• Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    Asshole implies this also, though according to you, to a lesser degree.Coben

    With assholes, I just don't want to hang out with them . . . well, at least if they're not consistently assholes. That doesn't imply that I have a problem with people being assholes to other people. Some people enjoy hanging out with assholes. (And even I can enjoy it in certain contexts--for example, the schtick of some comedians is that they're an asshole, and I can enjoy that in that context. I'm a big fan of comedy, including stand-up. There are very few stand-up comedians that I don't enjoy.)

    Here are a couple similar examples that might be easier to understand: I also don't want to hang out with:

    * People who are regularly, negatively judgmental, including in the manner of criticism. For example, someone who is really finnicky about music, or films, etc. and who negatively criticizes most music or films--people who agree with Sturgeon's law, basically. Of course, people do this towards other people too--always finding some fault or other. Some people, however, really like/admire this personality trait in others. They think it's a positive trait in the guise of that person being "discerning." Maybe they like commiserating with those folks because they're frequently negatively judgmental, too. For my tastes, though, I don't like hanging out with people who are often negatively judgmental. But I don't think it's immoral to be negatively judgmental on a consistent basis.

    * People who are hyper . . . because that's just not my disposition and it tends to stress me out. There certainly isn't anything immoral about people being hyper though. Obviously some people prefer being hyper and prefer being around others who are. Similarly, I'm not a "dog person." Dogs seem hyper to me. I'm a cat person. I'd never have a dog as a pet. But I don't think that dogs are immoral.

    * People who want to argue all the time. I actually hate arguing. People arguing all the time strike me as similar to people who are often negatively judgmental. But obviously lots of people like arguing frequently--look what happens on this board, for example. My goal here is never to argue, though, which is one reason that I get annoyed when people keep responding to me in an argumentative frame of mind. So offline, I'd never hang out with someone who wants to argue all the time. Do I think it's immoral though? No. Not at all.

    So that's what "asshole" is like to me, too, or in general, "people being mean" via speech.

    And just anticipating this response, it's not just because other people want to be around some of the stuff I'm talking about that I'd say it's not immoral. The vast majority of people, including me, wouldn't want, say, a brown recluse spider as a pet, or wouldn't want to hang out with someone who only showers once per year but who goes to the gym every day, etc. but I don't think those things are immoral.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.5k
    And just anticipating this response, it's not just because other people want to be around some of the stuff I'm talking about that I'd say it's not immoral. The vast majority of people, including me, wouldn't want, say, a brown recluse spider as a pet, or wouldn't want to hang out with someone who only showers once per year but who goes to the gym every day, etc. but I don't think those things are immoral.Terrapin Station

    I think we have to distinguish what kind of asshole we are talking about. An asshole whose intent is to routinely try to emotionally denigrate or hurt someone would be immoral. It is purposely trying to harm a person. A person can be harmed emotionally. Physical harm is not the only one that exists, and often emotional harm can lead to physical harm, so it is enmeshed. It is incumbent on the victim to get away from the asshole, but sometimes this can't happen as easily, or sadly, if the asshole and the victim have to share some sort of resource, it is the asshole that will win out even if the victim would also like to use that resource, because the victim doesn't want to be around the asshole. This happens in friend groups too, but any institutions, clubs, groups, and workplaces, I can see this also taking place.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    An asshole whose intent is to routinely try to emotionally denigrate or hurt someone would be immoral. It is purposely trying to harm a person.schopenhauer1

    That's not my view. For example, I don't think there's anything immoral about intentionally offending someone.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.5k
    That's not my view. For example, I don't think there's anything immoral about intentionally offending someone.Terrapin Station

    Offending has many shades here.. Is this friends clearly teasing each other, something understood in its context, or is this outright being mean to be mean?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    Offending has many shades here.. Is this friends clearly teasing each other, something understood in its context, or is this outright being mean to be mean?schopenhauer1

    There is no intentional offense that I'd consider immoral. When someone is offended I see it as their problem, not the offender's problem.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.5k
    There is no intentional offense that I'd consider immoral. When someone is offended I see it as their problem, not the offender's problem.Terrapin Station

    Two things going on here that are troubling:
    1) You don't seem to put any stock in emotional abuse. That's concerning.
    2) The motive of someone trying to inflict emotional abuse is to harm them.

