Theories can be unconscious states of mind as well as conscious ones, inexplicit ones as well as explicit ones, false ones as well as true ones, and conflicting ones as well as consistent ones.
Having an agenda for a child implies having a want for the child that is independent of and impervious to their own wishes; steering them along a path you have decided is best for them, often without discussing it openly.
A problem is something which gives rise to human thought—such as a conflict between two theories, a paradox or anomaly. It does not only refer to ‘bad problems’—conflicts between people, problems that seem to make people miserable, things we would rather avoid. Anything sparking thinking, including enormously enjoyable thinking, like when you notice something and wonder about it, following your curiosity wherever it leads, is a ‘problem’ in this wide sense.
Not everything we think is true is actually true, even if we feel 100% sure it definitely is true. No matter how strongly we feel that we are right about something, we might well nevertheless be mistaken. The subjective feeling of certainty is no guide at all to whether or not something is true. We can feel totally certain about something and yet be totally mistaken.
The word ‘coercionist’ distinguishes between those who advocate coercion (or who take the view that some problems are inherently not solvable) and those who think that problems are soluble (i.e., thoroughly non-coercively).
Non-coercive = embracing others exactly the way they are, and they can change if they want to and they don’t have to. Coercive = trying to control, fix or change others against their will.
Most problems are solved without any explicit communication. To the extent that people think of ‘finding common preferences’ as requiring or implying the need for explicit discussions, that is an understandable but very unfortunate misunderstanding.
Anti-rational memes are not only passed from parents to children, they exist more widely in our culture. This is why other people seem to feel so free to judge and criticise you if you are taking your child seriously, and it is why complete strangers in supermarkets tell you to keep your child under control. And it is why the corresponding anti-rational meme in your own mind has you feeling rebuked, ashamed, upset, and defensive.
Creativity is what makes us human—our capacity to create new explanations, to solve problems, to come up with new ideas.
Knowledge is information in a context, information that is useful, not mere information.
Why is it that there is a word “parenting” but no word “childing”? Because in our culture, children are not taken seriously. Words like “parenting” embody the idea of hierarchical, top-down paternalistic/authoritarian parent-child relationships in which the parent is actively doing to the child and the child is passively done to. The parent is actively moulding and shaping the child from above.
Paternalism is the idea that certain people or groups need to be controlled (in a benevolent fatherly way) for their own good.
One of the reasons terminology sometimes looms large in Taking Children Seriously discussions is that prevailing terminology systematically (and pathologically) glosses over the most important distinctions—not in concepts, but in reality!—that we want to make.
Anyone who is interested in learning those subjects learns what ‘expressed’ and ‘executed’ mean without conscious effort. No sweating over the nuances of a definition is ever involved. What one does is start with any commonsense, flawed conception of ‘expressed’ or ‘executed’, and then one refines that conception in parallel with learning the theory.
You are under coercion if and only if you have two or more incompatible wants and are acting on one of them (e.g. currently eating health food and not junk food) while another is active (there is a wanting-junk-food process currently under way in your brain).
Discussion of the word ‘coercion’. The idea is not: “We want to be non-coercive. Now let’s consider what that means.” Nevertheless, there used to be a lot of argument about how we use the word here.
Many have suggested that my use of the word ‘coercion’ is non-standard and that I should find another word, but I think that is the quest for a euphemism. People don’t like using a harsh word for something they think is morally right. But if you prefer, use the word ‘manipulation’ instead—as long as it is clear that manipulating children is not taking them seriously either.
If I disagree with the substantive theory assumed by your word choice, you can’t expect me to build that substantive theory into my language, because if I were to, I would be being forced to lie or contradict myself every time I use your term.
Showing the meaning of the word ‘coercion’ rather than explaining it. Show don’t tell, as it were.