We Agree: Speeches All Around!

post by JohnBuridan · 2018-06-14T17:53:23.918Z · score: 41 (17 votes) · LW · GW · 19 comments

In the Catalan autobiography of James I Llibre dels Fets, King James often describes the advice given to him by different nobles and princes of the Church (read bishops). Oftentimes they disagree; sometimes he turns out right, and sometimes they turn out the wiser counsellors. Scholars often regard this frequent decision-making dialogue as evidence that James wanted not only to give an account of the great accomplishments of his life, but also provide insight for future kings and ministers of Aragon-Catalonia. There is much to say about the nature of this advice, the strategic and tactical reasoning, the difficulty of passing down rational statesmanship, and interrogation into just how “rational” this statesmanship actually was.

I am not going to focus on those issues. Instead, I want to bring to light a common knowledge dynamic I noticed in this book that resonated in my daily life.

My day job requires a lot of meetings. Oftentimes in these meetings my colleagues and I will hit on an agreed course of action, but then instead of saying, “We are agreed. Let’s go!” We will continue talking ourselves into the decision. Once a decision has been reached, each person inexplicably waxes poetic about their own reason for why they believe this is a good or right decision. This happens quite frequently, I do not think anyone recognizes it as weird. To be clear, this is not part of some in-house “Guideline For Decision-Making”; it is a spontaneous event of human interaction.

Up until this week, I thought this exercise was either an attempt to cover up uncertainty or a waste of time. But perhaps there is some utility here. Is this practice a way creating more agreeance? Congratulating ourselves on being in charge? What’s the deal? Is it a way of rebuilding bonds that may have been strained over the course of discussion? Or is it just a ‘Midwestern USA' thing?

James I helped me see the light. Before the invasion of the island of Mallorca, the Corts and councils convened to decide whether to invade. Into the mouths of a noble merchant, a general, a landed aristocrat, and a bishop additional words of approval came after they had already decided to launch this campaign. Since the campaign had already been approved in prior discussion by leading parties, why do they need more words of approval again after the decision has been made?

I think the answer is that although these speeches might be boring to read or a seeming waste of a Wednesday afternoon at work, they also provide an additional fact for everyone present. We know that everyone approves the course of action. Now in addition, we also know why everyone approves the course of action, what their slant, and what their motivations. From these, we can adjust our beliefs about to what extent and under what circumstances the other actors will support the course of action – how far are the others willing to go to support this? This additional knowledge should facilitate future coalitions, strategy, and decision-making. The more we understand each other’s motivations, the more we can communicate effectively, find shared goals, and create a dynamic organization, one which can conquer western Mediterranean islands.

Next time, you are impatient hearing the reasons for a course of action you already agree with, it’s not the course of action which you can learn about, but common knowledge about the motivations and interests of other actors. Common knowledge about intentions within the coalition is the first step to sustained conquests... err success.

19 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by philh · 2018-06-18T14:05:12.642Z · score: 20 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It may also be relevant that: if a group of five people agrees on something, then any individual group member need not agree. A member may keep their disagreement to themselves.

But if someone speaks at length about why this is the right decision, they're more committed than "I'm willing to passively go along with this". It's a minor form of how a Mafioso is required to have carried out a hit.

Suppose the invasion of Mallorca goes badly. Do you want a merchant, a general, an aristocrat and a bishop to be able to say "that was a bad idea all along, those with power are unfit to wield it"?

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-06-14T20:53:46.793Z · score: 11 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Alternative hypothesis:

If you make a speech about why “we” should do X, then—even though all the decision-makers know that the decision has already been made—your speech looks to others like advocacy for X, and thus makes it look to those others like you are playing a role in convincing the body of decision-makers to do X. This makes you look influential, and gains you status in the eyes of the body politic. (Edit: This is especially useful since—given that the decision has, in fact, already been made—there is zero risk for you of potentially advocating for an action that will not end up being taken. If you make such speeches for all actions that are decided upon, then it will look like your advice is followed every single time. You must be very influential!)

comment by JohnBuridan · 2018-06-14T22:08:35.966Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This could be the case, but only in specific political circumstances.

