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rights revisited

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MrE
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Re: rights revisited

Post by MrE » September 4th, 2018, 6:10 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
September 4th, 2018, 2:58 pm
Suppose a legislature passes a law that some group will not be given any rights, thus they have no right to defend themselves or to be defended by the government against having their property and even their lives taken from them. Since they have no right to defend themselves they could be prosecuted under the law for their defensive actions.
No disagreement here. There are plenty of examples of societies or countries where the laws are not just for all.
I think that most who defend some version of natural rights would agree. Having rights does not mean that they are given. It is not necessary to give someone something he or she already has.
You would have to provide evidence that you already have these rights that you claim.
The problem with this is that whatever is by law is justified because it is the law. In that case, there could be no such thing as an unjust law.
Unjust laws do exist in the US as it does in almost all countries. No society will 100% agree on what is just.
Is the making of law purely subjective and a matter of individual opinion?.
Depends on the type of society. In the US the people should be driving the laws, based on elected officials appointed by the people. We have a voting system where the majority opinion should drive this. This is not a perfect process obviously.
If all is a matter of what is purely subjective and a matter of individual opinion then what do ethics and justice mean? Are all opinions equal? If so, then even though I can be constrained or prosecuted by the law, whatever I do, no matter what others may think, is morally permissible as long as that is my purely subjective individual opinion.
Natural rights have nothing to do with morals or ethics. These are man made. You do not see other animals concerned with this. Now I am not saying I do not have or believe that morals and ethics are not valuable, but stating unbiasedly that there is no natural rights you are giving that must be adhered to. The better question I think you driving at is "Where does morality come from?" There is not absolute answer. I would lean towards "well being" as the base for this. I will not go into this, but Matt Dillahunty makes a great case for this which currently I see as the most convincing answer.

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Re: rights revisited

Post by Burning ghost » September 4th, 2018, 11:00 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
September 4th, 2018, 1:46 pm
It is, BG, simply true that Bill Gates has a lot of money and he made it through investment and business. He does good things, no doubt, but they are not commensurate with his wealth (though I heard he intends to in the future, at which time I will give him credit). Anyway, is it just "good business" to do good things, in terms of public perception and taxes? No matter, the point above is that he mixes success and self interest with altruism. It's a step in the right direction, though self interest is not enough. Wasn't enough for Adam Smith.
I suggest you do some research and start to give him some credit.

Of course you can always turn around and say it’s part of some plan to influence “public opinion”. If you set up a mindset to vilify people from the get go you’ll always see them as villains.

Then there is Zuckerberg, who I assume you’ve not actually researched either. Do you assume anyone succssful in business to be a monster? Yes some are, but I find it funny that the two you mentioned are far from miserly and certainly express concerns and are actually trying to make a difference.
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Re: rights revisited

Post by Eduk » September 5th, 2018, 4:50 am

Is the making of law purely subjective and a matter of individual opinion?

If all is a matter of what is purely subjective and a matter of individual opinion then what do ethics and justice mean? Are all opinions equal? If so, then even though I can be constrained or prosecuted by the law, whatever I do, no matter what others may think, is morally permissible as long as that is my purely subjective individual opinion.
Basically yes, though you seem rather down on the whole concept and draw a few incorrect conclusions (in my opinion).
Let us imagine that ethics meant behaviours which improved existential concerns for life as a whole. Let us also imagine that life is 'good'. Under this system we could then say if such and such a thing were ethical, or at the least have a good discussion about it. However we cannot prove that life is 'good'. This is subjective. So we can say if such and such a thing were ethical, but we couldn't say that being ethical was 'good'. In this sense any action is absolutely justifiable as no actions are justifiable (the word having no meaning in this context).
Of course we can then argue about the definition of ethics. This would seem to again be subjective, and it is to an extent.
But, and this is the key point really, none of this means all opinions are equal. After all what is an opinion, but an expression of our nature? Can we perfectly express our nature? Do we fully know our own nature? Does our nature have contradictions? Do we share much of our nature in common? Can we for example both agree that we want justice, agree on what justice is and then perform contrasting actions with contrasting effects. In effect can we be more right or more wrong given our nature?
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Re: rights revisited

Post by Dachshund » September 5th, 2018, 5:09 am

Hereandnow wrote:
August 30th, 2018, 9:31 pm


So basic human rights are universal and equally had because we are all thrown into this world equally not deserving whatever we get, and we know this because it would metaphysics plain and simple that would inform us; the advantages and disadvantages handed out do not fall upon those who deserve them, and I see no reason to doubt this at all. Why? Because there is no ethically justificatory principle in the handing out. Little Mary did not deserve her Down syndrome and Danny boy did nothing to deserve his beautiful voice. Ethically, we are equal, and things are not right, as far as we can see, in the world. This is the basis for obligation to aid the least advantaged, but we have to take ethics, doing the right thing, seriously.

