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Should we be completely rational about our ideological views?

WarOnReasons          1 May 2015 06:32 AM


Imagine a man who, like most people on this planet, is generally surrounded by people who share his basic worldview. He could be a religious conservative living in Utah or Pakistan, or an atheist progressive working as a humanities professor at Berkeley (it doesnít matter for this discussion).

One day something unusual happens Ė the man has a long personal conversation with an outsider. Impossibly, the latter presents compelling arguments proving that our protagonistís views on politics and religion are totally false. Now the man has three realistic options:

1) Publicly change his views. As the result, he will antagonize his current friends, family members and colleagues. In some parts of the world he might also get killed, in others, he risks ruining or at least significantly hurting his career.

2) Change his views, but keep it a secret. As the result, heíll suffer a painful blow to his self-esteem. He is now officially a hypocrite, a conformist and a coward. Also, he will lose the sense of community and start feeling like a stranger among the people he cares about.

3) Become willfully blind to the outsiderís arguments (like, for instance, people in this experiment).

Which option is more likely to make him happier?




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julia1 1 May 2015 04:36 PM
72%

I disagree that keeping your views secret makes you a hypocrite or a coward. If you live in a community that punishes non-conformism, then keeping your views to yourself makes sense, and the problem is with the community, not with you. A problem does arise if some other member of this community gets ostracized or worse because of their views, and you don't dare speak in their defense. But this has nothing to do with your views on specific topics - only in how you think about tolerance of other views. Also, I can feel close to people I care about even if I completely disagree with some of their views.


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Gleb Tsipursky 2 May 2015 04:24 PM
71%

I would say that, probabilistically speaking, a gradual transition from Option 2 to Option 1 would be most likely to make the person happiest in the long term. In the short term, Option 3 would win out.


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melian 5 May 2015 11:25 AM
75%

In a country like Afghanistan, a gradual transition from Option 2 to Option 1 is most likely to make the person dead.

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TatteredColours 19 June 2015 01:30 AM
66%

I feel it's unfair to eliminate the idea of context from this question. Obviously if you live in a dogmatic society, such as Pakistan, then the consequence of expressing your views publicly would be worse than death. In a country like America, yes, you would most likely be called out as inconsistent, but nobody would persecute you.

The first founding principles of the free world is the right to a voice, be it free speech or the right to vote. This implicitly encourages all voices to have influence upon the collective ideology of their respective people. More subtly, it opens up the possibility for ideas that would otherwise be considered taboo to find consideration from even the most hoity of the toity, and therefore gives us the freedom to be challenged, proven wrong, and convinced. This is why documents such as the Constitution of the United States have things like Article V, a built-in acknowledgement of the inherent flaws in any ideology set in stone. It's basically the founding fathers' way of telling us, "our word is not final. We invite you to fix our mistakes and fill in the gaps as new problems arise."

The very purpose of the free world is to promote rationality. Of course, we do not and shall not ever live in a perfectly rational society, but my point is that we have the privilege of living in the most ideologically tolerant society in history. We are the pinnacle of rationality's mission. We have the privilege of participating in discussions with our honest opinions as well as admitting defeat without going the way of Socrates.

I believe a healthy balance of options 1 and 2 are what one would call the ideal. Of course, only the most vocal of proponents would necessarily have to publically announce to everyone that their views have changed. For the most part, one's most major philosophical and political opinions aren't at the forefront of their person, and thus will be depersonalized to the point where those in their career life would be entirely ignorant of said ideology anyway, thus having zero effect upon their career.

For those who are mature enough to depersonalize opinions from character, there is no painful blow to self esteem. Willingness to admit having been wrong does not make "a hypocrite, a conformist and a coward," but one who places value on rationality above oneself. Admitting you have been wrong is only a show of weakness to the selfish, who feel that even irrational thought constitutes dignity when it "wins out" over its opponents. And it is only those same selfish people who would make a humble thinker feel "like a stranger" for having different ideology. Though I suppose the degree of tolerance exhibited by those your theoretical man cares for would influence whether it would make him happier to change his ideology when proven wrong.

Of course, when it comes to living in a more dogmatic society, the more important question would be "what makes this particular man happy?" Because if they are such proponents for free thought that they believe it more important than their life, then of course it would make them more happy to die for their ideology. If life is more important than dying for a cause, then keeping their opinions secret would likely be a better option, albeit with a repressed mind.

