Announcement: Your votes are in! The January 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month is The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt.

Can government solve Racism?

Have philosophical discussions about politics, law, and government.
Featured Article: Definition of Freedom - What Freedom Means to Me
GE Morton
Posts: 407
Joined: February 1st, 2017, 1:06 am

Re: Can government solve Racism?

Post by GE Morton » December 8th, 2017, 1:25 pm

Alias wrote:
December 8th, 2017, 1:07 pm
It might be useful here to define racism.
More particularly, not to confuse various kinds of voluntary grouping with organic tribes, or ancient tribes with modern institutions, or loyalty to kin and territorial rivalry with instinctive hostility toward those who are physically different.
Yes, it would be helpful. I've already given my definition: a difference in social cognitions triggered by race or color.


Racism does not entail hostility; hostility is merely the most destructive manifestation of it. Suppressing those behaviors is essential to maintaining peace and stability in a multi-cultural society. The prejudices themselves are ineradicable and for the most part harmless.
It seems to me that Caucasian, Semitic and Asian millionaires are more comfortable in one another's company than that of Caucasian share-croppers, Arab camel-drivers or Chinese fishermen; that African-American Christians and Anglo-American Christians are more at eas with one another than either group is with Nigerian Muslims or Swedish atheists. Is this contrary to your observation?
I agree. As I said, differences in social cognitions vary with the extent of perceived affinities.

Alias
Posts: 2450
Joined: November 26th, 2011, 8:10 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Terry Pratchett

Re: Can government solve Racism?

Post by Alias » December 8th, 2017, 2:55 pm

GE Morton wrote:
December 8th, 2017, 12:59 pm
[Preference isn't racism.]
Yes, it is. Those preferences are accompanied and underpinned by what are called "social cognitions,", i.e., a set of expectations, emotions, and reactions elicited by other members of one's community.
Which is to say: learned concepts. Entire belief systems can be taught by a society to its young without a single reference to race. Like Catholics and Protestants; Israelites and Moabites. Social cognition can exist, and indeed, have existed, when the only other tribes one was likely to encounter were both phenotypically and genetypically similar to one's own.
When those differ with the race or color of the person encountered you have "racism."
When they differ in conjunction with skin pigmentation, you have ethnicity and the recognition of a physical distinction - neither of those is an 'ism'. Only when they are labelled by an authority as inferior, bad or dangerous in some way; designated by that authority as a class of persons to be shunned or attacked, does the attitude of the group become racist.
And they do differ, for virtually all members of multi-racial, multi-cultural societies.
Is culture, then, contained in the chromosomes that determine skin colour?

Virtually all? Does that mean some members of every society are immune to this inevitable, universal hostility? Hm.
That could even be as many as 17% actually marrying, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/20 ... -virginia/ and many thousands of white soldiers fighting anf dying for the liberation of African slaves?
A lion's reactions to a lion from another pride, or to a hyena, will be much different from his reactions to a member of his own pride.
How does a lion know that the other lion is of a different race of lions? Bet you can't even tell just by looking at them, expert though you are on the concepts of race and gravity. Supposing that other lion had taken over that other pride after being cast out for losing a bid for the alpha position. Does the first lion recognize his own son or nephew and refrain from attacking? For that matter, how come a male lion doesn't mind taking over some other - horrors! unrelated - lion's pride and start mounting those other - horrors! alien - females just as if there were no difference?
Hyenas are not another race of lions; they're a whole other species.
As for other species, animals tend to categorize quite simply: prey (kill one if you're hungry; otherwise, let them alone) rival (chase away when possible; fight if necessary) potential threat (flee when possible, fight if unavoidable) serious threat (fight and kill when possible; flee if necessary) symbiote/ally (seek/encourage/cultivate.) incidental (ignore). None of it has anything to do with slightly varying strains within a single species.
intermarriage was not commonplace; it was rare, and generally frowned upon (often to the extent of banishment or stoning).
Like I said: the patriarchs are jealous. But the DNA keeps mixing in spite of their worst efforts. And they didn't mind when it was marriage with women they had taken in a raid, or bought for goats, or exchanged as the pledge of a non-aggression treaty. Only when it was an unauthorized love-match.
There is no "agency;" the transition was gradual and spontaneous. Nor is there any need for anyone to "point out" the advantages of larger communities, as they are obvious, and the typical mechanism for bringing two or more communities together was conquest.

