Note to self: Find examples of scholars using “I” statements / personal opinions well — supporting them with evidence, not using them, as many students do, as a way of saying, “I don’t have evidence, but it’s actually okay if I make this assertions because I believe it, because it’s my opinion,” or as a way of betraying the fact that “I actually don’t have any evidence for this assertion (my opinion) and/or I haven’t thought it through enough to develop my thought for my reader, so I’ll just state it as opinion because opinions shouldn’t be questioned.”
Here’s one possible example. From Ronald Thiemann’s “Public Religion: Bane or Blessing for Democracy?”
I am in complete agreement with Justice O’Connor. Whatever the merits of the Court’s finding regarding the separation of powers, the substantitive question of the meaning and application of the Free Exercise Clause remins the primary issue. Two cases decided in the last decade demonstrate the Court’s increasing tendency to restrict the free exercise of religion, particularly of minority religious traditions…. (81)
Need to collect a bunch of examples, though.
I had this little breakthrough in reading my students’ argument papers earlier this month– how students start to throw in “I” statements when their argument or support is weakening. They throw in the “I” statements in an attempt to shore up some of the sandy areas of their argument. I wish I had a specific example. I’ll try to add one later.
I tried to convey to my students that there was nothing wrong with using “I” (except in fields, like psychology that exclude it), that it was just that every assertion needed to be back up with evidence. But I obviously didn’t teach that point clearly enough.