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Thread: Principals to live by.

  1. #1 Principals to live by. 
    Forum Professor mmatt9876's Avatar
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    Good principals to live by:

    1. Think for yourself.
    2. Do good instead of bad.
    3. If you do something bad make repairs.
    4. Do not punish someone instead of helping them.


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  3. #2  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    On the face of it they sound like good principles, but

    1. Thinking for yourself without acting for yourself is likely pointless. Thinking for yourself in an incoherent undisciplined way is damaging. Humanity has achieved many of the good things by thinking for each other.
    2. Who will define what is good and what is bad?
    3. What if no repairs can be made? How much effort should you put into those repairs? Sufficient to offset the original damage? Twice that, in part as a punishment? 10% as a gesture?
    4. What if they are beyond help?


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  4. #3 Re: Principals to live by. 
    JX
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmatt9876
    4. Do not punish someone instead of helping them.
    In what kind of case would you be punishing someone instead of helping them?
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  5. #4  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    I believe he is thinking of, for example, the drug addict who commits robberies to get money to fund his/her habit. Rather than punish them by sending them to prison we should help them overcome their addiction.
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  6. #5  
    JX
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    Ah I see.

    On the surface it makes sense, and obviously I'm going on your interpretation of his point, so he can correct us if this is incorrect, but I think it's hard to make that a steadfast rule.

    Considering your example of the drug addict, where does one draw the line? If the drug addict steals $20, it would be easy to say, "We shouldn't punish him, he is a slave to his addiction and therefore not responsible for his actions. Let's help him."

    Now, if the drug addict kills a family of 4 to raid their home looking for money to buy drugs, I doubt many people would be so lenient. However, could he not argue that he is just as much a slave to his addiction as the first addict?
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  7. #6  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    The point is that both punishment, support and removal from being a public danger can all be done more or less simultaneously.
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  8. #7  
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    I personally think the danger with principles is that they are inherently quite generalising and do not account for a large majority of hypothetical "what if" cases. So for example, you can abide by the principle "Do not kill", but what if killing this person meant avoiding a terrorist attack that was going to kill 10,000 people?

    When people talk to me about principles, I agree that it is good to have a few core principles that wil guide you in the large majority of situations, but there will be always situations when your heart and your principles will conflict.

    This is very probably influenced by my recent reading, but I think our needs to find "core principles" that apply in all situations is symptomatic of a very human desire to unify and universalise. Take for example our desire to find a single, consistent model of physics that can explain all the processes in the universe, or Bertrand Russell's desire to find a mathematical system that had the "perfect" axioms which ensured total consistency. The latter failed due to the work Goedel published that showed the futility of such actions - "On Formally Undecideable Propositions..."

    One of the explanations for the above motivations to discover unity which I found particularly interesting was by Julia Kristeva. Kristeva believes that our notion of selfhood is connected with the separation and integrity of the body - "le corps propre". However, she theorises that our notion of selfhood is fundamentally unstable - the imagined line around the perimeter of our body that separates "inside" and "outside" is constantly broken by physical flows such as blood, vomit, sweat, tears, semen, etc. which forces us into a defensive position. These flows challenge our notions of "le corps propre", "undermining its hygiene and the security of its ownership...Does my vomit belong to me?" (Subjectivity, Nick Mansfield). We are afraid of what the anthropologist Mary Douglas would call "transitional states" e.g. consider reactions to corpses in context of living/dead status. So for Kristeva, this need to find one set of "core principles" would be an attempt to repress the internal ambiguity that plagues us by asserting the singularity of truth.

    Other thinkers such as Jacques Lacan that also have a significant amount to say about unstable notions of selfhood which would be lengthy to post in this thread.

    Whoops, seems like I went a bit overboard with this one...its slightly digressive...but it interests me, so I put it down anyway.

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  9. #8  
    Forum Professor mmatt9876's Avatar
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    The entire idea is if you do the best for yourself you will do it onto others and others will do the same. Treat everybody like you treat yourself and you will be in heaven.
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