Reasonable People Can Disagree

“Reasonable people with good intentions can still disagree over matters of substance.” – Wikipedia

You and I probably disagree about a lot of things. Some of those things are a matter of taste; maybe you love brussels sprouts and hate Green Day. That’s OK, the world would be much less interesting if we all liked the same things, and your love of bitter little mini-cabbages doesn’t make me unhappy.

We probably also disagree about matters of substance. Often that will be because one of us is being unreasonable. We are very good at cherry-picking facts to support what we want to believe, and there are lots of logical fallacies we might try to use to justify whatever we want to be true.

But even if we are both perfectly reasonable, logical, fact-driven truth-seekers working with the same set of facts we will still sometimes disagree!

It would be lovely if we all spent less time shouting at each other and more time talking about why we disagree. Do we just have different preferences? Are we being unreasonable? Do we have different fundamental assumptions or values?

I know that’s naive; I’m pretty sure most people are just playing a signaling/status game when they argue. I wonder if we could create a political system or culture that encourages people to disagree more peacefully.


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