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» Ship of Fools   » Special interest discussion   » Dead Horses   » And there's another gay bakery case (Page 28)

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Source: (consider it) Thread: And there's another gay bakery case
Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
And we're back to "No Blacks, No Irish"

If you as a private individual wish to decorate your bedroom with such signs, that's your choice to make.

Should you wish, as a private individual, to sell the odd widget now and then to individuals you consider worthy of having one, that's still your choice to make.

At the point where you make a public-facing business of it, where you invite the public to come buy your widgets, then ISTM you incur the obligation to deal impartially with members of the public.

Which doesn't imply anything about your opening hours or the range of widgets you choose to sell. Both of which remain your choice to make.

But does mean that when you're open for business with a particular widget on sale, you should sell it to anyone who pays the price you're asking.

Even if they're a black Irish poofter...

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

Posts: 3073 | From: rural Ireland | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Crœsos
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# 238

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
Trade, like sex, is best carried out on the basis of mutual consent. Would you not agree ?

A transaction happens if both parties will it, and doesn't happen if either party does not will it.

That's what free choice looks like. It doesn't involve any coercion, any forbidding, any imposing, just two free people respecting each other's choices.

quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
At the point where you make a public-facing business of it, where you invite the public to come buy your widgets, then ISTM you incur the obligation to deal impartially with members of the public.

Which doesn't imply anything about your opening hours or the range of widgets you choose to sell. Both of which remain your choice to make.

But does mean that when you're open for business with a particular widget on sale, you should sell it to anyone who pays the price you're asking.

Your "serve all customers impartially" assertion is completely at odds with your creepy "sex as a tradable commodity" analogy. Unless you're claiming that if you consent to have sex with one person you have to consent to sex with any person. It also seems to contradict your earlier assertion that commercial enterprises are not just permitted by required by what you call "morality" to discriminate against both customers and its own workers if they can turn a better profit by doing so.

Corporations and other commercial enterprises behave similarly to people, except that their moral code is essentially the law. Russ takes it one step further by claiming that not only a business but also its employees must use such profit-centered "morality", despite his claims elsewhere that morality is only for individuals, not organizations.

Which brings us back to the previously mentioned florist in Washington state. If "morality" for anyone engaged in a commercial enterprise is the same as profit-maximization, then we are forced to conclude that Ms. Stutzman behaved immorally by taking actions that subjected her not only to a fine but also (I'm guessing) significant legal expenses.

I guess you can legislate morality after all, at least for commercial enterprises. [Big Grin]

[ 17. March 2017, 13:19: Message edited by: Crœsos ]

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
Trade, like sex, is best carried out on the basis of mutual consent. Would you not agree ?

A transaction happens if both parties will it, and doesn't happen if either party does not will it.

That's what free choice looks like. It doesn't involve any coercion, any forbidding, any imposing, just two free people respecting each other's choices.

Other people have already picked up on the flat contradiction between this and your assertion that there is a duty on a business owner to be impartial in dealings with the public (at least where it is in the interest of the business).

I'll just respond that none of what you've said has anything to the point I was making. You said that the justification of laws ought to be:
quote:
Laws that track a moral framework within which people of different convictions can co-exist peacefully, rather than laws which impose some people's beliefs on everyone else.
You haven't spelled out how your moral framework does that. In several cases, your moral framework seems to militate against it.
You can't meaningfully argue that someone who refuses a trade with someone else solely because they have a religious objection to the use that someone else will make of it is not imposing their religion. Certainly not if by 'imposing their religion' you mean something that contrasts with 'peaceful co-existence'.
If we restrict the term 'imposing religion' to actions that are compatible with peaceful co-existence then we can argue about individual cases. A shopkeeper who closes one day a week is not threatening co-existence. Other cases will fall in a messy inbetween area where there is a case to argue on both sides. (Thinking that there is a clear and simple general rule that will solve the problem is not thinking that applies to the complexities of the world we co-exist in.)

Refusing to hire someone because you don't want to lose the bigot trade, or selectively refusing wedding cakes to customers whose marital arrangements who don't wish to recognise is flatly counter to any aspiration to peaceful co-existence.

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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 Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
At the point where you make a public-facing business of it, where you invite the public to come buy your widgets, then ISTM you incur the obligation to deal impartially with members of the public.

Your "serve all customers impartially" assertion is completely at odds with your creepy "sex as a tradable commodity" analogy. Unless you're claiming that if you consent to have sex with one person you have to consent to sex with any person.
No. (Sigh). Read it again. I'm arguing for a difference between what applies when serving the public and what applies to private interactions between two people.

You could perhaps put it that trade is by mutual consent, but that by running a business that is open to the public a trader waives his right to refuse consent to trade with someone because of who they are.

quote:
It also seems to contradict earlier assertion that commercial enterprises are not just permitted by required by what you call "morality" to discriminate against both customers and its own workers if they can turn a better profit by doing so.
No. I'm arguing for a difference between the owner of a small business - who has the right to limit his business activities in accordance with his private convictions - and an employee - who does not have the right to do his job in a way that is against his employer's interest in pursuit of his own private convictions.

Don't know why you're quite so keen to make me out to be saying something I'm not...

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

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Russ
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# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:

You can't meaningfully argue that someone who refuses a trade with someone else solely because they have a religious objection to the use that someone else will make of it is not imposing their religion.

