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Is Dignity a Right?

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1 minute ago, human_murda said:

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...

 

Why not? Just because they fired you on a habitable portion of the surface of the Earth, does not mean that you can survive there. After all, just about everything is owned by somebody, so unless you're willing to steal, you can't survive without being employed. But until such a time as you find a new job, according to the same argument as you provide for the case of space, an employer should be required to cover your living expenses until you find a new job.

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Just now, SpookyKitty said:

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.

I don't think so. Though you framed the question awkwardly originally.

As far as just dignity, I honestly don't see why the government. Is there a reason you think it should? I assume that's your position, or that you lean one way or the other.

Dignity itself is a personal thing. On the one hand, not showing dignity may be a sign of more sinister things going on. There may be intent to defraud people of pay, or intended to entrap them all. Entrapment is generally illegal as far as restricting a person of free ability to move. There'd need to be consideration  that on the asteroid (or Mindshore if Mindborg wants it more realistic) the company itself will be literally the only sustenance. One could argue that on an asteroid where there is no way to grow food, that not paying for a trip back is entrapment.

I can imagine there is precedent with oil rigs or fishing crews.

But the dignity, no, that wouldn't be the legal issue.

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1 minute ago, Eiuol said:

I don't think so. Though you framed the question awkwardly originally.

As far as just dignity, I honestly don't see why the government. Is there a reason you think it should? I assume that's your position, or that you lean one way or the other.

Dignity itself is a personal thing. On the one hand, not showing dignity may be a sign of more sinister things going on. There may be intent to defraud people of pay, or intended to entrap them all. Entrapment is generally illegal as far as restricting a person of free ability to move. There'd need to be consideration  that on the asteroid (or Mindshore if Mindborg wants it more realistic) the company itself will be literally the only sustenance. One could argue that on an asteroid where there is no way to grow food, that not paying for a trip back is entrapment.

I can imagine there is precedent with oil rigs or fishing crews.

But the dignity, no, that wouldn't be the legal issue.

 

Well, yes there is a reason I think it should. And it's because I want to avoid easily avoidable humanitarian catastrophes like the one described in the OP.

Your entrapment argument (and all similar arguments by other posters) is not convincing because it requires you to assume things not explicitly stated in the hypothetical. When you do that, you are not answering the original question, but a different one.

You can rest assured that these degrading practices were adopted solely for the purpose of boosting management morale. There is no nefarious hidden purpose.

Quote

One could argue that on an asteroid where there is no way to grow food, that not paying for a trip back is entrapment.

Are you prepared to extend this same argument to all similar cases? In general, do you believe that those with ability should have to sustain those for whom survival through their own means is not possible?

That doesn't sound like objectivism to me.

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13 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

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.

I wasn't sure how to address your post.  So I started with a "law" approach - in the sense that a corporation that has its base in the US would not be exempt from US law.  There is an issue that exists today in the Gulf States regarding migrant labor and what would be illegal in the US is not in some Gulf States.

Also, a firm I once worked for did a HUGE design project for a company in the UAE.  We were jerked around by having to make multiple changes in the design that, in the US, would have entitled us to compensation for "scope creep" beyond the original contract.  But we were told in no uncertain terms that there was no way we could win any kind of lawsuit -- so we cut our losses and ended up not getting paid for a lot of work done.  That was an expensive lesson in the importance of law.

For you to have Rights, in any meaningful sense, you must be able to enforce them.

Rand says of Value (and Rights are Values) that, “Value” is that which one acts to gain and/or keep."   That may mean nothing more than "acting" by voting in elections.  But you have to be able to enforce your rights, or they mean nothing (as the poor migrants in the UAE know).

You have a "right" not to get mugged, but I'm not going to be walking down any dark alley's in a bad part of town late at night anytime soon.  Or doing business in the UAE.....

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5 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

 

Just because they fired you on a habitable portion of the surface of the Earth, does not mean that you can survive there.

