Earlier this week, Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, threatened to boycott Australian e-journal On Line Opinion because it publishes article by so-called ‘climate change denialists’. Today, the journal’s Chief Editor, Graham Young, responds:
“The idea that truth is relative has taken over some areas of the humanities through postmodernism, theory and forms of Marxist analysis. That’s the school that Clive Hamilton’s argument on global warming comes from… We instinctively know that things do have objective reality and are not power constructs. That it doesn’t matter how many people say it is true if it isn’t.”
In today’s article Graham Young emphasises the importance of trying to understand the facts-of-the matter rather than as Clive Hamilton does, deferring to authority.
While Clive Hamilton has decided that “there was no way I could pretend to have a comprehensive grasp of climate science … [so] I had to decide not what to believe but whom to believe.”
Graham responds, “How do you decide who to believe if you have abdicated your right to analyse the arguments?”
Again on the subject of the truth Graham writes: “We believe that there is such a thing as the truth, and that it is out there, even if none of us will ever perceive it more than dimly.”
According to Graham one way of discovering the truth is to “welcome lobbyists as well as academics, politicians, activists and citizens. We want to put citizens in touch with decision makers and those with influence, and we don’t differentiate between them because they might have a particular point of view, or draw their paycheck from a particular source.
“Our fundamental tenet is that while there is such a thing as the truth it demands constant mining and refining for it to be discerned, and that it is not our place to tell others what to think. Consenting adults can come to this site [On Line Opinion] and see opposing arguments laid out before them and make-up their own minds. Clive is under-estimating the ability of our average reader.
“An ethical approach to argument avoids ad hominem attacks and concentrates on facts and arguments. It treats its opponent’s arguments with respect, and doesn’t misrepresent them, and it researches its own arguments thoroughly and presents them honestly.”
The Sad Demise of On Line Opinion