HAN,

I mentioned to you earlier that we needed discuss the distinction between earned and unearned worth.


The point I would like to make here is that an egalitarian moral theorist ( like yourself) who asserts the fundamental moral equality of all human persons cannot deny that in various ways some people do intentionally act in such a manner as to as to be more deserving, more creditable than others. For example, if we agree that all individuals have, say, Lockean rights, then individuals can forfeit their rights through bad conduct. In short, it seems very clear to me that some human lives AS THEY ARE ACTUALLY (INTENTIONALLY) LIVED are more worthy than others.


Your response to this would be, I expect, that the fact individuals vary in their earned worth is perfectly compatible with asserting that they all still possess (regardless) an equal , unearned (innate) worth in virtue of their status as human PERSONS.


My reply to this would be that all human beings are, as I have already pointed out in my last post, different in every conceivable respect that one could ever possibly imagine; namely that each individual is unique and no two are ever equal,( in any way), in the Aristotelian sense of being the "Same". Just as human beings differ in terms of , say: their genetic make-up (their DNA); their ethnicity; their level of intelligence; their physiology; their personality traits; the social, political, cultural and family backgrounds into which they were "thrown" at birth and so on, they will also differ by degree in terms of the measure of inherent, unearned worth, or, if you like, the fundamental ( i.e. "default"/ "unearned") amount of intrinsic dignity they possess at any given time purely by virtue of the fact they are homo sapiens.


In short, It seems to me that when we refer to the proposed notion of an innate unearned worth (or "dignity") that all human being possesses, what we are actually talking about is a collection of morally-relevant psychological features, or, if you like, the set of all the particular human psychological capacities and abilities that actually play a crucial role in determining a individual's raw, unearned moral personality. I listed what I felt were very likely to be some examples these implicit, unearned "worth-determining" psychological capacities/abilities in my last post, namely:


(1) the basic capacity for rational cognition, and in particular, the basic capacity to execute the various high-order cognitive processes that are essential for establishing competent "Executive Functioning" ( a psychological process that is localised in the prefrontal cortex of the human brain).

(2) the unearned capacity for prudent self-control-( the ability to effectively defer the gratification of short-term impulsive desires)

(2) the ability reasonably to form a conception of the good and the right and a capacity to strive to dispose oneself to their attainment.

(3) a capacity for autonomy (moral freedom) which in turn requires an ability to to set ends for oneself according to one's conception of what is good, and the ability to regulate one's choice of ends and of action to achieve one's ends by one's conception of what morality requires.

(4) an ability reasonably to conceive what are the basic norms of fairness, and the capacity to ( strive/try) to dispose oneself to act according to these norms.

(5) a capacity for competent affective (emotional/motivational) regulation.

(6) the capacity to execute the various psychological processes involved in the effective operation of short-term (verbal and non-verbal) Working Memory.


The list above is far from exhaustive. And, if ,in theory, a comprehensive inventory of all the psychological capacities and abilities that play an important role in determining the basic, innate, unearned (moral) worth/ "dignity" of human beings could, in fact, be provided, I am certain it would be very a lengthy one indeed.


The next point I would like to make is that mainstream Western neuropsychologists would all concur that each and every one of the different psychological capacities and abilities ( whatever they happen to be) that play a crucial role in constituting the total basic measure of inherent unearned moral worth/( "dignity") any individual human being is said to possess at any given time in his/her life, will have corresponding neurobiological substrates in the brain; that is, they will each be mediated through a particular neuroanatomical region of the living human brain. To give an example, the psychological feature known as short-term Working Memory would no doubt make a crucial contribution to whatever an individual human being's total measure of innate, unearned (moral) worth/ ("dignity") happened to be at any particular time in their lives, and short-term Working Memory is known to be anatomically localised in a region of the human brain known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC).


