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Thread: Moral call of duty to public service?

  1. #11
    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    Of course. There's nothing wrong with freely, willfully, voluntarily helping others where help is needed or wanted.

    That's not at all the same as concepts like duty, obligation, or responsibility. Which replaces an optional because I want to with because I must (or else).

    As for which is better. In short, as I see it - freedom is always better than obligation, overall and for everyone (whether they acknowledge it or otherwise).
    I agree. It's like the difference between doing work you enjoy, and work you just do for the paycheck. Ironically, in either case, I find I'm most interested in getting to the end of my shift with the smallest perception of time passing, but that's because no matter how much I enjoy my work, it represents time that isn't mine.

    Obligation is a tricky beast though. One of the reasons we create new obligation is because a particular need isn't being met voluntarily. The rigid logician in me says there is no obligation until the obligation is codified. The fuzzy logician says that if failure to have sufficient volunteerism results in an obligation being codified, there was an obligation all along, it just didn't have teeth yet.

    Not completely sure which is most right. I lean toward the fuzzy for pragmatic purposes, but I definitely prefer the rigid interpretation.
    For some, "how", not "why", is the fundamental unit of measure for curiosity. This divergence is neither parallel, nor straight. Where one might have a "why?-5" problem, it might only be a "how?-2" question. But then, there are also many things where the "why?" is immediately obvious but the "how?" is best measured in centuries of perpetual wonder. Both approaches have their drawbacks.

    If one is superior, the other is unaware of it.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

  2. #12
    Member Viktor's Avatar
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    My view, about both the pre- and post-high postings, is yes. I'll take it a step farther, with the undoubtedly unpopular and minority view that a person should not be allowed to vote unless they have served the nation in some capacity. It is my opinion that it would give the citizen some "skin in the game," along with a better sense of responsibility and the nation's big picture. I realize that this will never happen, however. At least not with the present setup.

    It looks like the crux of this issue may be moral relativism versus moral absolutes. As you can probably surmise, I come down on the side of moral absolutes - which is undoubtedly also an unpopular and minority view. It's not a theory for me, but reality, as I changed from relativism to absolute about half-way through my life. The absolute works much better for me. I'll go so far as to say I believe a person should place other's desires and needs before their own, particularly family and co-workers. This does not mean being a sucker or being used by others to the extent of being drained dry. Boundaries are appropriate, and others should perform according to their capabilities and responsibilities. I'm also wary of entrapment, deceit and manipulation. Yes, lots of bad people out there. However, I try to live by this every day. On some days it is easier than others, but it is always rewarding, and even beneficial, for me. The hardest part is not thinking I am better than others for doing it. That would pretty much invalidate what I am trying to do. It is a work in progress, but I believe in it.

  3. #13
    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viktor View Post
    I'll go so far as to say I believe a person should place other's desires and needs before their own, particularly family and co-workers.
    The problem is when you dislike or are disconnected to people who you seemingly have moral responsibilities to be connected to. If you don't like your family or co-workers don't share the same set of values or sense of what is important, putting your needs or desires seems like a way to resentment. I mean, you only live once... meeting a set of arbitrary familial or social judgments doesn't seem to be all that important once you're dead.

    My personal view is that such a moral system is highly useful to those benefiting from the same system of civilisation that has emerged since agriculture began in the late neolithic. It's far easier to dominate people if they internalise their sense of weakness and dependence on authority through a moral system or religion than it is through sheer force alone. I'm not necessarily saying it is a bad thing either - without such a system the present state of human development would not be possible. I just doubt such an ethical system has any place for anyone who is among a tiny minority who seek to be masters and not slaves.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

  4. #14
    Member Viktor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ferrus View Post
    The problem is when you dislike or are disconnected to people who you seemingly have moral responsibilities to be connected to. If you don't like your family or co-workers don't share the same set of values or sense of what is important, putting your needs or desires seems like a way to resentment. I mean, you only live once... meeting a set of arbitrary familial or social judgments doesn't seem to be all that important once you're dead.
    Definitely agree. Never said it was easy, or always optimal It can be difficult in the extreme when dealing with a person who has a diametrically opposing set of values. Resentment is a possibility, but I try to approach it from the stance of not doing it at all if I think I will be resentful later. Yes, that conflicts with my absolutes sometimes, but I am still a work in progress.

