Do we owe each other anything?
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
24-10-2011, 07:38 PM
 
Do we owe each other anything?
Ayn Rand categorically declared: NO!

Her ethics can be summarized briefly as follows:

Quote:'Laissez faire' Capitalism is the only ethical social system imaginable. Who could argue with the basic ethical principle that no human being has the right to force another human being to do anything against his own (perceived) self interest. If we allow a human being to initiate force against another, to force him to act against his interests, then we have approved of dictatorships of the worst kind.

I do not believe that statement for a second.

For illustration purposes, think about the following thought experiment:

What if I were walking on the bank of a river and saw a child drowning, feet away from a healthy young man fishing in a boat? What if I saw that this young man ignored the child’s screams for help and kept on fishing? What if, when I asked him to save the kid, he refused? I know that this young man is not blind, deaf, or otherwise handicapped, he is a good swimmer and able to rescue the child; he merely chooses to exercise his ‘right’ not to act on my pity. If for some reason I couldn’t save the child (I couldn’t swim, or whatever), and if I carried a gun, would I threaten the man in the boat?

When I first thought of this scenario, I was shocked to find that my ‘gut reaction’ was: yes, without hesitation! Would I actually have pulled the trigger if he refused? If I were sure I could get away with it? I am sure I would not. I was raised to recoil from killing. But I would wish I could. It would be my most basic instinct to destroy this traitor to humanity.

Before you all recoil in horror and yell : “Murderer!”, let me remind you that most of the heroes of our country were honored for the unquestioning murder of fellow human beings who were the ‘enemy’ at the time - as decreed by our government. One more question for those who wouldn’t: what would you do if the child were your own? You still don’t think you would be tempted to use the gun?

Let me emphasize at this point that I most emphatically do not approve of violence of any kind to solve social problems - the example is only an illustration of a moral dilemma. So, basically, I believe we do owe each other something (for those who disagree about saving the child, I “recommend suicide at their earliest convenience” to quote Konrad Lorenz. It would save us the trouble of putting them out of our misery).

The question is: how much do we owe each other?

Where to draw the line?

I have tried to find a basic principle that would make this line as non-arbitrary as possible in the Proposal for a new social contract thread.

I am curious about what your reaction would be, should you find yourself in the scenario of the thought experiment I described above.

In the broader sense: do human beings ‘owe’ each other anything?
Quote this message in a reply
24-10-2011, 07:47 PM
RE: Do we owe each other anything?
(24-10-2011 07:38 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  The question is: how much do we owe each other?

Where to draw the line?

I think it is impossible to draw the perfect line. Wherever you draw it there will be scenarios just either side that call everything into question. As far as the best place for such a line, I'll leave that to people with a more rounded world view than me.

On the whole 'kid + guy in a boat' scenario of yours Zatamon, believe me at no point did I have any inclination to 'recoil in horror and yell : “Murderer!”'. If I were in that situation I probably wouldn't pull the trigger but only through fear of the consequences, I would however do some serious harm to the guy. If I was in the situation except with a guarantee of no consequences I could easily imagine myself pulling the trigger, and I can't really imagine myself losing much sleep over it either. Infact, I'd probably pull the trigger several times and be proud of it til the day I died.

Best and worst of Ferdinand .....
Best
Ferdinand: We don't really say 'theist' in Alabama. Here, you're either a Christian, or you're from Afghanistan and we fucking hate you.
Worst
Ferdinand: Everyone from British is so, like, fucking retarded.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Hughsie's post
24-10-2011, 08:22 PM (This post was last modified: 24-10-2011 08:25 PM by NotSoVacuous.)
RE: Do we owe each other anything?
Is it only me, or is anyone else getting tired of forum subject lines always being in the form of questions. They probably shouldn't bother me, but they do, on a very serious level.

Anyways, on topic, if the average human today wasn't an idiot then yes I would say we owe each other something. So having that said it is statistically in my favor and more statistically beneficial to society if I didn't help everyone that needed it.

Think about it, stats wise idiots outnumber the intelligent, the motivated, the successful and the rationals. If you was to save that child, house that person, give to that hobo, they will more than likely be religious, vote irrationally on politics, and most likely pass on bad genes.

Now, in a more situation environment there could be times to change my mind, but statistically speaking, no. Give it 100 more years and my answer may change.

In all seriousness, this is just looking outside the box, it in my opinion is the most productive means of doing things. However, I have a heart and I do donate to charity and give blood. Stupid me Undecided

"We Humans are capable of greatness." -Carl Sagan
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes NotSoVacuous's post
24-10-2011, 08:38 PM
 
RE: Do we owe each other anything?
(24-10-2011 07:47 PM)Hughsie Wrote:  
(24-10-2011 07:38 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  The question is: how much do we owe each other?