    I consider harm the basis of most things that fall into morality. How can someone trying to harm someone else not be considered at least "negative" in some way? This is trying to illicit negative emotional states from another person by being mean.

    In other words, even if what you are saying is correct, they are not mutually exclusive. Someone can try to inflict harm (and thus be immoral or at least be accused of trying to illicit a negative response which I would think most people would disapprove of), and the target of the meanness can be taught how to psychologically block the mean person's comments. Those are two separate issues though.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    You don't seem to put any stock in emotional abuse.schopenhauer1

    Yeah, I don't put much stock in it for a number of different reasons including:

    (1) causality issues, where what I'm concerned with there is force (and being able to demonstrate force)
    (2) the subjectivity of it, including but not limited to the fact that it's impossible to confirm anyone's report (because we can't observe anyone else's mind)
    (3) the fact that in most situations, the "victim" can just tell the person they're having a problem with to get lost, they can just stop associating with them, etc. The only exception is when we're talking about kids.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.5k
    (1) causality issues, where what I'm concerned with there is force (and being able to demonstrate force)Terrapin Station

    Forced to hear the comment? So are you claiming a sort of consequentialism whereby an act is only as moral as to what the outcome of the act has done? Intent or the behavior itself is something you don't look at in terms of moral issues?

    (2) the subjectivity of it, including but not limited to the fact that it's impossible to confirm anyone's report (because we can't observe anyone else's mind)Terrapin Station

    Again, why is the sole focus on the consequence? A person with mean intent is trying to invoke a negative consequence whether successful or not.

    (3) the fact that in most situations, the "victim" can just tell the person they're having a problem with to get lost, they can just stop associating with them, etc. The only exception is when we're talking about kids.Terrapin Station


    Same issue as the other two, all based on consequence. Also, even if we do look at solely consequences, there may be issues of shared resources. If the two people have to share the same resource. The onus in is on the target even if they did not ask for this?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    Forced to hear the comment? So are you claiming a sort of consequentialism whereby an act is only as moral as to what the outcome of the act has done? Intent or the behavior itself is something you don't look at in terms of moral issues?schopenhauer1

    Force in terms of forcing an outcome. That's the sense of causality I care about.

    I consider intent, but not intent alone. I don't consider any thoughts immoral, only certain actions. Intent does matter for those actions, but intent absent the actions, and absent forced outcomes, doesn't matter to me.

    Also, even if we do look at solely consequences, there may be issues of shared resources.schopenhauer1

    Not sure what you'd be talking about there with respect to offensive speech.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.5k
    I consider intent, but not intent alone. I don't consider any thoughts immoral, only certain actions. Intent does matter for those actions, but intent absent the actions, and absent forced outcomes, doesn't matter to me.Terrapin Station

    I also don't consider thoughts immoral either (although if someone provides some clear examples of how it is, I may change that notion). However, being mean is usually some sort of behavior towards someone so we can start with that. Intent absent forced outcomes, is where we disagree perhaps? I don't even know actually. Someone being mean to another person, whether it matters to me or not, can be immoral because the intent is to harm them. To bypass this back-and-forth can we agree that we have hit the relevant axioms here which don't go further?

    Your position seems to be that as long as someone can get away from the mean person, it is not immoral, is that about right?

    My position is that if the person has intent to inflict harm, and is acting in such a way to inflict harm, then it is in the realm of morality, and is perhaps indeed immoral.

    I think that is our point of disagreement, but I think we can agree on some things:
    1) It would have to involve an action, not just thoughts or anything about another person. That really doesn't matter if it is thoughts in someone's head.

    2) There is definitely degrees of meanness.. We can probably both agree there are behaviors which are more mean than others.

