- Capitalism and Alternatives -

the structure of science is replete with contradictory laws

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on December 21, 1999 at 23:05:07:

In Reply to: This won't be the case with any decent philosophy. posted by Gee on December 21, 1999 at 14:42:10:

: : Perhaps the UN articlesdo lead to some degree of contradiction (or at least contrary impulses) when put into practice.

: It isnt 'kinda, sorta'. It does specifically contradict by implication - mixing so called positive and negative liberties which cannot exist with one another.

No, the rights only contradict each other 1) when you interpret them in a certain way, and 2) when you carry them to extremes. Anyway, the only thing that seems to be 'contradicted' by the 'social obligations' that you're talking about is YOUR personal view of freedom. Let's assume for the moment taht you're right and that the right to health care causes person X (the rich) to worok a certain number of hours so that person Y may have health care. First of all, if we achieve absolute equality, then sucha situtaion does not even arise; no one can possibly be subsidizing anyone else, since all are equal, and therefore everyone is working virtually for themselevs. Second of all, I fail to see hwo the obligation to work said hours for teh benefit of person Y violates X's right to free speech, or free exercise of religion, or anything else.

: : But this will be the case with any decent philosophy.

: Consistency, and non-contradiction are the precise hallmarks that set a 'decent philosophy' apart from a second rate one. As a scientist I imagined you would be developing a keen perception of this.

Modern science may be comprehensible to the mind of God, but human minds are certainly not capable of understanding its laws without eventually running into contradictions. In fact the structure of science is replete with contradictory laws taht govern either the world of teh very small ro the world of teh classical. For example, in our visible world we take it as an article of faith that an object cannot pass from point A to point B without passing through every plane separating A and B. However, quantum mechanics not only allows but demands such a phenomenon. Nodal planes between orbitals and all that.

: : Given that humans are so complex. it is impossible to run human society based on a strict application of only one or two principles.

: Here we have the pragmatic problems which the UN tries to solve with a series of contradictory rights - perhaps they should simply have been guidelines and not sold as principles.

You're the one insisting that rights, to be valkid, have to be extensible to their extreme. Does teh obligation to take care of your child limit your freedeom? I really would like to know your repsonse to taht. If not, tehn I fail to see how taking care of the poor in society is any more of a limitation on freedom. A world where your linbertarian idea of freedom ruled the roost is frankly not one that seems very attractive. When you have the freedom, what do you do with it? Freedom is a two-edged sword; as often as not freedom leads in a great cricle back to slavery. Freedom can mean the freedom to become enslaved to alcohol or cocaine. It can mean the freedom to become enslaved to sexual perversion or trapped into prostitution. It can mean the freedom to gamble oneself into poverty. It can mean the freedom to be trapped in a minimum wage job. It acn mean the freeodm to become sick and die. It can mean the freedom to be lonely and devoid of all human relationships, or the freedom to starve.

Are any of these people free? What does freedom mean, really? To me freedom is not just doing anything you want, nor is it owning yourslef as you own a house or a car. Freedom is the ability to lead a fulfilling life as per teh dictates of your conscience and innermost desires, and the ability to define for oneself the specific goals and paths chosen to achieve a fulfilling life worthy of a human being. Anyone who is not leading such a life is not free, and therefore he is being victimized by some forces outside himself.

: : No; some things can be rght or wrong regardlesspof whethr enforcing them is practical.

: I agree with your concept of absolute morality here, but I am saying that if those murders you described as example did take place - and there was no enforcement of the moral principle which held it wrong - then what of it?

: : Objective economic circumstances, being denied adequate food, shelter, etc., or being deneid the opportunity to take part in the decisions of running society as a free and equal being.

: Again fairly broad but I can see the beginnings of a guideline - some objective standards of food and shelter applicable to all eqaully, equality before the law and before the voting booth - after having worked out the role of law and political power.


: : If left to their own devices, if acting out of self-interest, tehy will; because the interests of teh strong and the weak are incompatible. When you ahev fixed resources, people are going to fight to teh death for it, unless you scoialize them with some idea of restraint or altruism.

