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The 3 I's

Every day, as humans, we are faced with tens, hundreds or even thousands of decisions on what to do. How do we cope? Roger Haines has suggested that in fact we do this by appealing to one or more of the "3 I's".
Instinct: Some choices are made instinctively because a rapid and appropriate response to this kind of situation has been necessary for the survival of our species and has become encoded in our DNA.
Intuition: Sometimes we feel we know the choice to make without thinking about it and without being quite sure how. This is because we have experienced something like it before and, at some level, recorded the outcomes of our previous decisions and are guided by this subconscious knowledge even though we cannot recall what happened.
Intellect: Our intellect is used to help make decisions in a number of ways working together:

  • Research into and analysis of the situation we face.
  • Reflection on our instinctive responses and/or intuitive judgements.
  • Codification of what we think is the best way to handle it, in other words, the production of reusable guidance. This may be done just for ourselves as individuals or for a much wider group of people. It is not necessarily written down and may be just some guidance that we have created for ourselves individually that we can rapidly recall to mind.
  • Reuse of guidance produced by ourselves or others.

Each of the 3 I's can affect the other two (though not in a controlling way). In fact, according to the theory of the 3 I's, it is characteristic of moral actions that they arise from a combination of rational judgement (intuition and intellect) and emotional motivation (instinct).

The guidance implied by this theory is simply to make sure that each of the 3 I's is given its full weight and not suppressed by some dogma denying its role; for example:
  • How do I feel about this?
  • Is this feeling biased by personal interests or sentiment or is it consistent with how I understand the world to work in other contexts?
  • Are there relevant rules that I have mentally signed up to?