    So can we agree on these points? I'm trying something new where we find what we can agree on and find the hard stops where we disagree that cannot go any further. Otherwise, we will just have the same back and forths.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    Someone being mean to another person, whether it matters to me or not, can be immoral because the intent is to harm them.schopenhauer1

    I've mentioned this many times, but I don't hinge any ethical view on "harm" unqualified. It's too vague. Many things that many people might consider harm I don't think are any problem at all. An example is offensive speech. Someone might consider being offended by speech harm, but as I said, I think it's their problem. I have to problem with the person who offended and who intended to offend them. In fact, I think it's a good thing to offend the offendable.

    Your position seems to be that as long as someone can get away from the mean person, it is not immoral, is that about right?schopenhauer1

    Lol, no, that's not my position. That would be very misleading to say. But it's fine to say that one reason I don't have a problem with "emotional harm" is because in most situations, you can just tell the person off yorself, or you can just not deal with that person. It would be misleading to characterize that as the sole reason or as sufficient in itself, though.

    At any rate, insofar as I understand what you wrote in your two points, though, it looks like we agree on those.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.5k
    Someone might consider being offended by speech harm, but as I said, I think it's their problem. I have to problem with the person who offended and who intended to offend them. In fact, I think it's a good thing to offend the offendable.Terrapin Station

    I think we can parse out offensive speech and being mean to a particular person.. For example, I don't see anything wrong with comics that are offensive.

    Also, just because something might be vague as a concept, I think we can both find cases where we agree when someone is being mean to someone else (and not just offensive, like a comment, or a public figure, or when someone spouts off their beliefs).

    Lol, no, that's not my position. That would be very misleading to say. But it's fine to say that one reason I don't have a problem with "emotional harm" is because in most situations, you can just tell the person off yorself, or you can just not deal with that person. It would be misleading to characterize that as the sole reason or as sufficient in itself, though.Terrapin Station

    I mean what else is there? That's all I got from your "force" statement.. That's a bit vague.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    I mean what else is there? That's all I got from your "force" statement.. That's a bit vague.schopenhauer1

    Let's say that we can show that x is causal to y, in the sense of x forcing y. If S does x to R, so that y results in R, I wouldn't necessarily say that x isn't morally problematic just because R can remove himself from S doing x.

    In the case of speech and mental states in someone else, one of the problems is that we can't show causality in the force sense.

    My views about this are not just based on someone being able to remove themselves from a situation. Hence why I said "I don't put much stock in 'emotional harm' for a number of different reasons including . . . " and then I listed a few different things. And even that's not an exhaustive list (which "including" should indicate to you).

    Re the other part, I'm just explaining that R considering y "harm" isn't sufficient for me to think there's any moral problem with x. And neither is that S intended to produce y in R. Offensive speech is an example of that.
  • Coben
    943
    And just anticipating this response, it's not just because other people want to be around some of the stuff I'm talking about that I'd say it's not immoral. The vast majority of people, including me, wouldn't want, say, a brown recluse spider as a pet, or wouldn't want to hang out with someone who only showers once per year but who goes to the gym every day, etc. but I don't think those things are immoral.Terrapin Station
    Right but I think it would be strange to call someone with terrible hygiene or a brown recluse spider assholes. You said immoral was a greater degree of judgment than immoral. Here you are different categories of things that make you want to pull away from people.

    You responded to the calling someone immoral for speech acts as if this would meant you didn't want them to express themselves. But it doesn't entail that. As I argued above. Ah, well, there was a bunch of stuff there and this post of yours isn't really a response to any of the points I made.

    But since I know now you hate arguing and I am arguing against your points or at least trying to make sense of what seem like contradictory statements or stated effects or entailments I don't think are there, I will drop it.