Sounds like a contradiction: gradual, spontaneaous, unageneted conquest.
Don't you think maybe the ambitious chieftain who embarked upon a military adventure would motivate his troops by denigrating [sic], slandering, demonizing, their target people? And there is still no racism involved: this can be done by Macedonians against Greeks, just as readily as Greeks against Persians, or the Inca empire subsuming its near neighbours, just as enthusiastically as the Spanish one later consumed them. It's about the booty and the power, not the roots.
Prejudices are not spotty --- they're universal --- but they manifest differently, depending upon each person's micro-cultural environment and personal experiences. Blood ties, while important, are not vital; what matters (for differences in social cognitions) is the extent of perceived affinities between individuals.
More learned, rather than instinctive, attitudes.
And they manifest differently depending on the institutions from which they were learned.

Belindi
Moderator
Posts: 1606
Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: Can government solve Racism?

Post by Belindi » December 8th, 2017, 3:20 pm

GE Morton wrote:

"Members of civilized societies (societies characterized by cities), or any society consisting of more than a few hundred members, do not. If you disagree, name a belief shared (for example) by all persons in the USA."

A society is not properly described according to its size, but according to a moral consensus sufficient to persuade a working majority to cooperate.

What you seek from me is information which I am not qualified to give you. However I can define 'society'.

GE Morton
Posts: 407
Joined: February 1st, 2017, 1:06 am

Re: Can government solve Racism?

Post by GE Morton » December 8th, 2017, 8:54 pm

Alias wrote:
December 8th, 2017, 2:55 pm
GE Morton wrote:
December 8th, 2017, 12:59 pm
[Preference isn't racism.]
Yes, it is. Those preferences are accompanied and underpinned by what are called "social cognitions,", i.e., a set of expectations, emotions, and reactions elicited by other members of one's community.
Which is to say: learned concepts. Entire belief systems can be taught by a society to its young without a single reference to race. Like Catholics and Protestants; Israelites and Moabites. Social cognition can exist, and indeed, have existed, when the only other tribes one was likely to encounter were both phenotypically and genetypically similar to one's own.
And,
When they differ in conjunction with skin pigmentation, you have ethnicity and the recognition of a physical distinction - neither of those is an 'ism'.
I never suggested social prejudices were limited to race. Only when they are based on race are they properly termed "racism." If they are based on ethnicity they are called "ethnocentrism." If based on sex, then "sexism." Any characteristic which distinguishes another person from oneself and one's kin will have a set of social cognitions associated with it, and behaviors with respect to that person will differ.

And you are using the suffix "-ism" too narrowly. It can denote a body of dogma or doctrines, to which you seem to think it is limited, but it can also denote any recurring pattern of behaviors, properties, or other phenomena, e.g., astigmatism, dwarfism, tribalism, impressionism, magnetism.

"Racism" is a pattern of behaviors, not a system of belief, although a body of dogmas can be constructed to rationalize various behaviors motivated by it. The associations are learned, but not, for most people, via any intentional indoctrination. They are acquired via ongoing social experience.
Only when they are labelled by an authority as inferior, bad or dangerous in some way; designated by that authority as a class of persons to be shunned or attacked, does the attitude of the group become racist.
Now that is just silly. Governments and other "opinion leaders" in most Western countries for the last 50 years or so have strived mightily to eradicate "racism," via laws, public schooling, churches, the press, etc. Yet it persists. The election of Trump in the US was largely a populist repudiation of those efforts.
Is culture, then, contained in the chromosomes that determine skin colour?
Not likely. But it is surely partly the product of other genes in the same genome (and modified by social circumstances, of course).
Virtually all? Does that mean some members of every society are immune to this inevitable, universal hostility? Hm.
Now, now. I never claimed there was "universal hostility" to other races or cultures. There is universal wariness and distrust, however --- which can sometimes lead to hostilities, and sometimes to cautious accommodation and even cooperation. But the differential social cognitions are always there.
How does a lion know that the other lion is of a different race of lions? Bet you can't even tell just by looking at them, expert though you are on the concepts of race and gravity.
I can't, but lions can. They don't smell right.
Sounds like a contradiction: gradual, spontaneaous, unageneted conquest.
It isn't. Growth by in-migration and births is gradual and spontaneous; growth by absorption of other tribes or villages is usually accomplished by conquest.
Don't you think maybe the ambitious chieftain who embarked upon a military adventure would motivate his troops by denigrating [sic], slandering, demonizing, their target people?
Of course he would. But those exhortations would fall on deaf ears if the prejudices were not already there.
And there is still no racism involved: this can be done by Macedonians against Greeks, just as readily as Greeks against Persians, or the Inca empire subsuming its near neighbours, just as enthusiastically as the Spanish one later consumed them. It's about the booty and the power, not the roots.
As I said, several times, race is not the only "foreign" characteristic that can forge prejudices and even arouse hostilities. It is only one of many.

GE Morton
Posts: 407
Joined: February 1st, 2017, 1:06 am

Re: Can government solve Racism?

