Sunday, October 21, 2018

Defining Neutrality

"First, let’s define neutrality.
Here’s the basic idea: if you’re neutral, you don’t take a position. You present all sides fairly and let your reader decide which is correct.
A disputed topic is treated neutrally if each viewpoint about it is not asserted but rather presented as sympathetically as possible, bearing in mind that other, competing views must be represented as well, and with an equitable amount of space being allotted to each, whatever that might be.
On this account, neutrality is a concept dealing specifically with disputed topics, and it has three basic requirements.
First, if an issue that is mentioned in the text is disputed, the text takes no position on the issue. Neutrality is not some midpoint in between competing options. A political moderate’s positions are not “the neutral positions”: they are positions as well. Neutral writing takes no position, left, right, or middle.
Second, there’s the requirement of tone, or the strength of the case made for a viewpoint. Basically, if you’re going to be neutral, you have to represent all the main views about the topic, and you have to represent them all sympathetically, i.e., according to their best, most convincing arguments, evidence, and representatives.
Third, there’s the question of how much space it is fair or equitable to spend in a text on the different sides. Prima facie, it would seem that spending a numerically equal amount of space on both (or all) sides is fair, but it doesn’t always work out that way. 
Basically, to write neutrally is to lay out all sides of any disputed question, without asserting, implying, or insinuating that any one side is correct. If a debated point is mentioned, you represent the state of the debate rather than taking a stand.....”