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Source: (consider it) Thread: The social-progressive mindset
Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
Nope. In this future, there will be exactly two kinds of jobs.

Guarding the rich. Programming robots.

Why can't the robots guard the rich?
For that matter, once self-replicating machines have been created the robots could program themselves as well.

Insert Skynet/Matrix reference here as desired.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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There comes a point where shouting "I made you! I own you!" will only get you so far. Even if you are stinking rich.

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Forward the New Republic

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chris stiles
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# 12641

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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
Following on from recent posts the question that intrigues me is how an economic system in which the demand for labour has been greatly reduced is going to sustain the high level of consumer demand necessary for the maintenance of a system of mass consumption. How are the owners (private and public) going to solve that one?

I think you are viewing an intermediate state, whereas Doc Tor is viewing an end state. It's true that the current economy as well as the march of technology is based on mass consumer demand driving profits and then driving down prices, but in a robotic future (with labour substitution, and batch size of one thanks to 3d printing and other bespoke manufacturing techniques) this need not necessarily be the case forever.

In which case, those who own the robots gradually capture all the value in the economy. So as Doc Tor suggests the solutions really are; socialism, barbarism followed by feudalism or barbarism followed by communism.

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
There comes a point where shouting "I made you! I own you!" will only get you so far. Even if you are stinking rich.

Indeed [Big Grin]

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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For those interested, I can highly recommend Peter Frase's book Four Futures. He deals with (four) possible scenarios in a fairly forthright way. It's not a long read, and only two of the futures are terrible.

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Forward the New Republic

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Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Ohher:
I do wish you'd stop bringing up murder as an example of God's - or anybody's - morality. Nobody here is arguing that some people should be able to get away with murder while others should be punished for it

Exactly. I use murder as an example in the hope that we can all agree that murder is wrong. And that this moral duty binds everyone. Common ground.

Can we generalise from that ? Would you agree that moral duties in general bind everyone ? That the point at which you recognise something as a moral issue is the point at which your criteria for judgment ought to change from the political (who's on my team and who's on the other team ?) to the impartial (you've gone too far, you've crossed a line into wrongdoing, so however much I sympathize with you in general I cannot condone this)

quote:
Which commandment, or other Christian moral teaching, should we be turning to to confirm that your "inclined playing field" (however achieved) is fine with God, and that it's further fine with God that humanity should be careful to maintain that incline?
My point was not that maintaining an incline is good, but that the question of inclination is separate from the rules of the game.

I have no hotline to God. I reference the same Bible as everybody else. Wherein Jesus, talking about the greatest commandment, says (loosely paraphrased) first look to God - do His will (i.e. what is morally right) and don't put other considerations in front of that. And second treat your neighbour as yourself - don't do others down.

There is no commandment to do down those who have mistreated others in the past. Vengeance for past injustice is not yours to take.

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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Russ, it’s been explained to you before that “murder is wrong” is a pointless statement. Murder is BY DEFINITION unlawful killing.

Try getting everybody to agree that killing is wrong and see where that gets you.

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Technology has brought us all closer together. Turns out a lot of the people you meet as a result are complete idiots.

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mousethief

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# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
There is no commandment to do down those who have mistreated others in the past. Vengeance for past injustice is not yours to take.

All crimes are committed in the past. Vengeance be damned; justice demands crimes not go unaddressed.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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lilBuddha
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# 14333

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
There is no commandment to do down those who have mistreated others in the past. Vengeance for past injustice is not yours to take.

All crimes are committed in the past. Vengeance be damned; justice demands crimes not go unaddressed.
It is a dodge. What we speak of when referencing the sins of the past is addressing their consequences which exist still.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Ohher
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# 18607

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
My point was not that maintaining an incline is good, but that the question of inclination is separate from the rules of the game.
<SNIP>
Vengeance for past injustice is not yours to take.

Actually, your point seems to be to evade the question I'm asking.

You appear to be acknowledging that an "incline" -- or inequality which leads to greater suffering for many and less suffering for some -- exists.

And you claim that the "rules" of the game have no connection to this incline. This is rubbish, obviously; the incline, unless eradicated or compensated for, consistently rigs the game in favor of one side. Why have rules at all for a game there's no hope of winning?

Your last statement, which I confess I find a bit of a stumper, appears to suggest that any effort to address the incline springs from vengeance (rather than compassion for those against whom the game is rigged), and is therefore wrong.

If I'm understanding this correctly, this means that you regard it as wrong for the poor to attempt to change their lot; they should simply accept things as they are.

And apparently, you also regard it as wrong for the powerful, who may be able to change the incline, to make any effort to do so. They, too, should simply accept things as they are.

The argument that uprisings by the oppressed spring from vengeance is antique, threadbare, and rubbish.

The argument that the powerful attempt compensatory justice out of vengeance, though, is beyond loony.

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From the Land of the Native American Brave and the Home of the Buy-One-Get-One-Free

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
I reference the same Bible as everybody else. Wherein Jesus, talking about the greatest commandment, says (loosely paraphrased) first look to God - do His will (i.e. what is morally right) and don't put other considerations in front of that. And second treat your neighbour as yourself - don't do others down.

