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TuvixWasMurderedR1P OP t1_j5yzbkj wrote

> Dr Farbod Akhlaghi, a moral philosopher at Christ’s College, argues that everyone has a right to “self authorship”, so must make decisions about transformative experiences for themselves.

> In a new paper for the philosophy journal Analysis, he argues that this right to “revelatory autonomy” is violated even by well-meaning advice from friends and family about crucial life decisions.


> Akhlaghi argues it is only justifiable to interfere in someone else’s transformative choice by competing moral considerations, such as if harm is likely to be done others.



bishop0408 t1_j5z05rf wrote

I'm not sure I'm buying into the severity he describes esp with his vague concepts


willowtr332020 t1_j5z1gob wrote

I have stepped back from making strong arguments either way for family and friends when they are in the midst of making big decisions.

I kind of agree, you cannot project what you found yourself in your life onto what may happen to others. They are not you and life is not linear or predictable.


helquine t1_j5z3vpf wrote

Wtf is the title of this thread? It's stupidly inflammatory, and not even a verbatim copy of linked article's title.

Moral duty’ to allow family and friends to make big life choices, says Cambridge philosopher

I haven't read the article, but I really doubt it actually suggests that friends and family shouldn't give advice to loved ones.


Zephrok t1_j5z3zuz wrote

I completely agree, having seen this intimately from both sides.


PM_ur_Rump t1_j5z4dmz wrote

I advise that author proofread their articles, and that philosopher learn to take good advice now and then.


bishop0408 t1_j5z4jl0 wrote

He says you shouldn't be giving advice regarding "transformative experiences" because making those decisions yourself shapes independent morals, values, and thinking.

He says that "it is impossible to know if a friend’s life will benefit from a transformative experience – such as new job, the birth of a child, or a university course – until after the event. It is for them to find out, he says." Therefore the friend shouldn't give advice.

Kinda crazy that advising on having or not having kids is the same level of advising not to take a certain class

Eta: shapes *preferences, not morals


tkuiper t1_j5z4pi8 wrote

Your just as likely to be right/wrong as they are, I always see myself as an additional perspective. Id never demand a choice, but I'll definitely share what's worked for me. Likewise that's how I take advice.


ChaoticJargon t1_j5z6pxo wrote

So, the author can't complain if I choose to seek advice because that is part of my own self-authorship. Also, the author can't complain if giving advice is part of my self-authorship, which by the way, self-authorship is not really defined in the text.

So the author is saying that a leader should never seek advice. That seems a bit, immoral, if you ask me. A leader should be open to the experiences of others. The author is taking too narrow a stance and not really considering all the implications of their idea.


TuvixWasMurderedR1P OP t1_j5z6qbf wrote

This is only an article about his academic article. My own inclination is to disagree as well, but I thought it was interesting for discussion. I'd like to read the original published one. I wonder how Dr. Akhlaghi defends this...


tkuiper t1_j5z7iha wrote

There's definitely a way to phrase things. Like how you'd explain answers to a test vs. how you'd describe a vacation. Extra couching if I'm not sure they're receiving it how I intend.

I feel like the point of advice is you're looking for influence. I'm not asking someone for advice because I expect to totally ignore it.


ChaoticJargon t1_j5z80h8 wrote

Based on the limited article alone I don't believe there's a defensible position. The only one I can find personally is the concept of boundaries. In other words, intentionally blocking others from giving advice is a personal right, but beyond that I can't find any other argument to agree with their full stance.


TuvixWasMurderedR1P OP t1_j5z8nbw wrote

I agree that the terms "autonomous self-making" and "self-authorship" and "revelatory autonomy" are vague. Hopefully he provides a proper definition of the terms in his academic paper.

Though what I don't quite understand is how receiving advice actually interferes with this. After all, there's still a significant distinction between being told a thing and experiencing a thing.

I'm sure we've all had that experience in which our parents have offered us words of wisdom as children or teenagers, only for us to learn the exact same lesson "the hard way."


eyekill11 t1_j5zlinw wrote

>Akhlaghi argues it is only justifiable to interfere in someone else’s transformative choice by competing moral considerations, such as if harm is likely to be done others.

"Don't give advice unless you think advice is really needed." As if we live in a vacuum, and our transformative choices affect no one. Thanks for nothing.


bcjh t1_j605t3n wrote

Taking any/life advice from The Guardian would be like learning fire safety from a criminal arsonist.


ASHMITA_BOSE t1_j614zp7 wrote

I'll agree to this if the opinion or help was unsolicited. But if they come asking for help and my opinion... I'll give them that.


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Fishermans_Worf t1_j61go9a wrote

I agree. Advice is often ill informed and can be harmful.

However, I'm not sure if he's saying that advice itself it immoral or that nonconsensual advice is immoral. News media is a pretty unreliable source for technical information.

