Victim Culture

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  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    You appear to be starting from the proviso that it's acceptable in and of itself to treat someone differently because of their Romani ethnicity.

    In other words, the problem is you don't actually have any problem with racism.

    Presumably you also consider this charmer to be an unfairly pilloried pillar of the community: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-england-kent-41915889
  • Russ wrote: »
    Dafyd wrote: »
    Likewise if too many people mistake their dislikes of any characteristic for their honest judgement it becomes morally wrong to discriminate against that characteristic.

    You're answering the question "what's so special about race?" by saying that there's nothing intrinsically special about race, it just so happens that we live in a society where some people have committed racially-motivated wrongs.

    I think what you're arguing for here is collective responsibility.

    Considered as a unique individual, I say that the barman acts wrongly if he mistakes a personal dislike for an honest judgment, but does no wrong if he makes an honest judgment.

    You're saying that considered as a member of a society with a history of dishonest judgments, he has moral obligations to the group that other people of his society have victimised.

    I don't want to put words into your mouth, but that seems the essence.

    Clearly I think you're wrong.

    Firstly because society is not a well-defined thing, but is an aggregate of individual people. Abraham's argument applies. If 50% of service providers dislike Romany people, do the remaining 50% have an obligation to treat Romany people better than the crime statistics warrant ? I think you'd say yes. Suppose that 50% lacks 5%. Is there still a moral obligation ? You know the rest... Sooner or later you're narrowed down to the absurd position that a collective moral obligation springs into existence when N individual wrongdoers becomes N+1.

    Secondly because in treating the barman as a representative of his group or society, rather than as a unique individual with responsibility for his own sins and no-one else's, you're committing the same sort of act that you complain of.

    So basically you have no problem if all shopkeepers - and by extension the whole population - decide to boycott a minority.

    And yet you have totally ignored commenting on how you'd feel if you were that minority or what you'd do to try to get service.

    It's hard to avoid the conclusion that if you were in Apartheid South Africa, you'd see nothing wrong with white-only beaches and would get rather offended when the Apartheid laws were dismantled.

    Because morality is one thing and the law is another - and if you are in the happy situation of being in a privileged position you have no moral obligation to help a persecuted minority.

    So if you are Jewish or black, or Irish (!) or Romany or disabled or gay - then tough luck, society disapproves of you and yours. Because you are dirty, or thieving or disease-ridden or stupid or promoting moral disintegration.

    And the very idea that the law should step in to protect minorities from 20-century attitudes like these* is an affront to your person moral autonomy.

    These is a word for this kind of moral reasoning. Warped.

    * I mean, who seriously thinks they can justify abusing a Jew because other Jews are known to be thieves other than a far right nutjob?
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    I think what you're arguing for here is collective responsibility.
    Given that you think the barman is entitled to sanction customers for the wrongdoing of other customers I don't think you're on strong grounds with this line of argument. Secondly, you are conflating being under a moral obligation as a result of other people's wrongdoing with being responsible for other people's wrongdoing. Which is untrue.
    Considered as a unique individual, I say that the barman acts wrongly if he mistakes a personal dislike for an honest judgment, but does no wrong if he makes an honest judgment.
    If he may be making a mistake he does not know whether he is making an honest judgement, and therefore if he is genuinely honest he will refrain rather than take the risk.

    (This is all granting for the sake of argument that there's an honest judgement to be made on the basis of anything other than personal behaviour, which I doubt.)
    You're saying that considered as a member of a society with a history of dishonest judgments, he has moral obligations to the group that other people of his society have victimised.
    The relevant group here is people liable to make mistakes in their honest judgement. Which is everybody.
    Firstly because society is not a well-defined thing, but is an aggregate of individual people.
    Neither is culture a well-defined thing. Your argument here works equally well against any contention that there's an honest judgement to be made on the basis of presumed culture.

    You've refuted yourself.
    Sooner or later you're narrowed down to the absurd position that a collective moral obligation springs into existence when N individual wrongdoers becomes N+1.
    I've pointed out before that you are somewhat eccentric in thinking that moral obligations are either absolute or non-existent. The above argument only works on that premise.
  • EliabEliab Shipmate, Purgatory Host
    Russ wrote: »
    Are you saying that the wrongness is all about race ?

    There are many ways to be wrong, but treating people badly because of race is a sort of wrong for which decent people are no longer able to proffer any credible excuse.
    That in a racially-homogeneous society a morally upright barman can, in his judgment as to who is likely to cause trouble, take account of whether someone is male or female, Christian or pagan, a Mod or a Rocker, or any other inference he can draw from someone's appearance, speech and body language as they approach the bar ?

    Personally, I’d rather not be judged to be a public danger based on my appearance at all, but there is a distinction between characteristics that I have chosen to display, and ones that I was born with. It is at least a bit less unfair and stupid to judge me on the colour of my tie than on the colour of my skin.
    But that as soon as he is instead operating in a multi-racial society, he is obliged to be blind to racial differences ?

    I think he's obliged not to be racist whether he's in a multi-racial society or not, actually, it's just that people in a society which is still more-or-less liberal and which is well aware that racism is wrong don't have any excuse for (deliberate) racism.
    I guess that's two questions - is that your personal view and is that the position you're putting forward as the general consensus which isn't up for debate ?

    The case I'm saying isn't up for debate is that making negative assumptions about people to the extent that you deliberately and consciously treat them worse than you otherwise would, on the basis of their race, is unfair to those people.

    You've painted yourself into the corner of defending that behaviour. I'm paying you the compliment of assuming that on realising this you will conclude that your reasoning must have led you astray and that you will reconsider. I don't feel that the onus is on anyone else to refute you at this point - all we need to do is point out that you are now defending outright racial prejudice. Either you will realise that your conclusion is indefensible and re-think it if you want serious engagement with your ideas, or you won't, in which case you'll have shown that on this thread at least your ideas are not worth engaging with.

  • RussRuss Shipmate
    So basically you have no problem if all shopkeepers - and by extension the whole population - decide to boycott a minority.

    No. Conspiring to boycott an innocent group is an abuse of monopoly power, which is wrong.

    Shopkeepers boycotting a gang of shoplifters, on the other hand, seems like a reasonable response.
    Innocence matters more than you credit.

    As well as conflating the innocent and the guilty, you seem to be failing to distinguish collective action by a group (shopkeepers getting together and jointly deciding how they will act) from the sun of individual actions by members of the group.

