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  1. #61
    Senior Member Tiltyred's Avatar
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    I think "just my opinion" means
    1. I am not that attached to it and could change my mind if given ample evidence; or
    2. It is my personal truth but I realize your experience could just as firmly indicate otherwise, and I respect that, but
    3. In any case, I don't feel like arguing the point and will only defend it so far before I lose interest.

    I think it also signifies that your response be similarly respectful of individual differences and perspectives, such that you might word a preamble to an argument with "Interesting! I see it a little differently ..."

    This leaves room for the other person to save face when you come back to them even if what they said was ill-founded or just plain dumb.

    I see it more as a way to indicate the level of intensity the other person is prepared to use in defending his position rather than as a way to indicate that it cannot be challenged at all.

  2. #62
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    Where I come from, opinions are uncontestable because they cannot be wrong in any verifiable sense, or at least that's the idea, because they have left the objective arena and entered the realm of the subjective, where they cannot be criticized on any grounds. It's an attempt to make a [2 + 2 = 5] statement into a [blue is my favorite color] statement. When someone says "I'm entitled to my opinion and you to yours", it's effectively the same as saying "don't tell me I'm wrong". If you say it's you're opinion that 2 +2 = 5, and you are entitled to your opinon, that means I cannot take your opinion away from you, which is to say I can't tell you that 2 + 2 =/= 5.
    This clarifies things quite a bit for me as to why a person would push back against the phrase. I don't see the subjective realm as off limits to scrutiny. It is just more approximate in its evaluations, rather than a "hands-off", free-for-all approach. The reasoning is just not as definitive and absolute as it is when attempting to establish a fact. I've always appreciated it when someone uses that phrase because it indicated to me that the person is willing to step back from their own perspective even as they communicate it. I can think of many instances where hearing such a phrase would be rather refreshing. It has never crossed my mind that it meant it shouldn't be challenged.

    I am also starting to understand why someone would read that statement as being off-limits. It is possible that in some cases it means that, but it is important to realize the meaning can be quite different. I would just say to go ahead and challenge the idea. If the person is deeply offended then you get an idea of their intent with the phrase. If they listen or respond reasonably, then that is an indication that their intent does not fit the model of a hands-off statement.

    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    The problem is that this tactic is used by people to force their views on others while appearing mild-mannered and unimposing. It is totalitarian in nature in the same manner the communists and religious zealots are. My call is to exhort us to recognize this kind of rhetoric and to bannish it from civilized conversation, or for the very least discred it as a mere arbitrary assertion supported by no more than the communicator's article of faith. The fact that it still is used as an effective tool of persuasion is the main problem. We see similar rhetoric in business environments, for instance, in a corporate meeting someone may say it is just my opinion but..(some outlandish claim such as someone ought to be fired or someone isn't doing a good job or I feel that so and so is true and so on). Its a very dangerous rhetorical device because at once it makes the speaker seem soft spoken and polite, secondly it propounds the speaker's opinion for genuine consideration whilst the spaker cites no reason to support his opinion, thirdly the speaker implies that he shouldn't be criticized as his utterance is a mere 'opinion' and fourthly since his utterance isn't bold and he won't fully own up to it; he or she has the liberty to deny the consequences of his opinion. In other words, it allows people to make a social impact without taking blame for the possible negative consequences. If the opinion entails a good outcome, the speaker can stand up and say, see I told you so! If it entails a bad reasult, he can respond with: what do you want from, it was just an opinion!? Even worse, this person is more likely to be effective than someone who boldly states his views as the latter's perspective is open to criticism, yet the former's must be accepted as at least somewhat substantial by default. Thus, the rhetorical device allows a person to justify almost anything regardless of how pernicious or absurd without incurring any sanctions for this.
    I see what you mean now in that context. This is exactly the reason to make a habit of challenging the statement that accompanies the phrase regardless of whether or not it is seen as rude. That will tend to bring the subtext to light.

