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Mistaken

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Mistaken

I Think, Therefore I Make Mistakes and Change my Mind

Aeon,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Everyone makes mistakes, so why do economics and sociology treat people’s preferences as a special exception?


Editorial Rating

7

Qualities

  • Analytical
  • Well Structured

Recommendation

Ever since English poet Alexander Pope wrote the famous line, “To err is human,” people have linked humanity to the ability to make mistakes. And yet, this realization doesn’t always extend to people’s personal preferences, which sciences such as economics and sociology tend to treat as given or even too sacred to criticize. Lawyer Daniel Ward deconstructs the origins of what he calls “general infallibility” and calls for more critical thinking. Ward’s analysis meanders a bit and is more than a light read, but if you work in a diverse environment, you will appreciate his premise that criticizing – even judging – the opinions of others means giving those opinions the respect they deserve.

Summary

People who believe in “general infallibility” think no one has the right to judge anybody else for their opinions in certain contexts. 

The concept of general infallibility finds its roots in modern liberalism, sociology and economics. While no one doubts that people can make mistakes in tasks like predicting the weather or offering medical recommendations, people often don’t extend that capacity for error to other people’s preferences.

Many consider people’s tastes and opinions immune to scrutinization. However, this worldview shuts down rational discussion. People’s errors in judgment show that they’re thinking human beings. 

About the Author

Attorney Daniel Ward focuses on commercial litigation and international arbitration. He is a PhD candidate in legal studies at the University of Cambridge, England.


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