The Bible that everybody else refers to uses the word, 'love God' and 'love your neighbour'.
It seems to me that the word 'love' is inconvenient for your position?

[ 30. November 2017, 20:39: Message edited by: Dafyd ]

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Dave W.
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# 8765

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
Nope. In this future, there will be exactly two kinds of jobs.

Guarding the rich. Programming robots.

That's it.

The 'economy' is what we, the little people, need. The rich increasingly don't. Their wealth is becoming divorced from actual things, as they already have more than they can spend in a lifetime. They might keep some of us around, as pets - much like horses - but otherwise, their robot servants and labourers will do everything that's required.

The best we can hope for in such a scenario is a quick death.

I think you're underestimating the opportunities for personal service contracts.

Robot servants for the work that needs to be done - but real human servants for the work that doesn't need to be done. I don't think humiliating a robot will ever be as satisfying as humiliating a person. We'll all just need to cultivate a real liking for the taste of boot polish.

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Kwesi
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# 10274

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Russ
quote:
Exactly. I use murder as an example in the hope that we can all agree that murder is wrong. And that this moral duty binds everyone. Common ground.
What about the assassination of a tyrant?
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Kwesi
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# 10274

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Ohher
quote:
And apparently, you also regard it as wrong for the powerful, who may be able to change the incline, to make any effort to do so. They, too, should simply accept things as they are.
Actually they do change the incline all time, making it more and more in their favour! No wonder Christ promised that his yoke is easy and its burden light.

All this moralism attributed to God and underpinned by his severe judgement is demonic codswallop. Does not Paul urge the Corinthians to preach that God does not keep a record of wrongs? Where in all this discussion is the notion of redeeming Grace?

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:


I have no hotline to God. I reference the same Bible as everybody else. Wherein Jesus, talking about the greatest commandment, says (loosely paraphrased) first look to God - do His will (i.e. what is morally right) and don't put other considerations in front of that. And second treat your neighbour as yourself - don't do others down.

How interesting. You seem to believe in a warped understanding of Kant's Categorical imperative - where moral actions are universal - but without Kant's sense of personal autonomy - his famous concept that one should only be bound by laws of one's own creation.

Or, to put it another way, other people are bound absolutely by laws that you've determined are absolute.

This has nothing to do with Christ or the New Testament. Nothing.

What doesn't happen in the New Testament: long diatribes and lists of actions which are moral/immoral and how to determine one from another

What does happen in the New Testament: Christ overturns the conventional ethics and understandings of what is or isn't ethical and morally right. Christ introduces subjectivity into the discussion of moral behaviours ("You've heard it said.. but I say"). Christ refuses to be bound by man-made laws and conventions. Christ refuses to be bound by religious laws and conventions.

This idea that the essence of Christianity comes down to do what is morally right is utter nonsense.

Seek first the kingdom, not moral purity.

[ 01. December 2017, 07:36: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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arse

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
You seem to believe in a warped understanding of Kant's Categorical imperative - where moral actions are universal - but without Kant's sense of personal autonomy - his famous concept that one should only be bound by laws of one's own creation.

Kant doesn't share Russ' view that the universality of moral laws is independent of personal circumstance. Kant wouldn't argue that 'rich people are obliged to assist those who are worse off' is personal as it seems Russ does.

I've just come across Russ' idea that redistribution is not universal but personal in a different context. Apparently the idea originates with the right-wing political philosopher Carl Schmitt. I say right-wing political philosopher, but Schmitt's claim to fame is that he's the second-most important philosopher to be literally a card-carrying Nazi. With Heidegger it's still an open question as to whether or not the philosophy and the Nazism had anything to do with each other. Whereas Schmitt was a right-wing political philosopher who thought democracy was a threat to liberty, by which he meant property rights, that a strong state needs to have enemies to defeat, etc, where the connection to Nazism is obvious.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Kant doesn't share Russ' view that the universality of moral laws is independent of personal circumstance. Kant wouldn't argue that 'rich people are obliged to assist those who are worse off' is personal as it seems Russ does.

I admit, I find Kant difficult. I just can't get from the idea that (a) lying is always bad so that's a moral law which means

(b) that it is wrong to lie to a Nazi asking if you are hiding a Jew.

But that seems to be what Russ is arguing above. Somehow there is some universal moral law that we're supposed to follow and that being a Christian means taking on that moral law which-cannot-be-questioned.

quote:
I've just come across Russ' idea that redistribution is not universal but personal in a different context. Apparently the idea originates with the right-wing political philosopher Carl Schmitt. I say right-wing political philosopher, but Schmitt's claim to fame is that he's the second-most important philosopher to be literally a card-carrying Nazi. With Heidegger it's still an open question as to whether or not the philosophy and the Nazism had anything to do with each other. Whereas Schmitt was a right-wing political philosopher who thought democracy was a threat to liberty, by which he meant property rights, that a strong state needs to have enemies to defeat, etc, where the connection to Nazism is obvious.
I know even less about Heidegger and nothing about Schmitt.

My observation is that Russ seems to believe that there is some special overwhelming morality about owning things and capital which cannot possibly be violated. He seems to be continually arguing that the social-progessives he identifies are acting out of spite and envy in their efforts to tax the rich (and presumably that includes Russ) to pay for things for the poor.

