Saturday 8 August 2009

Objective substantiation

I'm happy, time permitting, to listen to any point of view. I accept that many people have deeply held beliefs, upon which they base their way of life and their moral choices. I may even agree with some of those moral choices.

But if anyone wants to persuade me that a particular moral choice is most appropriate in a given situation, I expect a reasoned argument, based on premises capable of objective substantiation. I'm unlikely to be swayed by appeals to doctrine, scripture, authority or dogma.

Emotional appeals sometimes work with me - I'm a creature of habit and moods, susceptible to "going with the flow" or "doing what feels right", though I hope in those cases I'm aware that I'm letting emotion take precedence over reason. I would not, however, expect a choice based on emotions alone to be sufficiently persuasive for anyone else to agree with me, other than on whim.

Likewise, if anyone else tries to use an emotional appeal to persuade me of the rightness of their position, they need to be aware that my acceptance - or otherwise - of it will also be on whim, and unless the appeal is backed up with verifiable evidence, my whim wins every time.

If you want to make serious headway with a critical thinker, start with something capable of objective substantiation.