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Galileo Blogs

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  1. Religion is a product that serves many purposes. It is a popular product, that has been successfully marketed. The reason for that success ... well ...

    That is the question I am asking. Actually, the more I think about it, the answer lies in the history of philosophy, an area in which I am not expert at all. It is interesting, though, to contemplate the Renaissance and all that followed, a long period when religion was on the defensive. At its peak, perhaps in the 1700s, there was quite a high degree of secularism in society. The fact that most of the Founding Fathers of America were deists is significant. Today deism would be viewed as nearly synonymous with atheism. It would be opposed by all of today's "conservatives". The antipathy exhibited by the largely deist Founding Fathers in much of their comments toward Christianity is stunning (e.g., Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine).

    The failures of the proponents of rational philosophy to find a consistent voice to uphold reason gave the room for Christianity to regain its influence. Christianity will pull back again into the shadows when a new rational philosophy (i.e., Objectivism) gains acceptance. There is no need for the voices of reason to consider aping the Christian tactics -- i.e., churches, rituals, etc. That issue was debated in another thread. The only thing that matters is making the case successfully for reason. People will find their own institutions for social support, probably in the form of clubs, social activities and the Internet. As an example, a community of bloggers is a great social network.

  2. Oh, no! I can guarantee you they won't be as few as a mere three hundred :dough:

    In my experience, restaurants that include a tipping charge (usually between 15% and 20%) don't always make sure the staff delivers a service conmeasurate to the charge. If they did, I'd be fine with included tips. Otherwise, I preffer to judge the service by myself and tip accordingly.

    Interesting point. That is why I prefer to tip as a matter of course and hold the threat of non-tipping as a motivator. Our custom of tipping most of the time gives the diner greater control over the quality of service than a system where tips are usually included in the price. What recourse do you have to motivate good service or "punish" bad service if the waiter gets his tip anyway, regardless of how well he serves you?

    Our system puts the diner in charge. From a selfish perspective, I am glad I have the opportunity to tip.

    (As an aside, I remember the service I got as a child at a restaurant in East Berlin of all places. There was no tipping there. Needless to say, the level of service reflected the level of tipping. :( )

  3. I think people should tip, since that is the customary way to pay for what I call "standard good service". I think that means tipping in nearly all instances, except when service is poor. It also means varying your tip appropriately according to the level of service which, as I have emphasized, is the key virtue of tipping because it enables you to reward your server according to the level of service you receive. You directly control a key portion of the financial compensation of your server and you benefit from better service than would exist in a world without tipping (hat tip to Myrhaf). (I already responded earlier why tipping is done as a matter of course, not just for extraordinary service.)

    As a practical matter, you will get good service the first time you order from a pizzeria or at a restaurant because the deliveryman or waiter does not know that you don't tip. However, once that person tags you as a non-tipper, assuming he remembers you, he will rationally serve you with less vigor than he would a tipper the next time he serves you. I do not view this as sabotage.

    In fact, I would take this argument a step further and say that because tipping is a widely-expected custom, to expect good service when you don't tip is really a form of expecting the unpaid-for. I haven't stressed that point heretofore, but I believe it. However, if in good conscience you (mistakenly, in my view) think that tipping is illogical, I will not fault you for not tipping. I just might not want to dine with you, as I explained in an earlier post.

    Pay for your service through tips and you get good service. If you don't tip, your service will not be as good. That is what you should expect, and it is fair.

    As to what level of minimal service an establishment should provide a known non-tipper before there is breach of contract, hell, I don't know what that level is. Personally, I don't want to find out. I tip and get good service, and will continue to do so.

  4. Personally, I was considering making an exception from my philosophical principles for the menhaden fishing industry, so that they could get a hand-out paid for by the rest of us. It just sounded important, somehow, although I have to admit I never heard of it before.

