Judgment & Judgmentalism

Referees make sure the game is played by the rules which apply to everyone alike. We want the game to be fair and the judgments of the referee to be absolutely impartial.

We all make judgments of one sort or another every day. We decide things and we identify things as positive or negative, good or bad, desirable or undesirable. Most of the time our judgments involve other people. But quite often, our judgements involve our own behavior or motives.

It would be unrealistic not to assume that we want judgments in our own favor. We don't like to be wrong, and we prefer there to be enough ambiguity about our behavior to preclude any certainty that we are behaving badly. People who lie do not usually want to be called liars. In fact, it is often the case that being called a liar is offensive--even when we did, in fact, lie.

Judgments have to be made. There's no getting around it. And, frankly, we have to make judgements about people. We must judge whether a person is reliable or undependable; honest or without honor; trustworthy or risky. There is simply no possible way to function in a world occupied by other people without making judgments about ourselves and those who intersect our lives for whatever purpose.

In making judgments we are working toward a certain outcome: one that we find to be to our own advantage. Many people are okay with a little give-or-take, but we want things to be equitable. We don't like people taking advantage of us or exploiting us in ways that cost us something we value. We exercise judgement to prevent entanglements with unsavory people who can bring ruination into our lives or into the lives of those we care about. We imply must make ethical judgements based on criteria that actually allows us to assess behavior accurately, according to a standard of conduct that reliably predicts that conduct that favors a desirably outcome for us.

Judgmentalism, in contrast to exercising sound judgment (judgment that adheres to good standards), is to make a disparaging moral statement about a person that intends to brandish some sort of moral superiority at the expense of condemning someone else as morally inferior. If the only way I can demonstrate my worth is to rob someone else of their worth--well, it might make me feel superior, but in the real world, I am blind to the depravity of my own soul. I'm a hypocrite of the worst sort.

What about making religious judgments? Nothing more quickly degenerates into the hysteria of offensiveness than identifying the differences between people that are reflected in their individual beliefs and how those beliefs shape they way they live. What ethical/moral standards would you actually want to be judged by? None? If that is the case, I think you would not want to live in a world where every other person also did not want to be judged according to any moral/ethical standard!

Judgmentalism is wrong in every instance. But making judgements in the course of one's life is not judgmentalism, and it is not wrong. It is necessary and vital to all of the most important aspects of living in a world populated with other persons with whom we may have to do occasional business or enter into some sort of contractual relationship.

Making moral judgments cannot be wrong in and of itself...

More to come...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *