Which arguments are never resolved

What are some arguments against violence?

First, the arguments of your opponents who gave the motivation are obviously flawed. He uses an inappropriate term of the cause and therefore the solution:

Follow the argument to its logical conclusion: it is likely that, given the number of minor violations for which you would be wounded or killed via this argument, basically no one would want to live in such a world. The level of stress and fear would simply be too high. Following the suggested pattern, if no one wanted anything that way, we'd all just kill ourselves. Problem solved? No. This indicates that eliminating a problem will not solve it.

Where does the distinction come from? Pretty early on: If I decide to dispose of a mechanical problem in my car, I won't solve the problem. The problem is I don't have a working car and after disposing of the car I still don't have a working car. We need a definition of "solved" that makes sense and in which the malfunction of the system must be recognized and rectified.


But thwarting an argument against something does very little to show that it is actually wrong.

There could be another way that violence could be used on any problem. To really undermine the idea that violence solves every problem, you need an important example where violence never really works. (If it helped at all, it could still be the linchpin of the application that tends to make the difference, break the final impasse, and really solve the problem.)

One such example is getting correct information from other people. It's not a trivial example either. Much of the dysfunction in our society relates to ineffective communication. And a lot of these communication disorders are fearful.

For example, leaders induce knowledge of their actions to be controlled so that they are not held accountable, and the decisions they make as a result create opportunities for corruption and political inefficiency. Manufacturers ensure that others do not know how to really evaluate the quality of their products so that the consequences of lower quality appear random and not attributed to them. This prevents fair competition and also makes the markets inefficient. Failure to communicate truthfully is therefore a major problem for any political system.

This fear works in a way that additional fear cannot resolve. Since most non-murder violence increases fear, you are trapped in a place where violence cannot help you. (And of course, killing a person permanently prevents them from receiving further information.)

To see how adding fear doesn't help, check out torture. We know from torture studies that added fear or pain motivates one to give information, but it mostly motivates lies. If someone were forcibly giving you truthful information, they would generally have given it to you without the use of force.

This is very controversial and lied to in Congress and fiction, but the data is clear. Regardless of how you abuse or threaten someone, with direct pain, psychological power, threat to loved ones, etc., the primary effect is to gather false information, mostly false confessions or false implications of innocent guilt.

Other uses of force to obtain reliable information suffer from the same intrinsic failure - it is far too easy to lie; Lying preserves the speaker's worth as, and often more, than telling the truth; and lying makes you feel like you are in control, an ability to defeat the person who is harming you and obtain minimal vengeance. So, knowing that adding fear primarily creates lies rather than communicating more truthfully, how can violence solve the large number of problems that stem from that single cause?

Since violence does not allow us to obtain better information from others, in order to solve our information-related problems, violence would have to prevent information from being obtained from others. We can only have privileged access to all information through some form of totalitarian surveillance.

But here too the data is clear. We examined police states and surveillance in cults. To the extent that actual violence is part of the surveillance, fear of the consequences of misunderstanding arises. Even if you are innocent, you can look guilty and be punished. People respond to this fear by causing cunning, sabotage, and rampant dishonesty that undermine the effectiveness of surveillance.

The logical reaction is to increase the consequences of lying, but in order to enforce those consequences one would need to know who is lying, which means getting information that is already being effectively withheld. So there is no actual point of application that makes it a better risk for everyone to tell the truth.

So the problem remains unsolved, and it is hard to imagine that better use of force would not be ruled out, which is what we already know about how people naturally react to being controlled by force. (We know a lot. We have been doing this for a long time.)

You can escape this by reducing violence to more subtle forms. For example, cults can achieve very complete control of the truth and surveillance through authority, guilt and fanaticism as long as enforcement is not viewed as violence. Once this is the case, of course, the members will work together to fight back.

But that's just a scam. Social coercion and more subtle means of control are simply not violence. Even in the bloodiest, most psychopathic picture in the world, violence cannot enable us to address an important range of problems.

(Of course I don't accept this psychopathic worldview, but it's part of the general argument for violence, so it's a better framework for an argument against contradictions.)


The opposite extreme argument that violence is unnecessary and can be eliminated, which you may want to help defend, is also flawed:

If you don't have organized violence because the agreement is never complete and destruction is always an option that you cannot take away from people, you have disorganized the violence. And it may be preferable to go in that direction, but then this is not a society where violence is unnecessary, but one where it is tolerated and shaped so that it can be contained.

And I am offended that your impossible target is such a strong thread in our ethical tradition. For me it reveals a deep, patriarchal statism based on fundamental internal contradictions that every ethical thinker should see through with clear eyes.

All this bias in western thinking hits me simply as a classicist / sexist dismissal of the role of the working class / man. Marcuse aside, we cannot generally embrace the civil / female privilege of putting aggression aside and assuming someone else is coordinating protection.

By shifting the duty to protect ourselves to an idealized vicar, Heavenly Father or the statehouse, we have not eliminated or even reduced the violence associated with it. We have just focused it and either encourage specialization in violence that encourages abuse, or we impose a greater duty on the unwilling.

Asphir Cathedral

Ah !, fear - true perpetual motion machine.

Jobermark

@ Malandy you miss the top of the car completely. The definition of "solved" by eliminating the hungry person is synonymous with "solving" your car problem by eliminating the car. As a definition of "resolved" it is just absolutely wrong. You also miss the point of the torture argument. The point is not that torture is really necessary, but that information cannot be controlled by force because lying is too empowering. If it is okay for what the bomb is destroying to be destroyed, it did not have to be defused at all, so this is not a solution to a problem.

Chris Sunami

The sixth paragraph has a clear, concise, and reasonable answer. He begins with the words "If I decide to break up ...". The rest of the post, especially the foreword, is rambling, headstrong, and overwhelmed. I'm usually a big fan of your work, Jobermark, but not only do I disagree with most of your arguments here, but I also think that this article urgently needs serious processing. At the very least, you should move the answer upside down and save the comment for the end.

Jobermark

You don't listen to at least six people who debunk this notion. Being the best physicist is a solution to something that isn't really a problem. Low self-esteem cannot be resolved if it is realistic. Einstein had no intention of being "the best physicist" - he had actual ideas and life goals that were more refined than those of a toddler. So that particular kind of "solution" is still stupid.

Jobermark

Culture just gives us silly ways of formulating problems. It would give the result stated, but it wouldn't solve the problem. Ethics is not like math, motivation and psychology. The problem here is that your own self-image is tied to being the best at something, not something that actually accomplishing your state goal could solve. If you are the best physicist you will find that this is not what you really wanted, especially when it is accomplished that way.