On the contrary. If you want to do something that is against my religion, one of my possible reactions to that is to say that I won't seek to prevent you but that I want no part of it and won't help you to do it in any way.

quote:

Certainly not if by 'imposing their religion' you mean something that contrasts with 'peaceful co-existence'.

Rather the other way round. I'm using "peaceful coexistence" to mean something that contrasts with "imposing private convictions on others"

Whereas you seem to use the term to mean a state in which your convictions about race, sexuality etc get imposed on everybody.

quote:
Refusing to hire someone because you don't want to lose the bigot trade, or selectively refusing wedding cakes to customers whose marital arrangements who don't wish to recognise is flatly counter to any aspiration to peaceful co-existence.
Not at all. Because neither action is trying to change the other person to be something that they don't want to be. No animus, no attack. Just a recognition of business reality in one case and a limiting of one's own participation in the other.

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

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Crœsos
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# 238

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
quote:
It also seems to contradict earlier assertion that commercial enterprises are not just permitted by required by what you call "morality" to discriminate against both customers and its own workers if they can turn a better profit by doing so.
No. I'm arguing for a difference between the owner of a small business - who has the right to limit his business activities in accordance with his private convictions - and an employee - who does not have the right to do his job in a way that is against his employer's interest in pursuit of his own private convictions.
How small a business? And why does size matter in this case? If Jim of Jim's Lunch Counter wants to institute a "Whites Only" policy for customers and employees, why is that substantively different than SuperMega Corp. doing so? And how do you square this "right to limit his business activities in accordance with his private convictions" with your supposed standard of "impartiality" towards the public? That seems like something you honor more in the breach than the observance.

Your standard seems to be "treat the public impartially, unless you don't want to".

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Russ
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# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
why does size matter in this case? If Jim of Jim's Lunch Counter wants to institute a "Whites Only" policy for customers and employees, why is that substantively different than SuperMega Corp. doing so?

Size doesn't matter.

But I'm coming from the position that (moral rather than legal) rights and wrongs are primarily about individuals and their choices.

So the core issue here is about which of the ways that a merchant, an employee and a customer might treat each other are morally wrong and which are morally-OK options that they may choose if they want.

It's not that SuperMegaCorpTM is a morality-free zone. It's that it isn't really a person and doesn't have a mind, so that moral rules apply secondarily, by analogy to the conduct of people.

So we work bottom-up. Get it right for Jim first, and then think about how those principles apply to SuperMegaCorpTM.

Jim is a person. He doesn't have policies, he makes choices based on motives.

I'm suggesting that he does wrong if he advertises a vacancy to the public (E.g.a notice in the window that says "Help Wanted") and then awards that job on the basis of his prejudices.

But that he does no wrong if either

- an objective observer would conclude that he appoints the applicant most likely to benefit his business (ie is impartial)

Or

- he privately appoints the friend of a friend of a friend.

In either case his conscience is clear.

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

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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So Jim can refuse jobs to the nig-nogs if his customers are racist cunts, but not because he's one? Not that it makes much difference to the job-seeker himself.

[ 19. March 2017, 09:04: Message edited by: Karl: Liberal Backslider ]

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Soror Magna
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# 9881

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
.. So we work bottom-up. Get it right for Jim first, and then think about how those principles apply to SuperMegaCorpTM. ...

BUT THAT'S NOT WORKING FROM THE BOTTOM UP!!!! Excuse me for yelling, but you've already repeatedly told us that Jim's employees cannot obey their own morals or conscience - they must fall in line with whatever Jim orders them to do or quit. That's great for Jim, but not for anybody else. How about getting it right for Jim's employees first?


quote:

... Jim is a person. He doesn't have policies, he makes choices based on motives....

MegaCorp also has to make choices in the course of operations. MegaCorp's directors and managers establish policies and employees act in accordance with the goals of MegaCorp. You're just using different words to describe the same decision-making process - applying a set of principles to make decisions to attain a specific goal.

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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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# 14333

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Give Russ a break. It is difficult to carve out an exception which allows discrimination that doesn't look like discrimination. It is going to inconsistent because it is, that cannot be changed. Perhaps, though, it can be hidden. Don't look up his sleeve, behind the curtain or connect the dots.

--------------------
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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Crœsos
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# 238

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
So Jim can refuse jobs to the nig-nogs if his customers are racist cunts, but not because he's one? Not that it makes much difference to the job-seeker himself.

No, both are permissible according to Russ. The former because Mr. Crow is turning a profit from discrimination (which makes it okay) and the latter because it's "in accordance with his private convictions" (which also makes it okay).

quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Give Russ a break. It is difficult to carve out an exception which allows discrimination that doesn't look like discrimination. It is going to inconsistent because it is, that cannot be changed. Perhaps, though, it can be hidden. Don't look up his sleeve, behind the curtain or connect the dots.

Yeah, but it's still irritating every time someone re-invents the self-serving philosophy of Lester Maddox and expects everyone else to treat it like some kind of daisy-fresh, brand new insight.

quote:
Maddox said that he would close his restaurant rather than serve African Americans. . . . Maddox became a martyr to segregationist advocates by leasing and then selling the restaurant to employees rather than agreeing to serve black customers. He claimed that the issue was not hostility to blacks but constitutional property rights.
See, not "animus", just "private convictions". [Roll Eyes]

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
You can't meaningfully argue that someone who refuses a trade with someone else solely because they have a religious objection to the use that someone else will make of it is not imposing their religion.

