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Privilege~Responsibility

Rob1_Billion
Posts: 1,300
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4/1/2011 12:50:40 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At some point I started believing that with any privilege (P) comes a proportional responsibility (R). Cody and I have been discussing it, and my interpretation of where the argument stands at this point is that although I can show exhaustive examples of the correlation, I cannot provide any logical framework. Until now.

I can show example after example of what happens... like how a large country (P= more money, more power, etc.) has more R than a small one (don't let your armies rape and pillage random towns), or how enjoying someone's love incurs R in terms of one's ability to cause pain to the other. If I showed up with another girl at my house tomorrow, for example, and started making out with her, I think one could agree that I would
1) cause REAL harm to my girlfriend, emotionally. This pain would be as real as any pain one could endure (anyone who has been heartbroken needs no further explanation).
2) not cause any pain to anyone else in the immediate viscinity (at least not as a true proximate cause of my actual actions).

[I bolded the REAL because I wanted to make the point that there is no... fuzzy unsuredness about whether or not we are talking about a moral absolute. If great pain is absolutely a negative moral value (the experience of being in pain is not denyable metaphysically), then relativity arguments are moot.]

The reason why only one person would feel pain is because there is only one person who I have the privilege of being with. Now one could explain a differing view of why, of course, for any of a million reasons. But would that explain the country example? Would that explain that any example of P is met with proportional R? In any one of them you could offer an alternative speculation as to what's happening, but at some point one would have to imagine that there would be a significant amount of exceptions to the rule that could be unearthed. In fact, one would think that this would be relatively easy to do if the equation is indeed bunk.

I would make the analogy to a scientific experiment. I could predict the moral outcome by default (P~R), and then observe random examples (provide them yourselves, if you'd like). The more the experiment is run, the more accurate one will know the equation is.

In fact, if P~R then it must logically follow that R~P. So if you doubt this hypothesis then imagine any example of P or R, and try to decide whether it is accompanied by its proportional partner. Realize that miniscule values aren't going to be as clear, but anything with a significant value will be relatively easy to observe.

------
Why does P~R? Well, to find this out we must examine what happens when one receives privilege. When one becomes privileged, they are essentially taking control of some sort of anthropological asset. For instance, a man alone in a forest would have essentially no privileges. Privileges, therefore, are only a function of your relationship with others. The President has the highest privilege, officers of the law have certain privileges, etc.

If someone is taking control of an aspect of society, then they have a moral responsibility not to mistreat that social interest, do they not? Police in relation to their weapons, politicians in relation to the ends of their policies, drivers and their sobriety and attention, large countries with their armies, and even humans in general with their incredible abilities to destroy.

Is my case made?
kfc
Ragnar_Rahl
Posts: 19,297
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4/1/2011 10:37:56 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
I can show example after example of what happens... like how a large country (P= more money, more power, etc.) has more R than a small one (don't let your armies rape and pillage random towns)
I do not find that to be an example, you see, I accrue no special responsibility to a government having large territory. It is likely to contract with more people and thus acquire responsibility to more people, but it is not necessary, and, indeed, it's also not how your example was phrased-- it certainly doesn't have qualitatively different responsibility.

or how enjoying someone's love incurs R in terms of one's ability to cause pain to the other.
If one never claims to return the love, one has no responsibility.

In any one of them you could offer an alternative speculation as to what's happening
More to the point, I can disagree with your assessment of what is happening.

Incidentally, that girl over there has the privilege of being really hot. Does she have the corresponding responsibility of sharing her charms with more people? ^_^
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
Indophile
Posts: 1,414
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4/1/2011 11:53:09 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/1/2011 12:50:40 AM, Rob1_Billion wrote:
At some point I started believing that with any privilege (P) comes a proportional responsibility (R). Cody and I have been discussing it, and my interpretation of where the argument stands at this point is that although I can show exhaustive examples of the correlation, I cannot provide any logical framework. Until now.

I can show example after example of what happens... like how a large country (P= more money, more power, etc.) has more R than a small one (don't let your armies rape and pillage random towns), or how enjoying someone's love incurs R in terms of one's ability to cause pain to the other. If I showed up with another girl at my house tomorrow, for example, and started making out with her, I think one could agree that I would
1) cause REAL harm to my girlfriend, emotionally. This pain would be as real as any pain one could endure (anyone who has been heartbroken needs no further explanation).
2) not cause any pain to anyone else in the immediate viscinity (at least not as a true proximate cause of my actual actions).

