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The difference between a democracy and an oclocracy
Posted: 13 April 2008 11:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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lindajean - 13 April 2008 03:35 PM
arildno - 13 April 2008 03:12 PM

Why are one obliged to perform actions one cannot perform?

I would say one ought to put forth effort to perform the action and a person has an obligation to do that. If you have a sick child and have no money to get him to the doctor then you still have a moral obligation to find help, ask a friend, seek out a relative or at least take him to the doctor and tell her you have no money (and then she has a moral obligation to help you even if she doesn’t get paid.)

Another example:  There is a genocide in Darfur (or something of that nature.) Governments across the globe claim there is no solution and they have no way to stop it. Yet, I argue we, the Western world have a moral obligation to work together to end the genocide.  Is it feasible to send in troops to stop it?  Probably not.  So does that indicate we no longer have a moral obligation? No, it does not. It means we attempt to try other measures and we work together as a block of nations to put pressure on the Sudanese to stop the killing. Groups can rationalize that this is not feasible.  Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t but the obligation is still there.

In all cases, you point out that there are options we CAN perform, and of course, we may have obligations to perform these.

The problem with moral obligations is how do you know when you have reached the point where it is no longer feasible? This is often a matter of judgment and something people will disagree on.

That is a wholly separate issue.

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Posted: 14 April 2008 06:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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arildno said:

“In all cases, you point out that there are options we CAN perform, and of course, we may have obligations to perform these.”

You are correct. While I think many moral issues tend to be black and white, often the solutions to them involve shades of grey.  Sometimes we are simply between a rock and a hard spot, and when there is absolutely no options or solutions, then you are correct, our obligation must be null. But I cannot let humans off the hook too easily. In hypotheticals, it is easy to say yes we can do it or no we cannot. The black and white is easier to determine.  In the real world, I am not too eager to let go of moral obligation because (imo) it seems we often tell ourselves we do not have the means to address it, when in reality we simply do not have the will.

Now, admittedly, there may be good reasons (and some poor ones)  for all of this,  but I will argue that in a world with seemingly infinite resources and brain power, and not always much will, my argument that we have an obligation is true most of the time.  I would also add, that in many cases, the lack of will comes from a lack of collective will and not necessarily individual will. Yet it is often the individual who lacks the means, while the collective, having the means, lacks the will.

I stated: “The problem with moral obligations is how do you know when you have reached the point where it is no longer feasible? This is often a matter of judgment and something people will disagree on.”

You stated: “That is a wholly separate issue.”

You are right, again.  But it adds to the shades of gray and to the complexities of the problem.

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Posted: 15 April 2008 12:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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lindajean - 14 April 2008 10:39 PM

arildno said:

“In all cases, you point out that there are options we CAN perform, and of course, we may have obligations to perform these.”

You are correct. While I think many moral issues tend to be black and white, often the solutions to them involve shades of grey.  Sometimes we are simply between a rock and a hard spot, and when there is absolutely no options or solutions, then you are correct, our obligation must be null. But I cannot let humans off the hook too easily. In hypotheticals, it is easy to say yes we can do it or no we cannot. The black and white is easier to determine.  In the real world, I am not too eager to let go of moral obligation because (imo) it seems we often tell ourselves we do not have the means to address it, when in reality we simply do not have the will.

Certainly, I am not arguing for the virtues of complacency. However, as I see it, although the FULL moral discussion includes many different, relevant factors, that does not mean that we cannot make any valid sub-arguments, even if the whole is hard to resolve.
But even if what I have pointed out is generally only a sub-argument (the validity of which we agree upon), this is in itself important, since we are brought further:
A person, who genuinely thinks he had no options, and it is clear that he racked his brains in order to find such, rather than sink into complacency, such a person cannot really be faulty even if WE are in a position to point out an option he managed to miss.
This basically ties up to your point that we should make the effort, even if we don’t succeed, and I don’t disagree with that.