The experience of others is valuable, and I do not see how consensual advice could be objectionable. All you have to do is ask.


dghammer t1_j61r0el wrote

His assertion that it is “immoral” is ludicrous. If a friend or family member asks for advice on something it is our duty to assist them…but I think advice given unasked is uncalled for and possibly detrimental to a person.


shade_of_freud t1_j61xmn9 wrote

This is the first thing they teach social work students. You can help people question things but you can never know what's best, or take responsibility if it turns out good (or bad)


Java2391 t1_j62gp17 wrote

Isn’t it immoral to not help someone from a bad decision? One that could end their life? A person who begins drugs goes to rehab, they are out still going through recovery and there is a clear opportunity to stop them from relapsing. Would it not be immoral to allow their life to end or be damaged if you didn’t help them?


scrollbreak t1_j62jfhr wrote

I presume as we are not family or friends of his then in his philosophy it's okay to tell us to make the life choice of not doing this?


ktreddit t1_j62jg6i wrote

You think that’s bad. You should see the stuff I do when I’m only thinking of myself…


emeraldspots t1_j62nmyl wrote

I swear I thought "Immoral" was some TV series which would have said advice


Jenniferinfl t1_j634cnr wrote

I agree. So often the results of our choices are influenced by just luck so it's foolish to use that information to influence others.

My parents were deeply against a university education for me. They thought anything beyond a certificate program to be a waste of funds.

My parents barely finished high school and were successful and so they were adamant that my experience would be the same. It wasn't.

I worked hard, got decent reviews, got promotions but never earned above poverty wages.

They were furious when I went to college and didn't attend a single graduation. They still refuse to acknowledge they were wrong instead taking my failure to achieve success as evidence of my laziness.

They heavily influenced who I dated as well which also went horribly.

I'm encouraging my daughter to make the educational decisions that make the most sense to her. For me the right choice was a university education, but for others it's trade school. She needs to examine everything and make the choice that feels right to her because it's her life.

I think any advice we might give should be limited to how we did something if someone else is curious- but never whether or not someone should do something.


hOprah_Winfree-carr t1_j638rh9 wrote

This is pretty silly. I might agree if the tactics were manipulative, but simply offering advice? No. What seems to be overlooked here is that advice from others is really just additional information available in one's environment. It's up to the person receiving advice to decide how to weight, interpret, and apply it. We have impressionable, stubborn, and contrarian types among us. Those are ways of describing set biases in the ways people treat such information. But the most important part is that information is not coercion.

It's also important to learn how to handle such advice, because you're absolutely going to be receiving it. Even if this moral stance against coaching people on their life choices made any sense, it would still be ignoring that fact. If you ignored the fact that reading is an essential life skill, you could easily make the case that it's immoral to force children to learn it. But that's cutting the context short; in the full context, it's immoral not to.


SansCitizen t1_j63a4wz wrote

Agreed, and for that matter, I’m not even sure if “self-authorship” could have a satisfactory definition here that describes anything truly possible… I can’t immediately think of an opportunity which can be taken without first having been offered in some way, by somebody. Devoid of influence from others, the stories most of us would be left to write with our lives would be empty, boring, and short.


Eude_Laplace t1_j63cpy9 wrote

I guess family wisdom has no utility these days. “Dad, how come you never said anything?” “Well, I didn’t want to be that guy.” “Sheeessh!”


JomadoSumabi t1_j63ev8e wrote

Including VACCINES!

Mind your business


Bob-Dolemite t1_j63m5yy wrote

thats a hard no from me

Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

Proverbs 19:20-NLT Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.


WesternIron t1_j63my5r wrote

I haven’t read the academic paper, for those that have. How does he deal with the autonomy to harm oneself? To actively make decisions, rational or non-rational, that will cause harm to your person.

Furthermore, what about intervention when someone is say, about to get scammed? About to join a known cult? Behaviors that are 100% destructive, how do they contend with that?


-erisx t1_j69oelo wrote

This is definitely true, however it’s not a one size fits all type thing, it’s always going to be relative to the situation. Also how you give the advice… is it descriptive or prescriptive?

Recently my friend was dating a girl who was extremely manipulative toward him. She had a habit of intentionally breaking down his confidence (consciously or subconsciously I’m not sure… but it was definitely in someway intended to break down his self esteem). Things like telling him he’s dumb, weak, ‘not man enough’ etc. she had a clear habit of manipulating his behaviour so she could have more control over him - for instance coming up with ridiculous reasons to keep him from leaving the house when she was away. She’d frequently ask him to give her a lift and pick her up from things (using her car, which just made zero sense). Once she was away for a weekend seeing her family and she told him he had to stay home the whole weekend to look after their cat (even though they had two other housemates who were perfectly capable of feeding it)… she would chastise him for every tiny little thing (like arriving home to an un-vacuumed floor or an un wiped bench). She also frequently threatened to leave him over tiny arguments she started out of thin air over complete non issues and would disappear to random people’s houses for the weekend without telling him (many occasions it was another guys house), then she’d just roll back home and act like nothing ever happened… typical manipulative behaviour. I saw his confidence slowly deteriorating over time, I also saw him constantly stressed over the perpetual arguments she started and refused to resolve.

