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Author Topic: The Social Acceptability of Shocking Fantasies  (Read 7631 times)

gleichman

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The Social Acceptability of Shocking Fantasies
« Reply #525 on: May 28, 2008, 11:59:26 am »
Quote from: Engine
Yours. I ducked yours. To be fair, I did try to respond to your post, but I just couldn't. I actually used to have a very high tolerance for trolling, but I find over the years I'm just not interested in that anymore. Sorry, man.


Really?

You state that moral relativism is the only rational mindset, proclaim that you seek to increase the number of people who believe it to the point where it controls the world or at least has major influence on it, and state that yes- it does come down to force and power which should be used for whatever ends the person desires.

And you find my questions about the results of such a thing trolling?

Whatever.


I am rather glad you did manage to deal with your "I just couldn't" problem. I found the answers useful, and somewhat honest at points (although your knowledge of history is terrible).


I'm rather content, and feel that I'm reached all the goals I desired in this exchange. Thanks again for the answers.
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Engine

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The Social Acceptability of Shocking Fantasies
« Reply #526 on: May 28, 2008, 12:23:49 pm »
Quote from: gleichman
And you find my questions about the results of such a thing trolling?

No, I find questions you have which have no connection to anything I said and which are expressly placed there to continue conflict to be trolling.

Quote from: gleichman
...(although your knowledge of history is terrible).

No, gleichman, your knowledge of history is terrible. Nyah.
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gleichman

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The Social Acceptability of Shocking Fantasies
« Reply #527 on: May 28, 2008, 12:28:45 pm »
Quote from: Engine
No, I find questions you have which have no connection to anything I said and which are expressly placed there to continue conflict to be trolling.


So you say, but then again- that's basically the entirely of your morality now isn't it? Self-defined, self-justified. I wouldn’t expect any other response from you.

I have my answers, and no further questions. Thanks again for your time.
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Engine

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The Social Acceptability of Shocking Fantasies
« Reply #528 on: May 28, 2008, 12:53:33 pm »
You have a last word problem, too?
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John Morrow

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The Social Acceptability of Shocking Fantasies
« Reply #529 on: May 29, 2008, 12:56:07 am »
Quote from: Engine
Which means the moral norms of the day were different than our moral norms today, just as moral norms vary from nation to nation, culture to culture, individual to individual. There are certain common elements, absolutely, but there is nothing in the 10,000 years of human history that shows a compelling, universal, comprehensive moral position based on our biology.


Then explain (A) where the "common elements" come from, including those that we share with other primates, (B) how psychopaths differ from other people if not in the different way in which they experience and process moral issues, and (C) why psychopaths make up a small percentage of the total population yet are over-represented among violent offenders and the very worst offenders.

Quote from: Engine
Yes, when we see our offspring eaten, almost everyone becomes enraged; there are genuinely biological responses which are statistically common. However, "I am hungry. Jim has food, and I do not," is a situation to which the answer has been widely varied for 10,000 years.


Yes, there are are questions where the answers differ but most normal people wouldn't serve their sister up for their boyfriend to rape and then feel no remorse when she dies.  Normal people don't push their little friends into a pool to drown.  Are there differences?  Absolutely.  I've said so from the beginning when I said that the basic morality is malleable.  But it's not infinitely malleable and the normal responses push morality toward certain directions and away from others.

Quote from: Engine
While I agree there are compelling pieces of evidence to suggest neural differences between, say, Hare psychopaths and people who aren't Hare psychopaths, and those differences are uncommon and drastic enough for us to call a defect - and not a difference - the moral variation in less drastic cases is widespread.


What the Hare psychopath illustrates is what a person looks like who lacks the internal moral compass to understand moral transgressions (things that just feel wrong) as opposed to conventional transgressions (things that are wrong because those in power say so or because they have bad consequences).  Yes, there is wide variation in normal people but there is even wider variation in psychopaths, and given the Columbine example and others, we can't discount the influence that psychopaths have on the morality of others, part of the point of this thread.  Normalizing and encouraging the detached psychopath perspective can encourage more psychopath-like decisions and behavior.  

Quote from: Engine
I guess my point is this: humans come with instructions written in, but there are millions of ways in which individual variation produces differing responses. Add to this the fact that every human on earth has been effected by moral teachings beyond his or her biology, and it makes finding a universal human morality either pointless - because there are only tendencies, not universalities - or just kind of futile.


Human morality is malleable.  Human morality is not infinitely malleable until/unless you turn off or ignore the internal moral compass that normal people have in them.  What I'm saying is that we shouldn't be ignoring that moral compass because we can see how the people who do behave.

Quote from: Engine
And in the end, what would we have? Let's say we managed to find core genetic moral rules that 98 percent of people share, the moral equivalent of "two eyes, two ears, one mouth." Then what would we have? You cannot obtain a "should" from an "is." All we'd have is a list of behaviors that were sufficient to get us to today, from a genetic perspective. This might indicate these values are useful for survival, but it doesn't make them a moral imperative!


