Re: ethical systems (reply to Chuck)
Nov 15, 1997 08:54 AM
In a message dated 97-11-14 23:12:03 EST, you write:
>That'll only be a problem -- your preferences -- if you involve young
>children. Why a problem with children? Because they may not be able to
>tell the difference between right and wrong yet, they don't have
>sufficiently developed ability to judge and apply ethics to look out
I agree. But in my case the issue of children is totally moot in my case as
I have none and the folks I know that are so afflicted to great lengths to
make sure their kids don't get involved.
>>Now that statement will actually cause a great number of my S/M comrades
>>great upsetness because they do not believe that one should be that open.
>They're probably preferring caution since being open about this
>could bring down the wrath of conservative Christians upon one.
I eat conservative Christians! Seriously, I would love nothing more than
such a confrontation simply because the free PR would make me lots of money.
>>And at that point an impasse occurs because they cannot stop me and I don't
>>care if they approve or not, so they have the choice of shutting up or
>>venting their impotent fury.
>Yes, you can do what you like, even if it pissed off or outrages or
>flusters others. Again, people will be making two decisions: Is this
>right or wrong? And if wrong, is this so terrible that intervention
>is needed? If so, you have a fight on your hands.
And I love a good fight.
>>The situation is likewise true in the TS.
>>The TS, for lots of weird, historic reasons, objects officially to people
>>learning to do psychic stuff, but I write books specifically teaching that.
>> The powers that be are not happy, but do I stop writing because of that?
>I'm not sure that the reasons are "weird and historic", but the whole
>issue of when is good or helpful to cultivate them and when it's best
>to do away with them -- the issue is complex and has been discussed
>on theos-l in detail before a number of times.
I know. I've been in the middle of them!
>We could pick a type of knowledge that all of us might agree is harmful,
>and consider what we'd do about it. If someone wants to publish a book
>on ways to easily make bombs, or a book on ways to commit murder and
>never get caught, should we allow it? The Internet does. Plato wouldn't,
>I think. I'd be against it as a general principle. Take the example of
>scientists creating devices of mass destruction. Should they decline to
>invent them on ethical grounds?
Since I am in the process of testing a psionic device that has real potential
as a weapon of mass destruction I naturally would disagree with Plato.
>>The fact is that the ethical system of one individual or group is never
>>binding on any other unless the first has the power to enforce their will.
>True. And that will is enforced by our legal system and by peer pressure
>in society. Things that are generally considered to be the most fair,
>just, equitable, etc. are promoted, although no social system is bug free
>-- there are always exceptions and numerous examples of unfairness,
>injustice, etc. in spite of the best intentions of the people working
>in the system.
>> Lacking that power, all that is left is the force of persuasion and that
>>only works on those who are willing to be so persuaded.
>Also true. Sometimes things are on an honor code, rather than controlled
>by physical force. A simple example is a newspaper vending machine
>that takes a single quarter and *assumes* you'll only take one newspaper
>out of it. Another is the idea of a line at a movie theater, with the
>assumption that it's most fair that the first people to arrive are the
>first to enter and pick their seats, with the assumption that you'll
>get in line rather than cut the line in front of everyone.
>The most basic and simple rule of ethics is the golden rule, to treat
>others as you'd have them treat you, and it provides a good starting
>point for developing more sophisticated ethics and better skills in
>handling the events of life. Most people, I think, avoid having to
>consider ethics too closely for the same reason that they avoid
>thinking too thoroughly about things: they don't want to face internal
>contradictions and bugs in their values, standards and in their
>opinions and beliefs. We're not most people, though, and I'd expect
>us seekers to question everything, continually working on and
>reworking our ever-growing ethical standards and ideas about life.
I've never had much use for the Golden Rule myself. I infinitely prefer Lord
To make it sound terribly pompous and boring, I come out of the school of
what is called ethical skepticism, which means I don't put a lot of stock in
pre-existing norms and while I have mellowed a lot with age, I can still do
lots of things that would set even my radical libertarian friends' teeth
grinding. And I do, I do and enjoy every minute of it.
My feeling in the end is that Captain Nemo is winning, slowly but surely.
Now, for those reading this who don't understand the reference, in 20,000
Leagues Under the Sea, Professor Arronax has his first meeting with the
Captain. They argue and the Captain threatens to submerge the Nautilus and
let them swim. The Professor says that that is not the action of a
"civilized man," whereby the Captain responds, "Professor, I am not, what you
call, a 'civilized man.'" As society moves in that direction, where no rule
can be enforced because no one will agree on the rule, it creates some
fascinating problems for the philospher and interesting times, possibly in
the sense of the ancient Chinese curse, for the rest of us.
Hang on my friends, it's gonna be a wild ride.
Chuck the Heretic
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