Post by GE Morton » December 8th, 2017, 9:08 pm

Belindi wrote:
December 8th, 2017, 3:20 pm
GE Morton wrote:

A society is not properly described according to its size, but according to a moral consensus sufficient to persuade a working majority to cooperate.
Yes it is. The "critical size" is the size where it becomes impossible for all members of the society to interrelate personally. As societies grow, fewer and fewer of their members will know one another personally. Civilized societies are societies of strangers.

A "working majority," BTW, is not a universal. The question was whether there are any beliefs or interests held or shared in common by all members of a (civilized) society.
What you seek from me is information which I am not qualified to give you. However I can define 'society'.
There are many forms of society, having different structures. Civilized societies are structurally different from tribal societies, the form characteristic of all primate communities.

Alias
Posts: 2450
Joined: November 26th, 2011, 8:10 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Terry Pratchett

Re: Can government solve Racism?

Post by Alias » December 8th, 2017, 11:52 pm

Definitions may vary according to user's whim. Use at own risk.

Belindi
Moderator
Posts: 1606
Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: Can government solve Racism?

Post by Belindi » December 9th, 2017, 6:36 am

GE Morton wrote:

Belinda had written:

What you seek from me is information which I am not qualified to give you. However I can define 'society'.
GE Morton replied:

There are many forms of society, having different structures. Civilized societies are structurally different from tribal societies, the form characteristic of all primate communities.

My response:

So? Is this supposed to rebut what I said ; societies are defined as cooperating collectives?

GE Morton
Posts: 407
Joined: February 1st, 2017, 1:06 am

Re: Can government solve Racism?

Post by GE Morton » December 9th, 2017, 10:03 pm

Belindi wrote:
December 9th, 2017, 6:36 am

So? Is this supposed to rebut what I said ; societies are defined as cooperating collectives?
Yes, it refutes it. "Society," in the broadest sense, is not defined that way. In that sense a society is merely a group of animals so situated as to be able to interact, and who do interact frequently. Your definition describes a certain form or type of society, but not contemporary civilized societies. The latter are not collectives. They are not tribes, giant co-ops, "teams," or "big happy families." They are randomly-assembled groups of unrelated, independent, autonomous individuals who happen, by accident of birth, to occupy a common territory. They have no common interests or goals, no personal ties with most other members, no overriding interest in one another's welfare, and no a priori obligations to one another.

There are many collectives (as usually defined) within such societies, but the society as a whole is not one.

User avatar
LuckyR
Moderator
Posts: 3154
Joined: January 18th, 2015, 1:16 am

Re: Can government solve Racism?

Post by LuckyR » December 10th, 2017, 1:35 am

GE Morton wrote:
December 9th, 2017, 10:03 pm
Belindi wrote:
December 9th, 2017, 6:36 am

So? Is this supposed to rebut what I said ; societies are defined as cooperating collectives?
Yes, it refutes it. "Society," in the broadest sense, is not defined that way. In that sense a society is merely a group of animals so situated as to be able to interact, and who do interact frequently. Your definition describes a certain form or type of society, but not contemporary civilized societies. The latter are not collectives. They are not tribes, giant co-ops, "teams," or "big happy families." They are randomly-assembled groups of unrelated, independent, autonomous individuals who happen, by accident of birth, to occupy a common territory. They have no common interests or goals, no personal ties with most other members, no overriding interest in one another's welfare, and no a priori obligations to one another.

There are many collectives (as usually defined) within such societies, but the society as a whole is not one.
Your first paragraph is, of course, true as written. However, most use the term "society" as you describe collectives in your second paragraph.
"As usual... it depends."

Belindi
Moderator
Posts: 1606
Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: Can government solve Racism?

Post by Belindi » December 10th, 2017, 6:11 am

GE Morton wrote:
--- a society is merely a group of animals so situated as to be able to interact, and who do interact frequently. Your definition describes a certain form or type of society, but not contemporary civilized societies. The latter are not collectives. They are not tribes, giant co-ops, "teams," or "big happy families." They are randomly-assembled groups of unrelated, independent, autonomous individuals who happen, by accident of birth, to occupy a common territory. They have no common interests or goals, no personal ties with most other members, no overriding interest in one another's welfare, and no a priori obligations to one another.

There are many collectives (as usually defined) within such societies, but the society as a whole is not one.
For frequent interaction to take place their has to be morality in the sense of permitted behaviour i.e."interest in one another's welfare" which does not necessarily involve sympathy. There is also an elite section within the group of interacting animals . A society is an organised group of animals. Sometimes there aren't universal common interests or goals as in societies with slavery, or between food animals and their symbiotic human owners. Within large human societies there are many individuals who have "no personal ties with other members" but who rely upon other members to provide goods and services from a distance.

We are at cross purposes. I am viewing 'society ' dispassionatedly so that I can see if this thing called 'society' exists and how it works. You , unlike me, view society as "giant co-ops, teams, or big happy families".

