Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Your carpets or your guests?

The article linked in the post below quotes a cliche commonly uttered in the debate about shoes-off. That is that, if you ask your guests to remove their shoes, you must regard your carpet as more important than them.

I would suggest that those who insist on the carpet v guests dilemma are making a zero sum fallacy.

A zero sum fallacy is when one assumes wrongly that if you have more of one thing, you have less of another. Often people of generally Left-wing views make this fallacy about economics. They wrongly assume that the fact that some countries are wealthy and some are poor means that the rich countries must be taking wealth from the poor nations. However, this ignores the economic reality of wealth creation. There is no fixed amount of wealth in the world, but rather wealth is created by economic activity. So if some have more, it does not necessarilly follow that some have less.

Coming back to removing shoes, those who ask 'do you prefer your carpets to your guests' wrongly assume that being concerned about your carpet necessarilly means that you are less concerned about your guests' comfort.

It is not necessarilly the case that the two things are in conflict. That is because not all guests, or necessarilly even the majority of guests, would be unhappy to remove their shoes. Many guests will be indifferent and many will be far more comfortable after removing their shoes. Therefore, to ask guests to take their shoes off to protect your carpet is not necessarilly to disregard the comfort of the guests.

The same may be said about food. Some guests may love brocolli, other guests may absolutely hate brocolli. Does the fact some people hate brocolli that if you serve brocolli at a dinner party mean that means that you care more about brocolli than your guests?


SingaporeGuy said...

I am in the office; and incidentally in my socked feet ;)
I am based in Singapore by the way.

Singapore is only very shoes-off in religious places and homes. In religious places such as mosques and temples, it can be a strict 'no footwear' policy, meaning only bare feet! However, you don't encounter a lot of shoes-off in professional settings.

However, as you have mentioned, in Japan and even South Korea, shoes-off is necessary even in important events. In weddings and formal business meals, it is quite necessary to take off your shoes (but keep your socks on, and a good pair!)

Especially in Korean and Japanese dramas, you will see a lot of socked feet / bare feet, they actually emphasize the shoes-off culture on television, and they are proud of showcasing it. You will see a lot of smartly dressed men (in suits) or women without shoes.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I suppose Singapore is rather more westernized than Japan.

It sounds great that they emphasise the no-shoes custom on Korean television. Quite a contrast to American television where people constantly wear shoes, even when in real life they might have taken them off.

Oh, did I just make an anti-American comment? I am going Left-wing these days.

God Bless


richyrich said...

Yet another link!


singaporeguy said...

Sadly on Singapore television, the actors will keep their shoes on even if the played-out scene is at a person's home. The Koreans showcase a very authentic side of their 'no shoes' culture'.

Since young, I have this habit of taking off my footwear outside my door and only step in in bare feet. In other people's place, I usually keep my socks on or wear sandals over. I even have this friedn with a strict clean feet police - not only do you have to take off all footwear, you have to wash your feet in the bathroom before he grants you freedom in his house.

Did you manage to come to Singapore the last time? Did you havea good no shoes experience here?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

The only Asian country I have been to is Japan, I am afraid.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Rich, I posted that one, but the blog has not been deleted.

So I removed the post.