Present your perspective on the issue below, using relevant reasons and/or examples to support your views.
"People often look for similarities, even between very different things, and even when it is unhelpful or harmful to do so. Instead, a thing should be considered on its own terms; we should avoid the tendency to compare it to something else."
Present your perspective on the issue below, using relevant reasons and/or examples to support your views.
"People are mistaken when they assume that the problems they confront are more complex and challenging than the problems faced by their predecessors. This illusion is eventually dispelled with increased knowledge and experience."
The speaker contends that most important discoveries and creations are accident that they come about when we are seeking answers to other questions. I concede that this contention finds considerable support from important discoveries of the past. However, the contention overstates the role of accident, or serendipity, when it comes to modern day discoveries and when it comes to creations.
Turning first to discoveries, I agree that discovery often occurs when we unexpectedly happen upon something in our quest for something else such as an answer to unrelated question or a solution to an unrelated problem. A variety of geographical, scientific, and anthropological discoveries aptly illustrate this point. In search of a trade route to the West Indies Columbus discovered instead an inhabited continent unknown to Europeans; and during the course of an unrelated experiment Fleming accidentally discovered penicillin. In search of answers to questions about marine organisms, oceanographers often happen upon previously undiscovered, and important, archaeological artefacts and geological phenomena; conversely, in their quest to understand the Earth's structure and history geologists often stumble upon important human artefacts. In light of the foregoing examples, "intentional discovery" might seem an oxymoron; yet in fact it is not. Many important discoveries are anticipated and sought out purposefully.
For instance, in their efforts to find new celestial bodies astronomers using increasingly powerful telescopes do indeed find them. Biochemists often discover important new vaccines and other biological and chemical agents for the curing, preventing, and treating diseases not by stumbling upon them in search of something else but rather through methodical search for these discoveries. In fact, in today's world discovery is becoming increasingly an anticipated result of careful planning and methodical research, for the reason that scientific advancement now requires significant resources that only large corporations and governments possess. These entities are accountable to their share-holders and constituents, who demand clear strategies and objectives so that they can see a return on their investments.
Turning next to how our creations typically come about, in marked contrast to discoveries, creations are by nature products of their creators' purposeful designs. Consider mankind's key creations, such as the printing press, the internal combustion engine, and semi-conductor technology. Each of these inventions sprung quite intentionally from the inventor's imagination and objectives. It is crucial to distinguish here between a creation and the spin-offs from that creation, which the original creator may or may not foresee. For instance, the engineers at a handful of universities who originally created the ARPAnet as a means to transfer data amongst themselves certainly intended to create that network for that purpose. What these engineers did not intend to create, however, was what would eventually grow to become the infrastructure for mass media and communications, and even commerce. Yet the ARPA net itself was no accident, nor are the many creations that it spawned, such as the World Wide Web and the countless creations that the Web has in turned spawned.
In sum, the speaker has overlooked a crucial distinction between the nature of discovery and the nature of creation. Although serendipity has always played a key role in many important discoveries, at least up until now, purposeful intent is necessarily the key to human creation.
The speaker's assertion that art must be widely understood to have merit is wrongheaded.
The speaker misunderstands the final objective of art, which has little to do with cognitive "understanding."
First consider the musical art form. The fact that the listener must "understand" the composer's artistic expression without the benefit of words or visual images forces us to ask: "What is there to understand in the first place?" Of course, the listener can always struggle to appreciate how the musical piece employs various harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic principles. Yet it would be absurd to assert that the objective of music is to challenge the listener's knowledge of music theory. In fact, listening to music is simply an encounter an experience to be accepted at face value for its aural impact on our spirit and our emotions.