[I bolded the REAL because I wanted to make the point that there is no... fuzzy unsuredness about whether or not we are talking about a moral absolute. If great pain is absolutely a negative moral value (the experience of being in pain is not denyable metaphysically), then relativity arguments are moot.]

The reason why only one person would feel pain is because there is only one person who I have the privilege of being with. Now one could explain a differing view of why, of course, for any of a million reasons. But would that explain the country example? Would that explain that any example of P is met with proportional R? In any one of them you could offer an alternative speculation as to what's happening, but at some point one would have to imagine that there would be a significant amount of exceptions to the rule that could be unearthed. In fact, one would think that this would be relatively easy to do if the equation is indeed bunk.

I would make the analogy to a scientific experiment. I could predict the moral outcome by default (P~R), and then observe random examples (provide them yourselves, if you'd like). The more the experiment is run, the more accurate one will know the equation is.

In fact, if P~R then it must logically follow that R~P. So if you doubt this hypothesis then imagine any example of P or R, and try to decide whether it is accompanied by its proportional partner. Realize that miniscule values aren't going to be as clear, but anything with a significant value will be relatively easy to observe.

------
Why does P~R? Well, to find this out we must examine what happens when one receives privilege. When one becomes privileged, they are essentially taking control of some sort of anthropological asset. For instance, a man alone in a forest would have essentially no privileges. Privileges, therefore, are only a function of your relationship with others. The President has the highest privilege, officers of the law have certain privileges, etc.

If someone is taking control of an aspect of society, then they have a moral responsibility not to mistreat that social interest, do they not? Police in relation to their weapons, politicians in relation to the ends of their policies, drivers and their sobriety and attention, large countries with their armies, and even humans in general with their incredible abilities to destroy.

Is my case made?

I always thought responsiblity ~ power. Or are all those Spidey movies bunk?
You will say that I don't really know you
And it will be true.
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,483
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4/2/2011 2:45:10 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/1/2011 12:50:40 AM, Rob1_Billion wrote:
At some point I started believing that with any privilege (P) comes a proportional responsibility (R). Cody and I have been discussing it, and my interpretation of where the argument stands at this point is that although I can show exhaustive examples of the correlation, I cannot provide any logical framework. Until now.

I can show example after example of what happens... like how a large country (P= more money, more power, etc.) has more R than a small one (don't let your armies rape and pillage random towns), or how enjoying someone's love incurs R in terms of one's ability to cause pain to the other. If I showed up with another girl at my house tomorrow, for example, and started making out with her, I think one could agree that I would
1) cause REAL harm to my girlfriend, emotionally. This pain would be as real as any pain one could endure (anyone who has been heartbroken needs no further explanation).
2) not cause any pain to anyone else in the immediate viscinity (at least not as a true proximate cause of my actual actions).

[I bolded the REAL because I wanted to make the point that there is no... fuzzy unsuredness about whether or not we are talking about a moral absolute. If great pain is absolutely a negative moral value (the experience of being in pain is not denyable metaphysically), then relativity arguments are moot.]

Those still don't establish moral responsibility. Those are merely shallow emotional arguments which suggest, at best, that bringing a new girl home would, tactlessly speaking, be a dick move. For a moral nihilist, I don't consider pain to hold negative moral value, because it is my position that moral facts do not exist, and that moral value is necessarily arbitrary. What you're basically saying is "X action causes pain, therefore one ought not do it". More generally, this manifests itself as the principle that an increase in privilege also burdens the receiving agent with a corresponding increase in responsibility; however, I still hold that this is a non sequitur. I have no legitimate reason to believe that privilege implies responsibility (other than of a legalistic variety). You seem to be satisfied with moral intuition, inasmuch as most people have an intuition that more powerful countries have a greater obligation to refrain from harassing weaker countries, or that one is obligated to remain monogamous, even if there is mutual attraction between one partner and an outside individual. I remain unsatisfied, however. The question which has not yet been satisfactorily answered is why? Why do moral facts exist? Why does privilege confer moral responsibility? Why do positive occurrences, such as pain, imply normative barriers, such as nonaggression?

The reason why only one person would feel pain is because there is only one person who I have the privilege of being with. Now one could explain a differing view of why, of course, for any of a million reasons. But would that explain the country example? Would that explain that any example of P is met with proportional R? In any one of them you could offer an alternative speculation as to what's happening, but at some point one would have to imagine that there would be a significant amount of exceptions to the rule that could be unearthed. In fact, one would think that this would be relatively easy to do if the equation is indeed bunk.

The problem, as previously noted, is with the fundamental assumptions that moral facts exist, that they aren't actually arbitrary constructs, that your moral system captures these facts and is unquestionably true, and, on top of all that, that moral responsibility is both legitimate and derived from mere descriptive facts.

