• Pussycat
    358
    With philosophical topics like this one, i dont see how anyone can flourish, well not even blossom! :yum:
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    You're such a pussycat!
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    So what scientific model would you be using to tell whether individual liberty or mandatory mask-wearing is more important to long-term human flourishing?Isaac

    This global pandemic is hell everywhere, but compare places where the pandemic is raging out of control at least in part because of a libertarian resistance to mask-wearing and quarantine with those places which at least partly contained the virus by restricting individual liberty. This from today's NYT: https://nyti.ms/3hGIME2

    I'm not sure all Americans realize how shocking the U.S. response to the pandemic looks to the rest of the world. This video is worth watching to the end, only a couple of minutes long. https://nyti.ms/3fciI1S

    It seems pretty clear that draconian measures, which American libertarians describe as "trampling" on rights and liberties, such as those implemented by China, South Korea, New Zealand, and other countries, are the most effective at both reducing deaths and permitting early partial economic re-opening.

    Other countries such as Germany and the Scandinavian countries, and Canada, rely more on appeal to good citizenship, widespread testing, and contact tracing, than to harsh mandates.

    Where I live in British Columbia, Canada, population four million, we had 26 new cases yesterday. Across the whole province, only nine people with COVID are in hospital. Two deaths all week. Meanwhile, my brother-in-law, who lives in Alabama, has just yesterday been admitted to the ICU with COVID-19, so forgive me if I get a little agitated. Economy is devastated here as elsewhere but most businesses are functioning with social distancing. We live in fear of opening the border to the U.S. and joke about the need for "a big, beautiful wall".

    Meanwhile the U.S. has seen drastic, truly devastating downturns in every measure of human flourishing you could come up with. A downturn from which America's standing in the world may never recover.

    This I take as compelling scientific evidence that the primarily American ideology of libertarianism, of which Trump is at least partly an expression, is a failed moral system, failed because it does not serve human flourishing.
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    Of course the intention of Divine Command Theory is not to serve human flourishing.SophistiCat

    Like pretty much all moral systems, Divine Command Theory is an attempt to answer the question, "What best serves human flourishing?"

    For DCT, the answer offered is, "Submit to God's will and follow God's commands."
  • creativesoul
    8.4k
    But I do know some animal rights activists who are far more concerned about animal rights than about human flourishing.Thomas Quine

    I think that that 'exception' is not one. Animal rights activists are themselves long entrenched in human flourishing, otherwise they'd not be comfortable enough to concern themselves with the rights of animals.

    Where there has never been human flourishing, there have never been animal rights activists.

    Flourishing is as good a practical basis as it is an involuntary one for human morality. I think that you're definitely onto something with very strong ground.
  • Isaac
    2.8k
    compare places where the pandemic is raging out of control at least in part because of a libertarian resistance to mask-wearing and quarantine with those places which at least partly contained the virus by restricting individual liberty.Thomas Quine

    Do you understand what 'science' is? Controlled trials, models, theories, predictions, experiments, statistical analysis, refined models... It's not you reading some newspapers and having a guess.

    Notwithstanding that, I asked for the science that tells us that mask-wearing is better than personal liberty in the long term. All you've presented here is a load of anecdotal evidence of how you reckon the conflict played out in the very short term. If you think that's science then please, please don't get involved in anything important.
  • Janus
    9.2k
    he can get around this by saying that science, although it obviously cannot determine the nature of eternal flourishing, can determine that the notion of eternal flourishing has no grounds and is hence not a valid model. — Janus


    Can it? How would it go about doing that?
    Isaac

    It would have been better to say that science has shown the way, but that it is philosophy that tells us. So the practice of science has clarified the fact that there can be no inter-subjective force to claims that predict nothing that can be observed and agreed upon. This would seem to be the case with the claim of eternal flourishing.
  • Janus
    9.2k
    I think this is an unfairly narrow definition of science you are using. Science in the broadest sense is everything that can be observed and agreed upon. IT is obvious that kowtowing to what are baseless ideas of individual liberty has greatly reduced human flourishing in the US and Brazil (a situation which will also affect the rest of the world, which makes the idea of absolute national sovereignty equally baseless) for two prominent examples. The idea of absolute human liberty is baseless because unbiased observation clearly shows us that we are all dependent on, and interconnected with, one another, and that the actions of one impact all.
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    Do you understand what 'science' is?Isaac

    You got me Isaac, I'm not a scientist. That's why I look to people who are.

    https://wapo.st/3fdqWXy
  • opt-ae
    31
    God finds thus evil, thus I find thus evil; no, because that's equal to being a flower; but God does find thus evil, and I find thus evil...
  • creativesoul
    8.4k
    I asked for the science that tells us that mask-wearing is better than personal liberty in the long term.Isaac

    Are you serious? Do you need to see it? Have you not already? Have you been living under a rock? You're being a dick to the OP for no reason at all. It pisses me off, particularly coming from someone who is a self professed psychologist whose job - so s/he says - is to make people 'feel better'. You've yet to impress me. I personally know professionals in that field who are in very important and powerful positions of oversight and they act respectfully and honorably, particularly towards others regardless of disagreements. Your words here are anything but respectable or honorable. Duplicity of that nature is reprehensible and disgusting. Your behaviour and word choices here are a disgrace to the discipline.

    :rage:

    The medical experts, you know, the most knowledgable people regarding infectious disease, they most certainly wear one. They most certainly strongly advise wearing facial coverings and changing and/or disinfecting/sterilizing them as often as possible. They most certainly have stated in no uncertain terms that if the public does not follow the guidelines, including but not limited to masks, that this pandemic will inevitable take far more lives than need be.

    Certainly better for everyone else for me to wear a mask... Seeing how it's about everyone else, and it's all about what counts as acceptable/unacceptable behaviour from/by me regarding it's effect/affect upon others... it's of moral import. It also dovetails nicely with the notion of human flourishing.
  • ChrisH
    174
    I asked for the science that tells us that mask-wearing is better than personal liberty in the long term.
    — Isaac

    Are you serious?
    creativesoul

    Of course he is.

    "Better than" is a value judgement. Science doesn't make value judgements.
  • Isaac
    2.8k
    the practice of science has clarified the fact that there can be no inter-subjective force to claims that predict nothing that can be observed and agreed upon. This would seem to be the case with the claim of eternal flourishing.Janus

    Agreed on the principle, though I'm not sure how 'science' showed this, unless you're taking a really broad definition of science. But the point here is that in order for this "science can show us the way" approach to have normative force, it too has to make predictions, the results of which can be observed and agreed upon, and I see no evidence of that in terms of human flourishing which are clear enough to provide guidance in any real moral dilemmas. For example...

    IT is obvious that kowtowing to what are baseless ideas of individual liberty has greatly reduced human flourishingJanus

    Obvious to you, maybe, but if you're going to extend the meaning of 'science' to cover 'stuff you reckon after having a look at the newspapers' then I really think that's too broad.

    The science on mask-wearing, as I understand it (I'm not following it with spotlight, so I could be wrong) is that there is a reasonable likelihood that mask-wearing will reduce the R value and therefore spread of Covid-19, and that Covid-19 spreading at a high rate will probably cause X number of excess deaths.

    Actual experts in their field disagree with both of these positions (the likelihood with which mask wearing is effective overall, and the value of X)

    I don't know what the confidence intervals are in actual numbers, but they're not high.

    Risks are taken with people's lives for the sake of individual liberty (your freedom to drive a car for example). So it is not the case that 'human flourishing' (among all those who agree with it as a metric) requires that no one's lives are put at risk by anyone's activities - it has been agreed upon that 'flourishing' will contain some activities which carry a risk to others - that sometimes we need to risk life in order to gain a level of freedom which we think worth the risk.

