Right & Wrong?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by OnlyMarcusCannn, Apr 27, 2008.

  1. OnlyMarcusCannn macrumors regular

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    #1
    My friends and I are always having heated discussions over common subjects, such as politics, religion, social issues, etc.--sometimes it even gets personal--and it seems that we can never settle with an "agreement" to the subject. It's always "agree to disagree", which is understandable. However, this got me thinking. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I think the reason our debates tend to get heated (to that point where it starts to get "personal") is because we try to prove each other "wrong" or, more specifically, to prove ourselves "right".

    In the case of an argument, how could someone decide who's right and who's wrong? And I don't mean an argument that's actually factual (i.e. someone who thinks 2+2 is 5 as opposed to someone who knows the answer's 4), but when it comes to opinions and beliefs. How is something based on opinion considered "universally wrong", as in being gay?

    I've been reading some threads on here, and it seems as if when the thread is religious, and there is a religious person who tries to explain their religious beliefs, there are a lot of people who will try to prove the religious person's beliefs wrong. Is it really "fair" (for a lack of a better word) to say that the religious person, or their beliefs for that matter, are wrong, just based off of being logical, especially when no one really knows for sure?

    I don't want to start a huge discussion. I would just like some insight. When it comes to opinions and beliefs of any type, can a person have any type of merit to say that it's wrong?
     
  2. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

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    #2
    You're always right from your own perspective but unfortunately no one's perspective is omniscient

    In other words, deal with it.
     
  3. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #4
    The problem is that some things that are true are turned into opinion. I can give examples, but I'm sure you know what types of things I refer too and don't want to turn it into a thread arguing over them. We all have bias, but with those things it's good to have an informed opinion. Then, even if you are talking opinion, you actually have something to back it up. Gets frustrating when we get people here who argue something based on nothing but opinion. Like when they don't know much about something, or ignore actual evidence for the opinions of others who may try to take a non-issue and make it one for partisan reasons, using the questions over the details to make it seem like something isn't a proven fact.

    Other things really are opinion, or just an unknown. This is why something like religion can't be proven either way. The best you can argue is that we don't know and you can't prove what you believe is "the truth". That's mostly the argument we put forth isn't that religion is wrong, just seems silly to be so sure of something you can't be, based on nothing but faith. That's why I don't talk much about my beliefs. I do have them, but it doesn't prove anything one way or another. Don't feel it's my right to push them on anyone. Not that I won't talk about it at all. Just seems pointless. It's funny though, in person I don't have a problem talking about religion with my friends. From the agnostic to the fundamentalist, as long as you respect them and what they believe and no one tries to convert anyone or prove there way is the only way, usually it's fine.
     
  4. OnlyMarcusCannn thread starter macrumors regular

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    #5
    Well put.

    Freaky how this video (and the comments left on the page) coincide with this thread. :eek:

    Wait, so things that are true are turned into an opinion? Wouldn't the truth be turned into fact? Am I missing the point?
     
  5. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #6
    I think what Solvs is saying is that some things, like the theory of evolution, which is overwhelmingly supported by evidence, are equated with others, like Creationism, the existence of God, the truth of the Bible, for which there is no evidence whatsoever, in order to create the illusion that there is an equivalence, when in fact one is scientific "truth" and the others are the sheerest fantasy.
     
  6. NAG macrumors 68030

    NAG

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    #7
    So are you asking the moral relativism vs absolutism question? This argument is so full of semantics and chasing tails. hehe
     
  7. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #8
    I too want to avoid specific details because of the likelihood that we would end up arguing over those details, but that makes it very difficult to give an example.

    Let us begin with a traditional premise: it is considered impolite to challenge an unprovable article of someone's faith. Every faith has dogmatic details that do not yield easily to human criticism, being constructed in such a way as to integrate limits of human faculties into their definitions. Modern egalitarian tolerance is predicated upon a framework of mutual "agreement to disagree" on these unprovable details. Thus believers generally enjoy an umbrella of polite immunity to criticism of certain of their beliefs.

    The acrimony that vexes you often arises when a believer wishes to extend that umbrella to cover statements that do yield readily to rational human discourse.

