“In a compromise, each person gives up something such that everyone involved suffers ‘fairly’ and ‘equally’. A genuine solution, on the other hand, is one which everyone involved prefers, including preferring it to their own antecedent preference. No one is suffering, ‘fairly’, ‘equally’ or otherwise.”
– Sarah Fitz-Claridge
“How is a compromise not a real solution?”
Sometimes people use the word “compromise” when they mean something everyone would agree is a genuine solution. But usually, the word “compromise” means something else—something that is not a real solution at all.
A genuine solution is not a compromise. In a compromise, each person gives up something such that everyone involved suffers ‘fairly’ and ‘equally’. A genuine solution, on the other hand, is one which everyone involved prefers, including preferring it to their own antecedent preference. No one is suffering, ‘fairly’, ‘equally’ or otherwise.
Compromise assumes that there are inherent conflicts of interest that are not non-coercively resolvable, and that the way to proceed is to dole out the suffering ‘fairly’. That is a mistake. It fails to take into account the fact that we are human beings with brilliant minds. We are not limited to choosing from amongst a fixed set of antecedent ideas: we can create brand new ideas that were not there at the start of the interaction—ideas that spark joy in all involved. Problems are soluble! A solution is usually something no one had thought of at the outset. It is something new and better that is a “YES!” for everyone involved, not a miserable everyone-suffering-‘fairly’ compromise.
Suppose we come up with a solution everyone loves rather than merely grudgingly going along with a compromise that no one really likes. Suppose that when we implement the idea that everyone loved and whose outcome everyone thought would be fun, it turns out to be far from fun. Now we have all learnt something—that the idea was a mistake—and we can put our heads together and come up with a better idea.
If, instead, we implement a compromise, each sacrificing something we want, distributing the suffering ‘fairly’, given that we are all expecting to suffer, then, when the compromise does make us all suffer, we have learnt nothing. If you expect the outcome of an idea you are implementing to be unpleasant and it is, how are you ever to know if it was a mistake or not? Self-sacrifice and compromises prevent us learning. As David Deutsch wrote in his life-changing book, The Beginning of Infinity:
“If a policy is no one’s idea of what will work, then why should it work? But that is not the worst of it. The key defect of compromise policies is that when one of them is implemented and fails, no one learns anything because no one ever agreed with it. Thus compromise policies shield the underlying explanations which do at least seem good to some faction from being criticised and abandoned.”
– David Deutsch, 2011, The Beginning of Infinity, Chapter 13: Choices
- The shining eyes test
- Coercion of adults vs. coercion of children
- If criticism is valuable why not be more critical?