instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, September 29, 2008

Judging judgment

In a comment below, Br. Robert makes a distinction:
A judgment is a rational estimation about something unknown (or uncertain) based on principles and facts that are known. An opinion is a thought about some matter which is not based on reason at all.
There's a line to be drawn, but I don't think up against "a thought not based on reason at all" is the right place to put it.

For one thing, it's pretty hard to have a thought not based on reason at all. The claim that gin is a foul and detestable drink would generally be regarded as an opinion, and yet I have a good reason to make that claim (viz, the taste of gin is foul and detestable).

Even if we amend the definition of opinion to something like "a thought not derived from discursive reasoning," we still have the problem that much of human reasoning isn't discursive. If you ask a wise person for advice, you're more likely to get wise advice than wise advice plus the derivation of the advice from principles and facts.

The art expert and the art ignoramus can both give snap opinions, based on their immediate impressions, as to which of two artworks is a forgery, but their opinions should not be treated as of equal value. To complicate matters further, the expert's snap opinion may well be better than his reasoned judgment at arriving at the truth.