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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 (21-30):
Naturewoman4
by Platinum Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 1:22 PM

This is a very laughable post for those on here that has NEVER allowed some people having their own opinions, even when it's brought up along with FACTS.  People say oh well they don't have ANY facts.  Yet, they themselves don't have them either & yet they say it is facts.  When all it is, is speculating.  Most people on CM don't want to hear OTHER people's opinons that are different then themselves. 

 When a person consistantly put up a post, that isn't what they believe.  Then they get personally attacked & called names.  So, this post DOES apply to quite a few people here on CM.  "SHUT UP...you ARE entitled to YOUR opinion.  I find it always funny actually & it never bothers me.  Because, I know those people are just insecure in themselves.  So, as I read they're post I laugh. 

 I even let my husband read them, & he just says 'what idiots'.  He says all those people are constantly are on here, must NOT work.  They don't do anything constructive & must live off the Gov.  (probably true).  This is their entertainment.  (true).  I never knew there were SO many idiots in the Country as on CM, but I shouldn't be surprised.

Quoting romalove:

 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.

^^^^^

This is the problem.  Yes, everyone is entitled to an opinion.  But, your opinion is only as good as your evidence for it, for what you can discuss about it with factual information.  Some things are only opinion; there can't be a proven answer to "which ice cream flavor is most delicious" (although everyone knows it's pistachio lol) and this is totally an opinion item.  Other things, like scientific discussions, your opinion is only as good as the evidence you bring to back it up.  "You" are entitled to any opinion you wish to hold, but that doesn't mean all opinions will be given equal weight and validity.


romalove
by Roma on Oct. 9, 2012 at 1:25 PM

 

Quoting Naturewoman4:

This is a very laughable post for those on here that has NEVER allowed some people having their own opinions, even when it's brought up along with FACTS.  People say oh well they don't have ANY facts.  Yet, they themselves don't have them either & yet they say it is facts.  When all it is, is speculating.  Most people on CM don't want to hear OTHER people's opinons that are different then themselves. 

 When a person consistantly put up a post, that isn't what they believe.  Then they get personally attacked & called names.  So, this post DOES apply to quite a few people here on CM.  "SHUT UP...you ARE entitled to YOUR opinion.  I find it always funny actually & it never bothers me.  Because, I know those people are just insecure in themselves.  So, as I read they're post I laugh. 

 I even let my husband read them, & he just says 'what idiots'.  He says all those people are constantly are on here, must NOT work.  They don't do anything constructive & must live off the Gov.  (probably true).  This is their entertainment.  (true).  I never knew there were SO many idiots in the Country as on CM, but I shouldn't be surprised.

Quoting romalove:

 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.

^^^^^

This is the problem.  Yes, everyone is entitled to an opinion.  But, your opinion is only as good as your evidence for it, for what you can discuss about it with factual information.  Some things are only opinion; there can't be a proven answer to "which ice cream flavor is most delicious" (although everyone knows it's pistachio lol) and this is totally an opinion item.  Other things, like scientific discussions, your opinion is only as good as the evidence you bring to back it up.  "You" are entitled to any opinion you wish to hold, but that doesn't mean all opinions will be given equal weight and validity.

 

 I'd ask you to translate that into English, but I don't want to tax you too much.

Opinions can always be held.  You have many that I think are total garbage.  You're entitled to have them, and I'm entitled to think that they are garbage based on the lack of credible evidence you put behind them.

Have a lovely day.

OHgirlinCA
by Platinum Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 1:30 PM
4 moms liked this

 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.

Sisteract
by Whoopie on Oct. 9, 2012 at 1:32 PM

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.


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 1:34 PM

Not to cause a problem here Iga, but isn't that what YOU have always did here on CM?  Call people horrible names, when they don't agree with something.  I've read plenty of your posts & you seem to be in the group of people that have ALWAYS done that.  I went over 1 yr. without attacking & calling people names.  I just either ignore them & not read their posts, OR I just say that be careful your insecurities are showing.  ATTACK what I say, YES.  Give me your proof or facts about what I have said. 

 I may attack Obama or in other issues YES, but that is the purpose of an debate.  To debate AGAINST what I've said...not me personally.  Yet, that's all I have gotten from MANY people on here.  I don't leave because, luckily it doesn't bother me.  I just feel that something is terribly going wrong in THEIR life to be like this.  Also, when people stoop to this level it is because they are SO insecure.  I feel sorry for them in some ways.  I wish we ALL could just DEBATE!!  Debate the issues, NOT attack the person just because they think & see things differently than another person. 

Now, I THINK (not sure) you & I have gone through it as well.  But, would be nice if we could just debate the issue.  Without throwing out insults.  I don't think that will EVER happen here on CM.  But, I can keep hoping.  :)  If you've noticed, I have changed since being here on CM.  I'm not that same person I use to be, I will come back a people with the SAME attacks.  I never even liked cussing.  It's funny because all my life I never hardly ever even said a cuss word.  Thanks to my mom when I was little, I overheard them say a cuss word.  So, I repeated it.  I had my mouth washed out with soap.  It was so horrible, that I never said another cuss word. 