It's 4am so I'm going to sleep. I'll keep going if anyone is interested, and I'd be happy to start a discussion, but I'm done for now. Thanks for reading.


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melian 19 June 2015 04:39 AM
74%

You are right in that there is a huge difference between countries such as Pakistan and the Western democracies. Yet, even in the latter people are often persecuted for voicing unpopular opinions. While they are not executed or sent to prison, they can easily lose jobs or sources of income.

And it is only those same selfish people who would make a humble thinker feel "like a stranger" for having different ideology.


Are you sure you could easily stay friends with a person who starts advocating positions you personally hate?

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TatteredColours 19 June 2015 10:19 PM
68%

It is true that people in more progressive societies are still persecuted for voicing unpopular opinions, if you use the word "persecute" less exclusively than I. The difference though as that these people are usually of a much higher profile than the average man. The way I see it, those who lose their job or their source of income lose it primarily because their employer or their business partner doesn't want to be associated with the unpopular opinion in the public eye, not because they're too offended by the opinion to look past it. This is a whole 'nother field of discussion, the influence of the public eye, and I feel it may be too off topic, so I'll move on to your question.

I could indeed stay friends with someone who advocates for opinions I disagree with, because these are the people I can learn the most from. The only ideologies I cannot look past are those of ... read more


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NeutralGood 2 June 2015 08:39 AM
65%

The man should keep his views a secret from his friends and family, but post about them on 4chan :P

(More seriously, the only way change will ever happen is if people have at least some willingness to disagree with friends, family, etc. So maybe secretly tell a trusted friend or two?)


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melian 2 June 2015 10:11 AM
73%

The problem is partly genetic. People, who had tendency to tell their trusted friends about developing doubts about religion, were less likely to propagate their genes.

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antat 1 May 2015 01:56 PM
65%

"heíll suffer a painful blow to his self-esteem. He is now officially a hypocrite, a conformist and a coward. Also, he will lose the sense of community and start feeling like a stranger among the people he cares about."

That's the only option you're giving? I don't see that as a necessary result. Even a likely one. If feels like you're expressing your negative view of conformism, but that's not a universal opinion.


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DanielLC 1 May 2015 03:20 PM
59%

What will make him happier? Probably ignoring the outsider, so long as the views aren't anything important to him. But if he has something else to worry about, he can't afford to just do what makes him happy.

I'd suggest publicly changing his views to the extent that it is socially acceptable, and making peace with being a hypocrite, conformist, and coward to the extent that it is not. There's nothing wrong with being a hypocrite, conformist, and coward.


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melian 1 May 2015 04:08 PM
69%

There's nothing wrong with being a hypocrite, conformist, and coward.

I think most people (including hypocrites, conformists and cowards) would disagree.

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DanielLC 2 May 2015 06:21 PM
66%

What precisely is wrong with it?

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Fwiffo 4 May 2015 04:07 PM
57%

"latter presents compelling arguments proving that our protagonistís views on politics and religion are totally false"

This sense that political views can be proved wrong is pretty alien to me. I can understand being explained how your political views are nonsense or that they are repugnant but I do not believe it's possible for them to be wrong.

For option 1) it's possible to have beliefs without by definition antagonizing others. In communities with strong senses of freedom of thought, conscience and speech this would be pretty clear. And part fo the event where you say your new stance it doesn't need to be just stating your new stance. Good things to do in the same breath: repeat the argument that convinced you, say that as a result of speaking to the stranger you have changed your beliefs (ie you didn't get struck by lighting or anything), remember to stay in stating the beliefs you have instead of doing universal claims (ie "I believe now that murder of squirrels is wrong" instead of "murder of squirrels is wrong")

For option 2) if nobody knows what you belief you are PRIVATELY a hypocrite. Also sense of community can be based ontings other than shared politics. This also helps if the community has strong sense of freedom of thought, conscience and speech. Coward also suggest evasion of conflict but I explictly ask where is the conflict? If I like chocolate and you like strawberry am I a coward if I don't make you like chocolate? How is political stance differnt from icecream preferences so that is becomes a conflict?