: It seems that you are advocating the tethering of ability, having excepted correctly the differences between people? How could that be for the good of all?

I'm not necessarily advocating the good of all, I'm arguing that no one should be victimized, even if the majority woudl benefita s a result. If the strong exercising their talents victimizes the week, then even if society as a whole benefits, such an exercise is unjust.

:Would it not be better to have the 'strong' do their stuff for all to enjoy? (Unless the 'strong' dont want to ofcourse)

No, because this would result in the lowering of the quality of life for the weak below the standard we see as acceptable. It is better that some have 10 dollars and others 12 than that some have 20 and others 9.

: : Well, again, there is a balance between the good of free choice of profession and specialization, and the good of equality. This is why I say that the MAJORITY of everyone's working time should be open to a free choice of profession, but a SIGNIFICANT MINORITY should be reserved for socialized labor. Say, 4 days of choosing your own profession, and 1 day of assigned work.

: Again, as we discussed before, on a voluntary basis both you and I would accept this (because it is voluntary) - but not under the coercive control of state (whichever form). I Still this you would fins many people resenting a days muck raking when they are brain surgeons monday-thursday, many people would seek to specialise in a second subject on their 5th day and many people would resent having to do crap as their specialisation.

Well, possibly, but again, we have two contradictory goods here, and we must compromise between them. If people can choose where tehy want a work 4 days of teh week, (a concession to individual choice) I don't think that it's over the line to expect that they shoudl do tehri fair shqare of manual labor. (a concession to job rotation).

: : "Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others" (Article 17);

: :: Note, it doesn't say 'the means of production", you acn atke taht as referring to eprsonal property instead.

: I think the wording "as well as in association" encompasses the right for voluntary groups to share the ownership of anything.

But as I said, I don't see how the right to own personal property necessarily translateds into teh right to own large-scale productive property. SOcietya s a whoile must make a decsiion whether the means of production shoudl be owned democratcoially or privately.

: : "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression" (Article 19).

: : which implies the need for a collectivist, anti-corporate media sourec to balance out the stifling power of the corporate voices. Public TV anyone?

: I dont think any such implication exists (and heaven forbid public TV and those who would control it (ie not 'the people' in real life). Freedom of speech does not mean others must provide you with a platform and airtime.

Well, I disagree. You said yourself that the right to health care implies a government program to supply it. Similarly, I argeu taht teh purpoose of a right to free speech is to make various schoolds of thought available and to allow people to choose teh one tehy like. If they don't ahve information and access to different viewpoints, tehir right to freedom of speech and belief, I think, is not being enforced.

: : "protection against unemployment" (Article 23); "rest and leisure, including . . . periodic holidays with pay" (Article 24); "food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services" (Article 25).

: : Yes, those are riughts as well. Your point?

: How can people be free in the context of the first articles when they are *obliged* to provide for whichever claimants the above goods? If you are obliged to provide me with shelter are you free? is that portion of your life taken up providing for me yours by choice?

Yes! I think I'm free now; freer than I probably ought to be. I don't know who you are; it could be that you ARE on welfare, and my earnings go to pay your medical bills. (well, not actually, since my income is non-taxed, but anyway.....) But that doesn';t mean I'm your slave, far from it! The very idea of teh strong ebing slaves to teh weak is a ludicrous oxymoron. If they were the slavenmasters, then they woudl BE the strong.

: : Not unless you consider all socialized labor to be slavery. I consider teh parallel essentailly nonexistent.

: Its pleasant to consider it non existent, but that does not make it so NJ. Socialists are keen to point out how going to work is 'wage slavery' and that such are 'forced' to because their other choices are no good - well why exempt compulsion by the force of others from that criticism?

BEcause when you're denied teh opportunity to live a fulflilling life, you are not free.

: : Taxation if you take the social democratic stance, taxation and socilaized production if you atke the strong socialist stance.

: Both follow the same principle - that your productive effort exists at the behest of those who decide to what purpose it is to be used, taxation at least gives more leeway as to what you will do as work (even if the choice is poor) but neither is exempt from breaking the principle of that article.

I woudl tend to argue taht choiice being poor invaldiates teh meaning fo having a choice in the first place.

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