Cause and Compassion: Thresholds, Standards, and Frivolity

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Tiassa, Aug 29, 2010.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    A certain point that comes up from time to time, in one or another form:

    • "Even more amazing than the stupidity here is how outraged people are over this when much more horrible things go on all the time." (Giambattista, August 25, 2010)

    • "I wonder why Michael Vick is more important to PETA than this episode." (§outh§tar, August 17, 2007)

    • "The inhumane treatment of animals, esp. dogs and cats, in our cities and towns is almost worse than horrible ...and is damned sure worse than those fifty dogs of Michael Vick's." (Baron Max, August 25, 2007)

    It is a respectable point, but one without any real anchor. That is, certainly it might just be a cat in a bin, and what does that compare to fifty dogs facing euthanization after experiencing vicious cruelty at the hands of a human, or a little boy killed because a cop was afraid of a snake, or forty-seven dead civilians as a cost of war?

    But the other edge of that rhetorical sword is a question of threshold: When is it acceptable to care?

    People have passions, and many will take up a cause as a result of those passions. For some, the cause is animal neglect and abuse; for others, child abuse; still others might focus on war. Some, of course, will protest sound ordinances that might restrict where they can ride their motorcycle. The range of causes is almost as diverse as the people who undertake them.

    But how do we measure those causes? Who pronounces them worthy? Certainly, a little boy killed by a cop shooting at a snake in a tree is of lesser magnitude—dispassionately speaking—than two hundred civilians destroyed in pursuit of one alleged terrorist. Certainly a cat thrown in a rubbish bin is of lesser magnitude than a child raped by her father.

    Certes, there are others who disdain or despise certain causes for reasons of politic or magnitude, but a certain question persists: At what point are people allowed to care?

    It seems that, often, many causes are ridiculed or diminished by others because it isn't important enough compared to other things going on in the world.

    Should we fret about the cruelty of battery farming? Or should we ignore those problems—barring the occasional E. coli or Salmonella outbreak, as long as wars persist in the world, or children suffer grotesque abuse? Should we shrug off the story of how a guy once put a cat in a vise to hold it while he fetched his gun and shot the thing for pissing on his toolbox? After all, somewhere in town a wife is being beaten, and somewhere in the world a child is starving to death.

    What is the threshold? By what standard do we give people permission to give a damn?
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    Perhaps a better question is .. What does it mean to care?

    Is it enough to just say or type "I care about xyz....."? Is saying it really caring?

    If "caring" means just saying the words, then I suspect that I'm one of few people in the world that don't care! Almost everyone on Earth will claim to "care" about something or someone or etc., usually about almost every issue in the world.

    But, ya' know, if all of those people really cared as they claim, would there be any problems on Earth? How could there be problems if all of those gazillions of people care?

    Oh, heavens, don't suppose ....oh, no, don't tell me, ..........when people say that they care, ....oh, no, .......they're lying?!?! Oh, say it ain't so!

    No, I don't really care.

    Baron Max

    PS - and don't bother saying you miss me or any of that happy horseshit, because I might not be back again for another long have I been gone??
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    (Insert title here)

    'Tis a fair question, indeed.

    Suits me just fine. I haven't been counting the days.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Baron Max Registered Senior Member


    The United Nations "Council on Caring and Kindness", COCK for short, is the new UN council responsible for what and whom the world's people care about on a daily basis. This is necessary to ensure that all of the world's people think alike, talk alike, act alike and express the same concerns about the same things as everyone else on this miserable planet so that we can all be equally miserable about the same miserable things all the time.

    The penalty for not caring exactly the same as everyone else shall be fifty (50) lashes with the cock o' nine tails for the first offense; two hundred (200) lashes for the second offense; and death by stoning for the third and final offense. As you can see, it is important for your continued good health to care exactly the same as your fellows.

    It is also a COCK crime to care about something other than what is officially announced by the COCK. Those found caring about, or expressing sympathy for, something or someone not designated by the COCK shall be punished as noted above. Care allowances are limited, so wasting them on unauthorized people or issues is criminal.

    Wasting care allowances by caring for, or having sympathy for, those who have been punished will also be punished as noted above. Caring and sympathy is ONLY for those authorized by the COCK.

    Within only a few years, it is the COCK's hope that there will be peace and goodwill for all people who are exactly, precisely the same. It is also the COCK's hope that within a few years, those who are not the same will all be stoned to death and thus riding the world of those who care too little or too much or care about those not deemed worthy by the COCK.