    Edit: In response to examples in your post, there could be advantage in responding with something like: "The implications of that opinion have significant consequences, so the position will need to be justified by fact or dismissed at this point." If that is the problem with the phrase in relationship to potential negative consequences, then it makes sense to call it out on the spot where it applies. When it is someone talking online where the phrase holds little or no consequence, then challenge it to call out the intent or ignore it. My point is that the phrase does not always carry the same weight and so it makes sense to match it in response.
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  3. #63
    failure to thrive AphroditeGoneAwry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    The problem is that this tactic is used by people to force their views on others while appearing mild-mannered and unimposing. It is totalitarian in nature in the same manner the communists and religious zealots are. My call is to exhort us to recognize this kind of rhetoric and to bannish it from civilized conversation, or for the very least discred it as a mere arbitrary assertion supported by no more than the communicator's article of faith. The fact that it still is used as an effective tool of persuasion is the main problem. We see similar rhetoric in business environments, for instance, in a corporate meeting someone may say it is just my opinion but..(some outlandish claim such as someone ought to be fired or someone isn't doing a good job or I feel that so and so is true and so on). Its a very dangerous rhetorical device because at once it makes the speaker seem soft spoken and polite, secondly it propounds the speaker's opinion for genuine consideration whilst the spaker cites no reason to support his opinion, thirdly the speaker implies that he shouldn't be criticized as his utterance is a mere 'opinion' and fourthly since his utterance isn't bold and he won't fully own up to it; he or she has the liberty to deny the consequences of his opinion. In other words, it allows people to make a social impact without taking blame for the possible negative consequences. If the opinion entails a good outcome, the speaker can stand up and say, see I told you so! If it entails a bad reasult, he can respond with: what do you want from, it was just an opinion!? Even worse, this person is more likely to be effective than someone who boldly states his views as the latter's perspective is open to criticism, yet the former's must be accepted as at least somewhat substantial by default. Thus, the rhetorical device allows a person to justify almost anything regardless of how pernicious or absurd without incurring any sanctions for this.
    I get what you said about the business meeting in the body of the paragraph, but don't you think the bolded is a bit exaggerated? Are you kidding?

    "In my opinion" can be used in a passive-aggressive way as you've illustrated in your example here. As can numerous phrases tossed around by people who lack integrity. But the majority of posters here seem to be saying the phrase "in my opinion" is usually a respectful deference to others' differing perspectives.

    Can you not budge on your stance at all even in light of numerous intelligent responses contrary to yours? Calling awareness to the use of this phrase seems a good idea, but being so dogmatic about its use in every instance seems overdone and, ironically, truly disrespectful of others opinions.
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  4. #64
    Free-Rangin' Librarian Jae Rae's Avatar
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    "Just my opinion" can be used in one of two other ways:

    As a disclaimer to head off a disagreement or argument, e.g., when the speaker is unsure of what she says and/or thinks the listener is likely to have a different opinion. It's often used when someone goes off on a topic and finds his audience disagreeing (words, attitude or body language), so he tacks "just my opinion" onto the end. In that case, jmo means "this is what I think, but I'm not too sure about it, so don't give me a hard time."

    Some NTs have told me they phrase things in this way so as not to offend others for the sake of polite conversation, i.e., "this is what I think and even though I feel I'm right, I'm willing to grant that others may hold a different POV."

    "Las Vegas is the most overpriced, overrated vacation venue EVER. But that's just my opinion."
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  5. #65
    failure to thrive AphroditeGoneAwry's Avatar
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    aphrodite

    I don't mean to be impertinent, SW, but did something along these lines happen to you recently? Like in that meeting scenario you painted? Or in some passive-aggressive way?
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  6. #66
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    I understand that an opinion forges a sense of self. However, the problem is not with the word opinion but with the word just in the context of 'just my opinion'. Just or 'only' in this contexts means that you're view is a mere humble utterance whic shouldn't be questioned.

    In short, nothing wrong with having an opinion as long as you don't imply it ought not to be questioned.
    One of the core conflicts in this thread is the assumption that JMO does in fact imply a statement ought not be questioned. It doesn't always imply that in my reading of it, and in the reading of those in the thread who have stated it as such. I made the case about opinions forming a sense of self to demonstrate one honest, legitimate way of thinking that could influence the use of the statement.

