It may be easy to make the mistake that a majority perspective is the correct one.

I recall a conversation where an evangelical Christian was making an appeal to faith, saying Christianity has millions of members, why is it that there are so many?

An answer such as because they’re stupid is still an acceptable possibility, it entails nothing of the truth of the matter what a majority believes.

A similar worry is voiced by Appiah on an article on the x-phi movement. Studies that quantify the opinions of what people think about moral situations do not really settle the truth of the matter, or what is actually morally relevant. Quantifying what people think about moral situations and their moral calculus is an interesting empirical fact, from which we may derive interesting sociological observations, but what it adds takes a lot more explanation to reach the level of ought propositions.

Furthermore, if a majority deem someone to be the finest artist or best musician, it is really the test of time as to whether they are an ephemeral and temporamous popularity, or if their appeal has anything that is close to universality.


One thought on “views-by-numbers

  1. I am always annoyed when marketing departments try to convince me to do something by observing I am not in the majority, such as when Harry Potter books were advertised with the slogan “400 million people can’t be wrong!” (or some such). But clearly, there is no limit to the number of people who can be wrong – there have been plenty of times in the history of our world where *everyone* has been significantly wrong about all sorts of thing.

    At least, assuming you can reach a sufficient basis for “truth” to make such an assertion, which is far from a given! 🙂

    I think the most pragmatic answer to the number of Christians in the world is that the major recent empires were European, and Europe was predominantly Christian. But this has nothing to do with assessing Christianity as a belief system, of course.

    I have always felt the appeal of G.H. Hardy’s line “It is not worth an intelligent man’s time to be in the majority. By definition, there are already enough people to do that.” So I suppose I have to explicate why I came back to representing as a Christian, and the strongest explanation I can offer is that if I want to influence Christianity it behooves me to admit the tremendous influence of this religion on my life. And, I suppose, as a person with five religions, I can scarcely claim to represent a majority. 🙂

    Anyway, just rambling.

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