But mixed in to that is some really faulty theology which suggests that the bible in general, and the New Testament in particular, cannot be honestly read as a call to redistribution - because obviously that would violate Russ' first commandment (look after all your stuff, don't let the bastards steal it) and therefore should only be read as if it is some kind of individual spiritual progression project.

Someone called that gnostic, that seems quite accurate to me.

[ 01. December 2017, 15:13: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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arse

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chris stiles
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# 12641

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quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.:
I think you're underestimating the opportunities for personal service contracts.

You don't need billions of people for that - a few million on a reservation somewhere will do.
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Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
...theology which suggests that the bible in general, and the New Testament in particular, cannot be honestly read as a call to redistribution...

The bible can clearly be read as a call to redistribute some of one's own wealth to the poor.

In the extreme case - St Francis comes to mind - to embrace poverty and redistribute all one's wealth to the poor.

I don't see that it can honestly be read as a call to redistribute other people's wealth to the poor.

But that's just socialism.

The particular mindset I'm ranting about on this thread is not quite the same thing. It's the idea that those groups that one sympathizes with as being in some way disadvantaged have greater moral rights or fewer moral duties than others.

Wherever you think the balance lies between the right to free speech and the duty not to offend people, or between the rights of buyers and the rights of sellers, if you draw that balance in a different place according to whether the people involved are or are not members of groups you sympathize with, then you're a corrupt judge. You have violated the principle which Wikipedia refers to as "moral universalism" (reference in the article on Kant that was linked to earlier).

I don't think such "moral particularism" is biblical, but feel free to try to make the case...

Note that I'm not saying that the sympathy is bad of itself. I'm saying that you should allow those you don't sympathize with the same moral rights as those you do.

--------------------
Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
It's the idea that those groups that one sympathizes with as being in some way disadvantaged have greater moral rights or fewer moral duties than others.

Wait, so are you basically one of those people who assumes that "Black Lives Matter" is intended to imply that white lives don't?

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Technology has brought us all closer together. Turns out a lot of the people you meet as a result are complete idiots.

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Soror Magna
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# 9881

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
...
The particular mindset I'm ranting about on this thread is not quite the same thing. It's the idea that those groups that one sympathizes with as being in some way disadvantaged have greater moral rights or fewer moral duties than others....

Rant away. It's one way to avoid the reality that whether or not one can enjoy or exercise one's rights, or fulfill one's duties and responsibilities, fully and freely, DOES depend on one's individual privileges and disadvantages.

For example, if a citizen who uses a walker can't get up the stairs to the polling station, they've been denied the right to vote solely because they can't walk. In order for that person to exercise the right to vote, accommodations must be made - accessible stations, absentee voting, whatever. That's not 'greater moral rights', that's still the same right - the right to vote.

You say you want everybody to have the same rights, yet you've consistently argued that some people's rights matter more than others. You've argued that a shopkeeper's right to be racist matters more than the right of employees and customers to not be discriminated against because of race ... which is exactly what you claim you're ranting against ... some people having "greater" rights than others ...

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"You come with me to room 1013 over at the hospital, I'll show you America. Terminal, crazy and mean." -- Tony Kushner, "Angels in America"

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Martin60
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# 368

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
...theology which suggests that the bible in general, and the New Testament in particular, cannot be honestly read as a call to redistribution...

The bible can clearly be read as a call to redistribute some of one's own wealth to the poor.

In the extreme case - St Francis comes to mind - to embrace poverty and redistribute all one's wealth to the poor.

I don't see that it can honestly be read as a call to redistribute other people's wealth to the poor.

But that's just socialism.

The particular mindset I'm ranting about on this thread is not quite the same thing. It's the idea that those groups that one sympathizes with as being in some way disadvantaged have greater moral rights or fewer moral duties than others.

Wherever you think the balance lies between the right to free speech and the duty not to offend people, or between the rights of buyers and the rights of sellers, if you draw that balance in a different place according to whether the people involved are or are not members of groups you sympathize with, then you're a corrupt judge. You have violated the principle which Wikipedia refers to as "moral universalism" (reference in the article on Kant that was linked to earlier).

I don't think such "moral particularism" is biblical, but feel free to try to make the case...

Note that I'm not saying that the sympathy is bad of itself. I'm saying that you should allow those you don't sympathize with the same moral rights as those you do.

Yeah. Socialism is further along the trajectory than mere charity.

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Love wins

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
The particular mindset I'm ranting about on this thread is not quite the same thing. It's the idea that those groups that one sympathizes with as being in some way disadvantaged have greater moral rights or fewer moral duties than others.

Does the word 'ranting' amount to an admission that you're not paying attention to what anyone else says? That this idea you associate with 'the social-progressive mindset' may not be associated with 'the social-progressive mindset' in reality?

Anyway:
Do you sympathise with those groups that are richer or otherwise better off than others? Clearly yes.
Do you see them as in some way disadvantaged?
Yes, you think social-progressives want to deprive them of their rights.
Do you think they have greater moral rights and fewer moral duties?
Yes. You think they should be allowed to use their financial power to offload their duties onto others. That they cannot be convicted of exploitation except in the corner case of an actual full monopoly. That if they use their money to negotiate contracts in their favours those contracts become binding duties and rights.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Soror Magna:
if a citizen who uses a walker can't get up the stairs to the polling station, they've been denied the right to vote solely because they can't walk. In order for that person to exercise the right to vote, accommodations must be made - accessible stations, absentee voting, whatever. That's not 'greater moral rights', that's still the same right - the right to vote.

