• Banno
    13.5k
    That stretchy silicone tape works though.frank

    Who invented bottle traps? Useless things. Thank goodness for silicon tape.
  • bert1
    874
    Enter the philosopher, who can get down beneath the sink and sort out the bottle trap and ball valves.Banno

    There's something funny going on under your sink if there's a ball valve there. That reminds me, you might want to check out Murun Buchstansangur.
  • Manuel
    1.2k


    Janus has a point in so far as no one asked anyone I know if they wanted to be part of any contract.

    Not implying that social benefits aren't most welcome and most badly needed - but for it's a very misleading picture.
  • Banno
    13.5k
    SO we have the strange bedfellows of @Janus, @Joshs and @NOS4A2 insisting on individuality and the social contract, even if, as in Nos's case, it is to reject it.

    When Scotty from Marketing set out his approach with the slogan "If you have a go, you get a go", he was espousing the social contract Midgley critiques; he disenfranchises those who cannot, or will not, as he puts it, 'have a go' - children, the disabled, indigenous communities, the poor. He fails to account for the place those who have a go have in the environment, as evident in his attitude towards climate change, species decline and environmental degradation. He places the ideology that is economics first.

    There's an evident failure to see the myth for what it is.
  • Banno
    13.5k
    The ball valve allows the dishwasher to be disconnected.

    Murun should put on his trousers in public.
  • Banno
    13.5k
    Janus has a point in so far as no one asked anyone I know if they wanted to be part of any contract.Manuel

    Midgley says as much.
  • Manuel
    1.2k


    Yes. Others too, such as the Anthropologist David Graeber have also pointed this out. I get it, if we are to live in a large society, we need some kind of arrangement to take care of things that everybody needs.

    The problem lies in the solution. One thing is to correctly point out, as Midgley does, that we need philosophy to help us address issues like these. A whole other thing is how to do it.

    How do you get people who don't care too much about these things, to think about the social contract or philosophy? For many, religion takes care of much of the philosophy or it serves as a placeholder so that they don't have to think about the issues. But honestly, I wish I could give good reasons for people to care about these things. What's sad is that there should be a need to do so in the first place, instead of it being obvious why such matters should be interesting "by themselves", as I think they are.
  • Janus
    10.4k
    SO we have the strange bedfellows of Janus, @Joshs and @NOS4A2 insisting on individuality and the social contract, even if, as in Nos's case, it is to reject it.Banno

    I reject the idea of a social contract, as I have said, and as you have acknowledged, so I have no idea why you are now saying that I insist on it.

    We have laws, as we must in a complex society, to protect what are deemed to be the rights of individuals. Within the framework of those laws we may contract with one another. The fact that contractual law and practices exist does not entail that there is a social contract in the sense of some overarching agreement that every individual signs up for in order to be part of society. Contractual laws and practices have not been designed and drawn up from scratch by any person or group of persons; they have evolved as needed, just like any other social practice. They do not constitute a "social contract", they are simply contractual laws and practices, and no one can reasonably deny that they exist, or deny the need for them.

    The idea that there are precisely identifiable malfunctions of the social system that philosophers could fix, analogously to the way in which plumbers fix problems of water supply and drainage is simply ludicrous and an example of the overweening hubris that philosophers can be capable of. Humanity lives in a mess and always will. Life, all life, not just the human, is messy; it is not precisely systematizable; it is a complex system that evolves as it evolves, and not to a plan. Individuals, and not only philosophers, can have input to varying degrees; they can have their influences on the system, and they inevitably do, however small that influence might seem.

    The question I would put to critics of individualism is 'what would you put in its place?'. Individualism is the keystone of democracy, so if you reject it, it seems to me that you must be proposing some form of totalitarianism.

    Note: I'm not advocating extreme forms of individualism a la Ayn Rand, so hopefully you will be able to see beyond black and white thinking.
  • Banno
    13.5k
    The problem lies in the solution.Manuel

    Hence my puzzlement that Joshs thinks "We find something better and only then do we see the limits of the previous approach". Recognising the problem seems an essential first step.

    Midgley calls it a myth; Žižek talks of ideology. The important task is pointing to the contradictions in the assumed certainties.
  • Janus
    10.4k
    Hence my puzzlement that Joshs thinks "We find something better and only then do we see the limits of the previous approach". Recognising the problem seems an essential first step.Banno

    I would not say we find something better as though it were already implemented. Instead I would say we see a better way, and then we fight to implement it. It is a matter of vision and compassion. How often are such changes brought about by philosophers?

    The important task is pointing to the contradictions in the assumed certainties.Banno

    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines". Emerson from Self Reliance
  • Banno
    13.5k
    I reject the idea of a social contract, as I have said, and as you have acknowledged, so I have no idea why you are now saying that I insist on it.Janus

    Sure, but even in that rejection you continue to assume that individuals have primacy in social processes. For you the ideology of individualism remains unchallenged.

    The question I would put to critics of individualism is 'what would you put in its place?'. Individualism is the keystone of democracy, so if you reject it, it seems to me that you must be proposing some form of totalitarianism.Janus

    Indeed, that's the very question Midgley is asking - although you put it somewhat differently. We ('merica, 'Stralya, Britain) don't live in a democracy; it's an oligarchy. But the myth persists. Perhaps there is room between or around pretend democracy and totalitarianism; something different.

