Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Week 1: Introductions & Reflections

Hello everybody,

My name is Frederick. I’m joining you all from Saint Paul, Minnesota, via the distance program at UW. I come to SLIS by way of several years in customer service for an internet commerce firm that ended last fall in a series of massive layoffs across two continents. As an undergrad, I held two jobs with the Minneapolis Public Library – as a Library Aide with the Central Library downtown, and as a tutor with the Homework Help program at the Franklin Community Library in south Minneapolis. I’m excited to back in school and more than a little trepidatious about chiseling my mark here in the cyberstone.

That said, here we go…

Since I’m relatively late to the party here, and this was requested earlier, here is my layman’s take on the four main points of Mill (paragraphs 41-44):

- To silence the opinion of another – whether individually or as a group – is to assume an infallibility that we, as flawed humans, cannot rightfully have. For all we know, that opinion may turn out to be true.

- Even in the opinions we silence as error, there can still be a grain of truth. But only through a free, honest and open exchange of opinions can we ever find that grain of truth.

- Even with widely held and acknowledged truths, it is still necessary to subject them to rigorous and thorough debate, so as to avoid these truths becoming dogma. This is to say to that’s much more important to understand why something is true than to simply acknowledge that it is.

- Finally, if one doesn’t understand why something is true or correct it’s not possible to apply that knowledge to new circumstances and situations.

As touched on in the Fallis piece, understanding the consequences of any given decision was, for Mill, how one could know whether or not that decision was ethical. In order to correctly predict the consequences, you have to be able to accurately judge what those consequences are going to be. You can only do that if you have a rational, nuanced, view of the truth – something best arrived through rigorous debate.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, great summarizations Frederick. Your layman's version of Mill's points about freedom of expression helped clarify some of the points he made and bring them up to my modern-day understanding. Thank you!