How I Justify Persuasion

There are some people who feel that persuasion is “icky”. It certainly appears to be the slimly slithery tactic that bad guys use. These people are clearly not Slytherins.
I am now going to attempt to persuade you that persuasion is not so bad after all.

The argument against persuasion goes as such: We have free will. We can exercise our free will by making decisions that are impactful. We have a right to make decisions for ourselves. Anyone who overrides our free will (either through physical violence, intimidation, or intentional twisting of information or logic), has violated our right to make a decision, and committed an injustice.

This argument hinges on the fact that we have free will, which I’m not sure that we do. And if we don’t, then there is no harm and no fowl.

Even if we have free will, it’s hard to know when our decisions are impactful. Does it really matter if we drive in the left lane or the right lane? If someone convinces you to drive in the other lane, who cares?

Finally, there are two criteria I use to gauge if something is unethical: bad intent, and bad effects. For most of the people I’ve met, most of the time I’ve been persuaded, and most of the people I’ve witnessed being persuaded, the intentions were good. It could be something as benign as a lecture, or a debate on nuclear power, or something as life saving as convincing someone not to drive after drinking. People often overlook how freaking hard persuasion is. It usually doesn’t work. That’s why most people don’t buy 100 apples when they go on sale for $0.77/lbs. Maybe they buy one or two more apples, but rarely.

Persuasion rarely actually happens, and it’s usually mutually beneficial. As long as you don’t convince people to inflict self harm, mostly anything goes.