Friday, March 12, 2021

Should We Affirm Everyone's Worldview?


                                                          (Sterling State Park, Monroe)

(I share with you some of this morning's mind-meanderings.)

I taught logic at Monroe County Community College for seventeen years. I used two logic textbooks: Hurley, and Vaughn. Both texts, indeed, all logic texts, are about evaluating and formulating beliefs. A belief is a statement that claims something as either true, or false. To claim that something is true, or false, is to say that a certain state of affairs obtains, or does not obtain.

For example, The window in my home office is now closed. That statement is true. Which means, it is true for everybody, whether they agree with it or not. This is called "objective truth." 

Objective truth is not socially constructed. Or, at least, an objective truth cannot be fully reduced to a social construction. Objective truth has nothing to do with whether or not people affirm or disaffirm it.

This is how scientists think. To claim that The Moderna vaccine has a 95% efficacy against the coronavirus is to say that a certain objective state of affairs obtains. Which is to say, it either does, or it doesn't, and this has nothing to do with the social construction of reality. Should we affirm everyone's belief about the efficacy of the Moderna vaccine? Of course not. The scientist is interested in What IS the efficacy of the Moderna vaccine? The answer to this question is unrelated to what people believe about the efficacy of the vaccine.

Vaughn has some nice sections on worldviews. A worldview is a set of beliefs. Vaughn writes:

"A worldview is a philosophy of life, a set of beliefs and theories that helps us make sense of a wide range of issues in life. It defines for us what exists, what should be, and what we can know. We all have a worldview, and our notions about morality are part of it." (P. 422)

Worldviews differ. Should we affirm everyone's worldview? Of course not. We should love people, of course. But we should not expect those who hold to differing worldviews to affirm (agree with? Endorse?) differing worldviews. Here is why.

The statement We should affirm everyone's worldview is itself part of a worldview (postmodernism). This moral belief itself is not part of my worldview (Christianity), for example. It's also not part of a Muslim worldview. Nor is it part of a philosophical atheist's worldview. Over the years I have had numerous discussions with atheists. Not one of them has "affirmed" my belief that God exists.

Undergirding the false belief that We should affirm everyone's worldview is the belief that Reality is socially constructed. But if that were true, then the belief that Reality is socially constructed is itself socially constructed. If the belief that we should affirm everyone's worldview is itself socially constructed, then we need pay no attention to it.