• czahar
    59
    Though I’m a Democratic Socialist, I can’t get behind everything the Left does, and one of the practices I find particularly disagreeable is the appeal to “lived experience.”

    Lived experience consists of “the first-hand accounts and impressions of living as a member of a minority or oppressed group.” While this isn’t itself problematic, it becomes so when people think their experiences are above criticism. Just listen to these fragments from B. Alexandra Painia’s “My Lived Experience Is Not Up For Debate”:

    You were not put on this earth to spend most of your time teaching/proving to other people that your experience is valid or real or worth being heard. In these times where Black women are still fighting simply to be remembered and advocated for with the same fierceness that is extended to many other marginalized persons’ struggles, its important to remember your voice matters. Your experience is enough and your feelings are real and if anyone tells you different take a cue from Queen Monae herself…

    Painia says this after complaining about “several people who will dismiss your voice and your complaints because you haven’t provided enough proof that what you are saying is real.”

    Some people have even argued that demanding evidence is harmful. In her article “Dismissing Lived Experiences: When We Cherry Pick The Truth”, lawyer and women’s rights advocate Paula Ethans writes:

    Time and time again we don’t believe people from vulnerable backgrounds. Instead, we rush to demand empirical data to prove the existence of the discrimination (that they have personally faced). This demand of extrinsic evidence belittles marginalized groups who have lived experiences of unease/harassment. This disregarding lived experiences, this demand of “more reliable evidence,” allows bigotry to persist. Declaring that someone’s lived experiences are unreliable is demeaning and serves to maintain the status quo.

    But even if declaring someone’s lived experiences as unreliable were demeaning, that wouldn’t explain why we should believe them. Claims about the world -- whether it be about discrimination or harassment -- require evidence. This is an uncontroversial statement, as it is the foundation of all science and philosophy. If you’re posting arguments on this website, then you clearly recognize the necessity of evidence to support a claim.

    Yet those who appeal to lived experience completely ignore this well established and almost universally accepted fact. As the philosopher Terri Murray puts it in her article "Anti-Intellectualism and Appeals to 'Lived Experience'":

    Instead of appealing to reasons (better ones), they [those who appeal to lived experience] avoid reasoning altogether and instead appeal to what is entirely subjective.

    Murray continues:

    If you claim to be bored right now, or to have a headache, there isn’t really anything I can do or say to persuade you that you’re wrong. You know your own experiences better than anyone else. Therefore ‘lived experience’ is a sure winner, since the person wielding it is always right. He or she is the authority when it comes to what is completely subjective.

    Those who appeal to lived experience give themselves a free pass from the burden of proof, and it is unclear as to why they think they deserve this pass.

    With that said, I think there’s ample evidence that marginalized people experience prejudices that I — as a cisgender, heterosexual, white male — don’t. I can also at least entertain the idea that these experiences give them knowledge about these prejudices that I don’t have.

    But having knowledge of something doesn’t absolve people from supporting their claims. For example, I’ve never taken a philosophy course. There are no doubt people on this site who are philosophy majors, and some may even hold post-graduate degrees in philosophy. Their knowledge of philosophy clearly outweighs mine. But that does that mean I can’t question the claims they make about philosophy? Does that mean they don’t have to support their claims when I request they do so?

    Certainly not. Why should it be any different with marginalized people’s lived experience?
  • Judaka
    319

    The real problem with this way of thinking is that regardless of how generously we should accept the validity of lived experience, the idea forces us to work backwards. You have a bad experience, that's been granted, now what's the cause? They start playing guessing games because there's really no way for us to proceed. The left assumes the cause is systemic or societal and start prescribing solutions. There's a level of courtesy and generosity in giving people the benefit of the doubt but the left uses this generosity to levy heavy criticism towards groups, systems and the like which isn't really appropriate. They use the moral aspect of compassion and concern to protect their criticism which really hasn't been formulated using a credible method to begin with.
  • wax
    301
    I think it is important to recognise that we all form a world view from our experiences. This should motivate us to maybe find more empirical evidence to support various aspects of this world view, and motivate us to find discussion and debate around aspects of this world view...this should lead to people forming groups that share similar world views debating and involved in dialectics with each other, and others outside these vaguely defined groups.

