Supposed To

On the general principle that our actions shouldn’t be caused by mysterious unnamed forces, I propose that we deliberately eliminate the words “supposed to” from daily conversation. Consider the sentence:

“We’re supposed to meet tomorrow at noon.”

It’s not at all clear who desires us to meet at noon- Bill? Steve? The government? God? This sort of sentence actually makes the mind projection fallacy worse, by imbuing objects with a supposed-to-ness, rather than considering how agents are imposing their desires on objects. If I think we should all meet at 11, it adds an extra cost for me to argue with a “supposed to”, as the other party in the argument is removed from explicit consideration.

“We should meet tomorrow at noon.”

This is a clearer sentence; the implication is that I, specifically, want us to meet tomorrow at noon.

“Mike wants us to meet tomorrow at noon.”

This is clearer still, as the agent doing the supposing is named explicitly. If you don’t like it, you can start thinking about Mike’s psychology, and how to convince him otherwise.

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