Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"MY OPINION ISN'T (A) RIGHT" [actually it is]

Yeah Dr. Preston, I did title this post incorrectly, because I disagree! (read on for my rebellious argument)

I didn't take many notes during the Socratic Seminar, but here they are anyway:

interdependence = the authority that is derived from relationships between people
everything's connected, so what happens to one affects others
schema = routines to simplify, systems to understand things
limbic = the emotional part of the brain, as opposed to the reasoning part of the brain (used for communication). The other part is reptilian, responsible for subconscious bodily functions

...and that's all my notes. The rest of this post will be devoted to poking holes in the essay's argument.

First off, I really did not like this essay. I get what the author was trying to do, but he was totally making the wrong argument. His logic was basically this:

1) show a stupid argument between friends in which the guy that's losing insists "I'm entitled to my own opinion"
2) explain that the saying means "I'm entitled to my statements being true"
3) point out that's obviously ridiculous and illogical
4) therefore the saying is BS and you don't have the right to your opinion

However, it seems to me that this guy forgot to define what an opinion is. An opinion, in the context of the saying, is a subjective belief that can neither be proven true nor false. The author was claiming things like "President Bush invaded Iraq to steal its oil" and "there are no cars coming" are opinions, and they clearly aren't. Those are both conjectures: statements which, if proved, will become facts. An opinion, on the other hand, is something like "Justin Bieber's music is annoying" or "people with too much plastic surgery are ugly." You can't prove that Justin Bieber's music is annoying or not annoying; therefore, it's an opinion. Furthermore, if I believe Justin Bieber's music is annoying, I DO have a right to that opinion; no one can force me to believe that his music isn't annoying if I believe it is.

Now that I've showed that you DO have a right to your opinion, but in certain contexts ONLY, I'll rewrite a more appropriate argument for the essay:

1) you have a right to your opinion, but you might be invoking that right at the wrong time
2) an opinion is something that can be neither proved nor disproved
3) if you make a statement which CAN be proved or disproved, such as the statement "all cats are purple" (which can be easily disproved), it's not an opinion and therefore you can't justify it by saying you have a right to your opinion.
4) however, if you are talking about an ACTUAL opinion, such as the statement "writing essays is boring" (which can neither be proved nor disproved), then it is an appropriate situation to state that you have a right to your own opinion.

However, I do have to qualify this right. If you claim the right to your own opinion, you have to respect others' rights to their opinions, too. It's the Golden Rule, pretty much; all rights, including this one, go both ways.

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