    You may argue that the effect on the victim may be similar. But I remind you that you've argued at length that you don't believe that consequences are the whole story...
    And yet you have totally ignored commenting on how you'd feel if you were that minority or what you'd do to try to get service.
    Because I reject the implied premise that feelings maketh wrong.
    Because morality is one thing and the law is another
    Yes.
    if you are in the happy situation of being in a privileged position you have no moral obligation to help a persecuted minority.
    From what you've said, this would be what you call an imperfect duty, which is not a duty as I understand it in what I consider to be the plain-English sense of the word. A duty that can never be fulfilled, and which you can never be forgiven for neglecting (because it isn't a duty to a specific person who thereby has the standing to forgive) isn't a duty in my lexicon.

    The notions that you can never be good enough and never be forgiven are characteristic of a type of psychological abuse...
  • Ah, ok then. General abuse of minorities is bad - but one cannot do anything about individuals all independently choosing to abuse minorities.

    Sophistry.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Eliab wrote: »
    Personally, I’d rather not be judged to be a public danger based on my appearance at all, but there is a distinction between characteristics that I have chosen to display, and ones that I was born with. It is at least a bit less unfair and stupid to judge me on the colour of my tie than on the colour of my skin.

    Spot on.

    Prejudice is never good; if ever there is a real choice between treating someone as a person with their own individual characteristics versus pre-judging or pigeonholing them based on superficial appearance, going with the pre-judgment seems obviously the wrong choice.

    But in our globalised mass-produced society, getting to know as an individual everyone you deal with really isn't practical.

    So you're deliberately not saying whether prejudice is morally wrong or not, and I think you're right not to.

    And secondly, you're acknowledging the distinction between race and culture.

    To the extent that many French people hold some sort of belief in the superiority of French culture, for example, that isn't about race. Someone of any skin colour who dresses French and acts French and speaks good French will be more esteemed than someone who doesn't bother.

    You may still think it a stupid belief - other people's nationalism often comes across as pretty stupid - but you're making a distinction between that and holding someone in low esteem because of their skin colour.

    And I'd agree that there is a modern social consensus, that there wasn't 100 years ago, that the differences between races are superficial and of no import. This consensus denies that there are any grounds for considering people of other races as such less estimable than people of one's own race.

    And I believe that too.

    It does not follow that all cultures are equally estimable in every way. Do you agree ?

    So that - other than where different races are involved - if one is in a situation where pre-judging is the only option, taking account of the culture that someone comes from is a reasonable thing to do. Do you agree ?

    E.g. someone who self- presents as a punk rocker might reasonably be thought unsuitable for a job that requires qualities which punk subculture explicitly rejects, and therefore that candidate wouldn't be your first choice to invite for interview. Isn't that just normal common sense ?

    So what happens when the two aspects are brought together - when people of equally-estimable races also come from not-equally-suitable cultures for some particular purpose ? That's where clear thinking is needed...


  • Now you are just changing the subject.

    The problem is not where people find that their strongly held beliefs mean that they are excluded from certain roles in society. One who does not believe in state aggression in any situation may well find themselves excluded from the police.

    The problem is when individual people arbitrarily decide that someone is unsuitable for their establishment because if the colour of their skin. Or some other entirely unrelated feature about themselves. And that's where the law has to make a stand.

    Obviously.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    KarlLB wrote: »
    In other words, the problem is you don't actually have any problem with racism.

    My problem is that I perceive that there is equivocation on the word "racism"/"racist" going on.

    Your own usage may be entirely consistent, but different from Mr Cheesy's usage, in which case your apparent agreement is illusory.

    If you lived in a town where all the black people were Christian and all the white people were atheist, and you were walking down the street one day and saw a black person coming out of a church, would it be morally wrong of you to infer (pending getting to know that person better) that they were a Christian ? Would it be racist ?

    Does the morality of that act depend on whether you are a militant atheist and therefore see being Christian as a negative thing ?


  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    Russ wrote: »
    KarlLB wrote: »
    In other words, the problem is you don't actually have any problem with racism.

    My problem is that I perceive that there is equivocation on the word "racism"/"racist" going on.

    Your own usage may be entirely consistent, but different from Mr Cheesy's usage, in which case your apparent agreement is illusory.

    If you lived in a town where all the black people were Christian and all the white people were atheist, and you were walking down the street one day and saw a black person coming out of a church, would it be morally wrong of you to infer (pending getting to know that person better) that they were a Christian ? Would it be racist ?

    If you treated them in a negative way because of your perception, it would be prejudice.
    Does the morality of that act depend on whether you are a militant atheist and therefore see being Christian as a negative thing ?


    No, it depends if you understand that society consists of many people - including those who do things one might find offensive - and that one needs to be fair* if one expects fairness.

    It's a pretty basic concept. I do not have to believe or in any sense promote "Hindu marriage" to believe that Hindu marriages should have exactly the same protection as everyone else.

    Really, this is basic ethics everyone else learned in the school playground.

    * And not just the perception of fairness, actually fair. Because, if for no other reason, of this
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    Russ wrote: »
    So basically you have no problem if all shopkeepers - and by extension the whole population - decide to boycott a minority.
    Conspiring to boycott an innocent group is an abuse of monopoly power, which is wrong.
    It is. But for reasons we've explored it's the sort of wrong that you don't think is actually wrong in the general case.
    If the sum of individual actions can't make an individual action wrong, then monopoly power can't be wrong since monopoly power results from the sum of individual actions.
    If an individual action isn't wrong, and it can't become wrong when summed, it can't be wrong for individuals to jointly decide to coordinate their individual actions.

    While we're on those lines, if you don't think that the actions of other people can alter right or wrong, how do you account for the morality of speed restrictions or age of consent limits? You didn't respond to that earlier.
    Shopkeepers boycotting a gang of shoplifters, on the other hand, seems like a reasonable response.
    Innocence matters more than you credit.
    In other words, it is wrong to serve innocent people on the grounds that they come from the same culture as people who might be guilty. Because innocence matters.
    You may argue that the effect on the victim may be similar. But I remind you that you've argued at length that you don't believe that consequences are the whole story...
    I don't think mr cheesy has argued anything at length. Are you maybe confusing mr cheesy with me?
    You're committing a basic logical fallacy here. You're trying to argue from consequences aren't the whole story to consequences aren't part of the story.
    if you are in the happy situation of being in a privileged position you have no moral obligation to help a persecuted minority.
    From what you've said, this would be what you call an imperfect duty, which is not a duty as I understand it in what I consider to be the plain-English sense of the word. A duty that can never be fulfilled, and which you can never be forgiven for neglecting (because it isn't a duty to a specific person who thereby has the standing to forgive) isn't a duty in my lexicon.[/quote]Again, mr cheesy hasn't used any technical terms such as imperfect duty on this thread that I've seen. Again, are you confusing him with me?
    I think that after you've been using words like 'supererogatory', and using words like 'mercy' in idiosyncratic ways, and making distinctions between 'morality' and 'good', it's a bit late to try to get on your high horse about plain English usage.
    If you're going to argue that (perfect) duties make up the whole of morality then you're giving one or other of the words a sense that is not the dominant sense in plain English.
    The notions that you can never be good enough and never be forgiven are characteristic of a type of psychological abuse...
    I think that if you're going to respond to questions about how it would feel to be excluded from service when innocent by saying that feelings don't matter to morality, you're not on strong grounds to respond that your opponent's position seems like a type of psychological abuse. Do consequences matter?
    I think we've already suggested that one can do one's share towards fulfilling an imperfect duty, and anything above and beyond one's share is supererogatory. You definitely picked up on the word 'share'.
    And also why exactly would one need to be forgiven if there isn't anyone specific whom you've wronged? (I'm not saying that there isn't anyone who is wronged. If the priest and Levite pass by on the other side, it certainly makes sense to say that the person whom they passed by either resents it or forgives them.)
    You appear to be regarding morality as essentially the subjective art of managing one's superego. So that the chief desideratum is that it gives you definite criteria by which you can tell your superego that you're in the clear.
  • Dafyd wrote: »
    I don't think mr cheesy has argued anything at length.