I’ll make a few points later on

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Posted: 02 July 2008 06:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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arildno - 20 March 2008 11:57 AM

Famously, Aristotle had an idea that there existed three good type of governments that easily could pervert into bad governments:

Monarchy could degenerate into tyranny.

Aristocracy could degenerate into oligarchy.

And,

Democracy could degenerate into oclocracy (rule of the mob).


While we may be justifiedly suspicious as to whether monarchy or aristocracy are good type of governments, Aristotle does have a point that various governmental types can carry within them the seeds for their own destruction.

That is also the case with democracies, also the modern forms of them:

The oclocracy is essentially a type of government that says ALL attitudes, laws and rights in a society can be dispensed with/ instituted insofar as the majority of the populace wishes it.

But note that this is utterly at odds with the concept of individual RIGHTS.
Whether we regard rights as inalienable or as prima facie rights in a contractual, egalitarian sense, if we are to follow the oclocratic model, the individual as such has NO rights other than those the prevailing majority might concede to him.
If the majority desire to kill all elderly women because sagging breasts are ugly, then the oclocratic model says they are fully entitled to do so.

Yet, in a rights system, the individual can command a degree of respect from the majority on basis of his non-violation of the basic contract.

In order for a rights-based system to actually function, therefore, the desires of the majority are NOT to be regarded as intrinsically valid, but only insofar as they are consonant with the underlying system of rights.
And, equally importantly, if a minority sees that THEIR rights, or some other individuals’ rights are threatened and undermined, then such a minority must be conceded the right to subdue the majority, with violence if necessary.

Thus, to go against the opinion of the majority can be morally justifiable.

A democracy (in the sense of a good government) can then be defined as a system in which the majority vote is to be respected/implemented, INSOFAR as that vote does not violate basic individual rights.
If it does, then it is invalid.

In Switzerland, where they have direct democracy, women didn’t get the vote until 1971.  And in one canton, they didn’t get the vote until 1990.

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Posted: 03 July 2008 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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Airy Spirit - 02 July 2008 10:37 PM
arildno - 20 March 2008 11:57 AM

Famously, Aristotle had an idea that there existed three good type of governments that easily could pervert into bad governments:

Monarchy could degenerate into tyranny.

Aristocracy could degenerate into oligarchy.

And,

Democracy could degenerate into oclocracy (rule of the mob).


While we may be justifiedly suspicious as to whether monarchy or aristocracy are good type of governments, Aristotle does have a point that various governmental types can carry within them the seeds for their own destruction.

That is also the case with democracies, also the modern forms of them:

The oclocracy is essentially a type of government that says ALL attitudes, laws and rights in a society can be dispensed with/ instituted insofar as the majority of the populace wishes it.

But note that this is utterly at odds with the concept of individual RIGHTS.
Whether we regard rights as inalienable or as prima facie rights in a contractual, egalitarian sense, if we are to follow the oclocratic model, the individual as such has NO rights other than those the prevailing majority might concede to him.
If the majority desire to kill all elderly women because sagging breasts are ugly, then the oclocratic model says they are fully entitled to do so.

Yet, in a rights system, the individual can command a degree of respect from the majority on basis of his non-violation of the basic contract.

In order for a rights-based system to actually function, therefore, the desires of the majority are NOT to be regarded as intrinsically valid, but only insofar as they are consonant with the underlying system of rights.
And, equally importantly, if a minority sees that THEIR rights, or some other individuals’ rights are threatened and undermined, then such a minority must be conceded the right to subdue the majority, with violence if necessary.

Thus, to go against the opinion of the majority can be morally justifiable.

A democracy (in the sense of a good government) can then be defined as a system in which the majority vote is to be respected/implemented, INSOFAR as that vote does not violate basic individual rights.
If it does, then it is invalid.

In Switzerland, where they have direct democracy, women didn’t get the vote until 1971.  And in one canton, they didn’t get the vote until 1990.

Indeed, that is a good example of oclocratic rule.

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