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Patrick Stokes Argument Analysis

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Patrick Stokes’ argument provides a brief example of how the belief that everyone is entitled to their own opinion creates problems within our society. In that, just because you are entitled to an opinion, does not mean you are entitled for your opinions to be treated as “serious candidates for the truth” (Stokes 2012). He specifically focuses on how a non-expert might coin the phrase, as a final objection against an ‘expert.’ As an example, he uses the debate surrounding vaccinations and autism. Here, Stokes argues that although this has been disproved by scientific experts, people who are completely uneducated on the topic will still shout back their opinion, because of the existing conflated sense of entitlement. He suggests, that to continuing…show more content…
To understand this, one basic thing about entitlement is to be understood - that all rights must entail duties. However, one cannot assert a ‘right’ to an opinion. Whyte explains, that we do not have a right to our own opinions, as rights entail duties. Because it is not my duty to believe your opinion – that makes the duty, and in turn the right itself, impossible, as I too have an opinion you must respect (Whyte 3-5). Whyte explains that you can have a sense of entitlement in an “epistemic sense” but only when you have “good reasons for holding it: evidence, sound arguments”, rather than using the phrase alone as something pre-emptive (Whyte 3-5). Using it in argument, such as Meryl did in the vaccine – autism case, is a logical fallacy where she discredits the scientist’s opposition as bigotry by exclaiming that she has a right to her own opinion. Because rights entail duties, it is both the scientist and Meryl’s duty to accept each other’s opinions. But then they are disagreeing again, and must change their opinions, never managing to fulfil the impossible duty. Because this is true, it supports Stokes’ argument that equal weight should not be given to Meryl, who has no substantial argument, as it provides an allusion that there is some link between autism and vaccination – which will delude people watching
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