old ramblings #1

From August, 2018

I’ve found that sometimes when I say “conflict” in a discussion there are varying definitions at work that muddy the discussion. Rather than try to argue my definition is right, I’m just going to say “this is what I mean when I say conflict” and then we can share the definition and get on with the actual discussion that uses it.

conflict: the presence in the fiction of at least two goals, at least one of which is exclusive of the other. That is, at least one of these goals cannot be achieved if the other can. We will ignore conflict outside the fiction since you need to handle that yourself.

So then we can talk about resolution in more concrete terms.

non-violent resolution: a reconciliation of the apparently conflicting goal without suppressing any party’s need for that goal to be achieved. Such as:

reconciliation by analysis: we discuss the goals and break them down and realise that they are not actually exclusive or that they can be done in an order that removes the obstacle of exclusivity. For example, A wants a thing. B wants the thing destroyed. During discussion we discover that it’s fine if A uses the thing and then destroys it.

compromise: during discussion we determine that there are partial goals we can each adopt that are sufficient for our needs and that don’t trigger the exclusivity.

deferral: during discussion we determine that one of our goals is much more important than the other and that we can share the problematic goal rather than pursue our original preference.

socially violent resolution:  we will try to suppress the others’ need for their goal without trying to injure them. Violence in this case is the fact that we are not going to discuss this but rather enforce our goal regardless of the merits or details of the other.

trickery: we will trick them through deceit into adopting our goal or abandoning theirs.

intimidate: we will threaten them with injury or other loss unless they adopt our goal or abandon their own.

dominate: we will exert out authority to command them to abandon their goal or adopt ours. This is probably just another flavour of intimidate since this authority often derives from some threat that can be implicitly applied.

physically violent resolution: we’ll abandon the mental arena altogether and use physical presence to intrude on the conflict and change the playing field.

block: physically block access to the goal

kill: ignore the conflicting goal and instead remove the actor themself.

One thing I note when I lay all this out is that physical violence is appealing because it short-circuits the whole messy problem of analysing goals and communicating effectively, even in bad faith. You ignore the goal and instead attack either the actor or their conduit to their goal.

This is obviously a subset of the many ways you can be wonderful or awful to each other.

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