Put another way, can you have a well informed opinion about something you haven't experienced? For example, can someone who has not been in the Marines have a well informed opinion about how Marines should behave in war? Can someone who has not been President of the US have a well informed opinion about how the President should develop and support policy? Can someone who has never had an abortion have a well informed opinion about what women who do not want children should do when they become pregnant?
In another thread, this question and variations of it have been debated for a while now and I think the topic deserves its own space because its implications go far beyond the subject of matter being handled there.
In regards to the question, I've always believed that while one cannot understand the totality of what another individual or group experiences, one can certainly educate oneself enough to develop a well informed opinion about actions, people and institutions that one has never directly encountered. Many psychiatrists are not mentally ill and yet they can certainly have well-informed opinions about mental illness. Many political scientists have never been diplomats and yet they can certainly have well-informed opinions about foreign policy.
What do you think? Should everyone just "shut their mouths" about things that they have not directly experienced?
*Shut your mouths is a quote from Allen West posted in the previous thread that resonated with those of the opposing opinion which is why I used it.