Don't like it, don't do it

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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 control their autonomy. It is employed for a wide variety of behaviors, and, although it can be useful, it is frequently used inconsistently and often fails to be persuasive.

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 trying to control someone else's autonomy, not because it would help society, but simply because of their personal preference, and a society couldn't function if the law of the land were based on a single person's preferences. 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 another nation from producing them, and nuclear bombs have a severe impact on the lives of a vast number of people.

Measured Impact

The impact a particular behavior has on others is often very difficult to measure. When governments push more environmentally friendly products, arguing against switching to efficient light bulbs by saying, "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 burn less fuel, which generates less pollution, and pollution has a negative impact on many people's lives. However, such an indirect impact is difficult to gauge.

Comparatively, most people are fine with the idea of restricting the burning of tires in their neighborhood and would not accept, "if you don't like burning tires, don't do it," as a persuasive argument.

In both cases, the argument focuses on pollution, but it's much easier to measure the impact on others when black smoke is filling their neighbor's living room.

Perceived Impact

For some behaviors, regardless of whether the impact is easily measured, people 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 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, so it's subject to her bodily autonomy. To these people, the decision to have an abortion is similar to the decision remove a skin tag or mole, and most people would not appreciate someone else interfering with that decision.

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 saying, "we don't need a law making murder a crime, if you don't like murder, don't murder people," which, obviously, isn't a very convincing argument.

Making It Persuasive

The point of argument is to try and persuade the other party into agreeing with your point of view. If the other party doesn't accept the measured impact, or doesn't share your perceived impact, this argument will not be persuasive.