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I’ve noticed there are some traits that one would ideally like in an thinker that are easier to notice if you disagree with them. For example, when authors I disagree with describe viewpoints I hold, some of them correctly describe what I believe, while others’ descriptions are so distorted that it’s like looking through a funhouse mirror. Some authors seem to have compassion for people different from them, while others loathe them or write about them like we’re a zoo exhibit. Some authors lay out the best evidence against their case, while others hide things that might prove them wrong.

I try to pay attention to those traits whether or not I agree with the author, of course. But it’s much easier to notice when viewpoints you personally hold are being misrepresented or groups you’re part of are hated. So I thought I’d create an open thread where people can share authors they disagree with that they respect– authors who avoid strawmanning and have compassion for the outgroup– so that people who agree with those authors know who to check out.

I don’t know the political leanings of every person who comments on Thing of Things, so I can’t enforce this, but I’d like to ask people to list people they personally disagree with whom they respect, and not people they agree with whom they think other people would totally respect if they gave them a chance. To the extent possible, please list people you disagree with substantially about important issues, not people you mostly agree with but have a small handful of minor disagreements with.

When the comment thread has died down, I’ll make a top-level post with people’s answers.

Here’s my list, to get you started:

  • Mark Yarhouse (evangelical Christian whose work focuses on LGBTQ people; consistently thoughtful and compassionate)
  • Catharine MacKinnon (radical feminist; wrote one of the best definitions of liberal feminism I’ve ever read)
  • Melinda Selmys (Anglican, lesbian married to a man)
  • David Friedman (anarchocapitalist; erudite, intelligent, obviously passionately concerned about the poor, and very funny)
  • Barbara Ehrenreich (socialist feminist)

Moderation notes: I’d like this to be a thread where people can share names, not a thread of political arguments. You can feel free to ask questions, but arguments about other people’s beliefs are not appropriate for this thread. “How could you say X is compassionate and intellectually honest, they believe Y!” will be deleted without mercy.

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