    :sunglasses:

    I'm not sure anyone else would agree..
    Are you maybe confusing mr cheesy with me?

    I suspect this is likely what has happened.
    Again, mr cheesy hasn't used any technical terms such as imperfect duty on this thread that I've seen. Again, are you confusing him with me?

    I've seen you use these terms but I'm pretty sure I haven't used them - because I don't formulate my ideas in this way.
    You appear to be regarding morality as essentially the subjective art of managing one's superego. So that the chief desideratum is that it gives you definite criteria by which you can tell your superego that you're in the clear.

    This.

  • EliabEliab Shipmate, Purgatory Host
    Russ wrote: »
    So what happens when the two aspects are brought together - when people of equally-estimable races also come from not-equally-suitable cultures for some particular purpose ? That's where clear thinking is needed...

    You mean, do I act morally if I use someone's race as a proxy for the culture to which he is likely to belong, infer from that that he probably has characteristics that I view as negative, because I suppose them to be prevalent in the culture he (probably) comes from, and use that inference as a justification for treating him worse than I would most people, all before I know anything about his actual words, actions or personality?

    No. I don't. That is obviously immoral.

    And there is absolutely no chance of you producing an argument that will lead to a single person active on this thread thinking: "You know what? Russ actually has a point - there are circumstances when it's OK to treat someone badly because of their race". All you are doing is undermining the credibility of any argument or principle that you put forward to support such a conclusion.


  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Dafyd wrote: »
    Russ wrote: »
    So basically you have no problem if all shopkeepers - and by extension the whole population - decide to boycott a minority.
    Conspiring to boycott an innocent group is an abuse of monopoly power, which is wrong.
    It is.
    Glad we agree on that.

    Seems to me that a lot of this is to do with individuals and groups.
    If an individual action isn't wrong, and it can't become wrong when summed, it can't be wrong for individuals to jointly decide to coordinate their individual actions.
    I disagree. By participating in joint decision-making, individuals intend the group-level outcome. In the absence of such participation, they may or may not intend that everyone else does the same as they do.
    While we're on those lines, if you don't think that the actions of other people can alter right or wrong, how do you account for the morality of speed restrictions or age of consent limits? You didn't respond to that earlier.

    I would say that in both cases there is a real wrong that the legislation seeks to prevent. But it is a blunt instrument, and therefore both criminalizes morally legitimate acts (exceeding the limit when it is safe to do so) and fails to catch morally wrong acts (driving within the limit but at a speed that is dangerous given the conditions - ice, crowds of pedestrians, whatever).

    People agree to put up with these rules, and vote for their continuance, without thinking that they accurately reflect moral duties. Because it seems better than the alternatives.

    And yes, you could say the same thing about the barman. That he's only human and will sometimes get it wrong one way and sometimes the other, but generally people put up with his imperfect decision-making because it seems better than the alternatives.

    In each case, the justification of the rule is the collective consent of the governed rather than it being morally right.

    In other words, it is wrong to (?refuse to? - R) serve innocent people on the grounds that they come from the same culture as people who might be guilty. Because innocence matters.

    If you take the position that all these blunt instruments are wrong because innocent people lose out, that seems to me a valid and consistent point of view.

    Nobody is born with a moral duty to serve drinks to other people. If you say that a would-be customer has a right to be served, that right comes from the implied promise on the "Bar - Open" sign on the front door. If the custom of the country adds implicit riders to that promise - "if you're over 18", "if you meet the barman's standards of being well-dressed and well-behaved" then there is no breach of rights when those conditions are enforced.
    You're trying to argue from consequences aren't the whole story to consequences aren't part of the story.
    No, I'm pointing out that the view that the consequences for the victim are what matters is a "whole story" argument.

    That may indeed have been Mr Cheesy's argument not yours; apologies for my lack of clarity.
    If you're going to argue that (perfect) duties make up the whole of morality then you're giving one or other of the words a sense that is not the dominant sense in plain English.

    No, I'm saying that perfect duties make up the whole of moral duty. And that morality is also about right intention, and about virtue.

    Duties are not trade-off-able. It's not OK to be a murderer if you make up for it by being kind to animals or generous to orphans. Whereas in assessing that you are a virtuous person one would allow your excellence in some areas to balance out your shortcomings in others.
    I think we've already suggested that one can do one's share towards fulfilling an imperfect duty, and anything above and beyond one's share is supererogatory.
    I don't think one's share is objectively real. Different societies may have different expectations as to what forms and level of help to one's neighbours is normal. But that doesn't make meeting those expectations a moral duty.
    You appear to be regarding morality as essentially the subjective art of managing one's superego. So that the chief desideratum is that it gives you definite criteria by which you can tell your superego that you're in the clear.

    Clarity of thought is a Good Thing in morality as in anything else. But the point of distinguishing duties from virtues is not internal peace. It is that when you are called upon to adjudicate between other people (whether that's Mr Barman and Mr Romani or anyone else) you do so not on the basis of your sympathies, and not on how much virtue you think each has displayed, but on the rights and duties involved. If you judge justly, you will sometimes find that the more virtuous man is in the wrong.

    Moral duties are universal standards we hold each other to. If A has stolen from B, then helping B to recover his property from A against A's will is justified. If A has not been as generous to B as your norms of virtue demand, you are not justified in taking A's property against his will to remedy his lack of virtue.
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    Russ wrote: »

    I would say that in both cases there is a real wrong that the legislation seeks to prevent. But it is a blunt instrument, and therefore both criminalizes morally legitimate acts (exceeding the limit when it is safe to do so) and fails to catch morally wrong acts (driving within the limit but at a speed that is dangerous given the conditions - ice, crowds of pedestrians, whatever).