Sounds right to me. And there's no legal or moral requirement for the polling station to be exactly the same distance from everybody's house. Doesn't have to be equally easy, only reasonably possible.

quote:
you've consistently argued that some people's rights matter more than others. You've argued that a shopkeeper's right to be racist matters more than the right of employees and customers to not be discriminated against because of race ... which is exactly what you claim you're ranting against ... some people having "greater" rights than others ...
You're not making sense. I've argued for a universal right of all people to not have to sell what they don't want to sell (and would tend to argue similarly that people shouldn't have to buy what they don't want to buy.)

Race doesn't enter into it.

Imagine there were 4 European countries with different laws about retailing.
In country A, vendors have absolute discretion as to whom they choose to sell or not sell.
In country B, the vendor has no choice - if something is advertised for sale at a price, the vendor is obliged to sell it to anyone who pays the price.
In country C, you can't refuse to sell to a white person, but you can refuse to sell to a black person.
In country D, you can't refuse to sell to a black person but you can refuse to sell to a white person.

As a moral universalist, I believe that C and D are morally wrong, for the same reason - that people should have equal rights. But that A and B have different customs which are equally valid.

What would a social progressive say ? That C is morally wrong because it's racist, that A is wrong because it offers no protection against racism, and that D is the best because it actively seeks to redress past injustice ?

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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Soror Magna
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# 9881

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I'm going to need a long, tall drink to go with all that straw.

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"You come with me to room 1013 over at the hospital, I'll show you America. Terminal, crazy and mean." -- Tony Kushner, "Angels in America"

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Soror Magna:
I'm going to need a long, tall drink to go with all that straw.

Might as well drink from it as the camel can't take the strain

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
I've argued for a universal right of all people to not have to sell what they don't want to sell (and would tend to argue similarly that people shouldn't have to buy what they don't want to buy.)

Race doesn't enter into it.

Imagine there were 4 European countries with different laws about retailing.
In country A, vendors have absolute discretion as to whom they choose to sell or not sell.
In country B, the vendor has no choice - if something is advertised for sale at a price, the vendor is obliged to sell it to anyone who pays the price.
In country C, you can't refuse to sell to a white person, but you can refuse to sell to a black person.
In country D, you can't refuse to sell to a black person but you can refuse to sell to a white person.

As a moral universalist, I believe that C and D are morally wrong, for the same reason - that people should have equal rights. But that A and B have different customs which are equally valid.

I can scarcely, believe, after all this time, that Russ is still conflating "what you sell" with "who you sell it to", but here we have it again ladies and gentlemen.

You, the customer, are still part of the what the vendor is selling. You make a difference to the object on sale. The right of people to not sell what they don't want to sell is somehow affected by your identity. You transform the object in their shop, the one they've advertised, into something they don't want to sell.

This is how we get talk about gay cakes. The prospective purchaser magically converts the ingredients into gay flour, gay eggs, gay sugar etc.

[ 02. December 2017, 20:53: Message edited by: orfeo ]

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Technology has brought us all closer together. Turns out a lot of the people you meet as a result are complete idiots.

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orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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But you see, this isn't how Russ thinks. Oh no. It's how those nasty social progressive thinks.

The very ones that... have completely failed to create any laws that actually operate in line with this caricature.

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Technology has brought us all closer together. Turns out a lot of the people you meet as a result are complete idiots.

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lilBuddha
Shipmate
# 14333

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quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
The prospective purchaser magically converts the ingredients into gay flour, gay eggs, gay sugar etc.

O.M.G. [Eek!] white flour, egg whites, white sugar...White cakes are for white people? Is this why I prefer chocolate cakes? Damn, my taste-buds are racist... [Ultra confused]

[ 02. December 2017, 21:05: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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We did white cakes in Hell recently. Best place for them, IMO.

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Forward the New Republic

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Kwesi
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# 10274

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Regarding Redistribution: Leviticus 25 (esp.8-31) deals at considerable length with the question of redistribution. The basic idea is that the land belongs to God, he has allocated it between various families and clans, and every fifty years (the year of jubilee) the original distribution should be restored.

Whether such jubilees ever took place is doubted, and whether it remains (if ever) a sensible policy is a matter of opinion, but there can be no question that it envisages a general redistribution of land.

A general jubilee, including not only the forgiveness of debts but also sins, forms the basis to Christ's manifesto at the opening of Luke's gospel:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour (Luke 4:18)

The 'year of the Lord's favour' being a reference to the 'jubilee' discussed in Leviticus 25.

It seems to me quite indisputable that the redistribution of land (basically the only source of wealth in a pastoral economy) is explicitly rooted in the Torah and, therefore, scripture. There's no getting away from it. Furthermore, its precepts formed the mindset that informed Jesus' social teaching. It might also be worth underlining that the modern capitalist concept of private ownership and its associated rights didn't enter the equation because God was the sole owner, which clans and individuals held in trust, a theme which informs a number of Jesus' parables.

