By Mark Frauenfelder at 9:37 am Tue, Sep 29, 2009
On his blog, Jonathan Turley writes that this video "appears to show Pittsburgh police during G20 protests using an arrested citizen as a prop for a group photo." That's what it looks like to me, too. (Via The Agitator)
Congratulations on the bouncing baby lawsuit, Pittsburgh PD!
“Hi Mom! Look at me dehumanizing someone and treading on their civil liberties”
Those pigs are really wallowing in it this time.
When asked if he intended to investigate the photo, the Pittsburgh chief of Police said he had more important things to do. I’m not kidding.
Every day I’m more and more convinced that Idiocracy is real
Stay classy, Pittsburgh!
The photo would be more effective if they were sodomizing their captive. Talk about deterrence!
So – no reason to ever enter the city limits of Pittsburgh, then. I’ll make a note of it.
Looks like the captive was posing too. LOL.
This is pathetic! Where’s the hood? the cardboard box?? the electrodes???
C’mon guys, you’ve got -STANDARDS- to live up to!!
Fuck the police.
From what I understand, they were not actually pittsburgh police… there were 3000 police guys brought in from elsewhere and these guys were from north carolina or something. Pretty pathetic in any case.
Perhaps the cuffed guy requested a photo.
( “Hello DAD! I’m in JAIL!” )
Somewhere a police department lawyer is doing a facepalm.
Not the sharpest tools in the shed, are they?
I was brought up to respect my fellow citizens, give back to society, and to always to remember that all coppers are bastards.
I don’t think it’s true; but if you’re a nice guy and you form a joint enterprise with a bunch of bastards… you can’t complain when this point of view becomes accepted across the whole of society.
Keneke, I also thought it looked like the protester was posing too.
An agent provocateur?
Nah, Pittsburgh police wouldn’t be as sleazy as Quebec police, would they?
What no LRAD involved?
it should be noted that the white shirted individual directing and taking the photo is a commander of some sort.
@ #11 ELK
“Say hi to mom, from jail.”
– Was (Not Was)
As someone in the last thread said, these are good people doing a hard job. You can’t really begrudge them a pleasant photo op here and there.
I’m wondering what the best long-term solution is for preventing this kind of shit. A few cases made into examples where the cops responsible get the book thrown at them? A statewide meta-police program whose only task is to investigate cop abuses? I can imagine the last one being very interesting when interacting with civilians for evidence: “It’s okay, ma’am, anything you say cannot be used against you.”
@ #22 Mojave
I think that if anyone of us here were in the same position,surrounded by people with guns, we might be posing as well….although the agent provocateur thought crossed my mind as well.
When I was surrounded by angry police with guns, all pointed at me and mostly cocked, I didn’t give them anything but legally required compliance along with explicit descriptions of how screwed they were.
They believed me too.
(I also told them the bad guys were getting away. But that is where the situation deviates.)
@ #24 Beelzebuddy
As someone in the last thread said, these are good people doing a hard job. You can’t really begrudge them a pleasant photo op here and there.
Indubitably! We would probably find them charming were we to meet them socially.
Pigs are people too.
Disgusting, inhuman, undemocratic – the mantra of the police of today. Every single cop in that clip deserves to be fired immediately.
In the “war against crime” there are no prisoners.
Oh, wait, I mean there are many many prisoners.
I’m sorry but the police did an admirable job of keeping this city safe. If anything I’m angry at the out of town protestors who came in looking to fuck shit up. Yes, you have a right to be heard but you do not have a right to make life miserable for the rest of us.
There are always some problems in a situation like this. Chgarges against bystanders caught up in the action are being dropped and I wouldn’t be surprized if people were being compensated for their hardships. The point is shit happens.
I don’t respect every individual police officer because some of them are assholes, but frankly people in every line of work are assholes. People are assholes period. Still I have a respect for the Pittsburgh Police force (and by extension The University of Pittsburgh Police). Especially when three officers were slain in the line of duty less than a year ago.
i hope they all loose their jobs and cushy government benefits; and wind up out in cold during the recession like so many other people. that’s just gross!
Judging by the way the protester was posing for the shot as well, I’d say he was a police provocateur. There have been numerous people who’ve caught police posing as protesters in these recent G20 marches, some on video, just youtube search it.
Agies, what does any of that have to do with using a human being as a trophy in a photo op? Do you think that’s part of the leeway they should get in order to do an admirable job of keeping the city safe? Do you think that maltreating a person in this way should be a reward for the admirable job you think they did?
Or is that your knee I see jerking?
@ #30 Agies
A am angry because this age of protests seems to have passed
We might not live in the world we live in today had people not gone ape crazy nuts over civil rights in the 60’s.
Think Iraq is a quagmire? Imagine if the draft hadn’t been ended in a tactical move to defuse the angry youth of that time. We might have upwards of 350,000 troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Think the 1968 riot (often termed a police riot) at the Chicago democratic convention was a waste of time? I am honored to have lived to witnessed the race barrier broken in the election of a U.S. President and I am under know delusion that tankers full of blood weren’t spilled a generation ago to get us there.
This post could go on for the rest of the day if I didn’t have to get to work.
Yes Aegis, there are assholes in every line of work. But not every line of work is entrusted with extraordinary powers over their fellow citizens, not to mention the power over life and death, that we as citizens afford police officers.
That means that there is ABSOLUTELY NO ROOM for this kind of bullshit. They have a hard job? Boo hoo. If they can’t hack it, then they’re off the force. Nobody’s forcing them into that particular job. Go work in a gas station if you can’t handle the responsibility of the badge. We expect more from them because they’re in a singular position in society, one that cannot tolerate these kinds of failings.
If you want to wear the badge, then you’d better drop the crap and be a professional AT ALL TIMES while that badge is on. If cops can’t abide by these simple directives then they shouldn’t be cops anymore.
Yep. I feel safer already.
If the price of “keeping this city safe” is total ignoring of civil rights, maybe that city should burn.
Even better…camouflaged ‘inter-agency task force’ kidnap protester in unmarked car.
keep voting democrat and republican!
Perhaps we should demand more stringent requirements for becoming a police officer other than a high school diploma or Associates degree, fitness tests, and a civil service exam?
Kind of missing the point there, aren’t you? Perhaps instead of expecting the police to behave better we should instead expect that this is NORMAL police behavior and supervise the police accordingly.
Just a thought.
Repeating what I’ve said in the other thread.)
As long as cops won’t act as free individuals, I won’t see and treat them like free individuals. They are paid not to act as individuals, but to embody law enforcement. Afaik, they have a choice in what job they want to exercise. I don’t respect the choice they make and even criticize it. So when I say that e.g. cops are all assholes, I mean it. You actually need stronger arguments than the fact that “they are human beings too”, to change my mind.
Police apologists should explain why they defend such actions. Please. Otherwise I don’t think their comments are ethically okay.
I rejoined the ACLU yesterday.
The photo is obviously the property of the public since it was taken by a commanding officer. You can request that the Pittsburgh Police Bureau send you a copy here:
I asked for one. I want it for my web site. Wouldn’t it be logical to publish the photo that the cops took?
For anyone wondering, that is right outside of Pitt Law school on Forbes Ave. Right in the heart of University of Pittsburgh.
I assumed when I first read this that it was going to be an infiltrator. Just another cop dressed up like a protester who spent the day spying on and provoking demonstrators while his coworkers beat them down.
