Opinions, opinions, opinions here and there. . . . Favorable and contrary opinions about something. . . . One’s opinion versus another’s. . . . One’s opinion being better than another’s. . . . Opinions expressed discursively are aimed to communicate and acts of communication are technically “speech acts.” [cf. J. L. Austin’s and John Searle’s theories of speech acts]. Every speech act has an intent: to state a fact or to describe a state of affairs [cf. Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus], to assert a belief, to ask a question, to command, to request, to wish, to bequeath, to appoint, to utter a reaction (based on certain feelings or impressions) in favor of or against a belief, to express a feeling or desire and more.
When one expresses an opinion, it may be an assertion of a belief or an utterance of a reaction in favor of or against a certain belief. An opinion is therefore not a matter of fact but a matter of belief and hence may not be sustained scientifically or corroborated factually, at least at the very moment when such opinion is expressed but without barring the possibility that future developments could finally substantiate or demolish it scientifically. Being so, an opinion about a belief may either be cogent (i.e., rationally convincing) or not. Thus, an opinion is reckoned as much better and more credible than another if it can stand the test of formal logical reasoning using either the technicalities of:
- Aristotelian logic wherein the statements expressing such opinion are translated into standard-forrm categorical propositions and fitted as premises and conclusion into a standard-form categorical syllogism whose validity or invalidity is basically determined by the Rules of Validity for Categorical Syllogism. OR
- Symbolic logic wherein the truth or falsity of an argument is basically determined by the truth-value patterns of how compound statements relate as a matter of conjunction, disjunction, implication or bi-condition.
[cf. Ruel F. Pepa’s Introduction to Philosophy (with Logic) . . . http://issuu.com/ruel56/docs/intro_to_philo]
Opinions disqualify as scientific statements and preclude a direct appeal to facts for evidence or proof. The merit of an opinion (that one opinion is better than another) depends on its logical consistency. However, in the case of a belief about which an occurrence of a number of opinions both cohering and contradicting have issued out and where several logically tenable (i.e., meritorious) opinions are available, the second-level determinant is consensus which is generally tested not only in terms of the number of adherents but also in terms of its pragmatic worth.
In the light of the present discussion, no one can seriously and meaningfully claim that her or his opinion is better than another’s if the former fails the test of formal logic and/or pragmatic signification. This view, of course, does not apply to statements of scientific substance for such statements do not intend to solicit personal advocacies dependent on feelings and impressions but are subject to investigation through factual observation and/or experimentation.
© Ruel F. Pepa, 26 February 2013