Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
Alas, poor spelling!

idea: add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random

meta: news, help, about, links, report a problem

account: browse anonymously, or get an account and write.



Relationship Ethics Education

it's like sex ed, but for the soul
  (+3, -4)
(+3, -4)
  [vote for,

Emotional relationship is a taboo which often goes unrecognized, compared to sex which is more overt and easy to represent visually.

Just as there is sex education, I think there should be a counterpart that discuss on 'safe' interpersonal relations.

This is because, as sad as it is to say this. There is a lot of people who don't know how to behave ethically in a relationship, hence the bout of cheating and divorces that could possibly be averted if the participants had been educated to critically think. And this is just in romantic relationships. Much more problems could also be seen in non romantic relationships as well too! (Which is often frustrating to friends and family who see those kinds of people end up harming themselves. E.g. abusive relationship, breaking other families apart, cheating, or knowingly enabling others to cheat)

Unlike Sex Education, ethical relationship classes is an ongoing class starting at primary school. It aims to have students constantly asking themselves to remember their own conducts with other students, friends, (and in highschool, their girl/boyfriend, and their children). It will also discuss on hypothetical situation where there are grey areas. Especially when dealing with situation where there is no good choices to make without negative consequences (For example, being dissatified in a relationship{which could leads to cheating if untreated}).

Sexual Education is there to prevent the spread of STDs to other humans.

Relationship Ethics Education would be there to prevent the spread of broken families and friends.



All it ask essentially, is for you to have pride in personal integrity (I don't give a damn about whatever the other guy/girl did. What did YOU do?)... is that too hard to ask for?

One of the biggest threats to this idea in implementation... "Soccer mom"

mofosyne, Dec 06 2013

(appropos pertinax's banking scenario) Toxic Debt http://www.institut...x?ArticleID=1026725
Invented by somebody French! (this time, anyway). [DrBob, Dec 08 2013]

And the aftermath... http://liveindex.or...-sting-in-the-tail/
[DrBob, Dec 08 2013]


       I've thought similarly about the possibility of heading off stalking before it happens by encouraging emotional literacy, so yes, I like and see it as along the same lines.
nineteenthly, Dec 06 2013

       Relationship ethics, like sexual ethics, exists at the manifold between culture and biology. A lot of decisions that we regard as "volitional" have strong passive biological underpinnings. We need to teach this. Individuals need to be aware that their behavior has biological as well as social and cultural influences, so they have the opportunity for critical self examination.   

       What you are actually examining, rather than the teaching of critical ethics is a greater emphasis on what you regard as a healthy social norm. Norming sucks. In my opinion the norm that you need to unpack is the social structures that enable and encourage individuals to build and maintain relationships that are essentially contractual, rather than empathetic and based on mutualism. The whole concept that a family may "break" or that a friendship may abruptly end without a rational cause is contingent on these relationships being superficial to the individuals involved.
WcW, Dec 06 2013

       Yeah, many countries are pretty explicit about how they think relationships should go down. They're big on fidelity and all that. They also enforce their rules with vim and vigour. These countries are, universally, hellholes. Countries where you're free to do whatever your Brain-Hormone complex is telling you to do are largely better. I'd argue that problems are caused by transitioning from one type to another, and the inter generational misunderstandings there caused.
bs0u0155, Dec 06 2013

       I think it's more than that [bs0u0155], I am very aware of constantly being bombarded with messages that discourage healthy honest relationships. Our popular culture is a story about the constant beginning and ending of superficial relationships. We glory in a consumer model for human relationships and it hurts all of us in a way that most people never even consider. My impression is that a majority of people finds any sort of deep interpersonal bonding baffling and scary, rather than normal. Trust, and honesty, which are the most important product of healthy bonding are a scarce commodity in a society that prizes individualism and interpersonal violence over co-operation and personal sacrifice.
WcW, Dec 06 2013

       //the norm that you need to unpack is the social structures that enable and encourage individuals to build and maintain relationships that are essentially contractual, rather than empathetic//   

       If you "unpack" (in order to eliminate) those social structures, what you are doing is creating a brutal power structure in which an individual's position is determined by how many mirror neurons they have. "How can it be brutal", you may ask, "if it's based on empathy?" The answer is simple: empathy doesn't scale.   