Next consider the art forms of painting and sculpture. In the context of these art forms, the speaker seems to suggest that if we cannot all understand what the work is supposed to represent, then we should dismiss the work as worthless. Again, however, the speaker misses the point of art. Only by provoking and challenging us, and inciting our emotions, imagination, and wonder do paintings and sculpture hold merit. Put another way, if the test for meritorious art were its ability to be clearly understood by every observer, then our most valuable art would simply imitate the mundane physical world around us. A Polaroid picture taken by a monkey would be considered great art, while the abstract works of Pollock and Picasso would be worth no more than the salvage value of the materials used to create them.
Finally, consider art forms such as poetry, song, and prose, where the use of language is part-and-parcel of the art. It is easy to assume that where words are involved they must be strung together in understandable phrases in order for the art to have any merit. Moreover, if the writer-artist resorts exclusively to obscure words that people simply do not know, then the art can convey nothing beyond the alliterative or onomatopoeic impact that the words might have when uttered aloud. However, in poetry and song the writer-artist often uses words as imagery-to conjure up feelings and evoke visceral reactions in the reader or listener. In these cases stanzas and verses need not be "understood" to have merit, as much as they need be experienced for the images and emotions they evoke.
When it comes to prose, admittedly the writer-artist must use words to convey cognitive ideas for example, to help the reader follow the plot of a novel. In these cases the art must truly be "understood" on a Linguistic and cognitive level; otherwise it is mere gibberish without merit except perhaps as a doorstop. Nevertheless, the final objective even of literature is to move the reader emotionally and spiritually not simply to inform. Thus, even though a reader might understand the twists and turns of a novel's plot intellectually, what's the point if the reader has come away unaffected in emotion or spirit?
In the final analysis, whether art must be understood by most people, or by any person, in order for it to have merit begs the question. To "understand" art a person need only have eyes to see or ears to hear, and a soul to feel.
I concede that basic human nature has not changed over recorded history, and that coming to appreciate this fact by studying history can be beneficial in how we live as a society. However, I disagree with the statement in two respects. First, in other ways there are marked differences between people of different time periods, and learning about those differences can be just as beneficial. Second, studying history carries other equally important benefits as well.
I agree with the statement insofar as through the earnest study of human history we learn that basic human nature our desires and motives, as well as our fears and foibles has remained constant over recorded time. And through this realization we can benefit as a society in dealing more effectively with our enduring social problems. History teaches us, for example, that it is a mistake to attempt to legislate morality, because humans by nature resist having their moral choices forced upon them. History also teaches us that our major social ills are here to stay, because they spring from human nature. For instance, crime and violence have troubled almost every society; all manner of reform, prevention, and punishment have been tried with only partial success. Today, the trend appears to be away from reform toward a "tough-on-crime" approach, to no avail.
However beneficial it might be to appreciate the unchanging nature of humankind, it is equally beneficial to understand and appreciate significant differences between peoples of different time periods in terms of cultural mores, customs, values, and ideals. For example, the ways in which societies have treated women, ethnic minorities, animals, and the environment have confirmly evolved over the course of human history. Society's attitudes toward artistic expression, literature, and scientific and intellectual inquiry are also in a continual state of evolution. And, perhaps the most significant sort of cultural evolution involves spiritual beliefs, which have always spun themselves out, albeit uneasily, through clashes between established traditions and more enlightened viewpoints. A heightened awareness of all these aspects of cultural evolution help us formulate informed, reflective, and enlightened values and ideals for ourselves; and our society clearly benefits as a result.
Another problem with the statement is that it undervalues other, equally important benefits of studying history. Learning about the courage and tenacity of history's great explorers, leaders, and other achievers inspires us to similar accomplishments, or at least to face own fears as we travel through life. Learning about the mistakes of past societies helps us avoid repeating them. For instance, the world is slowly coming to learn by studying history that political states whose authority stems from suppression of individual freedoms invariably fall of their own oppressive weight. And, learning about one's cultural heritage, or roots, fosters a healthy sense of self and cultivates an interest in preserving art, literature, and other cultural artefacts all of which serve to enrich society.
