J Thomas on September 30, 2010, 06:04:59 pm

Living in France or Poland in 1939, or Britain in 1940, or America in 1941, I wouldn't have the luxury of dealing with the people of Germany as individuals. If I have the might of a modern industrial state, comparable in power to the one I live in, bearing down on my own nation to take its land and enslave its people, I will have to resist by the means which are available to me that have a chance of working.

But the germans felt they had already been enslaved for the crime of losing WWI. And they'd been through a long period where it looked like there was no way for them to get a better deal than raw force.

It looks like when we leave this sort of thing to governments, we're *likely* to get stuck with the kind of bad situation you describe.

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Weighing Dresden against Belsen, and Nagasaki against Nanking, it's hard for me to see criticism of the monstrous things the Allies did do in World War II as more than nit-picking. It was a fight for anything even remotely resembling freedom on this planet.

"Mommy, I know I did some bad things but Jimmy did so much worse that what I did shouldn't even count. And I didn't have any choice."

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Instead of "whose ox is gored", though, I ask the question "who started it".

Have you ever been in charge of children? If you don't keep them busy, or keep a close eye on them, pretty soon they'll get your attention by fighting each other. And if you listen to them say what happened, very likely one of them will tell you the other one hit him first. But the other one will say he got shoved before that. And the first one got tripped, that's why he shoved him. The first one stepped on the other one's foot and it wasn't an accident, he did it because .....

And if you stress that it's important to decide who did it first, they'll take turns pushing it back and back and back.

I've had he privilege of observing a zionist and an anti-zionist who were both very knowledgeable about history, argue about who did it first. They argued about pograms and sneak attacks into the early 1930's. It wasn't all arabs attacking jews, it went both directions and both felt they were making counterattacks because of earlier attacks. They went to the 1920's. I stopped paying attention around 1880.

When it's little stuff that gradually escalates, who started it? Does it even make sense to talk about who started it? Both sides escalated it.

Well, but how about big wars? When somebody starts a big war with no provocation, then they started it. Like the Germans started WWI. So, Israel started the 1956 war, no question. Except, Egypt did not allow free shipping for Israel and that's an act of war so Egypt started it. So what did Israel do to provoke Egypt to limit shipping? Is it all so obvious?

OK, Israel started the 1967 war, no question. Except, they had some reason to think that Egypt mght attack them if they didn't attack first. It isn't really a completely unprovoked attack if you think they're going to attack you, right? And what was it that got Egypt and Syria and Israel to mobilise their armies? Somebody did that with no provocation, right?

OK, Israel attacked first in the 1973 war, but there was no question that Egypt and Syria were about to attack. They'd been threatening to attack since 1972. They wanted peace negotiations, and Israel said there was nothing to gain by peace. They said arabs couldn't fight, so they didn't care whether arabs were peaceful or not. They said they had absolutely nothing to gain by making any kind of concession, so the arabs could attack if they felt like it, it wouldn't make any difference. When there was no attack in 1972 the Israelis laughed about it and said arabs couldn't fight, it was all a bluff.

Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978, no question. But there had been some little PLO raids from Lebanon into Israel, and vice versa. If you believe that Palestinians had no right to fight for their land, then they started it. The USA similarly invaded Mexico to go after Pancho Villa, and accomplished no more. International pressure forced the Israelis out after a few months.

Israel invaded Lebanon again in 1982, no question. But there had been continuing attacks back and forth, Israeli airstrikes, minor Palestinian raids, etc. Did anybody in Lebanon have a right to retaliate for the 1978 invasion? Did they have a right to retaliate before the 1978 invasion? Once you decide that Israel was right in 1948 then you can say everything they ever did since then was retaliation, because every arab counterattack was wrong while every Israeli counterattack was right.

This whole line of reasoning is bogus. All it's good for is, if you can find people who don't hear the other side then you can sway them with it. It will never lead to peace, all it gets you is dumb allies for your forever war.

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Did it begin with a big Jewish army going through a swath of the Middle East, taking any land it could grab, even though the group it was taking land from had been peaceful before?

No. Instead, what we had was:

Jews bought land in Palestine. They were peaceful. Fanatics egged on some Muslims to commit massacres against them.

This is propaganda. "They were peaceful." Sheesh.

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The pattern is obvious to me. Time after time, the Jews offer the choice to their neighbors of living side by side in peace.

We are pattern-making animals. It's built in.

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People who are the victims of aggression may fight back.

Yes, that't the pattern I see. Germans fought back against everyone who threatened them. They thought that Jews were conspiring against them, and they fought back. Surviving Jews continue to fight back against everyone who threatens them. They think Palestinians conspire against them and so they attack them. Palestinians are starting to fight back. L Ron Hubbard said "We are all of us victims and victims of victims." I don't have a lot of respect for him but he got that one right.

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All the tough nasty guerilla movements out there seem to be Muslim extremist ones, like Boko Haram or al-Shabaab.

It's because the others are weaker. Consider the Zapatistas in Mexico. They did not like the kleptocratic Mexican government. They tried to fight it. The USA gave Mexico lots of advanced weapons to fight their peasants. Many of the Zapatista families escaped to the mountains before they could be killed, leaving their farms behind. Now the survivors try to run a nonviolent campaign because they know they cannot beat the hi-tech Mexican army, and their leaders get assassinated as fast as they can be found.

But in arab countries we try to support governments that can't catch their revolutionaries no matter how much aid we give them. Perhaps that doesn't mean the revolutionaries are particularly tough, but that the governments are particularly weak.

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Yes, this situation has a great potential for expanding into a war between the U.S. and a big chunk of the Islamic world, but if it does, it seems clear to me who will have started it - and it won't have been the U.S..

Well, is there a chance it might get started by some nation the USA supports? If we support them then we can expect some blowback from our support.

So there's Jordan. They have a king. He appears to have a lot of support from his people but they don't exactly have free speech. I had a guy from Jordan living in my suite in grad school. After we'd known each other about a year I asked him what he thought about the Jordanian government. "I'm sorry but I don't know you well enough to talk about that."

There's Saudi Arabia. They have a king. He appears to have a lot of support from his people but they don't have anything like free speech. They torture political opponents if they can find them.

There's Kuwait. They have a king. He appears to lack support. They have no free speech and sometimes torture people who say things the government does not approve of.

There's Egypt. They have a king. (With a different name, but the only unkingly thing he's done is not have a son to pass the monarchy to when he dies.) He does not appear to have a whole lot of support but without free speech who can be sure? He gets a lot of "crowd control" equipment from the USA to help him control riots and demonstrations and such, but nothing that could be used to attack Israel.

There's Libya. They have a king. He's probably pretty popular because we used to be dead-set against him and we never managed to assassinate him or replace him. He might be less popular now that he surrendered to us.

There's Iraq. We are installing a moderate pro-western government but it's going slowly.

There's Tunisia. Tunisia is a republic. Their president was removed by a coup in 1987. The new president, General Ben Ali, has been re-elected in every election since, each time with 90% to 99% of the vote. He is very popular, but the USA has criticised the lack of free speech. Still, he does allow opposition leaders to live and to run for office. That's liberal of him.

Should I go on? These are the moderate leaders we support. And then there's Israel.

You want to say if a big war starts that we have no blood on our lily-white hands so it won't be our fault?

quadibloc on September 30, 2010, 06:57:20 pm
Weighing Dresden against Belsen, and Nagasaki against Nanking, it's hard for me to see criticism of the monstrous things the Allies did do in World War II as more than nit-picking. It was a fight for anything even remotely resembling freedom on this planet.

"Mommy, I know I did some bad things but Jimmy did so much worse that what I did shouldn't even count. And I didn't have any choice."

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Instead of "whose ox is gored", though, I ask the question "who started it".

