Sorry if the text is poorly parsed and grouped funny.
The site gave technical problems with posting (character limit? I didn't say so), so I had to paste it to a word document editor and repost.
I've tried to re-split things up as much as I could, but the original formatting from when I typed is gone
Nick Makiaveli, on 15 February 2012 - 07:49 PM, said:
Just gonna hit the highlights as I see them. Ref: the 1800s and all that. That was also before radio/TV etc. Information is a bit easier to come by these days. So what didn't work then could work now. Also, back then the culture was different. People had no problem buying goods made cheap even if that meant maimed children. These days we are a bit more enlightened or so we like to think.
It's a nice hypothesis, but it still doesn't fit. Most of the examples I cited are modern, many within the last decade or two.
As to the moral issues of stealing food etc. Once you start legalizing morality, you start stepping on toes. Where do we draw the line? It would be hard to find a sane person who objects to outlawing murder. What about alcohol sale and consumption on Sunday? Slippery slope and all that, so isn't it best to err on the side of caution and not risk trampling rights? Trampling one to secure another....didn't Benjamin Franklin have something to say about that?
You realize the slippery slope argument is generally considered a logical fallacy, right? You can use it to justify claiming anything will follow from anything, so it's kind of an argument of nothing
To answer your question, I don't recall a quote by Frankling specifically, but of course we should err on the side of caution, and heavily. It's what we understand that Europe often doesn't. That's why I get appalled at people who propose things like guns bans, or even mandatory safety seatbelt laws.
However, as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr once famously said, The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins.
The goal of government should be to protect rights, nothing more or less. That job just sometimes gets complicated.
The State owning all, including the product of your labor is wealth redistribution. You own nothing without the State giving it to you. I think you have been taught a odd definition of Communism.
No, he's right. Communism is a system of extreme government ownership, not just of wealth, but spefically of the means of production, and it doesn't necessarily include heavily redistributive systems. Why does government have to distribute the wealth it owns in a particular fashion?
Sure, the government has to distribute some of that wealth to maintain a functioning society, but so do all economic systems, including free market capitalism. The point of communism is the government ownership, and of most or all the wealth, not just some, not a particular degree of redistribution. Do you realize that the Soviets had a heavily uneven distribution of wealth, favoring a few over many? There was no "everyone is the same".
As to society's right to come take my food etc, ever heard the one about 2 men and a woman stuck on a island? If not short version is they decide to have a democratic society. One man proposes a law that the woman has to have sex with the men on demand. I assume you see where this is going. "Majority rules" is not much different from "might makes right".
Of course I've heard the story, and I hate to break it to you, but basically 100% of nature works this way. In fact, your own story basically proves that the universe is arranged in such a way that might makes right.
There is no objectively determinable right and wrong, not by any evidence. Utilitarianism is probably about as close as you get, and even its not an absolute ethical system. So right is basically determined by whoever can back it up. Might more or less does
make right in nature, of which we are a part.
Here in the corporeal world, if I think it's right to take your apple, and I have a bigger stick than you, by what standard can you claim I'm wrong? The answer is, of course, none
So why have guaranteed rights at all? Why protect minority rights?
Well society figured out a long time ago that sooner or later, most of us end up in the position of the woman, rather than the two men. In fact, the majority of us end up there the majority of the time in most
societal setups, because most societal setups give the majority of the power to the few, not the many, and those few wield it so serve themselves.
So we realized that it was beneficial to everyone to ensure that everyone had certain protections against power. If society ever wants to change that, they can anytime they please, because might does
make right, because if I'm mighty, I can decide
what I think is "right", and there's nothing anyone else can do about it.
Our society, however, is such that that might is now in the hands of the overall populace, who thus far wield it in such a way that that the most people get the most benefit, while still making sure everyone has a strong minimum of protections from many forms of exploitation. That's about as close to "right" as you can get in what's evidently a very amoral universe.
If some powerful figure ever overtook us, and our police and military could no longer protect what we've decided is right and wrong, then that figure would get to decide, and neither your objections, nor mine, would amount to anything. That's just the nature of the universe.
As to Ant/Grasshopper bit. Seriously? You challenge my hypothetical with one of your own?
Of course. Showing that your analogy doesn't remotely work in all cases, and that it therefore can't be used for huge generalizations that go beyond that particular case is important.
You can't generalize about society based on one narrow example that precludes many other important points.
As to the apes etc. Last I checked they do work together on some issues.
Of course they will. They hunt together, and if a male has ambitions for political power, they'll be supported by others for self-interest, but I'm not talking about cooperating with another to boost oneself up. I'm talking about altruism. Chimps will sometimes display such behavior towards direct family members (kin selection is a powerful force, so it's no surprise), but in general, two unrelated chimps will display little behavior other than to instantly kill each other. In fact, male groups will patrol around their greater family groups, looking for unrelated lone males, just to attack and kill them.
