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Thomas Paine

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You will do me the justice to remember, that I have always strenuously supported the Right of every Man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.

Thomas Paine

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The 'public' is a phantom, the phantom of an opinion supposed to exist in a vast number of persons who have no effective interrelation and though the opinion is not effectively present in the units. Such an opinion is spoken of as 'public opinion,' a fiction which is appealed to by individuals and by groups as supporting their special views. It is impalpable, illusory, transient; "'tis here, 'tis there, 'tis gone"; a nullity which can nevertheless for a moment endow the multitude with power to uplift or destroy.

Karl Jaspers

As to War I can only say that my opinion is clearly that it will not be. I can tell you my reasons for this opinion in two sentences. 1st. I am sure that Bonaparte will do everything that he can to avoid it. 2nd. that, low as my opinion is of our Ministry, I cannot believe them quite so foolish as to force him to it, without one motive either of ambition or interest to incite them.

Charles James Fox

We set up government by consent of the governed, and the Bill of Rights denies those in power any legal opportunity to coerce that consent. Authority here is to be controlled by public opinion, not public opinion by authority.

Robert H. Jackson

If you reject absolutely any single sensation without stopping to discriminate with respect to that which awaits confirmation between matter of opinion and that which is already present, whether in sensation or in feelings or in any immediate perception of the mind, you will throw into confusion even the rest of your sensations by your groundless belief and so you will be rejecting the standard of truth altogether. If in your ideas based upon opinion you hastily affirm as true all that awaits confirmation as well as that which does not, you will not escape error, as you will be maintaining complete ambiguity whenever it is a case of judging between right and wrong opinion. (24)


Man gives indifferent names to one and the same thing from the difference of their own passions; as they that approve a private opinion call it opinion; but they that mislike it, heresy: and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion.

Thomas Hobbes
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