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My Methodology for Thinking Further and Deeper

I have always considered myself to be a pragmatist, egoist, and realist. However, there seems to be a gap between these ideologies as I see them and the image associated with these words, so I always have to be careful about how I use them.


No matter what kind of ideology you hold, for instance, even if it's egoism, if it's hasty and lacks thoughtfulness, it will ultimately bring losses to oneself. Similarly, even if you claim altruism, if it's hasty, it can cause harm to others. On the other hand, whether you take either stance, if you think it over from a long-term perspective, you will often arrive at a conclusion that is positive for both yourself and others. This is because your happiness cannot be established without the stability and prosperity of society, and society too will become unstable and poor if each individual is not happy. Therefore, the problem is not the ideology or principle itself, but rather whether one thinks hastily or contemplates with a long-term view, which is crucial.


I believe that these ideologies are about where to place the starting point or anchor of our thoughts. Therefore, if there is only one answer to the subject under consideration, even if we start thinking from an ideology that is the opposite of these, we should arrive at the same answer. If a different answer comes out, it's not that the starting point was wrong, but simply that there was a mistake in the thinking.


In the case of a problem with multiple answers, no matter where you start, you should be able to arrive at one of the answers that meet the requirements of the question. Since there are multiple answers, different starting points will result in different answers. However, all of the answers meet the requirements, so it's a matter of choice. If the requirements are not met, it may be a question with no answer, or there may simply be a mistake in the execution.


In some problems, the degree of the result changes depending on the answer. In that case, you should choose the one with the most desirable degree among the answers that meet the requirements. In this case, the goodness of the answer will differ depending on where you started thinking.


Even if you start thinking with some kind of thought or ideology in mind, in order to think through to the answer, it is important to think carefully without rushing to conclusions, bring out thoughts from different perspectives, and push your thinking further and deeper.


I use pragmatism, egoism, and realism as the starting points for my thinking because I can always hold onto some feasible idea by starting my thinking from there and eventually returning to it. Organizing and advancing my thinking from this perspective seems to suit me.


Extension to Multi-Person Discussion

When discussing with multiple people, there may be cases where the discussion does not progress due to differences in opinions and answers. The reason is not that there is a problem with the starting point or ideology of the person who thought of the opinion. There may be a leak in the setting of the question and the requirements of the goal. Or, one of them may have made a mistake in thinking.


Therefore, if there is a discrepancy in the discussion, you should focus on making explicit the setting of the problem and the requirements that were implicit, hidden, or newly noticed. If there is still a discrepancy and the answers do not match, even after agreeing on the premises and requirements, there must be a mistake in thinking somewhere. You should proceed with the task of reviewing each other.


In the case of a problem where the degree of the result changes depending on the answer, there is no need to condemn the person who came up with a different answer. You should commend the person who gave the answer with the best degree and adopt that answer.


In addition, there may be cases where the participants have different values or where, even if the values are the same, the benefits gained differ depending on the answer. In such cases, discussions and negotiations will be necessary to find a compromise.


Even here, the key to whether or not the discussion converges is not a matter of each other's ideologies, but how to set up the problem.


The Importance of Requirement Definition in Discussions

In many discussions, the focus of the discussion tends to be on the solution to the problem. However, in order to evaluate the goodness of the solution, the requirements, their priorities, and the evaluation method must be clearly defined. There are too many cases in reality where the discussion is conducted without organizing this.


What should be discussed is the explicit presentation of requirements, how to set them, and how to evaluate them and which requirements to prioritize. This should be a task of documentation, not a verbal argument. Discussions conducted orally without writing up the requirements in the discussion may be taking a flawed methodology in this basic attitude towards discussion.


Regarding the priority of requirements, it is not something that can be logically answered by discussion alone, so a mechanism for decision-making, such as discussions between representatives or, in some cases, voting by all stakeholders, is needed. It is important to get agreement and understanding from the stakeholders based on this decision. 


Once this is done properly, the discussion of solutions is just a pure technical task that can be carried out logically and rationally. If, in the consideration or search for solutions, new requirements are discovered and decision-making is necessary, then a decision must be made again in a discussion or voting session.


Thus, the building up of requirements that are explicitly organized and solutions is the main road to constructive discussion.


Factors That Halt Constructive Discussion

When proceeding with discussions in the above manner, there are several factors that inhibit this and halt constructive discussions. Although I may not be able to cover all of them, I believe there are at least the following four.


- Lack of attitude to admit mistakes or shortcuts in thinking

If there are mistakes or shortcuts in thinking, it is not possible to obtain the answers or compromise points that should be found. When you notice this point in a discussion, either by yourself or pointed out by others, it is necessary to accept it without emotional reaction or ignoring it. If a representative is appointed in the discussion, the person who can honestly admit these mistakes and shortcuts should be chosen as the representative. A group that cannot tolerate mistakes by the representative needs to understand that the group itself is causing the discussion to stall and, as a result, harming the interests of the group.


- Lack of requirement definition and lack of effort to fill it

As the discussion progresses, there may be a lack of requirement definition in the initial problem setting or implicit requirements that are found as a result of the discussion. In such cases, it is necessary to properly add these requirements to the problem. Discussions that criticize after-the-fact requirements, proceed without explicitly stating implicit requirements, or simply attack the other party without paying attention to the problem of requirement definition are not constructive discussions.


- Pursuit of relative benefits

If you set a goal of always having "more than the other person" without putting out requirements based on your own desires, it will cause conflicts. The very idea of wanting more than the other person is an act of denying the dignity of the other person, and becomes an ethical issue.


- Rebellion

If you don't put out requirements based on your own desires and set a goal of hindering the other person, it will cause conflicts. The mindset of aiming to hinder the other person, regardless of one's own benefits, is an act of denying the dignity of the other person, and becomes an ethical issue.


Misunderstandings About Constructive Discussions

There is a misconception that egoism and differences in values cause conflicts in discussions.


However, from the standpoint of thorough egoism, one would think that it is not in one's own interest to waste time without resolving discussions. Moreover, since one has chosen to participate in the discussion without choosing other means, finding a compromise with the other party is in one's own interest, there are also methods to make profits by borrowing it in the next and subsequent times even if one compromises this time, and there are possibilities that it may be a plus for the future if the


partner participating in the discussion also has benefits. Therefore, one should come to the conclusion that the decision to allow a certain compromise is a plus for oneself.


Differences in values themselves should not be the cause of stagnation in discussions. If we explain and understand our differences in values, the work of finding a compromise point will naturally progress.


The problem lies in the four points mentioned above. In other words, the root cause of the stagnation of discussions is not approaching discussions with a sincere attitude. It is an attitude that questions the differences in values and the ideology of the other party that hinders constructive discussions.


Measures Needed for Constructive Discussions

In dealing with truly important issues, it is more important to exclude those who violate these four points than to exclude minority opinions or oppositionists from the discussion. For this purpose, rules or guidelines should be established, and some fair method should be used to determine violations of these four points, and measures should be taken to exclude those who repeatedly violate them.


In dealing with truly important issues, these violations raise ethical issues. Therefore, while ensuring freedom of speech and expression, society needs to impose a duty and responsibility not to commit these four violations in discussions in the face of these basic incidents that can undermine public welfare.


Emergency Evacuation in Severe Situations

Only when there is no other means to rely on and it is clear that letting the discussion drag on will cause a greater tragedy or ethical issue, there is room for considering the last resort. That is, in situations where it is clear that leaving these violations unchecked will cause another basic incident to be severely damaged, it may have to be considered as an option to forcibly remove them using public power. If this is left unchecked, or if freedom of speech or expression is mistakenly defended, and as a result, many lives are lost, the executor of public power may even be held responsible for violating the duty of care as a good administrator.


The forced exclusion of such acts cannot simply be condemned from the viewpoint of public welfare, ethical issues, and violation of the duty of care as a good administrator. If it is clear that a more tragic or ethical issue will be caused by not making a decision, the use of such power must be recognized as a social emergency evacuation.


Dishonest Attitude in Discussions

What I mentioned in "Emergency Evacuation in Severe Situations" is my personal opinion, but it is not something I raised lightly; it is my opinion that I thought through sincerely. Discussions about things that are commonly understood as important and should be cherished and defended, like these basic human rights, tend to be avoided.


However, when considering severe situations and when these come into conflict, it is inevitable that something will have to be sacrificed. In these discussions, it is certainly a sensitive topic to talk about what should be sacrificed, and it always attracts resentment and dissatisfaction. But avoiding that does not mean that the correct answer will come out or that society will be saved.


Therefore, in these discussions, it is completely dishonest to just emphasize that these rights are important. The problem is to discuss what can be partially lost in order to protect as much as possible what is important, considering ethical aspects and future impacts. 


I understand the feelings of wanting to avoid or fear attracting resentment and dissatisfaction, especially if you are in a position to be supported by votes. Still, if discussions with such courage are not allowed and only dishonest discussions are allowed, then that society becomes a fragile society that could lose everything important in truly severe situations.


Therefore, the debater must clearly show what can be sacrificed and what can be protected by doing so. And the recipient must be most cautious about the opinions of debaters who only talk about what is important to cherish, not those who talk about sacrifices. It is necessary to strongly demand from these dishonest debaters to make explicit what will be sacrificed.





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