Reasonable Minds Can Differ, and That’s Okay

in philosophy •  5 months ago

One of the first things you learn in law school is the idea that reasonableness is a range, usually a broad one. Only on the far edges of that range does something become “unreasonable”.

This is why convicting someone of a crime “beyond a reasonable doubt” is (or at least should be) so exceedingly difficult. If there is ANY reasonable possibility that accused didn’t intentionally do the criminal act, then a jury cannot (or should not) convict.

Unfortunately, we’ve forgotten this obvious lesson when it comes to our political and civil discourse. Rather than acknowledging the diversity of reasonable opinions and working to persuade people to our cause using sensible arguments, we instead simplistically divide people into two groups—(1) those who agree with us, and (2) all the unreasonable others.

But simply because somebody holds a different viewpoint on a contentious issue doesn’t necessarily make them “unreasonable”, much less evil or immoral or stupid or hateful. More often it simply means that they are analyzing the problem through a completely different lens, the lens of their life experiences. Might we learn something from their unique life experiences?

When people civilly debate issues upon which reasonable minds may differ, there’s a possibility for progress. Both sides of the debate may indeed learn something, or at least their audience may. Regardless, respect is maintained and cooperation or compromise is at least a remote possibility. The debaters may never reach consensus on the issue, but many in their audience might, and that’s a service in itself.

But the present tendency to dehumanize rather than to engage makes such progress all but impossible. Rather than doing the hard work of persuading people to our cause using sensible arguments, we instead often resort to personal attacks, most often in the form of labeling. If I can convince myself that you’re just a “racist” or a “xenophobe” or “libtard” or a “bitter clinger” or a “sexist” or an “idiot” or a “misogynist” or...whatever... then I don’t actually have to acknowledge the reasonableness (much less the subtlety and nuance) of your argument. How convenient for me!

And by denying you the possibility of having a reasonable opinion, I also implicitly deny your humanity. This reduces my innate psychological aversion to verbal and even physical violence against you. I therefore can attack ever more viciously, compelling you to defend ever more vigorously, leading to a viscous cycle.

That’s not a recipe for progress, that’s a recipe for war. And it all starts with dismissing the opposing side’s arguments, indeed its humanity, via labeling. We can do better.

Let’s avoid labels. Let’s engage the substance of other’s arguments, and do so civility and rationally. If we do so, we’ll find more common ground that we could possibly imagine.

And, it really isn’t even that hard.

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Great post @sean-king. You can't win the arguments by personal attacks. Appreciated and upvoted.

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That's the beauty of reasonable people......they can understand each other :-)

That's a great content choice and this post is political .
Keep it up and carry on your activities..

@sean-king
A reasonable man test sometimes or in few cases doesn't have weight on the pronouncement of a verdict of a jury/judge in court. But to a large extent, I understand people can be irrational when actualizing their opinion. And this act has reduced a lot of heated arguments to the end point of being controversial or a volatile subject to discuss henceforth. I really love your point of view (POV). Have you in anyway studied law or legal education before?

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One of the greatest beauties in life is the ability to think rationally and independently. It places man above all the lower animals.

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https://steemit.com/life/@missvalue/a-religious-world-of-mental-laziness

Thank you

@sean-king, the laws of the state collide with the basic human rights, and both have arrived at a curiously purified (hate) condition. But the path of light is still visible, at least on the horizon of the view of anyone who knows no despair. :)

Thank you for your wise words and thoughts.
The article makes you think about a lot.
I wish you creative inspiration and new
progressive achievements and ideas.
Let life be bright and interesting!

Personally, I have noticed that people are willing to believe anything that confirms their belief system, and doubt anything that threatens that edifice. I try to make the search for truth and total neutrality a goal, but this does not seem to matter to many.

Due to the wide spread of dehumanizing each other over opinions that are not reasonable to us, I sometimes get the idea that accepting others opinions that are not reasonable is almost beyond the human capacity.

Few individuals can survive cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, egos, exposure to different versions of reality, their culture, their insecurity and their lifelong conditioning to humbly and peacefully accept what is appeared as unreasonable for them.

The problem gets worse with those who take bride of their intellect specially when taking pride of one's intellect stems from that everything is already known and no need for further investigation.

Excellent timing, I am writing a letter to somebody who has hurt me in a way that they really should not have, and I am using so much self control from calling that person one of the labels you listed, lol.

Oh wow I am so glad I dodged that potential timeline, I just saw it and it would have resulted in a negative outcome. THANKS!

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To listen to the audio version of this article click on the play image.

Brought to you by @tts. If you find it useful please consider upvoting this reply.

It seems we once were able to be friends and have discourse with others who did not share our own political, religious, personal beliefs, but now we seem bent on a path of labels and segregating people in to 'we' and 'them' and that if you do not accept the belief and stance 100% of others then you have nothing of value to say. That is sad. Without the ability to find common ground and live amongst others who see some things differently, I do fear for our world.

Let's hope more common ground can be found and less lines drawn in the sand.

Listening to others, not bring afraid of voicing our opinions as well as listening to others criticism is part of being a reasonable being☺️

This is where optimistic bias fails as it desire to strengthen the labels and arguments which could result to fallacy.

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Hello Atty. @sean-king I just want to write my comment here even if its already late. I'm not sure if you can still read this or not but its okay.

First of all I am glad to know someone like you is here on #steemit, that means words coming from you will always be something with substance and I'm pretty sure will be beneficial to your readers, and those words whenever and every time its coming I shouldn't miss.

I love all the words that you used above and I missed those, I am a bit familiar with the terms because I was able to enter Law school in the Philippines but for 2 years only. I still have a lot of things to learn although I know the basics and that includes not to convict anyone with a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

More power!

each head is a world, and that is correct what you show in this post @sean-king, we must be tolerant, respect the one who differs from our opinions, and see rather that we can learn from that person, or how we can help him. greetings from Venezuela!

Hi @sean-king - your reflections resonate, we are going through a very fraught period, a lot of great minds are seriously concerned.

Despite what Francis Fukuyama was writing 26 years ago, we haven't reached "the end of history". The western political systems, most notably their anglo-saxon flavors, need serious reform.

There is this system scientist called Stafford Beer who back in the '50-ies (if I'm not mistaken) has developed the VSM or Viable System Model on the back of work on autopoesis by Maturana and Varella and of the "Law of requisite Variety" of Sir Ashby.

The political systems have gradually evolved into "viable systems" that have put in place mechanism to ensure their viability and self-reproduction. Once a political system becomes "autopoietic" (reproduces itself) it becomes extremely resilient and hard to change.

This is what makes the situation concerning. We could, in a "free world", avoid labels and engage the substance of other's arguments, civilly and rationally. But there's nothing in it for us. We wouldn't gain anything (short term) from doing so.

On the contrary, the system encourages and incentivizes us to label and dehumanize our opponents and exacerbate the differences. We, individually, stand most to gain by being uncivil and irrational and not seeking common ground.

So in order to act as you say we need some strong values and principles, we need to refrain from pursuing a short term self interest at the expense of the long term common interest.

And that is extremely, extremely hard ...

Thanks for this post, completely agree :)

I agree that we disagree XD