As you have mentioned John Rawls ( the prominent, 20th- century moral philosopher), let me use an example of a basic (moral) "worth-determining" psychological feature he identifies in his influential thesis "A Theory of Justice" to continue.


In "A Theory of Justice",Rawls argues that there are two core psychological features constitutive of a human being's "moral personality" ( I take Rawl's term "moral personality" to refer to the moral dimension/component of a individual human being's overall psychological make-up), these are: (A) a capacity for a conception of the good and (B) the capacity for "a sense of justice".


Let's just consider (B), the capacity for a sense of justice. Rawl's defines this capacity as having two components: (1) the ability to conceptualise candidates for what one takes to be the basic norms of fairness, to deliberate about them and then to successfully select the best norms; (2) the capacity for creating and maintaining a steady disposition to conform one's conduct to what one takes to be the best basic norms of fairness. Let's take a closer look now at capacity (1)...


Capacity (1) involves three psychological abilities: (i) the ability to conceptualise candidates for what one takes to be the basic norms of fairness, then (ii) the ability to rationally deliberate about these candidate norms of fairness and then (iii) the ability to successfully select the best of these norms. These three psychological abilities are, as I say,each mediated through their own neurobiological substrates. Because (i), (ii) and (iii) are all high-order, sophisticated psychological (cognitive) abilities, they will all be anatomically located in different sections the the most highly evolved region of the human brain, namely the prefrontal cortex. So, to simplify things , let's say that psychological capacity (1) is mediated through the human prefrontal cortex. The same is also true of capacity (2); so , in sum, we can say that what Rawl's refers to as the "capacity for a sense of justice" is - broadly speaking- anatomically located in different regions of the prefrontal cortex of the human brain.



To continue. From the moment a human being is born ("thrown") into the world, the prefrontal (PFC) cortex of their brain begins to (physically) grow and develop. In the average individual this process of development/growth continues until aboutthe age of around 25 years , which is typically when when the human PFC reaches full structural and functional maturity. AS to HOW the PFC develops over this period of time ( 25 years), this is determined by complex gene-environment interactions . For example, If one is born with "bad genes" ( e.g. Down's Syndrome or some other kind of Intellectual Deficiency disorder or say some form of neurodevelopmental disorder etc.) and predominantly subjected to negative ( i.e. toxic/traumatic/harmful) external environmental factors ( violent/abusive/ malnurturative parenting, poverty, poor education, social disadvantage, cultural deprivation, problems with substance abuse/addiction, and so on) the PFC may very well develop an abnormal, pathological manner, i.e; with substantial structural and functional deficits, deficiencies and impairments; these, in turn, will result in the afflicted individual having a relatively low capacity for Rawl's "sense of justice". Alternatively, if an individual's PFC develops in a robust, healthy manner in consequence of consistently positive/advantageous gene-environment interactions, then s/he will likely possess a well - developed "sense of justice". The essential point I wish to emphasise is that because each individual human being is "thrown" into the world with different DNA ( genetic material), and "thrown" in into different environmental circumstances, no two individuals will ever have - at any point in time - the SAME ( i.e. biologically/physiologically IDENTICAL brains); thus, no two human beings will ever -( at any point in time) - have the SAME ( biologically /physiologically IDENTICAL) PFC, and thus they will never at any point in time possess the SAME Rawlsian psychological capacity for "a sense of justice". This, in turn, means, by extension, that no two human individuals will, at any time, ever have the SAME basic "moral personality" ( i.e. the SAME measure of innate , unearned moral worth or "dignity). Hierarchy will always be the rule. In short, the measure of fundamental, inherent, unearned moral worth that is possessed will ALWAYS differ in degree from one individual human being to another along a natural (vertical) hierarchy that stretches from the most morally lacking and inferior human specimens at the base, upwards through the intermediate orders of innate moral worth/dignity to the most morally well-endowed, morally superior ( i.e. the most noble, virtuous, honourable, righteous human beings at the very top.