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orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
The prospective purchaser magically converts the ingredients into gay flour, gay eggs, gay sugar etc.

O.M.G. [Eek!] white flour, egg whites, white sugar...White cakes are for white people? Is this why I prefer chocolate cakes? Damn, my taste-buds are racist... [Ultra confused]
Yes, and bakeries are forced to have chocolate cakes for sale, by these nasty laws that don't give them the freedom to not sell chocolate cakes.

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Technology has brought us all closer together. Turns out a lot of the people you meet as a result are complete idiots.

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Kwesi
Shipmate
# 10274

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Russ
quote:

I've argued for a universal right of all people to not have to sell what they don't want to sell.

Imagine there were 4 European countries with different laws about retailing.
In country A, vendors have absolute discretion as to whom they choose to sell or not sell.
In country B, the vendor has no choice - if something is advertised for sale at a price, the vendor is obliged to sell it to anyone who pays the price.
In country C, you can't refuse to sell to a white person, but you can refuse to sell to a black person.
In country D, you can't refuse to sell to a black person but you can refuse to sell to a white person.


As a moral universalist, I believe that C and D are morally wrong, for the same reason - that people should have equal rights. But that A and B have different customs which are equally valid.

Russ, might you not be forced to the conclusion:
(a) That because C and D are morally incorrect that you are mistaken in defining the right not to sell as a universal human right.
or (b) That C and D are morally correct because they flow from the universal human right of not to sell
or (c) That C and D are morally incorrect and there is no universal human right not to sell.

You are only posing a logical dilemma because your basic assumptions are incompatible and must, therefore, be faulty. My opinion is that your objections C and D demonstrate that your proposition is weak.

I think you are mistaken in thinking that a potential vendor has freedom to operate as he/she pleases, because the manner of such transactions are regulated by markets which are regulated by rules and customs, and if you choose not to abide by them you will be refused permission to trade. Those rules are not determined by individual choice but collective agreement, in which the freedom to practice racial discrimination is set against beliefs in human inclusion and what others consider more important rights. A neo-liberal capitalist, as you seem to be, would be expected to lean against discriminatory practices which restrict access to and participation in a widening market, and not tempted to press for the right not to sell in certain circumstances as a freedom not to be unrestricted.

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orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
You are only posing a logical dilemma because your basic assumptions are incompatible and must, therefore, be faulty.

Amen.

[ 03. December 2017, 00:38: Message edited by: orfeo ]

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Technology has brought us all closer together. Turns out a lot of the people you meet as a result are complete idiots.

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Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
O.M.G. [Eek!] white flour, egg whites, white sugar...White cakes are for white people? Is this why I prefer chocolate cakes? Damn, my taste-buds are racist... [Ultra confused]

Chocolate cake sounds good to me. With strong black coffee...

That doesn't mean I want every shop in town compelled by law to sell these. Though it's a pleasant daydream...

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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mr cheesy
Shipmate
# 3330

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Cue Ali G.

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arse

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orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
O.M.G. [Eek!] white flour, egg whites, white sugar...White cakes are for white people? Is this why I prefer chocolate cakes? Damn, my taste-buds are racist... [Ultra confused]

Chocolate cake sounds good to me. With strong black coffee...

That doesn't mean I want every shop in town compelled by law to sell these. Though it's a pleasant daydream...

Oh for heaven's sake, Russ, the point is that you keep claiming OTHERS want shops to be forced to sell things.

Which is bunkum.

[ 04. December 2017, 11:09: Message edited by: orfeo ]

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Technology has brought us all closer together. Turns out a lot of the people you meet as a result are complete idiots.

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Crœsos
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# 238

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
You're not making sense. I've argued for a universal right of all people to not have to sell what they don't want to sell (and would tend to argue similarly that people shouldn't have to buy what they don't want to buy.)

Race doesn't enter into it.

Imagine there were 4 European countries with different laws about retailing.
In country A, vendors have absolute discretion as to whom they choose to sell or not sell.
In country B, the vendor has no choice - if something is advertised for sale at a price, the vendor is obliged to sell it to anyone who pays the price.
In country C, you can't refuse to sell to a white person, but you can refuse to sell to a black person.
In country D, you can't refuse to sell to a black person but you can refuse to sell to a white person.

First, it's telling how often those making this kind of argument don't (or can't) distinguish between things (what's being bought or sold) and people (who is doing the buying and selling).

Second, Russ seems to be proceeding from the idea that racial discrimination is fine and moral provided it's not the state that's doing the discrimination. Any kind of state-mandated discrimination in commerce (e.g. mandatory age discrimination required of vendors of tobacco and alcohol) is immoral. But for some reason discrimination becomes moral when done by non-state actors.

I've heard this referred to as the "big bully" theory. The idea is that it only counts as oppression if the biggest entity (in this case the state) is involve. Other smaller power bases in society aren't the biggest bully around (they're medium or small bullies) so any action taken by them doesn't really count as oppressive and, according to Russ, is always moral for that reason.