To sum up, history informs us that basic human nature has not changed, and this history lesson can help us understand and be more tolerant of one another, as well as develop compassionate responses to the problems and failings of others. Yet, history has other lessons to offer us as well. It helps us formulate informed values and ideals for ourselves, inspires us to great achievements, points out mistakes to avoid, and helps us appreciate our cultural heritage.
The speaker contends that if prison conditions are made "as unpleasant as possible" then potential violent criminals would be deterred from committing crimes. I strongly disagree.
History makes clear that so-called "tough-on-crime" approaches are simply not effective crime deterrents. Moreover, the speaker recommends a policy that would serve to undermine two other important objectives of incarceration, and that would run contrary to certain countervailing societal interests.
In light of all the conveniences that our society provides its prisoners today, it might be tempting to agree with the speaker. Violent criminals tend to come from neighborhoods where drug trafficking, vandalism and burglary, and therefore violent crime are commonplace. For these individuals prison can be a haven a comparatively secure place where inmates are provided with room, board, health care, exercise facilities, and so forth. Accordingly, unless prison life is made more unpleasant overall than life outside prison walls, individuals will not be deterred from committing violent crimes.
Conceding this point, I nevertheless find the speaker's contention dubious at best. Even assuming that potential criminals are made aware of the unpleasantness that awaits them behind bars for example, through the various "scared straight" social programs that are popular in inner city schools today for three reasons the deterrent effect of the speaker's proposed policy would be negligible. First, most violent criminals are relatively young; and young people tend to act impetuously, to lack self-restraint, and to disregard potential adverse consequences of their actions. Second, recent genetic research reveals that violent behaviour is largely the result of genetic makeup rather than environmental factors; thus attempts to deter "born criminals" are unlikely to succeed. Third, consider the various means of public execution used throughout history: crucifixion, burning at the stake, hanging, and so forth.
While I have no doubt that these shocking public displays have always deterred crime, extreme unpleasantness behind modern prison walls would simply not be sufficiently gruesome or public to effectively deter potential criminals.
Even if I were to concede that severely unpleasant prison conditions would serve to reduce the incidence of violent crime, following the speaker's advice would risk thwarting two other purposes of incarcerating criminals: to reform them and to quarantine them. If prison conditions are made too severe, then any attempt to reform whether it be through education, psychological counselling, or work programs have little effect on inmates, who upon release from prison would lash out at the society that subjected them to such severe conditions. Moreover, the chief reason we imprison dangerous individuals is to quarantine them that is, to protect ourselves from them. Thus as long as prisons are secure, living conditions in those prisons are incidental.
Finally, the speaker overlooks certain competing public-policy considerations. One such consideration is our constitutional right to due process of law, by which convicted criminals have the right to appeal their convictions. If prison conditions are made extremely harsh, then any eventual acquittal might be little consolation for the wrongfully accused inmate who has already been forced to suffer those harsh conditions. Secondly, the speaker recommends a course of action that might sanction abuse of inmates by prison officials and guards. Thirdly, the argument overlooks all the ways in which prison inmates serve society in productive ways while in prison. For example, many prisons have recently instituted programs by which inmates refurbish used computers for use in public schools. A prison whose conditions are "as unpleasant as possible" might consider such programs too pleasant for inmates, and decline to participate; and society would be worse off as a result.
In sum, I find the speaker's contention indefensible in light of numerous countervailing considerations. In the final analysis, history informs us that violent crime is a universal and timeless social problem, and that no manner of punishment can eliminate it.
Do people too often look for similarities between things, regardless of whether it is helpful or harmful to do so, and not often enough evaluate things on their own individual merit? The speaker believes so. I agree to an extent, especially when it comes to making determinations about people. However, the speaker overlooks a fundamental and compelling reason why people must always try to find similarities between things.