    In this way various world views can be formed into larger groups and the prevalence of associated world views, with also various people in those groups trying to find more empirical evidence, and even trying to generate such evidence with their own research.

    Without this system of gathering strong groups, but more reliant on weaker structured groupings, you might get individuals falling back on 'life experience', and trying to defend that simple mechanism as enough to promote better world views.....this is kind of lazy advocacy.....sure your personal experience might be very important, important to you, but you should use that to reach out and form groups with a higher capacity to develop a better world view......you can't always provide empirical evidence for specific things, but if you are part of a general group with wide ranges in knowledge, and mental skills, there will be more opportunity to connect models of how the world work, with empirical evidence..

    Someone might have had an experience where they witnessed what they thought was a ghost.....as an anecdote there really isn't much empirical evidence that they can provide to convince people that what they saw was actually a ghost, and even then what a ghost actually is isn't very clearly defined....but if this person reaches out into society to try to find other people who have maybe had a similar experience or are at least interested in the subject, then the whole philosophy and world view about such things as ghosts can become more developed, with possible connections to research, scientific and other, to connect the individuals experience with a more widespread experience of life.
  • I like sushi
    853
    This is simple enough if broken down into more tangible components.

    As an example someone could insist that they are on fire and feel their skin melting away in excruciating agony. Whether we believed them or not the issue is that they feel this pain and it is simply a question of investigating why it is they feel this pain and what there is that can realistically be done about it (if anything).

    Regardless some people are just going to be more sensitive to negativity than others under certain conditions and especially if under some degree of stress (be it due to general health or more psychological feelings of isolation or general confusion).

    I think that in this sense “What I feel is real” is true in that they feel the pain. What is most certainly up for debate is the reason for feeling this pain.

    If we think about how we treat children we can quickly see how much we err in this department as no one person reacts in the same manner under the same situations due to multiplicity of factors. We generally try to teach children to be strong in the face fo adversity, yet to also ask for help, to trust people, and to deal with situations themselves when things go pear-shaped. The problem being we sometimes make bad judgements and innocent people suffer. This is unfortunate yet inevitable if we’re to establish ourselves in the world as semi-independent persons of value - this freedom brings with it a necesssry price of “being wrong” and “suffering” for being wrong, even when we don’t don’t where the line between “right” and “wrong” is and when the bloody thing moves about so much relative to both ourselves and others around us.

    All in all it comes down to a matter of taking repsonsibility of what you can control and what you cannot control. An individual can change the world, it’s just generally much easier to change your perspective first and understand others before insisting that your perspective matters more than anyone else’s (which is a trap we all fall into from time to time without even realising it - the difficulty is being willing to face your mistakes head on rather than dimissing them as you would some strangers obscure and seemingly confused opinion).
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    I'm not a fan of complainers, moaners, naggers, moralizers, etc. I try to avoid them in "real life." For the most part (I'll avoid detailing this for robots at the moment) my view is that persons' "lived experience" should be above criticism. What it shouldn't be above is encouragement. Encourage people to be existentially authentic, to do their own thing, to pursue whatever interests they have, to let their freak flags fly, etc.
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    Painia says this after complaining about “several people who will dismiss your voice and your complaints because you haven’t provided enough proof that what you are saying is real.”czahar

    In a court of law, first hand accounts are evidence. Now I doubt that many would say that such evidence is proof, because folks can lie or be mistaken. But the complaint is precisely that the evidence is dismissed without evidence to the contrary, and the evidence of testimony is discounted on one side and counted on the other.

    But having knowledge of something doesn’t absolve people from supporting their claims.czahar

    You conflate the role of complainant and judiciary. Folks provide their testimony, and you refuse to consider their evidence until the case has been proved. Thus their case is always dismissed and never heard.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    In a court of law, first hand accounts are evidence.unenlightened

    True, but I'm not a fan of it being sufficient evidence to convict anyone of anything, even in conjunction with other testimony.
  • czahar
    59
    In a court of law, first hand accounts are evidence. Now I doubt that many would say that such evidence is proof, because folks can lie or be mistaken. But the complaint is precisely that the evidence is dismissed without evidence to the contrary, and the evidence of testimony is discounted on one side and counted on the other.unenlightened

    Oh, absolutely. I would never suggest that we simply dismiss someone's lived experience outright. I'm just saying that it's not above criticism. That it can and -- under certain circumstances, should -- be questioned.