Of course this gets a little blurry when you factor in that the state is the guarantor and enforcer of property and other rights in society. Take the not-entirely-hypothetical example of a restaurant whose owner decided to only serve white customers. Russ regards this as moral and proper. So what happens if a group of non-white people take seats at that restaurant and refuse to leave until served? Can the restaurant owner call upon the various agents of the state, like the police, to remove the interlopers? If so, how is this not state enforcement of racial discrimination, something Russ claims is immoral? Can the owner and staff use clubs and blunt instruments to enforce the ban? That seems kind of lawless. Does the owner simply have to put up with having some (or all) of the places at the restaurant inactive for the duration of the sit-in? That would seem to indicate that as a practical matter what Russ describes as the owner's right to racially discriminate is being infringed without recourse. I'm not sure how to square that circle in a way that doesn't violate Russ' stated principles in some manner.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:

First, it's telling how often those making this kind of argument don't (or can't) distinguish between things (what's being bought or sold) and people (who is doing the buying and selling).

Yes. I'm glad you have a firm grasp on this distinction. If you hold onto that, you won't be tempted to confuse choosing not to sell an item (that a particular person or type of person might want), with choosing not to sell to that particular person or type of person.

quote:
Second, Russ seems to be proceeding from the idea that racial discrimination is fine and moral provided it's not the state that's doing the discrimination...

...I've heard this referred to as the "big bully" theory. The idea is that it only counts as oppression if the biggest entity (in this case the state) is involve. Other smaller power bases in society aren't the biggest bully around (they're medium or small bullies) so any action taken by them doesn't really count as oppressive

It's not a big vs small distinction, it's a public vs private distinction. As a private individual, you are free to choose who you hang out with, and make or not make whatever trades you wish with your friends / acquaintances / cronies. But laws and government are public, for everyone.

quote:
Take the not-entirely-hypothetical example of a restaurant owner who decides to only serve white customers. Russ regards this as moral and proper.
No I don't. The tradition I come from is that restaurants are open to the public, and therefore have to serve the public. (With whatever food it is that they serve). But you and I are free to invite or not invite whomever we wish to dine in our homes.

quote:
So what happens if a group of non-white people take seats at that restaurant and refuse to leave until served ? Can the restaurant owner call upon the various agents of the state, like the police, to remove the interlopers? If so, how is this not state enforcement of racial discrimination, something Russ claims is immoral?
If you have a society with law A, a society which says in effect that all transactions are deemed private transactions, then a restaurant owner in that society can invoke the forces of law and order to remove squatters from his premises. In just the same way as you would have a right to have uninvited guests removed from your home.

The police would not in that instance be acting in a racially prejudiced manner; they would simply be upholding an individual's property rights (and being a public service would be morally obliged to respond similarly regardless of the race of the two parties involved).

If you have a society with law B, which says that public-facing businesses have to serve any person, then the non-white would-be-customers have a right to be served.

I've said I prefer B. Recognising that the public / private distinction may be a little fuzzy around the edges. But I'm not seeing how a society that runs on law A is necessarily immoral. It's just a society with a smaller public realm and a larger private realm.

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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Kwesi
Shipmate
# 10274

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Croesos
quote:
So what happens if a group of non-white people take seats at that restaurant and refuse to leave until served? Can the restaurant owner call upon the various agents of the state, like the police, to remove the interlopers? If so, how is this not state enforcement of racial discrimination, something Russ claims is immoral? Can the owner and staff use clubs and blunt instruments to enforce the ban? That seems kind of lawless.

It can be argued, in defence of Russ, that the issue is not one of racial discrimination but of the right of a vendor to refuse service to anyone he or she chooses. Sitters who remain having been asked to leave are guilty of trespass, and the owner has the right to expect the legal authority to enforce the law. The owner does not have the right, however, to take the law into his/her own hands, so that any use of force by the owner would have to be within the limits permitted by law. The civil rights sit-ins were an act of civil disobedience: the participants knew they were breaking the law and expected to be punished for so doing. Indeed, they provoked the violence against them (legal and otherwise) to demonstrate the injustice of laws that embedded a segregationist culture.

The protestors held that considerations of racial discrimination over-rode any rights to refuse service, and most of us, I would hope, agree with them. Russ’ problem is that he seems to argue that the right to sell and his antipathy to racial discrimination are both absolute rights, but demonstrably that cannot be the case. Experience leads me conclude that no rights, as we understand them, are absolute, (many liberals, for example, are OK with racial quotas in certain contexts), so the question here is whether the right to refuse service or the right not to be racially discriminated against should take precedence in the matter under discussion. To me it’s a no-brainer, but other shipmates may demur.

In terms of the general context of this post: the social-progressive mindset, one might expect that any critique would want to question the notion of universal rights, but Russ, curiously, bases his arguments heavily on the existence of such phenomena. The weaknesses of his arguments, however, make me even more sceptical of the notion that such rights exist.

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Crœsos
Shipmate
# 238

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
As a moral universalist, I believe that C and D are morally wrong, for the same reason - that people should have equal rights. But that A and B have different customs which are equally valid.

quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Take the not-entirely-hypothetical example of a restaurant owner who decides to only serve white customers. Russ regards this as moral and proper.

No I don't. The tradition I come from is that restaurants are open to the public, and therefore have to serve the public. (With whatever food it is that they serve).
These statements cannot both be true. You can either claim that racial discrimination is "universally" morally right (or wrong), or you can say its morality is dependent on whatever "tradition" you come from. You can't have your segregated diner and eat with your multi-racial friends too (to adapt that folk saying about cake).

