Posted by: Calvin | September 21, 2008

Are you judging me or is that just your opinion?

I read a post this week that got me thinking about the difference between judging someone and having an opinion about them or their behavior.  Is there a difference?   Do you have an opinion?

Here are the definitions for opinion and judgment from dictionary.com:

opinion  n.  
  1. A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof: “The world is not run by thought, nor by imagination, but by opinion” (Elizabeth Drew).
  2. A judgment based on special knowledge and given by an expert: a medical opinion.
  3. A judgment or estimation of the merit of a person or thing: has a low opinion of braggarts.
  4. The prevailing view: public opinion.
  5. Law A formal statement by a court or other adjudicative body of the legal reasons and principles for the conclusions of the court.

opinion. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/opinion (accessed: September 18, 2008).

 judg·ment also judge·ment n.  
  1. The act or process of judging; the formation of an opinion after consideration or deliberation.
    1. The mental ability to perceive and distinguish relationships; discernment: Fatigue may affect a pilot’s judgment of distances.
    2. The capacity to form an opinion by distinguishing and evaluating: His judgment of fine music is impeccable.
    3. The capacity to assess situations or circumstances and draw sound conclusions; good sense: She showed good judgment in saving her money. See Synonyms at reason.
    4. A determination of a court of law; a judicial decision.
    5. A court act creating or affirming an obligation, such as a debt.
    6. A writ in witness of such an act.
  2. An opinion or estimate formed after consideration or deliberation, especially a formal or authoritative decision: awaited the judgment of the umpire.
  3. Law
    1. A determination of a court of law; a judicial decision.
    2. A court act creating or affirming an obligation, such as a debt.
    3. A writ in witness of such an act.
  4. An assertion of something believed.
  5. A misfortune believed to be sent by God as punishment for sin.
  6. JudgmentThe Last Judgment.

judgment. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/judgment (accessed: September 18, 2008).

It seems in our society, you are allowed to have an opinion about someone, but you can not judge them.  So there must be a difference at least in practice.  Is it that positive opinions are okay, but negative opinions are judgments?  I can see a difference where the opinion is coupled with a persecuting action, but can a person have an negative opinon about someone without judging them?

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Responses

  1. For me, there’s a difference between opinion and judgment. With judgment there’s a connotation of accusation/judgment/sentence. Opinion seems a bit more diplomatic – like you said, judgments are almost always seen negatively, and I think that’s true. But I also think whether or not a person feels judged is up to that person (unless you’re, you know, facing an actual judge) in that one person can judge all they want to , and the other can choose to either take it personally or let the other person own it and chalk it up to opinion. Does that make sense? In other words, outside of a courtroom or the gates of heaven, judgment is what the recipient chooses to make of it. But that’s just my opinion. 🙂

  2. I guess the technically, the difference is relative to the amount of knowledge you have on the subject of which you have the negative opinion.

    If you had complete knowledge, then there is no difference.

    But who judges that…ARRRGHHH!


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