For 3) once you have understood the outsiders arugment it's already too late. I do note that while you are talkikng to the stranger if he starts to sound convincing you migth get scared taht he will actually change your beleifs and be prompted to stop understand him out of fear of having to make this decision. However if political questions are a matter of factual accuracy you will have to give up on truth to be able to make this choice. If this kind of logic is rampant in ones behvaiour nothing you believe has actually anything to do with what there is reason to believe but rather what is fun to do. This is seriously a very dubious stance.

Would it also be important what is the most community uplifting thing to do rather than what would make one happy? Would it make sense to remain being anti-semitic if it allows you to do fun raids with your natzi pals because the raids are such fun? Growing as a person might not be the shallow kind of fun.

I will also note that a person also has a realistic option of realising that it's going to be a hot f potatato issue that needs to be delicately approached. That is being that (not so) stranger to another member of your community is also an option. Instead of telling all or 0 person you could also tell to 1 or select few where you have the most sheltered relationships. This does however pose a realted hard question. Is it worth the chance of possibly ruining the relationship or them publicly shaming you to bring the issue up with them? I know it's very american style of bringing up a cat to the table on the biggest forum available and let the proverbial s hit the fans. This in essence places the responcibility of properly receiving volative information to each persons private solitare judgement. However If you bring it in a more one-to-one forum you can be cooperative about the information transfer. That is you can help the receiver receive the information ie take part to the responcibility of it being conveyed constructively (even if that means safe disregard of the information).

I will also object that being a obnoxious loudmouth about your belief is being "rational" about it, althought I can see how being intentionally non-comprehending about it is anti-rational.


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melian 5 May 2015 11:31 AM
72%

it's possible to have beliefs without by definition antagonizing others. In communities with strong senses of freedom of thought, conscience and speech this would be pretty clear.


Could you give an example of such a community?

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ChristianKl 10 May 2015 11:51 AM
65%

The Chaos Computer Club. Even through it's very focused on the value of privacy they still let a post-privacy advocate hold a keynote speech.
Opinions are very diverse and that's okay.

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Fwiffo 8 May 2015 03:53 PM
59%

Western civilization holds freedom of speech very dear. There is tendency to have separation of church and secular power rather than have a pro-church or anti-church goverment, being in tune with the principle of freedom of conscience. Similarly oaths have their secular equivalents and there is a secular relationship corresponding to a religious marriage. Also the principle of freedom of voting, that voting is secret, that political discrimination is forbidden pretty directly concerns in hindering the described behaviour. You can't be targeted for shunning for you political beliefs if you can exercise your politcal rights without anyone being able to identify you.

Also relevant is the principle of selfdiscrimination shield. While you are required to follow the law you do not need to turn yourself in for breaking it. This also delineates that any criminal hunt is required to follow ... read more


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strangeattracto 2 May 2015 12:25 AM
56%

I disagree with the premise of this question "Imagine a man who, like most people on this planet, is generally surrounded by people who share his basic worldview."

Are most of the people on the planet surrounded by people who share their basic worldview? That's not the case where I live.


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kaninchen 2 May 2015 05:03 AM
73%

What counts as "the basic worldview"? e.g. Two neighbours in the developed world may appear to have very different views, being completely at different ends of the Overton Window, but still agree completely on many issues which would be controversial in almost any other time and place (e.g. welfare-state capitalism, support for democracy, etc).

Suppose you were to become convinced of the merits of fascism. This would probably put you in the position described by this scenario.

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Fwiffo 4 May 2015 04:18 PM
58%

I do not think that germany has ever gone far from the basic european worldview even during natzi germany.

I will also pedantically note that to become convicned of the merits of fascism merely means that fascism has some upside while the thing of interest if the upsides are worth more thanthe downsides. While it might be radical to say outloud that fascisms has upsides nobody is serioulsy saying that it doesn't have any upside. I occasionally like picking supremacy in Civ 5 just to have +3 happiness from courthouses and I don't think it is theorethically entirely placeless (but then again it's perfect ok to play villains in games). Political life is so much simpler when there is only one legal party.

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melian 2 May 2015 04:58 AM
73%

Are most of the people on the planet surrounded by people who share their basic worldview? That's not the case where I live.

Do you mind telling where you live?



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