    If I take that level to be a 1:500 lifetime risk, where someone else takes that level to be a 1:100,000 lifetime risk, how does science tell us which risk level is worth taking for the benefit of greater freedom? All we've had so far is a furious spewing of data telling us what the risk is. I'm asking how science tells us which risks are worth taking.
  • Isaac
    2.8k
    You got me Isaac, I'm not a scientist. That's why I look to people who are.

    https://wapo.st/3fdqWXy
    Thomas Quine

    What is it in that article which tells you what level of risk is scientifically proven to be appropriate to take relative to the value of individual liberty. I've read it, but it only seems to point to what the risk is, not how we decide whether to take it.
  • creativesoul
    8.4k
    I asked for the science that tells us that mask-wearing is better than personal liberty in the long term.
    — Isaac

    Are you serious?
    — creativesoul

    Of course he is.

    "Better than" is a value judgement. Science doesn't make value judgements.
    ChrisH

    Isaac is perfectly capable of speaking for himself, but since you answered...



    So what? I mean, that's not even in question here... is it? What difference does that make to the discussion here?

    Science is not an agent. Science doesn't think, believe, wonder, or anything else that agents such as ourselves often do. Science doesn't make any judgments. That's not even in question, and I seriously doubt that the OP meant anything of the sort.

    He was simply claiming that science could be used as a reliable means to help us make better moral decisions... how to act in order to minimize unnecessary harm and how to act in order to increase human flourishing. If those are moral concerns, then science, can be rightfully and reliably used as an important tool for doing so.

    Science is the most reliable means of acquiring information from which to better make our own judgments, including the ones under consideration here regarding the ongoing pandemic and what we must do if we want to contain it and be able to get on with our lives on the other side of that task.

    Science doesn't tell us that we ought do everything in our power that we can to minimize the death and suffering from the pandemic either. It does however offer us the best knowledge available regarding how to do so.

    That's the point.
  • ChrisH
    174
    I asked for the science that tells us that mask-wearing is better than personal liberty in the long term.
    — Isaac

    Are you serious?
    — creativesoul

    Of course he is.

    "Better than" is a value judgement. Science doesn't make value judgements.
    — ChrisH

    Isaac is perfectly capable of speaking for himself, but since you answered...



    So what? I mean, that's not even in question here... is it?
    creativesoul

    It's precisely what's in question here.

    This was the original claim:

    Those who argue that to mandate mask-wearing is immoral believe that individual liberty and personal choice is more important to human flourishing.

    Science can tell us who is right.
    Thomas Quine

    Isaac is (in my view perfectly reasonably) disputing this claim.
  • Isaac
    2.8k
    Isaac is (in my view perfectly reasonably) disputing this claim.ChrisH

    To be clear, I'm not actually disputing the claim so much as trying to find out how the OP (and others) believe it to be the case. I haven't particularly (nor do I really intend to) forwarded my own opinion on the matter, though I'm not hiding it.

    That said, you have hit the nail on the head when you say...

    It's precisely what's in question here.ChrisH

    If the claim were merely that science can provide useful information to help us make judgements then I doubt even divine command theorists would disagree. The position is clearly that science can somehow actually distinguish a (single?) 'right' answer. It is that position I'm probing.
  • creativesoul
    8.4k
    My apologies. I would question that claim myself... Open mouth, insert foot. Should have read more carefully than I did.
  • ChrisH
    174
    To be clear, I'm not actually disputing the claim so much as trying to find out how the OP (and others) believe it to be the case.Isaac

    Apologies for inadvertently misrepresenting you.
  • Isaac
    2.8k
    Apologies for inadvertently misrepresenting you.ChrisH

    No problem at all, it wasn't that clear, that's why I thought I ought to clarify. My preferred methods for getting at why people believe what they do can be quite confrontational and are often mistaken for an argument in it's own right. I don't avoid making positive claims, just that it's not what I'm doing here.
  • Banno
    8.9k
    Muddled. Virtue ethics is about growth, becoming; encouraging courage, temperance, liberality, generosity, patience, kindness.
    — Banno

