Last month I presented a paper to the Society for Descriptive Psychology’s Annual Conference: “When Worlds Collide: Origins of Intractable Value Problems.” This is a long (38 pages) conceptual piece with many practical applications. It explicitly uses a great deal of the Descriptive Psychology canon, and breaks some new ground. I worked hard to make it as fun to read as this sort of exposition can be.
A pre-publication reading copy has can be found by clicking on this link. Any feedback you may have can be left as comments to this post.
Here’s a brief sample:
It’s a simple fact: people differ, much of the time, on matters ranging from the trivial to the profound.
Vanilla or chocolate? Coffee or tea? Issues of personal taste are not actually issues at all since one can’t be right or wrong in such choices; as the ancient maxim reminds us, “De gustibus non disputandum est.” Upping the stakes a bit, we encounter myriad everyday disputes: Shall we invest the IRA in stocks or in bonds? Is midnight too late for a 16 year-old’s curfew? Was the receiver out of bounds when he caught the touchdown pass? People of good faith, looking at the same situation, come to different conclusions, and we have a reliable stock of practices to resolve the differences, e.g. consulting advisors, negotiation, instant replay. No guarantee of success is offered for most of these practices other than the practical one: we often succeed in resolving such conflicts, and so it’s at least worth a try.
Some disputes are not so easily resolved, such as bargaining between labor and management, passing budget legislation, and carving up the assets in a hotly contested divorce. Appeals to shared standards and interests may not be enough to overcome the simple fact that resolution requires someone – perhaps everyone – to lose something they hold dear. Such negotiations can be bitter, drawn out and in the end unsatisfying to all parties – but typically negotiations do end, and everyone makes the best of the world they now find themselves in.
But not all disputes can be resolved. Some differences appear intractable, in that none of our known ways of resolving them work, no matter how long or hard we try.
Consider: Continue reading When Worlds Collide