• Valentinus
    506

    In regards to your remarks about Roman society, one of their innovations was a process of introducing new citizens on a large scale.
    So, is that an expansion of rights or a participation in a larger a set of privileges?
  • csalisbury
    1.9k
    I guess my background question has to do with events in the US from the1870s to WW1: the idea of eugenics settled pretty quickly and deeply into the national consciousness.

    It was an age of revolutionary engineering feats. It made sense to look at humanity as something to engineer. Why was it that any counter view was too weak to temper that impulse?
    frank

    I'll admit I don't know much about the history of Eugenics (or the period from 1870-1920 in general.)
    But... the pharaoh let Moses and his people go after a battle of who could summon the strongest plagues. The Old Testament is God's good because he's stronger through and through. Might was right, not just for the eugenicists, or even Thrysymachus, but all the way back to the Israelites in bondage.

    So maybe social eugenics was just a very old idea in newfangled mechanist clothing? Same great taste, but now its scientific.
  • csalisbury
    1.9k
    I agree that ambition and rewards for achievement are not antithetical to "society" as the collection of what people value at the same time. People have been raising children for time out of mind with the purpose of replicating what they see as the best thing to be. To that point, Margaret Thatcher once said: "Society does not exist. There are only people and their families."

    Her statement is absurd from the point of view that she said it while shaping the circumstances of such people. But there is a value in the point of view being expressed. There is a connection between civil institutions and what makes a person more or less effective within them. A parent makes their best effort at preparing their child for whatever that is. What is strong for some situations is a weakness in others. In some times, being strong and forthright and vocal about things will get you killed. In others, being silent and reticent will make you a door mat for others.

    And it is at this point the question of the best form of government should be framed. There are conflicting versions of the best things.

    We are not ready for Plato's discussion of the Good.
    Valentinus

    Yeah, I think that's a fair analysis.

    In regards to your remarks about Roman society, one of their innovations was a process of introducing new citizens on a large scale.
    So, is that an expansion of rights or a participation in a larger a set of privileges?
    Valentinus

    It seems like both? If I read you right, do you mean a larger participation in an existing set of privileges?
  • dclements
    234
    By "strong," I mean creative individuals with ambition and determination. By rewarding such individuals with wealth and power, society in general becomes leaner and fitter.

    Opposition to this view is essentially an anti-life ethic which promotes mercy and pity over greatness.

    Agree?
    frank
    Saying that "Laissez faire" is "good" and socialism (or any ideology that doesn't agree with Laissez faire beliefs) is "evil" is a bit of a Binary/False dilemma fallacy.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

    Also it sounds too much what Ayn Rand use to preach. If you know anything about Ayn Rand then it is likely you know about the numerous arguments against her ideals, if you don't than maybe it would help if you read up on the subject. IMHO Ayn Rand (as well as her followers) beliefs really amount to mere dogma and shouldn't even be considered a "philosophical idea" since it lacks enough critical thinking to be put into such a category.

    If you really believe in Laissez faire arguments, then it best to read up on Machiavellianism, since Objectivism is merely a sugar coated version of it. People that have wealth and think it is their 'right' to enjoy their freedom and money without having to fight and claw for it are likely just special snowflakes that think that the rules that apply to everyone else shouldn't apply to them. The problem is if everyone else thinks they too are "special snowflakes" then a society that can support Laissez faire kind of economy will break down from all the social infighting (and sometimes real fighting), that there wouldn't be any real gain from such ideology.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivism_(Ayn_Rand)
  • frank
    3.1k
    Saying that "Laissez faire" is "good" and socialism (or any ideology that doesn't agree with Laissez faire beliefs) is "evil" is a bit of a Binary/False dilemma fallacy.dclements

    There is no evil in social Darwinism. Is that a problem for you?
  • frank
    3.1k
    maybe social eugenics was just a very old idea in newfangled mechanist clothing? Same great taste, but now its scientific.csalisbury

    For Israelites, good meant to adhere to the Covenant. If a person fell on hard times, it was assumed that failure to please God was the cause. This is the background of the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan helps the injured without concern for the explanation. He does it out of simple human feeling.

    In Roman stoicism Nature corrects disease by killing the carriers of it.

    So yes, Israelite and Roman ethics each held an element of social Darwinism. In each case, Christianity rejected it (at least in doctrine, if not in practice.)
  • Valentinus
    506
    It seems like both? If I read you right, do you mean a larger participation in an existing set of privileges?csalisbury

    I do mean such a participation. It is also an expansion of "rights" but with the condition that one breed for and exemplify a particular type. The selection is a deliberate effort to be accepted as a Roman. As a matter of society, it is the conscious identification with a type that does the sorting. To equate this process with "natural selection" as promulgated in the theory of the evolution of species is in the service of articulating a type.

