Wednesday, 20 March 2019

"He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side he has no ground for preferring either opinion." #QotD


“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion…  
   "Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.”
          ~ John Stuart Mill
[Hat tip Steven Kates]
.

4 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very true and wise. Alex Epstein has a similar concept: rather than 'straw-man' opposing ideas, we should attempt to 'strong-man' them - in other words state them in the strongest way possible.

    There's two benefits to this. Firstly there might be some aspect of the opposing idea that is true, even if most of it is false, and you get some benefit by understanding that element. Secondly, even if it is completely false, you can only be certain of this after you've refuted the ideas in their most strongest form.

    ReplyDelete
  3. From Stephen Hicks's latest, on 'Why Postmoderns Train—Not Educate—Activists': "Reminded ... of Mill’s claim that a good educator will present his opponent’s arguments—and in their strongest form—postmodern professor Stanley Fish said: 'That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. You don’t want to build up your opponent’s arguments; you want to squelch them.'
    That is the third step [of indoctrination instead of education]: Do not present the rival positions—and if they arise, suppress them immediately."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And therein largely lies the reason the universities and political discourse generally has degenerated to the extent it has. Rather than being interested in "what's right" (the hallmark of honesty and rationality), they're more interested in "who's right". Even then, it not actually who's right, but having enough bluster to create the illusion you are right. A power struggle, not a battle of ideas.

      Delete

1. Comments are welcome and encouraged.
2. Comments are moderated. Gibberish, spam & off-topic grandstanding will be removed. Tu quoque will be moderated. Links to bogus news sites (and worse) will be deleted.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say it, it's important enough to put a name to it.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.