Landing : Athabascau University

No, you're not entitled to your opinion.

Philosopher Patrick Stokes reflects on teaching the difference between opinion and argument. He's reflecting not just on the philosophy classroom, but also on public discourse, and the ways in which declaring "entitlement to opinion" often shields indefensible views. 

The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.

There are important implications here for pedagogy across the curriculum, for interactions among students in courses - and for responsibility in online communications across the "2.0" web, plagued as it is by the scourge of "trolls" (as demonstrated by copyright scholar Ariel Katz's recent skirmish with blogging that "crosses a line").  As one of my good friends in NYC says (and living in the epicentre of the first amendment, he should know): "freedom of speech is no excuse for being an asshole."