Have you ever been in charge of children? If you don't keep them busy, or keep a close eye on them, pretty soon they'll get your attention by fighting each other. And if you listen to them say what happened, very likely one of them will tell you the other one hit him first. But the other one will say he got shoved before that. And the first one got tripped, that's why he shoved him. The first one stepped on the other one's foot and it wasn't an accident, he did it because .....

And if you stress that it's important to decide who did it first, they'll take turns pushing it back and back and back.
Well, it is true that parents are pretty busy people, and the things children squabble over are trifles, and thus the triumph of expediency over justice in such cases is inevitable.

Given the stakes in a conflict like World War II, though, I don't see that treating it like a squabble between children is appropriate.

Russia wouldn't have suffered from the Communist regime if it hadn't been for actions by Germany in World War I, so its support of Austria's aggression against Serbia had some very bad consequences.

Why wouldn't the people of France and Britain feel that they didn't ask for a war, and so expect Germany to foot the bill for cleaning up the mess it caused? It's true that some of their anger was displaced, because they didn't dare to deal with their own governments for making them fight in a horribly wasteful manner... the way to win in trench warfare, obviously, is to let the other guy keep going over the top until there aren't any of the other guy left, not to show initiative by going over the top yourself half the time. And the denial of the common-sense reality that mercantilism once embodied meant that there is a multiplier effect that applies to any cash transfers between currency areas.

OK, Israel attacked first in the 1973 war, but there was no question that Egypt and Syria were about to attack.
Huh? Is this a typo? I thought that war was called the Yom Kippur War for a reason.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 06:59:30 pm by quadibloc »

J Thomas on September 30, 2010, 07:05:05 pm
Is that what it seems like?

No, it seems like you simply refuse to see the obvious.

A person may get much the same pleasant feelings from seeing something beautiful or from making a scientific discovery.  That is no reason to think that science is based on aesthetics.

When I do science, there's a great satisfaction to designing the definitive experiment, that actually tests the hypotheses, that has the right controls. It's surely about the same satisfaction I'd get from creating great art, although I haven't actually done that to compare.

The satisfaction I get from reading about a well-done experiment is almost as good as seeing a control the experimenters should have done but missed. Science is an art form. And the rules of the game make sense.

Ethics is another art form, but the rules of the game are not so well defined. People accept ethical rules because there's a sense of rightness, a beauty. They sort of click into place. Ethical rules that leave you disgusted are ethical rules you probably will not accept.

So for example with NRNBR's dictum that the same rule should apply to both sides. The result should be the same whether my ox gores your ox or your ox gores mine. This seems so obviously right that people usually accept it without question, even though we don't often practice it. So if a poor man hits a rich man in the jaw, and the rich man takes it to court instead of just letting his bodyguards handle it, the poor man is likely to get a chance to plea-bargain. But if a rich man hits a poor man (or has his bodyguards do it) and if it reaches court, and it doesn't get dismissed, he can have a jury trial with chances to bribe the jurors.

Imagine that Palestinians wanted to follow the Zionist playbook. They peacefully move to Israel and start buying land until they have enough to secede and declare their own nation. But they can't do that! Israel won't let them move there. Israel has a law that no one is allowed to sell land to a Palestinian or an Israeli-arab. And 93% of the land is owned by the government and cannot be sold to anybody. That land can't even be leased to Palestinians. The Israeli ox has armor on its sides to go along with its steel-tipped horns.

And yet it's rare that we get somebody like Quadibloc who is ready to come out and deny NRNBR's rule.

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A person may get much the same unpleasant feelings from seeing something ugly or from hearing about an ethical travesty.  That is no reason to think that ethics is based on aesthetics.

Well, is there anything else to base it on? If you don't choose your ethics by what feels right, what else do you use?

Brugle on September 30, 2010, 07:45:19 pm
Science is an art form. ...
Ethics is another art form,
No in both cases.

Both science and ethics can have artistic elements, but they are not art forms.  (I started to write "are much more than art forms", but didn't want to open that can of worms.)

quadibloc on September 30, 2010, 08:48:20 pm
Israel has a law that no one is allowed to sell land to a Palestinian or an Israeli-arab. And 93% of the land is owned by the government and cannot be sold to anybody. That land can't even be leased to Palestinians. The Israeli ox has armor on its sides to go along with its steel-tipped horns.

And yet it's rare that we get somebody like Quadibloc who is ready to come out and deny NRNBR's rule.
Oh, I agree that it must not matter whose ox is gored. But that's "other things being equal", so the context and history of the conflict are relevant.

It should not matter whether a poor man commits a crime against a rich man, or a rich man commits a crime against a poor man. But if someone commits a crime against... a gangster who has been terrorizing the community for years, well, excuse me, but that's self-defence. And countries like the Soviet Union are gangsters.

Israel has laws against selling land to Israeli Arabs? If so, this must be a very recent development.

Yes, Palestinians can't come to Israel as immigrants. I don't see how that is a fault on their part - one could complain about the faults of the British colonialists in their dealings with Palestine, well, I will stop somewhere and choose the somewhere in the interests of world civilization.

I don't think it's too terribly unfair to be especially concerned about the part of the world that invents things like liquid-fueled rockets and improved strains of rice and computers... if it is defeated, if it does not survive, then the lights go out for the world. So perhaps I am allowing myself to be a "respecter of persons" in one respect.

wdg3rd on September 30, 2010, 10:41:26 pm
Who gains if an idea is correct, is completely irrelevant to whether it is in fact correct.

Not exactly true.

Who gains is very important when considering why someone is trying to persuade you.  

If someone gives you information that you can't easily check for yourself, then his motives for telling you are important while you decide whether to believe him. Say for example one of your customers tells you that he saw your wife coming out of a motel room with your best friend. You'd certainly consider whether he'd have reason to lie, or whether he could be mistaken. If you ask your wife about it she might tell you she's having an affair, or she might have an innocuous reason, or she might deny it completely. The third case doesn't tell you much unless you know the way she denies reality versus the way she denies stupid false accusations, and can tell the difference.

I'm not sure who said what here, but let's make it real simple.  If a customer (or other casual acquaintance) made such a claim, that would be a lie, since my closest friend (and my wife's lover if that helps) died last January.  He and his now-widow introduced me to La Esposa (if it helps, the widow Moslow was my first wife and had a clue as to my taste in women).  (And whatever four [or more] people are doing behind closed doors is no business of governments or gods or the neighbors as long as we keep the curtains closed so their kids can't learn something they might find useful in the future).

If Mike and Lisa were coming out of a motel room, odds are that they would have been going to get coffee while letting Naomi and me sleep (and bringing some back, hers with cream and Sweet&Low, mine as black and bitter as possible).

All three of my wives had other lovers.  I had a few myself.  They knew about (and met) all of mine and I'm pretty sure I knew about (and met) all of theirs, though they might have lost count, plus they got to SF conventions I couldn't due to work schedule, and I'm ugly enough to count my extramarital lovers on my fingers (no accidents in junior high shop class, thank you).

A marriage or other serious relationship needs trust and a working agreement.   Government has no trust, and the alleged agreement only works from the government side (I know I didn't agree to any deal establishing my own slavery).
« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 11:27:18 pm by wdg3rd »
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

J Thomas on October 01, 2010, 12:42:25 am
Weighing Dresden against Belsen, and Nagasaki against Nanking, it's hard for me to see criticism of the monstrous things the Allies did do in World War II as more than nit-picking. It was a fight for anything even remotely resembling freedom on this planet.

"Mommy, I know I did some bad things but Jimmy did so much worse that what I did shouldn't even count. And I didn't have any choice."

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Instead of "whose ox is gored", though, I ask the question "who started it".

And if you stress that it's important to decide who did it first, they'll take turns pushing it back and back and back.