On the contrary. If you want to do something that is against my religion, one of my possible reactions to that is to say that I won't seek to prevent you but that I want no part of it and won't help you to do it in any way.
Does that extend to selling you food and clothing? If the head of the local electricity company disapproves of your religion may they cut you off so as not to help you do it in any way?

If an employee of a business refuses to bake wedding cakes for gay people they have you say the option to not seek employment. Likewise someone who wants to limit their participation in same-sex weddings to that extent has the option of not opening a bakery business to the public.
If it's fair to offer resigning one's job as an option to avoid selling goods to people one does not approve of then it's fair to offer not opening a public business as an option.

quote:
Because neither action is trying to change the other person to be something that they don't want to be. No animus, no attack. Just a recognition of business reality in one case and a limiting of one's own participation in the other.
They're not trying to change the other person: they're trying to get rid of the other person altogether. That is the general maxim that their actions exhibit. Your pretence that there is no animus is a piece of partisan political propaganda.

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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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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
So Jim can refuse jobs to the nig-nogs if his customers are racist cunts, but not because he's one? Not that it makes much difference to the job-seeker himself.

No, both are permissible according to Russ. The former because Mr. Crow is turning a profit from discrimination (which makes it okay) and the latter because it's "in accordance with his private convictions" (which also makes it okay).

I'm never quite sure what Russ thinks is OK. It seems to shift within a post.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
I'm never quite sure what Russ thinks is OK. It seems to shift within a post.

That is not in question. The reasons for this might be.

--------------------
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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Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
That is, you can reject utilitarianism as being the final word in ethics, and still notice that some proposed schemes (like Russ's approach to equality) would make more things worse for more people than the best alternatives, and are therefore bad ideas.

I think the "therefore" in that sentence makes it a contradiction.

If greatest-good-of-the-greatest-number considerations lead you to conclude that therefore something is a bad idea, how is that not giving utilitarianism the final word ?

Unless you mean it's only not the final word in ethics and this is politics where you don't feel constrained to be ethical. Which is what I've been suggesting...

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

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Crœsos
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# 238

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
That is, you can reject utilitarianism as being the final word in ethics, and still notice that some proposed schemes (like Russ's approach to equality) would make more things worse for more people than the best alternatives, and are therefore bad ideas.

I think the "therefore" in that sentence makes it a contradiction.

If greatest-good-of-the-greatest-number considerations lead you to conclude that therefore something is a bad idea, how is that not giving utilitarianism the final word ?

Indeed. Russ has been pretty straightforward about rejecting any form of utilitarianism (or consequentialism). He's pretty emphatic that actual outcomes are irrelevant to what he calls "morality". As near as I can tell he's promoting some form of virtue ethics, where a person's internal motives are what determines whether or not an action is moral. (These are rough, almost cartoonish, condensations of philosophical schools centuries, if not millennia, in age. The abbreviation is sadly necessary.) That's why it matters so much to him whether or not an action is committed for personal or corporate gain (moral) or nepotism (still moral) or animus (immoral, unless the animus derives from "private convictions" in which case it's moral).

Russ seems to be a faint-hearted virtue ethicist though, because he applies a consequentialist (small 'u' utilitarian) ethic to those acting on behalf of the state.

quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
Conversely, the local education authority is a part of government, and should be fair in allocating children and funds to schools, not employing irrelevant criteria to give some children a better education than others.

In this case Russ is willing to judge by actions, not motive, and takes a decidedly utilitarian position.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
As near as I can tell he's promoting some form of virtue ethics, where a person's internal motives are what determines whether or not an action is moral.

It's nothing to do with virtue ethics.

In so far as it's consistently anything it's a hard deontology: it's based entirely around rights with a strict division of actions into morally permissible and morally impermissible depending solely upon whether you have a right to do something.
You'll note that he dismisses any suggestion that one might have a moral obligation to come to the aid or assistance of other people.

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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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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
That is, you can reject utilitarianism as being the final word in ethics, and still notice that some proposed schemes (like Russ's approach to equality) would make more things worse for more people than the best alternatives, and are therefore bad ideas.

I think the "therefore" in that sentence makes it a contradiction.

If greatest-good-of-the-greatest-number considerations lead you to conclude that therefore something is a bad idea, how is that not giving utilitarianism the final word ?

If you take a black and white view of morality in which there is a strict division between morally forbidden and morally innocent then that follows.
Most of us don't take that view of morality. It might very well be possible that a course of action is morally problematic even though better than the alternatives.

quote:
Unless you mean it's only not the final word in ethics and this is politics where you don't feel constrained to be ethical. Which is what I've been suggesting...
Interesting. Every time I repeat this kind of suggestion back to you you don't respond. I assume you think it's not constructive.
And yet even though you seem to be tacitly claiming that these suggestions are not constructive you keep on making them.

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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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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
That is, you can reject utilitarianism as being the final word in ethics, and still notice that some proposed schemes (like Russ's approach to equality) would make more things worse for more people than the best alternatives, and are therefore bad ideas.

I think the "therefore" in that sentence makes it a contradiction.

If greatest-good-of-the-greatest-number considerations lead you to conclude that therefore something is a bad idea, how is that not giving utilitarianism the final word ?

I was, of course, trying to summarise what Dafyd had already said better.

The point is its not necessary to be a utilitarian to notice that a proposed course of action is going to cause harm, and to think that this is a morally significant fact. You are proposing a change (abolishing discrimination laws) which almost everyone thinks would be actively harmful, and which not even you are saying will bring any practical benefit. Absent any compelling special reason why this should be done (and although you probably think you've provided one, really, you haven't), it's reasonable to think that your scheme is a bad one without signing up to utilitarianism.