    I don't think so. What I'm trying to point out is that all those virtues you mention basically consist in caring about others, and of course oneself (that's implicit in the idea that you cannot care about others if you don't care about yourself (caring about yourself, that is, in the sense of caring about what kind of person you are)). I can't think of any definition of morality that doesn't entail caring about others. To care about others is obviously to care about their flourishing, so I can't see how that definition could be wrong.
    Janus

    Did I address this? I lost track of the conversation. I'm not sure we have a point of contention here...

    Were you suggesting that the virtues somehow emanate from some other principle?
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    I asked for the science that tells us that mask-wearing is better than personal liberty in the long term.Isaac

    Let's see if we can pick up the thread here.

    My assertion was only that mask-wearing was more conducive to human flourishing than to assert personal liberty as a justification for not wearing a mask. I provided some articles quoting scientists and experts that supported that point. I thought my point was clear from the context, but let me correct any wrong impressions here.

    Let me then go forward and make the case that this refusal to wear masks is one piece of a jigsaw puzzle that if assembled can show us a picture of what I think is the main cause of American decline: the over-glorification of individual liberty.

    There is always a tension in society between the individual and the collective and the balance is difficult to achieve. Totalitarian societies seek to squash the individual in the name of social harmony, libertarian societies privilege the freedom of the individual. China is not a totalitarian society, it is a society in which the government seeks total control over political life but gives much more freedom over capitalist enterprise than the U.S. or Europe. You can start a business in one minute in China with a minimum of paperwork, you don't have to pay your employees for three months or longer, you can ignore regulations if there even are any, you can advance your interests through rampant corruption, and so on. It's the kind of enterprise freedom Republicans dream of.

    Total state political control means that the government can implement the kind of lockdown that really stops an epidemic in its tracks. Cowboy capitalism starting virtually from scratch unleashed economic growth of 7-10% per year that the rest of the world could only dream of, and raised the standard of living of the average Chinese citizen like a rocket, lifting 800 million people out of poverty. So we should be careful about sneering at China, in many ways it is a human success story.

    I don't think the Chinese are looking at America under Trump and saying, wow, I wish we had that kind of liberal democracy here, their system is really a shining city on a hill, how can I get a green card?

    None of which is to say I am a fan of the Chinese system, because I think the lack of independent civil society organizations, suppression of freedom of speech and assembly we are seeing in Hong Kong, etc. will eventually catch up to them. You need freedom of speech, even if it is a challenge to the government, and the best example of this is how the government tried to suppress warnings about the coronavirus until it was impossible to hide. This led to an massive economic decline not only in China but globally and hurt China immensely.

    On the other side of the coin, American Libertarians are fond of contrasting their freedoms with those in China, but are less alert to the damage an obsession with the rights of the individual is causing to their own society. Let me briefly just list a few:

    An over-emphasis on liberty is used as justification for deregulation. Since most regulations are created to serve the common good, human flourishing is set back. Best example is deregulation of environmental standards.

    An over-emphasis on personal liberty is used as a justification for union-breaking through "right-to-work" laws. The virtual destruction of much of the labor movement in the U.S. has exacerbated income inequality and is a huge contributor to job insecurity and economic stress.

    An over-emphasis on personal choice is used as an argument against universal health care. I don't need to list the damage this causes to human flourishing, especially in the context of a pandemic. Just let me point out that as a Canadian I have never thought twice in my life about medical costs. My 88-year old mother has been battling cancer for three years, in and out of hospital, immuno-therapy, CAT scans once every six weeks, radiation therapy, hip surgery, various other medical treatments, a daily nurse visit to assist with showering, you name it. Cost: NOT ONE CENT.