    People agree to put up with these rules, and vote for their continuance, without thinking that they accurately reflect moral duties. Because it seems better than the alternatives.

    No. People "put up with" speed limits because there is plenty of evidence that excess speed kills.

    It's an entirely spurious argument to say that the speed limits are entirely random and that a moral person is being constrained by them.

    It's the type of thing mumbled by someone who has an infinite belief in their own driving abilities along with an extremely low understanding of car mechanics, reaction times and unwarranted suspicion of experts. And utter blindness to the deaths and injuries caused by speeding.

    Only someone who has had special training should ever speed. And yes, it is absolutely a moral issue.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Eliab wrote: »
    You mean, do I act morally if I use someone's race as a proxy for the culture to which he is likely to belong, infer from that that he probably has characteristics that I view as negative, because I suppose them to be prevalent in the culture he (probably) comes from, and use that inference as a justification for treating him worse than I would most people, all before I know anything about his actual words, actions or personality?
    I make that three steps:
    - inferring culture from race
    - inferring that the individual has a higher-than average probability of possessing the good and bad characteristics that are typical of his or her culture
    - taking decisions about people on the basis of probabilities before you get to know them as a person.

    To which of the three is your moral objection ?

    Is it morally wrong of the barman to refuse service to a Hell's Angel of his own race (acting on probabilities inferred from culture with race not an issue ?)

    If you live in a multi-cultural city like London, inferring someone's culture from their skin tone would be pretty difficult. But there are places in the world where it is less so. Is the inference from race to culture morally wrong even if it is a correct inference, or only if it is an incorrect inference ?

    If the barman doesn't use information about skin tone and physionomy in inferring that his would-be customer is Romany but makes this deduction from accent and costume alone, so that his inferrence of culture is not based on race, does that make any difference ?

    Where exactly is the problem ? Where are you drawing the line between the morally acceptable and the unacceptable ? What is the nature of this wrong ?


  • Hells Angels are not a race or an ethnic group. They are a racist criminal organization. Joining them is an individual's choice, and it is reasonable to infer that a member is not likely to respect the law or anyone else in the bar. They identify themselves with their colours.

    None of that is an argument for predicting criminal behabiour on the basis of racd or ethnucity. As has bern previously noted, no matter where or when, men break the law significantly more often than womem. Yet men are not pre-emptively barred from the places where they routinely cause trouble. They are not judged to be criminals because they share a chromosome with the vast majority of criminals. Au contraire, they are presumed to be good customers unless they behave otherwise. Perhaps you can tell us why that reasoning does not apply to other identities which are not as strongly correlated with criminal behaviour as being male is.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Hells Angels are not a race or an ethnic group. They are a racist criminal organization. Joining them is an individual's choice, and it is reasonable to infer that a member is not likely to respect the law or anyone else in the bar.

    And having made that valid inference, is it morally OK to act on it by politely asking the Hell's Angel to take his custom elsewhere ?
    men break the law significantly more often than womem...

    So it is a valid inference that a male customer is more likely to be a troublemaker than a woman ? Even though a man's maleness is something he can't change ?
    Perhaps you can tell us why that reasoning does not apply to other identities which are not as strongly correlated with criminal behaviour as being male is.

    I think where you're headed with this is an argument that if maleness is obviously a much more significant predictor of criminal tendencies than belonging to a minority culture is, then a barman who does not reflect this obvious fact in his judgments is more likely to be acting on a personal dislike of that ethnic minority than making an honest judgment, and that's morally wrong.

    And I agree with you.

  • Now you appear to be asking for assistance in deciding which totally-irrelevant factor you can take into account when refusing service. How about none of them?

    How about treating everyone in front of you as individuals not a collection of risk factors you can apply - factors which almost inevitably mean that white men almost always are the "most suitable" individuals for everything?
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    I make that three steps:
    To which of the three is your moral objection ?
    You seem to be assuming that if a process can be broken down into steps then the whole process can only be morally wrong if a specific step is morally wrong.
    That is obviously untrue.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    Dafyd wrote: »
    If an individual action isn't wrong, and it can't become wrong when summed, it can't be wrong for individuals to jointly decide to coordinate their individual actions.
    I disagree. By participating in joint decision-making, individuals intend the group-level outcome. In the absence of such participation, they may or may not intend that everyone else does the same as they do.
    An intention can only be wrong if it's an intention to do something wrong. It can't make something wrong that isn't wrong already.
    And yes, you could say the same thing about the barman. That he's only human and will sometimes get it wrong one way and sometimes the other, but generally people put up with his imperfect decision-making because it seems better than the alternatives.
    The alternative is that the barman refrains from making judgements on the basis of race or culture broadly described. That certainly seems better.
    In each case, the justification of the rule is the collective consent of the governed rather than it being morally right.
    That would imply that the rule is not open to rational criticism, which is clearly wrong.
    You're trying to argue from consequences aren't the whole story to consequences aren't part of the story.
    No, I'm pointing out that the view that the consequences for the victim are what matters is a "whole story" argument.
    But it isn't a whole story argument.
    I think we've already suggested that one can do one's share towards fulfilling an imperfect duty, and anything above and beyond one's share is supererogatory.
    I don't think one's share is objectively real. Different societies may have different expectations as to what forms and level of help to one's neighbours is normal.
    Again this would imply that a societies' expectations are beyond rational criticism. Which is not true.
    It is that when you are called upon to adjudicate between other people (whether that's Mr Barman and Mr Romani or anyone else) you do so not on the basis of your sympathies, and not on how much virtue you think each has displayed, but on the rights and duties involved. If you judge justly, you will sometimes find that the more virtuous man is in the wrong.
    The only circumstances under which I'm called upon to adjudicate between other people is when my children are involved. In which case, it's usually appropriate to make some reference to the virtue of sharing or being kind.
    The law is there to adjudicate between people. The law ought to adjudicate justly, but that doesn't mean that the sole or chief purpose of morality is to adjudicate.
    Moral duties are universal standards we hold each other to. If A has stolen from B, then helping B to recover his property from A against A's will is justified. If A has not been as generous to B as your norms of virtue demand, you are not justified in taking A's property against his will to remedy his lack of virtue.
    I would say that holding ourselves to our moral duties is more important than holding other people.
    The reason one's entitled to recover B's property from A is that it's B's property. But even then the police would tend to look unkindly upon breaking and entering A's property as a private citizen.
    As a private citizen, not involved in the enforcement of the law, I can just as well hold people to account for vicious behaviour (that is, behaviour contrary to some virtue) as for breaches of duties.

    I rather think that 'not causing trouble in a bar' is a universal standard. And a barman excluding people on that ground is holding them to that universal standard. So that a barman excluding people from the bar on the grounds that people of their 'culture' is on your account exercising a moral judgement. And you're insistent that moral judgements should only be exercised on the basis of individual behaviour.

