Charity

by greycoopers

If when we hear an argument we come across logical inconsistencies, poorly crafted premises or improbable conclusions, the principle of charity calls us neither to rubbish the argument nor to dismiss the person advancing the argument. Instead we are obliged to help re-frame the argument, disentangle its premises, seek out the unspoken assumptions, and then propose a conclusion which can be supported. In short, we must help the arguer re-frame his argument in the best possible light, even if we find both the argument and its proponent disagreeable.

Of course in our world today few would bother. It’s colossal hard work, and our motives are bound to be challenged. It would be way easier to keep quiet, assured that they are wrong and we are right. But wouldn’t we want to be corrected if we were wrong? And what about discovering truth through civilised public discourse? Right.