mere opinion

It’s important for students to realize that when they’re composing papers for philosophy courses they’re not just laying down their opinions. Provided they give reasons to support their assertions, their papers are made up of arguments, not opinions. The reasons are what make an assertion more than mere opinion.

This is why it’s unfortunate that the new philosophy series, The Stone, in The New York Times is under the Opinion banner, as Postural Thinking notes in his latest entry. Of course, many of the the pieces in the Opinion page of the newspaper are more than mere opinion. But the newspaper maintains the myth that personal views are nothing more than mere opinion, just as the cable news shows keep viewers believing that there are always two sides to every story and that, furthermore, neither of these sides is better than the other.  All opinion is equal. You believe what you believe and I’ll believe what I believe. We’re both right.

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About plasticbodies

Contemporary philosopher.
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4 Responses to mere opinion

  1. Jacob says:

    I could agree with you more. The very discipline that tries to move beyond opinion, or in the least, elevate an opinion to what the ancients called “right opinion”, has been pushed over to the side, as it were. One reads the paper, and either never will or only occasionally will look “over at” the opinion section. It’s only opinion after all, not real news. That is this new series’ biggest downfall; not the fact that Simon Critchley is moderating.

  2. Jacob says:

    I’m sorry. I of course meant to say that I COULDN’T agree with you more.

  3. Johan says:

    This sounds awfully bitter. You should be happy that Philosophy is getting face time on the NY times and in THE OP-ED section which is incredibly important for public debate. I don’t see a single philosopher in the US who has pulled that off- ever.

    You should be more grateful and less arrogant.

  4. plasticbodies says:

    Thanks for the comment, Johan. Perhaps you misread my tone: I’m not complaining about the column or who moderates it (as Brian Leiter is doing at his blog). It’s a good thing. Period.

    I’m merely suggesting that the column is not merely an opinion piece, but rather an forum for argument. Of course, no one is going to change the section name, but it helps to point out that the section in which The Stone is printed (‘Opinion’) is misnamed. It gives the audience the impression that philosophical argument is mere opinion, on a par with the statement: ‘Chocolate ice cream is delicious’.

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