    What about the individualistic (and narcissistic) American heroes who are lionized for "disrupting" various industries so they can get super-rich? Look at Travis Kalanick, founder of Uber, who disrupted the taxi industry so successfully that he drove hundreds of thousands of desperate people to drive for him at below-poverty wages, and drove a wave of suicides of taxi drivers who were left holding worthless licenses they had paid tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for?

    And what about Donald Trump, the Travis Kalanick of politics, who disrupted the political system and became a leader of all the mask-refusers and "no gummit gonna tell me what to do" militias in the country? It's not some freak accident that Trump is the darling of the Republicans, he is a perfect expression of narcissistic individualism, admired for his willingness to break any law to serve his personal interests and step on the face of anyone who stands in his way.

    The flip side of the Libertarian ideology that anyone can succeed in America if you just put your back into it, is that if you do not succeed, it's your own damn fault. This is the ideology behind, for example, Ivanka Trump's campaign for the unemployed using the slogan, "Try Something New!" Maggie Thatcher's famous quote that "There is no such thing as society" is a belief that runs through Repubicanism. It says that there are no social problems, only individual problems. American refusal to deal adequately with social problems, from health care, to the pandemic, to the social safety net, to climate change, to mass incarceration, I could go on, are a product of this libertarianism, and have all contributed to American decline.

    Therefore my claim is that libertarian ideology and all its manifestations represent a failed moral system, failed because it does not serve human flourishing, and the proof of that is American decline. And Donald Trump is exhibit A.

    Now with respect to the long-term effects Isaac is concerned with, we will see what the future holds, but I can use probability theory and the great scientific tool called induction to conclude that unless this ideology is corrected, America will continue along its downward trajectory.

    <end of rant>
  • ChrisH
    174
    My assertion was only that mask-wearing was more conducive to human flourishing than to assert personal liberty as a justification for not wearing a mask.Thomas Quine

    No, it was more than that.

    You said:

    Those who argue that to mandate mask-wearing is immoral believe that individual liberty and personal choice is more important to human flourishing.

    Science can tell us who is right.
    Thomas Quine

    Science cannot "tell us who is right".
  • Janus
    9.2k
    Agreed on the principle, though I'm not sure how 'science' showed this, unless you're taking a really broad definition of science. But the point here is that in order for this "science can show us the way" approach to have normative force, it too has to make predictions, the results of which can be observed and agreed upon, and I see no evidence of that in terms of human flourishing which are clear enough to provide guidance in any real moral dilemmas. For example...

    IT is obvious that kowtowing to what are baseless ideas of individual liberty has greatly reduced human flourishing — Janus


    Obvious to you, maybe, but if you're going to extend the meaning of 'science' to cover 'stuff you reckon after having a look at the newspapers' then I really think that's too broad.
    Isaac

    I do have a broad conception of science in mind. I am thinking of everything we know as science. We know, for example, that raping your neighbours' daughter, killing their dog or breaking into their house and robbing them of all their valuables will not normally be likely to contribute to their temporal flourishing.

    You might want to argue that it may be a pivotal aid to their eternal flourishing, or even lead to events which increase their overall temporal flourishing, but these would be indiscernible for our present moral deliberations. It's not some arcane science, but just commonsense, most everyone knows what's right and wrong if they care to give it some thought. Not, though, that this is to deny that there are some tricky subtle moral problems involving conflict of interest. There's nothing certain in human life.


    Risks are taken with people's lives for the sake of individual liberty (your freedom to drive a car for example). So it is not the case that 'human flourishing' (among all those who agree with it as a metric) requires that no one's lives are put at risk by anyone's activities - it has been agreed upon that 'flourishing' will contain some activities which carry a risk to others - that sometimes we need to risk life in order to gain a level of freedom which we think worth the risk.Isaac

    Of course I agree that humans, mostly due to the abiding infrastructures of societies, cannot but indulge in activities which are risky to themselves and others. Most of us simply need to drive cars, for example; but we don't need to refrain from wearing masks, if the predominant medical opinion is that that is what we ought to do.
  • Janus
    9.2k
    Were you suggesting that the virtues somehow emanate from some other principle?Banno

