Recently, a friend posted:
Reasonable people can see the same facts and come to different conclusions.
People can be wrong without being stupid, deluded or evil.
If you have opinions, you should actively seek the best and most principled people who disagree with them to test whether you are correct.
If your argument takes the form of “the same people who say thing X also say thing Y and that makes them hypocritical” you’re only attacking the worst advocates of thing X, rather than making a good case for what you believe.
Do not be scared of changing your mind. If seeing solid counter-arguments to a thing you believe in upsets you, then you have an emotional investment in the thing you believe in and that’s usually quite a bad idea.
Let’s be more reasonable with each other.
I would define my friend as an atheist from England. He was probably posting about the opinions of those supporting and opposing the recent referendum by British voters to exit the European Union.
However, I like his advice for open-mindedness in general, like a set of rules for any open debate.
- Expect others to arrive at their own conclusions.
- Presuppose good will and intelligence. Demonstrate respect and humility.
- Acknowledge that the person with the worst opinions and weakest arguments may not typically represent everyone that opposes you.
- Ally yourself with a conscientious worthy opponent and examine what you believe.
- Override personal emotional attachment to your conclusion.
- If an opposing argument is valid, adopt the new conclusion and revise your previous viewpoint.