       To a large extent, this unpacking has already happened in the Western world, and has contributed to a great deal of entirely avoidable suffering.
pertinax, Dec 07 2013

       Yeah, you could explain that theory more. Especially the part about the unhappy people, the excessive empathy, and how critical examination of social structures destroys them. The examined life is less worth living?
WcW, Dec 07 2013

       Classic rant about whores disguised as idea.
rcarty, Dec 07 2013

       School, (the state) has no right whatsoever to try to push a certain "morality" that I may or may not agree with. The state has a right to demand that I know the law and to punish and correct if I break it. It has no right whatsoever to force me to call these laws just be they written or unwritten. I will never subscribe to your ethical standards of interhuman releationships in whatever form and the state has no business teaching it to my children. Possibly, probably, you or a loved one is upset about something.
zeno, Dec 07 2013

       //you could explain that theory more//   

       With pleasure, [WcW].   

       First, I don't think you're really interested in just "examining" these social structures in an open- minded way - I'm pretty sure you have a foregone conclusion in mind, and the rest of my earlier remarks were based on that assumption. If I was wrong in that assumption, then I might have to re- phrase them.   

       However, suppose that a particular process of critical examination does result in the elimination of those structures. I stand by the view that this has resulted, and continues to result, in avoidable misery. Once I have explained how that works, we can then go back to what might be wrong with the particular critical processes that have been applied during the past hundred years or so - notwithstanding the general virtues of critical analysis.   

       So, there are two mechanisms by which an exclusively empathy-based ethic generates misery - one direct, the other indirect.   

       To explain the direct mechanism, I will ask you to consider two vignettes from recent history. There have to be two, one from each side of politics, to emphasize that this is not a left-versus-right problem.   

       First, I would like you to imagine an office in Canberra, Australia, a couple of years ago, where Prime Minister Julia Gillard is considering what line to take in relation to a scandal affecting one Craig Thomson, a member of parliament and a senior official in the Health Services Union, who has been accused of using union funds to fund his personal expenses (such as prostitutes) on a large scale. There's documentary evidence that he's guilty as hell.   

       Thomson is a charming and attractive individual, whom Gillard would have seen on a daily basis. Furthermore, Thomson's vote is vital in sustaining Gillard's precarious minority government. So, not only Thomson himself, but just about everyone else around Gillard, would be very anxious that he should be given the benefit of the vanishingly small doubt in the case.   

       We'll leave them in that office for a bit, while we go to the second vignette.   

       We're in another office, this time in London, a few years earlier. In this office, a small group of financial markets professionals are discussing ninja loans - No Income, No Job (nor) Assets - which underlie the large volume of mortgage-backed securities washing around the financial system. As you have gathered from the acronym, they all know these things are poisonous. The question is whether anyone is willing to advise any client to stop buying them.   

       If someone does, then that client, and everyone relying on that client, is going to be much better off in a few years' time - but, in the meantime, the gravy train will be derailed (or at least slowed sharply down), not just for the whistle-blower himself, but for all his colleagues - the ones in the room with him.   

       I'm going to assume, to keep the argument simple, that no-one in either room is an actual psychopath. Not everyone in the financial markets is a psychopath, nor is everyone in national politics. They do exist, but I'm going to talk about them later, separately.   

       Both groups of people, the bankers on the right and the politicians on the left, are the children of emotional correctness. They live by empathy - both by the ability to read people from one moment to the next and by the ability to maintain a strong network of personal relationships. That may surprise you, in relation to the bankers, but I've worked with financial markets people, and I can vouch for the truth of it.   

       We know, because we've lived through the history, that both groups of people chose to do the wrong thing. The bankers backed each other, and not their clients, nor the faceless thousands of people depending on their clients. The Australian cabinet backed their charming friend, and not the faceless thousands of low-paid workers whose money he'd stolen.   

