Difference between revisions of "Don't like it, don't do it"

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(Created page with "'''If you don't like it, don't do it''' is a form of argument used with the goal of dissuading people from trying to controlling their autonomy. It is employed for a wide vari...")
 
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'''If you don't like it, don't do it''' is a form of argument used with the goal of dissuading people from trying to controlling their autonomy. It is employed for a wide variety of behaviors, and, although it can be useful, it is frequently used inconsistently and rarely has the desired effect.
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[[Image:Don't like it, don't do it.png|thumb|256x256px|Examples of the argument; some are more rational than others.]]
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'''Don't like it, don't do it''' is a form of argument used with the goal of dissuading people from trying to control an individual's [[Wikipedia:Bodily integrity|autonomy]]. This argument is pithy, but it implies a longer argument which could be worded as, "you shouldn't try to prevent other people from doing a particular behavior just because you don't like it, but you're free to stop doing it yourself." Such an argument is employed for a wide variety of behaviors, and, while it can be a useful, it is frequently used inconsistently and fails to be persuasive.
  
 
==Impact On Others==
 
==Impact On Others==
The merit of this argument seems to be based on how much impact the behavior in question has on other people. If the behavior has a minimal impact on others, the argument is rational, but, if the impact on others is severe, the argument is irrational. For example, if a fashion critic says people shouldn't be allowed to wear clogs, the argument, "if you don't like clogs, don't wear clogs," is rational because a person's footwear has practically no impact on others. The fashion critic is requesting a ban on autonomy not because it helps society, but simply because of their personal preference. However, "if you don't like nuclear bombs, don't make nuclear bombs," is a poor argument against nuclear proliferation. One nation's refusal to produce nuclear bombs will not prevent other nation's from producing them, and nuclear bombs have a severe impact on the lives of a vast number of people.
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Because this argument is framed around individual rights, its merit is based on how much impact the behavior in question has on the rights of others. For those behaviors that have a minimal impact on others, this argument is rational, but, if the impact on others is severe, this argument fails.
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If a fashion critic argues that people shouldn't be allowed to wear clogs, the critic is trying to control someone else's behavior, not because the clog-wearer is impacting the critic's autonomy, but merely as a personal preference. In this case, responding with the argument, "don't like clogs, don't wear them," is rational. Banning behavior based on personal preference is not conducive to a society where all people have bodily autonomy.
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Compare this to a behavior that has a severe impact on other people's autonomy: murder. If people want to ban murder, the argument, "don't like murder, don't murder people," is not rational because you cannot have a society where all people have bodily autonomy and at the same time allow murder. In such a society, murder must be a criminal act.
  
 
==Measured Impact==
 
==Measured Impact==
The impact a particular behavior has on others is often very difficult to measure. When governments push more environmentally friendly products, the argument "if you don't like incandescent light bulbs, don't buy them," could go either way. LED bulbs use less energy, allowing power plants to use less fuel, which generates less pollution, and pollution has a negative impact on many people's lives. However, this is an indirect impact that is difficult to gauge.
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The impact a particular behavior has on others is often difficult to measure; consider the argument, "don't like cigarettes, don't smoke them." If people are to have bodily autonomy, those who want to ingest harmful chemicals must be allowed to do so, but, the flip side is, those who do not want to ingest harmful chemical must also be allowed to not do so. Smoking doesn't just affect the smoker, it also has a harmful impact on everyone around the smoker, and we now know that cancer and other diseases occur in much higher rates in those people who are frequently around smokers. Because of this, many people now feel justified in banning smoking in public places or in private places around children, though they are fine when people smoker by themselves or around other smokers.
  
Comparatively, most people are fine with the idea of not letting people in their neighborhood burn a huge pile of tires in their backyard, and would not accept, "if you don't like burning tires, don't do it," as a persuasive argument.
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Most behaviors have at least some impact on other people, so, the question becomes, how much of an impact on others will a society allow before the behavior should be restricted or banned? Incandescent light bulbs use more energy than LED bulbs, so power plants have to burn more fuel, which generates more pollution, and pollution has a harmful impact on people's lives. But how much pollution is too much? Is the argument "don't like incandescent light bulbs, don't use them," rational? If researchers discovered the amount of pollution incandescent light bulbs generate decreased the average lifespan by one day, are we justified in banning them? What about one month, or one year? Any place where a line is drawn [[Gradient paradox|will be arbitrary]], but it's up to a society to make that determination.
  
In both cases, the argument focuses on pollution, but the one where black smoke is filling your living room is much easier to measure.
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==Perceived Impact==
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Because it is often so difficult to measure the actual impact a behavior has on other people, people often perceive the impact differently. Those people who defend [[abortion]] with the argument, "if you don't like abortion, don't have one," have a much different perceived impact on others than the people who want abortion to be a crime. Someone who wants abortion to be legal perceives a developing fetus as part of a woman's own body; there is no impact on anyone else. To these people, the decision to have an abortion is similar to the decision have a mole removed from your skin, and the argument, "don't like the removal of moles, don't get yours removed," is perfectly rational.
  
