Friday 12 December 2014

"Don't *judge* me!" - What does it mean? Is it valid?

The phrase 'Don't judge me!', and the many variants upon it, means - do not morally evaluate me.

Behind this lies the assumption that it is extremely hazardous morally to evaluate people because:

1. We are subject to prejudice

2. Our information is incomplete

3. Our motivations are corrupt


All of these are correct - it is the inference drawn from them which is false - that inference being that because '1, 2, 3' therefore we ought not to make moral evaluations.

This is, I would have thought, fairly obviously both self-refuting nonsense in its logical structure, and also perniciously evil in its intent.


And this is true even in its softer (more evasive?) form- which is that judgement should be suspended pending 1. our moral re-education to root-out self prejudice and instead favour 'the other', 2. further, open-ended (yet still inevitably partial) empirical investigation, 3. our purification of motive (in the direction of universalist altruism).


What can reasonably and rightly be asked of all people is that they be prepared to revise their initial (and necessary) judgement on the basis of further experience, knowledge, and genuine personal spiritual development.

We must and we do judge, everything and always - and must therefore do it here and now, and do it on the basis of what we already know and how we actually currently are as people

- but if we get to know better or become better people, that is to say objectively better - which objectivity entails we adhere to a metaphysics that there is reality, and reality is knowable; then we must be prepared to revisit that judgement.



Nate said...


A few years back, the LDS church put out a simple guidebook with doctrinal issues in alphabetical order, called "True to the Faith". I think the entry on "Judging Others" is particularly enlightening. Here are the first few sentences:

Sometimes people feel that it is wrong to judge others in
any way. While it is true that you should not condemn others
or judge them unrighteously, you will need to make judgments
of ideas, situations, and people throughout your life.
The Lord has given many commandments that you cannot
keep without making judgments.

The entire entry is quite good, and can be found here (on page 90):

Of course in life we have to judge.


Bruce Charlton said...

@Nate - Yes.

The Christian prohibition on judging people (only) means we cannot (and therefore should not) judge whether another person is, or will be, damned - that judgement is for Christ alone.

Wm Jas said...

It amazes me how many people fail to see the obvious inconsistency of condemning someone for being "judgmental."

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - Indeed. But behind the logical inconsistency there is a meaning intended implicitly, somewhat along the lines I suggest.

Leo said...

For a bit of humor on this subject, see