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Re: [stoics] The parent-sage and the â? ~smoking â?T child [was : Smoking and Stoic acceptance

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  • Grant Sterling
    ... Quite true. ... Well, any action the parents take against Jenny may in fact lead to unintended (and dispreferred) consequences for the younger children,
    Message 1 of 339 , Aug 1, 2008
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      At 10:22 AM 8/1/2008, gich2 wrote:

      This is a massive can of worms which, I suppose, is largely off-topic, but the _reason_ for my previous comments was that role-duty Stoicism _demands_ that parents consider the well-being of _all_ their children when endeavouring to fulfill the role of a good parent. In the �Jenny� situation, any action the parents might undertake to

               Quite true.

      prevent the younger children being exposed to Jenny�s cigarette smoke might have totally unintended consequences for the younger children; e.g. in the current almost hysterical �child protection� environment in the UK, action against Jenny might result in the younger children being taken from the home and ending up �in care�. I know this is extreme but I�m trying to �hammer� the point home: any _action_ the parents might take against Jenny may also be _action against_ the younger children.

               Well, any action the parents take against Jenny may in fact
      lead to unintended (and dispreferred) consequences for the younger children,
      that's true. 

      I�ve pondered this case for quite some time and I can�t think of anything the parents can do, other than appeal to Jenny�s �better nature� and endeavour to get her to �see� the possible damage to the younger children; etc.

               I certainly agree that they should appeal to Jenny's better nature,
      regardless.  But if this fails, they must accept that doing nothing more
      than this _also_ risks harm to the younger children--both direct physical
      harm from the smoke, and indirect harm from being shown as an example
      that no matter what they want to do they'll be able to do it by simply openly
      defying their parents.

      The only thing they can physically do, it seems to me, is to separate the family and remove the younger children from contact with Jenny; but even this might be construed as �cruelty� to Jenny (?), and the family dislocation this would cause might also have unintended consequences for the younger children ... which brings me back to my comments when I introduced the topic: the parents, including sage-parents, seem to be impotent and must just accept the situation and hope that Jenny, eventually, of her own volition, changes her behaviour. Therefore, in the Jenny case, it seems that the �best� overall decision the parents can make is to do absolutely nothing.

               It is possible that this is the best decision, though I think it unlikely.
      Accepting outright defiance and dangerous behavior rarely is a successful
      strategy, in my experience.
               But to bring this back to Stoicism--I still fail to see what this has to
      do with the Sage's 'always choosing rightly'.  Suppose that, given a fully
      rational evaluation of the situation, the Sage-parent choose to discipline
      Jenny in some way.  Suppose that as a matter of fact this does produce
      a child-endangerment suit of some sort, with dislocation of the family
      as a result.  From the fact that the choice had dispreferred consequences,
      it doesn't follow that it wasn't correct.  The perfect-choosing Sage will
      sometime perform actions that lead to dispreferred results.  

      Grant: Obviously false. While we must accept that Jenny has chosen to be a smoker, that doesn't mean that a parent cannot enforce rules. .... <<<

      Gich (now): How? If she comes into a room where the rest of the family are watching TV, and lights up; what exactly can the parents do? If she refuses to stop, what exactly can the parents do? Remember, and this is the reason I mentioned it before, if you _forcibly_ prevent her from smoking this could quite easily (in the UK) land you in serious trouble with the child-protection authorities [aka Big Brother].

               But this has nothing to do with _Stoicism_.  Stoic acceptance doesn't require that
      the parents don't enforce rules in their house.  It is possible that social conditions in
      the UK (of which I know nothing other than your account) may force parents not to
      enforce rules in their house (but consider that allowing smoking in the house might be seen
      as harmful to the younger children as well, so the parents might as well discipline Jenny
      by some of the mean suggested already), but Stoic acceptance doesn't.


      -----------------------------------

      >>> You either didn't read my last post or chose to ignore it. The reason I cannot tell you what a parent who is a Sage might do in this situation is because:
       a) I'm not a Sage, and
       b) The right choice in this situation involves all sorts of information about Jenny's personality, the details of her relationship with her parents over the years, the way in which the conversation with her parents went (did they try to reason with her? in what ways? what was her response? was she acting in anger, and if so is she likely to change her position when she cools down?), whether she done anything like this before, etc. ...<<<

      I know you�re not a sage, but the reason I persist is that I�m trying to make the following point: if you _believe_ in the concept of a sage, you should, even with the incomplete information available, be able to offer _at least one_ tentative proposal regarding what a parent-sage might do.

               Why?  If I believe in perfect chess players, it doesn't follow that
      from a partial description of a chess position _I_ can tell you what the
      perfect chess player will do.  Nor, to return to my previous analogy,
      should we suppose that I can tell you what a perfect auto mechanic
      will do to fix a car after hearing an partial description of the situation.

      I'll try and help: _I do_ have a suggestion as to what the sage might decide to do in the Jenny situation; ... absolutely nothing. But _we can all_ make this decision and so, in this type of situation, if we always decide to do nothing we�re all as good as the sage.

               Not necessarily--doing nothing may be the wrong thing.  Indeed,
      from my very limited non-Sage perspective, it is likely the wrong thing.

      Further, it seems to me, because of his �life� goal of never-choosing-incorrectly, the Stoic sage, in complex situations, can _never_ decide to do anything other than absolutely nothing. In other words, if the sage _never_ chooses to do anything he will succeed in his �life� goal of never-choosing-incorrectly (!) ... and this, it seems to me, is the only way of achieving this goal. But we can all do this; ... so we can all, easily, mimic the behaviour of the Stoic sage.

               This is simply false.  Doing nothing is often the wrong thing.
               You still seem to think that the 'right choice' is defined as
      'one that has no possible dispreferred consequences', and further you
      seem to think that doing nothing has no consequences, and therefore
      no bad ones.  Neither of these is Stoic doctrine.  An action may have
      dispreferred consequences, maybe many of them, but if it was the
      rational choice at the time then it was the _right_ and virtuous choice,
      and the correct one.  Taking no action may be rationally improper,
      and so may be incorrect.
               Indeed, as I suggested, my own experience suggests that the
      parents must take action, and it must be swift and decisive.  I
      don't know the details about Jenny's nature and her relationshiop
      with her parents, but in all likelihood the immediate revocation
      of various privledges should have some effect.  I, personally, would
      physically confiscate her cigarettes if she brought them in the
      house.  But again I don't know all the details--but doing nothing is
      almost certainly incorrect.

      Peace

      Gich

               Regards,
                        Grant

    • Dave Kelly
      ... has to ... being ... me ... I reviewed what Keith last said on this, and can see that I had it wrong. It s not the other s virtue that is indifferent, but
      Message 339 of 339 , Sep 19, 2008
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        --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, "Dave Kelly" <ptypes@...> wrote:

        >
        > Another's virtue has to be good, if virtue is real. But, it also
        has to
        > be a preferred indifferent, for me, because, in that case, it is
        being
        > valued with regard to my happiness. Only the good that belongs to
        me
        > can constitute my happiness. Good that does not belong to me is
        > indifferent for me.
        >


        I reviewed what Keith last said on this, and can see that I had it
        wrong.

        It's not the other's virtue that is indifferent, but the consequences
        of it.

        "The only contact we can ever have with anyone else's virtue is via
        the effects that virtue has upon the world of external things.
        Whatever happens in the world of external things is indifferent."

        Dave
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