But it sure doesn’t look that way from the video. For one, the protester is restrained. I’ve never heard of or seen infiltrators be put in restraints, let alone left in them. The normal procedure is the cops snatch them, get them behind police lines or away from other demonstrators, and then release them. Second, the protester seems to be taking direction from the other cops, which wouldn’t make sense unless he really was a captive.
It’s completely in keeping with the way cops are trained to relate to these events, though. It’s just good, crazy fun to them. Like a frat hazing, or something. They might look like dispassionate robo-enforcers in their armor, but really they go out on the streets during a demonstration excited. Hoping to get some action, crack some heads.
I’ve been involved in anarchist protests where officers have shouted at us things like “can y’all please do something so we can beat you?”. They want to fight even more than the most militant activist, which goes a long way toward explaining their behavior.
at the risk of being dsmvld, could we plz have moar video leading up to this shot, or at least a faker tweet from the supposed “victim” of this man (and woman) handling?
i don’t presume guilt and i don’t presume innocence, but there’s not enough information in that 0:26 for me to understand the context. halp!
later bragging to his friends. “Hey guys, look, it took 20 cops to take me down!”
If this isn’t part of the job, wtf. Treating people like trophys is lame. But…
I got arrested at the 2004 RNC. They documented every arrest by taking a polaroid photo of each arrestee, with the arresting officer, at the scene of the “crime” (I pled not guilty and my charges were dropped months later after a few trips to the courtroom).
So there I was, hands cuffed behind my back, arresting officer to my left, we’re both looking at the camera, it’s about to click when I lean over to my arresting officer and smile like he’s my best buddy. As the picture is snapped, he starts to laugh. I would love a copy of that picture.
If the gear worn by riot police had very clear, legible numbers that distinguished each officer as an identifiable individual, then I believe much of these behaviors would end. The fear of being identified as a specific abuser would make it much more difficult to use the identical uniforms and chaos of the situation as a way of remaining anonymous.
If it is good enough for the members of sports teams, it should be good enough for those we employ to keep us safe.
C’mon ,now! This is no worse than fraternity hazing!
These guys have got to blow off steam sometimes, ya know?
There is an illness in this country. It seems as though in the past eight years there have been so many exposures in mass media of corruptions of humanity, moral obscenities, insults to the democratic ideal, that something like this seems relatively banal.
As if one’s first thought might be, “at least they didn’t strip him naked.”
Maybe on the continuum of things that have happened in the middle of a university campus this doesn’t rate very high, but it’s the audacity of it that gets me.
Like it never crossed anyone’s mind that posing with their trophy in public view might be a bad idea… they could at least have had a sliver of respect and done something like that outside of plain view.
Oh yes they would be that sleazy:
You miss my point.
Every single cop who uses excessive force should be prosecuted. Every single cop who engages in graft and corruption should be in jail. Every time the civil rights of any person are violated by any other person the violator should be held accountable. Every person should be able to live their lives without harassment and intimidation. Everyone should be able to avail themselves of the protection of the law. Those in positions of power have a particular responsibility not to abuse that power.
The police in this video, even if the guy in cuffs is participating voluntarily as it appears he may be, have demonstrated remarkably poor judgment, and will probably pay a price for it, and they should. Being stupid should be painful. (By the way, saying that this justifies cheering the murder of a cop is beyond comprehension to me.)
I doubt that we have any disagreement about these things. Never would I try to defend these things and I am not specifically trying to defend cops. To demonstrate my objection to your blanket condemnation of this group, lets play a simple game.
Take a group of people, any group at all, who have are not specifically formed to deny another group its rights (just to exclude folks like the KKK). I’ll give a few, just to get started. Feel free to add as you wish.
Lawyers, Bankers, Politicians, Doctors, Soldiers, Fast-food employees, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Cops, Sanitation workers, Morticians, Masons, Republicans, Democrats, Communists, and Dockworkers.
Now, think of some despicable thing that any member of this group has done.
To play the game, take the group, the despicable act performed by some member or members of this group, apply it to everyone in the group. Finish up with a statement of your hatred for the despicable act, and generalize that to the group as well.
Morticians are necrophiliacs. I hate necrophiliacs, so I hate all morticians.
Lawyers are dishonest. I hate dishonesty, so I hate all lawyers.
Muslims are brainwashed fanatics. I hate brainwashed fanatics, so I hate all Muslims.
Soldiers are childkillers. I hate childkillers, so I hate all soldiers.
Cops are thugs. I hate thugs, so I hate all cops.
Its easy. And I’m guessing we’ve all done it at some time or other. And it is wrong both logically and morally.
If this makes me unethical, so be it.
I agree that the brutalities that occurred in Pittsburgh for the G20 were unethical and unconstitutional.
However, my argument is not for the teams of police or the chief of Pittsburgh police, but that of the city itself.
I live in Pittsburgh. I LOOOOOVE it here in spite of the display we all witnessed last week. Please remember that many of the cops that were here were brought in from other cities and towns. A small fraction of the police were native.
As for the chief of police, f-him. It’s a crummy administration, but thankfully, it is also an election year.
I watched this six times. The student (or undercover cop, whatever) certainly doesn’t appear to be coerced in any way and it seems like the cops are cheering in a friendly manner. I’m not sure what it all means but before I get upset about it I would like that person to make a statement about it.
I’m not trying to say police don’t sometimes act inappropriately up to and including murder and rape and torture but this video doesn’t seem to show anything wrong to me.
Really, it doesn’t make sense that they would force someone in their custody to have their picture taken in that kind of group shot in the middle of the street.
I’m telling you: Hand out SWAT uniforms to protesters. Problem solved.
To me it’s pretty clear that they’re picking future riot police among the worst scum. I’d say it’s about time to fight back.
I cured my “America Infection” 10 years ago. It’s sad to see the disease still ravaging my former homeland.
#57–agreed! Surprising how quickly everyone jumped to F the Popo.
The Bill of Rights only applies when it doesn’t matter.
I thought we’d all learned this by now.
It looks to me like the “cheer” was them yelling at him while they pushed him to his knees (someone behind him tips his right knee and he falls to it, then he goes down on both knees before they can shove him over onto his face). He shows a little defiance later, but he doesn’t look like a willing participant to me.
Hard to tell from the distance though. I’d like to hear from him and see what he has to say about it.
Interesting. Because to me, it doesn’t make sense that an agent provocateur would pose with his uniformed coworkers in plain view of a number of citizens, revealing that he is, in fact, an agent provocateur. Watch the link Jacobin@54 gave, and you’ll see real agent provocateurs still refuse to fess up even though they’d been busted.
#60 Surprising how quickly everyone jumped to F the Popo.
Surprising? Really? It’s Business.As.Usual. here. The summary even uses the word “appears” – everyone, including the author, doesn’t know what exactly is going on. But hey, don’t let that stop anyone from bashing cops.
Don’t worry, there’ll be another G20 story tomorrow, just like one yesterday, and you’ll find the same bigots posting the same stuff.
Ahh, this reminds me of a scene I saw at a festival a while ago (although this is much worse).
After the festival seemed to change its (hard to find published anywhere) rules about what drinks could and couldn’t be brought into the festival site about 3 times during the festival (obviously didn’t sell enough drinks the first day) some obnoxious/aggressive security buffoon saw some girl take an empty glass bottle from her bag and put it in a recycling bin (everyone was walking around with glass the first day, as it seemed to be allowed providing you weren’t in the “stage areas”), the bouncer her then grabbed her from behind. Twisted her arm behind her back, grabbed her bag off her shoulder pushed her away and rummaged through her bag. He found 2 full beers in her bag, opened them, tipped them on the ground, abused the girl then went and high fived a bunch of other buffoon security staff.