 Then, when I raised my kids, I didn't want to have them hear me say a cuss word.  But, my husband even notices it I'm saying more.  lol...He thinks it's funny for me to say words like.  Even on CM I'm starting to use cuss words.  But, one can't surive here without be just like the others, when THEY deserve it & call YOU names.  A person can only take so much.  ONLY difference is, I WON'T attack & cuss a person out, UNLESS THEY do it FIRST.  I'd rather have us all just debate the issues.  For example, when I debate about Obama & how I feel about him.  Just debate against Romney, for example.  Not about me personally.  When I say Obama did this or that.  Just come back with, well Romney did this or that.  Just my opinion for whatever it's worth.

Quoting lga1965:

 

Quoting mikiemom:

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, however if your opinion is bigotted and hurtful you can keep it to yourself. If your opinion is clearly false, then you are entitled to them but we are not required to respect or take your opinion seriously.

 Well, yeah, I thought this was pretty much obvious.LOL.Don't we all merely want to put our opinions out there to make people think....not to get complete approval or agreement?

And I don't expect people to agree with my feelings or opinions. But I do expect people to disagree politely and not hurl insults or call me names or use filthy words ( or get snarky and tell me to clean the cobwebs out,etc). Know what I mean?

Would this be fun if we had to offer proof of everything we want to put in a reply? It would seem a little too serious.

 


lga1965
by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 1:38 PM
I always use clean language, no cuss words and no horrible names. You must be confusing me with someone else, Nature.

Quoting Naturewoman4:

Not to cause a problem here Iga, but isn't that what YOU have always did here on CM?  Call people horrible names, when they don't agree with something.  I've read plenty of your posts & you seem to be in the group of people that have ALWAYS done that.  I went over 1 yr. without attacking & calling people names.  I just either ignore them & not read their posts, OR I just say that be careful your insecurities are showing.  ATTACK what I say, YES.  Give me your proof or facts about what I have said. 


 I may attack Obama or in other issues YES, but that is the purpose of an debate.  To debate AGAINST what I've said...not me personally.  Yet, that's all I have gotten from MANY people on here.  I don't leave because, luckily it doesn't bother me.  I just feel that something is terribly going wrong in THEIR life to be like this.  Also, when people stoop to this level it is because they are SO insecure.  I feel sorry for them in some ways.  I wish we ALL could just DEBATE!!  Debate the issues, NOT attack the person just because they think & see things differently than another person. 


Now, I THINK (not sure) you & I have gone through it as well.  But, would be nice if we could just debate the issue.  Without throwing out insults.  I don't think that will EVER happen here on CM.  But, I can keep hoping.  :)  If you've noticed, I have changed since being here on CM.  I'm not that same person I use to be, I will come back a people with the SAME attacks.  I never even liked cussing.  It's funny because all my life I never hardly ever even said a cuss word.  Thanks to my mom when I was little, I overheard them say a cuss word.  So, I repeated it.  I had my mouth washed out with soap.  It was so horrible, that I never said another cuss word. 


 Then, when I raised my kids, I didn't want to have them hear me say a cuss word.  But, my husband even notices it I'm saying more.  lol...He thinks it's funny for me to say words like.  Even on CM I'm starting to use cuss words.  But, one can't surive here without be just like the others, when THEY deserve it & call YOU names.  A person can only take so much.  ONLY difference is, I WON'T attack & cuss a person out, UNLESS THEY do it FIRST.  I'd rather have us all just debate the issues.  For example, when I debate about Obama & how I feel about him.  Just debate against Romney, for example.  Not about me personally.  When I say Obama did this or that.  Just come back with, well Romney did this or that.  Just my opinion for whatever it's worth.


Quoting lga1965:


 


Quoting mikiemom:


Everyone is entitled to their opinion, however if your opinion is bigotted and hurtful you can keep it to yourself. If your opinion is clearly false, then you are entitled to them but we are not required to respect or take your opinion seriously.


 Well, yeah, I thought this was pretty much obvious.LOL.Don't we all merely want to put our opinions out there to make people think....not to get complete approval or agreement?


And I don't expect people to agree with my feelings or opinions. But I do expect people to disagree politely and not hurl insults or call me names or use filthy words ( or get snarky and tell me to clean the cobwebs out,etc). Know what I mean?


Would this be fun if we had to offer proof of everything we want to put in a reply? It would seem a little too serious.


 



Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Naturewoman4
by Platinum Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 1:39 PM

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.



Sisteract
by Whoopie on Oct. 9, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Attacking is not debating

Opinions are not facts

All information posted is not equally vaild, proven, accurate or factual.

People has = People have.

You have always did=You have always done.

Sorry ladies- too many of those 2 above in the last few days.

thecoffeefairy
by Bronze Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 1:45 PM
I agree


Quoting stacymomof2:

I agree with this, although "entitled" (that oh so ugly word) seems to be the sticking point.  Sure you are entitled to your opinion, free country and what not.  You are not entitled to everyone's agreement with your opinion, especially if you can't back it up.

Another problem I see in these online debates is that people think facts are debateable.  If you call them out and say well, the facts are thus, you will get some people who say that that is an opinion and they are entitled to their opinion.  It is simply not true.


Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Sisteract
by Whoopie on Oct. 9, 2012 at 1:47 PM

One person does.

Many people (more than one person) do.

That's what a lot of people on CM do, including you...

So do we all do it or do a lot of people do it?

Your posts makes no sense. Inability to present a clear thought makes debating hard-

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.




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.
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