I don't know what definition of "habitable" you are using.

You are conflating two issues. It is not fundamentally impossible for human beings to survive. Therefore, other people don't have to help you.

However, there are specific situations in which you are unable to survive. If other people caused this, they have initiated force.

The first implies that employers are not required to employ you. The second implies that the space corporation is required to bring you back to safety, but (by the first reason) is not required to keep you employed afterwards.

The assumption that humans are fundamentally incapable of survival always leads to altruism (whether that be a statement that "reason is limited" or "universe is malevolent" or "universe is incomprehensible" or "humans are evil"). That is your assumption, not mine. Hence my argument does not lead to the conclusion that employers are required to keep you employed. That is your conclusion. Don't insert your arguments into mine and say that I'm being contradictory.

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1 minute ago, SpookyKitty said:

You can rest assured that these degrading practices were adopted solely for the purpose of boosting management morale. There is no nefarious hidden purpose.

I already said dignity would not be a legal matter. The entrapment bit is just what we might ask about if a person wanted to leave from the disrespect.

5 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

In general, do you believe that those with ability should have to sustain those for whom survival through their own means is not possible?

Only as far as the trip back home. This wouldn't apply to being on land on Earth.

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Humans aren't fundamentally incapable of survival. Thus they don't need to employ you to keep you alive.

But in the specific instance of being in space, you are incapable of survival (to some extend). Thus, they have to bring you back. They don't have to employ you afterwards (because humans aren't fundamentally incapable of survival).

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There is a difference between being incapable of survival in a specific instance and being incapable generally (and this issue was ignored in all the other threads concerning the morality of suicide as well as the life-boat scenarios. But that's a discussion for another thread).

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44 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

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

Nope, you are wrong.

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25 minutes ago, New Buddha said:

I wasn't sure how to address your post.  So I started with a "law" approach - in the sense that a corporation that has its base in the US would not be exempt from US law.  There is an issue that exists today in the Gulf States regarding migrant labor and what would be illegal in the US is not in some Gulf States.

Also, a firm I once worked for did a HUGE design project for a company in the UAE.  We were jerked around by having to make multiple changes in the design that, in the US, would have entitled us to compensation for "scope creep" beyond the original contract.  But we were told in no uncertain terms that there was no way we could win any kind of lawsuit -- so we cut our losses and ended up not getting paid for a lot of work done.  That was an expensive lesson in the importance of law.

For you to have Rights, in any meaningful sense, you must be able to enforce them.

Rand says of Value (and Rights are Values) that, “Value” is that which one acts to gain and/or keep."   That may mean nothing more than "acting" by voting in elections.  But you have to be able to enforce your rights, or they mean nothing (as the poor migrants in the UAE know).

You have a "right" not to get mugged, but I'm not going to be walking down any dark alley's in a bad part of town late at night anytime soon.  Or doing business in the UAE.....

Ok, yes, but none of that is relevant to this discussion except for the bolded. Surely, one's dignity is something one acts to gain and/or keep.

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No contract can cover all contingencies, and many are complex enough that they can be open to interpretation even among honest, rational men.  Underlying written or spoken contracts and agreements (in the US at least) are very broad principles regarding fairness and just compensation for goods and services rendered.  Courts are formed by people to settle disagreements when and where they arise.

Your hypothetical can keep shifting to reach the conclusion you want.

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Just now, New Buddha said:

No contract can cover all contingencies, and many are complex enough that they can be open to interpretation even among honest, rational men.  Underlying written or spoken contracts and agreements (in the US at least) are very broad principles regarding fairness and just compensation for goods and services rendered.  Courts are formed by people to settle disagreements when and where they arise.

Your hypothetical can keep shifting to reach the conclusion you want.

Ok, then what's wrong with making these underlying assumptions explicit. Isn't dignity one of these broad principles of fairness? Why not guarantee it explicitly in the constitution if that's the case?

