GE Morton:Well, first, I am not a "conservative." But since for you "thinking morally" means acting upon intuitions and emotional impulses, it's true that I don't "think morally" as you understand it. But for most philosophers acting upon emotional impulses does not qualify as "thinking" at all.
Then you are doing a fine imitation of one, for conservatives, for example, would like to dismantle government agencies that assist the poor. As to thinking morally, I certainly do not believe as you say. Qualified moral intuitionists like myself hold that something like compassion or empathy makes for a foundation of moral concern; it does not make morally entangled issues intuitive, it simply makes the prima facie case to be sorted out in subsequent thought. Consequently, if a society incorporates certain organizational features to make it run better, this has moral content only insofar as it addresses a foundational concern established by compassion for others. Otherwise, it has no more morality to it than a move on a chess board tha may be efficient for winning the game. These are pragmatically conceived, not morally. I said something like this earlier.
What you have just described is envy. And it is augmented by the false belief that others ought to be interested in your well-being, that they have some duty to guarantee and promote your welfare. But they don't. Your welfare is your sole responsibility; others have a duty not to reduce it, but no duty to contribute to it. And as long as the envious remain convinced that their welfare is someone else's responsibility they will remain poor and resentful.
It certainly is envy. It is also indignation due to oppression, implicit or otherwise. The oppression comes by way of unequal access to education, quality living environments, and so forth. Resentment, envy, these are not to measured as such, but in a context fairness. Now, when you say things like your welfare is your sole responsibility, I am first struck by the cash value of such a stark and uncompromising statement: Thank god we don't have to help these miserable people through tax dollars. A terrific rationalization of systemic cruelty. This is the way to a glorious Third Reich. I am not exaggerating, for what is it to leave the poor to help themselves alone if not to allow them to perish so as to achieve greatness for "the whole"? Unfortunately for those like you who are unburdened by conscience, and this is part of the point here, your prisons will overcrowd, there will be massive resentment, poverty and ignorance will bear upon the "whole" and your anal retentive postulating will be for naught. Of course, you can allows just take them all out and shoot them to ensure the well being of all. But then, it is often the other way around, isn't it? Just remember what happened to Nicholas the II and Louis the XVI.
You will have to explain to me how you discern or calculate what someone is due. You said that "it belongs to those who produce," with which I fully agree. I.e., what someone is due is equal to what he has produced. Please advise if you have a different measure or criterion. What Bill Gates produced was, to begin with, a version of BASIC that would run on the new personal computers that had begun to appear on the market in the late '70s. At the time no other software existed for those machines. But their buyers were mostly nerds who would write their own software if they had a programming language. Soon nearly every maker of PCs was bundling Micro-soft BASIC (yes, it had a hyphen at that time) with their computers, and Gates, still a college student, made a lot of money. With that money he hired other programmers, offering many of them shares in Microsoft as part of their compensation. Over the next few years they produced PC versions of Fortran, Cobol, "C," and other programming languages. Most of those early hires became millionaires --- Microsoft produced over 12,000 millionaires and 3 billionaires. Plus thousands more who made more money than they'd ever dreamed of before going to work for Gates.
Yes, I am aware that I have to explain this to you. You don't really grasp what it is to think at the basic level, that is, philosophically, so this kind of thinking will be alien to you. Desert is not to be measured in the consequences of what is produced because these consequences and the ability to to produce them are morally arbitrary. This is simply a solid fact that would be unworthy of discussion if it were not for people who thoughtlessly assume merit and results go hand in hand, as if there were nothing at all to the moral arbitrarity of what makes for success. We allow Bill Gates to have his fortune, not because he deserves it, but because because there is the prevailing belief that it works
better to do so than to redistribute wealth for a more equatable distribution. This latter has had disastrous consequences, though, one could argue that it was in its implementation that things go so badly. At any rate, all you have to do is ask basic questions to see where the moral end of this instantly falls apart: where did Bill Gates get his ability to think clearly, his opportunity to capitalize; what made for the opportunity at all? Why wasn't Bill Gates afflicted with a debilitating abnormality? Why, why, why? The foundations of assumed thinking behind the concept of desert are littered with foolishness an we all know this. Einstein "deserved" to be a genius?? How does this work?