    Except when you consider them "victims", that is, lacking the power to effectively hold others to universal standards, which to your mind means that they forfeit any right to have others held to those standards.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Dafyd wrote: »
    a barman excluding people from the bar on the grounds that people of their 'culture' is on your account exercising a moral judgement. And you're insistent that moral judgements should only be exercised on the basis of individual behaviour.

    If it were a moral judgment, then yes I would want to insist that the would-be customer is innocent until proven guilty.

    It is or should be a prudential judgment. Based on the barman's first-hand experience, and the second-hand experience from those who trained him in the job, of who is or is not a likely troublemaker.

    Nobody thinks the barman is 100% accurate. He's not finding people guilty of intent to smash up the bar. He's applying a precautionary principle.

    And it seems to me that most people are OK with that as long as those they perceive as victim-groups are not disproportionately represented among the excluded. Is that not the case ?

    Seems like some people are so invested in the narrative of victimhood that they cannot conceive of the possibility that the barman is empirically correct in identifying Romany or Irish culture as a risk factor. But that is an empirical question - it either is or is not the case in the particular place and time where this bar is located.


  • Russ wrote: »
    Dafyd wrote: »
    a barman excluding people from the bar on the grounds that people of their 'culture' is on your account exercising a moral judgement. And you're insistent that moral judgements should only be exercised on the basis of individual behaviour.

    If it were a moral judgment, then yes I would want to insist that the would-be customer is innocent until proven guilty.

    It is or should be a prudential judgment. Based on the barman's first-hand experience, and the second-hand experience from those who trained him in the job, of who is or is not a likely troublemaker.

    Nobody thinks the barman is 100% accurate. He's not finding people guilty of intent to smash up the bar. He's applying a precautionary principle.

    And it seems to me that most people are OK with that as long as those they perceive as victim-groups are not disproportionately represented among the excluded. Is that not the case ?

    Seems like some people are so invested in the narrative of victimhood that they cannot conceive of the possibility that the barman is empirically correct in identifying Romany or Irish culture as a risk factor. But that is an empirical question - it either is or is not the case in the particular place and time where this bar is located.


    I'm quite invested in the idea that Irish and Romany men should be judged on the content of their character rather than that they are Irish or Romany.

    If they are to be thrown out of a pub, then let's at least be sure it is because they are actually bad drunks or thieves rather than because they are Irish or Romany and talk funny.

    Because, strange as it might seem, I'd not like to be thrown out of a pub because of something I can't change like ethnicity. I'd not like to find all shop doors in town closed to me because I'm Romany. I'd not like to find beaches closed to me because I'm black. I'd not like having to put up with inferior everything because I'm Jewish.

    We white Protestants tried that shit. We took it to its logical conclusion - which was the gas chamber.

    We've grown up a bit. And we've realised that it is right and proper to have laws to protect people who've experienced shit like that from people like me.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    If they are to be thrown out of a pub, then let's at least be sure it is because they are actually bad drunks or thieves...

    That sounds like it would be a fine principle. If you applied it to everyone.
    we've realised that it is right and proper to have laws to protect people who've experienced shit like that from people like me.

    Does it matter to you whether the barman is Irish or Romany himself ?

    Do you not realise how you've contradicted yourself? How by "shit like that" you condemn the same cultural particularity that you spout when you say "people like me".
  • Russ wrote: »

    Does it matter to you whether the barman is Irish or Romany himself ?

    Highly unlikely an Irish barman would voluntarily exclude an Irish drinker for being Irish. About the only circumstances I can imagine that happening is when the Irish barman is instructed by his employer to refuse to serve Irish drinkers.
    Do you not realise how you've contradicted yourself? How by "shit like that" you condemn the same cultural particularity that you spout when you say "people like me".

    No, I don't realise that. Because it seems like no contradiction to me.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    Do you not realise how you've contradicted yourself? How by "shit like that" you condemn the same cultural particularity that you spout when you say "people like me".
    This is what is called in logic a dilemma. Either Mr Cheesy is wrong to do it because it is wrong in general, and therefore the barman is in the wrong; or Mr Cheesy is right and therefore the barman is in the wrong. Either way, the barman is in the wrong.
    To reverse the dilemma you'd have to somehow argue that although it's wrong for Mr Cheesy it's ok for the barman. That looks tricky.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    Dafyd wrote: »
    a barman excluding people from the bar on the grounds that people of their 'culture' is on your account exercising a moral judgement. And you're insistent that moral judgements should only be exercised on the basis of individual behaviour.

    If it were a moral judgment, then yes I would want to insist that the would-be customer is innocent until proven guilty.

    It is or should be a prudential judgment. Based on the barman's first-hand experience, and the second-hand experience from those who trained him in the job, of who is or is not a likely troublemaker.
    You've just defined a moral judgement as a judgement about standards that we hold people to. Excluding people from your bar because you expect them to make trouble is holding them to a standard. By 'prudential judgement' you mean holding someone to a standard based not on past behaviour but on future consequences. There don't seem to me to be any good grounds for thinking that the requirements for the latter should be less stringent than the former. If it's wrong to sanction people on deterrent grounds for past conduct it's wrong to sanction them on deterrent grounds for possible future conduct.
    And it seems to me that most people are OK with that as long as those they perceive as victim-groups are not disproportionately represented among the excluded. Is that not the case ?
    Actually I think there are good grounds for thinking that any such exclusion not based on individual behaviour is wrong.
    However, if membership of a perceived group is regularly used as grounds to unfairly exclude people then that perceived group is more likely to be what you charmingly call 'perceived as a victim group' as a result of being regularly unfairly treated.
    Seems like some people are so invested in the narrative of victimhood that they cannot conceive of the possibility that the barman is empirically correct in identifying Romany or Irish culture as a risk factor.
    As noted earlier, your argument that there's no such thing as society equally proves that there's no such thing as cultures to be risk factors.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Dafyd wrote: »
    Actually I think there are good grounds for thinking that any such exclusion not based on individual behaviour is wrong.
    That seems to me perfectly reasonable.

    This thread is about the double standard of those who adopt that position - that people should be treated according to their individual behaviour - more selectively. Who for example think it horribly wrong that a Jewish person should be made to pay for the presumed wrongs committed by other Jews, while insisting that white Protestants should pay for wrongs committed by other white Protestants.
    your argument that there's no such thing as society equally proves that there's no such thing as cultures to be risk factors.

    Of course culture exists - as a set of emergent behaviour patterns - just as societies exist - as groups of interacting individuals.

    But individual people are primary. Strictly speaking, only people can make promises, or can make moral choices. Sometimes it's convenient to talk as if a society was a person, but that's an analogy rather than literal truth.