I would make the analogy to a scientific experiment. I could predict the moral outcome by default (P~R), and then observe random examples (provide them yourselves, if you'd like). The more the experiment is run, the more accurate one will know the equation is.

Again, you have to make certain assumptions for your methodology to hold. You have failed many times to adequately answer objections to these first principles of yours.

In fact, if P~R then it must logically follow that R~P. So if you doubt this hypothesis then imagine any example of P or R, and try to decide whether it is accompanied by its proportional partner. Realize that miniscule values aren't going to be as clear, but anything with a significant value will be relatively easy to observe.

------
Why does P~R? Well, to find this out we must examine what happens when one receives privilege. When one becomes privileged, they are essentially taking control of some sort of anthropological asset. For instance, a man alone in a forest would have essentially no privileges. Privileges, therefore, are only a function of your relationship with others. The President has the highest privilege, officers of the law have certain privileges, etc.

Actually, that isn't true. The only reason you get away with saying that privilege is a consequence of interaction with others is because A) privileges are generally themselves social constructs, which means that they are socially conferred, even if through a single agent, and B) privilege is often only readily apparent when you compare a privileged person to someone who does not share in this privilege.

If you want to get technical, then I would classify basically anything as a privilege, since the definition can broadly be stated as "any advantage, right, or immunity possessed by an individual which is not metaphysically necessary". I include the addendum at the end because it emphasizes that privilege is neither fixed nor permanent. Living in a house is a privilege. I was lucky enough to find the materials, to have money to purchase, or even to live somewhere where angry mobs don't systematically burn down others' shelters. The same could be said for my body. Though it is mine, and I possess it, and it is certainly advantageous to have one which functions and processes, it is only mine by virtue of the fact that I am not shot by a government or stabbed by a burglar. A man in a forest has plenty of privileges, then. His life, his ability to search for food without competition from other humans, his free speech, perhaps a shelter, etc.; yet, at any time, he could be mauled by a bear, left homeless by a forest fire, and so on. Privilege may conceivably be a social construct (and likely so), but it is not necessarily so. This suggests that your conception of privilege, though defined conveniently for your purposes, is far too narrow to be accurate.

To be charitable, however, let us assume that privilege is merely a product of social existence. My response comes after the next section of your case:

If someone is taking control of an aspect of society, then they have a moral responsibility not to mistreat that social interest, do they not? Police in relation to their weapons, politicians in relation to the ends of their policies, drivers and their sobriety and attention, large countries with their armies, and even humans in general with their incredible abilities to destroy.

Is my case made?

No, it isn't. The unjustified logical leap between "privilege exists and can cause damage" to "moral responsibility is correlated with privilege" remains. You have failed to prove that moral facts exists, that moral responsibility is a way in which these facts manifest, and that the fact of privilege (which, if my account is to be believed, is rooted in the mere fact of existence) implies corresponding responsibilities. If I ask why my being privileged with destructive power implies responsibility, you might say "because you have the capacity to cause great harm, therefore, you've the duty not to go through with it". That's just a statement of your position, however. It does not answer the why.
Fabian_CH
Posts: 232
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4/2/2011 2:56:03 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/1/2011 12:50:40 AM, Rob1_Billion wrote:
like how a large country (P= more money, more power, etc.) has more R than a small one (don't let your armies rape and pillage random towns)
It's ok for a small country to let their armies rape and pillage?

or how enjoying someone's love incurs R in terms of one's ability to cause pain to the other. If I showed up with another girl at my house tomorrow, for example, and started making out with her, I think one could agree that I would
1) cause REAL harm to my girlfriend, emotionally. This pain would be as real as any pain one could endure (anyone who has been heartbroken needs no further explanation).
2) not cause any pain to anyone else in the immediate viscinity (at least not as a true proximate cause of my actual actions).
Yes, but do you have a responsibility because of it? In other words, if you find out you don't love her quite as much as you thought, but you do love someone else - is the pain you'd cause her reason enough to deny your love to another woman who might deserve it more?
"What are we doing? Do we want to feed a starved humanity in order to let it live? Or do we want to strangle its life in order to feed it?"
- Andrei Taganov, We The Living (Ayn Rand)
Rob1_Billion
Posts: 1,300
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4/4/2011 11:24:59 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/1/2011 10:37:56 AM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:
I can show example after example of what happens... like how a large country (P= more money, more power, etc.) has more R than a small one (don't let your armies rape and pillage random towns)
I do not find that to be an example, you see, I accrue no special responsibility to a government having large territory. It is likely to contract with more people and thus acquire responsibility to more people, but it is not necessary, and, indeed, it's also not how your example was phrased-- it certainly doesn't have qualitatively different responsibility.