    The fact that the statement is successfully used in a dishonest way suggests that there is some kind of legitimate use for it. If a phrase or behavior is used dishonestly in 100% of applications, it would tend to fail to deceive people. The points you have raised are solid, and there is danger in using the phrase. My only point of contention is to extend the assumption of dishonest motivation into all cases. The motivation behind the use of words and their assumed meanings are not universal or by any means objective. Forcing this subjective aspect of communication into the objective realm can produce prejudice if it results in assuming every intention and application is equivalent. This is made worse if the point of reference for all cases is the worst, most deceitful applications of the phrase. This too will distort communication and create a false reality.

    I see reason to increase caution in using it, and to question more often when others use it. It isn't clear to me the issue of politeness prohibiting a response to the phrase, but there could be cultural contexts that impose that sense. Certainly there is a tactful way to work out a response in those more sensitive cultural contexts. It isn't realistic to make people stop using the phrase altogether. Even if it was possible in this one online forum context, the phrase itself will continue. It is good to call out the problematic implications of it, but best to work out a strategy for reaction to it on a case by case basis as well. The reaction is ideally constructed if it brings to light the nature of the intent as well as the problems with the given statement. I emphasize this because the central problem is the assumption it is "hands-off". That must be dismantled for the phrase to lose the deceitful power that it has the potential of imposing.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

  7. #67
    Artisan Conquerer Halla74's Avatar
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    People that are unecessarily anal retentive need to relax. Just my opinion.

    Such a disclaimer can be used as a simple way to notify someone you are speaking to that what you are about to state is YOUR OPINION, and not that of the organization you work for, people you represent, etc.

    Whether this phrase is perceived harmless or caustic, along with anything else that can be said to one human being by another, is ultimately decided by the totality of the following:

    -speaker's delivery,
    -speaker's reputation,
    -intensiy of the topic at hand,
    -intelligence of the listener,
    -and mindset of the listener...

    ...to name but a few.

    There are alot of worse things to say than "Just my opinion."

    I'm all for people providing context about what it is they are speaking of, as it generally lessens ambiguity. The one thing I cannot stand is when people are overly politically correct. That can de-rail a conversation quickly because the real topic at hand quickly gets mired in PC "gobbledy-gook."
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  8. #68
    Freshman Member simulatedworld's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    While that is not what "just my opinion" amounts to 100% of the time it used, I agree that it is frequently used in that manner and I dare say is being used that way more often.

    I'm increasingly disliking the phrase.
    Even worse is the all too common implication that not using that phrase constitutes some form of dogmatic belief that one's opinions are empirically factual and indisputable.

    Shouldn't it be automatically understood that when I state my opinions, they constitute only my opinions?

    I shouldn't have to point this out explicitly.
    If you could be anything you want, I bet you'd be disappointed--am I right?

  9. #69
    failure to thrive AphroditeGoneAwry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simulatedworld View Post
    Even worse is the all too common implication that not using that phrase constitutes some form of dogmatic belief that one's opinions are empirically factual and indisputable.

    Shouldn't it be automatically understood that when I state my opinions, they constitute only my opinions?

    I shouldn't have to point this out explicitly.
    Exactly, stating the obvious is predominantly an Fe tactic and motivator.
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  10. #70
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Over and above anything I stated below, I wish to thank all who have participated in this thread as a genuinely thought provoking discourse has been generated. This appears to be the gem of the culture of this forum that is exquisitely rare in the contemporary internet culture and I am delighted to observe that it can be invoked in our community today. Since I was working the entire day on Sunday when the thread was started, I wasn't able to contribute to this thread as much as I intended to. In the text below, I have answered all of the criticisms brought up against my views and clarified the nature of the disagreement. I argued that the disagreement is not due to the fundamental antithesis between my view and that of my critics, but merely that the latter have misinterpreted my views. I surmise that this result is due to a fault of my own to a certain degree as many of my posts from Sunday did not illustrate my point with sufficient clarity and thoroughness.

