The Why? Movement's Code of Ethics
The Why? Movement is ultimately about empowering, encouraging, and inspiring people to ask “why?”, and statements and behaviors that can have the potential effect of disempowering or discouraging people’s inquiry should be avoided and discouraged.
With this in mind, people who are involved or affiliated with The Why? Movement should strive to
- Remember that no topic is too sacred to be above genuine, critical inquiry. The question “why?”, after all, implies a significant degree of irreverence for certainty.
- Avoid posing monologic (e.g. baited, leading, loaded, or rhetorical) questions. Such questions are typically more about advancing a monologue than inspiring any type of meaningful dialogue. In other words, questions should afford respondees a reasonable opportunity to provide meaningful and substantive answers.
- Allow people to a reasonable opportunity to respond to questions.
- Avoid endorsing organizations or sanctioning behaviors that have the demonstrable effect of stifling free inquiry. Indicators of such effects can include putting otherwise inquisitive people under duress, taking punitive or retributive actions against them, or deliberately muting or marginalizing them.
- Avoid berating, disparaging, humiliating, or maligning those who refuse to answer (or take steps to avoid answering) “why?” questions. If people engage in refusal, avoidance, or diversion tactics, such behavior is typically enough of an indignity to maker questioners’ characterization or qualification of these tactics unnecessary.
- Avoid using avoidance, denialist, diversionary, or dogmatic tactics if they themselves are asked a “why?" question. People affiliated with The Why? Movement who engage in such tactics can create the perception of hypocrisy. Such a perception is much more damaging to The Why? Movement's reputation than a concession that one of its affiliates does not, currently, know the answer to a question.
- Remember that if they are dealing with an authoritarian and/or dogmatic person (i.e. one who refuses to answer or avoids answering a “why?” question), they are under no obligation to avoid using questions as a means of inspiring other, observing people to question their confidence that person. Such a practice is consistent with the spirit of Socratic pedagogy.
- Exercise discretion when sharing people’s answers to “why?” questions if it can be reasonable understood that indiscreet sharing of said answers would likely cause them harm. However, harm should not necessarily be conflated with embarrassment or discomfort.
- Welcome everybody to participate in The Why? Movement unless they have demonstrated that they are insufficiently capable of or willing to behave with its ethos in mind.
- Assume that people are capable of asking themselves and others “why?” unless they demonstrate otherwise.
- Vet their opinions, beliefs, and desires in a critically-inquisitive and dialogic manner, especially prior to action upon them.
- Strive to avoid extrajudicial or violent behavior unless it is demonstrably unreasonable not to engage in it; those who are involved or associated with The Why? Movement should strive to use critical dialogue as a litmus test for the requisite reasoning of such behavior prior to engaging in it