On Disagreeing

Having opinions does not mean having no respect for the opinions of others. Likewise, disagreeing with somebody does not mean disapproving of this person and/or having less respect for him/her.

Our opinions are functions of our values, and differences in opinions often stem from difference in values. But not all differences regarding values are of the same type, since there is a scale in the support and objection to various values. In particular, our position regarding values that are different from our own varies: We may consider the values of the other person appealing (but less so than he/she does), we may be indifferent to these values (i.e., find them of no appeal but also not objectionable), or we may find these values objectionable or even appalling.

In my opinion, difference in opinions should lead to various levels of personal hostility only if this difference can be traced to fundamentally opposite dispositions regarding some value, which one person cherishes while the other finds appalling. In other cases, disagreements are not supposed to lead to negative personal feelings. In my opinion, all differences of opinions regarding attitudes to science (let alone the contents of science) cannot be traced to fundamentally opposite dispositions regarding some value; they are rather due to either an error of one of the parties or a different weighting of values (e.g., one party cherishes some value more than the other party). Thus, such disagreements should not lead to negative personal feelings.

Of course, one may argue that negative feelings may arise also with no good justification, but this can happen regardless of difference in opinions.

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