table and shouted: 'No! It's not a question of if it works for me! It's the true word of the living God, and if you don't believe it you're all damned to Hell!'

    And they all said: 'Wow, terrific, if that works for you that's great'.

    The joke here lies in the mismatch between what the priest intends - a claim to unique authority and truth - and what he is heard as offering, which is one more saying like all the others. Of course that person talks of certainty and truth, says the relativist. That's just his certainty and truth, made absolute in his eyes, which means no more than: made into a fetish.

    Simon Blackburn - Philosophy Professor - Cambridge University http://www.phil.cam.ac.uk/~swb24/

    Also, one mans good neighborliness is another man self serving appeasement. Sometimes it is better to be Churchillian. Glorious 39.

    Truth and opinion - rarely the same thing.
    Last edited by DTLarca; 22-12-2010 at 12:22 AM. Reason: it if to if it
    Only the dogmatist says he will never change his mind. We all know that some of our opinions are wrong but none of us know which they are for if we did then they just wouldn't be our opinions. - JS Mill.

  32. #32
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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by desA View Post
    That's the OP's opinion - others may differ.
    Others may differ - but very highly likely without any supporting grounds to
    Only the dogmatist says he will never change his mind. We all know that some of our opinions are wrong but none of us know which they are for if we did then they just wouldn't be our opinions. - JS Mill.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary View Post
    Survival of the fittest always struck me as an inaccurate description anyway. More accurate would be non-survival of the least fit... but then lucky beats fit.
    Yes - fittest just means "them still standing". Rich and savvy merchants stay at home on the island in the Mediterranean while the slaves head off to sea manning the merchant ships. The slaves thus survive the Island volcano - the slaves get labeled fittest making fittest now just a synonym for survivor.
    Only the dogmatist says he will never change his mind. We all know that some of our opinions are wrong but none of us know which they are for if we did then they just wouldn't be our opinions. - JS Mill.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Douglas Adams had a better analogy - he said fittest is just best fit. A puddle of water looks around itself and sees that the ground beneath it fits it perfectly - so it concludes "This ground was designed for me - there must be a designer!" Of course it is the water that fits to the ground - it morphs itself to fill the hole perfectly. Life evolves to fit the planet like water morphs to fit an impression. So the word fittest seems to work better in that sense of the word fit. But further analysis might expose this again to be as tautologically true.
    Only the dogmatist says he will never change his mind. We all know that some of our opinions are wrong but none of us know which they are for if we did then they just wouldn't be our opinions. - JS Mill.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Survival doesn't require best fit... the mediocre fit survive as well.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    I think what most people really mean when they say they have a right to their opinion is that they have a right to express their opinion... but then, that's just my opinion.

  37. #37
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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary View Post
    I think what most people really mean when they say they have a right to their opinion is that they have a right to express their opinion... but then, that's just my opinion.
    If they did it would be an irrelevant, and as good as random, change of subject to ones rights from whatever the topic at hand was.

    Imagine two people debating over whether we should or should not colonise mars - then suddenly one of them says "I have a right to my opinion". What on earth would such a right have to do with the topic at hand? Why do they not instead say "Well, whales are bigger than fish" or "Henry the 8th had more than one wife in his life". Yes, we know you have a right to your opinion - that is why you were invited to discuss the colonisation of mars in the first place - why don't you say "Well, I am about to take my next breath?" - sure you can take another breath - we're not charging you for the air - please can we get on with the topic at hand - stop arbitrarily changing the subject to these irrelevancies.


    In fact you'll find that people only invoke the right just at the moment when they receive evidence and argument that their opinion may very well be wrong. And so what they say is different from what they intentionally imply - what they imply is that "I still have a right to consider my opinion right and for you to leave open the possibility that it is right". But then fine - so what - let's get on with the discussion and discover whether it is indeed true or indeed false or a good argument or a poor argument overshadowed by any better arguments.
    Last edited by DTLarca; 22-12-2010 at 10:06 AM.
    Only the dogmatist says he will never change his mind. We all know that some of our opinions are wrong but none of us know which they are for if we did then they just wouldn't be our opinions. - JS Mill.

  38. #38
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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    [quote=monkey spanners;214240]
    Is that so?


    ___________________

    What thoughts do you have on this story?

    Jon
    Had the girl not lied, the baby may have been forever resented or unwanted by his family, when the family collected the baby perhaps they let go of their anger and frustration, leaving space to love the baby regardless of who the father is.

    Cheers
    Tutto il Mondo e un Paese

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    [quote=DTLarca;214321]There was a time when it was only philosophers who asked those questions. There was a Greek philosopher called Democritus who speculated that the planets had formed from dust clouds condensing into great masses and that there would be many worlds formed that way across the universe - of course he was later found be wrong, 600 years later, when they realised earth, the center of the universe, was the only planet, and that all else orbited earth, being created just for us.

    We have eastern philosophy, European philosophy and western philosophy. Eastern, it seems to me, is more about social psychology. European, it seems to me, is more about society and politics (existentialism etc). Western, which is analytic philosophy and therefore squarely built upon the foundations of logic, was summed up by AJ Ayer "A (western) philosopher is NOT engaged on an empirical or a metaphysical inquiry. We may speak loosely of him as analysing facts, or notions, or even things. But we must make it clear that these are simply ways of saying that he is concerned with the definition of the corresponding words." For example consider the word "Theory". Many who spend no time relaxed in lazy thought giving time to the question think a theory is something that is not a fact. However, it is true a theory can never be a fact but only in the same way a book can never be a word. Theories comprise facts and laws. Books comprise words and sentences. No facts no theory. No words no book.



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vceIV4Arpmg

    Thanks for the link, could philosophy be as much about learning about ourselves as the world around us?

    Cheers
    Tutto il Mondo e un Paese

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by DTLarca View Post
    If they did it would be an irrelevant, and as good as random, change of subject to ones rights from whatever the topic at hand was.
    It is indeed a change of subject, indicating a desire to end the discussion of the topic at hand. A desire to simply agree to disagree, as neither is going to convince the other.

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    Re: Philosophy - You do not have a right to your own opinions!

    Quote Originally Posted by El Padre View Post
    Is that so?


    ___________________

    What thoughts do you have on this story?

    Jon
    Had the girl not lied, the baby may have been forever resented or unwanted by his family, when the family collected the baby perhaps they let go of their anger and frustration, leaving space to love the baby regardless of who the father is.

    Cheers
    The thing i like with these stories is there isn't a wrong answer, there is just what thoughts spring to mind at the time, and those thoughts may be different the next time you read it.

    I've just had another read, and this thought occurred to me, if her parents weren't angry, she may have felt able to be honest with them in the first place, i wondered where their anger came from? Maybe they were concerned by what their neighbours would think? Their daughter had brought shame on the family.
    Many of our troubles come from wondering and worrying what others think of us, our ego which should work for our benefit ends up being our master

    Jon

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