There is no such thing as the SAME in nature; nature is fundamentally and essentially hierarchical. (Aristotle recognised this in his idea of the Scala Naturae according to which all matter and life - all being - is structured in a strict, hierarchical manner along a single continuum. Aristotle was correct, and the hierarchical nature of being is expressed in the fact that each individual human being naturally differs by degree in the measure (amount) of inherent unearned (moral) worth they possess. This, however creates rather a big problem, to say the very least, for moral egalitarian theorists like our muddle-headed friend Mr HAN. To show you what I mean, I will again use Mr HAN "Ethical Hero" ( he will, BTW, deny this, but it's actually true :wink: :wink: ), the celebrated moral egalitarian theorist, John Rawls to illustrate.


( NB: Poor Mr HAN, his heart really is in the right place, you know! He's a kind of grown-up version of a fearless, teenage SJW who thinks that we can and must make the world a better, fairer, more just place, only for MR HAN it's not so much through insisting on everyone being PC that he believes we will achieve this goal, but rather by bt implementing political policies for redistributing society's resources. Mr HAN, in short, thinks that we must take away some of the surfeit of
desirable resources possessed by the undeserving wealthy "haves" of society in order to give them to unlucky "have nots" - i.e; those poor souls who were simply dealt a bad hand of cards by fate. Mr HAN is basically just like Robin Hood, or should I say, Karl Marx, in that he is convinced we are duty bound to even everything out fairly in society, and the only way we can be completely fair and just is by taking from the privileged (and undeserving) rich and giving to the needy, unfortunate poor, and doing this systematically until everyone ends up sharing precisely the same level of well-being. What Mr HAN keeps forgetting is that ( * Ahem !*) when this idea - which sounds very decent and noble and rational - was trialled for real in the 20th century, hundreds of millions of people ended up being murdered and tortured by their own governments, in Russia, China and Cambodia !)



Anyway, to continue. John Rawls knew full well that individual human beings all necessarily differ by degree with respect to any measure of innate unearned( moral) worth they happen to possess. Despite being aware of this, he nonetheless tried to wriggle around the fact in his influential (moral egalitarian) thesis, "A Theory of Justice", using a very cunning strategy as follows...


Rawl's proposes that if a human being possesses "moral personality" ( which, as I have said, I take to refer to an individual's measure of innate, unearned human moral worth/"dignity") ABOVE A CERTAIN THRESHOLD LEVEL, it will render then entitled to the equal, basic rights of moral persons. The features which Rawls claims are constitutive of moral personality are (again, as I have already mentioned above) a capacity for a conception of the good and a capacity for a sense of justice. The first big problem with Rawls' proposal regarding the basis of equality is that no plausible reason is given for regarding the possession of more or less of the two moral capacities Rawls stipulates for the status of moral personhood once one is above the threshold as irrelevant to the determination of one's moral status. For simplicity, consider just the sense of justice. This, as discussed above, is a steady disposition to conform one's conduct to what one takes to be the basic norms of fairness, along with some ability reasonably to identify these fairness norms. But the disposition to be fair obviously admits of degrees; one can be more or less committed to behaving as one thinks fair. Moreover, the ability to deliberate about candidate norms of fairness and select the best of them also varies by degree. Given this, the task of specifying some threshold level of these abilities such that further variation in the abilities above the threshold should have no bearing on moral status looks absolutely hopeless ! And not just this, but Rawls makes no attempt whatsoever to specify the actual threshold. Rawls states that these features of moral personality are "range" properties; that is, one one is above the threshold, one is in the range, and no one, whatever his exact levels of moral personality capacities, is in the range to a greater extent than anyone else with above-threshold levels. But it is not at all clear where one might non-arbitrarily place this threshold such that all human beings above it are persons ( rights bearers) and all human beings below are non-persons ?!


In sum, Rawls' theory faced two big problems. The first being that whether the threshold line that separates persons ( i.e. those who are bearers of equal moral rights) from non-persons is taken to be thick or thin, it seems to me it must be completely arbitrary WHERE EXACTLY the line is placed ? (!!) The second problem for Rawls' theory is how it could possibly be that above-threshold differences are stipulated not to affect fundamental moral status? (!!)


Finally, the problem of hierarchy applies to many -though admittedly not ALL - of the major egalitarian moral theories of human rights. Where it does not apply, the theories in question are, however,( IMO), fatally flawed in other ways. And anyone who disagrees is hereby invited to present their objection/s.


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WOOF !! WOOF !!

