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As I have read the dialogue for this question posed by Henrik Erlandsson, and did not see a word that encompassed his desired search, though many tried, I wish to ask again, since it has been 10 years since it was first posed. Perhaps? Perhaps not? This may be more of an update question.

I am looking for a word or very short phrase that could be used to describe a person who is "on the fence". But not that phrase, as that phrase is incomplete, for my purposes.

I am trying to describe one who is taking neither side, for the purpose is not to debate right or wrong. The purpose is to see with clarity, both sides of an issue or an argument, without emotion. Without emotion is key, as no person can see clearly when emotions are triggered. And subsequently, rational solutions cannot be offered or suggested.

Without the capability to see both the pros and cons from both sides (or multisides), there can be no resolution. I think being "on the fence" provides a pretty good perspective in the middle, and an ability to listen and to be more rational, and to have an understanding of differing perspectives. All conducive to coming up with a plausible solution.

Thank you.

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  • Objective: not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased. Dictionary.com
    – user 66974
    Jan 16 at 20:39
  • Thank you Mari-Lou! I use this word often and as you suggest. It's a good word, but I will perhaps need to create my own synthesis of all these good strong suggestions into a sentence phrase. I very much appreciate this! Thank you.
    – Lady
    Jan 17 at 16:19
  • In addition to impartial, you can also say neutral. Jan 18 at 4:44

3 Answers 3

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This isn't really a saying, but a 'balanced view' of an argument might suggest that you can see either side of it. 'On the fence' has the connotation of being conflicted, or wanting to pick one option or another but being unable to.

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  • Thank you. This helps. Narrows it down for sure! I appreciate this.
    – Lady
    Jan 17 at 16:10
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I am trying to describe one who is taking neither side, for the purpose is not to debate right or wrong. The purpose is to see with clarity, both sides of an issue or an argument, without emotion.

impartial (adj.)

Treating all rivals or disputants equally; fair and just.

independent and impartial advice

And so these are two different visions of how you want to select a fair and impartial jury in a case. Lexico

Someone who is impartial is not directly involved in a particular situation, and is therefore able to give a fair opinion or decision about it.

Career counselors offer impartial advice, guidance and information to all pupils. Collins


John Rawls argues that emotional feelings should have no place in public deliberation, where impartial, neutral reason should prevail (1993). Liz Jackson; Beyond Virtue (2020)

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  • "Impartial", good! I agree with the John Rawls argument from Liz Jackson you presented about keeping "emotional feelings" out of it. I am going to keep these and the other suggestions about me as I move forward. Thank you!
    – Lady
    Jan 17 at 16:16
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“On the fence” means to be undecided, to have chosen neither side. To me it implies that one is in the active stage of making a decision, and will decide between one side or the other.

Some words that suggest an ability to see both sides of an argument or question fairly:

impartial

treating all rivals or disputants equally; fair and just."independent and impartial advice"

unbiased

showing no prejudice for or against something; impartial. "his assessment of the benefits and drawbacks was unbiased"

dispassionate

not influenced by strong emotion, and so able to be rational and impartial. "she dealt with life's disasters in a calm, dispassionate way"

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  • I like this too! I appreciate all your input on this as it is what I was needing. A fresh perspective as I have agonized over describing this better for many years.
    – Lady
    Jan 17 at 16:12
  • I want to somehow impart that I am choosing to "remain on the fence" for the purpose of seeing and experiencing each side of that fence. Because ultimately, there is no clear completely right/completely wrong side to that fence. The idea is to be aware of the culture, the experience, the knowledge, and any facts, without judgement, and to be respectful of those things before reacting and jumping to conclusions. In that mode, you can be impartial.
    – Lady
    Jan 17 at 16:26

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