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SpookyKitty

Is Dignity a Right?

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Imagine the following scenario.

 

You are employed by the world's first asteroid mining company. Since it is the first, it has no competitors and won't for at least another twenty years. In addition to that, once you are out in the asteroid belt, you cannot return to Earth in any way except by paying the company a small fee.

Now when you sign up, the pay is very good, working conditions are safe and awesome, and you have a good time. However, at some point, the company introduces a new policy. In order to boost falling morale among management, they allow managers to give arbitrary and degrading orders to the people working under them.

For instance, some managers make employees strip off their clothes, defecate, and then smear themselves with their own feces before they can pick up their pay-check.

And to keep people from leaving they also keep raising the price for the trip back to Earth to the point that nobody can afford to leave. That is, unless you offer your body to the person in charge of transportation. He does not accept money, but he will take both men and women.

(I could go on with disgusting kafkaesque scenarios like this, but let's just get to the point)

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According to Objectivist ethics, has the company committed any sort of wrong against its employees in the above scenarios? As far as I can see, they have not, since they have used neither force nor fraud in their activities here.

However, it is undeniable that this type of scenario is a nightmare and not only would I not to live it but I also would not want anyone else to live it either. It is a human created horror and this seems to be enough to require that people's right to dignity be respected.

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The question is not necessarily so hypothetical.  I think it's probable that in the next 100 to 150 years (or sooner) there may be colonies on the Moon, Mars or in the asteroid belt.

One way to address your post is, "In which country on Earth would the corporation be incorporated?"  This would establish the framework for the body of laws that govern the corporation.  If it's a US corporation, then US law would apply.  If it were a Gulf State or Chinese business, then their laws would apply.

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14 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

Yeah ok, but that doesn't answer the question.

You raise several questions.

If you are a US citizen and are being asked to smear feces on yourself and if the price of the return trip ticket is arbitrarily raised in order to keep you "captive" then both of those instances would be violations of current US laws - irrespective if it's happening in Ohio or on a ship in a remote asteroid belt.

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3 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

For instance, some managers make employees strip off their clothes, defecate, and then smear themselves with their own feces before they can pick up their pay-check.

 

Seriously?

This is the level that you want to bring the discussion to? Is this really a world problem that you want to spend your time solving? There are no more pressing problems for you to think about than a manager in an asteroid company smearing poop in employees face?

 

Pathetic.

 

If these problems are what objectivists are spending their time on, then it's easy to see why more important problems are not being solved.

Edited by Mindborg

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45 minutes ago, New Buddha said:

You raise several questions.

If you are a US citizen and are being asked to smear feces on yourself and if the price of the return trip ticket is arbitrarily raised in order to keep you "captive" then both of those instances would be violations of current US laws - irrespective if it's happening in Ohio or on a ship in a remote asteroid belt.

 

Yeah, again, ok. But why are these regulations necessary if the actions being regulated are neither force nor fraud?

Edited by SpookyKitty

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12 minutes ago, Mindborg said:

Seriously?

This is the level that you want to bring the discussion to? Is this really a world problem that you want to spend your time solving? There are no more pressing problems for you to think about than a manager in an asteroid company smearing poop in employees face?

Pathetic.

If these problems are what objectivists are spending their time on, then it's easy to see why more important problems are not being solved.

 

Spare me your sanctimonious bullshit. If you think there are more pressing problems to solve, you can kindly fuck off and go solve them.

You are the only one degrading the level of discussion here. In case you haven't noticed, this is a philosophy forum. We can talk about whatever we want.

If you aren't interested in participating, then don't.

Edited by SpookyKitty

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14 minutes ago, Mindborg said:

If these problems are what objectivists are spending their time on, then it's easy to see why more important problems are not being solved.

Not to speak to the questions in this thread, nor even to the participants specifically, but not everyone in this forum identifies as an Objectivist. Best not to assume otherwise (if that's what you're doing).

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Changing the conditions of your work in a way that is different from your contract could be construed as an initiation of force/fraud (and a contract is definitely needed in situations like these).

And there would be legal issues associated with holding you ransom. You might say that the corporation didn't force you to stay there. But the issue of force is determined by the nature of reality. If somebody locked you in a room only they can open, you would essentially be held as a prisoner. By the nature of reality (i.e., by the constraints placed by the fact that you are physically unable to leave), the situation is very similar and legal issues can be involved.

Also another thing: if this is the mentality, I doubt they would be the first to do anything in space. So situation is very unlikely as well.

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11 minutes ago, human_murda said:

Changing the conditions of your work in a way that is different from your contract could be construed as an initiation of force/fraud (and a contract is definitely needed in situations like these).

The company contract allows it to change the terms of the contract unilaterally at will.

If you don't like the new terms, you are "free to leave".

Quote

And there would be legal issues associated with holding you ransom. You might say that the corporation didn't force you to stay there. But the issue of force is determined by the nature of reality. If somebody locked you in a room only they can open, you would essentially be held as a prisoner. By the nature of reality (i.e., by the constraints placed by the fact that you are physically unable to leave), the situation is very similar and legal issues can be involved.

Travel to Earth is not free. Should the company be forced to pay for your travel expenses?

Quote

Also another thing: if this is the mentality, I doubt they would be the first to do anything in space. So situation is very unlikely as well.

I don't think that matters. In any case, it's entirely possible that the company had very good management in the past and only acquired much worse management later on.

Edited by SpookyKitty

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1 hour ago, SpookyKitty said:

Yeah, again, ok. But why are these regulations necessary if the actions being regulated are neither force nor fraud?

If you signed a contract, with a stipulated return trip price, then it would be a breach of contract if they were to change the price arbitrarily.  I think that's fairly obvious.

