Stefan Molyneux vs rational parenting
January 30, 2017 3 Comments
Stefan Molyneux is known among libertarians as an advocate of peaceful parenting (PP). PP is not the same as TCS and I thought I’d look at an interview he did on the topic and explain what’s wrong with his position.
I’m not going to explain everything, but I’ll pick a few things that stuck out as bad.
Before I say anything about Molyneux, I’ll post a few links about TCS:
Most parents make children do stuff they don’t like and tell a story about why they do this. The parent is coercing the child because the topic is important, e.g. – education, health. But then if the topic is important, it is important for the advice to be right and you ought to welcome criticism regardless of its source. So if you can’t convince your child of idea X that’s a criticism of X and you shouldn’t coerce him into acting on it.
TCS also has a theory of what’s going on when you feel emotionally coerced. Coercion involves a person acting on one idea while he has other ideas that he wants to enact and hasn’t resolved that conflict:
TCS claims that it is always possible to avoid coercion:
TCS also claims that people are universal knowledge creators. A person can learn or create any knowledge that it is possible to create. See Chapter 2 of “The Beginning of Infinity” by David Deutsch.
Molyneux states that spanking and raising your voice are violations of the non-aggression principle. But he doesn’t seem to have anything to say beyond that on philosophy of parenting.
Molyneux recommends parenting books such as Parental Effectiveness Training. A quick look on Google reveals the following link:
It’s about people buying gifts a child wants and his parents don’t want. It’s bad to want to prevent your child getting a gift he wants. Parents should want to help their children get more of what they like, rather than sabotage happiness.
At about 22 minutes Molyneux sez he is willing to sacrifice some of his daughter’s privacy to tell stories about her that will help others.
This is very bad cuz sacrificing your child’s interests for any reason is a bad idea. The parent should offer guidance and resources that will help promote the child’s interests.
Starting at about 24:00 somebody asks a question about what a parent should do when a child makes a rational argument to the effect that he should have more snacks or sugar. Molyneux replies by saying a person will sometimes feel ambivalent about the right thing to do. He sez that the tongue loves sugar but the belly likes less since you’ll get sick. So you have to go without stuff you want. He also relates a story where he denied his daughter a cookie because she had previously had hot chocolate.
So Molyneux does not think it is possible to live without coercion. There are some things you will be ambivalent about. And to deal with that you have to sacrifice.
Molyneux’s control over what his child eats is also bad. If you can convince your child not to eat something with arguments that might be okay if the child is interested in the arguments.
Also, being worried about diabetes over a cookie after hot chocolate doesn’t sound rational.
At about 28 minutes he sez a parent should dictate to a child the way he would dictate to himself. He sez he heard that crack cocaine is good but he forces himself not to do it. He sez his test for making his child do something she disagrees with now is whether she’ll thank him later.
If you had an argument that persuades you that taking crack cocaine is a bad idea, then you wouldn’t be tempted by it. So saying you are tempted by crack cocaine is an admission that you have no such argument. And if you can’t come up with an argument against crack cocaine, you have to kinda suck as a philosopher. Crack is a waste of time that you could be spending learning interesting stuff and new skills.
At about 43 minutes Molyneux sez that intelligence has a genetic basis. But people are universal knowledge creators, so genes can’t explain what a person achieves. Only his choices and ideas explain that. Molyneux also sez personality is fixed by the age of four. But personality is a result of ideas, including ideas about how to act. If those ideas are bad they can be improved at any age.