Wrong versus Disagreement

I had an interesting conversation this week about whether I thought that other people were wrong. When I got into the details of the discussion, I clarified that it was not that I thought that the other person was wrong; I just disagreed with the other person. This then got into a conversation about whether you can disagree with someone and not think their wrong? We agreed to disagree on this point.

In review I could think of areas that when I am in disagreement with another person I would also think that someone is wrong. Most of the examples that I think of in this category come down to areas involving my values. If there is a disagreement about the values that I live by, then I may think that the other person is wrong.

However there are also times that I can disagree with another person in a way that does not make me think that the other person is wrong. These occasions come down to ways of doing things. I may think there is a better way to do something or I would do things differently if I would have done it. So this may be a disagreement of methods, however I do not necessary think the other person is wrong.

Do you think that you can disagree with someone and not think they are wrong?
What are the areas that a disagreement means that you think the other person is wrong?
What are areas you can disagree with and not think the other person is wrong?

About Attila Ovari

Attila Ovari is an Entrepreneur that loves life and is passionate about adventure. Attila Ovari writes, speaks and coaches to inspire others to better themselves through following their passions and chasing their dreams. He has developed his passions of inspiration, leadership and strategy into strengths through his businesses and community pursuits.

Posted on Sunday, 25 Aug 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. When it comes to moral values and rightness or wrongness, I believe we all should defer to a Higher Power. Fortunately, lots of people align with God’s perspective whether they express it that way or not.

    But another way we can look at rightness or wrongness can be around design or original intent. You and I could argue all day about the uses for a hammer, but we all know that a hammer was really designed to do maybe a couple of things–hitting or prying nails. So if I try use a hammer to kill a cockroach on my wife’s nice new countertop, I believe I can safely call that wrong 🙂

    • Yes, for many people myself included we refer to right and wrong in terms of our beliefs. That said I also believe that is many things that are in the grey area between right or wrong… Also there are many things that are not wrong, just different.

  2. Great post! I agree with you that you can disagree with someone and not think they are wrong. It’s more for the gray areas in lifestyle choices such as drinking or doing yoga. For Christians some can drink and not feel guilty while others are “sinning” if they do. Same with yoga, for me, I can’t participate in doing yoga because I think of all the gods each pose are praising while my sister has no problem doing it. Neither one of us is wrong but we disagree. It’s funny how it works out like that.

  3. It’s possible to disagree and not think the person is wrong. I agree though that I’m inclined to think the person is wrong when their view doesn’t match my core moral values. The other case would be if the other person is incorrect on factual issues.

  4. Attila-
    I am not sure if I understood your reply correctly, so please allow me to add this clarification.

    Of course we can disagree without judgement! – that wasn’t the question to me to begin with – but the difference between mere disagreement on subjective topics or being right or wrong on objective ones. Judgement is an inapplicable term in this context, in both cases.
    The key factor that establishes the difference is the particular subject of disagreement, which means that in certain cases someone can indeed be objectively right or wrong when passing an opinion, which however does not imply any judgement.

    What your reply seems to suggest is the relativistic view that renders all opinions equal, which I do find wrong in an objective sense. Such approach would imply – inter alia – that it would be judgemental (hence wrong) to say that those who claim that the Earth is flat or 2*2=5 are wrong.
    Since the disagreement on above is not about liking the colour blue or not, but about objective facts, calling the person wrong when he is wrong is not judging him, but merely calling a spade spade.

    • Thank you for your reply. Sometimes though what we perceive as right and wrong is just that our perceptions. we are basing it on our beliefs and values.

      Many would say that 1+1=2, however looked at from another point of view 1+1=5…. For example a couple with three children. It is all based on our perception and if we do not understand the other persons point of view, then can we say they are wrong????? or is it that we disagree?

      I have enjoyed the discussion. I look forward to more discussion in the future.

  5. A truly intriguing question … Here is how I would formulate an answer – (of course I could be wrong, lol):

    The difference between mere disagreement and being objectively right or wrong might be captured through the distinction between these scenarios:

    The case of mere disagreement (when everyone is “right”):
    1) when subjective opinions (tastes, preferences, likes, dislikes, etc) in strictly personal domains are confronted, and when all parties simply agree to disagree.

    The cases when someone is objectively right or wrong:

    2) when someone’s personal opinion violates another’s right to his/her subjective opinion as per 1.

    3) when knowledge on objective facts stands against someone’s subjective opinion based on myth, belief, empirical deception, or wishful thinking, etc. or when more theories formulated on certain facts are competing for objective knowledge-value. Here the disagreement is due to the different degree and scope, obsolete or up-to-date status of the knowledge upon which one has based his opinion, and to the degree of completeness and precision in considering all relevant factors and facts before passing an opinion.

  6. Great post Attila! I am sure it will cause some people to reexamine their beliefs in this area. I agree with you, that it is possible to disagree with others and they not be wrong. I think the largest area where it is possible to disagree with someone and they not necessarily be wrong is in the area of priorities. An example would be education. Is there a person out there who believes children should nor be educated? However, whether you feel that the best way is through the public schools or private schools would be an opinion. A seemingly simple question can have many complex issues to consider.

    Our education system tends to reduce things to a single right answer, but often times there can be a whole range of solutions. Consider automobiles. There may be a right choice for you based on your needs, but your right choice might not be mine if I have a different set of circumstances. I used to work 50 miles from home. Two cars, one of which needed to get great gas mileage and was easy to maintain was the major consideration. Today, I don’t need a second car because I work from my home. What I need now is different. was I wrong before? Certainly not. But my 2013 self would disagree with my 2009 self about the car I need…

    • Thank you for your comments. I truly agree with you. Many times there is no single answer, however we sometimes are taught that there is only one single answer. Hopefully we can all see that there are many right ways to do things of which we have a preference for one or two ways.

  7. Totally! Too often we think that disagreement and being right are in the same boat. And they are to an extent, but I can disagree with someone – I may not think they are right or wrong. A fair amount of this comes from a lack of being able to ‘agree to disagree’. We can be so stubborn that any form of disagreement means that someone is wrong. Surely at times, there can be more ‘right’ answers where we all have an opinion. Your disagreement of methods is one of the more popular forms of this.

  8. I just had a back and forth with a kook vegan who claimed to be a “nice vegan” who still believed that it was their mission (all vegan’s) to work toward the end of the consumption of meat and “exploitation” of animals but worked towards that goal “nicely”… With nuts like that brother, they’re all wrong. Who cares if your a nice fascist or a mean fascist? They’re still fascists. I am, as a matter of political correctness, okay with “agreeing to disagree” because they’re insatiable dopes and their movement has no hope. In the end, I’ll be an omnivore whether they like it or not.

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