A professor claims that “‘social justice warriors’ are the true defenders of free speech and open debate” in a Tuesday op-ed for The Washington Post.
Sears acknowledges Socrates as “the paragon of open debate” and argues that his “questioning of the powerful” is similar to the methods of social justice. The professor distinguishes between debate and dialectic.
“Socratic dialectic, then, as practiced by Socrates and those who followed him, is a form of debate in which new ideas can emerge only after the very best ideas of the very best thinkers have been considered and taken seriously,” writes Sears. “Socratic dialectic does not, however, give all ideas and opinions equal weight.”
The professor here alludes to the privileging and prioritizing of arguments present in social justice theory. But he begs the question: who or what gatekeeper will determine the “best” ideas?
“I think characteristics like race, gender, etc., are vital to the human experience, and have a role (though sometimes difficult to determine) in shaping our view of the world and how the world views us,” said Sears to The Daily Caller News Foundation, responding to the claim that social justice privileges certain viewpoints. “Moreover, every person and every method ‘prioritizes certain viewpoints.'”
Sears also addressed cultural relativism, or the social justice notion that all cultures are equal.
“I think there is such a thing as truth, even absolute Truth,” Sears told TheDCNF. “I’m a cultural relativist in the sense that we are necessarily conditioned by culture in how we approach or understand truth.”
On Twitter, Sears expressed his opinion on the use of facts vs. feelings to reach truth.
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