    Quote Originally Posted by aphrodite-gone-awry View Post
    I get what you said about the business meeting in the body of the paragraph, but don't you think the bolded is a bit exaggerated? Are you kidding?

    "In my opinion" can be used in a passive-aggressive way as you've illustrated in your example here. As can numerous phrases tossed around by people who lack integrity. But the majority of posters here seem to be saying the phrase "in my opinion" is usually a respectful deference to others' differing perspectives.

    Can you not budge on your stance at all even in light of numerous intelligent responses contrary to yours? Calling awareness to the use of this phrase seems a good idea, but being so dogmatic about its use in every instance seems overdone and, ironically, truly disrespectful of others opinions.
    I do not think that there is a contradiction between how you claim people use the phrase and between how I claim that they do. See my response to Toonia for a more detailed explanation.

    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    One of the core conflicts in this thread is the assumption that JMO does in fact imply a statement ought not be questioned. It doesn't always imply that in my reading of it, and in the reading of those in the thread who have stated it as such. I made the case about opinions forming a sense of self to demonstrate one honest, legitimate way of thinking that could influence the use of the statement.

    The fact that the statement is successfully used in a dishonest way suggests that there is some kind of legitimate use for it. If a phrase or behavior is used dishonestly in 100% of applications, it would tend to fail to deceive people. The points you have raised are solid, and there is danger in using the phrase. My only point of contention is to extend the assumption of dishonest motivation into all cases. The motivation behind the use of words and their assumed meanings are not universal or by any means objective. Forcing this subjective aspect of communication into the objective realm can produce prejudice if it results in assuming every intention and application is equivalent. This is made worse if the point of reference for all cases is the worst, most deceitful applications of the phrase. This too will distort communication and create a false reality.

    I see reason to increase caution in using it, and to question more often when others use it. It isn't clear to me the issue of politeness prohibiting a response to the phrase, but there could be cultural contexts that impose that sense. Certainly there is a tactful way to work out a response in those more sensitive cultural contexts. It isn't realistic to make people stop using the phrase altogether. Even if it was possible in this one online forum context, the phrase itself will continue. It is good to call out the problematic implications of it, but best to work out a strategy for reaction to it on a case by case basis as well. The reaction is ideally constructed if it brings to light the nature of the intent as well as the problems with the given statement. I emphasize this because the central problem is the assumption it is "hands-off". That must be dismantled for the phrase to lose the deceitful power that it has the potential of imposing.
    You seem to be contesting the claim that not everyone who uses the phrase of is just my opinion is deceptive. I do not dispute this. The core of my argument is that it is an insidious way for one person to force his views on others. What this means is that it is merely a way to do so, but this alone does not presuppose that this is the only way this utterance must be used. However, there is something other than dishonesty that this phrase conveys in all contexts. It conveys the attitude of unwillingness to inquire into the utterance's conceptual integrity on behalf of the communicator. An interesting 20th century philosopher, J.L Austin propounded the notion of a speech-act the essence of which is that when we speak, we often aren't just uttering words devoid of action, we are acting by speaking. For example, if I say I promise to do something, I am not just saying that I promise to do something, I actually engage in the act of promising. The same is the case for the 'it is just my opinion utterance'.

    How did I arrive at my interpretation of the meaning of the utterance in all contexts? I analyzed the most common meaning of each word and synthesized my results into a single proposition.


    Just means only, or in other words, when somebody says something is just X, he is placing a restriction on X saying that in this context he or she means to say X and X only is relevant to the situation: there is nothing other than X present in the current discourse.

    Opinion is generally taken to mean someone's subjective impression, as its most common usage is public opinion, or personal opinion. This word is much more commonly used by artists in evaluation of poetry, paintings, music or social critics in delivering political propaganda or doctors and lawyers who are more concerned with preserving their professional reputation by appearing to be correct rather than pursuing the truth then scholars with an earnest ambition to uncover the truth. Altogether, opinion is used by people who do not have to provide an extensive justification for their views than those who do, as I have explained in my previous compound sentence.

