Everything posted by Will_to_Know
Will_to_Know posted a topic in EthicsObjectivist intellectuals have been very good at standing up for business. What I have never seen, however, are Objectivist discussions of the tools that individuals can use to push back against immoral businesses. Because big businesses and individuals with immense wealth can have an enormous impact on individuals, it seems to me that there needs to be discussion about how individuals can protect themselves when such influence becomes damaging. (As an aside, I also haven't fully understood why Objectivists want an immediate reduction of government when they argue that Libertarianism is morally bereft. If an ideology isn't already present in society before government is removed, then the economically powerful (as well as ordinary individuals), will have a much greater chance of acting irrationally. Under such conditions, I would guess that unscrupulous business practices would be more commonplace, meaning that individuals would have an a very urgent need for protective tools.) Examples for discussion: Toxic dumping that affects a community downstream Say members of the community bring the company to suit. How could a group of ordinary citizens have the financial ability to stand up to a wealthy offender who could hire an army of lawyers, bribe investigators, or expertly hide his tracks? If the wealthy lacked any regulation requiring transparency or the need to keep records of certain activities (waste disposal in this case), how would individuals know that said company was the cause? Libel or other legal claims that can be used to sue. If a wealthy party decides he didn't like what a person said or did even if the party knows that the person didn't do anything legally or morally wrong, he me might be able to find an avenue to sue. The wealthy party may not care if he wins or loses; but rather, he would be mostly concerned with financially ruining the alleged offender through legal defense fees. Third-party legal funding (probably similar to libel) The case of Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker is a good example as Peter Thiel's billions funded Hogan. Regardless of what you think of that particular case, how might an innocent, ordinary individual protect himself under such circumstances and should would such a thing even be legal? Organizing Boycotts I looked over another topic thread on this site about how to decide when to boycott a company/individual. The number of people that need to be included in a boycott has to be large to have any serious impact on the offending party. If people are irrational, or subscribe to a, perhaps, legitimate idea that "because toxic dumping happened in small-town Alabama and not in California where we live, there is no imperative for us boycott," what are affected individuals supposed to do there? Disproportionate Consequences Because wealthy companies have such immense resources and needs, a company that poisons people through faulty pharmaceuticals or toxic dumping has the capacity to harm or kill scores of people. Even if a suit brought against the offender ruled against him, how could retribution really be served? Let's say that hundreds of people die. Even if the offender were executed (which, I would argue, probably wouldn't happen, especially in the case of an accidental wrong), so what? How does that in any way square with the death of hundreds? Or, what would be more likely I'd guess, is a company dumping toxins in the water that have no apparent affect until the children at the time start developing cancer at the age of 60. The person primarily responsible may be, by now, dead. So, after the lawsuit, the company goes under, even though the current CEO is an upstanding person who runs a highly safe and moral company. Is that justice? A company going under is nothing compared to premature deaths; and besides, the current incarnation of the business isn't even the offender anymore. Without answers to these questions, which would help satisfy the rational desire to protect one's life from those who are exponentially more powerful, I have a hard time thinking that Objectivism will go very far. Principles are necessary, but if we don't show people that they have recourse against abuses of power that far outweigh them, are people really going to want to live in a laissez-faire society?