Where to draw the line?
If I was in the situation except with a guarantee of no consequences I could easily imagine myself pulling the trigger, and I can't really imagine myself losing much sleep over it either. Infact, I'd probably pull the trigger several times and be proud of it til the day I died.

Question: do you think that in a court of law the death penalty would be justified for the crime of not saving someone's life?

Just curious how we view justice in this case (apart from personal primal impulses).
Quote this message in a reply
24-10-2011, 09:23 PM
RE: Do we owe each other anything?
(24-10-2011 08:38 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  
(24-10-2011 07:47 PM)Hughsie Wrote:  
(24-10-2011 07:38 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  The question is: how much do we owe each other?

Where to draw the line?
If I was in the situation except with a guarantee of no consequences I could easily imagine myself pulling the trigger, and I can't really imagine myself losing much sleep over it either. Infact, I'd probably pull the trigger several times and be proud of it til the day I died.

Question: do you think that in a court of law the death penalty would be justified for the crime of not saving someone's life?

Just curious how we view justice in this case (apart from personal primal impulses).


It's a risk the man doesn't have to take. You are not supposed to swim after a drowning person, they could take you under too. Although I would, I wouldn't expect anyone to do it. I couldn't envy them because of their decision though.

"We Humans are capable of greatness." -Carl Sagan
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
25-10-2011, 05:22 AM
RE: Do we owe each other anything?
(24-10-2011 08:38 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  Question: do you think that in a court of law the death penalty would be justified for the crime of not saving someone's life?

Just curious how we view justice in this case (apart from personal primal impulses).

I wouldn't even make it a crime to not save someone's life. It would be a legal nightmare and almost impossible to define because such a law would have to encompass such a huge variety of situations.

It just wouldn't be a workable law in my opinion.

What are your opinions?

Best and worst of Ferdinand .....
Best
Ferdinand: We don't really say 'theist' in Alabama. Here, you're either a Christian, or you're from Afghanistan and we fucking hate you.
Worst
Ferdinand: Everyone from British is so, like, fucking retarded.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
25-10-2011, 08:28 AM
 
RE: Do we owe each other anything?
(25-10-2011 05:22 AM)Hughsie Wrote:  I wouldn't even make it a crime to not save someone's life. It would be a legal nightmare and almost impossible to define because such a law would have to encompass such a huge variety of situations.

I don't think that you could pass a single law making it a crime not to help.

There are some specific laws in place already dealing with specific situations (like not providing some assistance to a car accident victim, or at least calling for help), but this thread is not about the legal aspect of the issue but rather the moral/philosophical and, as a consequence, the political.

The example I brought up was just a thought experiment, to provide a counter-example to Ayn Rand's philosophy. Hughsie's gut-reaction was perfect: "blow the bastard away".

The issue I hoped to discuss in this thread was not the counter-example I brought up but the much wider issue of the extent of our moral obligation to each other.

As I said in the "Proposal for a new Social Contract" thread:

Quote:We are a species of contradictions: Co-operation and competition; desire for freedom and for power; generosity and greed; loyalty and enmity

In a social context this duality manifests itself as freedom from, and compassion for, one another. The different social systems in our history were built on different assumptions of human nature.

- Capitalism assumes that our primary motivation is greedy self interest (freedom and competition)
- Communism is built on the assumption that we can be like a family, each caring equally for all (compassion and sharing).
- Socialism of various kinds try to find a compromise between those extremes.

So far without much success, because the compromises were arbitrary, piecemeal, without a clearly defined principle. Can we find a compromise acceptable to most people?

We feel that we do owe each other something and we recoil from humans who deny this fundamental test of their humanity. However, there is no end of confusion as to what extent we should feel obligated to help each other.

I am not after easy-to-follow specific rules but rather a philosophical frame-work guiding our attitude in relating to each other. It may appear as an artificial problem, created just for an intellectual exercise but, on a very practical level, whole legal, economic and political systems are based on our answer to this question: “what and how much, if anything, do we owe each other?”
Quote this message in a reply
25-10-2011, 02:15 PM (This post was last modified: 25-10-2011 02:21 PM by bemore.)
RE: Do we owe each other anything?
Ive let this question gently roll around today at work and ive come to this conclusion.

I myself have been fortunate enough in life I consider.....to have had a lot of love and understanding and trust in my life to shape me into the way I am. I have seen and been shown how to be considerate to others and I have experienced it myself firsthand. This gives me the general outlook that life can be good given the right circumstances, and whilst I may not see my the right circumstances all the time I try to implement them and have hope and faith in my conviction that I can do so.