I agree with the speaker insofar as insisting on finding similarities between things can often result in unfair, and sometimes harmful, comparisons. By focusing on the similarities among all big cities, for example, we overlook the distinctive character, architecture, ethnic diversity, and culture of each one. Without evaluating an individual company on its own merits before buying stock in that company, an investor runs the risk of choosing a poor performer in an otherwise attractive product sector or geographic region. And schools tend to group students according to their performance on general intelligence tests and academic exams. By doing so, schools overlook more specific forms of intelligence which should be identified and nurtured on a more individualized basis so that each student can fulffil his or her potential.
As the final example above illustrates, we should be especially be careful when looking for similarities between people. We humans have a tendency to draw arbitrary condusions about one another based on gender, race, and superficial characteristics. Each individual should be evaluated instead on the basis of his or her own merit in terms of character, accomplishment, and so forth. Otherwise, we run the risk of unfair bias and even prejudice, which manifest themselves in various forms of discrimination and oppression. Yet prejudice can result from looking too hard for differences as well, while overlooking the things that all people share.
Thus while partly correct, the speaker's assertion doesn't go far enough-to account for the potential harm in drawing false distinctions between types of people.
Yet, in another sense the speaker goes too far by overlooking a fundamental, even philosophical, reason why we should always look for similarities between things. Specifically, it is the only way humans can truly learn anything and communicate with one another. Any astute developmental psychologist, epistemologist, or even parent would agree that we come to understand each new thing we encounter by comparing it to something with which we are already familiar. For example, if a child first associates the concept of blue with the sky's colour, then the next blue thing the child encounters a ball, for instance the child recognizes as blue only by way of its similarity to the sky.
Furthermore, without this association and a label for the concept of blue the child cannot possibly convey the concept to another person. Thus looking for similarities between things is how we make sense of our world, as well as communicate with one another.
To sum up, I agree that finding false similarities and drawing false analogies can be harmful, especially when reaching conclusions about people. Nevertheless, from a philosophical and linguistic point of view, humans must look for similarities between things in order to learn and to communicate.
In any case the problems we face are more complex and challenging than those which our predecessors faced merely an illusion-one that can be dispelled by way of knowledge and experience? The speaker believes so, although I disagree. In my view, the speaker unfairly generalizes about the nature of contemporary problems, some of which have no analogy from earlier times and which in some respects are more complex and challenging than any problems earlier societies ever confronted. Nevertheless, I agree that many of the other problems we humans face are by their nature enduring ones that have changed little in complexity and difficulty over the span of human history; and I agree that through experience and enlightened reflection on human history we grow to realize this fact.
I turn first to my chief point of contention with the statement. The speaker overlooks certain societal problems unique to today's world, which are complex and challenging in ways unlike any problems that earlier societies ever faced. Consider three examples. The first involves the growing scarcity of the world's natural resources. An ever-increasing human population, together with over-consumption on the part of developed nations and with global dependencies on finite natural resources, have created uniquely contemporary environmental problems that are global in impact and therefore pose political and economic challenges previously unrivalled in complexity.
A second uniquely contemporary problem has to do with the fact that the nations of the world are growing increasingly interdependent politically, militarily, and economically.
Interdependency makes for problems that are far more complex than analogous problems for individual nations during times when they were more insular, more self-sustaining, and more autonomous.
A third uniquely contemporary problem is an outgrowth of the inexorable advancement of scientific knowledge, and one that society voluntarily takes up as a challenge. Through scientific advancements we've already solved innumerable health problems, harnessed various forms of physical energy, and so forth. The problems left to address are the ones that are most complex and challenging for example, slowing the aging process, replacing human limbs and organs, and colonizing other worlds in the event ours becomes inhabitable. In short, as we solve each successive scientific puzzle we move on to more challenging and complex ones.