    I'm not saying meeting everyone's whim or desire though. That might even be more damaging that doing nothing at all. I'm just working towards being selfless in the context of the absolute I try to follow. For a person with a relativistic world view, this will of course seem nonsensical. Ironically, my selflessness should also extend to those who don't share my world view, including moral relativists - and furthermore, doing so in a manner that is not resentful or judging. This is not a blank check however, to do whatever anybody else wants.

    My personal view is that such a moral system is highly useful to those benefiting from the same system of civilization that has emerged since agriculture began in the late neolithic. It's far easier to dominate people if they internalize their sense of weakness and dependence on authority through a moral system or religion than it is through sheer force alone. I'm not necessarily saying it is a bad thing either - without such a system the present state of human development would not be possible. I just doubt such an ethical system has any place for anyone who is among a tiny minority who seek to be masters and not slaves.
    Can this view be exploited, particularly by those in power? Absolutely. It happens every day. It's not an easy path to walk. Relativism was much less complicated for me. There are many points where I have to dig in my heels and say no. That sometimes makes me unpopular on both sides of the fence.

    So, why do it if it is easier just to either get along or shut it out? I feel it is of greater value beyond my own life. I've seen what I've done to others when I was in it just for me. I like it better this way. I'm not accusing you Ferrus, or anyone else on the forum, of doing that. Just saying this works better for me.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viktor View Post
    Definitely agree. Never said it was easy, or always optimal It can be difficult in the extreme when dealing with a person who has a diametrically opposing set of values. Resentment is a possibility, but I try to approach it from the stance of not doing it at all if I think I will be resentful later. Yes, that conflicts with my absolutes sometimes, but I am still a work in progress.

    I'm not saying meeting everyone's whim or desire though. That might even be more damaging that doing nothing at all. I'm just working towards being selfless in the context of the absolute I try to follow. For a person with a relativistic world view, this will of course seem nonsensical. Ironically, my selflessness should also extend to those who don't share my world view, including moral relativists - and furthermore, doing so in a manner that is not resentful or judging. This is not a blank check however, to do whatever anybody else wants.



    Can this view be exploited, particularly by those in power? Absolutely. It happens every day. It's not an easy path to walk. Relativism was much less complicated for me. There are many points where I have to dig in my heels and say no. That sometimes makes me unpopular on both sides of the fence.

    So, why do it if it is easier just to either get along or shut it out? I feel it is of greater value beyond my own life. I've seen what I've done to others when I was in it just for me. I like it better this way. I'm not accusing you Ferrus, or anyone else on the forum, of doing that. Just saying this works better for me.
    There was an interesting book on this - where the basic premise is that there is a fine line between skepticism and gullibility. Between idealism and realism. That being aware of the fallibility of the world and yet still trying to enact one's moral system on it is a higher existence. I can see that. I just struggle to see a metaphysical justification for absolute morality. All logical observation seems to pretty much collaborate with a picture of the universe that is fundamentally a outgrowth of a random pattern, meaningless and within the context of life an amoral struggle for existence.