    Also, keep in mind that when I made the OP, I was referring to non-legal settings, even though I quoted a lawyer in one part. Legal evidence cannot always be analogized to non-legal evidence because courts of law have different rules for what constitutes evidence. For instance, successfully appealing to precedent would be a sufficient way to win a case in a common law court, but wouldn't be sufficient outside of a legal setting.
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    I'm not a fanTerrapin Station

    I'd like to see some evidence of this; I'm not going to convict you on your confession alone.
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    I would never suggest that we simply dismiss someone's lived experience outright. I'm just saying that it's not above criticism. That it can and -- under certain circumstances, should -- be questioned.czahar

    And provide evidence of this too.
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    Thing is, the complaints you guys are complaining about, the testimonies that you are allegedly legitimately criticising are those of folks such as women and black people whose testimony is historically regarded as questionable, and there is a huge and long history that a part of low status is nearly always that the testimony is also given a low status. And that this is the testimony that you both bring into question yourselves is the corroboration that you demand that this is a continuing problem and the complaints are true. You yourselves are the proof of the validity of the experience.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    I'd like to see some evidence of this; I'm not going to convict you on your confession alone.unenlightened

    Good to know. Now how do we change legal conventions?
  • czahar
    59
    For the most part (I'll avoid detailing this for robots at the moment) my view is that persons' "lived experience" should be above criticism.Terrapin Station

    It depends on the information that person is reporting. If someone simply reports on their inner experiences -- e.g., their thoughts and feelings -- it would be odd to question it. For example, if my friend, Bill, said he was hungry and I responded with, "Support or retract that statement," that would be an odd and, at least in most people's view, inappropriate statement. Although, in certain circumstances, it would be appropriate to question people's inner experiences -- e.g., when a kid says he's sick on a school day and you have the feeling he's just trying to skip school.

    Statements that go beyond inner experiences -- e.g., statements about discrimination a person has faced or abuse they have received -- do need to be questioned, though. Don't get me wrong, these should not be dismissed outright, but they do need more evidence, especially considering there is overwhelming evidence in psychology that people's memories aren't always accurate.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    Statements that go beyond inner experiences -- e.g., statements about discrimination a person has faced or abuse they have received -- do need to be questioned, though.czahar

    Well, only if/because you might do something to someone else in response. That's questioning an accusation that could land someone in prison, because it could land someone in prison.
  • czahar
    59
    And provide evidence of this too.unenlightened

    Okay. How about an analogy. If I told you that a relative of yours robbed me last night, would you question my claim? If yes, then you can accept that lived experiences can and, at least under certain circumstances, should be questioned.
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    Analogies are not evidence.

    I would never suggest that we simply dismiss someone's lived experience outright.czahar

    This is the claim I am questioning; and it does not support your claim, that you might make another claim that I might question.
  • czahar
    59
    Thing is, the complaints you guys are complaining about, the testimonies that you are allegedly legitimately criticising are those of folks such as women and black people whose testimony is historically regarded as questionable, and there is a huge and long history that a part of low status is nearly always that the testimony is also given a low status. And that this is the testimony that you both bring into question yourselves is the corroboration that you demand that this is a continuing problem and the complaints are true. You yourselves are the proof of the validity of the experience.unenlightened

    So, you're saying that by continuing to question the lived experiences of marginalized people, I'm perpetuating the low status of their testimony and thereby confirming their claims about their testimony having a low status?
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    Yup. You want to question that?
  • czahar
    59
    ↪czahar Analogies are not evidence.unenlightened

    Yes, they are. If by "evidence," you mean "support for a claim" then analogies are certainly evidence. They're frequently used in inductive reasoning.
  • czahar
    59
    Yup. You want to question that?unenlightened

    Absolutely. Questioning the lived experience of marginalized groups doesn't perpetuate a low status; it gives them the status that all beings should be under. People's memories of an experience can be wrong. There is overwhelming evidence in the psychological literature to support that claim. People's memories of experiences therefore don't deserve to be treated as if they are above criticism.