Only a self-deluded person would think that praising the decision after it was made would gain them influence among their peers who just talked about and made the decision. He would be noticed as Fred the weird-colleague-who-doesn't-talk-during-discussion-but-only-at-the-very-end-once-we've-decided-on-things.

Also, your alternative hypothesis, doesn't seem to account for everyone in the decision group doing it with no further audience, which is the situation I'm talking about.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-06-14T23:54:51.736Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Only a self-deluded person would think that praising the decision after it was made would gain them influence among their peers who just talked about and made the decision.

We should all be so “self-deluded”! (Do you really mean to tell me that you’ve never encountered this phenomenon?!)

He would be noticed as Fred the weird-colleague-who-doesn’t-talk-during-discussion-but-only-at-the-very-end-once-we’ve-decided-on-things.

I have no idea where this bizarre straw-man came from. I didn’t suggest anything resembling this.

Also, your alternative hypothesis, doesn’t seem to account for everyone in the decision group doing it with no further audience, which is the situation I’m talking about.

It certainly does, unless we’re not only talking about groups where (a) all members participated in the decision-making process and (b) are quite politically savvy, but also positing that all group members have never been in such groups in the past (where they formed a habit that may not be adaptive in all cases, but is nonetheless successful enough of the time to be maintained).

comment by Elo · 2018-06-14T20:43:05.742Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Reminds me of nvc (https://youtu.be/l7TONauJGfc) and the way it encourages you to communicate the needs behind the request. Not just the request.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-06-18T03:34:30.634Z · score: 25 (13 votes) · LW · GW

(Disclaimer: I have not watched the linked talk; my comment is about the general concept.)

I really hate when people ask me to do something, and then, unprompted, also communicate the needs behind their request.

The reason I hate when people do this is exactly the same as the reason they do it. (Explanation follows.)

If you simply ask me to do something, and I do it, then there are three possibilities for a reason why I’ve acceded to your request:

First, there may be some formal relationship between us, which obligates me to do what you say. (Perhaps you’re my boss, or my superior in the military, or my parent [if I’m a minor child], etc.) In that case, by acceding to an arbitrary request of yours, I am simply doing what I must. My part of the dialogue, so to speak, is something like: “I do as you ask, thus fulfilling my obligation to you; see that you remember this, when comes the time for you to fulfill your reciprocal obligations to me.”

Second, I may be doing you a favor. This could be a favor of which I expect future repayment, or it may not be; in the latter case, it is likely that I hold the satisfaction of your preferences to be one of my own values. In either case, I accede to your request simply because you have made it (assuming that the request is not too unreasonable). Here I am saying: “The fact that you want this done—that having this request fulfilled satisfies your preferences—is all that I need to know.”

Third, I could be acceding to your request because what you ask is, in fact, something that I want done as well. In other words, me doing the thing you’re asking me to do, directly satisfies my preferences as well (and, crucially, would do so regardless of whether you were asking me to do it). (Why, then, did I need you to ask me to do the thing? Well, perhaps your request merely reminded me to do it; or, perhaps you raised the thing to my attention, but this having been done, I immediately recognize that I prefer to do it; or something else along these lines.) In this case, I am saying, in effect: “Yes, I will do this, and I’ll do it because I choose to. That you wish it done is, perhaps, a happy bonus, but I’d do it regardless.”

Now, note that in the second and first case, if I do what you ask, you now incur a debt to me (this debt comes in the form either of a reaffirmed reciprocal obligation, or of a directly incurred owed favor). In the third case, you incur no such debt.

This gives you an incentive to do whatever is in your power to present the situation[1] as an instance of the third case, even when it’s actually the first or second case.

Thus we see such behavior: person A makes a request; person B accedes immediately. But strangely, person A continues speaking, giving reasons behind their request, explaining why their request is reasonable and not at all an imposition—why, indeed, it’s not even asking anything, because really, it’s in person B’s best interest to do the thing… etc., etc.

Why should person A do such a thing? After all, person B has already agreed! What else could there be to say?! Well, it’s to transmute the ask from one of the first two cases, to the third; and thus gain power (by evading a socially normative debt).

(I have often had such experiences, where someone asks me to do something, I agree, they then follow up with reasoned arguments for why I should do it, etc.; then, later, they ask a similar thing, and I refuse, only to hear something like: “But you agreed that you should do [this sort of thing]!” No, I think; no, I did not. I agreed to do it, I did not agree that I should do it; and these are very different things. So now, whenever at all possible, I at once cut people off when they attempt to explain to me their reason for why they want me to do the thing they’re asking me to do, after I’ve already agreed to do it. I don’t want to know; keep your reasons to yourself; do not even attempt to pretend that you’ve persuaded me to do as you ask. Know and remember that I do this thing because I must, or because I am choosing to do you a favor, not because I want to do it.)

[1] To be precise: for “present the situation as”, read “cause it to be public knowledge between us that the situation constitutes”.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2018-06-18T09:15:01.162Z · score: 17 (4 votes) · LW · GW
Thus we see such behavior: person A makes a request; person B accedes immediately. But strangely, person A continues speaking, giving reasons behind their request, explaining why their request is reasonable and not at all an imposition—why, indeed, it’s not even asking anything, because really, it’s in person B’s best interest to do the thing… etc., etc.

It sounds to me that you're not really objecting to A communicating their need, but rather to A communicating their need and then saying a lot of other things besides. (I agree that them saying all that other stuff definitely sounds painful!)

I haven't watched the talk in question either, but the way I think about the "communicate the need" thing is that the correct use of it has a similar motivation as the advice to include your "big picture" goal when asking Stack Overflow questions:

Make sure it’s obvious what you’re trying to get out of the question. Too many “questions” are actually just statements: when I do X, something goes wrong.
Well, what did you expect it to do? What are you trying to accomplish? [...] One trap that many posters fall into is to ask how to achieve some “small” aim, but never say what the larger aim is. Often the smaller aim is either impossible or rarely a good idea – instead, a different approach is needed. Again, if you provide more context when writing your problem statement, we can suggest better designs. It’s fine to specify how you’re currently trying to solve your bigger problem, of course – that’s likely to be necessary detail – but include the bigger goal too.

Expressed in slightly different words: "don't just make a request for information on how to solve a problem; tell us the need behind that problem."

If someone just makes a request, then at best I can choose to fulfill it. If someone makes me a request and communicates the goal/intent/need behind the request, then I can use that understanding to fulfill the request in a better way, or maybe even suggest an entirely different approach if it seems to me that they're mistaken about whether this is a good way to achieve the goal.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-06-18T11:42:36.770Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It sounds to me that you’re not really objecting to A communicating their need, but rather to A communicating their need and then saying a lot of other things besides. (I agree that them saying all that other stuff definitely sounds painful!)

No; that was just one example. Sometimes they don’t say the other things, and it’s still terrible. I really am objecting to the person communicating their needs. It’s bad, and I strongly dislike it, for all the reasons I give.

I haven’t watched the talk in question either, but the way I think about the “communicate the need” thing is that the correct use of it has a similar motivation as the advice to include your “big picture” goal when asking Stack Overflow questions:

Indeed, I am familiar with the consensus on this sort of thing, and I happen to also diametrically disagree with it (though for other reasons).

comment by Ikaxas · 2018-08-15T05:34:06.550Z · score: 14 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I think there are actually two separate phenomena under discussion here, which look superficially similar, but actually don't have much to do with each other.

First phenomenon

Alice: Would you help me fix my car muffler?

Bob: Sure.

Alice: That way you won't have to listen to my car roaring like a jet engine every time I leave my house (since we're neighbors and all).

Second Phenomenon

Alice: Would you help me fix my car muffler?

Bob: Sure.

Alice: The noise sure does give me a headache, I want it fixed as soon as possible.

Bob: Ah, okay. I'm alright with cars, but not stellar, so how about I just pay for you to get it fixed at a garage instead? You can owe me one.

The first phenomenon seems bad for the reasons you describe in the great-grandparent comment. It also just seems strange from a linguistic perspective to keep trying to persuade someone to do something after they've already agreed to do it. Though if the order were reversed so that Alice gave her reason before Bob assented, it would still seem bad for the reasons you mention (because Alice's reason isn't all that good) but not linguistically odd.

The second phenomenon, on the other hand, seems like a good thing to me, and as far as I can tell it isn't affected by the problems you mention. In particular, Alice giving extra reasons doesn't absolve her of any debt she owes to Bob for the favor; in fact, in this particular scenario I would perceive her to owe a greater debt to Bob if he pays for her to have her car fixed than if he helps her fix it (though I have no idea how universal this intuition would be, and am agnostic about whether it's correct morally). It actually seems like Bob and Alice both benefit from Alice giving her reason (at least the way I'm imagining the extra details of the scenario): Alice gets her car fixed faster, and Bob gets to avoid spending a large amount of time fixing the car. As I'm imagining the scenario, Bob would have done it if he thought Alice was asking him e.g. partially as an excuse to spend more time with him, because he also would have wanted to do that, but once it was revealed that Alice's primary objective was to get the car fixed as fast as possible, Bob was able to save himself some time and (as I mentioned above) get Alice in debt to him even more than she otherwise would have been. So they both benefited.

The distinction seems to be that in the first phenomenon, Alice mentions a reason why it would benefit Bob to help her fix her car, whereas in the second phenomenon, Alice mentions the underlying reason she wants the car fixed. I can see how Alice mentioning a reason Bob would want to help fix the car could shift the situation to an instance of your third case, but I don't see how Alice mentioning the underlying reason she wants the car fixed could do so, since that doesn't make it any more in Bob's interest to help her (except insofar as fulfilling Alice's preferences is part of Bob's interest, but that's an instance of your second case).

It seems the fact that these two phenomena are distinct has only been obliquely acknowledged elsewhere in this thread, so I wanted to make it more explicit. In particular, if I'm interpreting everyone correctly then most of what people have said in this thread has been in support of the second phenomenon, and most of your objections have been objections to the first phenomenon, so to a certain extent people seem to be talking past each other.

Also, you said in the parent comment that you object to what looks to me like the second phenomenon, but you didn't give your reasons there. Nothing wrong with that, but if you're willing I'd be interested in hearing those reasons, because I'm having trouble imagining what someone could object to about the second phenomenon. The only thing I can think of is this: If you know the "big-picture goal" behind someone's request, perhaps that obligates you to put in more effort to help them towards that big-picture goal than if you only knew the contents of the immediate request, i.e. you have to put in time to think about whether there's a better way to accomplish the big-picture goal, and if that way ends up being more effortful than the original ask you still have to help with it, etc. That might be concerning in a similar way to your objection to the first phenomenon, if it's true.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2018-06-18T13:44:59.024Z · score: 14 (6 votes) · LW · GW
It’s bad, and I strongly dislike it, for all the reasons I give.

I interpreted you to be saying that you disliked it because people communicating their need, may give them an opportunity to dishonestly shift the situation into the third category. But I don't see how them just stating their need and saying nothing else, would give them such an opportunity.

(I also personally don't find them having such an opportunity to be very concerning in the first place, since I guess that I haven't really been in an environment where one would need to worry about people playing games like this? My feeling would be "if you're in an environment where it even matters that people get an opportunity to do this kind of a thing, then your priority shouldn't be on finding and blocking every possible attempt for people to screw you over, your priority should be on getting the hell out to somewhere less dysfunctional." Though I acknowledge that not everyone necessarily has the chance to do that.)

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-06-18T14:17:11.451Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · LW · GW

(I also personally don’t find them having such an opportunity to be very concerning in the first place, since I guess that I haven’t really been in an environment where one would need to worry about people playing games like this? My feeling would be “if you’re in an environment where it even matters that people get an opportunity to do this kind of a thing, then your priority shouldn’t be on finding and blocking every possible attempt for people to screw you over, your priority should be on getting the hell out to somewhere less dysfunctional.” Though I acknowledge that not everyone necessarily has the chance to do that.)

You’ve anticipated one objection to that stance—that not everyone is able to escape such environments (indeed, I’d say that most cannot)—but that is a relatively trivial one. (In a principled sense, I mean; in practice it is of course of the first importance. For instance, you generally cannot escape your family, nor do most people have much of a chance to escape their boss, etc.)

A more substantive objection, however, is that understanding such dynamics, and being aware of them, is how you avoid dysfunctional environments. (Note the parallel with my comments re: hypocrisy, in a semi-recent thread.)

To be frank, I find it unlikely that you’ve not encountered an environment where such dynamics occur. If you insist on the point, then certainly I will not gainsay you; but let me suggest to you that given the extreme ubiquity of this sort of behavior (and the fact that many, maybe most, people who engage in it, do so automatically, without any “ill intent” per se), it is more likely that you’ve encountered this sort of thing plenty, but have not seen it for what it is.

To expand on my “know thy enemy” point—if, indeed, some people do this sort of thing without conscious “ill intent”[1], then it becomes especially important to recognize such dynamics—that you may recognize them when they occur, and firmly take steps to ward them off. Note that not only is this the case regardless of whether the environment you find yourself is can reasonably be called “dysfunctional”, it’s arguably even more important in a “healthy” environment than a “dysfunctional” one—because in a “healthy” environment, you may actually be able to convince people not to do this; and to formulate, and enforce, social norms against it! But first, of course, you must have a very clear idea of what it is you’re trying to prevent.

[1] By which I mean something like, “non-prosocial strategic considerations”, or something along those lines. (This is one of those concepts that’s intuitively easy to recognize, but difficult to give an intensional definition of.)

I interpreted you to be saying that you disliked it because people communicating their need, may give them an opportunity to dishonestly shift the situation into the third category. But I don’t see how them just stating their need and saying nothing else, would give them such an opportunity.

I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood my point. What I am saying is not that people communicating their need may give them an opportunity to shift the situation into the third category. Rather, I am saying that people communicating their need is the mechanism by which they shift the situation into the third category. In other words, communicating the reason behind the request does not make the bad thing possible, nor is it a signal of the bad thing, nor anything else like that. It simply is how the bad thing happens.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2018-06-18T17:54:36.639Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW
To expand on my “know thy enemy” point—if, indeed, some people do this sort of thing without conscious“ill intent”[1], then it becomes especially important to recognize such dynamics—that you may recognize them when they occur, and firmly take steps to ward them off.

If you only mean "let's be aware of the fact that this dynamic exists, so that we can recognize it when it's happening", then I can't object to that. I agree that it's good to be aware of harmful dynamics, and to keep an eye out for them in communities. But you seemed to be making a much stronger claim, not just "this is a thing that sometimes happens, be on the watch for it" but rather "because this thing happens, stating one's needs are a bad thing on the net and should be categorically discouraged", which I disagree with. (the rest of this comment is written under the assumption that you were making that stronger claim)

To be frank, I find it unlikely that you’ve not encountered an environment where such dynamics occur.

To clarify, I didn't mean to say that I wouldn't have been in an environment where no such dynamics occurred. I meant to say that I don't recall having been in an environment where detecting and countering such behaviors would have been worth spending mental cycles on.

The way you describe the behavior sounds to me like it's done by the kind of person who feels like they should avoid doing anything which would make them indebted to someone else, and whose way of looking at social relationships centers strongly on concepts like debt and obligation, to the extent that this drives them to act manipulatively when asking for random favors. Even if I don't recognize the specific behavior you've described, it still wouldn't take me very long to notice that this is an unpleasant person to interact with.

Now, if it's just an isolated person, it may be that they're just really insecure and fear being obligated to do things. In that case, I can still shrug and go "well, if it's so important for them to feel like they're not indebted to me, might as well let them believe it". If I can just do that, then there's no need to worry about wasting any more mental cycles on this behavior.

On the other hand, maybe the situation is such that I can't just let them have that belief; maybe I will actually be punished for letting them believe it. In that case, even if I wasn't paying attention to this particular behavior in particular, I don't think it would take very long for me to figure out that this is the kind of person who I don't want to interact with: if they didn't engage in this particular manipulative behavior, they would engage in some other manipulative behavior. Even if I blocked this behavior by establishing a norm - forbidding statements about needs/intent - which prevented both me and the people around me from using an extremely valuable social technology (statements about needs/intent), then this person would no doubt just switch to another manipulative tactic. Which we would have to block again. And then they'd switch to yet another. And then we'd keep building more and more constraining social norms, depriving ourselves of ever more tools of effective communication, out of a hopeless desire to make a fundamentally adversarial relationship work.

Kind of like the "if you're in a position where you're matching your smarts against a superintelligent AI, you've already lost" thing - if I'm in a situation where I need to spend mental cycles detecting these kinds of maneuvers, I've already lost. Maybe figuring out how to get out of this environment or how to cut contact with this person takes more effort than just figuring out how to block this particular behavior - but in the long run, unless the cost of getting out is extraordinarily high, or the environment is otherwise extraordinarily valuable, it's still better to pay the cost for getting out. Because the adversaries are just going to keep figuring out new attacks for you to defend against, until you've spent more resources warding off against those attacks, than getting out in the first place would have cost.

This is especially the case if warding against the attacks would by itself destroy value. You seem to be suggesting that establishing norms against communicating needs/intent would help communities stay healthy. But if the problem is that people are misusing the act of communicating needs/intent, then the right response to that is to kick out the people who are acting as adversarial agents. The right response is not to destroy value and make the community less effective, by banning an action that makes everyone better off when it's used by cooperative agents.

Again, I acknowledge that sometimes people genuinely are stuck in environments where they can't get out. And in those environments, okay, maybe establishing such a norm is the least bad option. But that still doesn't mean that the norm would be a good idea in general.

I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood my point. What I am saying is not that people communicating their need may give them an opportunity to shift the situation into the third category. Rather, I am saying that people communicating their need is the mechanism by which they shift the situation into the third category. In other words, communicating the reason behind the request does not make the bad thing possible, nor is it a signal of the bad thing, nor anything else like that. It simply is how the bad thing happens.

I'm not clear on what distinction you're drawing. My best guess is that by distinguishing "may give them an opportunity to do the bad thing" from "is how the bad thing happens", you might be saying "communicating the need always shifts the request into the third category", but that seems clearly false to me. Someone elaborating on their bigger goal in a Stack Overflow question doesn't make them less indebted to people who answer the question; if anything, it may make the asker more indebted, since those people may now have given them an even more useful answer. So I guess you mean something else, but I don't know what.

comment by Elo · 2018-08-14T07:42:43.641Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Now, note that in the second and first case, if I do what you ask, you now incur a debt to me (this debt comes in the form either of a reaffirmed reciprocal obligation, or of a directly incurred owed favor). In the third case, you incur no such debt.

The premise you propose is that there was no debt/obligation prior to the request/fulfilment. I would reason in the cases of authority/patron parent/child superior/inferior that there existed a prior obligation in both directions independent of the actions happening in the present request/fulfilment.

That is - an obligation from the superior to maintain their duties and an obligation from the inferior to be subservient in exchange for the duties to take care of the responsibilities granted as such.

That is also - any FIRST/SECOND request is also a THIRD request because it involves the complicit party being subservient to the social contract of the superior/inferior relationship.

That is "I choose to because I choose to obey the social contract that I believe is the thing that I want to do. That you wish it done is, perhaps, a happy bonus, but I’d do it regardless.".


You fail to realise the alternate possibility here. NVC tended to not just make a pure request, but to give the further explanation of the needs behind the request (you know this). The reason for that is the open offer that in the future if you see a chance to act in a way that is SECOND, pure gift, or THIRD “Yes, I will do this, and I’ll do it because I choose to give you a gift. That you wish it done is, perhaps, a happy bonus, but I’d do it regardless.” , you will take that choice as long as you are aware of the possibility of the gift. NVC assumes that humans like giving each other gifts out of the "goodness of their hearts" and encourages the information transfer to enable people to gift each other with future actions (this might be an assumption that you disagree with but you'd better be aware of the assumptions of the system before you try to debate why it's wrong).

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-08-14T17:54:28.698Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The premise you propose is that there was no debt/​obligation prior to the request/​fulfilment.

There was no obligation to do that specific thing. The request having been made, there is now an obligation to do that specific thing. So it does not seem like you’re actually disagreeing with me, as far as premises go.

[social contract, etc.]

Bringing in abstractions like the social contract is unrealistic both in the cognitive sense (people don’t think like that in the moment, and in any case few actually hold any such beliefs even in general) and in the pragmatic sense (there is no actual decision to obey the social contract, nor is there any practical opportunity to break with it).

[NVC, etc.]

Yes, I was aware of this. It’s both sufficiently absurd when taken at face value, and sufficiently unethical when seen for what it really is, that I dismissed it as unnecessary to consider in this discussion. I stand by that decision.

comment by Elo · 2018-08-14T20:07:56.594Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW

obligation to do that specific thing.

In the meta, obligation to comply with requests exists without a present request. Similar to the obligation to not murder people under the social contract whether or not you plan to murder someone or are holding the knife.

people don’t think like that in the moment, and in any case few actually hold any such beliefs even in general

We know different people. I have heard enough times, a version of, "what would they think of me" or "I can't break the rules". I happen to have taught people to not care what others think. But have it inherent in my head.

absurd and unethical

Nvc subscribers do not believe it is absurd and I suspect the belief stems from the willingness to themselves subscribe to the system. Ie people who enjoy the SECOND thing. In a THIRD - I like giving gifts for me, way.

comment by c0rw1n · 2018-06-18T03:47:34.155Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It may be that the person keeps expounding their reasons for their wanting you to do the thing because it feels aversive to them to stop infodumping, and/or because they expect you to respond with your reasons for doing the thing so that they know whether your doing the thing is an instance of 2 or of 3.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2018-06-18T04:19:00.828Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

it feels aversive to them to stop infodumping

This is no explanation. First, why do they even start infodumping? Second, if it feels aversive—why? Well, I explained why. (The motivation I described need not be conscious, note!)

expect you to respond with your reasons for doing the thing

This is not consistent with my experience, in two ways. I have observed that either the person does not expect you to respond with anything (beyond assent and agreement that, indeed, yes, their reasons are very sound, yep, makes sense, of course, etc.); or, they do expect you to respond, but are unsatisfied if your response reveals case #2, and keep pushing, keep “persuading”, etc., until you visible agree and acknowledge their reasons, and demonstrate that you’ve been successfully persuaded.

comment by Radamantis · 2018-06-17T18:59:33.406Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is that talk worth listening to in full?

comment by Elo · 2018-06-17T22:40:38.901Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. The last half hour is where everything solidifies. Also you can watch in double speed.