Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Philosopher Daniel DeNicola Opens Door to Thought Police

We live in an ever more Orwellian society. As recently as the 1970s, conservatives and liberals both commonly said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -- (Variously attributed to Voltaire or Evelyn Beatrice Hall.)

My, how things have changed. Americans, especially the young, increasingly oppose free speech. Especially if it's "hate speech."

But Daniel DeNicola, professor and chair of philosophy at Gettysburg College, is pushing the Orwellian envelop even further, in an article in Aeon, astonishingly titled: You don’t have a right to believe whatever you want to.

I don't?

Among other things, DeNicola writes:

Unfortunately, many people today seem to take great licence with the right to believe, flouting their responsibility. The wilful ignorance and false knowledge that are commonly defended by the assertion 'I have a right to my belief' do not meet [William] James's requirements. Consider those who believe that the lunar landings or the Sandy Hook school shooting were unreal, government-created dramas; that Barack Obama is Muslim; that the Earth is flat; or that climate change is a hoax.

My italics. Because I wasn't aware that one could "take great license" with the right to believe. I thought I had an absolute right to my thoughts.

And I do not believe in man-made climate change. So I guess I'm a Thought Criminal?

DeNicola also writes:

Believing, like willing, seems fundamental to autonomy, the ultimate ground of one's freedom. But, as Clifford also remarked: 'No one man's belief is in any case a private matter which concerns himself alone.'
Beliefs shape attitudes and motives, guide choices and actions. Believing and knowing are formed within an epistemic community, which also bears their effects. There is an ethic of believing, of acquiring, sustaining, and relinquishing beliefs – and that ethic both generates and limits our right to believe. If some beliefs are false, or morally repugnant, or irresponsible, some beliefs are also dangerous. And to those, we have no right.

Well, I find DeNicola's belief -- that we have no right to certain beliefs -- to be false, morally repugnant, irresponsible, and dangerous.

Anyone know how I might report DeNicola to the Thought Police?

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