    Some may clap back that we are more trusting towards privileged people's reports of their experiences than we are towards marginalized people's. This may be true, but if it is, the answer is not to put marginalized people's testimony on a status above belief; it's to not be so trusting of privileged people's.
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    This may be true, but if it is, the answer is not to put marginalized people's testimony on a status above belief; it's to not be so trusting of privileged people's.czahar

    Which is what I am doing, and you are not. You could have provided examples of questionable whites and males, but you did not. And that is is evidence that is not a matter of opinion but can be checked by anyone who cares to took at your op. Evidence that contradicts your claims of fair-mindedness. And you might want to claim now that it is just an accident, but as I said already, history informs us that it is no accident at all but an ongoing rhetoric that sustains privilege and status.

    I am doing what you claim is the right thing and questioning your claims in the light of the evidence, and finding them unsupported, and indeed contradicted by the evidence. It's not like there's a great shortage of white men full of shit to question.
  • czahar
    59
    You could have provided examples of questionable whites and males, but you did not. And that is is evidence that is not a matter of opinion but can be checked by anyone who cares to took at your op. Evidence that contradicts your claims of fair-mindedness.unenlightened

    As "lived experience" was defined in the OP as "the first-hand accounts and impressions of living as a member of a minority or oppressed group" there was good reason why I didn't mention white people. That's not my definition either. Take that up with the author of Geek Feminism.

    Furthermore, as I did elaborate that this standard of evidence should be applied to privileged people, that is evidence that I believe it to be true. If not mentioning X is evidence that I don't believe X (as you seem to claim the previous post), then mentioning X is evidence that I do. I mentioned that I believe privileged people should be held to the same standards of evidence as marginalized people; therefore, by the logic you seem to convey, I believe it.

    I am doing what you claim is the right thing and questioning your claims in the light of the evidence,unenlightened

    Which is exactly what you should do, as my claims are not above evidence.

    and finding them unsupported,unenlightened

    How? I have addressed your questions when asked to do so. When asked to provide evidence that people's lived experiences can and should be questioned, I gave you an analogy to illustrate why. You said "analogies weren't evidence" and I explained why they were. You dropped it there.

    It seems like you're the one who's not supporting your claims.

    It's not like there's a great shortage of white men full of shit to question.unenlightened

    Agreed. But I'd wager there's also no shortage of people fighting these white men who are equally "full of shit."
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    When asked to provide evidence that people's lived experiences can and should be questioned, I gave you an analogy to illustrate why. You said "analogies weren't evidence" and I explained why they were. You dropped it there.czahar

    Yeah, I'm not in the business of convincing you, so I'm happy to leave everything here, and let the jury of readers reach their own judgement. ' The defence rests.'
  • czahar
    59
    There's a level of courtesy and generosity in giving people the benefit of the doubt but the left uses this generosity to levy heavy criticism towards groups, systems and the like which isn't really appropriate.Judaka

    I think this sums it up beautifully, Judoka. While it may be appropriate to believe people's lived experiences when they're making claims about, say, their inner experiences (their thoughts and feelings), such a benefit is inappropriate when those lived experiences are used to make claims about others. When accusing others or society of racism, sexism, etc., demanding more evidence than lived experiences is entirely appropriate.
  • czahar
    59
    Yeah, I'm not in the business of convincing you, so I'm happy to leave everything here, and let the jury of readers reach their own judgement.unenlightened

    The first thing we've agreed on this entire argument!
  • T Clark
    3.2k
    Which is what I am doing, and you are not. You could have provided examples of questionable whites and males, but you did not. And that is is evidence that is not a matter of opinion but can be checked by anyone who cares to took at your op. Evidence that contradicts your claims of fair-mindedness. And you might want to claim now that it is just an accident, but as I said already, history informs us that it is no accident at all but an ongoing rhetoric that sustains privilege and status.