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Re: rights revisited

Post by Eduk » September 5th, 2018, 5:27 am

Dachshund, perhaps I misunderstand. You seem to be saying that there is objective value to all life and because we are all unequal then objectively some life has more value than some other life?
But I'm struggling to see how you get to the objective value in life part? How do you ascertain this value? Or measure it?
For me you are actually arguing for natural rights it is just that those rights are unequally shared?
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Re: rights revisited

Post by Burning ghost » September 5th, 2018, 5:45 am

There is something interesting in all this that is hard to pin-point (for me at least!)

That is equality is something we can all view as a nice idea, yet it seems like there is less attention paid to the stark reality of what this means. To offer up the best people start for everyone is only to be encouraged. The issue here seems to be that, regardless of how society is structured, some will always excel in areas where others cannot, and that some will even fall sort many, if not all, areas of human activity.

Those at the bottom are, to some degree, playig out the “natural order” as cutting, painful and horrific as that term is and all it conjures up on our minds - of its misuse to “legitimise” genocide and create class wars - it is not something that can be denied simply due to our over all empathy.

The best we can do is offer a helping hand. The base problem is exactly what degree of “help” is most constructive for society at large? The answer to this question remains unknown yet we’re always having to address it and as long as we do, as badly and as naively as we do, then there is hope for a better future not just an iteration of our current social problems.

“Talent” alone is nought without passion and dedication. The lazy genius is probably the most abominable human state I can think of. Whereas the state of the talentless human, with little to no hope of social success, is exactly that which I find most admirable in human nature.

I do not really think, or rather like to believe, that cognitive capacity factors into moral aptitude. I choose to believe this knowing it to be a biased opinion, that bais being my general belief in humanity as a whole. A noble act can only be performed by a noble attitude not an understanding of “what is deemed noble.” The hero acts without intellectual consideration in the moment, they simply act as they are constiituted by their nature. To attempt to play and act out in a noble manner is a conceited and a self-defeating process. The best of the human intellect can just extend their attitudes further through society - for better or worse.

Maybe this is an overly romantic idea? If so then I hope it is one that has more benefit to it than none; or at least none!
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Re: rights revisited

Post by Eduk » September 5th, 2018, 5:56 am

The best we can do is offer a helping hand. The base problem is exactly what degree of “help” is most constructive for society at large?
For me we should allow failure and allow success. Also while I would allow failure I would not allow too much failure.
I do not really think, or rather like to believe, that cognitive capacity factors into moral aptitude.
Certainly the value of a human is not purely to do with intelligence.
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Re: rights revisited

Post by Steve3007 » September 5th, 2018, 7:13 am

Re: an eariler question from Fooloso4 which I missed.
Steve3007 wrote:As I said to Burning ghost, it seems clear to me that rights, such as those set out in the UDHR, are prescriptions, not descriptions. Or, as ThomasHobbes said in an earlier post, they are aspirations. Same general idea. It seems highly unlikely to me that the writers of the UDHR mistook these rights for descriptive laws of physics.

So protection comes from the extent to which the strong agree to be obliged to defend those rights.
Fooloso4 wrote:This raises several questions:

What justifies these prescriptions? Why should a nation aspire to equal rights for all? Why should the strong defend those rights?
Various reasons throughout the history of the concept of rights, so difficult to summarise in a line.
How one might answer depends on whether rights are understood as inherent or given. This is connected to the distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘conventional’ rights.
It depends on what is meant by "given". It could mean "given by God" which is equivalent to "given by Nature" which really means inherent. I think you probably mean "given by humans", whether by the edicts of rulers or by collective agreements or something in between. In both cases (inherent and given), we can ask the question "why?" or "what justifies it?" because in both cases it is humans that assert the rights. In the same way that if somebody claims that morals come from God or Nature, it is still a human making that assertion.

So one question, of many, that we could ask might be: "Why would some humans assert that rights are inherent?". As I understand some of the currents of thought from the 17th Century Enlightenment onward, one of the answers to that question is linked to advances in science by Newton and others, which led some people to try to apply ideas which worked for Newtonian physics to ideas of ethics.
Do you have a right to life as a matter of convention or is it a matter of convention that your right to life is protected? Does the language of ‘rights’ even get at what is most basic? We do not, for example, think in terms of rights when we nurture and protect our children.
No, I don't think the language of rights does get at what is most basic. If by "gets at what is most basic" we mean "represents an underlying truth about human nature" then what is most basic is human psychology, based on our evolved nature. The concept of rights, like other similar concepts, emerges from human attempts to live successfully in cooperative groups - tribes.

