Is Rational Centrism just the Disciplined Acknowledgment of Uncertainty?

Woman looking uncertain

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I think I may have finally nailed down what I mean by this term rational centrism. If I’m right (and I’m only fairly but not absolutely confident that I am), then it’s a really simple idea, which I can approximate, perhaps ironically, with the following rule:

Never speak or write in absolute terms.

Or without the irony:

As much as reasonably possible, avoid speaking or writing in absolute terms.

Another way to say it:

When speaking or writing, be generous with qualifiers such as fairly, almost, nearly, perhaps, maybe, possibly, somewhat, more-or-less, probably, etc. And be sure to acknowledge to your listeners and readers that you are aware that your opinions are in fact opinions.

Or how about:

For the most part, treat facts as if they were really just opinions that appear to be more or less true. Allow few exceptions.

To summarize: rational centrism is a discipline, or practice. It is essentially a firm commitment to explicitly acknowledge to your readers and listeners the uncertainty that is associated with pretty much everything outside the realm of mathematics and deductive logic.

Yeah, that sounds about right…more or less.

Feedback welcome!

2 Comments

    1. Thanks for commenting. I guess I’m making the assumption that most of the opinions that are commonly associated with the term extremism are simply not rationally defensible, and when anyone makes a sincere effort to speak and write as described above, the resulting, properly qualified opinions will tend to slip away from the extremes toward the center. I think the kind of centrism you referred to is what I might call irrational centrism, which I consider to be a form of extremism.

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