==Perceived Impact==
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However, someone who wants abortion to be illegal perceives a fetus as an independent human being with the same right to life as any other person. To them, abortion murders an innocent human being; the ultimate impact one person can have on another. When someone who thinks abortion is a crime hears this argument, they perceive it as, "don't like murder, don't murder anyone," which, as I described above, isn't rational at all.
For some behaviors, regardless of whether the impact is easily measured, people perceive the impact differently. The people who make the argument, "if you don't like abortion, don't have one," have a much different perceived impact than a person who wants to ban abortion. Someone who is pro-choice perceives a developing fetus as part of their own body, and, therefore, subject to their own bodily autonomy. To them, the decision to have an abortion is similar to the decision to have their appendix removed, and most people would not acknowledge someone else's authority over their own appendix.
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==Making This Argument Persuasive==
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The point of any argument is to try and persuade someone to agree with your position. In general, if you know they won't find an argument persuasive, it's best to either not use it, or first figure out which prerequisite arguments are needed to make it persuasive.
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When it comes to the "don't like it, don't do it" argument, the other person will not find it persuasive if they disagree on where we should draw the line on a measurable impact, or if they don't share your perceived impact. Of course, it is unlikely you will know what their position is on these matters until you ask them.
  
However, someone who is against abortion perceives a fetus as an independent human being who has the same right to life as any other person. To them, an abortion is the killing of an innocent human being, and, therefore, murder. It is the ultimate impact a person can have on another person.
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If you discover that they don't agree with where you would draw the line on a measurable impact, or perceive the impact differently, you should first try to argue why the line should be drawn where you think it should be, or, why your perception of the impact is more accurate. Only after you can come to some form of agreement on these matter should you use this argument.
  
  
 
[[Category: Debate]]
 
[[Category: Debate]]
 
[[Category: Politics]]
 
[[Category: Politics]]

Latest revision as of 16:51, 6 December 2019

Examples of the argument; some are more rational than others.

Don't like it, don't do it is a form of argument used with the goal of dissuading people from trying to control an individual's autonomy. This argument is pithy, but it implies a longer argument which could be worded as, "you shouldn't try to prevent other people from doing a particular behavior just because you don't like it, but you're free to stop doing it yourself." Such an argument is employed for a wide variety of behaviors, and, while it can be a useful, it is frequently used inconsistently and fails to be persuasive.

Impact On Others

Because this argument is framed around individual rights, its merit is based on how much impact the behavior in question has on the rights of others. For those behaviors that have a minimal impact on others, this argument is rational, but, if the impact on others is severe, this argument fails.

If a fashion critic argues that people shouldn't be allowed to wear clogs, the critic is trying to control someone else's behavior, not because the clog-wearer is impacting the critic's autonomy, but merely as a personal preference. In this case, responding with the argument, "don't like clogs, don't wear them," is rational. Banning behavior based on personal preference is not conducive to a society where all people have bodily autonomy.

Compare this to a behavior that has a severe impact on other people's autonomy: murder. If people want to ban murder, the argument, "don't like murder, don't murder people," is not rational because you cannot have a society where all people have bodily autonomy and at the same time allow murder. In such a society, murder must be a criminal act.

Measured Impact

The impact a particular behavior has on others is often difficult to measure; consider the argument, "don't like cigarettes, don't smoke them." If people are to have bodily autonomy, those who want to ingest harmful chemicals must be allowed to do so, but, the flip side is, those who do not want to ingest harmful chemical must also be allowed to not do so. Smoking doesn't just affect the smoker, it also has a harmful impact on everyone around the smoker, and we now know that cancer and other diseases occur in much higher rates in those people who are frequently around smokers. Because of this, many people now feel justified in banning smoking in public places or in private places around children, though they are fine when people smoker by themselves or around other smokers.

Most behaviors have at least some impact on other people, so, the question becomes, how much of an impact on others will a society allow before the behavior should be restricted or banned? Incandescent light bulbs use more energy than LED bulbs, so power plants have to burn more fuel, which generates more pollution, and pollution has a harmful impact on people's lives. But how much pollution is too much? Is the argument "don't like incandescent light bulbs, don't use them," rational? If researchers discovered the amount of pollution incandescent light bulbs generate decreased the average lifespan by one day, are we justified in banning them? What about one month, or one year? Any place where a line is drawn will be arbitrary, but it's up to a society to make that determination.

Perceived Impact

Because it is often so difficult to measure the actual impact a behavior has on other people, people often perceive the impact differently. Those people who defend abortion with the argument, "if you don't like abortion, don't have one," have a much different perceived impact on others than the people who want abortion to be a crime. Someone who wants abortion to be legal perceives a developing fetus as part of a woman's own body; there is no impact on anyone else. To these people, the decision to have an abortion is similar to the decision have a mole removed from your skin, and the argument, "don't like the removal of moles, don't get yours removed," is perfectly rational.

However, someone who wants abortion to be illegal perceives a fetus as an independent human being with the same right to life as any other person. To them, abortion murders an innocent human being; the ultimate impact one person can have on another. When someone who thinks abortion is a crime hears this argument, they perceive it as, "don't like murder, don't murder anyone," which, as I described above, isn't rational at all.

Making This Argument Persuasive

The point of any argument is to try and persuade someone to agree with your position. In general, if you know they won't find an argument persuasive, it's best to either not use it, or first figure out which prerequisite arguments are needed to make it persuasive.

When it comes to the "don't like it, don't do it" argument, the other person will not find it persuasive if they disagree on where we should draw the line on a measurable impact, or if they don't share your perceived impact. Of course, it is unlikely you will know what their position is on these matters until you ask them.

If you discover that they don't agree with where you would draw the line on a measurable impact, or perceive the impact differently, you should first try to argue why the line should be drawn where you think it should be, or, why your perception of the impact is more accurate. Only after you can come to some form of agreement on these matter should you use this argument.