    So when you're tempted to say that "society believes" something or "society owes" someone, stop and think - do you mean all the people, or some of the people ? Because if you equivocate, e.g. imply "some" in the premises and "all" in the conclusion, then your conclusion is likely to be false.

  • Russ wrote: »
    Dafyd wrote: »
    Actually I think there are good grounds for thinking that any such exclusion not based on individual behaviour is wrong.
    That seems to me perfectly reasonable.

    This thread is about the double standard of those who adopt that position - that people should be treated according to their individual behaviour - more selectively. Who for example think it horribly wrong that a Jewish person should be made to pay for the presumed wrongs committed by other Jews, while insisting that white Protestants should pay for wrongs committed by other white Protestants.
    your argument that there's no such thing as society equally proves that there's no such thing as cultures to be risk factors.

    Of course culture exists - as a set of emergent behaviour patterns - just as societies exist - as groups of interacting individuals.

    But individual people are primary. Strictly speaking, only people can make promises, or can make moral choices. Sometimes it's convenient to talk as if a society was a person, but that's an analogy rather than literal truth.

    So when you're tempted to say that "society believes" something or "society owes" someone, stop and think - do you mean all the people, or some of the people ? Because if you equivocate, e.g. imply "some" in the premises and "all" in the conclusion, then your conclusion is likely to be false.

    I now understand what you were saying to me a few posts back. But your statements only work if one ignores structural historical unfairnesses and bundles together abusers and victims as being the same.

    It's a wicked lie to say that Jews are the cause of problems in the world. They are a group which the same kinds of lies have been spoken for thousands of years. Lies leading to discrimination, pogroms and massacres.

    It's also a lie to say that Irish are lazy and Romanies are thieves.

    But it is not a lie to say that white Protestants supported the Holocaust (nor, that the Arians were intended to be a white master race). Nor a lie to say that White British people abused the Empire for financial gain. Nor a lie to say that white Anglo-saxons treated Black skinned people as slaves. That's not a lie, that's a horrific truth.

    So when we say that white people have a dominant space in society - then we can talk about these things that supported that privilege. Because they're true.

    We can't, for example, claim that a Jew gets into a powerful position because Jews are an evil power suckering global media or that Black people should not be able to do things because their brains are inferior.

    Because those things are lies.

    And there is a difference between truth and lies.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Sounds like you're pinning your opposition (to discrimination) to the falsity of the underlying belief. Saying that the barman is wrong because his negative perception of Irish or Romany culture is false, but you're right because your account of inter-racial history is true.

    Would you admit that he's right if the evidence were there to demonstrate that there is truth in his pre-judgments ? If the statistics showed that (in his locality) Irish or Romany drinkers are more likely to cause trouble ?
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    Russ wrote: »
    Sounds like you're pinning your opposition (to discrimination) to the falsity of the underlying belief. Saying that the barman is wrong because his negative perception of Irish or Romany culture is false, but you're right because your account of inter-racial history is true.

    Would you admit that he's right if the evidence were there to demonstrate that there is truth in his pre-judgments ? If the statistics showed that (in his locality) Irish or Romany drinkers are more likely to cause trouble ?

    It's not my truth. It's not my account. It's The Truth.

    FFS, this is such a stupid circular conversation where you seem totally unwilling and unable to perceive the simple fact that certain minorities have faced hundreds - sometimes thousands - of years of abuse by the majority. And that the majority is accurately described as white men.

    If white men decide that Irish are lazy or Romany are thieves, it doesn't actually matter what the truth is, does it. The lies become truth when white men decide it is.

    Saying that the Irish were lazy served a purpose. It justified mistreatment of navies and labourers. It justified doing nothing whilst Irish starved.

    The very idea that anyone could entertain the idea that an Irish person could or should be excluded from a bar because "the Irish" cause fights or are drunks is utterly nuts.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    mr cheesy But it is not a lie to say that white Protestants supported the Holocaust (nor, that the Arians were intended to be a white master race). Nor a lie to say that White British people abused the Empire for financial gain. Nor a lie to say that white Anglo-saxons treated Black skinned people as slaves. That's not a lie, that's a horrific truth.

    IST, mr cheesy, you are guilty of the very thing you criticise Russ, but perhaps you were being ironic. Your assertions may be true, but they are misleadingly true and not the whole truth. It's rather like saying the Germans supported Hitler is The Truth, but omitting to mention those (the majority) who did not, especially the Jews. At least you could have written as follows to minimise the rhetorical inaccuracy:

    But it is not a lie to say that some white Protestants supported the Holocaust (nor, that a Naszi-identified race of Arians were intended to be a white master race). Nor a lie to say that some White British people abused the Empire for financial gain. Nor a lie to say that some white Anglo-saxons treated Black skinned people as slaves. That's not a lie, that's a horrific truth.


  • I don't think you understand the concept of privilege, in particular how it acts disproportionately for the white majority and against various minorities.

    Naziism was a deep expression of White Privilege taken to ludicrous, murderous extremes.

    If it had just been an action that some white Protestant Europeans supported, it would have had very limited impact.

    You can believe it or not, it's a reality for various underprivileged groups who were abused by the privileged - who are very largely white and male.
  • Consider the alternative; that we believe society is fundamentally fair and that every person, no matter their social and historical background get a fair crack of the whip. That nobody is held back by anything.

    Then that's somehow saying that the Irish are workshy, that black people are too stupid to take on positions of responsibility, that women and homosexuals and others are only not achieving because they are not trying hard enough.

    Saying that white people should not be disadvantaged by black or Asian people is to say that somehow white people are more suited to positions of power, are more intelligent, are more adaptable or whatever.

    Believing instead in an almost impenetrable wall of white privilege seems far simpler and matches the lives experienced by minorities.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Russ wrote: »
    Dafyd wrote: »
    Actually I think there are good grounds for thinking that any such exclusion not based on individual behaviour is wrong.
    That seems to me perfectly reasonable.

    This thread is about the double standard of those who adopt that position - that people should be treated according to their individual behaviour - more selectively. Who for example think it horribly wrong that a Jewish person should be made to pay for the presumed wrongs committed by other Jews, while insisting that white Protestants should pay for wrongs committed by other white Protestants.
    I think even Mr Cheesy isn't advocating the government goes through past census forms and sends a bill to everyone whose parents were white Protestants. I think that is something of a straw man.
    It's also not the case that excluding someone from a bar because you hold opinions about the character of their kind, on the one hand, is the same as thinking that people who via their ancestors have benefitted from past wrongs should return some of that benefit to those who are worse off because of those wrongs, on the other.
    your argument that there's no such thing as society equally proves that there's no such thing as cultures to be risk factors.
    Of course culture exists - as a set of emergent behaviour patterns - just as societies exist - as groups of interacting individuals.
    So are you retracting your claim that societies and other aggregates of individuals are not well-defined things?
    But individual people are primary. Strictly speaking, only people can make promises, or can make moral choices. Sometimes it's convenient to talk as if a society was a person, but that's an analogy rather than literal truth.
    Can corporations make promises or moral choices? Does it matter whether the society they exist within has legal rules allowing for the establishment and existence of corporations?
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    It's not my account. It's The Truth.

    Someone - put that in the quotes file...

    Mr Cheesy - to take the most obvious example, your account mentions that white Protestants supported the Holocaust but does not mention that white Protestants opposed the Holocaust and fought against the Nazis. It is therefore at best a partial truth.

    To reason from "some white Protestants supported the Holocaust and some didn't" to any proposition about all white Protestants is clearly invalid logic.

    Your facts may be true, but they don't prove what you want them to.

    Dafyd summed it up:
    Dafyd wrote: »
    who seriously thinks they can justify abusing a Jew because other Jews are known to be thieves other than a far right nutjob?

    Those far-right nutjobs are wrong. Wrong to abuse the individual person before them. Wrong to want to make him pay for the misdeeds they believe others to have committed. And wrong to hold their prejudicial belief as a doctrine in defiance of the evidence.

    Being mistaken is not a moral failing. Someone who lived 100 years ago might well believe that Jews as a race are unscrupulously acquisitive, if that's what their culture told them and they had no personal experience to the contrary. What is bad is if they cling to that belief, instead of letting it be eroded (e.g. by contact with the good Jewish folk next door) when it becomes clear that the evidence for it isn't there.

    But you, Mr Cheesy, as far as I can tell from your words, exhibit the nutjob mentality to the full. You cling to your doctrine that nothing negative about victim groups could possibly be true. You want white Protestants to pay for what other white Protestants did in the past, and you seem happy to heap abuse on those you perceive as racist. Invert your prejudices and you'd be entirely at home with the far-right.

    That's not a good way to be. Why can't we be polite to everyone, treating everyone as an individual insofar as that is practically possible, countering prejudice with openness to evidence ?

    Presumably because you don't think that will lead to the outcome you want ?
  • Yeah, I'm a nutjob who thinks there are persecuted minorities who have been abused for centuries by the system controlled by the majority.

    I'm a nutjob who thinks that the system needs recalibrating.

    I'm a nutjob who isn't prepared to allow white supremist bollocks spouted by over-privileged men - who haven't the foggiest idea about the reality of life for people in disadvantaged groups - go unchallenged.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    Russ wrote: »
    Dafyd summed it up:
    Dafyd wrote: »
    who seriously thinks they can justify abusing a Jew because other Jews are known to be thieves other than a far right nutjob?
    No I didn't. That was Mr Cheesy.
    I do think this kind of carelessness is symptomatic of the effort you seem to be making to understand points of view it suits you not to understand.
  • Anyway, I'm not trying to pretend that individual white men directly should pay - that's totally impractical.

    I'm saying that the system needs to be recognised as fundamentally flawed, as having ingrained discrimination against specific groups and that it needs to be changed.

    That only looks like an attack on white men because they overwhelmingly benefit from society and the way things are run overwhelmingly are advantageous for white, middle class men. The further someone is from that description of privilege, the more excluded from society one is and the harder it is to do anything beyond the mundane.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    Naziism was a deep expression of White Privilege taken to ludicrous, murderous extremes.

    If it had just been an action that some white Protestant Europeans supported, it would have had very limited impact.

    You seem to be ignoring the white Protestant Europeans who fought and died in order to destroy the Nazis and their hateful ideology. And I’m not just thinking of the British, there were Poles, Dutch, French, etc involved too.

    It was only some white Protestant Europeans. That’s a historical fact. And if it’s wrong to attribute the crimes of some people to their whole race then it’s wrong to do so regardless of what that race is. Even when it’s white Protestant Europeans.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    Naziism was a deep expression of White Privilege taken to ludicrous, murderous extremes.

    If it had just been an action that some white Protestant Europeans supported, it would have had very limited impact.

    You seem to be ignoring the white Protestant Europeans who fought and died in order to destroy the Nazis and their hateful ideology. And I’m not just thinking of the British, there were Poles, Dutch, French, etc involved too.

    It was only some white Protestant Europeans. That’s a historical fact. And if it’s wrong to attribute the crimes of some people to their whole race then it’s wrong to do so regardless of what that race is. Even when it’s white Protestant Europeans.

    When white Europeans have power, they utterly wipe others off the face of the planet.

    You can't say that about Romany people.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    When white Europeans have power, they utterly wipe others off the face of the planet.

    Everyone who has gained sufficient power, throughout history, has killed and destroyed other peoples and cultures. It’s not a White European thing, it’s a human thing.

    If Attila the Hun had had modern military technology then there would only be Huns on the planet right now.
  • EliabEliab Shipmate, Purgatory Host
    Russ wrote: »
    I make that three steps:
    - inferring culture from race
    - inferring that the individual has a higher-than average probability of possessing the good and bad characteristics that are typical of his or her culture
    - taking decisions about people on the basis of probabilities before you get to know them as a person.

    To which of the three is your moral objection ?


    My objection is that your whole analysis is bullshit.


    If we were discussing the best strategy to win at "Twenty Questions" then it is possible that we could have a productive discussion about the extent to which one's ignorance about a person would be reduced by asking "Are you black?"

    In most cases, I suspect the answer would reveal very little whichever way it is answered, but perhaps there are special case where that would be a useful thing to know.


    However what we are talking about are examples of treating people worse than you would otherwise do on the basis of no information other than their race. That is the thing you are defending, and the problem that you have is that the thing you are defending is manifestly unfair. No decent person treats other people like that. No rational person wants to be treated like that.

    Making out a slight statistical link between race and culture or between culture and behaviour is basically irrelevant to the moral issue, which is that I don't get to treat you worse because of what I imagine other people who look a bit like you might have done. That's simply not a defence of racism that deserves to be taken seriously and you make your arguments look even more stupid and unjust every time you repeat it.

  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Eliab wrote: »
    what we are talking about are examples of treating people worse than you would otherwise do on the basis of no information other than their race. That is the thing you are defending, and the problem that you have is that the thing you are defending is manifestly unfair. No decent person treats other people like that. No rational person wants to be treated like that.

    Making out a slight statistical link between race and culture or between culture and behaviour is basically irrelevant to the moral issue, which is that I don't get to treat you worse because of what I imagine other people who look a bit like you might have done.

    Are you saying he's wrong to exclude a Hell's Angel because of what he's heard that other Hell's Angels have done ?

    If Mr Barman uses no information other than race then he's not doing his job very well. I'm not defending that; I'm arguing that he should use all the information at his disposal so as to make the best attempt he can at excluding troublemakers and only troublemakers.

    Whether any statistical correlations that he makes use of in his decision process are slight or strong or totally spurious is an empirical question, of which we cannot justifiably claim prior knowledge.

    Suppose the barman's judgment is replaced by computer software. (Bar owner puts up a CCTV camera and records all his customers as they come in. For a year he serves everyone and employs a bouncer to eject those who start to make trouble. Then he trains a neural network using all the images, telling it which customers caused trouble. Then he connects the software to the live CCTV feed and refuses to serve those people whom the software flags as probable troublemakers.

    Is that still morally wrong ? The bar owner is still treating people worse because they resemble others who have done wrong.
    But human prejudice has been eliminated from the system.

    Where in your ethic is the line between right and wrong ?
  • You’re assuming the bouncer would be fair and unbiased in his decisions about whom to eject. If he isn’t - if, for example, his prejudice against Romany people means he ejects then for far less than anyone else - then however good the software is it will still be perpetuating that unfairness.
  • EliabEliab Shipmate, Purgatory Host
    Russ wrote: »
    Are you saying he's wrong to exclude a Hell's Angel because of what he's heard that other Hell's Angels have done ?

    Yes, because obviously advertising one's affiliation to membership of an organisation with a reputation for criminal activity is exactly the same thing as being born into a particular race.
    If Mr Barman uses no information other than race then he's not doing his job very well. I'm not defending that;

    Yes, you are defending that. Because if he has information to prove that I'm a trouble-maker that is unrelated to race, he doesn't need to factor in race at all. And if he doesn't, he commits an injustice if he uses my race to reach that conclusion.
    Whether any statistical correlations that he makes use of in his decision process are slight or strong or totally spurious is an empirical question, of which we cannot justifiably claim prior knowledge.

    It's an irrelevant question. What other people of my race have done simply isn't a justification for judging me likely to be guilty of the same conduct. It's a bullshit argument as a matter of principle.

    I'd add that, as an aside, there is an excellent a priori reason to suppose that "race" or "culture" alone (that is, culture in the broad sense as opposed to voluntary membership of a particular sub-culture) is a poor predictor of anti-social behaviour, because for a group of humans to form a breeding population for long enough that incidental physical features breed true they must necessarily be capable of functioning as a stable society. Therefore most people, of all races, are going to conduct themselves reasonably well for most of the time, and what you are essentially measuring are different rates of atypical behaviour. But that's a secondary objection.
    Suppose the barman's judgment is replaced by computer software. (Bar owner puts up a CCTV camera and records all his customers as they come in. For a year he serves everyone and employs a bouncer to eject those who start to make trouble. Then he trains a neural network using all the images, telling it which customers caused trouble. Then he connects the software to the live CCTV feed and refuses to serve those people whom the software flags as probable troublemakers.

    If the computer has advanced facial recognition software, then it is spotting actual trouble-makers. That is, it judges me by what I have personally done. Obviously to be fair the system has to factor in the possibility of error, and allow for mistaken identities to be corrected, and part of making those fair provisions will necessarily mean making sure that it works properly in identifying individuals of all races, but in principle judging people by what they personally do is not unjust.

    But for the analogy to work, you must instead be thinking of a computer that is programmed to recognise my race, rather than me personally, and keep data files on the incidents of trouble-making caused by each of the racial categories that it recognises, and that is emphatically NOT a system free of prejudice. You will have programmed it with your categories, and told it to treat all people in each of those categories as if they were the same. And that is unjust. Even if you don't know in advance which category you'll end up being most unfair to, you do know that your system is set up to be unfair. As soon as you tell the computer, in effect, to blame me for everything that people of my race have done, you have already acted unfairly. The word we give to that sort of unfairness is "racism" and what you are proposing is programming a computer to be racist.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    then however good the software is it will still be perpetuating that unfairness.
    It is known.

  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Eliab: I'd add that, as an aside, there is an excellent a priori reason to suppose that "race" or "culture" alone (that is, culture in the broad sense as opposed to voluntary membership of a particular sub-culture) is a poor predictor of anti-social behaviour, because for a group of humans to form a breeding population for long enough that incidental physical features breed true they must necessarily be capable of functioning as a stable society. Therefore most people, of all races, are going to conduct themselves reasonably well for most of the time, and what you are essentially measuring are different rates of atypical behaviour

    Hold on, Eliab, while your reasoning might be true regarding relationships within a particular culture it does not explain relationships between cultures both within states and between states. Indeed, it might prove the opposite: that competition for space to allow an increase in population (breeding space) for a particular ethnic group may well involve the annihilation of another. There are many historical examples to back this up, not least the colonisation of the Americas. Hostility towards other ethnic groups, especially those with ways of life different from the majority, (Romanies, for example), seem to be a general feature of most societies. The God of Israel is not the only Deity who recognised the value of being fruitful and multiplying, now ever more important with the onset of democracy.




  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    Kwesi wrote: »
    Eliab: I'd add that, as an aside, there is an excellent a priori reason to suppose that "race" or "culture" alone (that is, culture in the broad sense as opposed to voluntary membership of a particular sub-culture) is a poor predictor of anti-social behaviour, because for a group of humans to form a breeding population for long enough that incidental physical features breed true they must necessarily be capable of functioning as a stable society. Therefore most people, of all races, are going to conduct themselves reasonably well for most of the time, and what you are essentially measuring are different rates of atypical behaviour

    Hold on, Eliab, while your reasoning might be true regarding relationships within a particular culture it does not explain relationships between cultures both within states and between states. Indeed, it might prove the opposite: that competition for space to allow an increase in population (breeding space) for a particular ethnic group may well involve the annihilation of another. There are many historical examples to back this up, not least the colonisation of the Americas. Hostility towards other ethnic groups, especially those with ways of life different from the majority, (Romanies, for example), seem to be a general feature of most societies. The God of Israel is not the only Deity who recognised the value of being fruitful and multiplying, now ever more important with the onset of democracy.




    Wait, are you saying genocide is justifiable?
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    mr cheesy: Wait, are you saying genocide is justifiable?

    Not at all. What I am saying is that hostility between different ethnic groups is a ubiquitous and natural feature of human behaviour and one can understand why that is the case. If it were otherwise the seemingly intractable racial problems arising from European expansionism over the last five hundred years, (to take but one example), would not be proving so difficult to rectify. Eliab's position, IMO, that such behaviour is atypical for human beings is based on fatally flawed premises and leads us to underestimate the depths of the problem. The human condition is rooted in original sin (the mechanisms of the evolutionary process), and humanity needs to be saved from it.
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