But you are ignoring the fact that we can see the alternatives.  We know what people who have no internal moral compass can behave like.  We know what people who act on detached utilitarian grounds are capable of.  And what they demonstrate is that emotional detachment, moral distancing, and pure reason, instead of producing more beneficial and moral behavior, tends to produce some of the worst atrocities mankind is capable of, whether it be eugenics and coercive communism or simply the serial killer slaughtering others for entertainment.  The suggestions that we should step back and be detached, avoid emotionally charged examples, and suppress any feelings of anger or disgust that we might have while discussing moral issues pushes us toward ground that has repeatedly proven to be morally wanting.

Quote from: Engine
And since there's no evidence such a Genetic Moral Codex exists, it's pretty immaterial, anyway.


If you still believe that, I don't think you've been paying attention.

Quote from: Engine
Ah, this is something else I wanted to address. Hare psychopaths do, indeed, lack the biological response to morality, or anyway such is our operating theory. However, it is an error to assume Hare psychopaths do not have morality; many if not most have been raised in strongly moral conditions, and will adopt that imposed reality, despite never seeing any sort of neurochemical reward for it.


I've already covered this, ad nauseum.  The psychopath is able to make moral distinctions and decisions based on moral conventions.  But conventional morality is a much weaker guide to behavior than visceral morality which is why emotional detachment leads people to moral relativism and situational ethics, where what's right and wrong depends on the context and can be quite fluid.

Quote from: Engine
In fact, most Hare psychopaths behave as such, either to remain concealed - the first trick a Hare psychopath learns - or simply due to never realizing they were going through the motions of morality without feeling anything great about it.


I don't think that's true.  While there are certainly psychopaths who remain concealed and have sufficiently strong conventional morality to behave morally, there are plenty that occupy the space between the serial killer and the friendly neighbor, often leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.  Read the intro to the Stout book that I provided a link to earlier in the thread.  You are trying to argue that it's a meaningless distinction but the evidence suggests something quite different.

Quote from: Engine
It's also worth noting Hare psychopaths aren't the only groups of people who lack a moral compass built-in: I've seen estimates that up to 1 in 20 people lack conscience, either due to biology or upbringing. Only 1 in 5 of those would be a Hare psychopath, so you've some percentage out there of people who do not possess this specific disorder, but who lack conscience.


The Hare estimate is 4% which is 1 in 25.  Some estimates are as high as 8% so I suspect the 1 in 20 was talking about psychopaths and possibly some extreme narcissists.  If you know of another disorder that causes people to lack a conscience, I'd be happy to look at it.  In other words, you are claiming that there are people who lack a conscience but are not psychopaths.  Do you have any examples or a name for their condition?

Quote from: Engine
This is why I think it's inaccurate and inflammatory to suggest there's a connection between moral relativism and psychopathy without being very specific. One could say, "Persons with Hare psychopathy share a common element with moral relativists: they do not believe morality is objective." Which is, I guess, true, but really utterly meaningless. The comparison is no more valid than saying the Christians won because the world is full of moral absolutists; they didn't start it, and the common element between the two is not meaningful in any way.


I've been very specific.  What the psychopath shares in common with the moral relativist is that both believe that an innate or common morality doesn't exist and that morality is a produce of culture, upbringing, and personal interpretation alone.  Where does that lead in people who really believe it and are immune from the innate morality that they don't believe in?  Look at the spectrum of behavior exhibited by psychopaths and why they behave the way that they do.  The moral relativist simply disbelieves in common morality but is still generally subject to it, even if they deny it or are blind to it.  The psychopath disbelieves common morality and is really liberated from it.  The psychopath is moral relativism unburdened by the common morality that moral relativists don't believe exists.

Quote from: Engine
Ultimately, I think the comparison is intended to be inflammatory, to discourage moral relativism by comparing it to something people don't like.


Whether the comparison is inflammatory or not is irrelevant.  I think it's a legitimate comparison and, yes, my goal is to discourage moral relativism because I think it encourages malevolent psychopath-like morality and excuses malevolent  psychopath-like behavior.

Quote from: Engine
Once you define it down to reality, it's not nearly so gut-wrenching, not nearly so calculated to make people avoid moral relativism as the first step into making us all psychopaths.


In other words, once you step back, emotionally distance yourself, and feel nothing about the possible consequences and succeed at looking at it like a psychopath, it doesn't look at that bad.  My point is that it should look bad because in practice, the results often are.
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Engine

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The Social Acceptability of Shocking Fantasies
« Reply #530 on: May 29, 2008, 10:05:01 am »
Quote from: John Morrow
Then explain (A) where the "common elements" come from, including those that we share with other primates, (B) how psychopaths differ from other people if not in the different way in which they experience and process moral issues, and (C) why psychopaths make up a small percentage of the total population yet are over-represented among violent offenders and the very worst offenders.
A. Common moralities arise in the same way any other common behavioral trait arises from genetic variation, but that doesn't tell us anything. Most people have brown eyes; does this mean everyone should have brown eyes?

