Principle: One should criticize the works or actions of another person only if the criticism will not seriously harm ...

Maria on May 12, 2020

answer A

How are we supposed to know that when A says that it won't benefit anyone that means that it would in deed benefit Jarett?

Reply

Shunhe on May 13, 2020

Hi @Maria-Marin,

Thanks for the question! So the reason that (A) is correct isn’t because pointing out the benefits in the essay would benefit Jarrett. Let me walk through the problem really quickly. So we have this principle that tells us the following:

criticize another person —> criticism won’t seriously harm & does so in hope or expectation of benefitting someone other than oneself

Now we can take the contrapositive of this:

criticism does seriously harm v ~done in hope/expectation of benefitting someone other than oneself —> ~criticize another person

In other words, if the criticism does seriously harm the person criticized, or the criticism isn’t done in the hope/with the expectation of benefitting someone else, then you shouldn’t criticize that other person, according to this principle.

Now we have an argument that concludes that Jarrett shouldn’t have criticized Ostertag’s essay in front of the class. Why? Because the defects were so obvious that pointing them out benefited no one.

What are our conditions that tell us that you shouldn’t criticize someone else? Well, (1) if the person is harmed, or (2) if you do so without the hope/expectation of benefitting someone else. But notice that pointing out the defects benefitting no one and KNOWING that pointing out the defects would benefit no one are two different things. Maybe it’s the case that Jarrett didn’t know, and so still had the hope/expectation that pointing out the defects would benefit Ostertag. If we knew that Jarrett did know that pointing out the defects benefited no one, however, then Jarrett couldn’t have criticized in the hope/expectation of benefitting Ostertag, and that would mean he shouldn’t have criticized the essay. This is what (A) tells us. It ensures that Jarrett did know that the criticism would benefit no one, and so there’s no way he had the hope/expectation of benefitting Ostertag, and so he shouldn’t have criticized the essay.

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask any other questions that you might have.