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Re: please be civil Dr. Bob

Posted by Robert_Burton_1621 on March 22, 2015, at 11:16:56 [reposted on March 24, 2015, at 22:12:51 | original URL]

In reply to Re: please be civil Bill82, posted by Dr. Bob on March 22, 2015, at 9:16:02

> > You make no sense
>
> > I think you need your haldol upped
>
> Please respect the views of others even if you think they're wrong. Be sensitive to the feelings of others; everyone's here, after, for support. How would you feel if someone said you made no sense, or needed your Haldol upped?
>

Dr. Hsiung, I can appreciate, as no doubt all members can appreciate, the general merits of the admonition you deliver above. I feel compelled, nonetheless, to register some degree of misgiving at the way you have chosen to express the admonition, and the general standard of your reasoning.

First, I am baffled by the assumption, implicit in your first point, that a statement to the effect that no reasonable sense can be gleaned from a comment to which a response has been requested or impliedly invited, *necessarily* evidences a "lack of respect". The application of reason in the articulation of one's views determines in the first place whether they merit reasonable consideration by any one. No one can be obliged reasonably to consider *views* which are unreasonable in themselves. But even notionally reasonable views may not merit "respect" if they be, for instance, morally outrageous. It is, for instance, quite reasonable to argue for the mass sterilisation of the mentally ill; i.e., arguments based in reason can be (and have been) adduced in support of this proposition. Famous philosophers argue for the permissibility of killing disabled children if the disability by which they are affected renders the children incapable of any degree of autonomy.

Are these views to be "respected"? Or perhaps you mean more accurately to state that they, however wicked, should be *tolerated* as part and parcel of entering into the bargain of rational discourse and debate? If the later, I agree to an extent, subject to the proviso that no view is immune from vigorous criticism if reasonably warranted. Arbitrarily, by the imposition of a faux "respect" or otherwise, to quarantine opinions from critical response reflects a patronising condescension and *lack of respect* for the agency of the person who choses to express the opinion, as if that person cannot exercise the capacity for common reason which is the natural possession of all persons.

Further, you should appreciate that "respect" is a loaded term importing, in substance and in contrast to "tolerance", some degree of endorsement of the views advanced. It is, in my view, entirely illegitimate to enforce *in advance* an obligation on members to endorse, to any degree, any and every view that may be articulated on this site. Then again, perhaps what you really mean to state is that members should in advance "respect", not the view itself, but the *right* to express the view, even if disagreeable. If this is your intended meaning, you should of course say so. It is easy enough to do. If you persist, even after conceding this point, in asserting that "respect" is still obliged to be extended to any and every view, you should then consider yourself under the rational obligation to justify why respect for a *right* of expression necessarily entails "respect" for the *content* of the expression which is communicated in exercise of such right.

The supposition that every member is here for "support" is, of course, a prima facie plausible one. But it does not by logical necessity exclude the possibility that the "support" any one hypothetical member might seek is conditional on him or her outrageously misrepresenting, denigrating, defaming, and bullying other members in the pursuit of his or her aims. If this is not a logically excludable possibility, then it behoves you to reflect on precisely what constitutes "support" and what its limits may in any particular case be.

The complication which supervenes on the above observations is, of course, not difficult to anticipate. It relates to the nature of this site and the members who seek to become, and are, participants in it. Emphasising "reasonableness" when there is a possibility, given these facts, that any hypothetical member or interlocutor may be very ill or vulnerable and therefore not always responsive to reason is unintelligent. The general assumption should be displaced in such a case. But in such a case, what is called for is not necessarily "respect" but *compassion*. I would also suggest, however, that even such does *not* morally obligate members to *accept* and *tolerate* misrepresentation, denigration, bullying, etc. Much less should it oblige members to "respect" such behaviour.

The only way in which anyone should be obliged to accept, tolerate, or "respect" such behaviour and irrationality is if the obligations you impose on us as a condition of membership include those which might be described as supererogatory. But this site is not a facility for the production of Saints, though I would not be surprised to learn in time that there are some among us here.

If your admonition was really aimed at nothing more exceptional than encouraging members to express their views, when in disagreement, with a sufficient degree of "sensitivity" in the circumstances, then no one would disagree. But it should not be underestimated how difficult it can be to summon up such "sensitivity" in the face of a battering succession of insensitive, repetitive, and irrational comments. In my sincere view, your omission to take this fact into account as a mitigating factor betrays a lack of judgement.


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