Classy security staff that was for sure.
It was a pity too, that festival was one of the best I’ve been two short of a few very easily fixable but ghastly faults.
I agree. Clearly, since every single police officer in existence right now posed in that photo, they must all be awful. Fuck cops.
Videos Down. Now I can’t assume what went on!
Anyone having the video? Seems to be removed
We need to lobby Google/YouTube to include more information about takedowns than they provide today. Or is there a simple way to find out more already?
Yep, I guess I didn’t get to it fast enough, it’s gone:/
Not sure this is the same video, as I didn’t see the first:
G-20: Pittsburgh Police Take a Photo With Arrested Student
I didn’t want to suggest you defended these cops, my bad (it was poorly phrased, I said “these actions”. Sorry.).
And I welcome (since I asked for it) you challenge my “blanket condemnation”. But I don’t think your examples apply at all.
Of course, I made an intentionally provocative (some would say childish, even simplistic) claim, therefore got a simplistic answer with simplistic comparisons and examples. My bad again (I wasn’t argumentative enough)…
My “prejudice” was often challenged by meeting cops as individuals, out of duty, in private, as human beings. And I noticed that they are often people I could tolerate if I didn’t know they were cops.
I call them assholes based on the fact these people chose to be tools. I don’t like soldiers either, and any other job from which you can expect to, at one point or the other, because someone gives you the order to do so, to use violence against another human being.
I don’t respect these people. That being said, you could object to my use of words; I find “asshole” is very expressive though, and reflects my intolerance towards these people very well.
“Muslims are brainwashed fanatics. I hate brainwashed fanatics, so I hate all Muslims.
The premise needs to be true. If it were true, that Muslims are all brainwashed fanatics, I’d probably call Muslims assholes too. It isn’t though. And there is no reason or evidence to believe it is true.
“Cops are thugs. I hate thugs, so I hate all cops.”
Here there actually are many reasons to think that all cops are thugs. But it probably isn’t. And it’s not what I say… I would say something like:
All cops are people who chose a job, that could require them to use violence against other human beings. I hate people who chose a job that could require them to use violence against other human beings. Therefore I hate all cops.
Get it? Basically I judge people depending on the choices they make but still try to keep the context in which these people made these choices in mind. I also often ask myself whether certain people actually have a choice or not. But there’s always a point where I draw a line, otherwise I’d end up asking myself philosophical questions, like whether anyone even has a choice, and if such a thing as free will exists… ^^
To sum it up, I still think all cops are assholes (or at least people I don’t respect), and I hope you see the points you need to rebut for me to change my mind.
Failix, short of somehow transforming society into a perfect Buddhist utopia of nonviolence, how do you propose society get along without any police at all?
Personally, I think that as long as we DO need police (and I certainly think we do), automatically disrespecting anyone who chooses that job, on whatever grounds, seems hypocritical as long as you choose to live in society.
This goes back to Teresa’s classic criticism of a certain particularly thoughtless subspecies of Libertarian: the ones who think all restrictions on them are bad and immoral, or even count as “violence.” As she has pointed out to them (not that they listen), there’s a social contract whether you like it or not; that contract covers most of the reasonable places to live; you can either act as a signatory to it or remove yourself from its territory. It is not reasonable to expect to get the benefits of the contract without consideration (that is, accepting its restrictions and obligations).
My objection to your formulation (the one beginning “All cops are people who chose a job…”) is similar. Do you believe that our society could get along with no police at all? If so, how? How would we prevent the subset of people who really do want to kill you and me and take our stuff, or enslave us or our loved ones in filthy basements, or blow up buses full of schoolchildren from doing so? Posses? Vigilante groups of self-empowered citizens? We’ve tried those things, and they are much worse than having an organized and legally controlled quasi-military organization (that is, the polics) take that responsibility.
If, like me, you do NOT believe that society can get along without police short of achieving the social nirvana of really having NO people who would do violence, or steal, or [insert long list of acts bad enough for society that we outlaw them], then how can you in good conscience disrespect all police? If you agree that the job must be done, then it follows that there must be people who do it, and there’s no justification for disrespecting the ones who do.
To believe that a job needs to be done and yet disrespect the people who do that job by reason of the job itself is a form of caste snobbery. I detest and loathe caste snobs, and treat them with as much disrespect as my training in courtesy will allow. Are you simply a caste snob? I’m hoping that your position is actually more nuanced, and that you’ll be willing to explain it.
By the way, the italics in the previous paragraph are important. I feel that the behavior shown by the police in this video needs to be investigated, and that if it proves to be what it appears (to me; others have more benign interpretations), they should be punished. I believe that the police need to be held accountable for their actions; I believe that they need to be watched more carefully and regulated much more closely than is presently the case. I favor the “on duty == on camera” idea as a partial solution.
But, while I wouldn’t talk to the police without a lawyer present no matter what the circumstances (beyond “Officer, which way is it to 59th Street” and so on), I will treat them with the respect every human soul deserves, until and unless they earn my disrespect.
By your logic, do you then hate all hospital orderlies, bar bouncers, flight attendants, soldiers, concert security, gate guards, rehab clinic employees, prison guards and anyone who works on psych wards?
It is an unfortunate truth that sometimes physical force is needed to get out of control people under control (unless you know of a way I am unaware of).
I will stand beside you and condemn the unnecessary use of force whenever it occurs. I will call for the punishment of any cop who is unable to control his temper when someone taunts him, even if I think that taunting would get me to punch the taunter. I think police have greater responsibility for exercising restraint than the average person. But I cannot agree with your blanket condemnation of cops because they have chosen to be cops.
If all police were to choose to quit being police today, do you think that would make the world a better place? Surely you realize that human beings can be very violent critters, and it is in our common interest to have someone have the job of keeping the most violent among us in check. As sad a fact as it is, until the world becomes a place where humans no longer practice violence towards one another in whatever form, someone will occasionally need to use force to keep such things in check. As long as police are necessary, it is absurd, illogical and unfair to condemn all who take the job, even if many of them are assholes.
Dammit, Xopher, you beat me to my argument! :)
Great minds, danlalan, great minds.
Now it would be nice if Failix would come back and respond. I was sincere in hoping his position is more nuanced and that he will explain.
Even if Failix would come back and just say “yeah, that was stupid, I guess I need to think about this some more” I would gain a lot of respect for him.
I’m wondering what the best long-term solution is for preventing this kind of shit. A few cases made into examples where the cops responsible get the book thrown at them? A statewide meta-police program whose only task is to investigate cop abuses?
Well an equivalent to the latter does exist. I’m sure you’ve heard of Internal Affairs, though if I remember right IA is district-level, not state.
In some places in addition to whatever IA supervision there is, there is also a civilian body in place to supervise police conduct. I’m uncertain what actual authority those bodies have, or whether they only serve a more advisory role.
Personally I’d be inclined to say the failing isn’t necessarily in amount of supervision as much in the burden of evidence usually required for action to be taken. While I respect the need for police to do their jobs without fear of reprisal from above… it is sometimes way too easy for an officer to be a criminal with relative impunity. The safety of the commonwealth is the ultimate responsibility of the police, and it is a voluntary job.
It’s pretty remarkable.
If you pull some random fellow off the street and tell him, “Dude! I just saw a guy hit your sister in the face,” he would be outraged.
If you tell him, “Dude! I just saw a guy hit your sister in the face, and oh by the way the guy was a cop,” he’d say cops are heroes protecting us from evil and his sister must have brought it on herself.
@Xopher and Danlalan, sorry, I forgot to look yesterday, I didn’t expect such nice answers.
Nah, don’t worry I’d let you know. I may be young and pretentious, but I’m definitely not afraid of admitting mistakes.
My logic wasn’t defined enough… but it isn’t a coincidence that I don’t respect soldiers and police officers, but respect other jobs (that could require physical violence like the ones you cite).
It has something to do with the fact that they defend a law, that isn’t necessarily in unison with their personal beliefs, but they are ready to put aside their individuality to blindly serve that law.
Soldiers don’t necessarily kill people or fight wars they want to. They still do it. We celebrate them as heroes when there really is no reason to do so. The Military should exist for defense, not invasion or attack, Soldiers don’t care though.
I think there’s a big connection between the points you both make…
“Teresa’s classic criticism of a certain particularly thoughtless subspecies of Libertarian”
It’s not only Teresa’s criticism of Libertarianism… I agree a 100% with what she says here. I’m not a libertarian if that’s what you want to know…(kind of felt like the elephant in the room)
To believe that a job needs to be done and yet disrespect the people who do that job by reason of the job itself is a form of caste snobbery.
Caste snobbery… like… I’m an elitist and dismiss cops because they often come from a different “caste” than the “elite” I presumably am?
Wouldn’t it be more hypocrite to pretend to respect people because you need them to do a dirty job you disagree with?
If you agree that the job must be done, then it follows that there must be people who do it, and there’s no justification for disrespecting the ones who do.
I think that line of thought leads to a fallacious conclusion. Something can be necessary to the continuing/maintaining/upholding of a current state/situation, and still be wrong.
If I think it’s wrong for (among others) the reasons I cited, isn’t it way more hypocritical to pretend that I respect it, just because I need it?
if you ask me, if I was ready to suffer the consequences of what would follow, if these people didn’t want to protect me because they happen to know I don’t respect them? Yes, of course. I regularly do face some of the consequences. E.g. Cops (not all) often guess that people in an anti-nuclear protest for example, are also people who aren’t likely to respect them. So they hit them.
I don’t want people to occupy such functions. But instead of going into hypothetical anarchies here (it’s not very productive), let’s say my wish came to be true, and people, didn’t want to do these jobs anymore, because they thought it was conflicting with their ethics/ideologies. Think about it, if we were able to achieve a society like that, we’d be already very close to the Buddhist-like society you’re talking about. At that point, maybe the job of policing would look completely different, and I could be more precise with my condemnations.
On the other hand, of course I don’t think that our current society would be necessarily better off with no policing at all. I’m not a complete moron.
We encourage people to take enormous risks for their lives, and abandon their individuality, to do something we wouldn’t want to do ourselves. that’s what I call hypocritical…
Sorry again for the late answer. I hope you still see this necro-post.
uh, sorry for the english mistakes, I’m tired, and I’ll try to give a more complete and comprehensible response tomorrow (if you see this one).
Something can be necessary to the continuing/maintaining/upholding of a current state/situation, and still be wrong.
Only if the current state/situation is one that is also wrong. A just society cannot be maintained by unjust means, because by employing unjust means it becomes itself unjust.
If being willing to potentially do violence to others were really wrong, then the society that required that role to maintain itself would also be wrong, and should be brought low with no regrets.
As it is, I think our society is only semi-wrong, and that isn’t one of the things wrong with it. One of the things that IS wrong is that police are seldom held accountable for their actions on the job. If I thought pulling that thread would destroy the fabric of society, I would still say pull it and let a new, better society be woven from the unravelled threads of the old. But I think that holding police accountable would have no such effect.
I say again, if a job is necessary it must be respectable. Otherwise yes, that makes you an elitist.
Argh… I wanted to get some rest…
“Only if the current state/situation is one that is also wrong. A just society cannot be maintained by unjust means, because by employing unjust means it becomes itself unjust.”
I know. I think our society is unjust.
E.g. If there was more social equality, we’d need less protection against things caused by social inequality, like theft.
And if you think about it, while protecting some of our rights, the police also protects current injustice in our society.
“As it is, I think our society is only semi-wrong”
How can something be semi-wrong? It’s either right or it’s wrong.
“But I think that holding police accountable would have no such effect.”
What do you mean? It’s not what I’m suggesting. I’m only saying that I refuse to respect them for the situation they put themselves into. I have even less respect for people who push these people to join the army, or join the police. I wouldn’t want them in prison, shot, harmed, or punished. But my conscience wouldn’t allow me to do what these people do. In other words, I think they are unconscious. Therefore I don’t respect them.
“Otherwise yes, that makes you an elitist.”
If you want to call me an elitist, you should at least explain how you come to that conclusion.
If I wanted to start the name-calling game I could say that you’re the one granting yourself certain privileges at the expense of others. That’s actually elitist and hypocritical.
I don’t mean to call names. Let’s not go there.
The injustice of our society is not the thing that makes us need police. No society is perfect; there will always be some people from whom we need protecting.
Without police our current society would collapse. If you think that would be a good thing, you are justified in thinking that no good person would become a cop. If you do NOT want our current society to collapse, it is elitist to disrespect some of the people who help keep it from collapsing, because you benefit from the continued existence of society that they make possible.
I do not disrespect farm workers or the people who collect my trash or the people who run the streetcleaning equipment in my town. That would be putting myself above them (that is, elitism). And that’s what you’re doing when you look down on cops for their job itself.
And by the way, you are granting yourself the privilege of never having to do violence at the expense of these police you so despise, because if they weren’t willing to, you would have to–or die.
And by “semi-wrong” I mean that I think it needs an overhaul, but shouldn’t be destroyed. If something really wrong were really necessary to maintain it, it would be ipso facto wrong enough to deserve to be destroyed.
This may be the crux of the issue. A Just Society is a platonic ideal. It cannot possibly exist by definition, because it is an ideal state that can only exist in our individual minds. I can agree with you that there is such a potential state, but I would contend that until we (and by we I mean humanity) can collectively agree about the definition of every element that goes into making A Just Society it cannot exist in reality. The real world is much messier. There are many, many states of reality that lie between two platonic ideals, in this case Just Society and Unjust Society. The same can be said for almost any set of concepts you care to name, like right and wrong. A dialectic process is useful for us as a mental tool for arriving at some conclusion, but it rarely maps well onto the real world.
We are a collection of individuals trying to make our way through life, and outside of the laws of physics and chemistry, there are no rules imposed on us by the fact of our existence. We are literally making up the rules as we go along. Our individual experiences and genetics make each of the subjective internal mental maps by which we navigate through the objective external world unique. But no mental map ever matches perfectly with the objective world.
Each of us has our own idea of what the definition of the elements that make up A Just Society are. Some of these are widely shared, some not so much. There is no right or wrong that applies to these elements that exists independently of our collective definitions of what constitutes right and wrong.
Whatever we might wish, human beings are not all noble and kind creatures by nature. We are not biological automatons, but we have innate tendencies. We are animals that have come from those earlier animals that produced the most offspring, which does not always lend itself to any innate tendency for nobility and kindness. We evolved living in small family groups, and when we started living in more extended societies about ten thousand years ago or so, the default ruler was the biggest(sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively), meanest guy around. Feel free to examine history for the ample evidence of this.
Constitutional Governments are by no means perfect but the alternative is letting the biggest meanest guy run things again. The direct lineage of our iteration of constitutional government is only about 800 years old. The US Constitution (a whopping 230 years old) exists to give us some common ground. If we wish to work towards A Just Society, as I do and you say you do, we need to have that common framework. Because, as has been noted, human beings are not all kind and noble creatures by nature, this means rules. And rules that we must have a method of enforcing. Which brings us back to cops.
Cops are, at the most abstract, the instruments of our collective will. These are unique individuals (like everyone else) who either personally hold the codified, semi-collective ideas specified by the state as personal values, or have agreed to forswear their individual ideas of what should be done at each moment in favor of the state specified ideas in the service of our collective endeavor to find A Just Society. These are the people who we ask to impose order (as defined by the laws) on the chaos of the rest of us arguing about each element that makes up A Just Society. Some of them are better at it than others.
You say “It has something to do with the fact that they defend a law, that isn’t necessarily in unison with their personal beliefs, but they are ready to put aside their individuality to blindly serve that law.” But it is the police that fail in their attempt to abandon their individuality that you are most angry about.
The guidelines that our collective gives police to act by includes the ideas of no excessive force, treating people with respect, acting with restraint and so on. But it is the ones who break with those ideas, substituting their personal beliefs and using excessive force, losing control and disrespecting other citizens that you despise.
You have agreed that police are necessary. I would argue that for our purposes there are three kinds of cops.
1)Police who have internalized our state-codified ideas of right and wrong, and who follow their internal, personal ideas in their conduct.
2)Police who successfully abandon their personal ideas of behavior and follow the state-codified ones.
3)Police who ignore the state codified ideas and act on their personal ideas of right and wrong even when it departs from the state-codified ideas.
From all you have said, I cannot see how you can possibly logically have any issue with the type 1 cop.
The type 2 cop presents a far more interesting case. This is an individual doing a job we all see as necessary to achieving our collective goals, and who manages to act as we wish rather than as they wish. This requires a kind of internal discipline that few of us have.
I would argue that both of these types of police deserve our respect.
It is the type 3 cop that causes all of the trouble. This cop I have no respect for, this is the cop who punches girls on bikes and beats prisoners in handcuffs, and all of the other bad things that cops have been known to do.
Does this make sense to you?
Applause for #92 would be well-deserved.
btw, I apologize to both Plato and Hegel for the theft and thorough bastardization of their philosophies. My comments are not meant to represent their thoughts either in part or in total, nor do I agree with everything they (Hegel and Plato) posit. I have deliberately pulled ideas out their philosophies and mashed them together as an attempt to get at the central argument without writing a book to do so. The post is long enough already.
Yeah, I was thinking of pointing out that Plato certainly never advocated anything I’d call a Just Society. The closest thing in actual history to the outline of the Republic was [Godwin filter invoked].
“I do not disrespect farm workers or the people who collect my trash or the people who run the streetcleaning equipment in my town. That would be putting myself above them (that is, elitism).”
Not only do I respect these people, but I honor them. Trust me, I’ve spent my early childhood with the people you describe, and I had a taste of the hard work e.g. farming involves (at least the kind you still find in southern Germany and that is being slowly killed by e.g. the lowering of milk prices, and other consequences of market competition), and would never disrespect people who choose these jobs. The fact that their job is hard, honorable, and necessary isn’t why I respect them though.
I don’t choose to respect or disrespect people based on their “usefulness” for society… I think it would be a horrible thing to do, and I don’t respect people who think that way. :)
I try to respect as many people as I can without ever forgetting that respect is something that nobody should have to earn, but everybody can lose. And people, as soon as they become cops or soldiers, lose mine.
“And that’s what you’re doing when you look down on cops for their job itself.”
No. That’s how you try to frame me, because it’d be more comfortable and easier for you to do so. Let me remind you that you’ve first tried to categorize me as an extremist libertarian, went on to try to categorize me as a hypocrite, and you seem to be holding on to elitist.
Otherwise, if you’ve understood what I mean, I guess you’d somehow agree with Danlalan. If you don’t, just let me know. If you still think I’m an elitist, then this debate must be solved for you and you don’t need to respond. Unless of course, you think you can convince me, and open my eyes about my elitism.
I like where this is going. While I knew that if I could hold my point long enough this would’ve somehow ended in a purely philosophical debate, I didn’t expect you guys/(girls?) would respond long enough to get there. So, thanks for these thoughtful responses. :)
“But no mental map ever matches perfectly with the objective world.”
I would say this is probably true. But this doesn’t mean we can’t try to get closer to a map that fits.
“Each of us has our own idea of what the definition of the elements that make up A Just Society are.”
Yes, the more people try, the better. The more ideas we have the better. As long as there is variety, I believe there will be progress.
“There is no right or wrong that applies to these elements that exists independently of our collective definitions of what constitutes right and wrong.”
I’m not sure I understand. What exactly are our “collective definitions of what constitutes right and wrong”? Could you give an example?
“Whatever we might wish, human beings are not all noble and kind creatures by nature.”
You make a philosophical claim. I would tend to disagree with it.
“We are not biological automatons, but we have innate tendencies.”
The question of whether we are or aren’t predetermined by our nature is also a philosophical question. Your following claims don’t necessarily need your previous philosophical claims to be true though.
“And rules that we must have a method of enforcing. Which brings us back to cops.”
Which brings us back to the fact that I’m still not against methods of enforcing a common framework. This doesn’t mean that I can’t be against the current methods that serve to uphold a current framework I am against.
“But it is the police that fail in their attempt to abandon their individuality that you are most angry about.”
A police officer who takes away a human beings liberty because this human being owned drugs, was successful in the abandon of his individuality. Maybe this police officer even uses drugs himself, and he’s not the one who made the decision. He may not agree with the law, but it doesn’t seem to bother him. I refuse to respect such passivity. Of course I respect even less those who join the police or the military for xenophobic (or other bad) reasons. By the way, doesn’t it say it all, when certain people can actually be motivated by xenophobia to enforce certain laws and ideals?
“It is the type 3 cop that causes all of the trouble.”
“But it is the ones who break with those ideas, substituting their personal beliefs and using excessive force, losing control and disrespecting other citizens that you despise.”
Yes but like I said, they are only worse.
“From all you have said, I cannot see how you can possibly logically have any issue with the type 1 cop.”
I had thought about this type 1 cop. I would say that he’s the interesting one, rather than type 2. But I had always put him aside thinking that if he can follow his internal personal ideas in his conduct, and still work within the law, it meant he must agree with it a 100%.
Since this would make such a person someone I disagree with, I thought I disrespected him anyway.
Here I admit, I had forgotten that I don’t necessarily need to disrespect someone, just because he disagrees with me.
On second thought though, it’s a person who uses this institution to force his beliefs upon others. Given the fact that he uses force rather than discourse to uphold his personal beliefs, I don’t think I need to respect this type of cop either (and I don’t think he’d expect any respect from someone who disagrees with him anyway). But If this type 2 cop also turned out to be someone who tries to convince me and argue with me, convincingly defend his personal beliefs, I’d definitely gain respect for him.
I would myself just like to add that not all police blithely follow the law. Myself and my friends have benefited before from the beliefs of police who disagreed with laws and, as a result, willfully decided against enforcing them against us.
In the end they are still whole, unique individuals… police and soldiers both, and deserved to be judged on the merits and actions of the individual, and not the group to which they belong.
One might also look to an example of American soldiers in My Lai who, realizing their commands were wrong, held their fellow soldiers at gunpoint to cease their killing, or directly disobeyed orders and evacuated the people they were sent to kill, saving their lives.
I would say we do ourselves and others a disservice when we judge individuals by the merits of the groups they belong to.
“In the end they are still whole, unique individuals… police and soldiers both, and deserved to be judged on the merits and actions of the individual”
But that would crush Danlalan’s whole point, and we’d have to start arguing again from a whole new angle…
“held their fellow soldiers at gunpoint to cease their killing, or directly disobeyed orders and evacuated the people they were sent to kill, saving their lives.”
If they had thought this through in the first place, they wouldn’t have killed or helped kill waaaaay more people than they’ve saved.
It’s so easy to label soldiers as heroes.
“I would say we do ourselves and others a disservice when we judge individuals by the merits of the groups they belong to.”
I would see it as an activity they participate in, not a group they belong to.
Failix: Let me remind you that you’ve first tried to categorize me as an extremist libertarian, went on to try to categorize me as a hypocrite, and you seem to be holding on to elitist.
No, the extremist libertarians were an example of a parallel phenomenon. In fact I think you’re a non-violence extremist. The structure, not the content, is what I’m objecting to. If I thought you were an extremist libertarian, I wouldn’t bother talking to you; in my experience they either outgrow it or don’t, and seldom if ever listen to anyone else in that process.
I think extremist non-violence is either starry-eyed naïveté, in the case of people who believe that if we all just stop being violent no one would be violent any more (the problem being that “we all” are going to do no such thing; the statement is otherwise a tautology), or elitism in the case of a person who believes that good people don’t do something that the person acknowledges is necessary. You seem clearly in the second category to me.
And in my mind there’s a difference between saying “but that’s hypocrisy on your part” and saying “you’re a hypocrite.” Similar as they sound, the first implies that the person is not, by nature, a hypocrite, and wishes to avoid hypocrisy in all hir actions; the second is a hostile label and an attack.
Unless of course, you think you can convince me, and open my eyes about my elitism.
The hope of doing so is why I’m continuing to respond in this thread. You seem to think that my attitude toward you is dramatically more hostile than it really is; in fact, while I’m admittedly frustrated by you, I am continuing the discussion because I think you’re a worthwhile person to discuss it with (see my attitude toward extremist libertarians above for contrast). When it’s over I’m going to ask if you have a friend who comments online as Bayatus, to show that I finally got the joke of your online moniker.
I am, in fact, in broad agreement with danlalan, though hir recent posts are venturing too deep into Philosopher-Land for me. Not that I disagree, just that I’m not quite following everything danlalan is saying.
Here I admit, I had forgotten that I don’t necessarily need to disrespect someone, just because he disagrees with me.
I have not forgotten this. In fact, if you don’t mind my saying so I’m starting to quite like you, even though I’ve been disagreeing with you quite forcefully (perhaps too forcefully, since you seem to think I’m rather hostile). I am getting frustrated with this particular discussion, but you’ve been civil throughout (though you came close to the edge once or twice, ISTM that it was in response to perceived incivility on my part), and I’m not inclined to write you off as someone not to bother with (and there are regular BB commenters I do hold in that category, I assure you).
Um, Failix my friend (I hope)…you do know that many of the soldiers who fought in Vietnam were not volunteers, don’t you? And you do know that the distinction between civilians and combatants has been agreed on by a very broad group of nations, acting on behalf of their people, right? I would guess that you make no such distinction (because of your anti-violence views), but that’s a whole other argument. Suffice to say that the soldiers who stopped their fellows from killing at My Lai were acting within a framework that DOES have such a distinction, and under immediate threat of being killed themselves. I’d say that makes them heroes in more than just a knee-jerk “they’re our boys” way.
In the end they are still whole, unique individuals… police and soldiers both, and deserved to be judged on the merits and actions of the individual
But that would crush Danlalan’s whole point, and we’d have to start arguing again from a whole new angle…
You need to re-read my argument, this is the very essence of it.
You seem to believe there is some set of ethereal standards that exist independently of humans, and I would argue most strenuously that there is not. We humans, whole, unique and individual make all of this stuff up.
“But no mental map ever matches perfectly with the objective world.”I would say this is probably true. But this doesn’t mean we can’t try to get closer to a map that fits.
This is probably the most personal, private and important thing a person can do. Admitting the flaws in our existing maps is vital to improving them, and very few things are harder. And I can guarantee with absolute moral certainty and easily provide proof that all of our mental maps are flawed if you like.
“Whatever we might wish, human beings are not all noble and kind creatures by nature.”
You make a philosophical claim. I would tend to disagree with it.“We are not biological automatons, but we have innate tendencies.”
The question of whether we are or aren’t predetermined by our nature is also a philosophical question.
These are most decidedly NOT philosophical claims. I forward them as a scientific theories, for which there is a great deal of empirical evidence in support. They are, however, falsifiable. I call on you to produce any evidence, any evidence at all, that all humans are noble and kind, or that we do not have innate tendencies if you truly disagree.
Fair enough. No one would argue that the current system is not flawed, but it appears to be the best of all the options presented to date. If you have a better idea, please present it. There is probably a Nobel in it for you. If you’re going to tear down the house, you might want to have someplace else to live first.
“There is no right or wrong that applies to these elements that exists independently of our collective definitions of what constitutes right and wrong.” I’m not sure I understand. What exactly are our “collective definitions of what constitutes right and wrong”? Could you give an example?
Let me turn this around. Can you provide a single example of anything that is right or wrong independently of it being defined as such?
Again, We make all of this up. There is not a cosmic definition of “rightness”, just human ones.
Once you can admit that one persons definition of right can differ from another persons definition of right, we must either operate from collective, negotiated agreements or allow one persons ideas to be forced on everyone else. There is no third option.
I’ll let you respond to these before continuing. These points are vital to the rest of the argument.
I could hear your thoughts from here, that’s why I put up the disclaimer. :)
to clarify and un-philospheryize the post at #92 remove “platonic ideal” and substitute “abstract ideal of the perfect form of (x) where x is whatever we might be talking about (Just Society, Unjust society, right, wrong, table, beauty, etc.)
Again, there are no absolutes. I think this is different in kind from the type 3 cop, even if it technically might fit the definition. This cop, to me, serves to bring us closer to my idea of what a perfect society is, and I would have no issue with it. As I said, we make all of this up as we go along, and departures from the rules like this are a positive thing overall. The law is the best approximation of the consensus view of what is right and wrong we have, but it isn’t perfect. Sometimes laws are wrong. These things don’t get videoed and put all over You-tube, either.
But I don’t believe that the edifice of state can allow such behavior, and would be forced to punish a cop caught doing it, even if no single individual disagreed with the departure.
Don’t confuse “willful non-enforcement” with “exercising their lawful discretion”. And don’t confuse either with the Brass’s policies and commands to the rank-and-file as to when and what charges are to be enforced.
These latter can also lead to what is seen as “willful non-enforcement” on the streets.
In fact, they were in fact probably fulfilling their lawful duty: even though they did not drag yer sorry ass off to stir on that occasion.
This is starting to look good…
“Um, Failix my friend (I hope)…you do know that many of the soldiers who fought in Vietnam were not volunteers, don’t you?”
…didn’t concentrate, responded too fast, my head still wrapped in that whole… ahr, fuck it, no excuses. All my apologies to involuntary nam vets.
“And you do know that the distinction between civilians and combatants…”
Yes, soldiers also kill or indirectly (often very directly) contribute to the death of civilians. I meant to say that.
“elitism in the case of a person who believes that good people don’t do something that the person acknowledges is necessary.”
I still don’t think elitist applies here. But this could be due to my limited understanding of elitism. I’ve heard many at my sides, shout “elitist” at others, and never wanted to use this term, because I don’t think I fully understand it.
To simplify though: (If “good” means people I respect) I’m “a person who believes that good people don’t do” stuff I think is bad. Not stuff I think is necessary. I wouldn’t be against it if I didn’t think it’s current state was unnecessary.
Danlalan doesn’t seem to interpret it as elitism:
“Fair enough. No one would argue that the current system is not flawed, but it appears to be the best of all the options presented to date. If you have a better idea, please present it. There is probably a Nobel in it for you. If you’re going to tear down the house, you might want to have someplace else to live first.”
To me, the actual crux of the issue lies (somewhere near) here. I’m not going to tear down the house just because I don’t like its current state. I’m also not going to leave the house, because that would be against the point of living in a house. My main motivation to disrespect people who maintain the house in its current state (that includes many other people in society, other than soldiers and police), is to be consistent with myself and the fact that I don’t agree with the current state of the house.
How could I, in good conscience, respect people who I think are partly responsible for certain wrongs in our society?
“In fact I think you’re a non-violence extremist.”
This sincerely made me smile. Explain this then: I think violence can be necessary sometimes. E.g. I promote antifascist violence.
“The hope of doing so is why I’m continuing to respond in this thread. You seem to think that my attitude toward you is dramatically more hostile than it really is; in fact, while I’m admittedly frustrated by you, I am continuing the discussion because I think you’re a worthwhile person to discuss it with”
Okay, Xopher, we’re cool. ;)
“We humans, whole, unique and individual make all of this stuff up.”
“Let me turn this around. Can you provide a single example of anything that is right or wrong independently of it being defined as such?”
Well, this too is a philosophical question. I think something is either wrong or right given a certain logic or context.
If you said we were the ones who defined the context I’d say your closer to the truth but still wouldn’t agree. In mathematics, we may be the ones who defined a certain logic that evolved through time, but we didn’t define the rights or wrongs of that logic. For example:
Two is the right answer. But we didn’t just decide that two would be the right answer.
Our natural environment, the context we live in, is an environment we didn’t define. “Laws” of physics aren’t laws we invented out of thin air. They are labels or like you said, “maps” we attribute to our observable environment. These maps are more or less accurate depending on the field. In science they are very accurate. We don’t have all labels yet, but I’d say the ones we have in Science can be said to be right given the context, our natural environment, the only context we have at hand.
“These are most decidedly NOT philosophical claims.”
These most decidedly are philosohpical claims:
“There is no right or wrong.”
“Human beings are/aren’t all noble and kind creatures by nature.”
“We are/aren’t biological automatons.”
For more, see the Wikipedia article about “Human Nature”.
“Once you can admit that one persons definition of right can differ from another persons definition of right, we must either operate from collective, negotiated agreements or allow one persons ideas to be forced on everyone else.”
Again, right and wrong isn’t something you define. That being said, you can try e.g. with Ideologies, to define maps that’d make a human society work as good as possible.
I switched to your earlier comment. If you have more than two links, it’s better to break up the comment. And more than one link to the same domain is deadly.
Failix: Two is the right answer. But we didn’t just decide that two would be the right answer.
Careful. You’re confusing two things that are both called “right.” 1+1=2 is scientifically correct; it would be true whether there were humans or not, and it has no value on the scale of moral rightness or wrongness. Conversely there is no scientific correctness or incorrectness to “it’s wrong to do violence to others.” That’s a moral judgement, not a fact.
These two things are quite different. Don’t confuse them because they have similar names in English. It’s just a pun, and fond as I am of puns I think they make poor arguments. I’m reminded of Archie Bunker saying that conservatives (what today would be called “liberals”) are called the Right “because they’re right.”
Speaking of puns, did you get my joke about Bayatus?
Conflating! I meant conflating, not confusing. Damn.
There is no such thing as right or wrong
There is only pleasure or pain.
So when we say do unto others
As we would have do unto us,
Make damn sure the people you are dealing with
Aren’t into a good spanking,
Unless you enjoy a good spanking too.
The golden rule is shit, unless everyone derives the same pleasure from all actions.
I believe this is a more universal way of categorizing our actions. Right and wrong are concepts, pleasure and pain are metrics. Cutting peoples hearts out to appease gods is not always considered wrong, but inflicting physical or psychological pain on another human, against their free will, is the same in any context.
Consider two lies:
1. This car runs great!
2. Don’t worry, you’re ok.
Defining actions by the results, ie does this action produce pleasure for everyone or pain for some and pleasure for others, will always hold true.
Obviously, some find pleasure in pain, but this still conforms to my idea as the end result was pleasure for all involved.
Basing our sense of right and wrong on collective opinion can produce a pyramid covered in blood.
Now, necessity is another matter. Is it sometimes necessary to inflict pain? Yes.
Pacifism is not always a viable option, but should be considered as part of the solution in varying degree.
All things being equal, if the majority reacts with pacifism then they will prevail, but a minority faced with a violent majority determined to liquidate all opposition will need to decide how they wish to die, on their feet or knees.
Just as even a similarly determined minority with superior arms must also be violently resisted.
At any rate, whether resisting violence and oppression with pacifism or violence, we must be ready to die and our enemies must understand we are ready to die.
Failix, you should read the links you posted.
Lets concentrate on 2 points, human nature, and the nature of right and wrong.
I am not saying that there are not philosophical arguments about human nature and innate tendencies, I’m saying that I am making my working hypotheses about these things based on empirical evidence, regardless of the state of the philosophical debate.(to steal someones quote: philosophy is either religion without god, or science without data) I highly recommend you read Hume.
from your link:
With regard to the Big Five personality traits as well as adult IQ in the general U.S. population, the portion of the overall variance that can be attributed to shared family effects is often negligible. On the other hand, most traits are thought to be at least partially heritable. In this context, the “nature” component of the variance is generally thought to be more important than that ascribed to the influence of family upbringing.
This is science, not philosophy.
The conclusions are based on statistical analysis of empirical data that makes a pretty clear correlative link between inheritance and “the Big Five personality traits”. I strongly encourage you to do more rigorous academic research on the subject than wikipedia, there has been an overwhelming amount of research done on this subject, and the results are in substantial agreement. While correlation is not necessarily causation, it certainly makes causation possible, and in the absence of other causative theories, even likely.
While there is considerable debate about how much influence genetics have, the empirical evidence is pretty clear that at least some portion of those traits which affect our behavior is inherited, and that it varies from person to person like any other heritable trait.
If you choose to disregard the evidence, please justify your decision.
And I am not saying that there is no right or wrong. The fact that we are talking about them means the concepts exist. And I personally believe the concepts are useful. It is determining what they are that causes all the argument.
Lets assume for a moment that you are correct, and things have inherent qualities of “rightness” or “wrongness” that are akin to concepts from physics, like spin, charge, or mass. The question still remains: how do we determine what those qualities are? In physics the qualities are determined via experimentation, observation, and the interpretation of empirical data. Absent the data, any assertion about those qualities is nothing but opinion and speculation, and almost certain to be wrong.
What test should we perform to determine what qualities of right or wrong any particular things possess, to avoid leaving them to opinion and speculation?
I await your responses before continuing. (and please, your thoughts, not links to other peoples thoughts)
Nothing is inherently right or wrong.
Right and wrong are resultant opinions, based on our perceptions of the net effect of our actions.
Absent measuring the net effect of our actions, does this action result in a net increase or decrease in suffering, right and wrong are both transitory.
well said, foetus
Thanks, even a blind dog…
The original video seems to have been removed.