    For the purpose of remaining non-sectarian, let us examine a claim on which no prominent existing religion takes a strong position: "Corn (maize) is good to eat." Rational debate of this claim is possible along many lines, including, among others, flavor, nutrition, ecology and agriculture. However, instead of simply making the claim and defending it, occasionally a believer will say something like, "I am a (SECT)ist, so I believe corn is good to eat."

    The believer is making the same concrete claim, which is vulnerable to the same reasoned dispute, but by prefixing it with the language of faith he has attempted to exclude his position from criticism. In many debates this tendency manifests as a believer striding into an argument to drop a rhetorical hand grenade on a controversial topic and expecting to walk out unscathed when it explodes, an expectation contingent on the courtesy of his opponents.

    The unintended consequence is that one's opponents rightly perceive this as an abuse of their courtesy. Thus abused, reciprocity is assured, as the line of mutual respect has already been crossed. Because the believer has relied upon his faith as the only support for his claim, he has left no option but criticism of the faith itself. All-around unpleasantness is the result.

    It should occur to the believer that if his position on the value of corn consumption depends entirely upon an unprovable faith, he can gain no traction whatsoever arguing against people who do not share that faith. The very attempt is counterindicated by the nature of faith itself. Religious faith is meant to be self-sufficient, requiring no external support, including support sought under the hypothesis that non-believers will find one's faith persuasive. For people interested in rational discussion, to interject with "I am right because I believe I am right" is an unwelcome distraction. The believer is attempting to win by appeal to a game that admits of no winners. The inevitable response is bound to make the believer feel his faith itself is being attacked. The truth is merely that, to a non-believer, the believer has said nothing of any consequence, however loudly and passionately he says it.
     
  8. jb60606 macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    It's kinda like when you're walking down the street and some oncoming pedestrian is walking towards you and you violently bang shoulders in passing and he's like "wtf!!!" and you're like "wtf!!!" (why do I have to yield... you know?). Or maybe I just have an attitude problem. Yeah - this is completely different - never mind.
     
  9. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #10
    That was one of them. Another, since we seem to be going there, is global warming. While the details are still debated, and some will even argue man is not making it inherently worse, there's no denying that it is in fact happening. But a politician or someone else who's got a personal stake in things or political leaning will take what they either don't know, don't understand, or the confusion over those details and turn it somehow into a debate over whether it even exists at all. We've had those here. Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence we can show people, even hand holding them over it to explain most of what is happening, some people still refuse to believe it exists, mostly based on belief or what they've heard, or not getting that because there are legitimate people who question those details and our impact, that suddenly that means we and all of our evidence can be wrong, so they must be right. Same with the war, which despite everything someone can say, overall is not going well. Nor does torture work. It just doesn't. There's no ticking time bomb, and it won't save the day. Stop basing your beliefs on 24, it's not even that good anymore (that was opinion, but sadly, a now popular opinion, the show has slipped).

    Gay rights is a whole other ball of wax. You can have an opinion about how you feel about it. Doesn't make it right, but you're free to believe whatever you do, no matter the reason. The problem is, you should afford others the same rights (BTW, I'm using the word you in the pejorative here). I don't want to get gay married because I'm not gay, but I don't care if someone else does, because it doesn't have anything to do with me. Others do. If you don't, fine, don't. But what right do you have to tell 2 other consenting adults what to do? You don't. For some reason, them wanting to do something is somehow equal to you telling them they can't do something they want to. It should be equal to them not being able to tell you what to do, which they shouldn't. Ironically, like religion, it should be left up to the individual not society as a whole, but some people don't like it so everyone has to suffer. Eventually that will change and very few people will still care. See mixed marriages. It's nothing like bestiality or pedophilia either, because animals and kids aren't consenting adults, but still the argument is made because they have nothing else but their religion, which I suspect they only hide behind because they ignore other, even more important parts of their bibles while spouting it. Without religion, it simply becomes about being grossed out by a couple of dudes doing it, which isn't exactly a good legal or rational stand point. Not that religion is either to be able to tell others what to do in a supposedly free society, but you get my point.

