Sunday, May 08, 2005

Why it is Right to Minimize Coercion in all Spheres of Life

Thanks so much to the person who made a number of extremely pertinent points yesterday. (I am quite staggered and intensely pleased with ourselves that we managed this and all the other conversations btw!)

Anyway, this person pointed out that I cannot really accuse conservative thinkers of unexplained inconsistencies, when one of my previous explanations of the theories of Taking Children Seriously ( may appear to contain similar inconsistencies. She, btw, does espouse the theories of TCS, and does think the problem soluble with regard to TCS, but not conservative thought.

She was referring to the matter of whether one views coercion as a result of outside forces or an event that is subject to will. She says, rightly, that I cannot accuse conservative theorists of inconsistencies (when they see it as meet and right to minimise the power and presence of the state because of it's capacity to coerce, but then fail to deal with coercion that presents itself in civil society and the family, presumably because they believe that children must necessarily learn, and have the capacity to cope with, coercion by experiencing it often extensively), when I stated that TCSers think that adults are forever self-coercive, whereas children necessarily need to be protected from adult coercion because they cannot be held responsible for experiencing coercion at the hands of those more powerful than themselves.

"Hmmm...yes, I see your point", I said. There is a parallel inconsistency there. I accused conservative thinkers of believing people both incapable and yet also capable of dealing with outside coercion, and yet within a TCS framework, I also have accused people of being capable and yet also incapable of dealing with the very same thing. So how does this pan out?

Whilst our state of mind is forever created entirely by ourselves, it may be the case that we simply have not built up a sufficient number of background theories that will make it possible to turn unpleasant experiences to positive effect? This will apply to adults as well as children, (I concede).

So conservative (and many so-called libertarian) thinkers are inconsistent in attempting to abolish the power of the state but failing to address coercion in civil society and the family because a lack of substantive protective theories may well mean that people become stuck in the state of coercion. In fact this is highly likely because coercion inhibits the power to think, since it means being forced to enact a theory that is not active in the mind and is therefore not subject to rational criticism or creative thought. Becoming stuck in the coerced state is therefore a probable evolutionary outcome.

TCSers are, by this argument, right to attempt to minimise the experience of the coerced state by their children and themselves...(common preferences) from all possible sources of coercion, since not only do children (and their parents) learn in an optimal way when the attempt to force theories upon them is not present; but also, in providing examples of how to go about minimising coercion in all spheres of life, people can be helped to see the value of problem solving and may even develop sophisticated and imaginative ways of dealing with such problems in the course of which they will be able to build rational theories about how to protect themselves against coercion that they will inevitably encounter.

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