Not caring about harm isn't "non-utilitarianism". It's sociopathy.

quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
Unless you mean it's only not the final word in ethics and this is politics where you don't feel constrained to be ethical. Which is what I've been suggesting...

Go on - link to a post of mine where I suggest that there's ever no constraint to be ethical. Because (a few role-playing threads in the Circus excepted) I don't believe that I have any implied any such thing.

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
I was, of course, trying to summarise what Dafyd had already said better.

I don't think that's true.

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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
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# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
That is, you can reject utilitarianism as being the final word [qb]in ethics
, and still notice that some proposed schemes.. ..would make more things worse for more people.. ..and are therefore bad ideas.
Unless you mean it's only not the final word in ethics and this is politics where you don't feel constrained to be ethical.
..link to a post of mine where I suggest that there's ever no constraint to be ethical. Because (a few role-playing threads in the Circus excepted) I don't believe that I have any implied any such thing.
Were you not agreeing with Leorning Cniht (my spellchecker hates that name) earlier that the law doesn't have to be moral ?

Of course I don't think of you as an unethical person. That sentence was a possible resolution of your apparent contradiction.

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

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Russ
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# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:

You'll note that he dismisses any suggestion that one might have a moral obligation to come to the aid or assistance of other people.

I find that notion firstly problematic without a clear indication of which individual each such specific duty falls upon.

Secondly, you're quite right that the idea of a moral duty seems like something one either does or doesn't have - a logical true/false variable. Life presents us with a whole spectrum of opportunities to aid others at varying cost to ourselves. At what cost does it cease to be a duty and become a (supererogatory ?) morally good but not required action ?

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

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
Were you not agreeing with Leorning Cniht (my spellchecker hates that name) earlier that the law doesn't have to be moral ?

It depends on what you understand by that. Certainly the law can sometimes decline to enforce particular moral actions, and can take steps to enforce actions which would not in themselves be morally duties if the law were silent on the issue. And sometimes the law has to make a practical call on where to set limits and boundaries in areas where there is a reasonable range of more-or-less equally valid choices. Plenty of examples of all of those have been given on this thread.

I don't think any of those things count as acting without ethical constraints, though. The political decision that the law will or will not act in a particular way in relation to each of those categories has to be ethically defensible. Obviously.

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

Posts: 4592 | From: Hampton, Middlesex, UK | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:

You'll note that he dismisses any suggestion that one might have a moral obligation to come to the aid or assistance of other people.

I find that notion firstly problematic without a clear indication of which individual each such specific duty falls upon.

Secondly, you're quite right that the idea of a moral duty seems like something one either does or doesn't have - a logical true/false variable. Life presents us with a whole spectrum of opportunities to aid others at varying cost to ourselves. At what cost does it cease to be a duty and become a (supererogatory ?) morally good but not required action ?

There's a whole literature about this. But if you think duty is the primary category of morality: one can divide duties into perfect duties (do not kill) and imperfect duties (give to those in need, or educate oneself). A perfect duty is either done or not done. An imperfect duty exceeds any one individual's powers to completely fulfil. Since an individual cannot completely discharge such a duty it is to some extent up to the individual how and when to work towards the duty. Some cases: you see someone drowning, you are the only person able to throw in a lifering, are clearly obligatory. Others clearly go above and beyond the call of duty: to provide at large cost to oneself some small benefit to another which another person could provide at less relative cost.
It would be nice if there were indeed a clear indication of whom each imperfect duty falls upon and how far each person is required to go in pursuit of them. However, the moral life is not so clear cut.

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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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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
Were you not agreeing with Leorning Cniht (my spellchecker hates that name) earlier that the law doesn't have to be moral ?

Supplemental to Eliab's response.
In ordinary English, to say the law has to be moral is to say that it must not forbid what is morally obligatory, or command what is morally wrong.
You add another category: the law must not forbid what is morally permissible. But in ordinary English we would not describe a violation of that alleged principle by saying that the law is not moral.

Compare contracts or promises. A promise or contract to do something immoral is not binding. It is void. But I may promise to refrain from something permissible or do something that is not obligatory. So to be consistent you would have to say contracts don't have to be moral.

There's a somewhat related point. You deny the distinction between actions that are morally permissible and actions that one has a moral right to perform. Actions one has a moral right to perform are actions which it is morally forbidden for other people to try to prevent you from doing; but there are also actions that other people may permissibly under at least some circumstances compete with you over or otherwise prevent you from doing.
I might add that this is relevant to contracts and promises as well: a promise not to do something which I have a right to do is void just as if I'd promised something morally forbidden. That doesn't mean I may not sacrifice something to which I have a right, merely that I cannot bind myself to do so in future or commit myself not to retrieve it when the opportunity arises.
Now you've explicitly said that just because someone has a right to do something doesn't mean other people aren't morally forbidden to stop you. So by equating the two categories you make two errors: you argue that the law may not forbid anything within the morally permissible category, and you fail to protect moral rights from private individuals.

[ 21. March 2017, 22:24: 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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Eliab
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# 9153

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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
I might add that this is relevant to contracts and promises as well: a promise not to do something which I have a right to do is void just as if I'd promised something morally forbidden. That doesn't mean I may not sacrifice something to which I have a right, merely that I cannot bind myself to do so in future or commit myself not to retrieve it when the opportunity arises.

What do you mean by "right" in this sense? It seems to me that there are fundamental rights (and duties) for which this is true - selling oneself into slavery, for example, ought never to be a morally or legally binding transaction - but other entitlements that can be given up.
Posts: 4592 | From: Hampton, Middlesex, UK | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
That doesn't mean I may not sacrifice something to which I have a right, merely that I cannot bind myself to do so in future or commit myself not to retrieve it when the opportunity arises.

What do you mean by "right" in this sense? It seems to me that there are fundamental rights (and duties) for which this is true - selling oneself into slavery, for example, ought never to be a morally or legally binding transaction - but other entitlements that can be given up.
I am thinking of the type of inalienable natural rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I've been trying to think of counterexamples to my statement since I made it. I can think of things like the right to marriage or to own property which can be renounced for religious reasons. But I think in those cases it matters that the postulant is making the vow to God rather to a purely human authority. I don't think a secular court could have jurisdiction in a dispute centred solely on those vows.

There are rights awarded by lesser bodies than nature or the author of nature. These would be revokable by the awarding body and alienable at the awarding body's discretion. (The right to use a parking space, for example.) But I'm struggling to think of alienable moral rights.

Even if we limit the category of things I may not alienate I think the category of things I may not alienate to a private individual or business in a contract is largely identical to the category of things cannot be alienated to government. I think that's necessary to make any theory of government by consent work.

[ 22. March 2017, 13:57: 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

Posts: 10428 | From: Edinburgh | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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There is a basic logical problem with trying to use an idea of "you should not make people act inconsistently with their personal choices" in any situation that involves more than one person.

Because you constantly have to explain how you decided which of those 2 people's choices ought to prevail.

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Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:

In ordinary English, to say the law has to be moral is to say that it must not forbid what is morally obligatory, or command what is morally wrong.

I think it goes wider than that.

If you have a garden, and the local council declares that there's now a public footpath running through it, I would say that they wrong you thereby, that they transgress against your right of property by giving others legal permission to do what is morally wrong, even though they're not commanding anyone to do it.

Similarly, if they pass a law to forbid you to enter your garden, I would say that they transgress against your right of property by forbidding your exercise of that right, even though it is not morally obligatory for you to do so.

quote:

You add another category: the law must not forbid what is morally permissible.



I'd want to distinguish those actions that are permissible because they do no harm from those that are permissible because one has a right to do them.

It's been suggested above that the law has a role in regulating the public realm. Seems to me possible that such a regulation may be intrinsically morally neutral - no better or worse than alternatives. And may be better than the confusion of having no guide at all. So long as no rights are infringed.

quote:
Compare contracts or promises. A promise or contract to do something immoral is not binding. It is void.
Not quite. Something that is void has no effect. If I promise you to do something and then work out that it is my moral duty to do something else, then I owe you some compensation for my broken promise.

quote:
But I may promise to refrain from something permissible or do something that is not obligatory.


Yes, you may choose to waive your rights in some matter, or promise not to do something that would otherwise be permissible.

quote:
So to be consistent you would have to say contracts don't have to be moral.
A contract doesn't have to relate to a moral issue. But shouldn't be immoral.

quote:

You deny the distinction between actions that are morally permissible and actions that one has a moral right to perform.

I thought I was making that distinction...

quote:
there are also actions that other people may permissibly under at least some circumstances compete with you over or otherwise prevent you from doing.
You may seek to prevent me by persuasion, of course.

But if you may compete with me (for a job, for the affections of a third party, for the dubious honour of writing the longest and most impenetrable posts on the Ship) then I'd find it hard to see how I could have a right to that job/ affection/ honour.

quote:
I might add that this is relevant to contracts and promises as well: a promise not to do something which I have a right to do is void just as if I'd promised something morally forbidden. That doesn't mean I may not sacrifice something to which I have a right, merely that I cannot bind myself to do so in future or commit myself not to retrieve it when the opportunity arises.
Doesn't sound right. I could sell my garden to the council...

quote:
Now you've explicitly said that just because someone has a right to do something doesn't mean other people aren't morally forbidden to stop you.
Not sure that's right - which example did you have in mind ?

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

Posts: 3073 | From: rural Ireland | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:

In ordinary English, to say the law has to be moral is to say that it must not forbid what is morally obligatory, or command what is morally wrong.

I think it goes wider than that.

If you have a garden, and the local council declares that there's now a public footpath running through it, I would say that they wrong you thereby, that they transgress against your right of property by giving others legal permission to do what is morally wrong, even though they're not commanding anyone to do it.

Similarly, if they pass a law to forbid you to enter your garden, I would say that they transgress against your right of property by forbidding your exercise of that right, even though it is not morally obligatory for you to do so.

It's perhaps stretching the concept to say that the law is commanding its enforcers to interfere with your right in those cases. Whether or not that's the case I went on to discuss how it bears upon rights.

quote:
quote:

You add another category: the law must not forbid what is morally permissible.



I'd want to distinguish those actions that are permissible because they do no harm from those that are permissible because one has a right to do them.

It's been suggested above that the law has a role in regulating the public realm. Seems to me possible that such a regulation may be intrinsically morally neutral - no better or worse than alternatives. And may be better than the confusion of having no guide at all. So long as no rights are infringed.

This seems to me an alteration of your previous position which was that the law may not penalise things which are morally innocent.
If you're now allowing it to forbid things where no rights are infringed then that's an apparent shift. The question then arises when is a right infringed.

quote:
quote:
Compare contracts or promises. A promise or contract to do something immoral is not binding. It is void.
Not quite. Something that is void has no effect. If I promise you to do something and then work out that it is my moral duty to do something else, then I owe you some compensation for my broken promise.
I think it depends very much upon the case.