I turn next to my points of agreement with the statement. Humans face certain universal and timeless problems, which are neither more nor less complex and challenging for any generation than for preceding ones. These sorts of problems are the ones that spring from the failings and foibles that are part-and-parcel of human nature. Our problems involving interpersonal relationships with people of the opposite sex stem from basic differences between the two sexes. The social problems of prejudice and discrimination know no chronological bounds because it is our nature to fear and mistrust people who are different from us. War and crime stem from the male aggressive instinct and innate desire for power. We've never been able to solve social problems such as homelessness and hunger because we are driven by self-interest.
I agree with the statement also in that certain kinds of intellectual struggles to deter mine the meaning of life, whether God exists, and so forth are timeless ones whose complexities and mystery know no chronological bounds whatsoever. The fact that we rely on ancient teachings to try to solve these problems underscores the fact that these problems have not grown any more complex over the course of human history. And, with respect to all the timeless problems mentioned above I agree that knowledge and experience hdp us to understand that these problems are not more complex today than before. In the final analysis, by studying history, human psychology, theology, and philosophy we come to realize that, aside from certain uniquely contemporary problems, we face the same fundamental problems as our predecessors because we face the same human condition as our predecessors whenever we look in the mirror.
The speaker suggests that the most effective way to teach others is to praise positive actions while ignoring negative ones. In my view, this statement is too extreme. It overlooks circumstances under which praise might be inappropriate, as well as ignoring the beneficial value of constructive criticism, and sometimes even punishment.
The recommendation that parents, teachers, and employers praise positive actions is generally good advice. For young children positive reinforcement is critical in the development of healthy self-esteem and self-confidence. For students appropriate positive feedback serves as a motivating force, which spurs them on to greater academic achievement. For employees, appropriately administered praise enhances productivity and employee loyalty, and makes for a more congenial and pleasant work environment overall.
While recommending praise for positive actions is fundamentally sound advice, this advice should carry with it certain caveats. First, some employees and older students might fred excessive praise to be patronizing or paternalistic. Secondly, some individuals need and respond more appropriately to praise than others; those administering the praise should be sensitive to the individual's need for positive reinforcement in the first place. Thirdly, praise should be administered fairly and even handedly. By issuing more praise to one student than to others, a teacher might cause one recipient to be labelled by classmates as teacher's pet, even if the praise is well deserved or badly needed. If the result is to alienate other students, then the praise might not be justified. Similarly, at the workplace a supervisor must be careful to issue praise fairly and even handedly, or risk accusations of undue favouritism, or even discrimination.
As for ignoring negative actions, I agree that minor peccadilloes can, and in many cases should, be overlooked. Mistakes and other negative actions are often part of the natural learning process. Young children are naturally curious, and parents should not scold their children for every broken plate or precocious act. Otherwise, children do not develop a healthy sense of wonder and curiosity, and will not learn what they must in order to make their own way in the world. Teachers should avoid rebuking or punishing students for faulty reasoning, incorrect responses to questions, and so forth. Otherwise, students might stop trying to learn altogether. And employees who know they are being monitored closely for any sign of errant behaviour are likely to be less productive, more resentful of their supervisors, and less loyal to their employers.
At the same time, some measure of constructive criticism and critique, and sometimes even punishment, is appropriate. Parents must not turn a blind eye to their child's behaviour if it jeopardizes the child's physical safety or the safety of others. Teachers should not ignore behaviour that unduly disrupts the learning process; and of course teachers should correct and criticize students class work, homework and tests as needed to help the students learn from their mistakes and avoid repeating them. Finally, employers must not permit employee behaviour that amounts to harassment or that otherwise undermines the overall productivity at the workplace. Acquiescence in these sorts of behaviours only serves to sanction them.
To sum up, the speaker's dual recommendation is too extreme. Both praise and criticism serve useful purposes in promoting a child's development, a student's education, and an employee's loyalty and productivity. Yet both must be appropriately and even handedly administered; otherwise, they might serve instead to defeat these purposes.
Should we strive for moderation in all things, as the adage suggests? I tend to agree with the speaker that worthwhile endeavours sometimes require, or at least call for, intense focus at the expense of moderation.