Well, it is true that parents are pretty busy people, and the things children squabble over are trifles, and thus the triumph of expediency over justice in such cases is inevitable.

When both sides escalate a bit at a time, it's pretty much arbitrary where you decide it started. You might as well look for the source of the Mississippi River.

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Given the stakes in a conflict like World War II, though, I don't see that treating it like a squabble between children is appropriate.

So, after you decide who started it, that lets you decide who to punish? Why even bother? The winners get to choose. They will decide the losers started it, and they will decide how much to punish them.

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Russia wouldn't have suffered from the Communist regime if it hadn't been for actions by Germany in World War I, so its support of Austria's aggression against Serbia had some very bad consequences.

?? Oversimplify much?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_World_War_I

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Why wouldn't the people of France and Britain feel that they didn't ask for a war, and so expect Germany to foot the bill for cleaning up the mess it caused?

It's only natural they would. And they won, so they had the right to say that Germany started it and demand that Germany pay whatever they wanted. It just didn't work very well for them.

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OK, Israel attacked first in the 1973 war, but there was no question that Egypt and Syria were about to attack.
Huh? Is this a typo? I thought that war was called the Yom Kippur War for a reason.

Yes. Israel was unprepared to make a full-scale first attack that time, but when they saw that the arab armies really were mobilizing they made some airstrikes around 6 hours before they were attacked. They argued that this didn't count as them attacking first because there were no UN observers at the sites which were bombed.

They considered it a surprise attack although the attack had been announced more than a year beforehand. They had refused to attend peace talks because they said they didn't need or want peace.

J Thomas on October 01, 2010, 01:45:27 am

It should not matter whether a poor man commits a crime against a rich man, or a rich man commits a crime against a poor man. But if someone commits a crime against... a gangster who has been terrorizing the community for years, well, excuse me, but that's self-defence. And countries like the Soviet Union are gangsters.

I see. That was the Icelandic approach. When a man was convicted of a serious crime, he could be declared an outlaw. Nobody was supposed to do any sort of consensual business with him, and anybody was allowed to do whatever they wanted to him if they could catch him.

The result was that he then had no choice but to rob people. So if two men had a disagreement, the more influential of them could have the other lose everything but his life -- and hardly anybody survived being an outlaw more than a few years. It provided a lot of excitement, but maybe creating outlaws who must run around terrorizing people was not the most efficient approach.

http://www.sagadb.org/gisla_saga_surssonar.en
http://www.sagadb.org/grettis_saga.en

These are written in a silly english idiom but you can puzzle out the meanings. At one point Grettir tells an old joke. He had been robbing people, largely for food, and a bunch of slaves found him asleep in the woods. Thirty men together caught him. The masters argued about what to do with him. In theory they should keep him locked up until somebody in authority took over, but nobody wanted to be responsible for him. He looked like a lot of trouble. So they got ready to hang him on the spot. Just then a woman who was an authority rode by and asked what was going on. Grettir introduced himself.

"And why are you robbing people all across the lands I control?"
"Well, I have to rob people *somewhere*."

Once you decide that whole countries are outlaws that you cannot make agreements with, you're pretty much guaranteed to have trouble with them.

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Israel has laws against selling land to Israeli Arabs? If so, this must be a very recent development.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_land_and_property_laws
http://en.allexperts.com/q/Israeli-Law-936/Laws-regarding-property-ownership.htm

I oversimplified. It appears that roughly 3.5% of Israel's land not already owned by israeli-arabs (20% of the population who own around 3% of the land) could in theory be sold to israeli-arabs according to national law. There have been Israeli supreme court cases that say so. However, Israelis who choose to sell to Israeli-arabs find that local laws and particularly local bureaucracies do not in fact allow this. Red-cards are not allowed to buy land and if they already own land are not allowed to sell land to each other.