Chimps are capable of altruistic behavior, even towards non-family members, as it occurs in very rare cases, but their society operates in a way that precludes.
Here's what you won't generally see:
If a banana is a couple feet out of reach and can't be climbed to, you'll never see one chimp boost another up to get it. If they're unrelated, forget it. Humans figured out a long time ago that there's an interesting benefit to doing that for another human, any human, regardless of their relation to you. It meant that we became, not just social creatures, but hyper-social creatures. Here's what we figured out: If I boost you up, you can turn around and do the same for me. Then we both get a banana, instead of neither.
Societally, this is a powerful force for survival. Rather than chimps, we resolve potential conflicts, even with non-related members, by trying to cooperate with them to figure out a solution, rather than killing each other over it, so as a result, more humans live.
We are so
inclined towards this tendency, that we even did it with other species! Humans have very long running histories of relatively peaceful relationships with other dangerous species, lions being a perfect example. Did you know that lions aren't predisposed to attack people? This was demonstrated by a rather wreckless, if extremely interesting experiment by zoologist Dave Salmoni (who's known for being in the public eye for doing controversial things, but again, always gets interesting results). He went and basically lived around a pride of wild lions, closer and closer each day, to demonstrate that they had no natural proclivity to attack humans. They essentially only started doing it because European settlers drove them to by killing natural food sources and attracting them to the only thing left: people and livestock.
Anthropoligst Elizabeth Marshall Thomas studied this issue extensively, and found that that was just the relationship that had been evolved with the cats by early Africans.
Cheetas are even more amicable towards people; in fact they're downright
amicable. I have never, ever, ever heard of a fatal Cheetah attack on a person occurring. They're so amicable, that for over 1,000 years, people used to capture them, not cubs, but wild adults, and use them as hunting animals (basically really expensive hunting dogs; Europeans did this a lot). They've also been pets for as long as human civilization existed.
We simply don't conflict with one another, and it's something we've extended to numerous other animals. Basically a "we're powerful; you're powerful; let's not waste effort attacking each other" kind of a deal.
Cooperation doesn't just mean a lot less conflict, however. It opens up opportunities if you're intelligent enough to realize them, which is why our brains then exploded in size like no other evolutionary feature in a long time. This is significant, because we're in an evolutionary slow/stable point, have been since about the recovery from the K-T event, and probably will continue to be permanently barring a mass extinction, so things don't change that fast anymore.
Humans do this. Others do not (though bonobos come closer than other species). The willingness to expend effort, or even take harm, for one's society, especially in a species already as large and intelligent as human ancestors, is the most powerful force the world has ever known.
But the point again is if there is a better chance that sharing would save my life and my families, then of course I would.
Of course you would, but here's a question: how much would you risk? If you had a 50% chance of dying personally, would you take it for the change to save ten people? A hundred? A thousand?
Helping at no risk to yourself is irrelevant. Even some of your pre-human ancestors would have done that. The question is, are you an extension of that evolutionary trend? For most people, the answer it yes, because biological and sociocultural evolution both demand it, and when push came to shove, I'm betting you would too, but do you consider that right?
As to teaching my son etc. You only got one tiny piece of the puzzle and yet you have me raising him to be a monster.
I go by what you give me, if you teach your son more, then you need to put that caveat in there, rather than leaving me to deduce it.
By the same token, I also taught him that in the context of the Ant story that if the ant had sufficient food he should help the grasshopper. But that if the next winter rolled around and the grasshopper had failed to make ANY progress, that is grounds to consider you are no longer helping.
and I agree; so long as you've given the opportunity, there comes a point when useless people don't stop being useless, and then they aren't worth the investment. In the ancient days, when those resources could have meant survival, leaving them to die would have been reasonable. Today, when that's just not necessary, it just means they should live in the lowest quality of life possible.
However, with that said, there should always be an avenue of opportunity for people to change. If you take that away, then you've done no better than to kill them. That investment should just be minimal.
Back on the tax issue, do you not understand the difference between being forced to and volunteering?
Of course I do, but I don't think it's what you think it is.
The difference is that in a purely volunteer system, only the especially altruistic people share, while the selfish get to hoard what they have and not take part.
In a system where society demands that everyone contribute, the selfish have to give something up too, for the greater good (utilitarianism, remember?), because it's not fair for only the kind-hearted people to contribute.
Having a society which uplifts the poor is of benefit to everyone, so it's especially
not fair for the selfish to not contribute, when they or their descendents will see the benefit.
Edited by Catamount, 17 February 2012 - 10:16 AM.