    To me what you seem to be doing is defining your life in terms of moral values you sincerely belief, which shows a degree of will and discipline beyond what most people have. And yet, its not hard to find societies - more traditional ones - where such communal moral values are espoused by people from a kind of sense of communal taboo and dread that makes them fear non-conformity, and forms of that still exists today. Perhaps my distaste for this is that, I myself am a kind of person that has always since I can remember, been somewhat out of step with society and my peers, in terms of my opinions and attitudes (and never really developed a capacity to care) - a society where this kind of attitude is more explicit, all pervasive and mandatory sounds like a hell on earth.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ferrus View Post
    There was an interesting book on this - where the basic premise is that there is a fine line between skepticism and gullibility. Between idealism and realism. That being aware of the fallibility of the world and yet still trying to enact one's moral system on it is a higher existence. I can see that. I just struggle to see a metaphysical justification for absolute morality. All logical observation seems to pretty much collaborate with a picture of the universe that is fundamentally a outgrowth of a random pattern, meaningless and within the context of life an amoral struggle for existence.
    I think we're on the same page for a lot of this stuff, just applying different "solutions" to it, so to speak. I'm right there with you on the fine lines between skepticism/gullibility and idealism/realism. Plus another between selfless and doormat. The world is definitely a fallible place, yet I do believe in a higher, transcendent purpose. I believe that if we were truly a product of random patterns, then we should have evolved into creatures with a very utilitarian approach to life, survival and success. There would be little or no room for compassion, selflessness, or helping others - except perhaps for our young, who would then turn on us the moment it became advantageous for them. For years, I was unable to rationalize how love and sacrifice could grow out of an optimal Darwinian evolution scenarios. It just didn't make sense to me. The fittest don't have room for compassion or love. Just step onto a battlefield and that becomes apparent rather quickly. So anyway, I wanted to discover where my capacity to love and feel compassion came from, and this is what I found.

    To me what you seem to be doing is defining your life in terms of moral values you sincerely belief, which shows a degree of will and discipline beyond what most people have. And yet, its not hard to find societies - more traditional ones - where such communal moral values are espoused by people from a kind of sense of communal taboo and dread that makes them fear non-conformity, and forms of that still exists today. Perhaps my distaste for this is that, I myself am a kind of person that has always since I can remember, been somewhat out of step with society and my peers, in terms of my opinions and attitudes (and never really developed a capacity to care) - a society where this kind of attitude is more explicit, all pervasive and mandatory sounds like a hell on earth.
    Well, I think my discipline is yet to be achieved. I don't necessarily ascribe to traditional or cultural majority absolutes. After all, I am an INTP One of the big cultural norms I don't adhere to here in the USA is being extraverted. It's not for me, and I don't see it as a moral issue. Personally, I feel that some of the traditional "moral" absolutes are not moral at all, but random rules. It's complex, but enjoyable and interesting.

  7. #17
    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viktor View Post
    I think we're on the same page for a lot of this stuff, just applying different "solutions" to it, so to speak. I'm right there with you on the fine lines between skepticism/gullibility and idealism/realism. Plus another between selfless and doormat. The world is definitely a fallible place, yet I do believe in a higher, transcendent purpose. I believe that if we were truly a product of random patterns, then we should have evolved into creatures with a very utilitarian approach to life, survival and success. There would be little or no room for compassion, selflessness, or helping others - except perhaps for our young, who would then turn on us the moment it became advantageous for them. For years, I was unable to rationalize how love and sacrifice could grow out of an optimal Darwinian evolution scenarios. It just didn't make sense to me. The fittest don't have room for compassion or love. Just step onto a battlefield and that becomes apparent rather quickly. So anyway, I wanted to discover where my capacity to love and feel compassion came from, and this is what I found.
    I don't know... I kind of think we are evolved to psychological treat those in our 'tribe' as human persons of special dignity and emotional connection. People outside your tribe are others, and psychological we don't ascribe them the same kind of personhood we do others. It's why, I suppose in war one always refers to the 'enemy' as a cold and calculating but not really fully real person. I personally think there was a lot of benefits to this kind of approach when we were paleolithic hunter-gatherers. You need to work closely and care about those for whom staying on their good graces and rubbing along socially is the difference between live and an exile which is basical a death sentence. It is far more debatable given we are now apes with weapons of mass destruction (of which the organised nation-state based around a national myth and religious ideals are as dangerous as the technology themselves) whether such distinctions are still useful but these are pre-programmed patterns.

    Well, I think my discipline is yet to be achieved. I don't necessarily ascribe to traditional or cultural majority absolutes. After all, I am an INTP One of the big cultural norms I don't adhere to here in the USA is being extraverted. It's not for me, and I don't see it as a moral issue. Personally, I feel that some of the traditional "moral" absolutes are not moral at all, but random rules. It's complex, but enjoyable and interesting.
    Hmm, do you think some people in the USA try to make extroversion a moral issue? Have you read Susan Cain's book on introverts?
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

  8. #18
    New Member Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prometheus View Post
    Is there a moral call of duty? A responsibility to be a public servant in a time of need? I say, in a civilized society: yes.
    I agree, but the question is rather ambiguous and the specifics are rife with contentious assumptions.