I think most people would agree that the U.S., with it's ridiculously large (in proportion) military, its ridiculously high per capita consumption rates, and it's high level of technology, has a heightened responsibility compared to most smaller countries. When wars break out that are percieved to have the potential to lose control, for example, it isn't hard to predict the U.S. will be roped into keeping the peace. If we were to let our military get out of control, would it not cause much more damage than any other entity in the known universe? Trying to logically separate that from responsibility seems impossible. The U.S. also pollutes and creates more waste than the rest of the world, and most people would agree that those who create messes have more responsibility to clean it up.

or how enjoying someone's love incurs R in terms of one's ability to cause pain to the other.
If one never claims to return the love, one has no responsibility.

You should write romance novels, Ragnar.

I don't see how pointing this out detracts from my statement. Sure, one cold bastard could go through life never "claiming" to be in love or just avoid it altogether. But that doesn't speak for everyone...

In any one of them you could offer an alternative speculation as to what's happening
More to the point, I can disagree with your assessment of what is happening.

Incidentally, that girl over there has the privilege of being really hot. Does she have the corresponding responsibility of sharing her charms with more people? ^_^

This isn't exactly the type of "privilege" I mean to argue but I will run with it since the dictionary seems to agree with you. A hot woman does have extra responsibility, in a sense: not leading on less attractive males that don't have a chance. If I went around campus, for example, flirting with girls I know do not have a real chance with me then I am abusing my privilege of being a stud rockstar. I'll cause hurt feelings and my immorality will be reciprocated through jealous scorn.
kfc
Rob1_Billion
Posts: 1,300
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4/4/2011 11:25:35 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 4/1/2011 11:53:09 AM, Indophile wrote:
At 4/1/2011 12:50:40 AM, Rob1_Billion wrote:
At some point I started believing that with any privilege (P) comes a proportional responsibility (R). Cody and I have been discussing it, and my interpretation of where the argument stands at this point is that although I can show exhaustive examples of the correlation, I cannot provide any logical framework. Until now.

I can show example after example of what happens... like how a large country (P= more money, more power, etc.) has more R than a small one (don't let your armies rape and pillage random towns), or how enjoying someone's love incurs R in terms of one's ability to cause pain to the other. If I showed up with another girl at my house tomorrow, for example, and started making out with her, I think one could agree that I would
1) cause REAL harm to my girlfriend, emotionally. This pain would be as real as any pain one could endure (anyone who has been heartbroken needs no further explanation).
2) not cause any pain to anyone else in the immediate viscinity (at least not as a true proximate cause of my actual actions).

[I bolded the REAL because I wanted to make the point that there is no... fuzzy unsuredness about whether or not we are talking about a moral absolute. If great pain is absolutely a negative moral value (the experience of being in pain is not denyable metaphysically), then relativity arguments are moot.]

The reason why only one person would feel pain is because there is only one person who I have the privilege of being with. Now one could explain a differing view of why, of course, for any of a million reasons. But would that explain the country example? Would that explain that any example of P is met with proportional R? In any one of them you could offer an alternative speculation as to what's happening, but at some point one would have to imagine that there would be a significant amount of exceptions to the rule that could be unearthed. In fact, one would think that this would be relatively easy to do if the equation is indeed bunk.

I would make the analogy to a scientific experiment. I could predict the moral outcome by default (P~R), and then observe random examples (provide them yourselves, if you'd like). The more the experiment is run, the more accurate one will know the equation is.

In fact, if P~R then it must logically follow that R~P. So if you doubt this hypothesis then imagine any example of P or R, and try to decide whether it is accompanied by its proportional partner. Realize that miniscule values aren't going to be as clear, but anything with a significant value will be relatively easy to observe.

------
Why does P~R? Well, to find this out we must examine what happens when one receives privilege. When one becomes privileged, they are essentially taking control of some sort of anthropological asset. For instance, a man alone in a forest would have essentially no privileges. Privileges, therefore, are only a function of your relationship with others. The President has the highest privilege, officers of the law have certain privileges, etc.

If someone is taking control of an aspect of society, then they have a moral responsibility not to mistreat that social interest, do they not? Police in relation to their weapons, politicians in relation to the ends of their policies, drivers and their sobriety and attention, large countries with their armies, and even humans in general with their incredible abilities to destroy.

Is my case made?

I always thought responsiblity ~ power. Or are all those Spidey movies bunk?

power is a subset of privilege
kfc