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Shut up. You're not "entitled" to your opinion.

No, you’re not entitled to your opinion

Every year, I try to do at least two things with my students at least once. First, I make a point of addressing them as “philosophers” – a bit cheesy, but hopefully it encourages active learning.

Secondly, I say something like this: “I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion.’ Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself, maybe to head off an argument or bring one to a close. Well, as soon as you walk into this room, it’s no longer true. You are not entitled to your opinion. You are only entitled to what you can argue for. [SlightlyPerfect's emphasis! big smile mini]

A bit harsh? Perhaps, but philosophy teachers owe it to our students to teach them how to construct and defend an argument – and to recognize when a belief has become indefensible.

The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.

Firstly, what’s an opinion?

Plato distinguished between opinion or common belief (doxa) and certain knowledge, and that’s still a workable distinction today: unlike “1+1=2” or “there are no square circles,” an opinion has a degree of subjectivity and uncertainty to it. But “opinion” ranges from tastes or preferences, through views about questions that concern most people such as prudence or politics, to views grounded in technical expertise, such as legal or scientific opinions.

You can’t really argue about the first kind of opinion. I’d be silly to insist that you’re wrong to think strawberry ice cream is better than chocolate. The problem is that sometimes we implicitly seem to take opinions of the second and even the third sort to be unarguable in the way questions of taste are. Perhaps that’s one reason (no doubt there are others) why enthusiastic amateurs think they’re entitled to disagree with climate scientists and immunologists and have their views “respected.”

Meryl Dorey is the leader of the Australian Vaccination Network, which despite the name is vehemently anti-vaccine. Ms. Dorey has no medical qualifications, but argues that if Bob Brown is allowed to comment on nuclear power despite not being a scientist, she should be allowed to comment on vaccines. But no-one assumes Dr. Brown is an authority on the physics of nuclear fission; his job is to comment on the policy responses to the science, not the science itself.

So what does it mean to be “entitled” to an opinion?

If “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion” just means no-one has the right to stop people thinking and saying whatever they want, then the statement is true, but fairly trivial. No one can stop you saying that vaccines cause autism, no matter how many times that claim has been disproven.

But if ‘entitled to an opinion’ means ‘entitled to have your views treated as serious candidates for the truth’ then it’s pretty clearly false. And this too is a distinction that tends to get blurred.

On Monday, the ABC’s Mediawatch program took WIN-TV Wollongong to task for running a story on a measles outbreak which included comment from – you guessed it – Meryl Dorey. In a response to a viewer complaint, WIN said that the story was “accurate, fair and balanced and presented the views of the medical practitioners and of the choice groups.” But this implies an equal right to be heard on a matter in which only one of the two parties has the relevant expertise. Again, if this was about policy responses to science, this would be reasonable. But the so-called “debate” here is about the science itself, and the “choice groups” simply don’t have a claim on air time if that’s where the disagreement is supposed to lie.

Mediawatch host Jonathan Holmes was considerably more blunt: “there’s evidence, and there’s bulldust,” and it’s no part of a reporter’s job to give bulldust equal time with serious expertise.

The response from anti-vaccination voices was predictable. On the Mediawatch site, Ms. Dorey accused the ABC of “openly calling for censorship of a scientific debate.” This response confuses not having your views taken seriously with not being allowed to hold or express those views at all – or to borrow a phrase from Andrew Brown, it “confuses losing an argument with losing the right to argue.” Again, two senses of “entitlement” to an opinion are being conflated here.

So next time you hear someone declare they’re entitled to their opinion, ask them why they think that. Chances are, if nothing else, you’ll end up having a more enjoyable conversation that way.

Read more from Patrick Stokes: The ethics of bravery

slightlyperfect

by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 8:55 AM
Replies (101-110):
OHgirlinCA
by Platinum Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 4:54 PM

 Thank you!

Quoting stacymomof2:

OHgirl, I have never seen you even be snarky.  I can't believe you were called out here.

Quoting OHgirlinCA:

Are you saying I've been disrespectful to others when they're giving their opinion in a respectful manner? 

I've called people out for being rude and acting like jerks, but I have never personally attacked someone simply on their opinion. 