The virtues of moderation are undeniable. Moderation in all things affords us the time and energy to sample more of what life and the world have to offer. In contrast, lack of moderation leads to a life out of balance. As a society we are slowly coming to realize what many astute psychologists and medical practitioners have known all along: we are at our best as humans only when we strike a proper balance between the mind, body, and spirit. The call for a balanced life is essentially a call for moderation in all things.
For instance, while moderate exercise improves our health and sense of well-being, over exercise and intense exercise can cause injury or psychological burnout, either of which defeat our purpose by requiring us to discontinue exercise altogether. Lack of moderation in diet can cause obesity at one extreme or anorexia at the other, either of which endangers one's health, and even life. And when it comes to potentially addictive substances alcohol, tobacco, and the like the deleterious effects of over-consumption are clear enough.
The virtues of moderation apply to work as well. Stress associated with a high-pressure job increases one's vulnerability to heart disease and other physical disorders. And overwork can result in psychological burnout, thereby jeopardizing one's job and career. Overwork can even kill, as demonstrated by the alarmingly high death rate among young Japanese men, many of whom work 100 or more hours each week.
Having acknowledged the wisdom of the old adage, I nevertheless agree that under some circumstances, and for some people, abandoning moderation might be well justified. Query how many of the world's great artistic creations in the visual arts, music, and even literature would have come to fruition without intense, focused efforts on the part of their creators. Creative work necessarily involves a large measure of intense focus a single-minded, obsessive pursuit of aesthetic perfection.
Or, consider athletic performance. Admittedly, intensity can be counterproductive when it results in burnout or injury. Yet who could disagree that a great athletic performance necessarily requires great focus and intensity both in preparation and in the performance itself?. In short, when it comes to athletics, moderation breeds mediocrity, while intensity breeds excellence and victory. Finally, consider the increasingly competitive world of business. An intense, focused company-wide effort is sometimes needed to ensure a company's competitiveness, and even survival. This is particularly true in today's technology-driven industries where keeping up with frantic pace of change is essential for almost any high-tech firm's survival.
In sum, the old adage amounts to sound advice for most people under most circumstances. Nevertheless, when it comes to creative accomplishment, and to competitive success in areas such as athletics and business, I agree with the speaker that abandoning or suspending moderation is often appropriate, and sometimes necessary, in the interest of achieving worthwhile goals.
The speaker asserts that innovations such as videos, computers, and the Internet too often distract from "real" learning in the dassroom. I strongly agree that these tools can be counterproductive in some instances, and ineffectual for certain types of learning.
Nevertheless, the speaker's assertion places too little value on the ways in which these innovations can facilitate the learning process.
In several respects, I find the statement compelling. First of all, in my observation and experience, computers and videos are misused most often for education when teachers rely on them as surrogates, or baby-sitters. Teachers must use the time during which students are watching videos or are at their computer stations productively-helping other students, preparing lesson plans, and so forth. Otherwise, these tools can indeed impede the learning process.
Secondly, passive viewing of videos or of Web pages is no indication that any significant learning is taking place. Thus teachers must carefully select Internet resources that provide a true interactive learning experience, or are highly informative otherwise. And, in selecting videos teachers must be sure to follow up with lively class discussions. Otherwise, the comparatively passive nature of these media can render them ineffectual in the learning process.
Thirdly, some types of learning occur best during face-to-face encounters between teacher and student, and between students. Only by way of a live encounter can a language teacher recognize and immediately correct subtle problems in pronunciauon and inflection. And, there is no suitable substitute for a live encounter when it comes to teaching techniques in painting, sculpture, music performance, and acting. Moreover, certain types of learning are facilitated when students interact as a group. Many grade school teachers, for example, find that reading together aloud is the most effective way for students to learn this skill.