Will_to_Know replied to Will_to_Know's topic in EthicsI know much about Objectivist fundamentals. The questions I have asked don't necessarily indicate otherwise, though you have taken it upon yourself to assume that you can see the motives that have inspired me to ask them. While I believe that inference is possible from what people say, as you said, my questions "are very abstract and difficult to connect to the specific answers to [my] questions without much consideration." Given that, I don't trust that you've given enough consideration to make those connections by simply writing me a few short paragraphs in a brief sitting. Yes, I know. Just the same, I have seen much more of an emphasis on the individual rights of businessmen because regulations often, if not mostly, violate their rights more than those of others. Again, you've wrongly read into my question. There is nothing about it that indicates that I don't understand. I have not looked very hard at all, have I? "Moral" refers to necessary ethical consequences derived from a process of induction beginning with metaphysics of the universe, the ability to know it, and the ability to know the metaphysical nature of man. Once these are known, morals are necessary outgrowths that are inalienable. Why on Earth you decided that I was not aware that everyone's rights must be respected and that government is what ensures this is beyond me. And, of course influence is not force. I didn't say nor implied that. My questions for discussion were purposefully about practical implications about what an Objectivist world might look like and what individuals could do to advocate for their rights when up against (certain) immoral giants; in a word, ethics. As much as I'd like to see laissez-faire, I'd also like to know what methods of recourse might be used to protect myself from undo harm. That it is simply the role of government is not reassuring if it might be circumvented when one side has an enormous financial advantage. (Further, if you want to convince people in our present culture that an Objectivist society is worth having, you'll need to do better than speaking in broad, philosophical strokes. I would argue that people, rightly, are interested in self-preservation and distrust their ability to protect themselves against the financial imbalance that might be present in a conflict against an immoral, wealthy entity. I am included among those that have an interest in knowing about this, and there is nothing wrong about such concerns.) That laws would be clear in a proper society is all well and good. Without a sufficient number of rational individuals, you will not get "proper." And more importantly, that a society is proper is irrelevant to my questions. My questions for discussion are about tools that one might use assuming society is proper. Yes, bribery would be a horrendous crime. I am not making comparisons to an arbitrary regulatory system. I am asking about practical concerns in a proper society. I am asking about what recourse individuals have against damaging practices. I am not implying that reporting to the government is necessary but what might be used without government involvement. Attempting to get some sort of idea about what structures could exist in a free society is not only possible but worthwhile speculation. Some of these structures already exist within the private sector, but I suspect we could do better, and that does not require government as you seem so hell bent on assuming I'd prefer or that I lack the knowledge to understand. Please, "please...innocent until proven guilty...." Again, you miss the point of my questions; I cannot stress that enough. Sure, government is busy taking away our rights, which is distracting. That is not an excuse for not focusing on other topics. They would not be "more than enough to rectify the situation," but if unbalanced punishment is all that is available in an objective legal system, then that is what we would have to live with. This is, indeed, central. If you understood my purpose, you would know that. False libel is notoriously difficult for courts to identify, and in a proper society, I can see it remaining so. A financial imbalance might make this all the more true. (So you know, I am not referring to a desire for financial equality. I am referring to the fact that, in a proper society, this necessary financial inequality could still lead to problems for individuals attempting to defend themselves.) Choosing voluntarily to assist someone achieve justice or accepting such assistance IS never wrong. It is a vicious dark cynicism that is at work to make anyone think that it ever would be. How might an innocent protect oneself? This is not a worry in an objective legal system whose laws are solely for the purpose of protecting individual rights. Envy and cynicism it is not, or at least not necessarily. It is a reasonable question. Choosing to assist someone for unjust vengeance, say, is wrong. There may be objective legal reasons to bar such financial support across the board to help ensure justice is done; one can do what one wants with what he earns, but there are, indeed, limits; this scenario may be one of them. Further, judicial review is subject to error as it still involves interpretation, proper society or not. That is what I wanted to discussion, these potentialities. If there is any potential that such discussion is frivolous in your opinion, then you need not participate in the discussion; if you did believe that, I don't know why you would, anyway. I can't tell for sure if you are passing veiled judgment on a "cynicism" or "envy" on my part just for asking these questions; but that would be, of course, your right. My right is to continue with the discussion. Anyone's judgment, in the end, doesn't mean anything beyond what it means for him and how it guides his actions, especially if I disagree with him. I am not going to continue because my responses are all the same: you've misread my purpose and assume that I don't know enough about these topics to even question or probe for ways to apply ethics. At the worst, such commentary is insulting and condescending. If you want an example of what I would consider a respectful reply in the spirit of philosophic conversation that seeks to expand knowledge rather than instruct a supposed ignorant, see Eiuol's response above. As I've initiated this topic, I respectfully request that you refrain from responding here.
Will_to_Know replied to Will_to_Know's topic in EthicsYour response was interesting up until this line. I'm not sure if this was supposed to be a slight, but I'm trying to understand something and am appealing to this community for that reason. Regardless of whether my current understanding of laissez-faire sounds like that of a Sanders supporter, I am still trying to make sense of something, which, if anything, should be commended. Please refrain from comments of this sort. They are not helpful.