Quoting Naturewoman4:

But, I don't get it.  That's what a lot of people here on CM does, including you Sisteract & OHgirlinCA.  We ALL do that.  So, I think it's quite funny to hear people saying, that one doesn't have to be an A$$hole when posting our own opinions.  What I hear mostly is people that read one's OWN opinions, is the person that quotes them as being A$$holes.

  Attacking one's own point of view or facts that they put up, is one thing.  But, attacking a person personally is a cheap shot.  This forcus/debate group would certainly be a lot more fun, if EVERYONE would just refrain from attacking people personally.  Just attack what they are saying, with reasons WHY they disagree. 

Quoting Sisteract:

True

Quoting OHgirlinCA:

 People are entitled to their opinions, and people are also entitled to dismiss the opinion of others. 

However, IMO, having an opinion doesn't mean you have to be an asshole on how you present that opinion.


 

 


 

paganbaby
by Teflon Don on Oct. 9, 2012 at 4:59 PM

So Stealing This!

Quoting butlerro1013:

Everyone is entitled to their opinion...what their opinions are not entitled to in respect.


Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Breastfeeding tickers

Naturewoman4
by Platinum Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Look TCgirlatheart, I'm not going to keep defending my opinions & posts on the T/Z case.  I stick by what I say, say what you want.  Just like I'm sure you all will keep on saying & sticking by your posts.  Your opinions & thoughts.  I stick by mine.  Attack me all your want, but it's not going to change my mind.  I can say a lot in that regard, to what others think on that case.  But, I don't want to.  We're past that or should be.  I get it ok.  I get that what I have posted over & over during that time, people don't like.

  A lot are upset over what I have posted & my opinions on this case.  So, what do you want me to say now?  Hate me if you want, call me names if you want.  It won't change a thing.  I can do the same towards those that think differently then I do.  But, I don't.  But, IF I have to, I will.  Let it go already, it's past.  I'm sure after the Elections, this will all heat up again.  Do you notice & I know a few people that feel the way I do, don't post in ANY of those T/Z's post anymore nor would they.  A few I'm still friends with.  They don't & the reason is because it's all BS. 

 I have even met a few 'black' friends since the days of those posts.  They have said the same.  They even advise me to stay out of those posts.  They don't believe the same of what you & others have said.  Whenever I 'use to' look up any polls or read other people's views on the case.  Polls are stating the fact that Americans feel it was self-defense.  Others aren't sure yet.  Then, lastly there's that believe he's guilty.  I don't usually go by polls though.  I was just curious.  I go to sometimes, other places where there's debates still going on over this.  It's about half & half. 

 So, you see I'm NOT the only one that feels this way.  Just on CM, people that believe what I believe stays away from those posts.  I eventually did as well.  Because, it's hard to debate with such hateful people, & when I was in the minority.  Most of the time, it was about 20 people & only me.  That's not a debate.  Which I hung there alone, pretty long LOL...I guess, that's how stubborn I can be.

Quoting TCgirlatheart:

 That's what I thought, and frankly was shocked.  Though, I should consider the source. 

As I read further, I did see the retraction and your explanation to NW, and her response showing that she doesn't understand the difference.  I think we all learned that on the TM/GZ posts. 

Now I see how this post got so large so quickly.  *sigh*

Quoting Sisteract:

Attacking others for their opinions.

OHgirl is good- NW retracted that assertion.

I explained the difference between stating an opinion and stating an opinion and attaching rhetoric that is labeled "factual."

I think that most realize that not everything that you find on the Internet is actually factual.

IMO, refuting a non factual assertion is not attacking. Asking a question is not attacking.

It's not disrespectul to question assertions during a debate, others clearly disagree.

Quoting TCgirlatheart:

What exactly are you accusing these two of??

Quoting Naturewoman4:

But, I don't get it.  That's what a lot of people here on CM does, including you Sisteract & OHgirlinCA.  We ALL do that.  So, I think it's quite funny to hear people saying, that one doesn't have to be an A$$hole when posting our own opinions.  What I hear mostly is people that read one's OWN opinions, is the person that quotes them as being A$$holes.


  Attacking one's own point of view or facts that they put up, is one thing.  But, attacking a person personally is a cheap shot.  This forcus/debate group would certainly be a lot more fun, if EVERYONE would just refrain from attacking people personally.  Just attack what they are saying, with reasons WHY they disagree. 


Quoting Sisteract:


True


Quoting OHgirlinCA:


 People are entitled to their opinions, and people are also entitled to dismiss the opinion of others. 


However, IMO, having an opinion doesn't mean you have to be an asshole on how you present that opinion.




 


 

 

AdrianneHill
by Platinum Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 5:05 PM
It's easier to do face to face. I don't even try on the internet, too many people lie for unfathomable reasons. It's possible to get a read on people but nothing like when you can convince someone else that the two of you are having a deeply emotional and bonding "moment". They will likely long remember your moment together and are more prone to rambling at some point about how they really feel, want, hate, love did. I hated when they told what they did. Most of it was merely standard distasteful or darkly humorous.
Anyway, there's a "moment" lite that can be had with "animated conversation with stranger" that can lead to a lot of truth when people never expect to see each other again.


Quoting Naturewoman4:

Interesting...But, don't you find it hard to 'draw people out on their beliefs'?  Usually I would think, they would get very defensive.  I'm glad you said 'younger people too' lol.  That are so firm in their beliefs, they can't even explain why sometimes.  It's interesting to say the least.  I think I get way too much into the psychology of people.  WHY they are the way they are.  WHY they think the way they do.  WHERE/HOW did they form these opinions. 


 Finally, WHAT is going on in their own personal life, that has them say what they say.  My husband keeps telling me that's bs.  But, I don't believe it is.  People, I believe, come into CM to vent.  How they post, imo is directly what is going on in their own lives.  Because, I wonder why some people have to be so attacking towards others.  It always has me wondering about THEM. 


Quoting AdrianneHill:

Everyone knows that chocolate is the superior flavor. Pah! That is all I can say to that.

Oh, and when I have the time, I try to draw people out about why they have their beliefs. I had to do several interviews for various reasons and I used those shills on my own hobbies later on. Most people have no idea why they believe anything; they only know they always have and the thought of changing those core beliefs is panic inducing in some older adults, hell, younger ones too.


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Naturewoman4
by Platinum Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 5:14 PM

I guess I can say I do too in general.  But, I kinda look more into WHY they are saying what they are saying.  I really shouldn't read too much into it.  But, naive as I am, I want to believe the good in people, no matter what they say.  But, I agree when a person keeps saying the same things over & over.  I tend to ignore them.

  But, not for their own opinions, because I can accept they think differently than I do.  But, it's how they said it.  In an attacking way & personal attacks on that person.  That is when I ignore or have already formed my opinion of them.  No matter what they say after that.  I don't trust them, because they have already showed who they are by those types of posts.  I don't want to waste my time with people like that.

Quoting MsDenuninani:

As a general rule, opinions usually tell me more about the person stating them than they do about the thing that is being opined. 

And, over time, I learn to value or not value the person's opinion based on their reasons for giving it, more so than what their opinion actually is.

 


Naturewoman4
by Platinum Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 5:18 PM

I agree that face to face, things could be a lot different then on here.  For me, it's not always easy to say exactly what I want to say OR mean to say.  IF people met me in person, they would probably say I'm not who they thought I was.  lol  ( I think).  Maybe, I would feel the same about them.  Not sure.  But, I do feel that people on here don't really know for sure who we are.  They can just go by our posts, & to me that doesn't exactly shows WHO they REALLY are.  People can just assume.  There could be someone on here, that really is a GREAT person.  Could be a GREAT friend, even if they don't see eye to eye on issues.  It's wierd like that.

Quoting AdrianneHill:

It's easier to do face to face. I don't even try on the internet, too many people lie for unfathomable reasons. It's possible to get a read on people but nothing like when you can convince someone else that the two of you are having a deeply emotional and bonding "moment". They will likely long remember your moment together and are more prone to rambling at some point about how they really feel, want, hate, love did. I hated when they told what they did. Most of it was merely standard distasteful or darkly humorous.
Anyway, there's a "moment" lite that can be had with "animated conversation with stranger" that can lead to a lot of truth when people never expect to see each other again.


Quoting Naturewoman4:

Interesting...But, don't you find it hard to 'draw people out on their beliefs'?  Usually I would think, they would get very defensive.  I'm glad you said 'younger people too' lol.  That are so firm in their beliefs, they can't even explain why sometimes.  It's interesting to say the least.  I think I get way too much into the psychology of people.  WHY they are the way they are.  WHY they think the way they do.  WHERE/HOW did they form these opinions. 


 Finally, WHAT is going on in their own personal life, that has them say what they say.  My husband keeps telling me that's bs.  But, I don't believe it is.  People, I believe, come into CM to vent.  How they post, imo is directly what is going on in their own lives.  Because, I wonder why some people have to be so attacking towards others.  It always has me wondering about THEM. 


Quoting AdrianneHill:

Everyone knows that chocolate is the superior flavor. Pah! That is all I can say to that.

Oh, and when I have the time, I try to draw people out about why they have their beliefs. I had to do several interviews for various reasons and I used those shills on my own hobbies later on. Most people have no idea why they believe anything; they only know they always have and the thought of changing those core beliefs is panic inducing in some older adults, hell, younger ones too.

 


TCgirlatheart
by TC on Oct. 9, 2012 at 5:22 PM

 You wrote all this, yet couldn't answer the direct question I posed to you, in this thread?

I don't have anything to say, that I haven't already said.  I did not bring up TM/GZ  to talk about it with you.  I will also no longer derail the OP's post by responding to you about TM/GZ in this post. 

In fact, I will just refrain from responding to you in general. 

 

Quoting Naturewoman4:

Look TCgirlatheart, I'm not going to keep defending my opinions & posts on the T/Z case.  I stick by what I say, say what you want.  Just like I'm sure you all will keep on saying & sticking by your posts.  Your opinions & thoughts.  I stick my mine.  Attack me all your want, but it's not going to change my mind.  I can say A LOT in that regard, to what others think on that case.  But, I don't want to.  We're past that or should be.  I get it ok.  I get that what I have posted over & over during that time, A LOT don't like.

  A LOT are upset over what I have posted & my opinions on this case.  So, what do you want me to say now?  Hate me if you want, call me names if you want.  It won't change a thing.  I can't do the same towards those that think differently then I do.  But, I don't.  But, IF I have to, I will.  Let it go already, it's past.  I'm sure after the Elections, this will all heat up again.  Do you notice & I know a few people that feel the way I do, don't post in ANY of those T/Z's post anymore nor would they.  A few I'm still friends with.  They don't & the reason is because it's all BS. 

 I have even met a few 'black' friends since the days of those posts.  They have said the same.  They even advise me to stay out of those posts.  They don't believe the same of what you & others have said.  Whenever I 'use to' look up any polls or read other people's views on the case.  Polls are stating the fact that Americans feel it was self-defense.  Others aren't sure yet.  Then, lastly there's that believe he's guilty.  I don't usually go by polls though.  I was just curious.  I go to sometimes, other places where there's debates still going on over this.  It's about half & half. 

 So, you see I'm NOT the only one that feels this way.  Just on CM, people that believe what I believe stays away from those posts.  I eventually did as well.  Because, it's hard to debate with such hateful people, & when I was in the majority.  Most of the time, it was about 20 people & only me.  That's not a debate.  Which I hung there alone, pretty long LOL...I guess, that's how stubborn I can be.

Quoting TCgirlatheart:

 That's what I thought, and frankly was shocked.  Though, I should consider the source. 

As I read further, I did see the retraction and your explanation to NW, and her response showing that she doesn't understand the difference.  I think we all learned that on the TM/GZ posts. 

Now I see how this post got so large so quickly.  *sigh*

Quoting Sisteract:

Attacking others for their opinions.

OHgirl is good- NW retracted that assertion.

I explained the difference between stating an opinion and stating an opinion and attaching rhetoric that is labeled "factual."

I think that most realize that not everything that you find on the Internet is actually factual.

IMO, refuting a non factual assertion is not attacking. Asking a question is not attacking.

It's not disrespectul to question assertions during a debate, others clearly disagree.

Quoting TCgirlatheart:

What exactly are you accusing these two of??

Quoting Naturewoman4:

But, I don't get it.  That's what a lot of people here on CM does, including you Sisteract & OHgirlinCA.  We ALL do that.  So, I think it's quite funny to hear people saying, that one doesn't have to be an A$$hole when posting our own opinions.  What I hear mostly is people that read one's OWN opinions, is the person that quotes them as being A$$holes.


