Phrases and declarations such as, “I have a right to my opinion!” or “I’m entitled to my opinion!” are deeply problematic. This is because the valorization of, and defensiveness toward, opinion – mere opinion – has become so over-inflated that it seems at times to border upon the pathological. We are expected to guard and cherish peoples’ opinions as though these were the most precious of things, when in reality opinion by itself is the most tedious, commonplace, and uninteresting stuff imaginable. Now, a bit of care needs to be exercised here, as I am using the term “opinion” in a somewhat specific sense. But the specificity of my use here is not a violation of the core meaning of the term. Meanwhile, as thinking beings – even if we only think poorly &/or occasionally – we should be aiming higher than just and only opinion.
To name just a few of the inter-related problems with opinion, as already noted above, (1) opinions are cheap throw away items of no particular interest in themselves. (2) Indeed, as thinking persons we ought to care very little about opinions, qua opinions. This “ought” is both logical and moral in its import. (3) This general disregard in no way threatens or impinges upon anyone else’s “right” to their own opinion. But rights come with responsibilities, and in this case it is the responsibility to move beyond mere opinion into the realm of reasoned argument and cogent understanding of the world. It often seems to pass that those who most ardently defend their supposedly threatened right to their opinion are more often objecting because they implicitly do not wish to take responsibility for that opinion. Let’s look at these points in turn. Continue reading