    And of course it is not the role of philosophers to "fix" stuff; but there is a place for conceptual analysis in the ongoing process.
  • Manuel
    1.2k


    Yes. Žižek gives interesting examples of this.

    But these things can and are pointed out by journalists or teachers. Philosophers can play a role, but I think it's something that anybody can do, once they see through the PR.
  • Janus
    10.4k
    How do you get people who don't care too much about these things, to think about the social contract or philosophy? For many, religion takes care of much of the philosophy or it serves as a placeholder so that they don't have to think about the issues. But honestly, I wish I could give good reasons for people to care about these things. What's sad is that there should be a need to do so in the first place, instead of it being obvious why such matters should be interesting "by themselves", as I think they are.Manuel

    I think the key point is that people must care enough to change what is unjust or cruel. If religion achieves the aim of inducing compassionate responses then it has served a purpose. I don't see much of philosophy doing that at all. Things will only change if the majority of individuals care enough to bring about change, or if they are not informed enough and/ or don't care enough to notice that change is being brought about.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.4k

    I think that a lot of people, in philosophy and other disciplines are genuinely interested in better alternative ways of social life, but in some ways they remain as dreams. I think that part of the problem is that while people come up with ideas, life is so unpredictable, and people are often thrown into dealing with the immediate and competing demands that life throws at them. Life doesn't wait for the philosophers to devise better answers. It is possible that the ideas discussed may be able to do be translated into practice in some ways, but it seems likely that what would happen in practice may be very different from the original ideas conceived. For this reason, I think that any ideals about change have to incorporate an understanding of uncertainty and unpredictability. It is hard to know to what extent life is reactionary and how much can be planned for social practice in the face of uncertainties.
  • Banno
    13.5k


    The penultimate paragraph:
    Granted, then, that the confusions are there, is abstract philosophi- cal speculation really a helpful remedy? Are the plumbers any use? Obviously this kind of speculation cannot work alone; all sorts of other human functions and faculties are needed too. But once you have got an articulate culture, the explicit, verbal statement of the problems does seem to be needed.
  • Banno
    13.5k
    I think the key point is that people must care enough to change what is unjust or cruel.Janus

    Spot on.

    I'll put undue emphasis on the plural - it's people, not individuals. Morality begins when one takes the Other into consideration. An ideology built on individuals - see the example Scotty from Marketing gave above - does not begin to address moral issues.

    That's the criticism I've addresses to @NOS4A2 a few times.
  • Janus
    10.4k
    Sure, but even in that rejection you continue to assume that individuals have primacy in social processes. For you the ideology of individualism remains unchallenged.Banno

    You seem to reject the idea that there is and should be a range of views, opinions and responses to questions of social order. It is not ideology, but simply a recognition that people differ in their views and in their degrees of care. That diversity is what must be dealt with if it is not be quashed from above.

    Now this is not to say that most or even many have informed opinions and compassionate responses. That people don't have informed opinions and compassionate responses is the general problem, which is not a malfunction like blocked pipes but a natural characteristic of human life, not something that can be fixed, but something that must be worked around as best as is possible.
  • Banno
    13.5k
    That people don't have informed opinions and compassionate responses is the general problem, which is not a malfunction like blocked pipes but a natural characteristic of human life,Janus

    I'm bothered that one can set out "the natural characteristics of human life" on the one hand and yet accept there "should be a range of views, opinions and responses to questions of social order" on the other.

    Folk are malleable. As is set out in the article, once to was a commonplace that Kings had the right to obsequies obedience. It ain't so anymore.
  • Janus
    10.4k
    I agree that people are malleable, and that compassion can be cultivated, like any other capacity. But you cannot force people to cultivate compassion. It seems natural for people (although even in this, not all) to be able to viscerally care most about those closest to them; their family and friends, to a lesser extent about associates and acquaintances, and very little about those who are not personally known to them.

    People generally seem to need some inducement, usually religious faith, to feel that they should care about those strangers who are less fortunate than themselves and to contribute charitably. It's true that the more educated may be induced by ethical reasoning to be motivated to concern about human, environmental and animal rights causes. But concern is one thing and action another.

    It is common enough for people to be disturbed by seeing those they consider to be innocent, children and animals, being mistreated and suffering. There are already a plethora of agencies playing on those kinds of feelings, but the level of charitable contribution remains relatively low, even among the most affluent nations.
  • creativesoul
    9.9k
    Seems to me that the social contract is something that arose on it's own, through reasoned reflection upon the causal role that individuals have in a society. It is the acknowledgment of one's own power to effect/affect others. Individual behaviour has demonstrable and often predictable effects/affects upon others. It is in light of that that either the individual ought care about those whose lives and/or livelihoods they effect/affect, or such an individual ought not have such power.

    I'm being reminded of Thomas Paine here: Power over people is acquired in but one of two ways. It is either usurped or it is granted by consent.

