I love Assistant Village Idiot's site. Possibly the explanation for my pleasure lies in the subject of a couple of his recent links to Orin Kerr at Volokh: Brilliant People Agree with Me and People Who Disagree with Me Are Just Arguing in Bad Faith. AVI often puts things in just the way I might have done if I knew more about them and had thought them through more carefully -- so he must be awfully smart! His links to the Orin Kerr articles actually aren't a perfect example of the brilliance of people who agree with me. They're on right subject -- confirmation bias -- but the articles and their accompanying comments are a little frustrating, presenting as they do the age-old sterile conflict between people who are confident there is such a thing as the right view (and that they have it) and people who suspect that all viewpoints may be equally correct/incorrect. Chalk me up in the "it's possible to be right" column, even if I also believe we're obligated at all times to subject ourselves to the correction of better evidence and reason from any source.
I did appreciate an article on conflict resolution that one of Kerr's commenters linked to. A good part of it was the sort of "everyone has an equally incorrect viewpoint" attitude that gets right up my nose, but there was a sensible piece of practical advice towards the end:
Ross’s suggested solution to this problem is to have members of a group discussion each give one point of the other side’s argument that they think has some legitimacy. The study that Ross has done on this potential solution to conflict had the impressive result of 100% agreement being reached using this method.My husband has learned to his great cost over the years that when I don't feel I'm being heard, I become Very Difficult to Live With. I may be an extreme example, but I imagine many people respond well to defusing a very tense argument by finding some common ground and focusing on it for a moment. It has to be a real point of agreement; condescension or cheesy moral relativism won't work.
Maybe some of us are so constituted that, as long as our listener doesn't acknowledge the obvious truth and justice of the point we feel so strongly convinced of, we become sure he simply is not listening. Knowing that he's heard and understood some subsidiary point allows me to calm down and realize that communication is possible, even if we won't entirely be able to agree. In a calmer state, I may realize that I don't mind negotiating a compromise, or even adopting another plan altogether. I know I find it easier to give something up to please someone who shows that he knows and cares that it's important to me.