TaraElla Themes 2017-18

A Moral Liberty
Contrary to popular (American) belief, real liberals are not Left (or Right), but pro-liberty.
The Ideas Lab is on a campaign to revive Moral Liberalism.
For more about Moral Liberalism, read TaraElla's book The Moral Libertarian Horizon.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Non-judgmentalism in Balance: Judge Values, Not Actions

My generation in the West is known for being non-judgmental. And I agree it's a good thing. The culture I was brought up in was known for its judgementalness, and freedom and truth get lost in the way. And unlike what some people thought, it wasn't just freedom to live a 'loose lifestyle' that gets lost. It's the freedom required to do the right thing that matters. For example, peer pressure against supporting marriage equality would be too great to overcome for most people in the aforementioned culture.

Non-judgmentalism has been challenged on the grounds that it doesn't make sense, since we judge in one way or another anyway. My generation is especially prone to judge against people who are racist or homophobic, for example. I think the important thing is that we should judge people's values, rather than their individual actions. Non-judgmentalism is respect for people's chosen identity and chosen course of action in life. It is to respect the dignity of others, even when they choose differently than you do. It should be applied to everyone.

However, even in this spirit, there will always be issues where worldviews clash. To avoid this is just escapism. I'd rather we just deal with that openly. In fact, dealing with values people hold and frankly saying that you agree or disagree with them is a very respectful thing, as long as the values in question are clearly actually held by your 'opponent'. This is because dealing with people based on an identity they themselves uphold is the most respectful way of dealing with people in this world. (By extension, we should not judge others' actions to imply that they hold particular values, unless they clearly do so. For example, support for marijuana legalisation may come from those with a positive attitude to recreational drug use, but it may also come from those with a general libertarian attitude. Assuming the wrong values in people is therefore too easy to do, and must be avoided.)

Saying that, for example, unwed mothers are irresponsible people is very judgemental indeed, as you don't know why someone became an unwed mother, either by choice or by circumstance. You don't know their values, you don't know their life. However, standing up for one's values in an argument is another thing altogether. If we do not do this, there will be no values left in this world. I know my own values, and I know that things as diverse as racism, discrimination against single parents, political correctness, homophobia, and 'sex positive radical feminism' will never sit well with such values. Therefore, I am prepared to take up the argument against such values when they are presented. There is no judging particular people's actions in and of themselves in doing this. I may end up criticising particular actions, but it will be because they clearly stem from values I don't agree with, and I am merely using those actions as an example.