Friday, June 22, 2012

Invitational Ethics #4

In the previous video I showed that coercive ethics is a religion, in support of my argument that the framework is structurally defective. In this video I'll conclude that argument with two examples of the shockingly high ethical tolls society must pay to the framework, and I'll move on to begin describing the aforementioned alternative.
Coercive ethics calls for punishment of the guilty, but punishment raises the stakes of due process and crime prevention to astronomical heights. The first high toll has to do with false convictions.
Some people are of the opinion that it's better to convict one innocent person rather than let a hundred guilty go free. Others say it's better to free a hundred who are guilty rather than convict one innocent person. I say we would stop having nightmares about faustian bargains if the stakes weren't so high. Although fear of punishment has some merit as a means of maintaining social order, its use comes with ridiculous ethical costs. If we wrongly send an innocent man to prison, we have done one of the worst possible things we can do as a society, not only unfairly restricting his physical movements, but putting him in a place that will scar him and his family for the rest of their lives. Even if we continued the institution of imprisonment, if we were simply more humane in our treatment of convicted criminals, then errors in the justice system would not carry such terrible weight. If we found ways of preventing crime that are more effective than imprisonment, then many terrible miscarriages of justice could be reduced to the status of minor annoyances.
The second high toll has to do with crime prevention. There are numerous safeguards built into our justice system to prevent law enforcement arresting you before you've committed a crime, even if there are pretty good reasons to believe you will commit the crime. We need such safeguards to prevent government from making arbitrary arrests. It would be great if we had some way to detect pedophiles and prevent their crimes with preemptive arrests, but we can't, and real children experience real suffering because of it.
If punishment weren't the only option, we might see things differently. Say, if you fit the profile of a high-risk pedophile, then we do something about you, but it doesn't involve prison. Maybe some special requirements concerning working with children. Or if you're especially risky, disallowing you from working with children at all. Or if you are the type who grabs kids at random on the street, we might have to find a special place for you. But if you were treated humanely, not entirely cut off from society, and enabled to live the most fulfilled life you can within constraints we place on you only very reluctantly, then the stakes of crime prevention would be tremendously reduced, along with the need to fear government.
Coercive ethics is a harmful religion rooted in false concepts. I propose an alternative. So far, I've been calling this alternative invitational ethics, using the word invitational as an antonym for coercive. It's a very simple idea, but it's somewhat of a departure from common sense, so it tends to confuse people at first. To prepare you for the idea, I'll first tell you some of the things that it is not.
My use of the word invitational, along with my criticisms of coercive ethics, has caused some people to think that I'm proposing a world where no one is ever coerced in any way. This is not the case. Coercion will always be necessary in some cases. We still have to confiscate scissors from children who aren't yet developmentally ready for scissors, and we still have to protect children from pedophiles. Instead of invitational ethics, you might say non-coercive or even a-coercive ethics. What I propose here is not so much a new thing, but the removal of an old thing so we can see more clearly.
While my use of the word invitational has caused some to think I'm proposing that extreme idea, my use of the word ethics seems to have caused some to think that I've simply invented a new way of moralizing, of identifying and correcting undesirable behavior, of identifying and applying disincentives to evil people, of arbitrating power struggles—generally, a new way of coercing. That is not what I'm proposing. Rather, I propose that we do away entirely with all moral theories, and engage in coercive behavior only when we must do so in order to stop Person A infringing on Person B's utmost well-being and happiness. Instead of invitational ethics, you might call it coercion-last ethics. Our existing framework makes liberal use of coercion, while under the invitational framework, coercion would be among our last choices when seeking ways to reduce undesirable behaviors.
It seems that most everyone throughout history has concluded that the only way for an ethical system to work is to get everyone to adopt it and make vigorous efforts at adherence. Many people with this notion have attempted to impose their ethical system on everyone. A few of those people over the course of history have actually gained power and imposed their will, to the detriment of all of us. Invitational ethics will be of no use to any megalomaniac, as it makes no moral prescriptions, dictates no set of rules. There is no personal code of conduct to adopt and strenuously adhere to, or to coerce others into adhering to. There is nothing to impose on anyone.
Invitational ethics is not some new psycho-babble generator that enables me to dismiss everyone else by explaining that you all have issues while I do not. It is also not a new way of organizing various “sins” against the framework into categories. There are no sins to categorize.
That's #4. Thanks for watching.

No comments:

Post a Comment