Opinion  

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"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." --Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In general, an opinion is a judgment, viewpoint, or statement about matters commonly considered to be subjective, i.e. based on that which is less than absolutely certain, and is the result of emotion or interpretation of facts. What distinguishes fact from opinion is that facts are verifiable, i.e. can be objectively proven to have occured. An example is: "America was involved in the Vietnam War" versus "America was right to get involved in the Vietnam War". An opinion may be supported by facts, in which case it becomes an argument, although people may draw opposing opinions from the same set of facts. Opinions rarely change without new arguments being presented. It can be reasoned that one opinion is better supported by the facts than another by analyzing the supporting arguments. In casual use, the term opinion may be the result of a person's perspective, understanding, particular feelings, beliefs, and desires. It may refer to unsubstantiated information, in contrast to knowledge and fact-based beliefs.

Collective or professional opinions are defined as meeting a higher standard to substantiate the opinion. (see below)

Contents

Etymology

Middle English opinion, opinioun, from Anglo-Norman and Middle French opinion, from Latin opinio, from opinor (“to opine”).

Epistemology

In economics, other social sciences and philosophy, analysis of social phenomena based on one's own opinion(s) is referred to as normative analysis (what ought to be), as opposed to positive analysis, which is based on scientific observation (what materially is or is empirically demonstrable).

Historically, the distinction of demonstrated knowledge and opinion was articulated by Ancient Greek philosophers. Today, Plato's analogy of the divided line is a well-known illustration of the distinction between knowledge and opinion, or knowledge and belief, in customary terminology of contemporary philosophy. Opinions can be persuasive, but only the assertions they are based on can be said to be true or false.

Collective and professional opinions

Public opinion

In contemporary usage, public opinion is the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs held by a population (e.g., a city, state, or country), while consumer opinion is the similar aggregate collected as part of marketing research (e.g., opinions of users of a particular product or service). Typically, because the process of gathering opinions from all individuals are difficult, expensive, or impossible to obtain, public opinion (or consumer opinion) is estimated using survey sampling (e.g., with a representative sample of a population).

Group opinion

In some social sciences, especially political science and psychology, group opinion refers to the aggregation of opinions collected from group of subjects, such as members of a jury, legislature, committee, or other collective decision-making body. In these situations, researchers are often interested in questions related to social choice, conformity, and group polarization.

Scientific opinion

A "scientific opinion" is the general opinion of a professional scientific body gained through extensive research with a reproducible, unbiased conclusion soundly based upon the facts derived from the experiment. A scientific opinion which represents the formally-agreed consensus of a scientific body or establishment, often takes the form of a published position paper citing the research producing the scientific evidence upon which the opinion is based. "The scientific opinion" (or scientific consensus) can be compared to "the public opinion" and generally refers to the collection of the opinions of many different scientific organizations and entities and individual scientists in the relevant field.

Legal opinion

A "legal opinion" or "closing opinion" is a type of professional opinion, usually contained in a formal legal-opinion letter, given by an attorney to a client or a third party. Most legal opinions are given in connection with business transactions. The opinion expresses the attorney's professional judgment regarding the legal matters addressed. A legal opinion is not a guarantee that a court will reach any particular result. However, a mistaken or incomplete legal opinion may be grounds for a professional malpractice claim against the attorney, pursuant to which the attorney may be required to pay the claimant damages incurred as a result of relying on the faulty opinion.

Judicial opinion

A "judicial opinion" or "opinion of the court" is an opinion of a judge or group of judges that accompanies and explains an order or ruling in a controversy before the court, laying out the rationale and legal principles the court relied on in reaching its decision. Judges in the United States are usually required to provide a well-reasoned basis for their decisions and the contents of their judicial opinions may contain the grounds for appealing and reversing of their decision by a higher court.

Editorial opinion

An "editorial opinion" is the stated opinion of a newspaper or of its publisher, as conveyed on the editorial page.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Opinion" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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