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I don't think it's too terribly unfair to be especially concerned about the part of the world that invents things like liquid-fueled rockets and improved strains of rice and computers... if it is defeated, if it does not survive, then the lights go out for the world. So perhaps I am allowing myself to be a "respecter of persons" in one respect.

This sure looks like "which ox is gored" to me. Some people should get a special pass because you think they're good at technology....

J Thomas on October 01, 2010, 03:10:01 am
Maybe people think that their sense of beauty is arbitrary and capricious and irrelevant. So saying that this is what people base their ethics on sounds like saying that their ethics are arbitrary and capricious. Is that what it seems like?
That's what it seems like to me. I can't speak for others, as one person who disagreed with you already said that wasn't what it seemed like you were saying to him.

I say that your sense of beauty is not arbitrary or capricious. It comes out of your innermost being. Many people feel they have no control over that -- that they can't choose to think that ugly things are beautiful and vice versa. Some people who feel they can make that choice wind up feeling like it does damage to their souls to do so.

People who think their esthetic sense is arbitrary belittle themselves.

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My esthetic choices are my own business, not anyone else's; they're personal preferences that don't intrude on others.

Well, no. One of the major points of zoning laws is to let your neighbors stop you from painting your house purple if you choose to do that. Americans have the idea that there are firm boundaries that determine when your esthetic choices can intrude on other people. The whole thing about the Piss Christ sculpture is that a lot of Americans want to destroy it and make death threats against the artist and carry them out and all that, but they feel like they're too civilized to actually do it.

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I expect that if I try to steal from or enslave others, they will fight back. How should I respond to this knowledge? Should I try to figure out better ways to not get caught, or impose my will so that they have no recourse?

False dichotomy? Do whatever you choose and take the consequences.

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Most people have a preference for a society where people, instead of trying to take advantage of each other, leave their neighbors in peace to enjoy the fruits of their labor. It makes for less effort wasted on looking over your shoulder. So it's not just nicer, it's more efficient.

Agreed. That's my esthetic preference too. Except maybe when I'm bored. People who lack imagination enough to get bored can cause a lot of trouble.

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The forms of organized stealing - like taxation - that we've come to tolerate have generally been those which led to even more efficiency - in the business of waging war. There's a good book, The Parable of the Tribes, which talks about the problem of war and peace.

Several tribes are living in peace in proximity to one another. One tribe decides to become warlike. Once this happens, the other tribes don't have the option of just ignoring them, and having life go on as before. Instead, the alternatives become these:

  • be exterminated;
  • be defeated and enslaved;
  • become warlike enough to successfully defend yourself; or
  • run away somewhere else.

Or find some other choice. When there's enough to go around people are sometimes open to living in peace. When their only way to survive is to get you out of the way, likely they'll do it or die trying. But often there are other choices available.

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And so the world today is composed entirely of those societies that met the third and fourth fates - all the major countries of the world are in the third category, and some of the indigenous people that we find in remote areas are those in the fourth.

I think this may be a matter more for psychologists than for economists. Young men want to prove themselves. Young women like guys in uniform. People get bored. Etc. When they're ready for a war it doesn't take a lot of excuses. It wasn't so bad before the technology got out of hand.

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So the societies of the world in which almost all of its people live are heavily structured around war, and yet the natural inclinations of human beings are far from being terribly aggressive.

A whole lot of societies don't spend a whole lot on their militaries. The USA is heavily structured around war. The USSR used to be. Some third world nations are, and some aren't, and some are various places inbetween. Americans tend to extrapolate from our own situation, but we're pretty extreme.

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Thus, history has taught us that the only way people can enjoy a long period of peace is if there is some strong over-arching authority that prevents any one group from choosing war, and thus imposing war on everyone.

There's hardly ever been a time in history that there wasn't somebody somewhere having a war.
There's hardly ever been a time in history that a world war was going on.
Most of the time, nobody imposes war on everyone. It's like -- I have relatives in south west Virginia, who told me about a couple of families who had a feud. They killed each other, it sounded like one every few years. They were locally famous for it. Nobody else wanted to copy them. Most countries have borders that they respect. Most of them do a lot more trade than warfare.

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In any case, though, getting back to where I was, since choosing to be peaceful, to cooperate, affects your neighbors and not just yourself, it is not a personal choice - it's a responsible choice. And when the concept of responsibility enters the picture, something resembling moral language will be used.

You're welcome to use moral language. My point is that the source of your ethics comes from your sense of what's right, just like your feeling for beauty. That it is the same sense, from the same source. One of the important choices about ethics is where you draw the line, at what point you decide that somebody else is outside the system and you can do whatever you want to him regardless of your ethical rules.

Practically everybody puts fish outside the rules. You can do whatever you want to a fish and nobody cares unless it's his own fish and he wanted to do it first. Almost everybody puts most mammals outside the rules. You can kill unowned nonhumans any time you want unless your government has rules about it, typically to keep enough of them around for other people to kill. You can do stuff to citizens of rogue states, if you can get away with it. A US citizen who goes to Iraq or Afghanistan or Iran and commits atrocities there and then gets back to the USA, will no be extradited to face their legal system. It just isn't done.

Lots of Americans believe that it's OK to kill your wife's lover and maybe your wife. I think it's technically illegal everywhere in the USA but they believe that juries will not convict them. Very often they do face some jailtime though.

But most americans don't say it's OK to torture people before you kill them. It also isn't OK to torture cows or deer either, or family pets. Maybe it's OK to torture people when you need information from them, but not to make them obey you about other things and not just because you like to, or because you are angry at them. Unless maybe they're enemies of the USA, or particularly traitors, or child molestors, or....

http://interrogationdiaries.blogspot.com/2008/02/what-happened-with-john-walker-lindh.html

It's kind of peculiar when I think about it. Some people like to fantasize about torturing and killing people, and they like to come up with ethical excuses to tell them circumstances when it's OK. That's just how they are. It comes out of their deepest esthetic sense.

jamesd on October 01, 2010, 05:00:57 am
Have you ever been in charge of children? If you don't keep them busy, or keep a close eye on them, pretty soon they'll get your attention by fighting each other. And if you listen to them say what happened, very likely one of them will tell you the other one hit him first. But the other one will say he got shoved before that. And the first one got tripped, that's why he shoved him. The first one stepped on the other one's foot and it wasn't an accident, he did it because .....

I have supervised children.  And when there is a fight and I see the fight starting, it is usually glaringly obvious, nine times out of ten, that one child is completely in the wrong, and the other completely in the right. 


quadibloc on October 01, 2010, 11:20:01 am
Yes. Israel was unprepared to make a full-scale first attack that time, but when they saw that the arab armies really were mobilizing they made some airstrikes around 6 hours before they were attacked. They argued that this didn't count as them attacking first because there were no UN observers at the sites which were bombed.
Ah, so when the Arab armies had mobilized, their purpose might have been entirely innocent, and obviously they wouldn't have fired shots at anyone in Israel if it hadn't been for those airstrikes. Perhaps they were just reinforcing their border security, because they feared an attack by Israel?

By mobilizing their forces, they demonstrated that they had chosen war that day. Israel reacted to that.

If there had been Israeli airstrikes, and then the Arab countries gave the order to mobilize in response to those airstrikes, then that war would have been started by Israel.

This isn't a decision by Israel to start a war. This is a decision by Israel to protect its people as much as it can, giving priority to that over any technical claims it or others might make.

J Thomas on October 01, 2010, 11:41:32 am
Yes. Israel was unprepared to make a full-scale first attack that time, but when they saw that the arab armies really were mobilizing they made some airstrikes around 6 hours before they were attacked.

By mobilizing their forces, they demonstrated that they had chosen war that day. Israel reacted to that.

Yes, of course.

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This isn't a decision by Israel to start a war. This is a decision by Israel to protect its people as much as it can, giving priority to that over any technical claims it or others might make.

