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Old December 6th, 2012, 01:44 PM   #21

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It is a basic tenet of one's responsibility as a member of society that one cannot simply choose which laws one obeys, whether or not one agrees with them.

For example, it is illegal to hang people who post badly thought out internet threads by the bollards in the town square. Some people might think that this is a bad idea. Some people, on the other hand, would be very grateful that it is. But wouldn't it be great if we had the liberty to do it if we wanted to?
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Old December 6th, 2012, 01:47 PM   #22

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Well, I suppose I'm different. I have zero interest in having power over other people. What I don't like is when they have power over me. And that seems to be the problem in this world: if you haven't got power over others, you can be pretty sure they'll have it over you.

Can anybody tell me how to resolve this dilemma? I've never been able to figure it out.
According to the Stoics neither you have power over others nor others have power over you.
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Old December 6th, 2012, 02:06 PM   #23
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A conscience needs to be created. A "school" of conscience, like religion or philosophy, is required.
I agree with you on that. I believe that we learn what is right or wrong from the time we are born. Our conscience is just a learned set of values.
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Old December 6th, 2012, 03:45 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Naomasa298 View Post
It is a basic tenet of one's responsibility as a member of society that one cannot simply choose which laws one obeys, whether or not one agrees with them.

For example, it is illegal to hang people who post badly thought out internet threads by the bollards in the town square. Some people might think that this is a bad idea. Some people, on the other hand, would be very grateful that it is. But wouldn't it be great if we had the liberty to do it if we wanted to?
That's just a matter of might makes right. You're perfectly free to hang someone in the town square insofar as there are no physical impediments to doing so: provided you have the person, rope, strength, etc. However, you are threatened with violence by the state if you do so. It has nothing to do with responsibility and everything to do with your power relative to the power of the state. Now, if you can get enough people to follow you and the balance of power shifts from the state to yourself, you could freely hang all the members of the government in the National Mall without fear of law as violence is, ultimately, the only tool the state has to enforce its will. This was the problem with over-powerful vassals, if the vassal is stronger than the King then the King's law is moot. All our laws and great legal traditions amount to little more a standardized method of inflicting violence on the weak who displease us.
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Old December 6th, 2012, 03:55 PM   #25

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What would happen if people followed their own conscience instead of their ideology (party politics) or what is currently possible (real/pragmatic politics)?
Unless it already had not been pointed out; Something else would rise in it's place, probably far, far more worse? "Better the devil you know" i guess. Anyways, i don't think a conscience based political party/ideology would last long because no two people can always agree on everything for eternity. For the sake of their conscience, they would leave eventually, sooner or later. Actually, i think these sort of people would be easy pickings for the unscrupulous amongst us, unless they had enough will power too resist being assimilated.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 02:06 AM   #26

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That's just a matter of might makes right. You're perfectly free to hang someone in the town square insofar as there are no physical impediments to doing so: provided you have the person, rope, strength, etc. However, you are threatened with violence by the state if you do so. It has nothing to do with responsibility and everything to do with your power relative to the power of the state. Now, if you can get enough people to follow you and the balance of power shifts from the state to yourself, you could freely hang all the members of the government in the National Mall without fear of law as violence is, ultimately, the only tool the state has to enforce its will. This was the problem with over-powerful vassals, if the vassal is stronger than the King then the King's law is moot. All our laws and great legal traditions amount to little more a standardized method of inflicting violence on the weak who displease us.
I disagree. Any society must, by definition, have rules and regulations, otherwise it would descend into anarchy and therefore not be a society.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 02:47 AM   #27

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I disagree. Any society must, by definition, have rules and regulations, otherwise it would descend into anarchy and therefore not be a society.
Agreed. It's not the LAW that we revere, but rather the RULE of law. For all its silly and perhaps arbitrary rules that the law sets down, it is still the best guarantor of both liberty AND protection that we have.

People complain about the law......Be the change you seek. If a law is unjust then write your Congressman or equivalent. If enough ppl complain his vote will be heard. If not, then maybe it wasn't such a good idea in the first place.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 04:31 AM   #28

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Sure you do, you may not want physical control of their lives, neither do I. But you want the power to make them do things for you, generally through the use of money. Do you want to clean your own chimney, do you want to have to hand deliver your mail around the world, do you want to sew your own clothes? Most likely not. You want other people to do it for you and you exert your power and influence over them by paying them. You give them money in exchange for them dedicating a portion of their life to create a good or fulfill a service on your behalf. Just because you are not using coercion and violence doesn't mean you're not exerting power. Being able to pay someone to make you a new pair of shoes or getting them to make a pair by threatening to kill their families are both applications of power...though I certainly prefer the former.
Constantine, sorry, but I'm having trouble following this argument. You're saying that when I buy something, I'm exerting power and influence over people? I have a hard time understanding that.