    But I'm not in favor of banning anyone unless they're spamming in the sense of flooding the board with threads or posts that aren't at all conversational.
    I could try a new line with this one, why people can't express themselves with this kind of communication. A communication that seems assholish, but nothing compared to trying to hurt people by lying to them, but hey, that's me. At least we've found that you will censor.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    You responded to the calling someone immoral for speech acts as if this would meant you didn't want them to express themselves. But it doesn't entail that. As I argued above.Coben

    The way it entails that is that morality is about preferences. Preferences are things we want to be the case, no?
  • Coben
    943
    Sigh, I explained this. I can prefer, for example that everyone shows their true nature, because it makes it easier to know where the threats are, for example. So, I want to know that a doctor would tell me a lie about my kid's health, because if he would do that, he might harm my kid. I prefer the immoral speech acts occur, but still consider them immoral. And that is more or less my opinion. I'd like it out there. So, I would be very reluctant to make rules against that kind of speech, but I sure as shit am going to judge it. You are confusing the general preference for everyone expressing themselves for criticism of individual instances. I prefer that everyone is free to vote for the candidate they want, while preferring they vote for candidate X and preferring they would want that, is not a contradiction. That might not be a moral preference or it might be if they were voting for Hitler, say. I prefer democracy, but consider it immoral to vote for Hilter since he ran on an anti-semitic campaign or whatever. I prefer the general freedom and the general use of that freedom, because I think it is better if people can vote even knowing they may vote in ways I hate and even judge immoral. I prefer that people express themselves, but think some of these expressions are immoral.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    I prefer the immoral speech acts occur, but still consider them immoral.Coben

    You'd not prefer that the doctor lie to you about your kid's health, right? (This is ignoring, by the way, the comments about contractual obligations that I made earlier, but we'll ignore that for a moment.)
  • Coben
    943
    I prefer that the doctor was honest. Sure. But if he wants to express himself that way, I want to know. I'd prefer he preferred to not be cruel. But it's damn good I know.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    I prefer that the doctor was honestCoben

    RIght, so then you'd not prefer that the doctor do the thing that you consider immoral--lying about your kid's health.

    It wouldn't make sense to say "I consider x immoral, but I'd prefer if people do x" where we're not equivocating.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k


    One thing we might be missing here, re making it explicit (I was assuming this would be understood), is that morality isn't just preferences about interpersonal behavior (more than significant than etiquette) towards oneself, but generalized, a la "how people treat each other, whether I'm involved or not."
  • Coben
    943

    Yeah, but that's not what I'm saying. I am saying Given that he is the guy who would be cruel like that, I want him to express it. You are leaving out the context. It is a lesser evil, because now I know who he is. I have a sociopathic doctor. I prefer I know this through speech acts over physical acts. No way my kid is around this guy again. I consider it immoral to tell me my kid is dying when he isn't. Glad that's out there, because it gives me information that may very well prevent something horrible. Me, glad he showed he immoral assholish nature. It is a lesser evil, but it is still an evil.

    I'd prefer he doesn't prefer to be an asshole. Given that he is who he is, I prefer he commits the immoral speech act, hopefully early on in our knowing each other, so I can make choices based on that.

    I'd prefer a telephone salesman tell me he's a telephone salesman up front, real clear. I don't want telephone sales calls. I wish he hadn't called me at all. (that's not necessarily a moral situation, jsut trying to show in another type of situation how I can want someone to say something I don't want to hear in general. You are confusing general contextless with specific situations.

    And you still never address why you considered asshole different in degree, when all your arguments treat it as categorically different.

    One thing we might be missing here, re making it explicit (I was assuming this would be understood), is that morality isn't just preferences about interpersonal behavior (more than significant than etiquette) towards oneself, but generalized, a la "how people treat each other, whether I'm involved or not."
    Yeah, that doesn't change anything for me. I think it's good if the immoral assholes are open about it. It makes navigating the world easier for all of us. And if they say things I consider immoral, that's useful information and helps us all navigate.

    And I prefer this in close relationships too. If my spouse thinks I am a piece of shit, I want that to be out in the open.

