Here’s some good advice from Anthony Lusvardi, SJ, writing on the the Whosoever Desires blog:
Stay away from motives. If you find yourself attacking somebody’s motives, you are almost certainly violating Annotation 22.
Attributing presumed motives to others shifts the discussion away from the issue and onto the person—and thus shifts it away from the question of truth as well. Moreover, attributing motives to others always strikes a false note for me because knowing someone’s motives requires knowing their internal psychological states, a rather dubious proposition.
He’s commenting on St. Ignatius’s Annotation 22 in the Spiritual Exercises, which is about civility in discussion:
- It is necessary to suppose that every good Christian is more ready to put a good interpretation on another’s statement than to condemn it as false. If an orthodox construction cannot be put on a proposition, the one who made it should be asked how he understands it. If he is in error, he should be corrected with all kindness.