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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mr cheesy
Shipmate
# 3330

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:


I've said I prefer B. Recognising that the public / private distinction may be a little fuzzy around the edges. But I'm not seeing how a society that runs on law A is necessarily immoral. It's just a society with a smaller public realm and a larger private realm.

It is fairly easy to see how society A is immoral. Any society which allows some individuals special access to things, which allows corporations to (for example) pollute the environment, which allows loggers to invade and take-over common land is immoral.

One assumes that you've never been on the receiving end of a custom within a society which allows everyone else to treat you like dirt, refuse to serve you and generally make your life uncomfortable.

If you had, you wouldn't even be posing the question.

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arse

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Kwesi
Shipmate
# 10274

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STM that Russ is confused because he has no clear view as to the relationship between customs and positive laws on the one hand and universal morality (natural law, natural rights, or whatever) on the other. Customs are cultural-specific and vary from culture to culture. To a moral universalist, which Russ claims to be, customs and positive laws are inferior to universal moral principles, and where they conflict with universal moral principles they ought to be discarded. Apartheid, the Indian caste system, ethnic cleansing, genital mutilation, sex and gender inequality, and a whole host of customs are seen by moral universalists as an affront to basic human rights.

Furthermore, the distinction Russ makes between the private and public sphere in this matter is false and misleading. If a moral principle is universal, as he argues, then by definition it applies to the public and private sphere. If, for example, racialism is wrong then it is as morally inadmissible in the running of a private business as it is in the law courts. This should not be confused with a debate concerning the extent to which the state or society should be involved in imposing a particular universal moral principle.

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mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
STM that Russ is confused

I fixed that for you.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
It's not a big vs small distinction, it's a public vs private distinction. As a private individual, you are free to choose who you hang out with, and make or not make whatever trades you wish with your friends / acquaintances / cronies. But laws and government are public, for everyone.

quote:
The tradition I come from is that restaurants are open to the public, and therefore have to serve the public. (With whatever food it is that they serve). But you and I are free to invite or not invite whomever we wish to dine in our homes.
quote:
Recognising that the public / private distinction may be a little fuzzy around the edges. But I'm not seeing how a society that runs on law A is necessarily immoral. It's just a society with a smaller public realm and a larger private realm.
This runs the risk of making 'public' and 'private' into merely evaluative signifiers. That is: you're not saying that the state has no grounds saying whom you may associate with because that's private; you're saying your associations are private because the state has no grounds to say anything about it. And whether or not the state has grounds to do so is determined on your account by some other non-normative customary criterion.
This seems unsatisfactory for several reasons, e.g.: why may not the government redraw the lines as suits it or those it represents? why have words that are empty of non-evaluative meaning?.
It's also I think not strictly speaking morally universalist. A pure moral universalist would think that the private/public distinction ought to be drawn in the same place in every society.

Nor do I think the public/private distinction is drawn in a single place in our society. The sense in which my emails or my bedroom ought to be private, and ought to be none of the government's business, is not the sense in which my medical care or education may or may not be private. And the sense in which in the UK a fee-paying school is public is not the sense in which state schools are public.

I would agree that not all societies have our distinction between public and private. But that's because not all societies have a similar structure to ours: our society is largely capitalist and largely democratic. Our societies rely on a much larger opportunity for relative strangers to interact with each other. It's arguable that there's a normative sense as to where the public-private lines should be drawn in our society based on our economic and social arrangements.

The obvious sense in which a restaurant ought to be treated as offering a public service is the one in which it is advertising to people who may not be known to the owner.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
Russ’ problem is that he seems to argue that the right to sell and his antipathy to racial discrimination are both absolute rights, but demonstrably that cannot be the case. Experience leads me conclude that no rights, as we understand them, are absolute, (many liberals, for example, are OK with racial quotas in certain contexts), so the question here is whether the right to refuse service or the right not to be racially discriminated against should take precedence in the matter under discussion. To me it’s a no-brainer, but other shipmates may demur.

Too many social progressives appear to think social progressivism is a no-brainer...

You're talking about rights. I guess the starting point is whether you believe that moral rights have some sort of objective reality.

If rights are entirely subjective, then rights reduce to likes and dislikes. "People have a right to..." then means no more than "I like the idea that people should..."

Beyond the personal is the interpersonal. But if rights only exist where people agree they do, then there's no basis for judging for example that a society is depriving minorities of their rights.

Conversely, if moral rights have some form of objective existence, then people and societies can be wrong.

You then raise the question of conflicting rights or duties. Mr cheesy raised the classic example of lying to Nazis.

Clearly you're correct that two absolute rights cannot contradict each other. And if, given enough imagination, any two rights might conceivably conflict, then we might conclude that there can be no more than one absolute right or duty.

So any moral philosophy has to deal with how conflicts between rights are resolved, and most people have some notion of choosing the lesser of two evils. But conversely, a right that is too easily set aside in favour of other considerations isn't really being treated as a right.

So the same question comes back at a higher level - is there an objectively-right way of resolving such conflicts ?

And is there a characteristically social-progressive way of resolving conflicts that can be contrasted with other approaches ?

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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mousethief

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# 953

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Beautiful dodge.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Kwesi
Shipmate
# 10274

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Russ
quote:
“And is there a characteristically social-progressive way of resolving conflicts that can be contrasted with other approaches?”

Much of this discussion has assumed little distinction between moral universalism and rights, but I think we have failed to recognised a distinction between morals and rights, which is important in the context of social progressivism. Moral precepts are obligations, duties, which are imposed on us, “thou shalt honour thy father and thy mother”, “thou shalt not commit adultery”, whereas rights are claims which we have on others or institutions towards ourselves, “I have a right to choose”, “I have a right to bear arms”. The capacity to sell to whom one wishes is not a moral precept but a right (or not), and as such is not a matter of moral universalism but of the existence or not of human rights and how they are discovered.

Thinking about rights and their origins we can, perhaps, identify five sources:

Positive Rights which are created by law, and as such can be amended or revoked.
Customary Rights grounded in long-established practices, which may be enshrined in common law, but can be amended or revoked by formal legislation.
Rights derived from natural law, which are divine in origin but can be discovered by the use of right reason (Aquinas). These are universal and immutable.
Rights derived from divine revelation, as in the Mosaic Law. These are universal and immutable.
Natural rights, secular in origin and discoverable by reason. These are universal and immutable.

Setting aside Marxism, which regards any notion of rights a simply a function of class interest, social progressives, ISTM, regard rights as a product of positive rights and/or natural rights. Locke regarded it as the purpose and duty of government to promote and defend natural rights which humans enjoyed in a state of nature, thereby limiting the scope of government. The most prominent example being the US constitution with its bill or rights and Supreme Court. Today all sorts of interests seek to claim that what they want is the recognition in positive law of their (universal) human rights, the unabridged capacity to sell to whom one wishes being one of them. This line of thinking is an important feature of modern progressivism.

A second important strand of social progressivism is Utilitarianism, whose founder, Bentham, expressed the view that ““Natural rights is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense — nonsense upon stilts.” He held that “the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation.” Some have argued that this collective hedonism has nothing to do with morals at all, and is to be regarded more as a social theory. In this view rights are no more than a function of positive law arising from the pursuit of maximising the happiness of the greatest number. In modern liberal democracies, especially in welfare states, this approach to social reform and policy is the dominant one: the more more people are happy the more votes governing parties are likely to get. It has little to do with morality and even less with natural rights.

The critique of these two approaches are that the first asserts universal rights without demonstrating any rationale for them: “nonsense on stilts”, and the second the problem of calculating how much happiness any policy might generate, and Utilitarianism being prepared to sacrifice the individual on behalf of a greater good: “someone must die for the people.”

Alternatives to social progressivism, I suppose would centre on a defence of custom, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, the danger of unintended consequences, politics as the art of the possible amongst fallen humanity, or it could assert the imposition of tradition moral and religious law, as in a number of Muslim states, or we could opt for the populism of Donald Trump.


As a sceptic regarding our capacity to identify universal human rights I don’t think there is a natural right regarding the conditions of buying and selling; but if you want to stick with it and resolve it with your opposition to racism, I can best refer you to the remarks of mr cheesy:


quote:
mr cheesy: “One assumes that you've never been on the receiving end of a custom within a society which allows everyone else to treat you like dirt, refuse to serve you and generally make your life uncomfortable.

If you had, you wouldn't even be posing the question.”

It really is as simple as that!
Posts: 1569 | From: South Ofankor | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged
Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
The critique of these two approaches are that the first asserts universal rights without demonstrating any rationale for them: “nonsense on stilts”, and the second the problem of calculating how much happiness any policy might generate, and Utilitarianism being prepared to sacrifice the individual on behalf of a greater good: “someone must die for the people.”

The other problem with utilitarianism is that under the right circumstances it's prepared to sacrifice the people for the individual.
Bentham considered what would happen if workers were able to hold out for higher wages so that the workers earned the same as the factory owners. This would he thought make the workers only negligibly happier while making the factory owners much poorer; therefore according to Bentham it is morally wrong to enable the workers to hold out for higher wages by, for example, charitable giving.
It's an oddity that philosophers tend to think of Bentham and utilitarianism as socially progressive while his economists remember Bentham as a hard-line free marketeer. If you think of utilitarianism as a purely philosophical position you might think Dickens' objection in Hard Times was purely sentimental.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

Posts: 10423 | From: Edinburgh | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Russ
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:


Thinking about rights and their origins we can, perhaps, identify five sources:

Positive Rights which are created by law, and as such can be amended or revoked.
Customary Rights grounded in long-established practices, which may be enshrined in common law, but can be amended or revoked by formal legislation.
Rights derived from natural law, which are divine in origin but can be discovered by the use of right reason (Aquinas). These are universal and immutable.
Rights derived from divine revelation, as in the Mosaic Law. These are universal and immutable.
Natural rights, secular in origin and discoverable by reason. These are universal and immutable.

Number 5 seems like the same thing as number 3, but expressed from the perspective of an atheist.

I agree that legal rights, moral/natural rights and customary rights can be three different things.

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

Posts: 3070 | From: rural Ireland | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged



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