    That doesn't mean that I prefer to have people tell me that I am a piece of shit. But IF THEY think so, then let's get it out. Now that's not an immoral think to think, hopefully it's just wrong.

    But can you see the category error you're making? If someone is an immoral asshole I'd like to know and I think it is good for all of us to know. I'd prefer they weren't and I'd prefer that isn't what they'd want to say, but given that they do, a lesser evil happens.


    And since my thinking it is immoral and even saying it is immoral cannot in any way inhibit them, according to, they is absolutely no drawback. They are free to express themselves.

    But man, I give up.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    Yeah, but that's not what I'm saying. I am saying Given that he is the guy who would be cruel like that, I want him to express it. You are leaving out the context. It is a lesser evil, because now I know who he is. I have a sociopathic doctor. I prefer I know this through speech acts over physical acts. No way my kid is around this guy again. I consider it immoral to tell me my kid is dying when he isn't. Glad that's out there, because it gives me information that may very well prevent something horrible. Me, glad he showed he immoral assholish nature. It is a lesser evil, but it is still an evil.Coben

    That sounds like you're assuming a whole package of likely actions that you're reading the lie to be a beacon for, and you're saying that you want the beacon so you can avoid the other actions.

    I don't look at it that way. There's no way I'm going to assume a whole package of likely actions just because someone says something like that.

    If someone is an immoral asshole . . .Coben

    I rather see that as a category error. People aren't moral or immoral overall. Particular actions are moral or immoral.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    And you still never address why you considered asshole different in degree, when all your arguments treat it as categorically different.Coben

    I don't even understand this comment unfortunately.
  • Possibility
    599
    When someone is described as being mean or as a mean person, intent to be cruel in pretty much implicit. And it is certainly in no way a contradiction.

    He was mean to me, but didn't intend to be seems rather off to me.
    He was blunt and it hurt my feelings, but he didn't intend to be makes sense to me.
    Coben

    Sorry I missed this comment.

    I disagree with this. As I explained before, meanness is not an intent to be cruel - that’s just what is assumed by the person they’re being mean to, or by another observer. Meanness is a relative perspective of behaviour: it’s in the eye of the beholder, so to speak.

    That was mean. You hurt my feelings.
    It wasn’t mean - I was just being honest. Perhaps I was a bit blunt.

    Most of the time what is mean includes actions or words that are thoughtless, ignorant or inconsiderate. Unfortunately, some people (like @Terrapin Station, perhaps?) think there’s no need to ever take anyone else’s feelings into consideration when speaking, for instance. You and I might say that this is being mean, sure - but that’s only because we expect a certain level of kindness, whereas they don’t. I still wouldn’t say they’re intending to be cruel, though - or that their behaviour is ‘immoral’.

    We can’t force people to be kind - certainly not by punishing them if they don’t comply. That defeats the purpose, don’t you think? If we stoop to their level, we’re only accepting the exchange on their terms. We CAN let them know they’re being mean/ignorant/inconsiderate, and we can set the tone by our own words/behaviour. But if we refuse to interact unless they raise their behaviour to our expected level of kindness, then we can’t expect them to respond to self-righteous indignation with an ‘Okay, sorry - I’ll try to be more polite.’ That’s a choice we make to interact or not.

    If I’m easily offended, then I’ll be easily offended. The world doesn’t owe me a certain level of kindness.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    Unfortunately, some people (like Terrapin Station, perhaps?) think there’s no need to ever take anyone else’s feelings into consideration when speaking,Possibility

    I wouldn't say that. One thing I said was that I don't consider any speech immoral. That doesn't imply that I think there's no need to ever take anyone else's feelings into consideration when speaking, however.

    I also said that I think that sometimes negative feelings in response to speech are a problem with the person with the negative feelings, not a problem with the person who said whatever they did to cause the negative feelings. That's always the case in my opinion when it comes to offense, for example.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.5k
    Re the other part, I'm just explaining that R considering y "harm" isn't sufficient for me to think there's any moral problem with x. And neither is that S intended to produce y in R. Offensive speech is an example of that.Terrapin Station

    I find it unfortunate when harm is intended towards people, and undesirable. I tend to think that harm is a basis for morality. We cannot help but harm others though, so my view trends towards existential harm that's already done by being born. We are bound to harm each other by merely being born in everyday intra-worldly affairs. However, "polluting the waters" constantly makes for a very irritating existence, and thus, done consistently and with high aggressive capacity, contributes to such a negative state for some people, that I do believe it can fall under immoral, but only when crossing thresholds of certain intensities and duration. I can't give you a specific though of what that would be. Again, even if someone can get away, it really also depends on the motive and character of the aggressor here. In some degree it depends on the act itself, and not just intention. There are things which are harder to get away from- family, work, etc. so often it is not as easy. Sometimes it is a conflict of various social levels that you may not be accounting for. Human existence is more nuanced then "Person A can get away from person B hypothetically".
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k


    Re harm being a basis for morality, I don't think that everything that any arbitrary person considers harm is something we should support in the sense of thinking that there isn't something wrong with that person that we instead need to try to fix.

    It's just like not everything that any arbitrary person has a fear response to is something that we support. We try to help people overcome fears in general, but in particular there are some fears that we see as very irrational, where we think the people with those fears need serious psychological help. For example, if someone is afraid to go outside, or afraid of rain, or afraid of trees. or whatever it might be.
  • schopenhauer1
    3.5k

    Re I said basis but not the whole story. Also mentioned duration and intensity.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k


    Well, people can have really intense fears of trees, and that fear is probably going to be persistent, but what needs to be worked on there is what's going on with the person psychologically. The aim is to try to alleviate if not cure what's seen as an irrational reaction.

    The weird thing is that in the last couple decades, there's a faction that sees being offended as something of a "sacred" reaction--it's blasphemy to suggest that being offended is irrational, with no exceptions.

    [As an aside, by the way, I was looking up unusual fears just now, and one was "Nomophobia- fear of being without mobile phone coverage." How did they miss out on the opportunity to depart from tradition a bit and name that "Nomophonia" instead?]
  • Possibility
    599
    I wouldn't say that. One thing I said was that I don't consider any speech immoral. That doesn't imply that I think there's no need to ever take anyone else's feelings into consideration when speaking, however.Terrapin Station

    Fair enough - and my apologies for misrepresenting you. I agree that morality is related specifically to behaviour, and speech in itself doesn’t fit the bill. However, I do think that speech within the context of interaction is a moral issue. So while speech cannot be considered ‘immoral’ in itself, a verbal or written interaction can.

    Having said that, I personally think this ‘morality’ we’re striving for is going to go the way of ‘universal time’ as an objective structure of reality, anyway - so I tend not to get too involved in discussions of ‘is it immoral?’

    I also said that I think that sometimes negative feelings in response to speech are a problem with the person with the negative feelings, not a problem with the person who said whatever they did to cause the negative feelings. That's always the case in my opinion when it comes to offense, for example.Terrapin Station

    I think being offended (themselves and on behalf of others) has become a card that people play in scrambling for the moral high ground - a sort of ‘free pass’ for not just rational thinking but also relational skills to take a back seat in the interaction.

    I think that leading with your emotions (positive or negative) in any interaction is a problem, but so is discounting emotion in favour of logic and rationality. So many forum discussions deteriorate because two people are arguing from an emotional and rational ‘high ground’ respectively - or more specifically from two different systems of value.

    We have the capacity, as human beings, to interact in a relational space that transcends our individual value structures. We are capable of relating with each other emotionally, rationally, ideologically, etc, as well as engaging in self-reflection and evaluation - all at the same time - but to do so effectively, we need to be open to increasing awareness, connection and collaboration beyond the level of value structure. We risk experiencing humility, loss of beliefs and painful changes in knowledge structures.

    Heading for the high ground - either taking offence or being mean - is a fear response, in my opinion. It turns a relationship into a war zone.
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