B. Lack of guilt is one of, what, 15+ different characteristics of a Hare psychopath?

C. Because most Hare psychopaths are crazy? Heh heh. No, really. Obviously, Hare psychopaths, with their lack of impulse control and guilt, are going to be over-represented in the criminal population. But...so?

Quote from: John Morrow
What the Hare psychopath illustrates is what a person looks like who lacks the internal moral compass to understand moral transgressions (things that just feel wrong) as opposed to conventional transgressions (things that are wrong because those in power say so or because they have bad consequences).
That's, again, one characteristic of Hare psychopaths. On its own, a lack of guilt doesn't count for much, because long-term fear of repercussions still stops most people from acting. The Hare psychopath also lacks the long-term planning capability necessary to restrain themselves from action. This is an essential component of their antisocial behavior; on its own, lack of conscience will not produce these same results.

Quote from: John Morrow
What I'm saying is that we shouldn't be ignoring that moral compass because we can see how the people who do behave.
And what I'm saying is that the norms which come built-in are neither common nor universal enough to determine a morality from, or even much more than, "Don't kill things like you." Even if one accepts this as a truly universal behavior, that doesn't make it a moral imperative, any more than "have brown eyes" is a moral imperative.

Quote from: John Morrow
We know what people who act on detached utilitarian grounds are capable of.
Again, you're equating Hare psychopaths and people who make utilitarian decisions, as if they're an identical group. Hare psychopaths possess many diagnostic traits other than lack of guilt. Many other disorders include lack of guilt as a diagnostic factor. Many people act on utilitarian grounds but do feel guilt. You've got a large, complex, overlapping of many people, and you're treating them all as one, and that's incorrect.

Quote from: John Morrow
If you still believe that, I don't think you've been paying attention.
No, John, I've been paying attention, but I do not agree with you that there is a single "correct" template for human behavior, and a small set of deviations from that template.

Quote from: John Morrow
If you know of another disorder that causes people to lack a conscience, I'd be happy to look at it.  In other words, you are claiming that there are people who lack a conscience but are not psychopaths.  Do you have any examples or a name for their condition?
John, an enormous number of conditions exist which produce this result, most of which are lumped under Antisocial Personality Disorder, including to some degree Hare psychopaths. Dissocial Personality Disorder is a larger umbrella, covering many disorders whose criteria are similar but whose causes are distinct. They are all marked by lack of guilt, amongst six other criteria.

The psychopathy described by Hare possesses a number of characteristics other than lack of conscience. Lack of conscience is present in a large number of sociopathic disorders which are not Hare psychopathy. Many people make utilitarian decisions without recourse to objective morality and are neither Hare psychopaths nor possessed of any other sociopathic disorder. Treating all of these things as a single group is in error.

Quote from: John Morrow
What the psychopath shares in common with the moral relativist is that both believe that an innate or common morality doesn't exist and that morality is a produce of culture, upbringing, and personal interpretation alone.
Where they differ is in the Hare psychopath's glibness or superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, cunning and manipulation, lack of remorse or guilt, shallowness, callousness and lack of empathy, failure to accept responsibility for own actions, promiscuous sexual behavior, need for stimulation and proneness to boredom, parasitic lifestyle, poor behavioral control, lack of realistic, long-term goals, impulsivity, irresponsibility, juvenile delinquency, early behavior problems, many short-term marital relationships, revocation of conditional release, and criminal versatility.

Are those differences not enough for you to see the two groups as distinct?

Quote from: John Morrow
...my goal is to discourage moral relativism because I think it encourages malevolent psychopath-like morality and excuses malevolent  psychopath-like behavior.
Okay. Let's step aside from the questions of inappropriate equivalences and look directly at this. I agree that there are cases in which psychopaths have convinced non-psychopaths to take antisocial action. But is there any evidence to suggest that widespread moral relativism - which, again, does not contain many of the elements Hare psychopathy does, including those which lead to antisocial behavior - would lead to widespread psychopath-like morality? After all, moral relativists aren't psychopaths, and have only one characteristic in common with them, vastly fewer than the number of characteristics which they share.

[edit: There is another difficulty with a universal morality based on human biological norms: the near-impossibility of separating purely biological responses from those brought about by living experience. Even today's widely-accepted "don't kill people" is a relatively new idea to make universal, if it can be argued to be such today. If our genetic morality doesn't preclude killing - if our prohibitions against killing out-groups are primarily based on experiences arising from civilization - what does it preclude? The case has been made that scans of "healthy" brains and scans of Hare psychopaths respond differently to differing stimuli, but we do not know if all such differences are genetic, or even if most such differences are genetic. Another few decades of study will likely expose much of the truth of the tale, but at this point, there is very little concrete evidence for which of our common human behaviors are as a result of our genetic inheritance, and which are memes arising from 10,000 years of civilization.]
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