E.g., this morning I bought a belt. Was I exerting power over the people by getting them to give me the belt? But then, weren't they exerting power over me by getting me to give them my money? After all, if I didn't give them any money, they wouldn't give me the belt. So couldn't we say that by providing stuff people want, sellers are exerting power over people by making them give them their money?

So if I'm exerting power over the seller and the seller's exerting power over me, who has power over who? It seems to me an equal situation.

I can't see that I have power over them as long as I have to give them my money for what I want. I think I'd have power over other people if I could get what I wanted without having to pay for it. For me there's a huge difference between paying for something and extorting it by some sort of threat. It's power in the latter case, but not in the former.

I do know what power is. E.g., one time I was amazed to find out how much of it I had over my son, even though by that time he was big enough to easily stand me on my head if he wanted to. I've never felt I was exerting any power over anybody simply by buying something from them.

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Perhaps, but the longer I live, and the more contact I have with people,
either in a position of power or sway, I see they sleep very well at night
feeling good about themselves and never wasting an atom thinking about
if their actions might have been wrong that day. It takes a big person
to admit they were wrong and that's where the moral Rubicon comes in.
TJ, I don't disagree with anything you're saying here. I've said that I don't think people consistently listen to their conscience, and like you, I'm often amazed at how people can do certain things and still seem to be at peace with themselves. It is possible to deaden your conscience so that you don't hear it any more.

Nonetheless, I stick to my belief that people do have a conscience for this reason: sometimes you can get to them and wake their conscience up--and a lot of times when you do that, they react pretty angrily because they know they're in the wrong.

An example: a fellow I know has just been given notice at work. At the end of next week, he's out, the reason being that the business he works for is in serious trouble and shows every sign of being on the point of folding up for good.

Now the boss has shown himself to be fairly insensitive at times, and when this fellow was being given notice, he said, "But I have kids!" And the boss said, "Well, it looks like they chose the wrong parents!"

Contrast this with a boss I once had. At one point I thought he was screwing me over royally, so I basically said, "That's not fair!" He simply shrugged his shoulders and didn't even bother to reply. He really didn't care. That incident and other things I later learned about him indicated to me that he was a guy who genuinely didn't have a conscience.

The weakness of my position here is that I'm trying to guess at what's going on in people's minds by observing their actions--and that's always a dangerous exercise. People are complex, and they're not so easily figured out. It's well nigh impossible to read their minds.

But TJ, perhaps you'll accept that you're doing the same thing? I think we're on an equal footing here, and there's plenty of room for honest disagreement. This little debate we're having isn't easily resolved--except perhaps by asking people, such as the aforementioned bosses, in various situations, "Do you have a conscience? If so, what is it saying to you right now?" But if you go around asking people questions like that, I seriously doubt you'll get either an honest or a peaceable reply.

Best wishes, Foxglove
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Old December 7th, 2012, 05:59 AM   #29

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What would happen if the entire human kind abolished all sorts of ideology and pragmatism altogether and only followed their conscience?
Why do you assume that there is a clash between these two? I am quite sure the most fanatic ideologists have the most clear and undivided consciences you will ever find in human beings, exactly because they are absolutely convinced that they are in the right.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 08:30 AM   #30
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Constantine, sorry, but I'm having trouble following this argument. You're saying that when I buy something, I'm exerting power and influence over people? I have a hard time understanding that.

E.g., this morning I bought a belt. Was I exerting power over the people by getting them to give me the belt? But then, weren't they exerting power over me by getting me to give them my money? After all, if I didn't give them any money, they wouldn't give me the belt. So couldn't we say that by providing stuff people want, sellers are exerting power over people by making them give them their money?

So if I'm exerting power over the seller and the seller's exerting power over me, who has power over who? It seems to me an equal situation.

I can't see that I have power over them as long as I have to give them my money for what I want. I think I'd have power over other people if I could get what I wanted without having to pay for it. For me there's a huge difference between paying for something and extorting it by some sort of threat. It's power in the latter case, but not in the former.

I do know what power is. E.g., one time I was amazed to find out how much of it I had over my son, even though by that time he was big enough to easily stand me on my head if he wanted to. I've never felt I was exerting any power over anybody simply by buying something from them.
If a wealthy donor funds a politician's political campaign, does that not give him power over that politician? Surely the politician will think twice before risking his patron's good will. Does not the capitalist who owns the factory have power over the labourer who needs work to provide for his family? In almost any transfer of funds (except those ordered by the state), the purchaser has power over the seller. When you're one of a hundred million purchasers buying from a large company, you may not have much influence individually, but collectively the purchasers still hold the power.

Also, the poor have greater need of money than the rich; the rich have their needs fulfilled and extra funds are used on luxuries, but the poor need money to survive. By necessity, the poor can be compelled to do things for money that the rich would not even need consider (like working a minimum wage job). There is a violent force behind all economic transactions, but it's not a force of man, it's a force of nature: scarcity. Because of scarcity, there's the threat of destitution for a large majority of the world's population and this need of resources for survival grants inherent power to those who control the most resources.
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