However on the other hand......there are people out there who are born into hate and solitude and thats what shapes them into the people they are. They may have seen nothing of love and consideration and when they have generally it may have been fleeting and infrequent enough to make a permanent impact on there overall outlook.

So potentially the man in the boat may see the child drowning in a completly different way to than how we do......he may not be able to comprehend our outlooks whilst we cannot fully comprehend his.

So.......if you did pull the trigger on the man and kill him......then you would be doing it based only upon his life up until that point.......which potentially could of been completey outside of his control.

Which potentially means ......on that judgment.....he could reverse it and shoot you for rescuing the child.

EDIT: So basiclally answering your question Zat paradoxically I would have to say yes and no Smile

(although I side with the yes side)

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
26-10-2011, 12:50 PM (This post was last modified: 26-10-2011 12:54 PM by kim.)
RE: Do we owe each other anything?
Quote:Quote:
We are a species of contradictions: Co-operation and competition; desire for freedom and for power; generosity and greed; loyalty and enmity

In a social context this duality manifests itself as freedom from, and compassion for, one another. The different social systems in our history were built on different assumptions of human nature.

- Capitalism assumes that our primary motivation is greedy self interest (freedom and competition)
- Communism is built on the assumption that we can be like a family, each caring equally for all (compassion and sharing).
- Socialism of various kinds try to find a compromise between those extremes.

So far without much success, because the compromises were arbitrary, piecemeal, without a clearly defined principle. Can we find a compromise acceptable to most people?

Quote:Quote:
I am not after easy-to-follow specific rules but rather a philosophical frame-work guiding our attitude in relating to each other. It may appear as an artificial problem, created just for an intellectual exercise but, on a very practical level, whole legal, economic and political systems are based on our answer to this question: “what and how much, if anything, do we owe each other?”
…………………….
Dodgy You're not asking for too much, are you? Undecided

Human nature's greatest conundrum is it's own human nature.
As you previously stated, we are a species of contradictions and our true natures provide internal conflict which rarely abides by our lofty standards of reason. Placing our own duality at the center of scrutiny, we must still broaden perspective to gain compromise to some satisfaction. Is reason enough, is responsibility enough, and can we even expect a clearly defined principle to satisfactorily resolve conflict? Huh
Adherence to a system of governance depends on the depth of our expectation for that system to satisfactorily bring resolve. How much is surely circumstantial but as well, must be based partly on trust. Mutual trust with regard to reason, responsibility, and carefully considered compromise to resolve issues, may be all we can owe each other in a concerted effort to make a system work. If anything, we can only owe each other that which we might be expected to buy into… and there will always be those who don't buy into an agreed upon system(free thinkers?Wink). Reason and responsibility are humankind's greatest tools which may be able to help develop trust. If we can rely or depend upon each other or any system, we must first find and develop trust within human nature.
Shy At least that's what I'm going to hope for.

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
26-10-2011, 01:48 PM (This post was last modified: 26-10-2011 02:56 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Do we owe each other anything?
(24-10-2011 07:38 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  For illustration purposes, think about the following thought experiment:

What if I were walking on the bank of a river and saw a child drowning, feet away from a healthy young man fishing in a boat? What if I saw that this young man ignored the child’s screams for help and kept on fishing? What if, when I asked him to save the kid, he refused? I know that this young man is not blind, deaf, or otherwise handicapped, he is a good swimmer and able to rescue the child; he merely chooses to exercise his ‘right’ not to act on my pity. If for some reason I couldn’t save the child (I couldn’t swim, or whatever), and if I carried a gun, would I threaten the man in the boat?

If he refused to help, I'd put a few bullet holes in the hull of his boat and then after he bails out 'cause his boat is sinking tell him that the child better be in his arms when he gets to shore. That'd likely work more often than not.

I love the way the Tea Party in the US has co-opted Ayn Rand's socio-economic ideas while not even realizing that this crazy ass bitch was an an even more avid atheist than me. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

Don't ge me wrong, I like the crazy ass bitch. I just disagree with her. Rand called her philosophy "Objectivism", describing its essence as "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

That's fucking close, but we know that reason cannot be absolute. I mean, we've proved it..

I feel myself coming around more and more to Hamata k's way of thinking - "All right Girly, I gave you the chance to talk some sense into them, didn't take. We could just try to beat the stupid out of them instead." ... Of course, it could just be that I need to back off my testosterone dose.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes GirlyMan's post
Post Reply
Forum Jump: