Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Morality and telecommunications.... (unfinished business)

As I rarely forget anything I do remember that I have to respond further to AJ Chesswas's points about my post in response to his one (whew) and I have failed to meet up to what I said a month ago about posting on it. So here is my response. Allan's comments are in italics, with my response in bold.
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Thanks for taking up the challenge Scott. There is a lot of good thinking in there, and as a right-leaning bloke there are a lot of things I empathise with. I agree an individual should be essentially free and encouraged to make his or her own judgments and decisions. However I have a couple of concerns witha purely libertarian/anarchist/individualistic understanding of society, namely;- People being socialised to think of themselves, and their own needs and desires, rather than entering into a bigger picture group consciousness that recognises their role and relationships within a community, as a contributor to and participant in the "happiness" of others.
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I don't think people are socialised to think of themselves, I think it is a biological imperative as part of the instinct to survive. I also don't believe in group consciousness. There is no such thing as a collective brain. While people may share opinions and feelings, the idea of group consciousness is dangerous as it is claimed by those with power - who want to deny the validity or the argument of those who present alternative views. I don't believe that anyone has the right to tell anyone else within a community what their "role" is, besides not initiating force against anyone else. The contribution to and participation in the happiness of others is spontaneous, and is part of being a social being - but it isn't a "role". It is just as legitimate to be a hermit rather than being very gregarious and sociable. You see I think the selfish needs and desires of people are, in fact, the motivation to do everything, even if what you do benefits others. A clear example is trading. You trade to make a living, but as you exchange value for value it benefits those you trade with, and those you purchase goods and services from. You may make a living for yourself, but also your family and to socialise with friends. You may give gifts, buy a drink, play sports or do other things together - you do it because it is something you enjoy and benefit from.
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If you didn't do it because you benefited from it, you'd be sacrificing yourself - and few people want others to sacrifice themself for them. Imagine a relationship which you didn't get anything from, but which you maintained because you thought you should.
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The emphasis on euphoric happiness can result on people neglecting roles and vocations vital to the future and eproduction of a society, such parenting, mentoring and involvement in the voluntary sector and domestic spheres...resulting in the potential for collapse of a civilisation/people - ie The West meets Islam.

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I don't think there is an emphasis on euphoric happiness, just happiness. I think parenting is something people enjoy, as is mentoring and voluntary work. Most people I know doing those things do it because they enjoy it and get satisfaction. I am not endorsing hedonistic self-destruction, but simply enjoying being alive. I think society has existed and progressed because people get satisfaction in producing and teaching and applying their minds and hearts to the world around them. Yes, some people are hedonists and don't give a damn, but experience of groups who have pursued that show that eventually most people give that up because they don't want to live in squalor, and need to work to earn money to get what they want. I don't think people have predetermined roles, but spontaneously, without any central planning - there are people to be doctors, teachers, taxi drivers, engineers, farmers, builders etc - it happens due to freedom, choice and the ambition of most people to live and pursue work they get some satisfaction from.

- People who do not think positively of themselves and their own needs, and as a result have given up a pursuit of happiness largely because of relational disappointments (as relationships are typically crucial to happiness). Such people can be instead prone to destructive behaviour which, because they have chosen it, we redefine as "a pursuit of happiness", discarding our moral apprehensions as a relativistic misunderstanding.

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I agree, and it happens in more areas than you would believe. Alcohol and drugs are obvious, sex less obvious, over and undereating as well, reclusiveness, overshopping, overexercising and the rest. Unfortunately, you as an outside observer can never tell if someone engaging in any of the above is being seriously self destructive, going through a bad patch (e.g. post breakup or mourning a loss) or simply exploring different facets of life. Most people overdo something at some point in their life and learn from it, and nothing the state can do will stop it.

.- People who take advantage of the above people, being motivated by perverse and corrupt desires, whose deeds are discounted on the basis of the redefined nature of morality as discussed above.

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Well I don't know what perverse and corrupt desires are, although I can guess. For me, it is perverse and corrupt to lie, steal, defraud or force someone to do something. If by perverse and corrupt you mean sexual practices you don't like or approve of, then that is a separate discussion. If two adults agree to enjoy their bodies together then it frankly does not matter to me, and I struggle why it matters to anyone else, unless either of them are in a relationship with another that they are not being honest about.

- The lack of structure and guidance in a less ordered society can pose challenges to maturing citizens looking for guidance and direction, and a meaningful role to play in their community. The sociologist Emile Durkheim discussed the condition of anomie which can result when a person's identity is challenged in this way. Furthermore, a poorly structured society is potentially less effective in responding to an emergency or sudden action (ie The West meets Islam).

I understand the point, but this is up to parents and a good start is to teach the first rule of no initiation of force or fraud. Being honest with people, respecting their bodies and property is a cornerstone of civilisation. Then to apply the mind, and reasoning to problems. A person develops identity as an individual and the more that it allowed to flourish, within the context of respecting others, the happier and better off society will be. I believe people will act and respond quickly in times of emergency, in those situations people are willing to give a hand or to fight if need be - they do so out of esteem and respect for the society of independent and free people. One that does not judge people for actions that are not an attack on others.

PC has also posted some salient points on this that I urge you to read.

also, David Farrar was to respond to my response to InternetNZ's submission calling for the government to remove some of Telecom's property rights over its local lines and for everyone else to be forced to pay for high speed internet infrastructure in certain locations. I await it with antici-pation.... But maybe the rain, isn't really to blame (snaps out of Franknfurter role).

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