    The social contract seems to me to have everything to do with that kind of power.
  • Janus
    10.4k
    It is in light of that that either the individual ought care about those whose lives and/or livelihoods they effect/affect, or such an individual ought not have such power.creativesoul

    Sure, that's an idea, an ideal, but I don't think it reflects the reality, wherein people simply have whatever influence they have acquired via their social relations. If they are acting within the law, then who's going to take their power and influence, whatever it's level might be, away from them?
  • Tom Storm
    1.6k
    When Scotty from Marketing set out his approach with the slogan "If you have a go, you get a go", he was espousing the social contract Midgley critiques; he disenfranchises those who cannot, or will not, as he puts it, 'have a go' - children, the disabled, indigenous communities, the poor.Banno

    Good example - more footnotes to Thatcherism. Discourse shifted from community to individuals and then the idea that an ideal individual was best conceptualised as a consumer. A good sign of leaking, stinking pipes. The entire 'user pays' model has almost replaced the notion of the 'common good'. Seems that some people are so poisoned by those leaking pipes they think this trend is a promising sign of increasing liberty.

    Communities are still 'useful' to some political discourse, but only for marginalising them - now visualised as out groups - the homeless; the unemployed; the refugees, etc.
  • Banno
    13.5k
    But you cannot force people to cultivate compassion.Janus

    Indeed. But one might adopt an ideology that discourages compassion. If one were to advocate behaviours that worked for one's own profit, for example, or that promoted competition rather than cooperation. One might develop a myth that greed necessarily leads to greater overall wealth, and maintain faith in such a myth in the face of the evidence; or a myth that the very laws of nature demand conflict. Over time such views can become unquestioned.

    Except for the occasional grandmotherly figure we might never question our myths.
  • Manuel
    1.2k


    Yes.

    In matters of politics it's often a brute fact, the more you theorize about a specific problem, the less reality-as-other-people-see-it will accommodate your views.

    But being interested broadly in philosophy can very much help. Again, this depends on what someone takes "philosophy" to be.



    Sure.

    The problem is when other philosophies come in and entrance people, such as followers of Mises or Hayek. I think there is some sophistication in this school of thought. I think a lot of it is wrong, but once people get into it, it's hard to get out.

    But the same thing can be said about the left and Marx.
  • frank
    8k
    Hence my puzzlement that Joshs thinks "We find something better and only then do we see the limits of the previous approach". Recognising the problem seems an essential first step.Banno

    Mark Blyth says that socioeconomic problems are always explained in terms of the chosen solution.

    The chosen solution is an idea that was in the back burner waiting for a catastrophe to solve.

    The opposing view is that mass events are fusions of diverse agendas and historians draw in ideas over the facts for the purpose of a meaningful narrative. I believed this until I read Mark Blyth's view.
  • creativesoul
    9.9k
    Sure, that's an idea, an ideal, but I don't think it reflects the reality...Janus


    Hence, the need for philosophical style approaches to the matter...


    ... people simply have whatever influence they have acquired via their social relations. If they are acting within the law, then who's going to take their power and influence, whatever it's level might be, away from them?

    That's another question altogether.

    However, if the issues of not caring about those over whom an individual wields such power are clearly presented as such and supported by what's actually happened, is happening, or what the individual wants to happen, then in a democratic form of government, the citizens remove those people from power by virtue of voting against them or voting for people who will remove such people from power, should they not be elected officials, but some other private individual offering a public good or service in the American marketplace.

    Of course, free and fair elections are totally dependent upon a well informed electorate, and that seems to be a major problem nowadays.
  • Banno
    13.5k
    Scotty from Marketing makes decisions firstly to appease marginal voters and secondly to accomodate Liberal ideology. His capacity for spin, for appeasement and accomodation, are the attributes responsible for his position in the Government. Hence the dearth of leadership; it's not a requirement amongst Liberal power brokers; indeed recent history shows it to be detrimental, from their perspective.

    Notice how, when Boris and Biden got together to admonish him over climate change, it was portrayed as "Hey look! Our PM got to sit with the Big Boys!"
  • Janus
    10.4k
    I agree that such myths can become entrenched. The idea of "survival of the fittest" has been co-opted as an ad hoc justification for capitalistic thinking, for example. I also agree that they can be ameliorated.

    It seems obvious that the best strategy for any healthy society is cooperation not competition, because the latter inevitably seems to cause conflict. But it also seem to be the case that some people are naturally more competitive than others. One of my dogs is more competitive than the other. I think that can just be down to natural diversity. The same goes for aggression and compassion. I don't believe human natures in all their differences and similarities are entirely socially constructed.
  • Banno
    13.5k
    But it also seem to be the case that some people are naturally more competitive than others.Janus

    Sure. You have heard the apocryphal Indian myth of one's soul being like two wolves? Which do we feed?

    Seems as there is much need to build the common wealth.
  • Janus
    10.4k
    Hence, the need for philosophical style approaches to the matter...creativesoul

    Sure, but you can't force philosophy on people. France has philosophy taught in school. I think that's a good idea, but do you think France is a better society for it? I'm not sure.

    Of course, free and fair elections are totally dependent upon a well informed electorate, and that seems to be a major problem nowadays.creativesoul

    True.
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