The Simple Truth

Robert B. Talisse in This Side of the Pond (The Blog of Cambridge University Press):

Democracy-and-moral-conflict Political commentary proceeds by means of debate rather than report today.

This is an understandable consequence of the new technology, which makes engagement easy. The heightened exposure to debate is a good thing, too. Open debate is democracy’s lifeblood. Yet popular political disagreement has taken on an odd hue. Rather than presenting facts and professing a view, commentators present views concerning the views of their opponents. Despite heated disagreements over Big Questions like healthcare, stem-cells, abortion, same-sex marriage, and global warming, we find a surprising consensus about the nature of political disagreement itself: All agree that, with respect to any Big Question, there is but one intelligent position, and all other positions are not merely wrong, but ignorant, stupid, naïve. A minute in the Public Affairs section of a bookstore confirms this: Conservatives should talk to liberals “only if they must” because liberalism is a “mental disorder.” Liberals dismiss their Conservative opponents, since they are “lying liars” who use their “noise machine” to promote irrationality.

Both views betray a commitment to the Simple Truth Thesis, the claim that Big Questions always admit of a simple, obvious, and easily-stated solution. The Simple Truth Thesis encourages us to hold that a given truth is so simple and so obvious that only the ignorant, wicked, or benighted could possibly deny it.

More here.