There is a distinction between selling someone a car that one owns and then not handing it over (it does now legally belong to the person who bought it) and 'selling' someone a car that one does not own (it does not belong to the person who 'bought' it). I think promising to do something immoral corresponds to the second category. If someone 'sold' the car in good faith believing they had the right to do so they're still obligated to return the money. Depending on circumstances they may or may not be obligated to compensate for any trouble caused to the person who believed they had been sold a car.

quote:
quote:

You deny the distinction between actions that are morally permissible and actions that one has a moral right to perform.

I thought I was making that distinction...
I read this exchange as you rejecting it:

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
A legal right doesn't merely make it legal to perform an action: it means that other people must go out of their way not to prevent you from performing that action.

I don't think that's right. Shylock has a legal right to his pound of flesh, but it's entirely legal for the court to stop him shedding blood in order to perform the action of collecting his due.
That follows on your assertion of a strong parallel between legal rights and moral rights.

In addition to that exchange: you've previously asserted that the law should never punish something that is morally permissible. That amounts to an assertion that the category of things that are morally permissible and the category of things that you have a legal right to do are equivalent.

quote:
quote:
I might add that this is relevant to contracts and promises as well: a promise not to do something which I have a right to do is void just as if I'd promised something morally forbidden. That doesn't mean I may not sacrifice something to which I have a right, merely that I cannot bind myself to do so in future or commit myself not to retrieve it when the opportunity arises.
Doesn't sound right. I could sell my garden to the council...
You don't have a natural right to any garden or to any specific item of property. Assuming you have a natural right to own property you cannot sell the council your right to own property in the future. (There may be laws or contracts that allow for unlimited debts or all future earnings; if so, I think they're unjust except when imposed as a penalty.)

quote:
quote:
Now you've explicitly said that just because someone has a right to do something doesn't mean other people aren't morally forbidden to stop you.
Not sure that's right - which example did you have in mind ?
See above about Shylock.

(*) Assuming that property is a natural right rather than one granted by society. The legal understanding in the UK if I understand correctly is that all land is strictly speaking owned by the Crown. I think that reflects the underlying moral structure.

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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 Dafyd:
This seems to me an alteration of your previous position which was that the law may not penalise things which are morally innocent.

Hi Dafyd.

Coming back to this after a week away, it seems to me that the above is somewhere near the core of this difficult issue

Classical utilitarianism allows for punishing the innocent (if one's valuation of the net consequences is higher than for the alternative of not doing so). You may or may not agree with this position; it seems wrong to me.

Some people appear to believe that "law makes right", that anyone breaking the law is necessarily morally guilty (and can thus justly be punished). I don't agree. As an example, it seems to me that if I write to you in a way that is critical of the Irish government, that act would not become morally wrong if the Irish govt passed a (self-serving) law against it.

So I'm left holding the view that breaking the law is only morally wrong (and thus justly punishable) to the extent that the law "tracks" some pre-existing moral duty.

Road traffic law, health & safety law, planning law etc may seem to have only a tenuous connection with morality. But I think there are underlying moral duties - to not endanger one's neighbour or employee, to not develop one's own land in a way which prevents one's neighbour from enjoying his land - which such laws reflect.

In this imperfect world, they reflect it imperfectly. So there are people who are genuinely wronged by the application of the law.

Where such cases are a practically-unavoidable result of genuine difficulty in making good laws, there's probably not much can be done.

But where rights are infringed and where the "practical difficulty" is a mere excuse for imposing values (whether egalitarian or anti-egalitarian) on others, then we should argue for better laws than we have (ie laws that better track the underlying right-and-wrong).

Not sure if that's any clearer...

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

Posts: 3073 | From: rural Ireland | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
Some people appear to believe that "law makes right", that anyone breaking the law is necessarily morally guilty (and can thus justly be punished). I don't agree. As an example, it seems to me that if I write to you in a way that is critical of the Irish government, that act would not become morally wrong if the Irish govt passed a (self-serving) law against it.

So I'm left holding the view that breaking the law is only morally wrong (and thus justly punishable) to the extent that the law "tracks" some pre-existing moral duty.

You are still trying to link law to morals. I don't believe that anyone who breaks the law is "morally" guilty. It's not a relevant question. The law doesn't punish you for breaking morals, it punishes you for breaking the law.

"Morally" guilty, "justly" punished... I'm sorry but it's all nonsense. You're forced to create these twists in an effort to keep law and morality aligned when the law just isn't interested in being aligned with morality in the way you are constantly suggesting.

You might be able to have a debate about whether a law is moral, but once a law is validly made individual actions aren't going to be assessed by reference to morality, they're going to be assessed by reference to the law.

Honestly, it feels like you're arguing that one should only have a free kick awarded in rugby league if one has broken the rules of rugby union.

And the degree of punishment might be affected by notions of justice, but whether or not there is to be punishment at all does not depend on some separate assessment of whether or not YOU think there ought to be a law against criticising the government. Frankly, the courts aren't interested in your opinion at that point.

Laws apply to people whether or not the laws match those particular people's ideas of morality and justice. That's what makes them laws. Otherwise you get situations where the traffic laws apply to you because you accept them but don't apply to someone else who thinks they're not "moral" and so can't be "justly" punished.

