Mapping the world's opinions

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Does the marketplace of ideas work? Show more Show less

It is said that truth is found where opinions intersect. The marketplace of ideas is the figurative town thoroughfare where zealots and intellectuals barter, subjecting their ideas to the gauntlet of public debate. Much how the best goods and services may rise to the top in a free market economy through innovation and competition, truth and the soundest ideas and philosophies may rise to prominence through rigorous and honest questioning. But is it really that simple? Does it work?

No, the marketplace of ideas does not work Show more Show less

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Retreading ground

If it worked, society would see and accept the truth instead of retreading the same ground.
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The Argument

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and mankind has a penchant for it. Even when facts of life are clear and social problems have been remedied, the same arguments arise again. Society cannot move forward when it must constantly retread the same ground. Managing and outlawing ideas that society has collectively condemned as hateful and/or wrong will guide future generations down the road of progress.

Counter arguments

The progress seen in developed nations in such things as civil rights, economic principles, and liberty is evidence enough that when opinions are given air to be debated, the truth almost always prevails and humanity moves forward. Sound arguments and truth languish without alternatives by which they can be compared. Giving individuals or government the power to outlaw ideas deemed subjectively wrong will undermine the entire purpose of the marketplace model and poses a dire threat to all speech. John Stuart Mill supported the notion of continually giving wrong opinions a stage so that the public might gain a “clearer perception and livelier interpretation of truth”.[1]



Rejecting the premises


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This page was last edited on Thursday, 2 Apr 2020 at 10:06 UTC