Freedom of opinion
Any person should be able to express their opinion on any subject, as specified in Western constitutions. No set of circumstances, and no person or government, should stand in the way of this freedom of expression. Democracy arises from dialogue. As stipulated in many constitutions, this freedom is circumscribed by the use of actual violence or the threat of violence.
Rules on what may or may not be expressed – stemming from certain people’s concerns and what are believed to be new moral insights – are eroding freedom of speech. This
risks bringing about a deterioration in the experience of being human.
Natural Humanism encourages dialogue between people who hold different views. It is precisely these conversations that enable important and innovative insights to arise – ones that may benefit society.
It should always be possible to have a debate. Differences of opinion about political, medical or other issues should make people engage in debate, rather than avoid it. In particular, debate before decisions are taken in a community leads to more knowledge and involvement and better decisions. Democracy starts at the local level.
Journalism plays an important role, not least in generating and allowing discussion. Public broadcasters and other public media have a moral responsibility to facilitate debates. The exclusion of ideas in the name of science is also problematic: Scientia locuta, causa finita-type arguments that appeal to authority or status rather than hard data are inherently suspect.
Ideas should be able to be challenged, bearing in mind that scientific research is in constant need of verification and given its inherent problems (such as the generalisation problem, the operationalisation problem and the causality problem).