Theory of Mind and Expectations of Generosity

The theory of mind is essentially the belief that others have the same kind of mind as you have. While this can help us understand others’ motivations more often than not, it can also result in misunderstandings of others. It’s particularly pernicious with autism vs. neurotypical people, but it extends beyond that.

For example, consider the following scenarios:

1.
I am a generous person
Therefore, other people are generous
Thus, I do not need to be forced to be generous
Thus, I oppose government programs that take money from me to give to other people

2.
I am not a generous person
Therefore, other people are not generous
Thus, I need to be forced to be generous
Thus, I support government programs that take money from me to give to other people

I’m not saying this is how it necessarily always happens. But to what extent are each of these two scenarios true?

Of course, there’s a third option, which is that different people are generous to different degrees, and people should be free to do with their money as they wish, because it’s theirs. Which doesn’t prevent you from shaming others into being more generous. But then that would mean having to put effort into persuading others rather than forcing others.

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