Opinions are thoughts that one has on a subject that does not have a known solution. Thoughts on something with a known solution are not opinions, because despite what people might think, the solution is known. In such a case what people think can be shown to be right or wrong based on the correct solution.
This definition though is dependent on the known solution being correct. A solution can be claimed to be correct, but if someone has reasonable doubt about it, then they can have a opinion about it because they no longer consider the solution as correct. This only works if they have sufficient reason to doubt the known solution, and they should be open to that doubt being wrong, since otherwise they would simply be denying something without any good reason.
Things like tastes are subjective, things like politics can be either subjective or objective or both. A person who likes some type of food cannot justify their taste any more than someone who dislikes that food or who likes a different food. Your taste in food is a subjective opinion because there is no way to say that it is right or wrong, since there is no justification for it. What colours, tastes, smells, stories, time of day, season, or people you like and dislike are all arbitrary. These are not determined by reason or solid justification. They are determined internally and differently for everyone, thus making them subjective.
Someone who thinks that a nation’s leader should raise taxes extremely high however -needs- to justify their opinion, because it is not something as arbitrary as whether or not you enjoy a type of food. Higher taxes won’t simply give you a displeasureable taste in your mouth, it can hurt people and ruin lives. Opinions on important matters aren’t subjective because there are right and wrong ways to do them.
Determining subjective and objective natures of things and why it is important
To say that all of something is subjective, such as saying that all philosophies are subjective, or that all opinions are subjective, or that all politics are subjective, is a huge assumption and oversimplification. One cannot say that anything is either objective or subjective until they have analysed it to make sure of that. Such analyses are generally done in the field of philosophy, and is an example of why philosophy is so essential to everyday life. If we thought that governmental and economic policies, which are part of what make up a leader’s politics, were purely subjective and cannot be deemed right or wrong, then there would be no need to elect a leader or for them to apply such policies. Instead we would let everyone have their own policies, since it doesn’t concern everyone else. That is not how it works though, because governments do not deal in opinions but rather they make policies that have a clear effect on everyone in their nation. A poor economic policy can put millions of people into poverty, and poor diplomacy and organisation can get millions killed in unnecessary wars or crimes, or oppressed or injured.
The choices we make every day have consequences that we need to account for, because if we don’t consider what happens as a result of our choices then we leave them to chance. If you don’t know what can happen when you make a choice then the result of your decision could be anything; it could be what you expected, or it could be what you didn’t bother to expect and be much worse. This is extremely irresponsible as acting without knowing what will happen can hurt not only yourself but others. Starting a business without having a legal expert can make you a lot of money, and you can just assume that what you’re doing is legal, or it can get you arrested and shut down.
That is why we cannot say that opinions cannot be right or wrong, because there are a lot of opinions that are complex and based on reasoning. Since reasoning is not subjective, neither are the conclusions we make
Things that are arbitrary, such as tastes in food, music, stories, etc. are considered subjective because there are no clear reasons behind them. We cannot say that science fiction is better than fantasy or contemporary action as a genre because there is no evidence or logic to base that on. Attempts to do so are generally very arbitrary as well, such as saying that science fiction is too far from reality, or that sour tastes are bad because they sting or have an almost burning sensation. These things are not evidence of them being bad, they are evidence of the being different. One cannot say that love stories are objectively boring because the story has no high stakes or larger importance, because those themselves cannot be shown to be objectively good or bad. To say that blue is better than red cannot be proven because it is arbitrary. One can say that any of these things suits a set of criteria better, such as saying that blue gives a more peaceful impression or blends in better with water, or that science fiction is better suited to action movies, and that action movies are better suited to epic storylines. One can say that these things are objectively better for a set of criteria, but one cannot prove that they are better overall because there is no criteria to determine that.
Every Day Implications
Everyone has the right to their opinion. This does not mean that everyone’s opinion is equally correct though. We should respect each others’ opinions and rights to our opinions, but there is absolutely no reason or benefit to saying that we should not be able to analyse and criticise other’s opinions. Obviously we cannot criticise arbitrary opinions like taste in any meaningful way, but important opinions should be based on reasoning. We can have sound and unsound reasoning, which is why it is not only possible, but vital that we discuss out opinions, otherwise we will have opinions based on wrong facts and faulty logic. No one wants to be wrong, so we need more information and views of others to figure out things we don’t already know. This is even more important if we make choices based on our opinions, and infinitely more true if those choices have a major impact on others.
Our political views may seem like just personal beliefs, but they have an impact on important issues. They are not only influenced by our beliefs and virtues, but they also influence them. The way we think and act changes based on all our beliefs, especially how we interact with others. While it may seem like only the leader of a country needs to have sound political skills and values, it is the populace who choose that leader. While that leader should be capable of doing their job, that is not sufficient, because that only means that they will be capable of doing what they intend, whether their intentions be good, altruistic, bad, or selfish. This is why we cannot simply vote for a leader based on whether or not they are efficient or capable, their intentions are of the utmost important since their actions will be dictated by their goals. It is vital that when voting we have informed and verified opinions on both the efficiency and intentions of who we vote for. Our own opinions on how a nation should be run will dictate what we think a candidate’s policies should be, so our personal opinions are not a purely subjective and internal matter.
Someone who has the opinion that people are selfish is more likely to act selfish in response. This opinion therefore needs to be verified, otherwise that person will harm others for their own benefit.
To think that opinions are for some reason beyond criticism is almost like claiming that they are sacred, but actually would demean our opinions by saying that they are all subjective and none of them are correct. As rational human beings, we should have the openness to accept criticism, advice, and help. We should be held accountable for our opinions, not treated as children who do not know any better. This does not mean that all opinions require rigourous testing at every opportunity, but there is no reason why one should be defensive or offended when they give an opinion and it receives criticism. That criticism they get is also an opinion, and so equally as valid and as deserving of being heard as the opinion which it criticises. This is why you cannot say that we should not judge the actions of others, because it is actually not only good but helpful that we do, and that we accept that judgment with reason.
Opinions are important, and need to be analysed, shared, and judged to know if they are true to ensure the results of what we do.