    I am doing what you claim is the right thing and questioning your claims in the light of the evidence, and finding them unsupported, and indeed contradicted by the evidence. It's not like there's a great shortage of white men full of shit to question.
    unenlightened

    Yes. This and your original post on this thread are exactly right. It's amazing to me that you are the only one who understands how it works. You pointed out the biggest fallacy of the other posts and of racial discussions in general, one that's hard to counter - Why did the original poster and the followers pick the statements of the most vulnerable people to criticize. It is a sign of their, of society's, lack of social and psychological awareness and moral courage.

    Self-serving whining by the privileged against the whining of the vulnerable would be funny if it weren't so destructive. I appreciate your responses.
  • T Clark
    3.2k
    Though I’m a Democratic Socialist, I can’t get behind everything the Left does, and one of the practices I find particularly disagreeable is the appeal to “lived experience.”czahar

    As I said in my response to @unenlightened's posts, and as he said, this whole discussion is wonderful, compelling evidence for exactly what the so called social justice warriors, whom you deride, are saying. Calling it ironic is inadequate. It's stomach-churning. And stating you are a Social Democrat as some sort of credential is smarmy. Thanks for the opportunity to use that word.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1.2k
    Thanks for the opportunity to use that word.T Clark

    Haha! That’s funny. :up:
  • Judaka
    319

    OP clearly framed the context of how the left prioritises the lived experience of particular groups as a political agenda, he explained his interest in this problem as a problem with the left and not just generally. If there was another political group who were talking about the "white" experience and using it in arguments that OP felt empirical facts should be relevant, he might've been making a thread about that instead. Both you and @unenlightened have presented this red herring which has absolutely nothing to do with the OP.

    Your whole post is absolutely ridiculous, such self-righteous drivel. Do you think you and unenlightened, by insinuating OP is a racist and challenging him on that posited racism have shown moral courage? News flash, racism is not fashionable, what OP is saying is the harder thing to say because people like you judge him unreasonably.

    I honestly don't know why OP is being so reasonable to unenlightened after the show he's put on here. OP tried to bring up examples that have nothing to do with race, unenlightened practically made OP plead to him that he's not a racist and there's absolutely no justification for it. He clearly framed that he was criticising the aspect of the left that did it, there was no reason to bring up an example of it outside of what the left was saying. I wouldn't have had the patience to even continue replying.
  • NKBJ
    1k


    I'd just like to point out that the phrase "lived experience" is redundant at best. What other kind of experience would there be? Unlived? Undead? Livingdead?
  • T Clark
    3.2k
    OP clearly framed the context of how the left prioritises the lived experience of particular groups as a political agenda, he explained his interest in this problem as a problem with the left and not just generally. If there was another political group who were talking about the "white" experience and using it in arguments that OP felt empirical facts should be relevant, he might've been making a thread about that instead. Both you and unenlightened have presented this red herring which has absolutely nothing to do with the OP.Judaka

    If the entire post is built on an unstable foundation, which it is, it is completely appropriate to point that out. The fact that @czahar, his cohort, and much of the rest of society fail to see the corruptness of the framing of the question says much of what needs to be said about race.

    Your whole post is absolutely ridiculous, such self-righteous drivel. Do you think you and unenlightened, by insinuating OP is a racist and challenging him on that posited racism have shown moral courage? News flash, racism is not fashionable, what OP is saying is the harder thing to say because people like you judge him unreasonably.Judaka

    I intentionally did not use the word "racist" or "racism," and I wouldn't. I didn't even think it. Your arguments are self-serving and fundamentally false. The fact that they are wide-spread damages our society and makes it hard to treat all people fairly. All I did was to point that out in a blunt but reasonably civil manner.

    I honestly don't know why OP is being so reasonable to unenlightened after the show he's put on here. OP tried to bring up examples that have nothing to do with race, unenlightened practically made OP plead to him that he's not a racist and there's absolutely no justification for it. He clearly framed that he was criticising the aspect of the left that did it, there was no reason to bring up an example of it outside of what the left was saying. I wouldn't have had the patience to even continue replying.Judaka

    I just checked. @unenlightened never used the words "race," "racist," or "racism" in his posts. There were about 15 uses of those words up to this point in the thread, and all but one were by you and me.
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