In fact the entire POINT of laws is to stop having debates where people's ideas of what is moral and just differ. Law depends on an assessment of whether you are guilty by reference to what the law requires. Not on whether you feel guilty for breaking a moral code.

In other words... the law is quite comfortable about "imposing values" on you. Because otherwise what you have is a bunch of self-righteous anarchists who all declare that no-one can tell them what to do.

Apart from their employers. Apparently their employers can "impose values" as much as they like. In your world, a soul can be sold for money. But not otherwise.

[ 03. April 2017, 11:47: 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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Honestly, Russ, are you really still holding on to a belief that everyone is going to agree on the "underlying right-and-wrong"?

If they did we wouldn't have much need for laws in the first place. And when enough people agree on the "underlying right-and-wrong", laws contrary to that don't even get made because popular opinion is against it and politicians like getting re-elected.

In other words, a major reason why anti-discrimination laws that you dislike exist is because lots of people like them.

Okay? If you're operating under the belief that somehow these laws accidentally made in spite of people sharing your opinion that such laws are not in accordance with the "underlying right-and-wrong", then maybe it's time to stop focusing on the law and start focusing on your assumptions about shared morality.

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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 orfeo:
Honestly, Russ, are you really still holding on to a belief that everyone is going to agree on the "underlying right-and-wrong"?

Didn't you notice that Russ' last post was on April 1? [Big Grin]

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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lilBuddha
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# 14333

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
Honestly, Russ, are you really still holding on to a belief that everyone is going to agree on the "underlying right-and-wrong"?

Didn't you notice that Russ' last post was on April 1? [Big Grin]
Have all his posts been an elaborate April Fools? That would certainly make more sense...

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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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orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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You may be right. I find it hard to credit that anyone genuinely thinks the sole purpose of laws is to enforce a preexisting moral desire. It's a bit like suggesting that parents are obliged to ensure that children eat their favourite food.

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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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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Just so happens I saw this and thought of Russ' OK-to-act-racist-if-business-decision thing. Presumably Russ thinks this guy's fine. The rest of us think he's a twat.

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Penny S
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# 14768

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The ex-teachers have been thought of pretty badly for a very long time, including by estate agents, who would dread them turning up to buy up all the stock of small family new-builds.They own far too many homes around East Kent, keeping others from becoming owners, and initially all done on mortgages.
I think Dante would have had something to say about them in more detail than calling them twats.

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Russ
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# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Presumably Russ thinks this guy's fine. The rest of us think he's a twat.

He seems somewhat confused. But he's not alone.

I've been in places where someone has persistently smoked, and despite having been cleaned the room stinks. The smell gets into the wallpaper as well as the carpet, and it's unpleasant and I wouldn't want to live in a place like that.

If he tells me that an apartment in which someone has frequently cooked curry comes to stink in a similar way, and that this imposes significant costs on his property-letting business, I believe him.

Seems to me quite reasonable for him to put a clause in the lease to forbid cooking of curry in the property. Alongside the clauses that say what pets can be kept and where people can smoke.

But he's wrong to refuse to let property to people of particular skin colours. If his business serves the public then he's morally obliged IMHO to serve whatever members of the public are willing and able to fulfil a reasonable contract.

To assume that anyone with South Asian features is incapable of living without curry is a prejudice.

The undoubted correlation neither justifies discrimination against South Asian people, nor gives those people some sort of right to cook curry which such a clause would infringe. That would be just the same prejudice the other way around.

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

Posts: 3073 | From: rural Ireland | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Crœsos
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# 238

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Russ then:

quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
No black would-be-baker has a moral claim against you.

Russ now:

quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
But he's wrong to refuse to let property to people of particular skin colours. If his business serves the public then he's morally obliged IMHO to serve whatever members of the public are willing and able to fulfil a reasonable contract.

To assume that anyone with South Asian features is incapable of living without curry is a prejudice.

Wow! From Roger Taney ("[the black man has] no rights which the white man was bound to respect") to Thurgood Marshall ("this Court has made segregation and inequality equivalent concepts") in just two short months.

I get the impression that the problem Russ has isn't that racial discrimination is a prejudice, his problem is that it's a prejudice he doesn't share. It makes a lot more sense if you read his posts where he mentions "an objective observer" if you simply substitute in "Russ". For example, "an objective observer would conclude . . . " becomes "Russ would conclude . . . " Makes much more sense that way.

Of course, the most likely explanation for Mr. Wilson's "Racist with an Explanation" act is that it's a post facto rationalization for what is also an "economic decision" insofar as he feels he can charge a higher price to white tenants if they know they won't have non-white neighbors. That would seem to fall quite comfortably within Russ' claim that racial discrimination is okay if you're making money off it.

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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 orfeo:
I don't believe that anyone who breaks the law is "morally" guilty.

I'm trying to understand your position here. You're saying that there is no moral duty to obey the law ?

Or that there are no moral duties at all ?

Or that punishing lawbreakers is morally right even when it's morally wrong?

quote:
the law just isn't interested in being aligned with morality in the way you are constantly suggesting.
The law isn't a person and can't express an interest. You mean politicians and parliamentary draughtsmen aren't interested in acting morally in their professional lives?

quote:
You might be able to have a debate about whether a law is moral, but once a law is validly made individual actions aren't going to be assessed by reference to morality, they're going to be assessed by reference to the law.
We don't as a rule ask our policemen to be moral philosophers. Their job is seen as being to enforce the law as written. The best time to consider whether it is a good law is before it is passed rather than after.