Fourth, with technology-based learning tools, especially computers and the Intemet, learning how to use the technology can rob the teacher of valuable time that could be spent accomplishing the teacher's ultimate educational objectives. Besides, any technology-based learning tool carries the risk of technical problems. Students whose teachers fail to plan for productive use of unexpected down-time can lose opportunities for real learning.
Finally, we must not overlook the non-quantifiable benefit that personal attention can afford.A human teacher can provide meaningful personal encouragement and support, and can identify and help to solve a student's social or psychological problems that might be impeding the learning process. No video, computer program, or Web site can begin to serve these invaluable functions.
Acknowledging the many ways that technological innovations can impede "real" learning, these innovations nevertheless can facilitate "real" learning, if employed judicially and for appropriate purposes. Specifically, when it comes to learning rote facts and figures, personal interaction with a teacher is unnecessary, and can even result in fatigue and burnout for the teacher. Computers are an ideal tool for the sorts of learning that occur only through repetition typing skills, basic arithmetical calculations, and so forth. Computers also make possible visual effects that aid uniquely in the learning of spatial concepts. Finally, computers, videos and the Internet are ideal for imparting basic text-book information to students, thereby freeing up the teacher's time to give students individualized attention.
In sum, computers and videos can indeed distract from learning-when teachers misuse them as substitutes for personal attention, or when the technology itself becomes the focus of attention. Nevertheless, if judicially used as primers, as supplements, and where repetition and rote learning are appropriate, these tools can serve to liberate teachers to focus on individual needs of students needs that only "real" teachers can recognize and meet.
Do people prefer constraints on absolute freedom of choice, regardless of what they might claim? I believe so, because in order for any democratic society to thrive it must strike a balance between freedom and order.
History informs us that attempts to quell basic individual freedoms of expression, of opinion and belief, and to come and go as we please invariably fail. People ultimately rise up against unreasonable constraints on freedom of choice. The desire for freedom seems to spring from our fundamental nature as human beings. But does this mean that people would prefer absolute freedom of choice to any constraint whatsoever? No. Reasonable constraints on freedom are needed to protect freedom-and to prevent a society from devolving into a state of anarchy where life is short and brutish.
To appreciate our preference for constraining our own freedom of choice, one need look no further than the neighbourhood playground. Even without any adult supervision, a group of youngsters at play invariably establish mutually agreed-upon rules for conduct whether or not a sport or game is involved. Children learn at an early age that without any rules for behaviour the playground bully usually prevails. And short of beating up on others, bullies enjoy taking prisoners i.e., restricting the freedom of choice of others. Thus our preference for constraining our freedom of choice stems from our desire to protect and preserve that freedom.
Our preference for constraining our own freedom of choice continues into our adult lives. We freely enter into exclusive pair-bonding relationships; during our teens we agree to "go steady," then as adults we voluntarily enter into marriage contracts. Most of us eagerly enter into exclusive employment relationships preferring the security of steady income to the "freedom" of not knowing where our next pay check will come from. Even people who prefer self-employment to job security quickly learn that the only way to preserve their "autonomy" is to constrain themselves in terms of their agreements with clients and customers, and especially in terms of how they use their time. Admittedly, our self-inflicted job constraints are born largely of economic necessity. Yet even the wealthiest individuals usually choose to constrain their freedom by devoting most of their time and attention to a few pet projects.
Our preference for constraining our own freedom of choice is evident on a societal level as well. Just as children at a playground recognize the need for self-imposed rules and regulations, as a society we recognize the same need. After all, in a democratic society our system of laws is an invention of the people. For example, we insist on being bound by rules for operating motor vehicles, for buying and selling both real and personal property, and for making public statements about other people. Without these rules, we would live in continual fear for our physical safety, the security of our property, and our personal reputation and dignity.
In sum, I agree with the fundamental assertion that people prefer reasonable constraints on their freedom of choice. In fact, in a democratic society we insist on imposing these constraints on ourselves in order to preserve that freedom.