Here’s another one:
I’m not saying that there aren’t scientific facts that let us define and predetermine human behavior. I’m just saying that they allow different philosophical conclusions.
“It is determining what they (right and wrong) are that causes all the argument.”
“Absent the data, any assertion about those qualities is nothing but opinion and speculation, and almost certain to be wrong.”
It’s not like we have no data. You were the one who wanted to tell me that human history was empirical evidence for the badness of human beings. All I’m saying (like you stated yourself) is that we can’t conclude from that data whether human beings are in a state of nature, good or bad. In other words, is it their environment that corrupts them, or their (human) nature, or both?
“how do we determine what those qualities are?”
I agree that whether something is right or wrong, is not as easy to determine as in natural or formal sciences. But I believe there is a right and wrong in social sciences too, and we can find it, it may take more than thousands of human generations to come close to a “right”, but if it exists and we don’t come off the path, we can reach the goal. How? Experimentation. Natural, formal, and applied sciences can help in finding a good environment for human beings. E.g. [damn you godwin] is scientifically (natural sciences) wrong, so we don’t even need to experiment with it. Unfortunately we also have the experience of it. Now I think it wasn’t right, whatever right is, this wasn’t it.
“I highly recommend you read Hume.”
I don’t know about you, but I was forced to read it in ninth grade.
“I strongly encourage you to do more rigorous academic research on the subject than wikipedia”
First, there’s nothing non-academic about wikipedia. Second, I was just showing you that you were saying things that aren’t seen as common scientific knowledge, but common philosophical questions. Also, you didn’t even need these to make your points. Now, all you’re doing is contradicting yourself.
“I’m saying that I am making my working hypotheses about these things based on empirical evidence, regardless of the state of the philosophical debate.”
Your working hypotheses was: “Whatever we might wish, human beings are not all noble and kind creatures by nature.” (correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s what I understood.)
Empirical evidence (Big Five): “Agreeableness – a tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others.” (from wikipedia)
It’s not that I don’t enjoy philosophical debates, but I don’t understand what your point is. Just tell me what you want to prove already. That we need a society? I totally agree, we need human societies to fight the difficulties of our environment in order to continue existing, we need a social contract and a strong common framework. So what? I still don’t like cops.
“Conversely there is no scientific correctness or incorrectness to “it’s wrong to do violence to others.” That’s a moral judgment, not a fact.”
It depends, in certain circumstances it’s wrong, in others it’s the only right thing to do. I see what you mean, and basically agree. But I think certain “moral judgments” can be superior to others, and closer to a state of correctness Ã la “bingo!”.
“Speaking of puns, did you get my joke about Bayatus?”
Wait! I’m still trying to figure it out. ^^
“Nothing is inherently right or wrong.”
“Right and wrong are resultant opinions, based on our perceptions of the net effect of our actions.”
I could’ve argued that it’s my opinion that cops are assholes based on my perceptions of the net effect of my actions and it wouldn’t have made me right.
I was trying to encourage you to do additional research, not trying to say that wikipedia necessarily has something wrong with it, but no matter. The point is that there is broad scientific consensus about biological influence on behavior, and that consensus is based on evidence, not opinion.
This point is important to the rest of the argument because you seem to have the idea that humans are tabula rasa, a concept that was very popular in the first half of the twentieth century, and which has been discarded by those who study human behavior. The idea gave birth to an influential set of social theories that posited that if human personalities were blank slates, and if we could just put them in the right environment the negative aspects of human behavior could be eliminated. A very attractive idea, but ultimately shown to be wrong by scientific investigation.
I’ve taken points from several of your posts to try and assemble what your overall view of the situation is. I apologize in advance if I removed them from some vital context and they misrepresent your thoughts. If the impression I have is incorrect, please do me the honor of enlightening and correcting me.
… I believe there is a right and wrong in social sciences too, and we can find it, it may take more than thousands of human generations to come close to a “right”, but if it exists and we don’t come off the path, we can reach the goal. How? Experimentation. Natural, formal, and applied sciences can help in finding a good environment for human beings.
That we need a society? I totally agree, we need human societies to fight the difficulties of our environment in order to continue existing, we need a social contract and a strong common framework.
Which brings us back to the fact that I’m still not against methods of enforcing a common framework.
But my conscience wouldn’t allow me to do what these people do. In other words, I think they are unconscious. Therefore I don’t respect them.
Here I admit, I had forgotten that I don’t necessarily need to disrespect someone, just because he disagrees with me.
So what? I still don’t like cops.
I have even less respect for people who push these people to … join the police.
Just tell me what you want to prove already.
That a structured society is needed to allow us to struggle through the thousands of generations we need to decide what the ultimate best form of society is. That because human beings differ from individual to individual, there will never be a society that has 100% agreement among its members about virtually anything. That if a person disagrees with any aspect of the structure, there are institutionalized ways of changing it. That to prevent a structured society from coming unraveled there must be some method of enforcing the current set of common ideas (laws) against those who disagree and are willing to act outside of the channels provided by our societies structure on that disagreement. That if an individual chooses to take on the necessary role of enforcing those rules, as long as they do the job in accordance with those rules it is immoral and inconsistent with the need for a structured society to condemn them simply for taking the job.
“The point is that there is broad scientific consensus about biological influence on behavior, and that consensus is based on evidence, not opinion.”
Why do you think that this ever was a point we disagreed on? You said “we aren’t biological automatons” which is subject to a philosophical question and not fact. You also said that
“This point is important to the rest of the argument because you seem to have the idea that humans are tabula rasa”
What?! You’re the one who suggested we weren’t all kind by nature. I don’t think we need a society to control us, but to evolve and continue existing… but I wrote that already.
“That to prevent a structured society from coming unraveled there must be some method of enforcing the current set of common ideas (laws) against those who disagree and are willing to act outside of the channels provided by our societies structure on that disagreement.”
Look, maybe it’s my fault and I don’t make myself clear enough. English isn’t my first language so the phrasing and certain words I use may be wrong sometimes. But I really feel like you’re ignoring what I say, and invent stuff I didn’t say, or at least misunderstanding me.
This puts us in an infinite loop of misunderstanding and missing each others points.
“That if an individual chooses to take on the necessary role of enforcing those rules, as long as they do the job in accordance with those rules it is immoral and inconsistent with the need for a structured society to condemn them simply for taking the job.”
That’s basically the same point as before. All we did in these last posts was talk about why we need a society, and why we can have different definitions of what a good society is or isn’t. Not why I thought that cops or soldiers today are wrong for enforcing certain laws, and fighting certain wars.
If I get your last point correctly; you’re saying I should concentrate on those who give the orders and not those who execute them?
The police enforce laws I don’t agree with, how can I respect them without respecting these laws? I’m not saying that if the law changed in a way I liked, I still wouldn’t respect cops. And I wouldn’t be angry with people who didn’t respect cops who enforce laws I agree with, because they disagree with these laws.
Also, if you really want to go there, I’m pretty sure that if cops quit their jobs today, it wouldn’t mean total chaos and anarchy. We’d find alternative ways of enforcing certain ideals. Maybe at some point we won’t even need “enforcing”, since we aren’t tabula rasa folks. A good dose of education and equality, a society that covers basic human needs for everyone, and still allows them to emancipate, would probably do the trick. But I don’t think it’s relevant to the discussion at all.
The irony contained in this paragraph is overwhelming.
I apologize. I was demonstrably not able to convey my ideas clearly, and you have obviously misunderstood. I don’t know what else to say.
I wish you well in all of your endeavors.
Hmkay, see you at the next police brutality thread. ;)
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