neon wrote:Your original answer was ignorant and race baiting.
The Asian supremacy one, or a different answer? If the first, allow me some flippancy when responding to what seem to be non sequitors.
neon wrote:Comforts and rights are probably about of equal importance to most people, it depends on the situation. There are no black or white answers here.
Ok. Here's where I would respond with a Benjamin Franklin quote, but you've already heard it and all it says is what he and I think, not what everyone does or should think.
So let's move to a practical question- is it legally and ethically 'easier/more useful' to deal with rights or comfort? Rights seem inherently objective, in the sense that they don't require any particulars of the situation in which the rule will be employed. Comfort seems inherently subjective, in the sense it requires the particulars of the situation in which the decision will be made. It makes little sense to do comfort comparisons in the abstract- how do I compare the comfort gained by my eating a bag of chips to the comfort gained by my roommate eating a bag of chips, and even if I could do that comparison, it wouldn't hold true for all food (or even all kinds of chips!). It makes much more sense to do rights comparisons in the abstract- I can easily conclude that if they're my roommate's chips, I shouldn't eat them and he can, and if they're my chips, I can eat them and he shouldn't.
That analogy (and a variation of it) also go a long way towards explaining the difference between a rights-centered view of ethics and a comfort-centered view of ethics, as well as between an absolutist and a relativist view. Suppose that he barely likes this variety of chips, while it's my favorite food. Can I eat them without his permission (if I had his permission this wouldn't be a moral dilemma), because I enjoy them so much more than he does? Under a comfort-centered view, doing so is the greatest good for the greatest number, and while his lack of permission is regrettable, it's standing in the way of the common good.
Aside- the common good is a notoriously ill-defined term. Here let's use a working definition of the sum of the utility in each member of the group. Obviously for this to work utility will have to be normalized somehow (If I use a 0-10 scale to describe how much I enjoy things, and my neighbor uses a 0-100 scale, adding our choices together makes little sense!), which is a problem some philosophers will tell you is impossible. In this example, the happiness of my roommate and myself is higher when I eat the chips than if just he eats the chips, which is higher than if neither of us eat the chips.
Under a rights-centered view, doing so is violating his property rights.
Now, let's change the analogy considerably. Now, he has enough food to feed two people, and I have no food and am on the brink of starvation. Can I take some of his food without his permission (again, if I had his permission this wouldn't be a moral dilemma) because I need them to survive and he doesn't? Under a comfort-centered view, the same argument holds and I should take the food (and doesn't have a judgment if he only has food for one person and is similarly starving; neither of us want it more under any sane system). Under a rights-centered view, again taking his food would violate his property rights. There's a hidden assumption here that should be brought to light- the assumption that an act of omission is morally and ethically different than an act of causation. Not giving food to a starving man has to be different from causing a man to starve. Connectedly, responsibilities must fall on individuals- it's my duty to make sure that I don't starve, and not my duty to make sure my neighbor doesn't starve.
That last statement is contested, at least in part, by all altruistic moralities. But while they often say that it is right to give away surplus food to those in need, they rarely say it is right for those who need food to steal surplus food.
Your reaction to the considerable difference between those examples highlights the different between a relative view of ethics and an absolute rule of ethics. If you see them as fundamentally the same, that's an absolute view of ethics. If you see those as apples and oranges (one is just a comparison of pleasure, the other of life and death), that's a relative view of ethics. I believe that it's easier to construct self-consistent, impersonal, and usable systems of ethics with an absolute viewpoint, but in practice people tend to rationalize the use of different rules for different situations (why do so many people consider 'white lies' ok and liars bad people?). I should comment that by "impersonal" I mean that the ethical system doesn't care about any non-important distinguishing factors of the people involved; the property rights of a man and woman, majority and minority, etc. are the same. This is hard to accomplish in any system that uses loosely-defined terms that some arbiter must interpret; can we trust a racist to come up with a definition of the common good that is not influenced by his view of other races?
I'm going to assume by the "no black or white answers here" comment you're operating on a relativist viewpoint. Discussions of the merits and failings of absolute and relativist systems of ethics probably don't belong here (and this wall of text has probably already worn out the welcome of that subject in this thread), so we should probably discuss this more in another thread if we want to go deeper. I'll just comment that, when a system is applied to a large number of people, getting absolute ethics agreed on (you shouldn't lie to anyone) is probably easier than relativist ethics (you shouldn't lie to anyone, except your boss when making excuses would probably be objected to by your boss), and certainly easier to use in any sort of judicial system (you shouldn't murder is not open to interpretation; you can only kill in reasonable circumstances is open to quite a bit of interpretation and the sentence depends quite a bit on the judge).
neon wrote:I consider objectivism to be a personality cult
So do I! I really wish she had called it something else, instead of implying that to be objective one had to be looking at the world from one particular perspective. That's not how individualism works, Ayn.
neon wrote:Whenever someone starts talking like this it makes me wonder if there isn't some sort of unstated agenda going on.
It's a healthy approach in any political discussion to look for agendas. So far I haven't been able to find one in individualism, because it seems to be as impersonal as possible in the abstract (I'm calling libertarianism the economic and political extension of individualism; this may be untrue but I can't see why). Looking at the other libertarians I know, it's sometimes hard to believe that there is not some agenda that explains the similarities I see, but quite a bit of soul-searching has not turned up any significant ones.
neon wrote:Only they don't declare that up front and will often play semantic word games. Next thing I know you'll be asking me if the competent should be ruled by the incompetent.
This is why I program in Lisp
Namaps, I missed your post the first time around (apparently I chose a bad spot to start reading an old thread). I'll respond now:
Namaps wrote:I'm not sure where you live, but there are plenty of places in the US where admitting to homosexuality exposes you to a serious risk of getting assaulted... I mean, they're not in the majority, but they're not insignificant either.
The last study I saw about this said that 1% of the rural population identifies themselves as gay, and something between 5 and 10% of the urban population identifies themselves as gay. That's not accidental (but it's unclear how much of that is the push factor of discrimination and how much of that is the pull factor of a larger mate pool in cities).
But, historically, one could pick few better times or places to be gay.
Namaps wrote:I think I may have misunderstood this quote's context. Are you saying that anti-discrimination-in-employment (heh, I forgot the term that's normally used for those) laws for homosexuality would constitute "trampling the rights of the many?" That's what it seemed like to me, so...
I don't remember the writing that quote well enough to answer. I probably was calling freedom of association a right, but coming a bit more than 30 minutes after a post where I say that for the level of discrimination to be 'ok' chances of employment have to not be materially affected, that might not be the case. My guess is that I meant that discrimination in hiring is something that people should have a legal right to, but wouldn't exist in a society I considered at an "ok" level of discrimination (which is a position I still hold, albeit somewhat ambivalently).
Namaps wrote:There's a lot more historical tension between whites and black in the US than between whites and Asians.
Possibly. African Americans certainly seem to feel worse about their initial experiences in America than Asian Americans, but does this translate into a deeper hole that they have to climb out of to succeed? If it does (and it probably does), what effect would we expect that to have on success? Looking at it from the other side, is there a measurable difference between anti-Black sentiment among Whites in Black-heavy regions and anti-Asian sentiment among Whites in Asian-heavy regions, and what effect would we expect that to have on success? There are a lot of possible explanations for why performance levels differ, and it's possible for them all to be a part of the overall effect. It follows that some explanations will be true and significant, some will be true but nearly insignificant, some insignificant, and some false but significant.