    Not emanate, but more consist in, or relate to, the basic principle of care or concern.
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    It’s important to defend individual liberties, especially freedom of speech. I see diversity of opinion as a great strength of any group, a work team, a corporate board, any council, even of society, there’s good science behind this, a couple of books written on the subject, one of which was called “The Wisdom of Crowds” if I recall. Many have observed that it was a great weakness of the Bush administration, and is currently a great weakness of the Trump administration, that differences of opinion are suppressed. Freedom of speech is vital to democracy and a vital support to human flourishing.

    But there are limits, and we all know them. We draw the line where we recognize that certain types of speech are harmful to human flourishing. Think hate speech, threats, slander, false alarm, etc.

    Similarly we should recognize limits on defense of individual liberty, for instance where they threaten the health and safety of others. We don’t defend the right of the individual to run a red light, but we see hard libertarians arguing against health measures that science tells us will protect oneself, others, and human flourishing in general, such as mask-wearing, and even quarantine of COVID patients.

    If our goal is human flourishing, we must defend individual liberty, but not past the point where it threatens human flourishing.
  • creativesoul
    8.4k


    Compelling argument against placing too much value upon personal liberty/freedom/rigged individualism.
  • Isaac
    2.8k


    As @ChrisH has already said, you holding a view as to the damage the upholding of personal liberty has done during this pandemic has nothing to do with your claim that

    "
    Science can tell us who is rightChrisH

    To uphold that claim we would need a falsifiable scientific theory about the correct relative values and a controlled trial to test that hypothesis.

    It seems to me that, in common with the majority of moral realists, what you really mean is not science but 'common sense'. The trouble with 'common sense' is that whilst a very useful concept on a broad scale (we do not need a scientific test to tell whether rape is a bad thing) it starts to get co-opted into political or personal ideologies at a fine scale ("it's just 'common sense' that we should protect our borders", "it's just 'common sense' that we need schools to teach children how to read" etc.

    Exemplified by

    most everyone knows what's right and wrong if they care to give it some thought.Janus

    Where 'giving it some thought' means thinking about it until they come up with the same answer you have.

    This is why, to make it's case, realism always has to turn to extreme examples...

    We know, for example, that raping your neighbours' daughter, killing their dog or breaking into their house and robbing them of all their valuables will not normally be likely to contribute to their temporal flourishing.

    You might want to argue that it may be a pivotal aid to their eternal flourishing, or even lead to events which increase their overall temporal flourishing, but these would be indiscernible for our present moral deliberations.
    Janus

    No, I wouldn't want to make that case and nor would anyone nowadays, but that's not because an objective morality exists for all moral dilemmas, it's because an objective morality exists for this particular moral dilemma. We have in-built tendencies toward empathy/sympathy, cooperation, and care for those weaker than us. If any of those are transgressed we feel a sense that something wrong needs to be righted, we fell compelled to act to correct this mistake because our beliefs about the world are such that interacting with it in this way has the result we expect.

    But there's absolutely no reason at all (and in fact very compelling psychological evidence to the contrary) to believe that these in-built tendencies solely inform all decision making about moral dilemmas. As I've said before, one thing 'science' can tell us is that moral dilemmas involve parts of the brain responsible for valuation, disgust, group identity, dopamine cycles, habituation, and rule-following. All of these areas are highly adaptable and modified by the society and method of your upbringing. It is telling that for people so heavily invested in what 'science' can tell us about mask-wearing, you all blithely ignored what science actually can tell us about moral decision-making.
  • Pussycat
    358
    Hasnt science already settled the matter for human flourishing, in terms of eugenics and population control? Eugenics ensures that only the healthiest, brightest, strongest etc will be born, while pop control that there will be enough resources, food, jobs etc for everyone. What better alternative is there for human flourishing? But why are they not enforced, since it is the right, the moral thing to do?
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment