Magnus

It is my last name in real life.

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How would they have to act for this to happen? 

If someone suggested the idea of reducing your recline by 50% politely, would you really, in actual lived life, reply making a protest of your "rights"?

I implore you to really think of what this would be like in real life. Someone nicely asking for this. It's a long flight.

Also, to consider the views of other people here and the positive effects of your signaling is speculative at best.  You don't know how people will perceive you. Sure, you think you are standing up for what is obviously you right. You have no way to verify this is what other's believe though.

That just seems like something rather shaky to consider a positive externality.  Alternatively, you could maybe make the case that there is always value to protecting your rights, a la MLK's famous "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere", and I would salute your courage to die on that hill - as you surely would die. 

What are some reasonable alternatives in the circumstance that someone is reclining unto your or requesting you un-recline?

That's not a bad point. 

I think that other people consider this example as a means to discuss some far more abstract ideas of what is morally right in the situation. This was mentioned in my post as:

Is it appropriate for any person to recline their seat? 

To which I said that there is a definite right answer to this question, based on the optimization of some dimension. This is always what is behind morality, in any case - It is just a rule for optimizing something, whether it be autonomy, privacy, etc. 

What I should have also said here is that there is absolutely no way anyone is answering this question here. Furthermore, in the circumstance you find yourself reclining upon someone that does not want you to recline or vice versa, the answer to this question does not really matter. 

In real, lived life your goal should not be to cause such a stir up in trivial situations like these. It doesn't matter who is correct in mathematical or philosophical sense. So if someone reclines unto you, ask a few times if they would un-recline a bit.  Ask them a few times, but stay polite. If it's the opposite case, tell them you'll meet them half way. 

I know that people may not see this as the point of the thread. Maybe I'm out of the loop, maybe I'm making something simple that should really be complicated.

That man was removed from the plane because he Tweeted about the gate agent he was arguing with, publicly mentioning her name and the gate she was working at. Duff Watson, the man in that article you linked, mentioned the staff person's name and location. 

That's not really a fitting comparison to what I am proposing. That cannot be used to say "But there is a single example of this occurring" ( i.e an instantiation ).

I am proposing a common sense, applicable solution in the case that someone finds themselves unable to perform certain tasks on a flight because the person in front of them is reclining. 

Also, they can complain to the airline as well. There you go. The two are not mutually exclusive, nor did my original post explicitly advise against this.

My experience is the contrary. People find it quite tough to ignore someone speaking to them directly. 

Furthermore, I never suggested doing anything that intrudes upon them. My advice is to restate your case a few times and aim for compromise. This is only as intrusive as the recline itself.

It's also worth noting that while you're not trying to be annoying, the recliner is likely to perceive you as such. You are not being intentionally annoying, though. This is something that ought to have been mentioned, admittedly. 

Regarding the flight attendant comment, you have nothing to loose here but a short moment's embarrassment, if that.

There are three separate issues here.

One is - Is it appropriate for any person to recline their seat? 

The other is - If you are a non-recliner and a seat is reclined unto you, what is the appropriate reaction?

The last is - If you recline unto a non-recliner and they ask for you to put your seat in the upright position, what is the ethical response? 


For the first question, one way I can think to test this would be to examine the differences in total leg-room volume when everyone is not reclined against when everyone is reclined. 

If I had more time in the day, I could certainly come up with more detailed, rigorous methods to discern the best possible outcome for passengers as it relates to reclining.  There is some optimal answer here, so long as we choose our variable ( leg room, passenger satisfaction, etc. ). The best answer to this question would be based on the optimization of some dimension. 

The second question is far more interesting. If you are a non-recliner a seat is reclined onto you, what do you do? 

Your ultimate goal is to get the person to put their seat back to a more upright position. Your best bet is to remain truthful and look to elicit their sympathy.  Also, be open to compromise. Do not expect them to go full upright. 

First, I would see if there's an objective criteria that would allow you to ask for a decrease in their recline angle. Maybe you can't cross your legs. Maybe you can't read. Maybe the trey is hitting your stomach. There must be some material circumstance you can use as a basis for your case.

Second, I would ask for something specific, like "Can you move up half way?" Don't ask for them to go all the way up. They're going to interpret this as aggression and dig their heals in.

Third, be polite. Some people recline. Regardless of what's right in a Kantian sense, not everyone's a Kantian, so just be nice. I know you may think the guy is a jerk, whatever.

Finally, if they really try to jerk you around, stand your ground and just repeat your point. This is why you look for a really good objective basis. Just keep saying "Well, I know you wanna stay reclined, but I can't read my book". Eventually, people will change just because you're being annoying. Don't get angry, though. Just be annoying and seem sorta dumb.

The third question is somewhat answered by the previous. Meet the person half way. If they're being rude, tell them you don't appreciate their tone. I wouldn't recline all the way up unless they were really overweight, tall, or something else. Half way seems reasonable.

I've been typing this for too long. Hope everyone enjoys this. Interesting prompt.

Also, I am not trying to bash Friedman here. That's not the point of this post. The specifics of the example really are not as important as the general idea of the person referring to a thinker and then pivoting subjects quickly.

Hmm some of these people would, no doubt, turn out to be belief-in-believers if they were questioned.

Some of these cases are also no doubt cached thoughts, but I think a significant number are not.

I have a reply below to noggin-scratcher's comment that goes into this in more detail.

Hey, also - thanks for the comment.

I replied to this and a bit more below, in noggin-scratcher's comment.

p.s thanks for commenting

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