Disagreements are rarely about values - and almost always about facts

I once participated in a just war workshop at an American Humanist Association conference. We all agreed on what constituted a just war. But when we looked at specific wars - we could not agree on whether any given war or conflict was just or not. How could that happen when we all agreed what a just war was morally?

Because - we all had different information. To reach consensus - we share information and integrate that information into our thinking.

I think - we largely - don't do that anymore. It isn't modeled for us - and it's not valued. When I get questions from people about disagreements - it's usually framed in a: how do I get other people to agree with me - framework.

This is a very self centered framework to think about disagreements. You are right and the other person is wrong - so the problem is - how do I get them to agree with me - that I am right.

We all do this - so I know you - as well as I - see ourselves in that description.

The solution is to understand your role and what is going on differently.

1) Ask yourself - what if you are wrong and the other person is right?  Shocking to think - but it is possible. When you do this - you stop trying to prove you are right and start trying to figure out how you might be wrong.  This sort of disagreement is not about winning anymore. It's about learning. And no - you don't need the other person to agree with you to approach things this way - this is about you. And your responsibilities.

2) Find out what the moral reasoning the other person is using. I assure you - the other person is moral.  Disagreements are almost NEVER about values. They are often about what we value most - but not whether we value it. So - ask them questions. Why is their proposal - moral for them? Do they acknowlege your values as well? Probably they do - but they place them lower than other moral considerations. This can lead to interesting conversations about how we weigh moral values against each other. But even if it doesn't - you can still learn a lot by asking these questions.

3) Do you have your facts right? What "facts" are they working from and are those "facts" true or not. If you are doing the first two things - they should be open to correction. But ONLY if you are ALSO - open to correction. If they aren't - don't fight them. Sometimes all you can do is introduce doubt. It's like planting a seed. You might not be there when the doubt reaches fruition - but that's ok.  If that is where they are - then consider planting doubt - a win.

These are the skills I teach in my online course - Socratic Jujitsu - how to win arguments without arguing. https://humanistlearning.com/socratic-jujitsu/

This program is also included in my certificate in applied Humanistic Leadership - https://humanistlearning.com/certified-humanistic-leadership-professional/

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