       You may say "this is inevitable", but it's not. It *is* possible for someone to stand up to the people in the room, in defense of other people who are not in the room - difficult, but possible. In order to do it, though, you need to acknowledge a relationship with the people outside the room which is based on contract, not on empathy. It can't be based on empathy, because empathy suffers from a sort of inverse square law with respect to social distance, whereby it's really hard to empathize with someone whose face you've never seen when a real face in front of yours is urging you in the opposite direction.   

       To have any chance of getting the right decision, you need someone inside the room who is so crashingly insensitive as to say "no" to all those nice people who are on the same side. *That* is the sense in which there can be too much empathy. Such people, honourable dorks, do exist but, since the mid twentieth century, they have been kept well away from centres of power, largely by the actions of such caring professionals as yourself, [WcW].   

       Inside the room where the decisions are made, everyone is happy with the lovely empathetic system. To find the unhappy people, you just have to look outside the room. That is what I mean by saying that empathy doesn't scale.   

       That's not to say that empathy is bad - on the contrary, empathy is vital - but it's a complement to the contractual element in human relationships, not an alternative to it.   

       Yes, I know, I was going to talk about psychopaths and indirect effects as well, but maybe you'd like to come back on those points first.
pertinax, Dec 08 2013

       Hmm! This idea rather depends on a single vision of an ideal set of 'personal ethics' and, however well meaning, is really just state sponsored indoctrination. Acceptable personal moralities, if they are to have any lasting influence, are something best worked out by people between themselves.
DrBob, Dec 08 2013

       Ok, so I'm not on whatever you are on so I didn't make the connection between crony politics and what I was saying about relationships based on an honest understanding of the other person as a fully formed individual with an inner life as rich as your own.
WcW, Dec 08 2013

       You didn't say anything about the richness of inner life, [WcW]. What you said was, essentially, that relationships should be based only on empathy and mutualism, and not on norms and contracts. That line has consequences. To reverse that cliche of the seventies, "The political is personal". Our choices, even if we are not politicians or bankers, have consequences beyond our social circle. How will we do the right thing in those choices, if we don't recognize our relationship to people until we get close enough to see their inner lives?
pertinax, Dec 08 2013

       //whatever you are on//   

       f.w.i.w., I'm on much the same thing that [rcarty] is on, but with the polarity reversed.
pertinax, Dec 08 2013

       At a basic, unpacked, simple level - this is *precisely* what school already does/is for. You think anyone is actually learning anything useful in those places? Nah. It's pretty much all socialisation and Jonny-get-on-nicely-with-Suzie type stuff - or, put another way "Retlationship Ethics Education" - at least implicitly anyway.   

       And explicitly in such classes as we had to sit through with names like "Social and Personal Education" which essentially told us not to bully people, not to take drugs, and to otherwise be nice boys and girls. So in my school anyway, this is very much baked to a crisp.
zen_tom, Dec 09 2013

       I agree with zen_tom and pertinax. My main concern about this idea is that kids are bastards. This is particularly though unintentionally the case when they are teenagers, each coming to terms with the fact that the world (trans. anyone who isn't precisely them) doesn't revolve around them. Adolescence is not a time for self-reflection or subtle consideration of human interaction. No, it is a time for two things: (1) deciding how you have decided The World Works and (2) deciding what your position is with regard to How The World Works. The arbitrary, confusing complexity of human interaction (on all its scales) is far more than an adolescent mind can, at first / second / third pass, parse. Order must be brought, and as order is largely non-existant in life, it must be brought artifically, superimposed on the world. These artificial systems of self-support (in the sense of being a system that is designed to support the self of the adolescent, not necessarily to be themselves self-supporting), anyway these artificial systems of self support are commonly binary and admit no shades or give and take. Preaching mutual respect and empathy (on whatever scale) to adolescents, will be as well-received as aiming a jet of your hot orange piss into their faces. Even if accepting the education would be good for them, to accept it would be to institutionally and p much explicitly tell them they are looking at the world all RONG and that they are DIVVIES who SUCK.   