    So I guess my long winded point is that opinion becomes something more when it starts to affect others. That's a simplification, but it's a good starting point. I can believe the sky is green, but that doesn't change the fact that it's blue to everyone else. I can believe it's pretty, you can think it's ugly, and we can then agree to disagree.
     
  10. OnlyMarcusCannn thread starter macrumors regular

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    #11
    You prove a very good point with this example. However, in my opinion, it seems that, in this case, the result could have been very much avoided. The believer "simply" stated a claim of his beliefs. He didn't try to "preach" against the opponent. So it shouldn't be much of an abuse to their courtesy, at all. It's just a statement of beliefs, or better yet, an opinion...right?

    And this is exactly what I mean by this topic. You can feel that the believer's opponent would be "insulted" by the believer's claims, and I can feel otherwise (which actually is not the case). That's fair enough. It's when either begin to claim, "What I believe is right, and what you believe is wrong!" and vice versa, it starts to bother me. And that is when I feel that the line has been crossed, and one's courtesy has been abused.

    Well, I was just curious as to how people think opinions should be taken. You're right, though. This thread is a big catch 22. :eek:

    Btw, nice signature, it made me chuckle :)
     
  11. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #12
    Not at all. The believer is not just stating his belief. The implication of the statement is, "Here is my claim. I have no reason for this claim that you would accept, and furthermore I would regard it as rude of you to dispute it." It is a way of attempting to stack the deck so that the only possible outcomes for the believer are "win" or "draw."

    Let us examine the possible outcomes of such an encounter:

    1. Believer's Win: In order to achieve this outcome, either the opponent must already share the specific details of the believer's faith, in which case no disagreement would have arisen, or the opponent must concede the believer's point on the basis of no argument. In effect, a win entails the opponent's submission to doctrines of a faith he does not share. This is highly unlikely for reasons that should be self-evident.

    2. Believer's Loss: By gluing his faith onto his claim, the believer has attempted to frame this outcome as violation of a social taboo, and thus a sort of moral win. An opponent who offers reasons to reject the claim may win the rhetorical argument, but in so doing, he proves himself to be a Bad Person. In effect the very question you are asking in this thread is, "why do the people who disagree with me insist on being Bad People?"

    3. Draw: This is the "agree to disagree" option you are requesting. Its virtue is that it is the only outcome that does not entail the believer's use of his belief as a rhetorical bludgeon. Its major failing is that it accomplishes nothing. A "discussion" in which both parties merely pronounce unsupported conclusions and walk away is at best merely masturbatory. Like any such activity, it is best when it is mutual and isn't really something you want to do in front of uncooperative strangers. Believers often spend so much time in private communities of like-minded people, where it can feel really good for everyone to sit around ejaculating unsupported articles of faith, that it doesn't occur to them they might get a very different reaction whipping out their doctrines among the general public.

    Many of the things that sound like "beliefs" when one is in church turn out to be "claims" when one goes outside, and although tolerating beliefs is certainly considered a matter of courtesy, supporting claims is similarly courteous. The Belief Game and the Claim Game are entirely different, and the problems arise when someone tries to walk into one game and start playing the other, like walking into a chess tournament with a blindfold on and shouting "Marco!" Following the rules of either game appears rude from within the context of the other. Your original premise is a request that everyone should abandon the Claim Game and start playing the Belief Game instead, because it is more to your tastes.

    You might find people who do not share your faith, but are nonetheless willing to accept the "draw" outcome because they recognize that at least you are both playing variants of the Belief Game, so even a heated argument cannot produce any results, but you can at least get a little gratification by each announcing your conclusions in passing, like ships in the night. You should not, however, expect this to always be the case. If you initiate the Belief Game over a topic for which your opponent has non-faith-based support for his position, don't be surprised when trouble results.

    As a matter of taste many of us do not like playing the Belief Game at all.
     
  12. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #13
    Somewhat on topic:

    Probing a Political Paradox: Why the Discredited Right Still Sets the Agenda and Dominates the Debate

    It continues, and I think it's funny coming from a former Republican who's now being called things like "far left" even though, as she and we point out, she's right in step with most of America on most issues.
     

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