  Attacking one's own point of view or facts that they put up, is one thing.  But, attacking a person personally is a cheap shot.  This forcus/debate group would certainly be a lot more fun, if EVERYONE would just refrain from attacking people personally.  Just attack what they are saying, with reasons WHY they disagree. 


Quoting Sisteract:


True


Quoting OHgirlinCA:


 People are entitled to their opinions, and people are also entitled to dismiss the opinion of others. 


However, IMO, having an opinion doesn't mean you have to be an asshole on how you present that opinion.




 


 

 

 

~"So if ever a man should ask you for your business or your name, Tell him to go and f*ck himself, tell his friends to do the same.
Because a man who'd trade his liberty for a safe and dreamless sleep, Doesn't deserve the both of them, and neither shall he keep." ~




 

Sisteract
by Whoopie on Oct. 9, 2012 at 5:26 PM

How about time with your family?

I mainly work from 3-7PM- cover the dinner relief hours. Since I do not have any kids at home and my husband  often travels for work, these hours work well for me- plus no one else wants these hours. I literally could work everyday, if I wanted.

Quoting Naturewoman4:

I'm actually considering taking this job, that cares for a 82 yr. old woman.  They want me there for 3 yrs. a day, but 7 days a wk.  They'll pay me $15/hr. though.  So, I'm thinking that's pretty good money.  Plus, I can still go to my gym & do my volunteer work.  :)

Quoting Sisteract:

NW- why did your husband retire from a union job if he still needed to work and support a family?



Separation of church and state is for the protection of BOTH church and state.
Leading with hate and intolerance only leads to MORE hate and intolerance.
Naturewoman4
by Platinum Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 5:29 PM

Stacymom, I have apologize to OHgirlinCA already, you must of missed that.  But, I DO believe in this group there ARE ALOT of people that just give their opinions in a RESPECTFUL way (as much as possible) yet, they get attacked personally for doing that.  That is what I meant to say here.  I'm also questioning what is being 'respectful' in stating one's opinions?  What one may think is stating their opinions in a respectful way, may may not be to another person.

Quoting stacymomof2:

OHgirl, I have never seen you even be snarky.  I can't believe you were called out here.

Quoting OHgirlinCA:

Are you saying I've been disrespectful to others when they're giving their opinion in a respectful manner? 

I've called people out for being rude and acting like jerks, but I have never personally attacked someone simply on their opinion. 

Quoting Naturewoman4:

But, I don't get it.  That's what a lot of people here on CM does, including you Sisteract & OHgirlinCA.  We ALL do that.  So, I think it's quite funny to hear people saying, that one doesn't have to be an A$$hole when posting our own opinions.  What I hear mostly is people that read one's OWN opinions, is the person that quotes them as being A$$holes.

  Attacking one's own point of view or facts that they put up, is one thing.  But, attacking a person personally is a cheap shot.  This forcus/debate group would certainly be a lot more fun, if EVERYONE would just refrain from attacking people personally.  Just attack what they are saying, with reasons WHY they disagree. 

Quoting Sisteract:

True

Quoting OHgirlinCA:

 People are entitled to their opinions, and people are also entitled to dismiss the opinion of others. 

However, IMO, having an opinion doesn't mean you have to be an asshole on how you present that opinion.


 

 



Naturewoman4
by Platinum Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 5:32 PM

Time with my family?  My family ALL live far away.  It's only my husband & I and a few friends I have here.  Those hrs. are good hrs. 

Quoting Sisteract:

How about time with your family?

I mainly work from 3-7PM- cover the dinner relief hours. Since I do not have any kids at home and my husband  often travels for work, these hours work well for me- plus no one else wants these hours. I literally could work everyday, if I wanted.

Quoting Naturewoman4:

I'm actually considering taking this job, that cares for a 82 yr. old woman.  They want me there for 3 yrs. a day, but 7 days a wk.  They'll pay me $15/hr. though.  So, I'm thinking that's pretty good money.  Plus, I can still go to my gym & do my volunteer work.  :)

Quoting Sisteract:

NW- why did your husband retire from a union job if he still needed to work and support a family?

 



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