---
Hereandnow wrote:I think there is an inverse proportion between wealth and empathy, generally speaking. We may be social creatures by nature, but what values are front and center varies an awful lot. Go to a meeting of wealthy business types and it becomes clear very soon that the word empathy is not in their vocabulary.
You say these things about people whom you refer to as "Conservatives". From the context, you appear to be talking more generally about people who believe in small government and free-market economics - people who are thought of as being on the right of the political spectrum. As a general statement, I disagree with it. Some people who are, in this sense, on the right of the political spectrum complain that some people on the left always mis-characterise them as making their small government proposals for purely selfish reasons. I think they are right to complain about that mis-characterisation.

For example, when I have a discussion with someone who is opposed to a mandatory minimum wage, I do not automatically assume that they do that simply because they want other people to be poor. They put forward rational reasons for such things against which I can argue. In that particular case, they argue that it is, in fact, the minimum wage that makes people poor. I think that one of the first pre-requisites for rational, constructive political debate is that we take our interlocutors' words and arguments at face value and try to avoid simply calling each other evil monsters or attaching labels to each other and then attacking the labels.

In a forum like this, it should be relatively easy to do this, because we can look back at what other people have said, and quote them if necessary.

---

viewtopic.php?p=318793#p318793
Burning Ghost wrote:He is saying, or so it appears, that greater intelligence gives people a better ability to sort through data therefore make more informed moral choices - no brainer!
Burning Ghost wrote:I do not really think, or rather like to believe, that cognitive capacity factors into moral aptitude...
BG, you seem to have changed your mind about this. In the earlier post you seemed to say that it's a "no brainer" (i.e. a self-evident truth) that greater intelligence tends to confer the ability to make moral decisions.

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Re: rights revisited

Post by Steve3007 » September 5th, 2018, 7:33 am

Burning ghost wrote:Those who construe all conservative values as havaing “a decided lack fo empathy” are either lying or deranged.
Reply:
Hereandnow wrote:Proof is in the pudding. It's not about conservatives qua parents, qua being human and therefore endowed with some innate empathy; it's about conservatives qua conservatives: what they vote for, will into policy., and the tax cuts they vote for translates directly into diminished spending for programs the help the least advantaged. Conservatives fight tooth and nail annihilate such programs. They salivate at the mere mention.
I agree more with BG than with Hereandnow here.

I think this "they salivate at the mere mention" stuff is an example of what I was talking about to H&N in my previous post. We're all presumably familiar with the argument that small government/free market advocates make when they claim that these policies benefit the whole of society, and not just the rich. Why not make the case against those arguments rather than just characterising them as slavering monsters, licking their lips at the prospect of driving the poor to starvation?

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Re: rights revisited

Post by Hereandnow » September 5th, 2018, 9:15 am

Steve3007
I agree more with BG than with Hereandnow here.

I think this "they salivate at the mere mention" stuff is an example of what I was talking about to H&N in my previous post. We're all presumably familiar with the argument that small government/free market advocates make when they claim that these policies benefit the whole of society, and not just the rich. Why not make the case against those arguments rather than just characterising them as slavering monsters, licking their lips at the prospect of driving the poor to starvation?
Understood. And if you read my response to fooloso4 I state that precisely the kind of argument you advance, the "claim that these policies benefit the whole of society" is one I agreed with. But only in the long run.

My enmity towards conservatives is not because of their vision of a perfect society, it's because they would realize this vision at the expense of the least advantaged. When a conservative votes, she knows that this will encourage the removal of government agencies and policies that give the poor food stamps, medicaid, health care, housing assistance, and so on now, in the present. They know the power of federal government to make public schooling better in impoverished areas will be undercut. And on and on. This is what they advertise freely. It is an attempt, in cash value terms, to make that family who cannot pay the utility bill or put food on the table and cannot send their kids to safe educational environments far worse off.
It is easy to argue that it would be cheaper to run a country with lower taxes. Doing the right thing and helping those who are in need is always with a cost. That is what it means to be a decent person, a decent country: doing the right thing and paying for it. This is not an issue in the sidelines, like prayer on schools or gerrymander in voting districts (not so much a sideline of late, though). This is a foundational feature: divesting the poor of any deliverance from their hardship.