On the other hand, on those occasions when "the law is an ass" we do appreciate policemen who understand that and quietly ignore the asinine bits...

But it seems to me that we can only have a debate about whether a law is moral if "moral" has some meaning beyond an expression of favourable personal opinion.

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

Posts: 3073 | From: rural Ireland | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
lilBuddha
Shipmate
# 14333

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
I'm trying to understand your position here.

This, after pages and pages of people trying to make sense of yours?

--------------------
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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Soror Magna
Shipmate
# 9881

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
.... But it seems to me that we can only have a debate about whether a law is moral if "moral" has some meaning beyond an expression of favourable personal opinion.

Well, no shit. You may have noticed that your Shipmates don't always agree on what is or isn't moral. Why would you expect agreement on whether a particular law is or isn't moral? Why choose "moral" as a yardstick when there's no universal agreement on what it is?

The only reason you keep bringing up morality is because for some daft reason, you want to leave "morality" out there as an excuse for anyone to break any law. Kind of like how some people use morality to justify murder, when it's a so-called "honour killing".

Morality shouldn't be a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card. Remember: suffering for your beliefs makes you a martyr; making other people suffer for your beliefs makes you a prat.

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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"

Posts: 5398 | From: Caprica City | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Gee D
Shipmate
# 13815

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quote:
Originally posted by Soror Magna:
Why choose "moral" as a yardstick when there's no universal agreement on what it is?

The only reason you keep bringing up morality is because for some daft reason, you want to leave "morality" out there as an excuse for anyone to break any law. Kind of like how some people use morality to justify murder, when it's a so-called "honour killing".

You forgot to say that Russ is only in favour imposing his thoughts as to what morality is, and not those of anyone else.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

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Louise
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# 30

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bump

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Now you need never click a Daily Mail link again! Kittenblock replaces Mail links with calming pics of tea and kittens! http://www.teaandkittens.co.uk/ Click under 'other stuff' to find it.

Posts: 6907 | From: Scotland | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:

Russ then:
quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
No black would-be-baker has a moral claim against you.

Russ now:
quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
But he's wrong to refuse to let property to people of particular skin colours.


You're continuing to try to paint me as inconsistent.

Presumably because you see "discrimination" as a primary category, as a type of act that is inherently morally wrong ? Which wrongness I appear to recognise one minute and deny the next ?

Whereas I perceive no specific mention of discrimination within morality - that framework of rights and duties that describes how individuals should treat each other.

I think Dafyd correctly characterised my position as being that moral duties are general.

I'm suggesting that all people have a moral right to be treated as people, which includes being considered members of the public. So if you're selling books or wedding cakes or overpriced apartments or anything else to the public then turning round to anyone and saying "we don't serve your sort" breaches their right of being treated as a person.

Publicly advertising a job is similar. (Rather less similar is an artist deciding whether or not to accept a particular commission).

So some examples of what you would label as "discrimination" transgress against that general moral duty and we can agree that such acts are wrongful.

But conversely, no-one has a right to any particular job because they want it and are good at particular parts of it. There is no general moral right that is infringed by a business choosing to employ the candidate who will have the most positive impact on their bottom line.

So I see acts, that you might well label as "discrimination" that are not morally wrong.

You may disagree with me. You may quote hard cases where it's difficult to see how the moral principles apply.

But I don't see any inconsistency.

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

Posts: 3073 | From: rural Ireland | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
I think Dafyd correctly characterised my position as being that moral duties are general.

You'll note that I doubted whether there was any consistent way of defining 'general'. You're not deriving all of the rights that you claim to exist from any one single principle as with rule-utilitarianism or the Kantian categorical imperative or the Rawlsian contract.

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

Posts: 10428 | From: Edinburgh | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Soror Magna:
You may have noticed that your Shipmates don't always agree on what is or isn't moral.

Yes, I'd noticed that. They don't agree about God either. That doesn't seem to lead to a consensus that God isn't worth talking about.

quote:
Why would you expect agreement on whether a particular law is or isn't moral?
I don't expect agreement; I expect debate. And hope for a high quality of debate...

quote:
Why choose "moral" as a yardstick when there's no universal agreement on what it is?
Why be moral ? Because by "moral" we mean what someone should do. So the position that they should do something other than what they should do is a contradiction. And that applies to lawmakers just as much as to everyone else.

[Quote]you want to leave "morality" out there as an excuse for anyone to break any law.[quote]

I don't recall saying anything about the question of when it's right to obey a bad law and when it's right or OK to break a bad law. My focus is on the prior question of what the law should be.

There seems in some people's minds to be a circular justification for laws they approve of. Discrimination is against the law because it's wrong. And discrimination is wrong because it's against the law.

Now that may be because I'm reading two people's posts as arguing the same position when they're actually not.

Would it be unreasonable to ask which half of the circle you're affirming ?

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

Posts: 3073 | From: rural Ireland | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
Because by "moral" we mean what someone should do.

Well, no: we can talk about what someone should do in the context of pragmatism, of etiquette, of aesthetics, etc.
When a wedding dress designer says 'we should take the hem up a bit' they are not talking morality.

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

Posts: 10428 | From: Edinburgh | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
lilBuddha
Shipmate
# 14333

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
And hope for a high quality of debate...

Cute, with the ellipsis and all, but there has been a high quality of debate. Well, in some posts anyway...

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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

Posts: 17128 | From: the round earth's imagined corners | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged



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