Point of View Conditions Opinion

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court overturned the 5-decade-old Roe vs. Wade decision that made abortion a federally protected right. There will undoubtedly be protests and worse. Over what. It looks like the Supreme Court merely said the federal government has no standing in making this provision, The states do and should decide based on what their people want. There will be a patchwork of law, but ideally, the law in a given state, would be one that is locally preferred.

There are two positions regarding the decision that are diametrically opposed to each other. Why can they not be reconciled? Is it possible both are right? But, only subject to the context of facts you believe in. In that case, one law wouldn’t make sense.

How opinion comes to be

Opinions and the decisions that follow from them are the result of opening assumptions (Axioms) Remember Euclidian geometry where you begin with conditions that are irreducible. Parallel lines, triangles, 180-degree angles are a straight line, and more.

In respect to the abortion issue, the questions you should ask are:

  1. What are the axioms for each side and how did they arise?
  2. Are the axioms objective?
  3. Do they need support or explanation? If yes, they are not axioms.

Compare two points of view.

Opinion  #1 – A woman should have the right to control her own body. That seems a reasonable idea, but where does the right come from? The constitution is of no help, except by interpretation. What do you mean by control? What conditions, if any, exist where the control right does not exist? An opinion is internally consistent within a particular context.

Opinion #2 – A child is a living being at conception. That leads to contextual variables too. What is life? Are there any conditions that permit the taking of the child’s (potential?) life? If some such conditions exist, the child’s right to life is not absolute. Axioms are absolute. Alive or not? Exceptions create the point that the mother’s life is above the child’s life, or the circumstances of conception are unacceptable. What are the objective reasons behind those exceptions.? Where does that get us?

Any two people can hold contradictory opinions on any point and neither is necessarily evil. Evil is a contextual opinion, too. Until they can come to an acceptance of the idea that opinions rather than absolute truth underlies each position, there is only conflict. Never harmony.

Do you each want to argue or seek the truth?

Is there truth at all? Usually, we can’t tell, but there is a place to begin. How did each of you come to your opinion of what is right? If we want to understand the other position, we must discover what they think and how they came to that opinion. Once there, you can compare and fit the parts that are dissimilar and in many cases, unsupportable by any other more objective fact.

Once you get there, you will realize that opinions are not facts and you cannot argue a person away from their opinion without altering their point of view. That is very difficult unless you know how you came to have your opinion and they theirs.

Simple rule: You cannot use logic to change a person’s point of view unless they used logic to acquire it.

The bits to take away

Opinions are fully formed and supportable inside their context. You cannot change them until you change what precedes them. Manipulative people use opinions derived from different information and thus contradictory because of that, to divide and conquer.

There is nothing easier than manipulating divided people when they don’t understand the nature of the division.

Opinions are not facts and where fiery opinions clash, the likelihood is high that they are both wrong.

Be respectful. of each other. It is likely good people can find a way to see the problem in a better way.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” When you see anti-abortion and pro-abortion activists clash, do you think either is exhibiting first-rate intelligence?

If I believe both a life begins at conception, and a woman should be able to control her own body, how can I address the abortion question? Not easily, for sure. I don’t know the answer, but I think the answer is found by deciding if either or both of those opinions can be reduced to an axiom. If that is established there would be an objective approach to move forward from.


I build strategic, fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways to achieve spending and estate distribution goals. In the past, I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning. I have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email at don.shaughnessy@gmail.com.


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