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Just now, SpookyKitty said:

Ok, yes, but none of that is relevant to this discussion except for the bolded. Surely, one's dignity is something one acts to gain and/or keep.

The way I would address the issue of "dignity" in your example is that the company is asking you to do something that has nothing to do with the job for which you were hired.

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Just now, SpookyKitty said:

Ok, then what's wrong with making these underlying assumptions explicit.

I've helped draw up and review many contracts over the years (Owner Architect, Owner Contractor, Developer Tenant) and no contract can be all-encompassing.  There can always be areas when even rational, well-intentioned men can disagree.

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25 minutes ago, human_murda said:

I don't know what definition of "habitable" you are using.

 

The same one you are, I suspect.

Quote

You are conflating two issues. It is not fundamentally impossible for human beings to survive. Therefore, other people don't have to help you.

However, there are specific situations in which you are unable to survive. If other people caused this, they have initiated force.

 

I don't think I am conflating the two. I agree with both.

Quote

The first implies that employers are not required to employ you. The second implies that the space corporation is required to bring you back to safety, but (by the first reason) is not required to keep you employed afterwards.

 

What about healthcare? Surely, it is impossible for a seriously ill/injured person to survive on their own. Are doctors required to perform services for these patients even if they can't pay?

 

Quote

The assumption that humans are fundamentally incapable of survival always leads to altruism (whether that be a statement that "reason is limited" or "universe is malevolent" or "universe is incomprehensible" or "humans are evil"). That is your assumption, not mine. Hence my argument does not lead to the conclusion that employers are required to keep you employed. That is your conclusion. Don't insert your arguments into mine and say that I'm being contradictory.

 

I never made any such assumption, I just recognize (same as you), that there are some situations where a human can't realistically be expected to survive. I don't see why you think that someone can survive in the US (for example) if they remain unemployed for a long period of time.

Also, whatever implications follow from your argument, the implications are there whether you intended them or not. That's how logic works.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, New Buddha said:

The way I would address the issue of "dignity" in your example is that the company is asking you to do something that has nothing to do with the job for which you were hired.

That's a cop out. As a part of a job, an employee is often required to attend seminars and engage in ridiculous activities in order to boost morale and promote "synergy".

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22 minutes ago, New Buddha said:

Nope, you are wrong.

Well no actually I am right. Factually right.

In every place I've ever worked, in the employment contract, the company I worked for has reserved the right to change the terms of the contract unilaterally. They are only required to notify you of these changes and THAT'S IT.

 

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6 minutes ago, New Buddha said:

I've helped draw up and review many contracts over the years (Owner Architect, Owner Contractor, Developer Tenant) and no contract can be all-encompassing.  There can always be areas when even rational, well-intentioned men can disagree.

 

That's not even an answer. Why is human dignity not worthy of being mentioned?

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6 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

That's a cop out. As a part of a job, an employee is often required to attend seminars and engage in ridiculous activities in order to boost morale and promote "synergy".

The above examples are entirely different from smearing feces on your body.

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15 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

No, they're just a less extreme example.

Nonsense.  Having to attend a seminar to learn how to use a new accounting software and having to smear feces on your body to keep a job are in no way similar.  And even having to attend management seminars to learn how to develop interpersonal skills in the work place is in no way similar to your example of smearing feces.  The courts would certainly see the differences in the above and so would any rational person.  If you can't, well then I guess this post won't really go anywhere.

Smearing feces was your example, not mine.  

Edited by New Buddha

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47 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

In every place I've ever worked, in the employment contract, the company I worked for has reserved the right to change the terms of the contract unilaterally. They are only required to notify you of these changes and THAT'S IT.

Your specific example was about changing the agreed upon price of a return trip ticket.  Even if the company loses money on the return trip, they would still be obligated to do it at the agreed upon cost.  They can't just change it.

Everyone in business has, at one time or another, lost money by underestimating the cost it will take to do a project or deliver a good or service.  If the error is on your part, then you have to eat the cost.