So clearly, the deserving of good fortune or bad is nonsense at the level of basic questions. Religion can assume all it pleases that the Brahmin class is superior to the Shudra and more deserving, but this is pure metaphysical manure. We are all equal in our throwness into this place, this world, and this is without argument. Our laws are morally provisional, relative, contingent, pending, but their direction, to be moral at all, must reflect this foundation of equality: I was not mutilated by organized crime and thrown onto the streets of Delhi like so many are just by the luck of the draw. This puts Gates' "desert" into question: we allow it because we think it works best to let individuals amass great wealth. We think it brings out the best in the smart capable people, and there is certainly something to be said for this. But this matter is pragmatic, not moral (unless you want to go down that rabbit hole where all social rule making finds its justification in need, which is real, thereby grounding even the pettiest pragmatic ideas. There is a point where pragmatism takes on a life of its own. take citizenship: why do I have the rights that belong to citizenship? Geographical rights? But this plays out significantly in current affairs and people start thinking magically
about rights. The moral/pragmatic basis for all this gets lost in torrents of god and country and the rhetoric turns pragmatic necessity of drawing boundaries into sheer foolishness.)
But please explain to me how, per what principle or criterion, a person "living in a ghetto" is entitled to some share of that wealth. And supply a rational argument for that principle.
See the above re. the rational argument you seek.
Sure. Free will is what is left after determinism is refuted. Determinism is refuted when the proffered determinants have no predictive power. I.e., if A, B, and C are held to be the determinants of D, and D does not consistently ensue given A, B, and C, then that deterministic hypothesis is refuted. A partial corrrelation between A, B, C, and D --- less than 100% -- does not establish a deterministic relationship; the proposition "A, B, and C are the causes of D" will be false.
The assumption is that the predictive power in question is possessed within the matrix of the human neurological physiology, which is too complex to analyze. we are bound to this because of the principle of sufficient reason. Nothing occurs ex nihilo. This is a priori true.
But ignore this. The best way to understand freedom is to follow Heidegger in his claim that even in our absence from memory's finite "causes" (to use other language than his) for possible behavior choices, we are still bound in the creation of something novel, an expression of our authentic self, to what is always already there. In other words, our freedom is a standing at the threshold of future possibilities, but these possibilities are not infinite. And so, there you are, poorly educated, abused by poverty and a life of struggle, but you have before you nothing causing you to do anything, but you do have a battery of meaningful possibilities which are cultural, historical
, and this personal history is possesses its own unique "wisdom" to proceed. Therefore, it is foolish to think of freedom and lining up with status quo responsibilities if one's person'a history does not project future possibilities in this way. Your possibilities will be those filled with your rage and discontent. So from a pragmatic viewpoint even, you have to make sure, as Sculptor1 suggested, you keep poverty at a bay. But even here, you could take the Marxist view of capitalism: sure, give them what they need to subsist, says the bourgeois capitalist, as long as they produce in our factories. Limit education so they don't really have the means or the time to think on these things. This is what happens when there is no compassion in decision making, which engenders a culture of power and cruelty.
But, yes, people create their environment, not the other way around. People are the actors, the dynamic forces, the movers and shakers who construct their social environment and the "built" portion of the physical environment (nature, of course, supplies various natural elements). Every rape and mugging, every drive-by shooting, every threat uttered by every gangster, every drug transaction in every dark alley, every graffiti scrawl on every wall, every broken window, every pile of trash in every stairwell and every discarded syringe in every gutter, were committed or put there by some person. Together all of those things define the social environment in that community, every one of them the products of people.
This is not even an attempt to be slippery, G E Morton. Your contradiction lies with on the one hand admitting people are inclined to behave according their Inferior education, implicit and explicit learning environments, and so forth, then saying people are not made by their environments. What can this possibly mean to make sense?
When discussing cause and effect, citing exceptions is not a fallacy. Exceptions refute causal hypotheses. And it only takes one.
Tell me you're joking. If a person turns out well despite the environmental failings that produced her, one does not throw efficient cause out the window, one simply acknowledges the failings of the analysis due to the complexity of the causal matrix, like the one found in the human brain. Off hand, it is simply likely that such a person is endowed with an adaptive predisposition that allowed her to weather through.
But who cares about naive determinism.
I agree with the first statement. But please explain to me what sort of curriculum would "engender caring about education." Why would a person who does not care about education care any more about that curriculum (whatever that might be) than any other curriculum? Your suggestion is question-begging. Your pupil would already have to care about education to benefit from it, in which case it would be superfluous.
A curriculum that extends educational concerns into the family life. Better schools, more teachers, more control in the explicit educational process is very helpful, but it is the implicit environment, which is everything else, that brings this down. Children are strongly influenced by their parents in the formative years, especially. The primacy of this influence and the way it structures all future possibilities has to be undone. The Korean model: extensive time in educational conditioning facilities outside the home. As to motivation: this emerges with success, and success in solving problems, educational or otherwise, hinges on conditioning. Skinner was right.
Sounds more like Huxley's Brave New World. Good luck with that!
No, it is the opposite of the Huxley's book, for once oppressive aspects of the socializing environment that are oppressive are addressed and effort is made to eliminate them, there will be no Delta class, nor will there be all Alphas. There will be opportunity for all, and Nietzschean resentment will become a thing of the past.