My dad is a highly intelligent person and it gets to me that it will be nearly impossible for me to follow in his footsteps. However, there have been a couple of times where the logic behind what my dad said was so utterly ludicrous, that I had to preserve those moments as mementos of a won debate. Note that my dad is stubborn enough that of course he didn’t accept I had won; but you can’t get everything you want in life. So without further ado, here are some statements from my dad that I think don’t make any sense.
1. “No, you would sue the car”
So my dad and I were talking about the future of automobiles and how in the near future a car would be built that would drive itself*. We then concluded that if self driving cars become extremely reliable there would be no need for the front two seats to face forward because people would not be driving. But what if an accident did happen? This would be a rare occurrence, but legally it would have to be accounted for. I proposed that those affected by the malfunction of the cars programming sue the manufacturer responsible for the cars programming. However, my dad said that one should be able to sue the car. My mom and I couldn’t stop laughing, but it wasn’t for no reason. Suing the car implies that legally the self driving car is treated as a person. Whereas in reality I would really like to screw over the company that designed faulty code so I can ensure they have an incentive to improve the quality of their driving programs. Treating cars as individuals shifts the focus from the company to an individual car and doesn’t publicly hold the company accountable. True an individual car may have been defective, but that speaks to inadequate testing on the part of the company. So I’ll take legal action against the company, thank you very much.
2. “Happiness doesn’t matter”
There are several times this point has come up in conversation. The first context is in defining an individual’s sense of purpose in life. My dad is quite a perfectionist, so naturally his only point is that people should strive to be as good as possible at anything they choose to do. Now I hammered him pretty good on this because I don’t think that’s how rational individuals act if taking all of humanity as your sample set. First off happiness matters a whole lot when describing how individual’s make choices; so my argument was that being happy should be an individual’s main concern. At first glance you may think that this goal would lead to a bunch of lazy, happy people, but that is not the case. Basic necessities such as food, water, shelter, and clothing greatly contribute to happiness. Ask any homeless person and they will immediately tell you that consistent guarantees of basic necessities would greatly improve their quality of life. So people will still have an incentive to provide for themselves.
On top of that if we are assuming a capitalist style economy there will be plenty of incentive for ambitious people to earn more money and gain the materials they desire. I chose happiness over ambition because enslaving society to high levels of production can be counterproductive. There will come a point when many individuals will become depressed enough, due to a lower work ethic, that they will probably give you garbage quality production even if working longer hours. Happiness on the other hand is an indicator that individuals within society are properly allocated into roles that fit their desires. This in the long run should guarantee that individuals are emotionally self motivated to keep doing what they’re doing.
3. “A place for everything and everything in its place”
This a phrase that my dad monotonously repeats over and over again. Not so much anymore because I technically have reached the age of an adult. However when I was in grade school I heard this a couple of times a week. I will be the first person to tell you that I am not organized in the traditional sense. I don’t act a beauty guru and spring clean my closet or have nice clean piles of school materials. I generally don’t spend much time at all organizing my physical belongings. In reality I’m very mentally organized and even if my room appears messy to you, I understand my habits and where I tend to place things. I rarely lose anything because I’m not tied down to an organizational system, I just understand how I place things in general. This also applies to the idea of having a daily planner. My dad always writes stuff down in his iPhone, but no matter how many commitments I have I can manage to keep it organized in my head. I’m not saying one is better than the other in this debate, I just chose to correct my dad in thinking that being organized is a superior lifestyle. Studies have been done on the effectiveness of both and here is a short summary of the results presented on NPR, in defense of a messy desk.
*Google did design a car that drove itself, but it wasn’t available to the public or mass-produced
I’d love to hear about any debates you have with your parents and how they turn out! Also feel free to let me know if you disagree, I love hearing different opinions.
When searching for a featured image I typed in “dinner table discussion” and Google completed it with “dinner table discussion topics”. It didn’t really occur to me that people have to take effort to plan such discussions in advance. My dad and I just have them and I’m grateful for that.