That is why I say they salivate at the mere mentioning. Listen, if you are in the US, to their speeches on the hill. They care nothing for the suffering of others, only the "whole of society". They're fiscal fascists, targeting the poor as deserving to be poor because they make their own poverty. THIS is exactly how they reason. No question. It is why they are the party of greed and ignorance, the former because of lower taxes for the rich, the latter because it takes ignorance be poor, be a victim of a tax system that creates massive divisions in the distribution of wealth, and vote for "the whole of society."

I don't have time to go into all of the nasty things I have to say about conservative thinking.

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Re: rights revisited

Post by Eduk » September 5th, 2018, 9:26 am

When a conservative votes, she knows that this will encourage the removal of government agencies and policies that give the poor food stamps, medicaid, health care, housing assistance, and so on now, in the present. They know the power of federal government to make public schooling better in impoverished areas will be undercut.
I can't speak for all who vote conservative but I don't think the majority are voting for that in such a straight forward way. First off you need to prove all those various policies for the benefit of the poor actually benefit the poor. If you can site some articles I'd be interested to read them. It is like defining all charities as 'good' whereas in reality some are and some aren't and there are all kinds of shades in between and knowing which are good and which are bad is an impossibility (without extensive effort).
targeting the poor as deserving to be poor because they make their own poverty.
Certainly a conservative theme, but surely only the far right conservative view? There must be some nuance in real life? For example I have never in my life given a beggar money. Am I a bad person? Do I care about the lives of beggars? Would I like to see more beggars or less beggars? Personally I don't think money is the issue with your average beggar, which is why I offer none directly. Of course I indirectly give money through taxes but I can't really control that.
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Re: rights revisited

Post by Hereandnow » September 5th, 2018, 9:35 am

For example, when I have a discussion with someone who is opposed to a mandatory minimum wage, I do not automatically assume that they do that simply because they want other people to be poor. They put forward rational reasons for such things against which I can argue. In that particular case, they argue that it is, in fact, the minimum wage that makes people poor. I think that one of the first pre-requisites for rational, constructive political debate is that we take our interlocutors' words and arguments at face value and try to avoid simply calling each other evil monsters or attaching labels to each other and then attacking the labels.
Right, so let's remove the mandatory minimum wage and make the country great again. On the face of it, what do you think will happen? Aside from vociferous objection from the left, wages would go down to subsistence level. Why do you think businesses manufacture abroad: lower wages, more profit. Of course, there would be the need maintain standards so people can buy goods at all, but this is far exceeded by the desire to maximize profit to stay competitive and becomes "a great company" (again?).
But really this is not the real point. If one wants a great nation, then poverty must be eliminated; eliminate crime this way, eliminate social unrest this way, and also, eliminate the politics of aggravated wage disparity; and to do this, great sacrifice is needed, sacrifice in education expenditure in the most wretched districts. Very expensive, requires a great deal of tax revenues to build thousands of decent schools, hire thousands of teachers and security guards.
You know, poverty is made, not discovered. Society makes a child into a criminal, someone who cannot pay the bills. The Real question is, how can we restructure the environments that make this happen? Conservatives want NOTHING of this. Nothing. This is the face value of what these "interlocutors" have to say. I am not making this up. Listen to Paul Ryan, and the freedom caucus (if you're int eh US, that is). I have, and they are deplorable.

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Re: rights revisited

Post by Hereandnow » September 5th, 2018, 9:52 am

BG:
I suggest you do some research and start to give him some credit.

Of course you can always turn around and say it’s part of some plan to influence “public opinion”. If you set up a mindset to vilify people from the get go you’ll always see them as villains.

Then there is Zuckerberg, who I assume you’ve not actually researched either. Do you assume anyone succssful in business to be a monster? Yes some are, but I find it funny that the two you mentioned are far from miserly and certainly express concerns and are actually trying to make a difference.
I do give him credit. I think he has evolving into a moral person. You have to ask the question, how is it that a person gets that rich? It is not by being a philanthropist, not by being altruistic. Zuckerberg, too. I don't think they do good things just to get a tax break. But we need to understand that the standard of what is decent behavior in this business issues from a certain collective mentality about capitalism, desert, and so on. I think "above" the radar on these. I have elsewhere put this out there.

