Monday, May 5, 2014

Criticize with Kindness

How to Criticize with Kindness: 
Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently

Dennett synthesizes the steps:
How to compose a successful critical commentary:
  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
If only the same code of conduct could be applied to critical commentary online, particularly to the indelible inferno of comments from anonymous hoi polloi.

Daniel C. Dennett, b. 1942