    The COCK issued the daily proclamation that all people all over the world should spend their COCK allowance today on expressing sympathy for Hia-Hunieatoni Mubutaumu of Yitumeninai, India. The little 2-year old contracted every known, horrible human disease by ignorantly playing in the open sewers near his hovel. While playing with one of the human turds floating in the sewage, he forgot for only a moment and put his fingers in his mouth. Within seconds, his entire body was filled with horrible diseases and he died after several days in horrible pain and suffering.

    So please ignore the reports and rumors about the 42,387 black Africans in Darfur who starved to death yesterday - use your COCK allowance today on the little Indian boy. Use your COCK allowance in accordance with the COCK proclamations. And remember the penalties for not caring properly and in accordance with the proclamations of the COCK.

    The COCK police will be taking random blood samples. If you are caring appropriately, the tests will prove it. If the same amount of COCK sympathy is not in your DNA sample as everyone else, you will be arrested, tried, convicted and punished right there on the street or in your office in front of all of your friends. So be sure to express the proper emotion and degree of caring and sympathy as directed by the COCK.

    A new COCK proclamation will be issued each and every day for your attention and caring. Peace be unto you, brothers and sisters, and be sure to bow down on your knees and pray ten times per day for ten minutes in accordance with the COCK directives. Use your COCK allowances properly ...the COCK police are ever vigilant for people who are not using their full COCK allowance properly.

    Thank you for caring properly,

    Mubi-Wooduhai-Muggibytia Nobuwata
    Chairwoman for the COCK
  8. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    I think the inverse square law applies. That is, the amount we care about a problem is inversely proportional to the inverse square (or cube or even order of magnitude) of the distance of said problem from ourselves. Thus we care more about the neighbor kid kicking our dog than some guy on the other side of the earth killing his whole family or even an entire village.

    Of course the distance need not be solely geographic. For instance, a person who identifies himself largely by his religion might be extremely passionate about injustices commited against others of his religion anywhere on the globe. So the things we care about are a function of how we define ourselves.
  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Points on the curve

    There is something to what you say, and I won't even quibble the shape of the curve.

    But where, on that curve, does one's passion about a given issue become justified? That is, there are plenty who are disgusted at those who devote a certain amount of energy to various causes deemed frivolous compared to the rest of reality. A cat in the bin compared to hungry children in Appalachia? Just because I'm a cat person and have no relatives in Appalachia doesn't mean I can't see that the other is more important, in the grand scheme, than the one. But unlike some, I won't condemn a person for worrying about the cat—or a dog or hamster or whatever—just because somewhere in Darfur a child is dying.

    If (condition) then (moral justification).​

    Some object; if the condition does not meet a certain threshold, then moral justification is refused. I'm curious about the threshold—where in what sociomoral spectrum does it occur, and how is that boundary decided?
  10. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    All of those words, Tiassa, all of that effort to type it all up, to post all of those words, yet........

    You can't even explain what it means to care?

    How do you measure "care"? If you and Joe Blow "care" about the kittens, does that mean that you both "care" equally? If you say, yes OR no, then it means that you can measure "caring". So, ...what is it?

    How much "caring" is possible for one person? If a person "cares" about some issue, can he/she still go out and have fun on Friday night? How can one "care" about the black children starving in Darfur, yet still go out and have a big steak dinner with baked potato and wine?

    I know when I care about something. But ....I don't know about how or when "you" care about something. Afterall, even right here at Sciforums, most have agreed that lying is perfectly acceptable behavior. So Joe lying about caring?

    What does it mean to "care"?

    Baron Max
  11. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    Define ourselves? What does that mean? How many people do you know who have "defined themselves"?

    But back to the topic .......... WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO CARE?

    Baron Max
  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Exploring the question

    A fine question. Since you posed it, and made a claim—

    —by all means, start us off on that exploration. How do you know? What are your criteria?
  13. visceral_instinct Monkey see, monkey denigrate Valued Senior Member

    It's always right to care. We shouldn't have to qualify every statement about such an event with 'I know there's much worse shit going on, but...'

    Yes, I care about the people dying of AIDS, too. But that's not what this topic is about.
  14. AJRelic Malformed Registered Senior Member

    To me, caring is any emotion that elicits action. Whether the feeling is good or bad is irrelevant, it instills a desire to either preserve or change the situation at hand.

    That doesn't mean we're capable of fulfilling that desire, and when we can't we tend to have feelings of aggression or depression (generally speaking of course).

    So how do I know when I care? It's at any point when I feel something... anything really.

    So why do particular issues take precedence over others? That's a hard question to answer... typically it seems whenever a person has a incident in their life that impacts them emotionally and is incapable of providing a solution at the time. When a similar incident presents themselves with promise of resolve, most will take action to see such a solution comes to be.

    I think at this point they don't care because the issue effects them directly (chances are it doesn't)...but to avoid the same feeling of helplessness they once experienced, or to prevent others from the same fate.

    For instance, I believe curing cancer, aids, starving children and all that are very important problems that need to be addressed. Yet the only things I'm willing to donate any time to involves veterans of war and poverty stricken families, because I've had personal experience with both.
  15. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    Originally Posted by Baron Max: What does it mean to "care"?

    Hmm, you post a long, drawn-out, wordy topic, but ...don't know enough about the topic to even be able to define the main idea of the topic? You haven't changed a bit, have you.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    However, since you can't even define or explain your own topic.....

    Perhaps "caring" is when one allows their emotions to overwhelm their good sense and logical, rational reasoning.

    As far as I can tell, "caring" does no good for anything. If something is wrong, then logically one should take action to stop it or to prevent it from happening again. But the emotion of "caring" is probably more harmful than good. If they "care" too much, involving too much emotion, then the "fix" they propose might be more harmful than the original event.

    The Islamic radicals "care" so much about their religious beliefs that they're willing to wear suicide vests and kill themselves along with those they disagree with. Is that "caring" for their beliefs? Even if it kills others?

    A preacher in Florida "cares" so much about the freedom of religion in the USA, just like those Muslims at ground zero in NYC, that he's going to show them the true ideals of religious freedom in the USA ...he's going to burn a bunch of Korans on 9/11. It's his way of "caring" and supporting the religious freedoms of Muslims in NYC. Nice preacher, huh?

    Perhaps "caring" is more harmful than good?

    And please don't mistake action with the emotion of "caring" ...they are NOT the same thing.
  16. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    Islamic extremists "care" enough about their beliefs to use explosives to kill people they don't like. Is that "right"? I mean, you just said, "It's always right to care." So.......?

    Baron Max
  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    (Insert title here)

    At the most basic level, caring is an electrical condition occurring within the human brain. More applicably, it is a form of accommodation and assimilation of information according to an individual's priority structure.

    More to the topic, though, I do wonder about those whose response to a particular sense of outrage is to point to other outrages, especially when it's not so much an occasion of competing causes, but rather the need to ridicule a cause.

    No, I can't explain why Sarah McLachlan crusades against animal cruelty instead of joining Mia Farrow in yelling at Steven Spielberg about Darfur. Nor can I prescribe for people the priorities they are allowed. After all, sure, the Darfur situation is an atrocity, but does that mean Myanmar must wait? And where does Tibet occur on the list? Mexican drug wars, Saudi oppression of women, American bungles in Afghanistan ... and that's all a far cry from abused or abandoned children in my own community. Or hungry children in Appalachia.

    To the one, I can see how the appalling spectacle Michael Vick created grabbed people's attention. To the other, even I, who counts a cat among my family, am puzzled by the international outcry about the cat in the green bin in England. Which brings us back to Sarah McLachlan, so pardon me if I move on from that.

    At what point do some people allow other people to care? Perhaps it seems strange for Bob Barker to remind people every chance he gets to disable a pet's reproductive capability when children are beaten, neglected, abandoned, raped, starved, or otherwise abused in this country. But does that mean he shouldn't do it? Does that mean he shouldn't care? If nobody pays attention to Condition A because Condition B is more important, what happens next? Do we really need to be armpit-deep in yowling, feral cats, or chased down the street by a pack of wild Labrador retrievers before we decide to do something about the problem? Would an "urban hunt" be the solution? A thousand sportsment with trophies of Yorkshire terriers and Tabbie Persians on their walls?

    Should Americans stop whining about Barack Obama because at least he's not Mamoud Ahmadinejad? Should we stop fretting about healthcare, salaries, and a troublesome unemployment rate because, hey, at least we ain't in Zimbabwe?

    Just how does this idea that people are somehow wrong to care about something because there are worse things going on in the world actually work?
  18. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    Pointing out the hypocrisy? I know that's usually what I'm trying to do when I do that. Not to ridicule, but to point out another perspective ...and point out their hypocrisy.

    Someone makes a post about a girl throwing puppies into a raging river. The expressed "outrage" seems so hypocritical. If the cruel death of a few little puppies is so horrible for them, why aren't they outraged every single day of the year at the thousands, perhaps millions, of puppies/dogs that are killed by city governments all over the world? See? Or is it being manipulated by the news media?