Belindi
Moderator
Posts: 1606
Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: Can government solve Racism?

Post by Belindi » December 10th, 2017, 6:15 am

Governments cannot "solve Racism" entirely as the instincts for atrocity are in each of us. However government can make it illegal to stir up those instincts. It's plain to see that not every government does try to stop atrocities and indeed some governments foster those instincts which are dormant in all of us.

Belindi
Moderator
Posts: 1606
Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: Can government solve Racism?

Post by Belindi » December 10th, 2017, 6:17 am

Belindi wrote:
December 10th, 2017, 6:15 am
Governments cannot "solve Racism" entirely as the instincts for atrocity are in each of us. However government can make it illegal to stir up those instincts. It's plain to see that not every government does try to stop atrocities and indeed some governments foster those dark instincts which are dormant in all of us.

GE Morton
Posts: 407
Joined: February 1st, 2017, 1:06 am

Re: Can government solve Racism?

Post by GE Morton » December 10th, 2017, 9:04 am

Belindi wrote:
December 10th, 2017, 6:11 am

For frequent interaction to take place their has to be morality in the sense of permitted behaviour i.e."interest in one another's welfare" which does not necessarily involve sympathy.
Yes, there do have to be rules, what I call a system of "public morality." Those rules, unlike those of "private moralities," are not concerned with "how to live the good life," or how to live in accordance with God's will, or how to "win friends and influence people." They only govern interactions between moral agents. Abiding by them does not, however, constitute, or entail, an interest in others' welfares. It is in the agent's self-interest to abide by those rules, lest he be expelled from the community. More abstractly, he understands that without those rules the society would be unworkable --- that it would descend to Hobbes' bellum omnium contra omnes.
A society is an organised group of animals. Sometimes there aren't universal common interests or goals as in societies with slavery, or between food animals and their symbiotic human owners. Within large human societies there are many individuals who have "no personal ties with other members" but who rely upon other members to provide goods and services from a distance.
There are no universal common interests in any (civilized) society. I should point out that "has no overriding interest in others' welfare" does not mean that no agent has an interest in anyone else's welfare. Nearly everyone has an interest in the welfare of certain other persons. But they do not have an interest in the welfare of all other persons in their society. And yes, we all do rely on others to provide various goods and services. That is the primary raison d'etre for living in a social setting. But we are largely indifferent as to who provides those goods and services.
We are at cross purposes. I am viewing 'society ' dispassionatedly so that I can see if this thing called 'society' exists and how it works. You , unlike me, view society as "giant co-ops, teams, or big happy families".
Now you've lost me. I said precisely the contrary --- civilized societies are not giant co-ops, teams, or big happy families. They are not collectives (other forms of society do satisfy that definition).

Alias
Posts: 2450
Joined: November 26th, 2011, 8:10 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Terry Pratchett

Re: Can government solve Racism?

Post by Alias » December 11th, 2017, 1:55 pm

How does a lion know whether the strange lion approaching is of a different genetic strain or his own son?
He doesn't know, and he doesn't care.
What matters to the lion is whether he perceives the other as a threat.
If it's an adult male, he will have to be chased off or beaten, regardless; a female will be welcomed.

How does a slave-owner (ancient Greek, Medieval Persian or, 19the century American) know whether the boy he's whipping or
selling is of a different genetic strain or his own son?
He might know, but he doesn't care.
What matters is that the boy is his property, to do with as he will.

There is nothing inherent or biological in these relations: they're the product of arbitrary social designation.

GE Morton
Posts: 407
Joined: February 1st, 2017, 1:06 am

Re: Can government solve Racism?

Post by GE Morton » December 12th, 2017, 9:32 am

Alias wrote:
December 11th, 2017, 1:55 pm
How does a lion know whether the strange lion approaching is of a different genetic strain or his own son?
I answered that earlier. He doesn't know anything about genetic strains, nor about familial relationships. He only knows the intruder is not a member of his pride, by his appearance and smell.
What matters to the lion is whether he perceives the other as a threat.
He perceives the intruder as a threat just because it is a "stranger." All strangers are perceived as threats, initially. That assessment may be revised with further interaction.
How does a slave-owner (ancient Greek, Medieval Persian or, 19the century American) know whether the boy he's whipping or
selling is of a different genetic strain or his own son?
He might know, but he doesn't care.
What matters is that the boy is his property, to do with as he will.
He may only be treated as property because he is an "other" of some sort. Few cultures allowed enslavement of their own members by other members, except as a punishment for some offense.
There is nothing inherent or biological in these relations: they're the product of arbitrary social designation.
What is inherent is the propensity to develop different social cognitions with respect to those who differ from one in various obvious ways.

Post Reply