    Seriously, the pork is out of control, especially when you include everything else that is "pork" but not referred to that way by the media -- e.g.: all welfare spending, public housing, public medical care, public education, etc., etc. Those "big ticket" spending items dwarf the small-fry pork that the media talks about by orders of magnitude. That in no way diminishes the case for eliminating pork spending but, in an odd way, the media focus on pork seems to deflect attention from the much more egregious, abusive government transfers of wealth.

  5. I'll have to say, this banana thread has given me a load of belly-laughs. Religion really is damn funny, if these crazies weren't also trying to use the power of government to impose their irrationality on us.

    After reading several passages from the conservapedia.com, I have become a complete advocate of it. Let it help peel away the questioners and the still-not-completely-gone from religion by revealing its utter, patent absurdity. It will also keep the religious zanies busy on that source of divine truth and away from wikipedia, which I enjoy as a valuable resource (yes, with all the usual provisos).

  6. I will remind you that the subject is pizza delivery. Although we could move on at some point and discuss dining, I would like to at least resolve pizza delivery first. I believe that dining is far more ambiguous as to whether service is included in the bill and so is a completely different animal than pizza delivery.

    Fair enough. I think the principles are the same in both instances, and it is easier to establish that tipping is appropriate at restaurants, for the simple reason that "Free delivery" is typically stamped on a pizza or take-out menu. So, I focus my discussion on restaurants in order to establish the principle there first, but I fully support tipping the pizza man, as well, for the reasons I already gave.

    If by "suffer" you mean sabotage, and not just that a non-tipper (which I am not) won't get things quite as fast as an automatic tipper, then I would hope that you would at least morally condemn the saboteurs.

    As I said before, serving the tippers first and the non-tippers last is not sabotage. It is rational self-interest on the part of the waiters and pizza men. Why shouldn't they act in their self-interest, to do business first with those who pay them most? I condemn deliberate sabotage (spilling water on you, mangling the pizza, etc.). Nevertheless, by not adhering to a widely practiced custom (tipping), you do increase your risk that you will suffer such a consequence. That is a simple fact. You are not required to tip in order to avoid that outcome. In fact, it may never happen to you even if you don't tip. However, the odds increase that it will happen if you are a non-tipper. That is why I brought up the analogy of walking in a deserted park late at night. It is your right to do so. Whether it is in your self-interest to do so, you have to judge given the enjoyment you receive from walking in the park (or not tipping) versus the increased risks you subject yourself to.

    To be clear, my argument for tipping is not hinged on the avoidance of sabotage. Rather, it hinges on the concept that you are paying for good service in the customary manner. I presented my argument fully in prior posts.

    But as I said, I fully intend to tip, if and when service is provided that exceeds the job requirements.

    As I and others said earlier in the thread, if the pizza is cold I won't pay for it and if the place does not redress their breach of contract then I will do no further business with them.

    That is your prerogative.

    I believe I have made all the arguments I can on this subject. If I can think of a point to say that I haven't said already, in response to an argument that hasn't already been made, I will post again. Otherwise, I retire from this discussion. Cheers!

  7. I want you to blame them, Galileo.

    Why should I? I tip them, and get good service.

    Anyway, I will repeat my answer to one of your basic problems with tipping: Why is tipping the standard rather than the exception? Here's what I said on that:

    If I am correct, why is tipping ordinarily given at nearly every meal? Why shouldn't it be given only when there is exceptional service, with the employer paying the waiters more to cover the cost of the ordinary tips? My hypothesis answer is that the threat of not getting a tip is a highly effective method of motivating the waiter to provide the extra personal service I describe. Tipping really is a carrot and stick motivator, with the stick being a big part of the motivation. Since the customer has no legal obligation to tip, and can tip nothing at all, the waiter is motivated to provide decent service to avoid that outcome. Of course, on the carrot side, the waiter, if he is ambitious and energetic, will seek the extra large tip by providing exceptional service. (On a side note, there are stories in New York of regular patrons at some very expensive restaurants who have actually tipped their favorite waiters cars. I am not kidding. Now, I am not mentioning this to start up a thread on the morality of tipping cars to waiters!! :P )

    I think what I said makes sense. Moreover, it puts you, the diner, in the driver seat with regard to tipping. You are in the position of directly motivating and rewarding good service because you effectively pay part of your waiter's salary. Instead of upsetting me, that pleases me. I have a lot more direct control over the quality of the service I experience than I would if that custom did not exist.