    So, when somebody says it is just my opinion, they are saying that the utterance they made is nothing but a remark for which they are generally not expected to provide a justification for; exactly like a lawyer, a doctor, or a social and an art critic would not have to.

    A lot of posters who responded to my rather polemical opening post cited that not everybody who uses this utterance will be vehemently opposed to any criticism of their view. Some people who make this utterance will do so because they are unsure if they are correct, or they aren't ready to defend their views, or they simply do not care to do so. That is all true, I am not denying that this is the message that many communicators have in mind when they employ the utterance that I've inveighed.

    However, this does not at all contradict my argument. My thesis was that the phrase is a way for people to deny responsibility for their actions and propound their view for genuine consideration not by defending its rationale, but by making it difficult to question. Now, take note; this does not mean they are trying to deceive anybody, or they are trying to get others to share their beliefs: it means that they are getting others to consider accepting their beliefs with or without having an intent of doing so.

    The most common manner in which my views were misunderstood in this thread is as follows. It has been assumed that I charge the communicator of the it is just my opinion with the unbenign motive of desiring to force his or her views on others, to deceive them or to deny responsibility for his actions. I was not doing that, I was accusing the communicator of forcing his or her views on others and denying responsibility for his beliefs by the very act of making that utterance: their underlying motives are altogether irrelevant. In other words, as Austin would say, they are engaging in a speech act of denying responsibility for their actions and forcing their views on others when they are making this utterance. However, to the delight of many of those who criticized my argument illegitimately and with impertinence, the character of this person can be exonerated from the charges of denying responsiblity for his or her actions in the event where he or she is questioned and asked to give further explanation with respect to what he or she intended to communicate with the phrase of it is just my opinion.

    Consider the following dialogue.

    Johnson: It is just my opinion that Bush was inspired by ulterior motives when they insisted on the necessity of invading Iraq and did not earnestly believe that Hussein was in possession of weapons of Mass destruction.
    Smith: How do you know?
    Johnson: It is just my opinion
    Smith: What is your opinion based on? What sources can you cite? What arguments can you construct to defend it?
    Johnson: I retract my judgment, as I cannot support my views with an expert opinion or argument.

    In this case the speaker accepts responsiblity for his utterance after the utternace as initially he has denied it by the act of stating that sentence in the first place, yet he has revealed his true motives in the aftermath to the conversation.

    Now, for the sake of a second example, suppose that Johnson actually was able to defend his views but his humility led him to underestimate his proposition by putting restrictions on it or saying it is just his opinion. Perhaps he made the utterance out of politeness as he did not wish to offend other people sitting at the conversation table.


    Johnson: It is just my opinion that Bush was inspired by ulterior motives when they insisted on the necessity of invading Iraq and did not earnestly believe that Hussein was in possession of weapons of Mass destruction.
    Smith: How do you know?
    Johnson: It is just my opinion
    Smith: What is your opinion based on? What sources can you cite? What arguments can you construct to defend it?
    Johnson: George W. Bush cited no substantial evidence for his conclusion, neither did his subordinates. They appealed to passion and prejudice thereby employing rhetoric rather than substantial arguments to vindicate their views. Historically, when politicians behaved in such a manner, they've been dishonest. The chances are that Bush was no exception.

    Now, please pay close attention to the fact that in both cases the speaker had no intention of denying responsibility for his actions or making his view immune to criticism, but he did because he used the phrase improperly. It has only become clear that this is not what he was doing after he clarified his intentions. The utterance of 'just my opinion' is irrelevant to the person's intentions, it is a speech act that communicates a certain message and an action that does not depend on a person's private motives for its own substantiation.


    To summarize my view in one sentence, I have evinced the invidious speech act of denial of responsibility for one's actions entailed by the phrase of 'it is just my opinion' rather than the mischievous motives of the speaker: I did not comment on the speaker's motives at all.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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