  9. #19
    Member Viktor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ferrus View Post
    I don't know... I kind of think we are evolved to psychological treat those in our 'tribe' as human persons of special dignity and emotional connection. People outside your tribe are others, and psychological we don't ascribe them the same kind of personhood we do others. It's why, I suppose in war one always refers to the 'enemy' as a cold and calculating but not really fully real person. I personally think there was a lot of benefits to this kind of approach when we were paleolithic hunter-gatherers. You need to work closely and care about those for whom staying on their good graces and rubbing along socially is the difference between live and an exile which is basical a death sentence. It is far more debatable given we are now apes with weapons of mass destruction (of which the organised nation-state based around a national myth and religious ideals are as dangerous as the technology themselves) whether such distinctions are still useful but these are pre-programmed patterns.
    Definite possibility there. I'm no expert on evolutionary theory, so once you get into branching complexity, I can't offer much in terms of what is or is not possible. I'm just struck by how, on a basic level, humanity seems to have evolved contrary to a survival of the fittest, into a coddle the unfit type scenario. Perhaps I'm missing some key aspects that make it all work out the other way. Perhaps our higher level of cognition "activates" a larger set of complexities that govern how we evolve and interact, moving past the simple survival of the fittest paradigm.

    Hmm, do you think some people in the USA try to make extroversion a moral issue? Have you read Susan Cain's book on introverts?
    Not so much a moral issue, but a cultural one. Introversion is sometimes seen as being akin to a mental illness here in the USA. I wish I had a dollar for every time somebody has told me:

    "Why aren't you talking with anybody?" (Why don't you ever shut up?)
    "Come on and join the fun." (And by fun, we mean a bunch of loud, repetitive small talk)
    "We need to do some team building activities." (How about some just do some work and let me go home at 5 activities)
    "Let's get to know each other better" (Let's not, I've seen more than enough already)
    "You need to get out more" (You need to discover what books and non-superficial thoughts are)
    "Why are you so quiet at meetings?" (It keeps me from saying stupid things)
    "We need to set up our work areas for better communication." (Yes, because we don't talk and interrupt work enough as it is)

    And so on and so forth. Schools even go so far here as to seek psychological help for introverted children, calling them shy, socially unadapted and anti-social. You don't ever see them seeking help for kids who need to spend more time in their heads or don't seek quiet time for themselves. A definite bias when you can be considered mentally ill just for wanting alone time.

  10. #20
    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viktor View Post
    Definite possibility there. I'm no expert on evolutionary theory, so once you get into branching complexity, I can't offer much in terms of what is or is not possible. I'm just struck by how, on a basic level, humanity seems to have evolved contrary to a survival of the fittest, into a coddle the unfit type scenario. Perhaps I'm missing some key aspects that make it all work out the other way. Perhaps our higher level of cognition "activates" a larger set of complexities that govern how we evolve and interact, moving past the simple survival of the fittest paradigm.
    I think when dealing with a social animal, it becomes a bit like the transition from single cell to multi-cell organisms. Long long long ago, survival of fittest pitted cells against each other. Somewhere along the way, cells started working together as a single organism, specializing in function.

    In solitary animals, survival of the fittest is very much a personal effort, with mating being about the only time they come together. But for social animals, survival of the fittest drifts toward the fittest being at the society level. They develop in-groups and out-groups an those in the in-group are cared for just because they're part of the group--unless they start to be toxic to the group, and then I think the typical fix is either exile or eradication.

    Social animals are a drift in the direction of multi-animal units. I think we even tend to think of ourselves in those terms at various levels and to various degrees. As a species we maximize fitness by maximizing survivability.
    For some, "how", not "why", is the fundamental unit of measure for curiosity. This divergence is neither parallel, nor straight. Where one might have a "why?-5" problem, it might only be a "how?-2" question. But then, there are also many things where the "why?" is immediately obvious but the "how?" is best measured in centuries of perpetual wonder. Both approaches have their drawbacks.

    If one is superior, the other is unaware of it.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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