    I am not sure what else to say in this debate. It is amusing, but I still remain puzzled at the animus against this custom. For all of the reasons I have given, I view the custom as reasonable, just and highly effective at promoting an enjoyable dining experience. It also solves the tricky problem of evaluating and motivating such personal service as waitering.

    If you feel so strongly that tipping is unjust, don't do it. Really, don't do it. You have no legal obligation to do it. My point is that, like it or not, you are likely to suffer at some point as a result of that decision. I don't have a problem with that, because I endorse and support the custom of tipping. You apparently do have a problem with the fact that you may suffer impaired service. What can you do about it, apart from tipping your waiter? (I guess you can sue, if you feel you have been harmed enough. Would hiring an attorney to sue the restaurant or the pizza place to obtain redress be in your self-interest??)

  8. Eventually I think many (all?) of these sorts of questions depend on clearly defining the State's police power, with particular detail on the extent of the State's power to take preemptive action to prevent harms. As it stands, anything can be justified in the name of "health, safety, morals and general welfare."

    Qwertz, thank you for your explication of the issues related to common versus statutory law, and criminal versus civil actions. As to the last sentence of your statement above, you are entirely correct. However, I would argue that no amount of careful a priori codification of the law can prevent egregious abuses of government power on grounds of "health, safety, morals and general welfare" if a bad philosophy permeates the culture. If people (judges, politicians and the general public) believe that government should take care of the populace, even if it means sacrificing individual rights, or if the people do not even properly understand individual rights and why they should be upheld, then it is inevitable that government will act poorly.

    It is interesting that with the same Constitution for 200 years (albeit with a few amendments added along the way, such as the one outlawing slavery!), our society went from one of near laissez-faire capitalism to one where "general welfare" is used to justify a welfare-state redistribution of wealth. The change wasn't in the language of the governing law of the land, the Constitution. It was in the philosophy that guided politicians, jurists, journalists and writers, all of whom influenced the creation of our modern mixed-economy welfare state.

  9. In all fairness, both the peaks and the minimums are higher later in the series. Admitttedly, the increase is small and is dwarfed by the seasonal fluctuations but, judging from the position of the peaks and the minimums, the temperature does appear to have risen very slightly over the timeframe shown.

    I am against the entire global warming scare for sundry reasons, many of them elaborated on this thread, but it does appear that a small increase in the measured temperature has occurred since the 1970s.

  10. Could you do me a favor and re-examine my last post to you? I had a request for you in it that you withdraw your sanction from saboteurs. (or, clarify that you do not sanction that behavior or think that people should act as appeasers to it) Because honestly that is our only point of disagreement as far as I can tell.

    I do not sanction saboteurs and such a sanction was not implied. However, I would not call serving non-tippers more slowly than tippers sabotage. Also, if one chooses not to participate in a widely-expected custom, one really can't be too surprised if it has adverse consequences one doesn't like. To say you might get cold pizza or sabotaged service (not just slower service than the tippers get) is no more a sanction of sabotage than it is to say that if you walk alone in parks at night you increase the risk of getting mugged. I am against mugging, but I am no fool and I will not walk in a park at night.

    To relate it to tipping, if you want good, fast service, tip. If you don't, don't tip. Whether you get slower service because a waiter serves you behind the tippers (i.e., no sabotage) or you suffer from actual sabotage, does it make a difference? You are still the victim and you are the one who suffers poor service. I don't want those things, so I selfishly tip.

  11. Inspector, shouldn't a pizza delivery person or waiter act out of self-interest, just as you do? If they have a choice whom to serve first, the person who tips or the person who does not, who should they serve first? If you want fast service, you should tip. It really is very simple.