    The prosperous mercantile citizen is as natural in his or her environment as a Spartan was in a Spartan community. As Veblen pointed out, conspicuous consumption is a means of signalling to the others in your tribe that you belong and are to be fully accepted as a fellow human being.
  • boethius
    244
    Social Darwinists favor death for the weak, so why would they mind if some portion of the population moved to Sierra Leone?frank

    They might mind or they might not, but such minding or does not follow from Social Darwanism.

    For instance, if they do mind they may say because of Social Darwinism, they have evolved to be people who mind, if they don't mind they can say the exact same argument to defend not minding.

    The kind of engagement I was interested in was: imagine radical rightists are taking over your country. What would your response be?frank

    This seems far from your question in the OP, but I have no trouble responding.

    If the radical rightists were taking over in an open and democratic way, my response would be open and democratic: espousing my views in the public sphere, collaborating with others with similar views in an open format.

    If the radical rightists were taking over in a secret and violent way (and by taking over I read as the process of succeeding and democratic institutions built to avoid such a scenario have failed and are no longer democratic): my response would include secrecy and violence. What is effective to be secret and what not, what violence is effective and what is not only not-effective but counter productive, would be the important questions and there are no obvious answers.
  • Zosito
    18
    "In Roman stoicism..." Can you please cite your sources for this affirmation?
  • I like sushi
    1.3k
    Does rewarding the “strong” necessarily make others “stronger”?

    I’m more concerned with what happens when the “strong” allow the “weak” to feed off of them. It doesn’t see, apparent to me that the “weak” will become “stronger” - society will become “stronger” - just because the “strong” are rewarded.

    Also, what kind of “reward” are we talking about? That is an important issue too.
  • dclements
    234
    There is no evil in social Darwinism. Is that a problem for you?frank
    As someone who is slanted toward Machiavellianism I'm not bothered if someone doesn't want to paint things into a "good"/"evil" perspective. However if you ARE arguing for social Darwinism I kind of doubt that you don't put things in some kind of good/evil perspective since you need to follow some kind of metrics that enable to rationalize how and why one ideology is better than another.
  • frank
    3.1k
    Does rewarding the “strong” necessarily make others “stronger”?I like sushi

    It does. Consider a world where there's a vegan hotdog factory which others can use as a ladder out of the gutter.

    It's true that the hotdog factory could be nationalized, but that kind of socialism is parasitic on capitalism, isn't it?

    We could consider Bronze Age palace economies which were closer to true socialism, and consider what kind of social mobility existed in that kind of world.
  • frank
    3.1k
    espousing my views in the public sphere, collaborating with others with similar views in an open format.boethius

    Cool. What would you say?
  • frank
    3.1k
    However if you ARE arguing for social Darwinismdclements

    I'm pondering arguments against it and what sorts of foundations those arguments have.
  • I like sushi
    1.3k
    That’s a poor answer. I could defend that position better than that! Come on! Put some effort into your answer. Point out the flaws and why/how they are the better/worse than other options.

    I’m assuming you’ve thought this through? If not that’s fine ... I think you can do better though :)
  • frank
    3.1k
    The fact that social Darwinism isn't scientific makes a good intellectual argument against it. The volatile hx of laissez faire also does.

    Neither of those matches the heroic emotional appeal of social Darwinism, though. I think the strongest argument against is an emotional and moral argument. IOW, the best argument against has the weakest intellectual foundation.

    Intellectual leftism is poorly equipped to further its own agenda?
  • I like sushi
    1.3k
    That makes no sense. Correct me if I’m wrong but did you just say that Laissez-faire social Darwinism is a good argument against social Darwinism? Err? Que?
  • frank
    3.1k
    Correct me if I’m wrong but did you just say that Laissez-faire social Darwinism is a good argument against social Darwinism? Err?I like sushi

    No. I didn't say that. Social Darwinism isn't based on science. In practice it has a history if producing social volatility.
  • I like sushi
    1.3k
    Well physics is hard, chemistry is squishy, biology is a quagmire of mushy lumps, and social ‘science’ is barely a science at all which emanates, roughly speaking, from the thin water soup of psychological theory (which at least now has a number of firm morsel mixed in thanks to the advances in neuroscience).

    None of this is to say I believe there is nothing of value in the social sciences, only that they’re more likely wrong than right in there vague proposals - it is for such reasons that they appeal to the non-scientific who make the hollow claim of being ‘scientists’ because they have an opinion about how to interpret statistical data about demographics based on secondhand views and poorly defined surveys.

    Everything else of value is a matter of political and economic balance - of which laws and rules are clumsily assembled around (and ever shifting thankfully!)

    So your original defense of the ‘strong’ is opinion. Opinion is fine - often overlooked as unimportant - but I’d like some meat on the bones to admire your personal version of Frankenstein's monster.

    Surely you see the possible problem with this statement:

    By "strong," I mean creative individuals with ambition and determination. By rewarding such individuals with wealth and power, society in general becomes leaner and fitter.

    Opposition to this view is essentially an anti-life ethic which promotes mercy and pity over greatness.

    Leaving aside that this is a breed of ‘social Darwinism’ I’ll assume you’re stupid and point out the obvious counter positions which you can patch up or explain as you see fit.

