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Thread: Should we show more respect for those who hold important public office.

  1. #1 Should we show more respect for those who hold important public office. 
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    I was watching a youtube clip of US Attorney General Eric Holder tell someone "you may not like me, but I hold an important office, and you should show respect for that office" (I am paraphrasing).

    When I heard that, it got me thinking: is there a rational reason to show respect for a public office holder, simply because he holds that office?

    Does philosophy consider questions like this?

    Does anyone have any links, or references, that I could have a read through regarding this sort of question?

    Any great philosophers talk about something like this?

    Thanks


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  3. #2  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    I dont have a fancy quote or philosophical reference, all I can offer is a zany comment

    ~:~ Enough with the slander. Show some respect for Hitler, Stalin and Pinochet, because they held important positions. And that by itself, is what we judge a person with(or by?), dont judge a man by his actions, a tree by its fruits, nor a book by its content. ~:~


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  4. #3  
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    I guess the short version of that is: Why don't you show me first that you have respect for that position, sir, and then I will follow after your example?
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  5. #4  
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    More contempt and distrust of politicians, and less respect for them and the offices they hold is need IMO.

    Men and women who seek to rule, regardless of what they say or do, still seek to rule. Show me a man or woman who hates the job, doesn't really want the job but, serves the people, then I will and can respect them.
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  6. #5  
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    Thank you for your replies.

    I am not a philosopher. So I apologise if this is the wrong forum to post my question.

    The type of answer I was looking for was referrals to articles/books/philosophers who talk about this subject in depth. Or alternatively, an in depth "philosophical" (whatever that may be) response.

    I for one, am very opposed to showing respect towards people like the Pope. This is to do with - well to many reasons.

    I am not an American, so it is not important for me to respect their public officials either.

    Aren't the answers given so far to simplistic for philosophy? This is a genuine question.

    I should also add, I was not talking specifically about politicians. I was talking generally.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo View Post
    I dont have a fancy quote or philosophical reference, all I can offer is a zany comment

    ~:~ Enough with the slander. Show some respect for Hitler, Stalin and Pinochet, because they held important positions. And that by itself, is what we judge a person with(or by?), dont judge a man by his actions, a tree by its fruits, nor a book by its content. ~:~
    You could always add, to those other leaders, Robert Mugabe and "the heroic socialist forces of Zanu PF- still fighting the twin evils of capitalism and colonialism."
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  8. #7  
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    People earn respect but yes I would think that we should be respectful to those in authority but equally we should be respectful to everybody else, I've found that in most cases we get back the respect we give in life and if not then those people that don't return that respect are generally not worth bothering with.
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  9. #8  
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    I think the public official you are referring to in the OP, is making the mistake of equating himself with the office itself. The office should be given respect, however that does not mean that he should be. As someone else said if he does his job poorly then he is disrespecting the official position he holds.

    I think he (the public official) is making the assumption that the ideal situation, being that one earns their position because they were elected on solid merit, is actually true in reality. But we all know that many public officials are elected by uninformed voters who know little of the character of the candidates and even less of the historical accuracy of their actions. Sometimes, they are simply appointed by corrupt leaders in higher positions.

    It's very rare that an individual is worthy of the authority that is bestowed upon them.
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    Speaking badly about people after they are gone and jumping on the bash the band wagon must do very well for a low self-esteem.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guidelines View Post
    I was watching a youtube clip of US Attorney General Eric Holder tell someone "you may not like me, but I hold an important office, and you should show respect for that office" (I am paraphrasing).

    When I heard that, it got me thinking: is there a rational reason to show respect for a public office holder, simply because he holds that office?

    Does philosophy consider questions like this?

    Does anyone have any links, or references, that I could have a read through regarding this sort of question?

    Any great philosophers talk about something like this?

    Thanks
    It is based on the concept that the power does not reside in the person but in the office that person is sworn to serve. For example: in military courtesy, it is not the person that one salutes, but the rank. When a judge puts on his robes he is, symbolically at least, no longer a citizen, but a servant of the law. So what we are asked to do is to show respect for the office itself, and what it represents, and only by implication the person who is its representative. It would be ok to tell a public official that he is not fit to hold the office. Such a statement shows no disrespect for the office itself. As a general rule you respect the office holder, and call him by his title while he is in performance of his duties. Later you can call him an asshole.
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  11. #10  
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    This is an excellent question.

    You could search for respect authority with Google Scholar.

    In general, I suppose the default attitude toward someone in authority would begin with someone's default attitude toward any person.

    Then, consider an elected official, such as Obama, nominating someone such as Eric Holder for an extremely important position such as US Attorney General, and the US Senate confirming that nomination, thus allowing Holder to take the office of USAG. This process intrinsically convey's to the person the worthiness of respect of the office.

    From there, if someone believes that such an official has acted wrongly, then the Constitution's First Amendment allows for petitioning the government for redress of grievances. The president can remove an appointed person, such as the USAG, at any time and for any reason, and the US House can impeach and remove such a person for serious wrongs.

    In contrast, I have yet to hear of, for example, a garbage collector, claiming to deserve respect as a government employee. Police seem in between the two extremes. They wear uniforms and badges, and they carry guns and can stop and interrogate you, but they could also seem so average as to be your neighbor. Then consider that the USAG, although without uniform, badge or gun, is the highest-ranking law enforcement official in the country.

    There is the idea (philosophy?) that a person acts the way people perceive the person, the way people commonly do with children to instill responsibility in them. If people began treating anyone (even you) as the USAG, I think they would follow one of three courses of action: maturely try to meet the responsibilities of the office, selfishly try to use the power of the office for their own benefit, or feel unable to act as USAG and quit. So, how would you, as the USAG, carry out you official duties under different circumstances? What if everyone gave you the greatest respect? What if everyone treated you indifferently? Or what if everyone treated you like a piece of garbage?

    This leads me to wonder how, in the first place, someone could ever think that they should be the USAG or the POTUS or whatever. My thinking is that they are increasingly surrounded by people who act toward them in that particularly inspiring manner. I'm thinking it's something like a self-fulfilling prophecy, somewhat like appointing the next Dalai Lama. Suppose the current Dalai Lama dies, and they begin to search for the next one. They come to you. They do all they can to convince you that you're the next Dalai Lama. They persist. The call you "Precious Victor" and "Wish-fulfilling Gem". They bow and grovel before you or whatever they do when they think they've found the next Dalai Lama. I think many people would at least give their lives a serious rethink.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrmonroe View Post
    This is an excellent question.

    You could search for respect authority with Google Scholar.

    In general, I suppose the default attitude toward someone in authority would begin with someone's default attitude toward any person.

    Then, consider an elected official, such as Obama, nominating someone such as Eric Holder for an extremely important position such as US Attorney General, and the US Senate confirming that nomination, thus allowing Holder to take the office of USAG. This process intrinsically convey's to the person the worthiness of respect of the office.

    From there, if someone believes that such an official has acted wrongly, then the Constitution's First Amendment allows for petitioning the government for redress of grievances. The president can remove an appointed person, such as the USAG, at any time and for any reason, and the US House can impeach and remove such a person for serious wrongs.

    In contrast, I have yet to hear of, for example, a garbage collector, claiming to deserve respect as a government employee. Police seem in between the two extremes. They wear uniforms and badges, and they carry guns and can stop and interrogate you, but they could also seem so average as to be your neighbor. Then consider that the USAG, although without uniform, badge or gun, is the highest-ranking law enforcement official in the country.

    There is the idea (philosophy?) that a person acts the way people perceive the person, the way people commonly do with children to instill responsibility in them. If people began treating anyone (even you) as the USAG, I think they would follow one of three courses of action: maturely try to meet the responsibilities of the office, selfishly try to use the power of the office for their own benefit, or feel unable to act as USAG and quit. So, how would you, as the USAG, carry out you official duties under different circumstances? What if everyone gave you the greatest respect? What if everyone treated you indifferently? Or what if everyone treated you like a piece of garbage?

    This leads me to wonder how, in the first place, someone could ever think that they should be the USAG or the POTUS or whatever. My thinking is that they are increasingly surrounded by people who act toward them in that particularly inspiring manner. I'm thinking it's something like a self-fulfilling prophecy, somewhat like appointing the next Dalai Lama. Suppose the current Dalai Lama dies, and they begin to search for the next one. They come to you. They do all they can to convince you that you're the next Dalai Lama. They persist. The call you "Precious Victor" and "Wish-fulfilling Gem". They bow and grovel before you or whatever they do when they think they've found the next Dalai Lama. I think many people would at least give their lives a serious rethink.
    Actually, I have heard a garbage collector ask for such respect. Not that he got it. Also in many cities garbage collectors wear work uniforms.

    The police also follow rules. The authority they are given is limited to the kind of duties they have to perform. One is expected to respect that authority in so far as it pertains to their duties. For example: they can not determine your guilt or innocence. You are called a suspect until the court decides. An interesting twist on this is that many persons who happen to be police officers smoke pot (off duty of course) They can not arrest themselves because that would be self incrimination.They would rather not arrest you, but it is their duty to do so. They don't have the authority to write the law. In real life, those particular officers are negligent in their duties whenever they can get away with it. Some may call that corruption.

    As to the USAG not wearing a uniform. In earlier times people in those kind of positions actually did wear some kind of a robe or an emblem to signify their office. I guess these days everyone is supposed to know who they are. They probably have some kind of a paper to prove it.

    The right support system can do a lot. A son of a king was treated like a prince, and groomed to be a king. He did not really have much of a choice in the matter. A son of a carpenter became a carpenter, and every one in the village treated him like one. Except for one isolated case of divine intervention. Likewise someone born with limited capacity, but otherwise fortunate circumstances. With the proper support and respect could become president. There has been evidence for that.

    But It's not always how people are treated, it is also how they respond to the treatment. If you are treated like a garbage collector, but insist on acting and thinking like a president. You may not make it to the presidency, and you are not going to be a good garbage collector. Someone might notice though, and get you to run for city council or something,
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  13. #12  
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    It is based on the concept that the power does not reside in the person but in the office that person is sworn to serve. For example: in military courtesy, it is not the person that one salutes, but the rank
    This became quite a big issue for USA armed services. They were the first large national organisation to go for integration in a big way. So it didn't take long before there were issues about white enlisted personnel thinking they could choose who they would and who they wouldn't salute depending on the officer's colour. The rule was then and still is, salute the rank, not the man.
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  14. #13  
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    Respect for authority is a system introduced by homo sapiens to mimic the power heirarchy in the tribal environment in which we evolved. If you wish to buck the system then you should consider joining another species, or setting up another tribe.
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  15. #14  
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    i can show respect to bureaucracy that is the executive and the judiciary but very few politicians. Politicians represent aspirations of people, some of them also know that they are most of the times unrealistic.
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