I was torn between letting it play out or intervening. I spent a long time deliberating on whether I should leave him to make his decisions or just tell him straight out to end it and move on (also by the time I knew what was happening, he’d already dug himself in quite deep and separating would’ve been very hard for him so I really just didn’t know was was the best way to provide support as a friend honestly, she also convinced him that it was bad faith to tell other people about relationship issues so he was often scared and reluctant to confide in anyone from fear that she would find out he was telling other people about their relationship issues). In the end I decided I wasn’t going to intervene until I saw really serious and obvious life changing problems occurring.

It even went so far that she convinced him to buy a home in her home town and have the sale managed by her father who was a real estate agent. It was a terrible investment, and due to her propensity for manipulative/controlling behaviour I was pretty certain she did it so he would be more attached to her, given her dad who was the real estate agent managing the sale and rental tenants too. The house wasn’t even in the same state as him. Neither of them had plans to live there, the plan was to rent it out and pay the mortgage from the rent income, but they were sinking money renting in the state they were actually living in, so I don’t see how any costs were being offset with this plan… anyway it was just dumb.

All of her behaviour from the outside looking in it was quite obvious she was putting him in scenarios which made it very hard for him to leave her if things turned sour… she had a bad fear of abandonment, every one of her friends believed she had bpd (apparently she was diagnosed as a kid and it seemed she refused to acknowledge it, to me it looked like text book bpd… fear of abandonment, manipulating loved ones into situations where they can’t leave etc… so I was pretty certain this was the case).

The first time he confided in me about their arguments I could see exactly where their relationship was likely headed. My instinct was to tell him he should get the hell out of it before things turned worse, however I chose not to because I felt it was a situation which he needed to learn from himself, and it’s just not my place to tell him how he should be managing his personal relationships and investments. I decided to let it play out so he could see for himself where it would lead because he needed that learning experience for himself. If I just took the liberty of making decisions for him, I’d be robbing him of the chance to learn from experience which would not result in any personal growth for him… and also there’s an infantilising element too, because I’m not his dad, he’s not a child either, there’s just so many reasons why I shouldn’t have got involved in his decision making. I’ve come to realise there’s a good reason why society believes it’s rude to ask questions about another’s financial and relationship situations.

Anyway, the relationship inevitably blew up and as it crumbled I only gave him my opinions only in a descriptive way to help him make sense of it and come to his own conclusions so he could make his own decision instead of giving him advice in a prescriptive way. I felt it was better to just be there for support and perspective because it’s his life and he needs to learn these lessons on his own.

There was also the worry that he could think I was trying to sabotage his relationship if he didn’t believe my opinion. It was obvious he couldn’t see what was going on, so there was a high chance he wouldn’t believe me. There was also the chance that my judgement was incorrect too, because I don’t know the entire story first hand… so who am I to just jump in and tell him what’s what?

Giving friends advice is very tricky and we can’t take the same approach in every situation. If a friend has a habit of highly reckless driving for instance, it would be much better to tell them straight away to stop because their lesson could result in death or serious injury, it could also result in injuries for other people. There’s no one size fits all rulebook for giving advice to friends, and I think it takes a lot of deliberation when it comes to our decisions in these scenarios.

I think in a most situations (especially financial or relationship related), it’s best to stay out of it unless the friend specifically comes to you asking for direct advice. It’s also important to be wary of giving descriptive vs prescriptive advice too when they seek advice. I think overall, unless the decision can result in serious life/death ramifications I think it’s best to leave it up to the other person. People can only grow if they go out and learn directly from experience… when we intervene we rob them of that opportunity to learn and gain wisdom.

Edit: grammar


-erisx t1_j69p84e wrote

Yep. I think a lot of it comes down to descriptive vs prescriptive advice… advice is highly valuable, and we can’t just make decisions without the help of others. I think it’s partially about learning to give advice in the right way and also learning to take advice in the right way. If you just do anything anyone tells you, you’re a fool. And if you guide someone’s decisions in a highly aggressive way your just being over controlling. The whole thing takes a lot of deliberation and careful decision making from both parties.


Vainti t1_j69rtlt wrote

Pretty indefensible take. Life advice is consistent and essential for children. He offers no specific consequentialist net benefit to increased self actualization and ignores the harm caused by a generation of children who aren’t warned about the risks of pregnancy and drug addiction.

Also the quote disparaging providing evidence backed advice specifically felt strange: “Offering reasons, arguments or evidence as if one is in a privileged position with respect to what the other person’s experience would be like for them disrespects their moral right to revelatory autonomy.” Surely the evidence supporting your advice should make it more justified. It’s more reasonable and moral to advise someone to avoid Xanax addiction than it is to control their career path precisely because of the evidence. It’s just so interesting that he’s against advice, but seems especially against what doctors and psychologists would call “good advice.”