It was once said that by a broadly applied standard of utility, we are all, even now, sitting comfortably, engaged in some measure of a breach of moral conduct.I think this is right. The hyper wealthy are this and much, much more. Immeasurably more. You can argue against this if you like.

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Re: rights revisited

Post by Steve3007 » September 5th, 2018, 9:55 am

Hereandnow wrote:Understood. And if you read my response to fooloso4 I state that precisely the kind of argument you advance, the "claim that these policies benefit the whole of society" is one I agreed with. But only in the long run.
Fair enough. I appreciate that you may have also made arguments to support your political views. But I was just struck by the particular comments of yours that I quoted because I think that they misrepresent the arguments that are made by small government/free market enthusiasts. (I'd rather not say "conservatives" because I don't think the term entirely overlaps with the small government/free market advocate.) That's not to say I necessarily agree with their arguments. But in order to argue against somebody I think we first need to understand as clearly as possible what they're saying.
My enmity towards conservatives is not because of their vision of a perfect society, it's because they would realize this vision at the expense of the least advantaged.
Small government/free market enthusiasts would dispute this as a description of what they aspire to. They would put forward arguments claiming that their vision actually helps the disadvantaged. In this forum, see for example arguments put forward by people like G E Morton, with whom I have argued.
When a conservative votes, she knows that this will encourage the removal of government agencies and policies that give the poor food stamps, medicaid, health care, housing assistance, and so on now, in the present. They know the power of federal government to make public schooling better in impoverished areas will be undercut. And on and on. This is what they advertise freely. It is an attempt, in cash value terms, to make that family who cannot pay the utility bill or put food on the table and cannot send their kids to safe educational environments far worse off.
Again, they would dispute that this is what their policies attempt to do. They would claim that they are aiming to make everybody better off by using the power of the market to generate wealth.
It is easy to argue that it would be cheaper to run a country with lower taxes. Doing the right thing and helping those who are in need is always with a cost. That is what it means to be a decent person, a decent country: doing the right thing and paying for it. This is not an issue in the sidelines, like prayer on schools or gerrymander in voting districts (not so much a sideline of late, though). This is a foundational feature: divesting the poor of any deliverance from their hardship.
They do not argue that. They argue that it is they who are proposing doing the decent thing and that it is the big government advocates who, while claiming the moral high ground, actually leave the poor worse off. It is these arguments that I think you should be tackling, not the ones that you think they are making.

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Re: rights revisited

Post by Steve3007 » September 5th, 2018, 10:27 am

Right, so let's remove the mandatory minimum wage and make the country great again. On the face of it, what do you think will happen? Aside from vociferous objection from the left, wages would go down to subsistence level. Why do you think businesses manufacture abroad: lower wages, more profit. Of course, there would be the need maintain standards so people can buy goods at all, but this is far exceeded by the desire to maximize profit to stay competitive and becomes "a great company" (again?).
OK, good. So you're making an argument in favour of the minimum wage by asking "what would happen if we removed it?". i.e. a consequentialist argument. The free market advocates would also make a consequentialist argument. We might then find that we and they share the goal of making the general population better off but disagree about the method. Rather than one side being "good" and the other side "bad".

They usually start with a kind of "think about an extreme case to make the point" argument. They say: "OK, if the minimum wage is a good thing, why not raise it to, say, $50 per hour?" And they point out that this would lead to industries in the legislative area in which that law applies being uncompetitive, with the result that they go out of business, with the result that their former employees now have a wage of $0 per hour.

Their free-market point is that if you distort the market with such things as minimum wages, you ultimately harm the people you were hoping to help. If you let the market decide how much people get paid, it becomes more efficient, more people are in employment, and the lack of slack in the labour market pushes up wages in a way that they regard as natural (and therefore sustainable) rather than being artificial.

Now, as I said, I'm not saying I entirely agree with them. I take their point, but I argue against it in various ways. But the point I'm trying to make here is not specifically about arguments over the minimum wage but about being clear why we disagree with people. And, as I said near the start of this post, it seems to me that we often think we disagree about the basic moral axioms of life, when on closer inspection we disagree about the most effective methods to achieve our shared goals.

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