    1) Creative killers with ambition to dominate and the will and determination to do so.

    2) Will creative rulers necessarily create a more creative population? If so will such be beneficial for all, many or few (see #1).

    3) Those with ambition and determination are more willing to use their power and wealth - will the outcome necessarily be ‘good’ given you seem rather unconcerned with their sense of morality.

    4) In regards to #3, do you believe ‘creative’ means ‘good’? That would explain much here. Interesting, but I’d need some convincing on this matter.

    Thanks :)
  • frank
    3.1k
    I think you're overlooking the possibility that you're just a brain in a vat (and someone is about to pull the plug.)

    Did ja ever think of that?
  • yupamiralda
    87
    I used to identify as anarchocapitalist. I look down on pity, altruism, etc.

    But I'm concerned about myself, not society. Why should I care about "society"? It's largely made up of imbeciles and cowards.
  • frank
    3.1k
    I used to identify as anarchocapitalist. I look down on pity, altruism, etc.

    But I'm concerned about myself, not society. Why should I care about "society"? It's largely made up of imbeciles and cowards.
    yupamiralda

    Are you ok with affirmative action?
  • Banno
    5.7k
    SO, the title is not a philosophical supposition, but is up for good solid psychological examination. And the fact is that in a group in which "creative individuals with ambition and determination" are anything more than a large minority, cooperation will quickly break down.

    Now, while I'm playing social critique, have a think about what a nation in which this occurred would look like. one, perhaps, in which there was so little trust in ones fellows that one felt obliged to arm themselves, perhaps. One in which folk were too distrustful of one another to set up a decent health system. That sort of thing. But of course, that'd never happen.
  • frank
    3.1k
    , the title is not a philosophical supposition, but is up for good solid psychological examination. And the fact is that in a group in which "creative individuals with ambition and determination" are anything more than a large minority, cooperation will quickly break down.Banno

    :up:

    Still, Laissez faire says we should let Nature tell us what works instead of the other way around. That part of it I do agree with. Laissez faire also has a history of making economies run hot, so it's not so much that they're nonfunctional, as they're prone to being too functional.

    Now, while I'm playing social critique, have a think about what a nation in which this occurred would look like. one, perhaps, in which there was so little trust in ones fellows that one felt obliged to arm themselves, perhaps. One in which folk were too distrustful of one another to set up a decent health system. That sort of thing. But of course, that'd never happen.Banno

    Always love the cartoon version of my country. But true, the US headed for laissez faire in the Reagan era and continued on through B. Clinton. The results were not good.
  • Banno
    5.7k
    Laissez faire says we should let Nature tell us what works instead of the other way around.frank

    Nature? With a capital "N", no less.

    That's a fine example to the Naturalistic Fallacy of course - and also the fallacy of appealing to nature, so well done, two for the price of one.

    But you seem to have missed the point; the research shows that unfettered competition results in social disintegration, not social strength. So go for it; those who cooperate will win.
  • frank
    3.1k
    That's a fine example to the Naturalistic Fallacy of course - and also the fallacy of appealing to nature, so well done, two for the price of one.Banno

    It's a pretty radically amoral perspective, so how did either of those fallacies creep in? A good gardener learns from nature. She works with nature. The alternative is a gardner who rapes the land by trying to force it to be something it can never be for very long. Morality isn't really an issue here. It's about Life, which has no moral grounds for its agenda.

    If you can, stop thinking of this as some propaganda in favor of the USA. That wasn't on my mind at all when I wrote the OP (which mainly proceeded from recognizing the way Nietzsche, Freud, and Darwin worked together and participated in a shift in worldview).

    This is about Darwin applied to society. If social Darwinists started taking over your country, what would you say to them (and your neighbors?)

    But you seem to have missed the point; the research shows that unfettered competition results in social disintegration, not social strength. So go for it; those who cooperate will win.Banno

    Laissez faire means the government should not interfere in the economy. It doesn't advise people not to cooperate.
  • Banno
    5.7k
    Morality isn't really an issue here.frank

    Well, that's not true. You are asking what we ought do, and that is an ethical question.

    You are committing the Naturalistic fallacy in suggesting that what is the case is what ought be the case.

    You are committing the failure of appeal to nature by supposing that we ought do what is natural.

    SO your view is not as amoral as you might like to pretend.

    But on the scientific front, it is a misconception to think that Darwin held that it is the strong that survive. It is not always the strongest that survives. The species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.
  • frank
    3.1k
    Well, that's not true. You are asking what we ought do, and that is an ethical question.Banno

    I recently learned that if I want my 20 year old washing machine to work, I ought change out the coupler between the motor and the drum because it's worn out. Do you see that as an ethical issue?

    But on the scientific front, it is a misconception to think that Darwin held that it is the strong that survive. It is not always the strongest that survives. The species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.Banno

    Fine. Exchange "strong" for "adaptable and adjustable." The Nazis are taking over your country (in the scenario I offered you) and you're quibbling over wording. Great.
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