I think that Mark Twain had it right when he said that we are all liars. He may have said it in jest, but perhaps he was alluding to our growing use of the lie and what constitutes a lie. As Chris Rock observes, women provide the "visual lie," especially when dating. For example, women put on high heels when they aren't tall, they put on makeup to disguise how their faces really appear, and they wear the Wonder Bra to make their breasts look larger. With men, it's the "actual lie." They act differently than they really are when they are dating such as appearing to be interested in their date's hobbies when they really aren't. Then there are more profound lies such as lying to your mate about your fidelity. Which lies are "really lies," are lies wrong, and are some worse than others?
According to Charles Fried, even "[a] little lie is a little wrong but still something you must not do" (205). Immanuel Kant describes the issue as a "duty of veracity, which is quite unconditional" (198). Henry Sidgwick, however, has the view that "lies [are] sometimes justifiable under certain circumstances" (216). While Immanuel Kant and Charles Fried appealed to the deontological view that lying is wrong and regardless of the consequences one has a duty to not lie, others such as Henry Sidgwick have appealed to the utilitarian view that lying in and of itself is not inherently wrong and that a person needs to only consider what actions create the best consequences for everyone.
As rational beings and as part of the human contract of interaction, we have a duty to protect and to not impede an individual's rights and autonomy. There is an intrinsic value in a person's autonomy. A person does not have autonomy unless he or she has the psychological capability for rational decision making that is based on the truth. Any action that limits or deprives another person of their autonomy is bad and an intentional action to do this is morally wrong. Perhaps it is not a universal law that lying is wrong, but being lied to causes a person to have a view of the world that is different from reality, thus depriving them of their autonomy. Lying is also inherently exploitive and manipulative. Each person has a right to make informed decisions that affect his or her life without being manipulated by another person's lie.
It is wrong to lie most of the time, for most reasons. However, the "visual lie" as described is not necessarily a lie because the truth is obvious. Even with the best of intentions and believing the consequences of the lie will be positive, there is never a guarantee that the result will be positive, won't result in someone losing their autonomy, and won't be exploitive or manipulative. In a few situations when telling the truth would result in severe physical or emotional harm to another person or yourself, you can appeal to the utilitarian view that not lying will have far worse consequences; the lie itself is still wrong but not lying is more wrong. Truly, in those situations when the reasons for telling the truth are not clear, one must use their best judgment and take responsibility for their actions. A lie always has the potential to cause harm.
posted by dharh 1:31 PM Aug 3rd, 2007 via idt
Before we start I believe we should talk about the distinction between business and poverty inside and outside of this country. I believe there should be no distinction. As Peter Singer argues that "we cannot discriminate against someone merely because he is far away from us (or we are far away from him)..." (579). Businesses have the same obligations internationally that they have here. Likewise when it comes to poverty we should be fighting against it both here and abroad.
Wealth in itself is not intrinsically good or bad. John Hospers states that "[a] million dollars made on the free market means that that a great deal of money has filtered down to a very large number of people in the economy" (235). However, oftentimes top managers of a company make exorbitant salaries and share in most of the profit, leaving little for the workers who make the company the money. In a purely capitalist system there is little regard for the individual worker; there is only regard for that which creates the most wealth. I believe it matters how one accumulates wealth and that ethics is an integral part of our lives and should not be left out of the workplace. Robert C. Solomon explains that "[t]he bottom line of the Aristotelean approach to business ethics is that we have to get away from the 'bottom line' thinking and conceive of business as an essential part of the good life . . . " (262).
Karl Marx argued that our very nature is to work and that in a capitalist system we are alienated from the product of our labor ultimately depriving us of our being and connection to our community. Solomon agrees with Karl Marx and believes that working should be a "worthwhile" activity that provides "meaningful substance" and is a "source of our sense of self-worth..." (263). There is room in a capitalistic society for an individual to be successful and become wealthy, for a company to make a profit, and for both the individual and the company to have a sense of community.
When it comes to poverty there are of course two main opposing camps, those who have an altruistic ideal and those who have more of an individualistic responsibility or a utilitarian ideal of advancement of civilization though some may suffer more than others. Ayn Rand argues that we have only a duty to pursue self interest both rationally and long-term. That altruism devalues the individual self and sets us up to being prey to be sacrificed for moral criteria to the beneficiaries of one's actions. An individual knows his own wants and unwanted charity degrades ones self-respect and self-reliance as well as being invasive.
Garrett Hardin described a possible outcome of providing food for countries not willing or able to save due to population growth as a tragedy of the commons where all will suffer. Andrew Carnegie argued for individualism, private property, the law of accumulation of wealth, and the law of competition. Without such things as the law of accumulation of wealth everyone lives in squalor. He argues that "while the law [of competition] may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it insures the survival of the fittest in every department" (588). However, Carnegie also argues that vast inequalities promotes discourse and revolution and must be reconciled. His solution is by giving in a slow but increasing amount the estate upon death to the public.
In the opposing camp Peter Singer believes we have an obligation to give until it becomes detrimental for us (578). Only in spreading the wealth evenly to all people can we be ethical. Amartya Sen argues that starvation and hunger are failures of entitlement, that famine is often not a result of lack of food but lack of entitlement of many peoples access to the food in the country. He argues for the rights of the people not to be hungry.
In my opinion the individual is most important when it comes to both topics of business ethics and poverty. It is the individual who needs virtues and the separation of outside life from work life is both needlessly conducive to unhappiness it separates us from virtuous acts. To leave our virtues at home it promotes a business and workplace without virtues. Perhaps like Carnegie I believe in private property and the laws of accumulation of wealth and competition but I also believe in the ethical accumulation of that property, wealth, and practice of competition. I believe in the right of people to pursue life, liberty, and happiness in that order further I believe in the right of people not to be hungry. Perhaps not at the excess of what Hardin suggests but we have an obligation to provide for the entitlement of as many people as possible to get food. This is of course not to say we force feed people, if people beyond reason do not wish to take charity then that is their right of liberty. If we are to promote the idea that capitalism and commerce is good for the common good because it promotes advancement and uplifts civilization then we must also argue that towards that same goal excessive salaries for top managers and CEOs of corporations should be diverted back to the business to provide for more jobs and growth of the business.
posted by dharh 1:27 PM Aug 3rd, 2007 via idt
In looking at racism and sexism we can outline several things in which to think about. First, what does it mean to be a racist or a sexist? Second, what are the reasons or background for being racist or sexist? Third what are possible similarities, differences, and issues between sexism and racism? Further we can look at the current issues of sexism and racism as we deal with them today. Such as minority groups and feminist groups and their practices of exclusion or correction programs like affirmative action. Finally we can ask the questions of why it is so important to rid ourselves of racism and sexism and what possible ways we can do so.
Racism is the view that ones race, particularly your own, makes one superior than another while sexism is the view that ones gender, particularly your own, makes one superior to the other. For example men are seen to be more independent, capable, and powerful than woman. Whites are also seen this way against those of color. The further removed one is from what is considered the normal the more inferior you are.
Jean-Paul Sartre in his description of the anti-Semite asserted that "[if] the Jew did not exist, the anti-Semite would invent him." Further explaining that the anti-Semite chooses to hate because this passion fills him when otherwise we would be empty (338-339). Others such as Marilyn Frye might describe racism less insidiously as she does sexism, "cultural and economic structures which create and enforce elaborate and rigid patterns..." (413). Perhaps it depends on different people and circumstances, it can be one or the other or even a little of both.
In The Erasure of Black Woman Elizabeth V. Spelman argues against the ideas that sexism is more fundamental than racism, that if you get rid of sexism all racism would be gone, and that sexism is much harder to eradicate. My argument would be that sexism is the most pervasive, while perhaps sexism is not the most fundamental, sexism accounts for at least half the population, racism can account for far less. Sexism occurs to those even who would be oppressors, such as the white woman. Spelman argues that you can't equate a black woman's experience of sexism with a white woman's experience, and that the black woman experiences oppression uniquely different from of the black man.
In describing her participation with feminist groups Bell Hooks "found that white woman adopted a condescending attitude towards me and other non-white participants" (363). Shelby Steele argues that minority groups and feminist groups have forgotten the objectives that called for their existence in the first place. In direct opposition of the integration sought in the mid-sixties they sought sovereignty and collective entitlements. Steele describes collective entitlements as "always undemocratic" and inherently exclusive (365 - 369). Both Michael Lind and Shelby Steele had problems with racial preference policies or programs such as affirmative action. Michael Lind described it as a "tokenism embodied in racial preference and multiculturalism" (374). Shelby Steele explained that affirmative action "has very little real impact on the employment and advancement of blacks" (366).
Shelby Steele described the reasons for getting rid of racism and I would assert sexism when she wrote, "[i]ntegration had little to do with merely rubbing shoulders with white people... [i]t was about the right to go absolutely anywhere white people could go... [t]o be anywhere they could be and do anything they could do [is] the point" (367). How can we get rid of sexism or racism? We can't do it by policing people's minds, locking them up for merely thinking sexist or racist thoughts. It is not the role of government to change public opinion. I would even assert that people have a right to think anyway they want. We can however begin to rid sexism and racism through education. Even now the next generation has a harder time understanding their parents racisms. It may not be as quick as many would want it but it can be done slowly by ensuring as Shelby Steele described it as "the inclusion of all citizens into the same sphere of rights, the same range of opportunities and possibilities" (369).
posted by dharh 11:45 AM Aug 3rd, 2007 via idt
I am almost done with the first version of online neTodo. There is a demo login people can use to test it out just go here and login with demo/demo for login and password. As soon as I finish all the rest of the items on my list for neTodo I'll release it everyone to register to.
posted by dharh 4:43 PM Jul 23rd, 2007 via idt
I added a new menu item under the logo called Link Blog which is a list of items I've marked as shared through google reader. It's a glimpse into some of the stuff I end up posting here and alot of stuff I don't.
In other news I've been mulling over how I want to approach posting more content to the site as most of it has ended up being political in nature or about the environment. This is in fact only a small portion of my daily life, where I actually spend most of my time programming, reading, and philosophizing.
I have never been good at organizing my self. For all my endeavors into doing so (book cases, file cabinets, plastic bins, cork board, etc), it has all amounted to organized chaos. Much like how this site came to be in the first place, where it is an attempt to bring a little order to my own chaotic mind, so I can have some semblance of backing up my otherwise intractable thoughts.
Hopefully I will do better.
posted by dharh 3:25 PM Jul 11th, 2007 via idt
The in deep thought code base has just reached v0.3. You can view the changelog to see the changes.
posted by dharh 1:51 PM Jun 19th, 2007 via idt
Wow not only are we using corn crops and such to make ethanol and plastics but we can make other stuff out of plant sugars?
posted by dharh 1:15 AM Jun 17th, 2007 via idt
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