There wasn't exactly a peace. Israel had refused to make peace. Israelis thought the arabs were too cowardly to continue fighting, so they preferred to officially stay at war.

In that sense it was Israel's decision to be at war. They just didn't expect to lose anything. It was a surprise attack because they didn't know the day to expect it, though it had been announced over a year in advance.

Brugle on October 01, 2010, 12:39:56 pm
My point is that the source of your ethics comes from your sense of what's right, just like your feeling for beauty. That it is the same sense, from the same source.

J Thomas, your posts on this subject follow a pattern.  They are long with a bunch of stuff, much of it that sounds reasonable (to me).  But stuck in among the reasonable stuff are assertions like the quote above, which are not supported (and are sometimes contradicted) by the rest of the post.

I assume that you aren't making the trivial point that ethics and aesthetics (and lots of other things) come from the same source: the human brain.  I assume that what you are arguing is that ethics and aesthetics result from essentially the same mental processes, so I'll give a contradictory example.

An important aspect of ethics is empathy.  For most people much of the time, the emotional response to an ethical situation depends on empathy.  Empathy can be used to suggest starting points for ethical investigation and to check ethical conclusions.  I can't imagine (and my guess is that most people would have difficulty imagining) a person without empathy doing serious ethical research.

In contrast, empathy is not important to aesthetics in general.  It is easy to imagine a person without empathy producing beautiful art.

I hope this is enough to show you that the mental processes used in considering aesthetic questions are very different from those used in considering ethical questions, at least for most people.

J Thomas on October 01, 2010, 01:36:19 pm

I assume that you aren't making the trivial point that ethics and aesthetics (and lots of other things) come from the same source: the human brain. 

No, of course not.

Quote
I assume that what you are arguing is that ethics and aesthetics result from essentially the same mental processes, so I'll give a contradictory example.

An important aspect of ethics is empathy.  For most people much of the time, the emotional response to an ethical situation depends on empathy.  Empathy can be used to suggest starting points for ethical investigation and to check ethical conclusions.  I can't imagine (and my guess is that most people would have difficulty imagining) a person without empathy doing serious ethical research.

Lots of art requires empathy too, but not all.

A person without empathy would likely get different ethical results from you.

Quote
I hope this is enough to show you that the mental processes used in considering aesthetic questions are very different from those used in considering ethical questions, at least for most people.

You have pointed out that people without empathy would probably get different ethical results from people with empathy. Because they care about different things, and lack the sense of beauty connected to empathy. You feel that their ethical results would be wrong and useless -- because they would be different from yours?

I tend to agree with your predicted results of your thought-experiment, but I see no contradiction here. You invalidate the ethical results of people whose sense of beauty and rightness is different from yours, because you don't like it. While I say that it's that sense which they base their ethical results on, and so of course if that sense is different it's plausible they'd get different results.

I'm not sure it's worth arguing about this point. I feel that my perspective is deeper than yours, and that at some point you might see my meaning. You probably think that you're right and I'm wrong.

We can agree on results without completely agreeing how we got those results. Likely we will tend to agree much more about ethics than it would seem, given that I believe in ethical relativism while it appears you do not.

Maybe at some time you'll see some value to my way of thinking about this. No telling when. Maybe I'll learn that I'm absolutely wrong and reform. We don't have to keep beating on it, and I'm willing to keep trying if you want to.

jamesd on October 01, 2010, 01:39:55 pm
There wasn't exactly a peace. Israel had refused to make peace. Israelis thought the arabs were too cowardly to continue fighting, so they preferred to officially stay at war.

You are insane.  The only peace Islam will accept is the death or submission of all infidels - a position that is most strikingly evident with Israel, because Israel is the front line.  Observe what happened when the French withdrew from Algeria, the Jews from Gaza.

Islam is at war with the world.  Always has been, always will be.  If to appease Islam, we were to get rid of the Jews, the next demand would be made within weeks.


 

anything