Personal responsibility vs externally enforced standards

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Adam, Nov 8, 2002.

  1. Adam §Þ@ç€ MØnk€¥ Registered Senior Member

    A simple question.

    Should we simply accept externally enforced/recommended standards or behaviour? Or should we have the strength of will and consideration of others to regulate our own standards of behaviour, with no need for any such external influences? Does not the existence of external controls/recommendations say quite clearly that we humans are weak and can not control ourselves?

    What say you?
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  3. SoLiDUS OMGWTFBBQ Registered Senior Member

    Be a sheep or a dog eh ? I'm a mix of both; 1/3 sheep and 2/3 dog

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  5. Xev Registered Senior Member

    Firstly, why should we regulate our behaviour?

    (Besides the obvious "You'll fucking go to prison if you don't!")
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  7. grazzhoppa yawwn Valued Senior Member

    re: what Xev asked

    it is a characteristic of a civilized world to regulate the behavior of yourself and others...too be be civil.
  8. Adam §Þ@ç€ MØnk€¥ Registered Senior Member

    The other alternative is me bashing you over the head, dragging you back to my cave, and getting you pregnant. Or me killing you for the contents of your fridge.
  9. Xev Registered Senior Member


    I was actually asking for a reason that wasn't a fallacy.
    Arguing from adverse consequences isn't going to get you far. Obviously, whether I act according to my perverse desires has little bearing on whether you act according to yours.

    So let me rephrase:

    Given that I run the risk of being harmed by others anyway, and even if I didn't run this risk, my behaviour and your behaviour are different things:

    Why should I restrain my behaviour?


    Why be civil? Sure, it benefits me when society is civil, but that doesn't mean that I have to be civil.
  10. Adam §Þ@ç€ MØnk€¥ Registered Senior Member


    1) Humans are social, co-operative animals. We can achieve more and greater things together than as individuals. The International Space Station for example. Or the WHO wiping out smallpox. This is not any kind of fallacy.

    2) If you act on your urges to take, hurt, et cetera, then it is perfectly reasonable to expect other to do the same to you. But no doubt you don't want that to happen. Neither do they. This is not any kind of fallacy.

    3) We currently need police forces because people don't control their impulses and base urges. Police forces exist. This is not any kind of fallacy.

    4) People allowing emotions to guide their actions creates murder, rape, war, hysteria, religion, and many other crimes against humanity. These could be avoided, for the benefit of all, if people simply thought about their actions first, allowing rational thought to guide their actions. This requires control. It's really very simple: less trouble and greater progress if there is control. I don't see how that very simple concept is a fallacy.
  11. grazzhoppa yawwn Valued Senior Member

    why be civil?

    Humans in general are able to recognize that we are above other species. We are the king of the Earth, top the food chain, we impact the world more than any other species.

    We all have a pride that we are better than "the beasts." --Well, maybe not all ie. animal rights activists -- But it's in the back of our heads that we have a responsibility, that may not influence our actions all the time, but it does affect us. Also, more than a responsibility...we have pride and (I would call it) honor. So, to keep telling ourselves that we are better than the rest, we adopt a characteristic that says we must walk to our own beat...we have to be different from other animals.

    Being civil and acting as a group, without violence or our primal instincts, differentiates humans (our society) from the lesser (looked down upon) animals.

    Technology is another way for us to see ourselves better than the beasts...yet we create problems with technology. --just a side note.

    I don't think so. We are very strong minded...but that comes with growing up. A baby is very weak-minded, in a way. A 90-year-old man who has seen it and done it all is very strong-minded. If we were to be able to act with the consideration of others, there would be no wars. There would be no arguements. And there would be no reason for any external forces to regulate our behavior. It's hard to imagine a world where peace is...where everyone helps out. I was taught to be independent and do things for me...the other person comes after myself. This is taught because we want to move up in society...very few people ever make it big/become rich and have not stepped on and crushed a few peoples dreams and probably life. People are beyond proving we are better than the beasts, now we try to prove we are better than ourselves...regulating your behavior proves you to be weak to another person...but it proves you see more than what you have, and that you will sacrifice your life for the benefit of someone else. This is seen as being weak by our society....and no one wants to be seen as weak.

    If you were watching life as a TV show (seeing the whole picture) would see that the "weak" person [the one who regulates their behavior] is really the one who is strong enough to let go.
  12. Xev Registered Senior Member

    What is your point?

    Yes, it is an argument from adverse consequences, and false to boot.

    Justine leads an outstanding life. Pious, she is raped by monks. Charitable, she is robbed by a fraud. Compassionate, she is raped and robbed by the man whose life she saves. She refuses to participate in theft and is framed for the crime. She tries to save the life of a young woman and is branded as a thief, narrowly escaping with her life.


    Joseph Mengle died swimming in the Pacific.
    Ivan the Terrible died suddenly during a game of chess.
    Torquemada died a natural death at an old age.

    Shall I go on? All these people died peaceful deaths after luxurious lives in which they behaved in the most abominable fashion. Were they hurt? No. Was Justine? Yes.

    The conclusion is obvious. Virtue and humanity is not rewarded, it is punished.

    Again, I fail to see your point.

    You've yet to show how it benefits me or Torquemada to refrain from committing "crimes against humanity", if we can get away with it.

    Now let me put my question to you again:

    Given that the powerful can get away with well nigh anything, why should the powerful control their "base urges"?
  13. Adam §Þ@ç€ MØnk€¥ Registered Senior Member

    And Idi Amin is living fat, dump, and happy in Saudi Arabia...

    Ah, here's a problem. You classify certain people as more powerful than others. I don't. There's not one person on this Earth who is more resistant to death than the rest. Any of us can be killed. We are all equal. None of our status, power, or wealth goes with us when we die.

    What happened to Hitler?

    Yes, some get away with anti-social behaviour, some don't. There is not perfect justice. But I think it is something we should strive for; or better yet, strive for a world in which we don't need it.

    Anyway, regarding these "powerful" people. Since they can't take it with them when they die, what else is there? Memory. Their effect on the world after they die. Since they are dead, it no longer matters to them, only to us. And how do we remember them? As vile monsters. Clearly a negative impression. That negative impression is the only thing they left which sets them apart from millions of other people. Is that power? Is that achievement?

    As for controlling urges. Have you ever read a frustrating post on sciforums and had the urge to toss your monitor across the room? I'm sure many have. Wouldn't you/they then be without a monitor?
  14. Xev Registered Senior Member

    So you could declare war on Iraq today, and warplanes would be cruising over to Baghdad by tomorrow?

    The good, the bad and the ugly all meet the same fate. Hitler died, Francis of Assisi died. Stalin died, Nietzsche died.

    You think. Any proof that your thinking is correct?

    Being dead, I doubt they care.
    While alive, they enjoyed their lives and depradations. I think they cared about that.

    No, actually I am not so easily upset, and I don't see why I would want to throw my monitor.
    Now, there are times I've felt like bitch-slapping dead philosophers....

    So no, I'm not harmed. And I'm talking about harming other people.

    Thought experiment:
    I am an assasen (however it is spelled). The head of a strong and stable government offers me 1 million dollars to assasinate a political opponent. This man has done nothing wrong. I am guarenteed protection from prosecution and anonymity. I know my trade and I can be fairly assured of getting away with it.

    Should I?
  15. Adam §Þ@ç€ MØnk€¥ Registered Senior Member


    You're talking about a group, a state, not a person. George Bush will die as easily as anyone else. Without those other people who act with him, he is just a man. And a rather simian looking one at that.

    So phsyical pleasure is the ultimate motivation? That worked out well for Michael Hutchence.

    It's up to you. But things you should keep in mind:
    - That person may one day have a descendent who would invent faster-than-light travel, or end world hunger, or develop a philosophy which would tremendously advance our species. By killing him, you take onto yourself all the responsibility for what we will lose.
    - That person may one day have a descendent who would become another Hitler. You may save billions of lives.
    - Since you don't know which of the above two things may or may not happen, you're making an awfullly huge gamble with my bloodline, and your own, and everyone else's.
  16. Xev Registered Senior Member

    Does he not command such people?

    What about someone who is the master of their own virtues and faults? Are they as powerful as the person who is unaware of themselves?
    What about the physically strong? The mentally adept?

    The sadistic sort of pleasure Torquemada indulged himself in -was that physical?

    I don't think I need to point out that humans are ultimately driven by the desire to feel pleasure, avoid pain, reproduce and accumulate power. So yes, pleasure is an ultimate motivation.

    Hutchence simply made a short term vs. long term decision on how he would approach pleasure.

    Why should I care about the species? And are not scientific developments more or less inevitable?

    Why should I care about them?

    And why should I care about my bloodline? I don't plan on having children. Nor do I think I can live forever through my genome.
  17. Adam §Þ@ç€ MØnk€¥ Registered Senior Member


    They allow it, yes.

    A baby with a shotgun can kill an Einstein or a circus strongman. However, it depends what you consider achievement, really. One who masters himself/herself may consider he/she has achieved the ultimate, that all else is gravy.

    Fair enough. But only if you have no interest at all in mastering yourself.

    Why? Biology. The drive to continue one's genes. (The science thing was just an example of a possibility.)

    Again, biology. The drive to continue first one's own genes, thent the genes of a nearest relative, and so on, until you get to the bottom of the pyramid where you find "species".

    Many don't care about continuing their own genes, or say they don't. But on the whole it is a very common thread amongst living creatures.
  18. Xev Registered Senior Member

    How often does this happen? I mean really.

    Umm, Adam, I noted that the will to power (i.e mastering yourself) is a basic human urge.

    That justifies rape, murder, theft, and treason, just off the top of my head.

    In any case, a lot of humans are higher than the drive to have ooodles of kids.
  19. machaon Registered Senior Member

    a reply

    I have a few theories on this. OK, mabye more like hypothosis. But I will submit one here. Morality is a luxury afforded to those whose survival does not depend on making descisions that are wrapped in fear and desperation. Given the same opportunities to make good moral descisions, most people in everyday life will make good, moral descisions. There will always be assholes and greedy, evil people. But on the whole, I think that morality is a gift that only a secure life can provide. The more secure one is in the fact that they will probably not have to be faced with having to make a immoral descision to survive, the more chance there is in that person making moral descisions. Of course the definition of MORAL is quite open to debate depending on ones personal views. But in this instance I am referring to an avoidance to causing other people or their property harm.

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