Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Negative interpretations and justificationism

I suggest that negative interpretations often occur as a result of justificationism. That is, when a justificationist has an argument, they want to win it, so that their idea has more justification than the other person's (and is therefore truer). This gives them an incentive not only to justify their arguments, but to discredit their 'opponent's'. A discredited idea is less justified and therefore more false.

A fallibilist is interested in positive interpretations. They want to find the mistakes in their existing ideas. When criticism is offered in the form of a differing opinion, they want to apply that criticism and see if they can learn anything from it. The best way to do this is to interpret the criticisms as positively as possible, rather than trying to discredit and dismiss them before you've tried to learn anything from them.

In a justificationist conversation, learning is turned into a conflict. You have to pit your creativity against theirs, and one of you is the winner. In a fallibilist conversation, you add your creativity to theirs when you interpret their ideas positively and attempt to find applications of the new ideas. Conflict is not a rational state of life.