    It goes even further. If a waiter has a regular patron who tips generously, won't he serve that person faster and more eagerly than just the regular tipper?

    Their behavior is entirely rationally selfish and just. Because I want to enjoy fast service myself, I tip. You are free not to tip, but don't ask for a level of service you haven't paid for.

  12. My point about tribute referred specifically to the "they will sabotage" part of your argument. It's fine if you want to pay people to do something above and beyond. I think it's a very important distinction. Paying people to not sabotage is tribute to the barbarians, so to speak.

    Yes, but not paying To Insure Promptness means you suffer. If you don't tip, it is not sabotage to simply serve you last, behind the customers who tip. As a customer, your only question should be what is in your self-interest? To me, tipping is clearly in my self-interest so that I can enjoy a good, well-served meal or a quickly delivered pizza. What other consideration is there?

    To state this more precisely, your enjoyment of good, quick service comes about from the direct reward of a tip that you provide your server, and also indirectly from your support of the tipping custom. The former is true if you are a repeat pizza customer or restaurant patron. As I explained in an earlier post, if you are tagged as someone who doesn't tip, the service you experience will deteriorate so that your pizza gets delivered cold or you wait a long time for water at the restaurant. Call it what you wish -- sabotage, rationally serving the non-tipper last or whatever -- it is what you are likely to experience if you don't tip. Is it in your self-interest to experience that? For me, it clearly is not and, therefore I tip.

    As to the indirect benefit you get from the existence of the tipping custom, your delivery person works quickly to provide you with service in the hope of getting a tip. He knows that if he doesn't provide good service, he may not get a tip. So, he hustles more in expectation of getting that tip. As I explained in a much earlier post (#70, I believe), you are in the best position to evaluate that service, so your server's wages are structured so that effectively part of the server's wages are paid by you. Now, this whole custom enables you to be in the driver's seat by motivating quick service that you are in the best position to evaluate. Tipping empowers you. Because it enables service quality to be higher than it otherwise would be if there were no tipping, this custom is in your self-interest and is worthy of your support. That is why you tip even at a restaurant you will only go to once.

    The analogy to this "indirect" argument for tipping is social manners, which I also mentioned earlier. Why is it in your self-interest to be polite to strangers? Why is it in your self-interest to support any social custom? Well, I'll leave it to you to think about that one a little bit. I mentioned some reasons in my prior post.

  13. Did you tip the delivery guy for that massive package-deal you have there? It must have been heavy to lift up all of those stairs.

    I am comfortable with the package. The point is that tipping is similar to social manners in terms of how obligatory it is. As for reasons for tipping, I expressed them in that and earlier posts. They haven't been challenged, as far as I can determine.

  14. I think just about everybody on this thread agreed that tipping can be rational and in your self-interest. What we're disputing is the argument that tipping is an obligation/contract.

    It is no more an obligation than being polite is, as I described in my post. (I think our posts crossed in the ether.)

  15. Millions for defense, sir, but not one cent for tribute.

    Funny, but yours is a Quixotic (and quizzical) battle, indeed. I will watch it amusedly while I enjoy my delicious restaurant meal, knowing, of course, that my waiter serves me ahead of you!! :P

    This discussion is similar, although not quite the same, as what constitutes polite behavior in social settings. Do you hold the door open for women? Do you cover your mouth when you sneeze? Do you shake someone's hand when it is offered to you? Do you place your napkin on your lap? In Korea, a young person will use two hands to offer a drink to his senior. In Japan, businessmen bow when they greet each other. The issue of tipping is similar to manners because the practice is different here than it is in other countries, but that does not mean that it is irrational.

    Tipping to me makes perfect sense and it is a custom that is worthy of being followed, much like many other social customs are. Does one have a legal obligation to be polite to another person? Of course not. Is it in one's self-interest to do so? Yes, if one values a civilized society. Is it in one's self-interest to tip? