[From Dennett’s Intuition Pumps – guess what I’m currently reading!]
How to compose a successful critical commentary:
- You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”
- You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
- You should mention anything you have learned from your taget.
- Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
Dennet presents this as a guideline for criticism.
One of the things I used to pride myself on was the ability to resolve disputes transparently and satisfactorily. The basis of this was always what is presented in the first point above. The others are worth following as well.
(I didn’t have much success resolving disputes that I was involved in!!)