Hippocratic Oath for the Pluralist
from Critical Understanding: the Powers and Limits of Pluralism
by Wayne Booth (1979)

i. I will publish nothing, favorable or unfavorable, about books or articles I have not read through at least once. (By “publish” I mean any writing or speaking that “makes public,” including term papers, theses, course lectures, and conference papers.)

ii. I will try to publish nothing about any book or article until I have understood it, which is to say, until I have reason to think that I can give an account of it that the author himself will recognize as just.

iii.I will take no critic’s word, when he discusses other critics, unless he can convince me that he has abided by the first two ordinances. I will assume, until a critic proves otherwise, that what he says against the playing style of other critics is useful, at best, as a clue to his own game. I will be almost as suspicious when he presents a “neutral” summary and even when he praises.

iv. I will not undertake any project that by its very nature requires me to violate Ordinances i–iii.

v. I will not judge my own inevitable violations of the first four ordinances more leniently than those I find in other critics.

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