I’ve been noticing lately how often people’s statements, especially moral statements, really seem to be more about themselves than the topic at hand. “Well I find racism repugnant!” … that sort of thing. The point seldom is to convince others of a viewpoint, but to stake out one’s moral high ground.
I’ve been reading a short book called “Crimes Against Logic” written by a London based philosopher and towards the end he captures this problem nicely.
The idea that sincerity may substitute for reason is founded on an egocentric attitude toward belief: that what I believe is all about me, not about reality. What matters is not that the position I favor will have the best or intended effects, or that the problems I worry about are real or grave, but only that I hold my position from the right sentiments, that I am good.
So how does one avoid this? The trick is to take yourself out of the statement. Say, “racism is bad,” and then explain (the objective) reasons why. But it’s trickier ground requiring heavier thought.