Edited by New Buddha

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35 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

 

I never made any such assumption, I just recognize (same as you), that there are some situations where a human can't realistically be expected to survive. I don't see why you think that someone can survive in the US (for example) if they remain unemployed for a long period of time.

Also, whatever implications follow from your argument, the implications are there whether you intended them or not. That's how logic works.

Of course, if that were the case. The problem is that, if you were correct, I would be wrong on my assumptions, not my conclusions/implications (you asked whether I want "employers to provide terminated employees with food until they find a new job". This is not a logical implication of my argument. You made additional assumptions. They may well be true. But you should be aware that you made those assumptions and assumed that I agree with them. Otherwise the final statement is your conclusion, not mine. No matter how much you believe them to be true or how true they are, those are your conclusions about my arguments). My conclusions are perfectly valid given my assumptions, which is what you should have attacked.

Also: implications do not exist without intention (of course, you can be wrong in logic, but implications do not exist "out there" in nature. An authorship is necessary). Without accounting for intention, you can make whatever implications you want out of the arguments of another using assumptions you made about reality (forgetting that these are your own arguments).

The notion is so bad because even arguments are true or false in reality.

For example, you can ask a Flat Earther: "Are you saying that everything you say is bullshit?". Of course, they're not actually saying that but by your arguments, they are. According to you, that would be that intrinsic implication of their arguments ("implied" by nature), without authorship. You can say that you think they are talking bullshit, but you cannot ascribe authorship to them. You cannot say that they think they are saying bullshit. That is your conclusion. Not theirs.

For the same reason, you can't say I want "employers to provide terminated employees with food until they find a new job". That is your conclusion using additional assumptions you made.

To say that the implications are there whether or not you know it is to claim special knowledge. It is the argument that "you are so stupid you don't even know it". That shows how much respect have for the people you're arguing with.

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7 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

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)

----------------

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.

First of all, let's clarify that there is a difference between morality and legality. When you ask whether, according to Objectivist Ethics, the company has committed "any sort of wrong," well, probably so. I don't see that there can be much in the way of rational, selfish justification for the sorts of actions you're talking about.

As to legality, there is nothing wrong as such (again in a strictly legal sense) for contracting with someone to smear feces on themselves or "offer their body" (e.g. the basis of prostitution), or etc. The question is whether it is/ought to be legal to do so with some additional threat levied for failure to comply, like being stranded far from home.

Probably, when it comes to actual asteroid mining, there would eventually be a bunch of law worked out through cases to establish parameters. Equally probably there are plenty of precedents through old law that I'm ignorant of, which would find applicability here. But my suspicion is that taking up with a mining company like this would carry the implicit expectation (if not explicit specification) of safe return to Earth upon termination of employment; I expect that's how I would rule if I had to arbitrate a dispute of this kind. Yet it is not the fact that the company's demands run afoul of my sense of "dignity," which is a separate (ethical if not legal) consideration.

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47 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

As to legality, there is nothing wrong as such (again in a strictly legal sense) for contracting with someone to smear feces on themselves or "offer their body" (e.g. the basis of prostitution), or etc.

 

 

8 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

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.

The smearing of feces was not part of the original contract.  When you are hired, you are hired to perform a stipulated task (either in writing or an oral agreement).  If that task changes (even if it's not something as weird as smearing feces) then BY LAW you can renegotiate the terms of your agreement.  In this case, if you cannot reach an agreement to compensate you for the change in your duties, then the company would be required BY LAW to fulfill the original terms of the agreement and return you to earth at the original, agreed upon cost.

Most companies have job titles with written descriptions of the duties you are expected to perform - along with a company handbook- specifically to avoid these types of legal ambiguities.  They also have periodic performance reviews to document in writing (which they require the employee to sign) whether or not the employee is meeting what is required of him.  If they do fire him, then they can show how he was not meeting his obligations.  This protects the company from litigation for wrongful termination.

Edited by New Buddha

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