       So yes, zen_tom is right, the relationship education you get as a teenager comes from the clashing of each teenager's worldviews, a rubbing along that erodes the certitude of the various positions. Of course, this is completely undermined by, for example, one strangely charismatic student who read L'Etranger at the wrong / right time coming along and sharing an attractively reductive "nothing matters" philosophy, students drawn to this theoretically liberating worldview finding themselves palling around with those of common mind, never coming into contact with the optimists or what have you, other than sneeringly. Cliques, gangs and petty personality cults in school delay empathetic progress in much the same way that nationalism delays pan-continential or pan-global empathy.
calum, Dec 09 2013

       While "teaching ethics" is concerning and suggests a private grievance, teaching the psychology of relationships and giving examples of common relationship pitfalls might be a good idea.   

       The most helpful advice is probably not what anyone wants to teach or hear, though.
sninctown, Dec 09 2013

       //My main concern about this idea is that kids are bastards.// And some people (approximately, the psychopaths and sociopaths) are simply evil for their entire lives. Teaching such people how their behaviour affects others only makes them more destructive, because they don't care about other people and actively enjoy hurting them. We aren't taught at school that such people exist, let alone how to deal with them. Many find out the hard way.
spidermother, Dec 10 2013

       I have a heterodox theory about that, [spidermother].   

       At present, psychiatry recognizes two categories of person who, because of their brain structure, lack empathy. It calls one group "autistic" and the other group "psychopaths"*, and discusses them as though they were entirely unrelated to each other. And indeed, at a behavioural level, they are very different. The autist is a lousy liar and hates lying in others, whereas the psychopath takes to lying like a duck to water. The autist lives a very rule-bound life, whereas the psychopath disdains rules.   

       Inside, though, so far as I can gather (and I'd be very interested in any studies which bear on this), no-one's established much of a neurological difference between them - though they are both neurologically different from the average person.   

       So, what factor does differentiate them, making them take one fork in the behavioural road rather than the other?   

       I suggest self-esteem; psychopaths (and this is well-attested by studies) have high self-esteem, autistic people, lower self-esteem.   

       Now, if a child starts off with a neurological disposition towards empathy - a "histrionic" brain, that being the opposite of an autistic brain, then self-esteem is very good for them. Their heads are full of mirror-neurons, and if you shower esteem on them, they happily reflect it on to those around them, and everybody wins. Twentieth century educational theory, with its roots in psychoanalysis, assumes that virtually everybody either is or ought to be of this histrionic type - although, in fact, a great many people are either autistic or some half-and-half mixture of autistic and histrionic characteristics.   

       Consequently, twentieth century educational theory is lavish with the self-esteem and - for histrionic people - this works well. It builds their confidence and sets them up for life. However, this same process, which produces happy, confident histrionic people, turns out as its by- product a steady trickle of psychopaths, just as surely as the chemical extraction of gold turns out a steady trickle of cyanide or sulfuric acid.   

       And there's another twist to this.   

       As you know, psychopaths are cruel because they don't register the emotional signals from others which might normally trigger pity. Autistic people not only don't register those signals from others, but aren't able to broadcast such signals effectively when *they* are distressed. (Psychopaths don't properly broadcast them, either, but have learned to fake them). Therefore, whereas the distress of one histrionic person arouses pity in another histrionic person, yet the distress of an autistic person does not arouse pity. It's more likely to arouse amusement. So, towards the autistic person, the "well-adjusted" histrionic person is liable to behave like a psychopath.   

       This effect is largely mitigated where everyone is schooled in an ethical framework which involves rules as well as empathy. However, in an ethical framework which despises rules, and relies on empathy alone, it's not mitigated at all. This may be another factor in the diversion of a susceptible person down the "vicious psychopath" path, rather than the "harmless nerd" path.   

       *Yes, I know, the term "psychopath" is less in favour now than in the past, being replaced by other terms, but I understand that this change represents only marginal nosological drift, and not anything more fundamental.
pertinax, Dec 10 2013

       Is it poor relational ethics to point out the number of subject - verb plurality disagreements here?
RayfordSteele, Dec 10 2013


back: main index

business  computer  culture  fashion  food  halfbakery  home  other  product  public  science  sport  vehicle