“Who are you to judge?”
You don’t have to be anyone special to make judgments. You don’t have to be God, or the police, or a judge in order to make such decisions. Everyone makes judgments every day, you judge whether a film was good, you judge if you’ve done something properly, teachers judge how good a student’s essay is, you judge if a perfume smells nice or not. When you hear about an event in the news, you use morality to judge whether it’s a good or bad thing. If you think judging is bad, then you have already made a judgment about judging. Whenever you say something is good or bad that is a judgment.
“Get off your high horse”, the “high horse fallacy”
Judgments don’t require you to be higher or think you’re higher than others. People who do morally bad things often use this fallacy as an ad hominem argument to avoid being judged. People have morality, you have things you consider to be good, bad, or neither. Morality requires judgment, if you do not judge murder as immoral than you would be acting amorally. It is not correct to avoid moral judgment, it is illogical because morality should be applied equally and universally, otherwise if it is just subjective and personal then it has no real meaning and simply becomes an arbitrary rule set like chivalry.
“You have no right to judge me” based on hypocrisy
Another fallacy used here is another ad hominem argument that the person you are judging as doing something wrong might say that you have done worse things, so it would be hypocritical for you to judge them, therefore they might claim that you have no right to judge them for doing something you would do. This is incorrect because it is an ad hominem argument that avoids the point; regardless of what other people do or have done, none of that justifies someone else committing a crime, and having done something wrong doesn’t mean you cannot judge other people or their actions. While doing so would be hypocritical, the solution is not “I have done bad things, so I will not judge other’s bad things”, it is “I should judge my own bad actions equally to other’s bad actions”. Ignoring morality forever or not judging others because you’ve done something bad is simply becoming amoral, which is not a good solution. Instead, you should judge your own actions and other’s actions equally based on your morality and beliefs to be honest and true to yourself.
Judging is not a bad thing, what people think judging is in these situations is generally prejudice or one of the fallacies mentioned above.
Judgment is a necessary and useful tool. Moral judgments are not bad, they are in fact necessary for morality to make any sense. Judging whether you like something is being honest and deciding whether something fits your liking, taste, or opinions. None of these things are bad, they are in fact necessary for integrity, being honest to yourself and others.
There is another idea that one should not judge others unless they are causing harm. This is an extremely arbitrary idea, since the concept of “harm” can be interpreted in many ways, the most obvious being physical harm to other people, but animals could be included in that, or objects, or the environment. Furthermore mental harm can be just as bad if not worse than physical harm, which becomes difficult to quantify and identify. Letting people promote certain ideologies for example can be harmful if they limit people and get people to believe in their lies. Stopping someone from reaching their potential, lying to them, having them make bad decisions, or limiting their rights are all harmful non-physical things that are commonly seen as bad and are intervened against to avoid. Such interventions are not bad unless they are done without being sure of what is going on. Even if someone claims that they want these things to happen to them, there should be a debate as to whether or not this should happen, which can only happen if there is judgment as to whether or not these things are good and a dialogue supporting these judgments. Only when things are judged and then the judgments are analysed to see what is correct can people come to an understanding and agree with each other as well as determine the truth about things and change their judgments.
Misconceptions about Judgment
What judgment is not, is forcing your beliefs on others. There is a difference between being honest as to yourself or others as to what you think, and acting on those judgments. Actions should always be justified with sufficient evidence and sound reasoning to make sure it is the correct choice.
Judgment is not a violation of freedom, as it does not involve taking action. Action should only be taken when one is sure that the action is justified, all of which requires multiple judgments.
If you see someone committing a violent crime, you can either judge whether you think the crime is morally wrong based on your beliefs, then judge whether or not you should intervene based on your certainty that it is actually the crime you think it is, and based on whether or not you can stop it and what will happen if you do. If you do not use judgment here, you would not have any reason to intervene. Murderers cannot logically use the high horse fallacy when someone tries to stop them.
Judgment and Prejudice
Judgment is also not prejudice. Judgments should be made with as much information as you can get about a subject. If you do not have sufficient evidence to make a judgment, then you should withhold judgment until you get enough information to be sure about your decision, or if you do not have time for that, you can make a preliminary judgment with a clear statement of doubt.
No one should ever be forced to make a decision without enough time to be sure of it. More often though, people rush to judgment because they do not want to spend more time thinking about it or because they do not want to go through the pain or work of making a hard decision. When someone believes their own preliminary judgment based on limited information, it is prejudice, which is a form of judgment but is clearly not justified. Such people will often claim that something is obvious, that it is statistically probable and therefore can be assumed, or that further debate is useless. This is contrary to scientific method, which tries to maximise the certainty of judgments, and instead forsakes truth for convenience.
Judgment and Open Mindedness
Life without judgments becomes increasingly subjective and isolated as everyone does whatever they want and no one is allowed to judge them or tell them to stop. Furthermore it is a very shallow idea, since it views people and their actions and beliefs as above reproach or analysis. Judgment in this sense is seen as bad because those people don’t like being judged, but not for any rational reason. Any idea or action that is justified can and should be judged if for no other reason than to make sure it is justified. People who do not want other’s judgments are essentially refusing to listen to other’s opinions and are not considering that they might be wrong. One should always when feasible listen to arguments that claim that something you think might be wrong, because to not consider evidence is close minded and arrogant.
It is only through arguing one’s points and comparing them with other’s points that one can come to a conclusion and validate or modify their judgment to make it more accurate.
Judgments are not bad, they are needed for everyday living and morality.