    And with regard to the above comments; I'm still wondering what "caring" means. For example, if "caring" is in limited supply in the human body/mind, then perhaps it's not hypocrisy at all, but a special mechanism in the mind that sets priorities for "caring". Don't want to use up all of that limited supply of "caring", do we? Like the Star Trek episode "The Empath", we don't want to "care" so much that we kill ourselves with it. "Here Lies Joe Blow; Died From Caring Too Much."

    But then, I'm not so sure that "caring" is not the direct result of being manipulated by outside sources such as the news media or by posts on Sciforurms or YouTube or such as that. If the media had not posted about the girl throwing the little puppies in the river, would those "caring" people have still "cared" about all the little puppies in the world? If so, how do they respond to that "caring"?

    See? You keep using that term "care", yet you can't explain it or define it or measure it. Tiassa, I don't like you and never did, but in this instance, I'm not trying to hassle you or ridicule you, I'm trying to point out the basic problems in your posts/ideas/thoughts. "Caring" must be more than just posting ones outrage on some silly Internet site like Sciforums. Surely "caring" means more than that.

    So see why I keep asking? What does "caring" mean? Or is it really just posting or saying that you "care" ...and that's it? And if people claim that they "care", how can you know they aren't lying? As we've seen right here at Sciforums, most members agree that it's okay to lie. So....?

    "...allow other people to care?" Allow them? How can you stop them from "caring"? And how can you stop them from being hypocritical in their "cariing"? See? If you don't even know what "caring" is, how can you use surgery to cut it out or your permission to stop it? What does it mean to "care", Tiassa. Until you can answer that question, none of your posts about it mean anything.

    They aren't wrong, but they ARE often hypocritical. Obsessing over the horrid plight of one little puppy's death is, at best, idiotic when compared to the horrid deaths of the millions of other puppies and dogs in the world. And if they don't know about the other little puppies in the world, then that makes them even worse than idiotic! Or else they were just manipulated by the media.

    How can one be so upset by the one little puppies death while completely ignoring the thousands of others? See? Hypocrisy! And then, when it's pointed out to them, Tiassa makes a big issue out of it and posts a thread about "carring" when he can't even define "caring" and seems to consistently ignore the whole question.

    If someone "cares", then they should "care" the whole way, about the whole issue. If they don't "care" about it all, then they're simply being what most people are .....freakin' hippo-fuckin'-critters, and it should be pointed out so that all can see it clearly.

    So, ...what does it mean to "care", Tiassa? And is there a limited supply of "caring" in the human mind?

    If "caring" is limited, then people should be careful about "caring", prioritize "caring", lest they run out of "caring". You can't "care" about one stranger on the other side of the world without "caring" for ALL of the strangers ....without being a hippo-critter.

    Hey, Tiassa, what does it mean to "care"? How can we even talk about it when we don't even know what the hell it is or how to measure it? What does it mean to "care"?

    Baron Max
  19. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    "Idea?" Huh?

    The way it works is that you trot it out and club people over the head with it whenever they are complaining about anything you don't want them to complain about. That's it.

    I'd sort of expected that most people understood that by age 10, somewhere around the 10,000th time their parents tried to cajole them into eating yucky vegetables by invoking starving children in <destitute-third-world-country>.
  20. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    No disagreement here

    I would not disagree. But I'm curious as to why some people continue to use this approach, and what they hope to accomplish by it.
  21. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    The caring was not a problem, it was the what was done about the caring. At least, many people can care about what terrorists claim to care about without acting the same way about it, even if they feel extremely strongly about it. It's ideas that get lopped onto the feeling or not lopped onto the feeling that are the problem.
  22. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    1. To point out the obvious hypocrisy involved in the various statements of "caring".
    2. To point out the possible/probable dishonesty and/or insincerity of the person claiming to "care". I.e., can this be the first time that such happenings has ever come to their attention?
    3. To point out the obvious and blatant manipulation by the various news media. I.e., puppies are being killed by the thousands every day, yet people claim to care ONLY when the news media reports tells them to "care".
    4. To point out that "caring" means more than just expressing ones outrage or horror or disgust on some Internet message board. Especially if it's in response to some news media report (reacting to the manipulation and continuing that same manipulation!).

    Baron Max
  23. visceral_instinct Monkey see, monkey denigrate Valued Senior Member

    I think it's a cop out. You don't feel like doing something about a problem, or would rather not hear about it? Just point out that there's much worse shit going down somewhere across the world.

Share This Page