Wrt to the smearing feces, this fall under having nothing to do with the job for which you were contracted to perform.  That they are asking you to perform activities that you don't want to do and have nothing to do with the job which you were hired to perform - AND - they control your means of leaving, then that would be considered "force".  Not physical force - such as punching someone - but force none the less.

And an important point to be made is that you don't have to have a "signed" contract that stipulates what you will and won't do in a job.  There are numerous laws on the books that have to do with industry standards, implied warranties, etc. and they are implied in any job that you take.  I've worked for 4 architectural firms and 1 general contracting company and I've never signed a contract.  That's doesn't mean that there were no laws governing my relationship with my employer.  Even contracts that don't have some form of fair and mutual compensation can be void by the courts.  It's understood by law that both parties, for a binding agreement to exist, should each receive just compensation as defined by current standards.

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14 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

The company contract allows it to change the terms of the contract unilaterally at will.

I posted my reply before I read this.

No, the company cannot unilaterally change a contract - even if it were buried in fine-print on page 162.

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Just now, New Buddha said:

I posted my reply before I read this.

No, the company cannot unilaterally change a contract - even if it were buried in fine-print on page 162.

Ahh well actually yeah, they can.

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Just now, SpookyKitty said:

Ahh well actually yeah, they can.

You are just wrong on this Sk.  Period.  Maybe in your hypothetical world, but not in the US.

Edited by New Buddha

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1 minute ago, New Buddha said:

You are just wrong on this Sk.  Period.  Maybe in your hypothetical world, but not in the US.

I am talking about my hypothetical world, obviously.

EDIT: And yes, even in the real world, they can do that, they only need to give you notice, but that's it.

Edited by SpookyKitty

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4 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

According to Objectivist ethics, has the company committed any sort of wrong against its employees in the above scenarios? As far as I can see, they have not, since they have used neither force nor fraud in their activities here.

You know that initiation of force isn't the only Objectivist ethical principle, SK! So I don't see why you're asking.

The company is quite unethical. It is disrespectful, with deliberate humiliation, all for apparently the mere desire to mistreat people on whim. I can't imagine how you can say this might be rational. I see no example that shows respect for the work individuals do, or even a trade of value. There is no philosophy of reason, let alone sensible co-operation. 

Are you asking why it should be legal to do this? Because yeah, it wouldn't be illegal.

No, dignity is not a right. But it is a sign of being ethical. Dignity is just respect towards people, a lot like proper manners as a way to show respect to people. An acknowledgment that a person is a potential trader.

 

 

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1 minute ago, SpookyKitty said:

I am talking about my hypothetical world, obviously.

If you click on a EULA agreement, for some emoji software, and buried in the agreement is something that stipulates that you give them your house, then no court would ever uphold that.

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5 minutes ago, New Buddha said:

If you signed a contract

How come you're talking in terms of the law? The question is framed to ask about ethics.

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Just now, New Buddha said:

If you click on a EULA agreement, for some emoji software, and buried in the agreement is something that stipulates that you give them your house, then no court would ever uphold that.

This is not the same thing. Here we are talking about a price. And while it may be ridiculous to give up your house in an EULA it is equally ridiculous to allow someone to pay the price a service cost a week ago and get away with it.

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22 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

The company contract allows it to change the terms of the contract unilaterally at will.

If you don't like the new terms, you are "free to leave".

No, you are not free to leave.

The captain of a submarine ship cannot kick you out at 1000ft depth under the ocean because they didn't like you. If you were a fish that could survive at that depth, perhaps that would be legal.

The pilot of a helicopter cannot kick you out at 10,000ft altitude because they don't like you. If you were a bird that can fly at that altitude, perhaps it would be legal.

The problem is that humans can't fly, nor can they breathe and survive at that depth. So it is illegal if you have the body of a human. The issue is similar concerning survival in space.

In situations like these, it is assumed that the trip is not "one-way". It doesn't matter if they have to pay for it or if it costs them millions of dollars.

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1 minute ago, Eiuol said:

How come you're talking in terms of the law? The question is framed to ask about ethics.

Actually with regard to this and your previous comment, I am only interested in answers in terms of a rational law.

I want to know if the government should be required to protect human dignity.

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Just now, human_murda said:

No, you are not free to leave.

The captain of a submarine ship cannot kick you out at 1000ft depth under the ocean because they didn't like you. If you were a fish that could survive at that depth, perhaps that would be legal.

The pilot of a helicopter cannot kick you out at 10,000ft altitude because they don't like you. If you were a bird that can fly at that altitude, perhaps it would be legal.

The problem is that humans can't fly, nor can they breathe and survive at that depth. So it is illegal if you have the body of a human. The issue is similar concerning survival in space.

In situations like these, it is assumed that the trip is not "one-way". It doesn't matter if they have to pay for it or if it costs them millions of dollars.

 

You could say the same about being terminated from a job. Humans can't live without eating either. Are you going to require employers to provide terminated employees with food until they find a new job?

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10 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

How come you're talking in terms of the law? The question is framed to ask about ethics

To illustrate the limits of hypotheticals.

And, the importance of Law in human relationships.

Edited by New Buddha

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Just now, SpookyKitty said:

 

You could say the same about being terminated from a job. Humans can't live without eating either. Are you going to require employers to provide terminated employees with food until they find a new job?

Well, humans did survive and evolve on the surface of Planet Earth. Besides, it is an issue of cause and effect. Employers aren't directly responsible for your death from starvation is they fired you on a habitable portion of the surface of the Earth...

The issue is not one of employment. The space corporation doesn't have to employ you. They are well within their rights to fire you. However, they can't leave you in space (or at 1000ft under the sea).

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