Category Archives: Personal rights

HOW CONDITIONED ARE YOU?

It may be disquieting to ask you to reflect on the rewards you are getting in your life and what you have done to get them. I want you to appraise your rewards and conditions realistically, without reducing your happiness.

You could be in an exchange relationship with some or all of the following: partner, child, parent, friend, mentor, trainer, coach, employer, landlord, bank, utility, grocer, supplier.

The rewards you get from these people could be affected by what you do: the quality of your interactions, your tasks and the opportunities available.

You rewards could depend on the conditions of: each transaction separately; their satisfaction in the relationship; their desire that you perform in a particular way; whether they could get the same thing from someone else; established obligations on both sides; parity with your peers; their plans for you.

The reward conditions could be intended to motivate you. The theory of motivation proposed by B F Skinner is behaviour is a function of its consequences. His rats learned to press a lever to get pellets of food delivered to them. If there are positive consequences the behaviour tends to be repeated. Negative consequences tend not to have the behaviours repeated. Positives and negatives can be varied in many ways.

Employers could apply monetary rewards and personal recognition by promotion or material benefits, such as an improved workplace. 

Family and social relationships could reward you with acknowledgement and gifts.

Education rewards could be acknowledgement of prestigious accomplishment.

Commercial relationships could be rewarded by personal price discounts or favours. 

Alternatively, such external rewards may not be motivating you. Your preferred achievement could be by internal goals and self-fulfilment, allowing creativity and maturity. There is danger in seeking only internal rewards. If you are not responding to the rewards offered by your people in the ways they expect, their plans may be thwarted and the prospect of rewards may be withdrawn.

To get the most personal advantage, it is desirable to discuss with each of your people the rewards you would like from them, possibly negotiating details. They may be uncomfortable discussing your rewards with you because they have plans for you they want to keep secret. It could be to your advantage to uncover these.

The method of using positive or negative consequences to control behaviour is called operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is predicated on you, the conditioned person, being susceptible only to rewards and not to reason. Likewise, they, the operator, has your respect only for doling out rewards. Reduction to the rewards dimension insults the humanity and companionship essential for successful relationships.

My writing on personal motivation and organisations is in my novels and posts on my blog: martinknox.com

VARY SOCIAL AFFINITY BUT NOT HUMAN RIGHTS

Some time ago I posted a piece questioning whether humans are more like bees or Australian brush turkeys. https://wp.me/p1z4yo-lM Bees are gregarious and nurture their offspring, whereas brush turkeys never meet their parents and lead solitary lives except for mating. Most humans are between these extremes.

To evaluate human developments, particularly those that control behaviour, such as political and economic systems, it is helpful to have agreed humankind’s destiny there. They could provide for hive-like sociality, or isolation, or alternate between the two.

It is difficult choose which way is best for humans. Tradition could express atavistic longing for the kinds of group living evolved by primates and hominids. Some humans in lockdown from the pandemic have suffered a deficit of communal care by traditional standards. Others have enjoyed more than usual.

There are many considerations other than tradition and pandemics. People can be individualistic and selfish, or altruistic and kind to strangers. There is a spectrum of ‘social affinity’ with people and nations varying widely. Countries ideally accept tourists’ selfishness but they may find observing local customs of tipping service off-putting, or even offensive. 

Strengths of bonding between people and within communities can increase or decrease with hardship, wealth and war. It is possible that as material prosperity increases, individuals become less group-minded. Conversely, dislocation can foster selfishness.

It is unlikely that human psyches can flex enough to change their position very far along the spectrum. We would not expect a brush turkey to take to living in a beehive, nor a bee to be content to live estranged from its kind like brush turkeys. Perhaps the amount of sociality for humans should not be a monotheism, but we will enjoy living with diversity, both in local communities and within a community of nations.

Totalitarianism exists where humans are subjected to a central dictatorial authority, with civil society replaced by atomised individuals, who feel isolated, superfluous and fearful, without rights. There are too many nations where such conditions exist, including several superpowers. These offensive regimes can be mitigated by attention to human rights.

To avoid totalitarianism, a person must have their rights respected, such as to have a fair trial. Will bees in a crowded hive inevitably have fewer rights than free-roaming brush turkeys? Humans in densely populated countries need as many or even more rights than in sparsely populated countries like Australia. Isolated individuals may have fewer encounters with others but they could be as harmful and as cruel. 

In summary, the social affinity of individuals is part of the fabric of life and can differ between countries. People have different experiences and need to be tolerant of others within sectarian cultures, especially under totalitarianism, where individuals need rights at least as protective of them as of isolated individuals in other countries. There are turkeys everywhere.

My writing on this and other topics is at https://martinknox.com

Brush Turkey

BALANCING PANDEMIC CONTROL

The table attached compares central and devolved responses. 

Some individuals would be better off under the devolved strategy but others could regard it as creating unacceptable risk. Devolvers must obey the centralists’ laws without access to exemption by conscientious objection. By contrast, devolvers do not make any demands of centralists. Separate arrangements for centralists cannot be made by devolvers, nor can they compensate centralisers.

The centralists enforce a model of human behaviour that devolvers could find inconvenient and pessimistic. The centralists do not have evidence that their strategy does more public good. It can create more economic and educative harm. The centralist case is predicated on the disease being transmitted to more people by devolution because spreaders would be controlled by regulations. In the same way that government welfare reduces some peoples’ donations to needy people, social control of spreaders by friends, neighbours and strangers could be more effective than official regimes of isolation and social distancing. The centralist strategy discourages individuals from social responsibility and allows excessive arbitrary control over behaviour against peoples’ economic interests.

To portray humans as either social animals or as individualists reveals both have limitations. Responses should draw on both strategies. Centralism rolls up a snowball of regulations, when behaviours might be better dealt with by voluntary action. The onus is on vulnerable and infected people to limit their sociality and take care of themselves, before demanding others be constrained.

Accepting voluntarism by others requires trust, but so does observance of regulations. Many people prefer intervention by authorities to imposing their concerns on others who threaten. Trust of others has been lost at great cost, perhaps because the exercise of civility has been delegated to authorities to resolve, as has happened with road rage. When I went to work or a party with flu symptoms, some good person would remind me to go home. Could a pandemic be controlled like this?

Question: What if it would take only one miscreant to infect my loved ones?

Answer: Irresponsible behaviour is unlikely to be prevented by any regulations. They might reduce awareness of clear and present dangers.

My writing on Covid-19, trust, performance, government and economic growth is at: https://martinknox.com 

FEMALE ADVANTAGES AT WORK

ADVANTAGES MOST FEMALES HAVE OVER MOST MALES IN THE WORKPLACE

The fifteen advantages listed in the attached document have been derived from female roles in evolution and the author’s and others’ experiences of behaviors in the workplace.
Female advantages at work

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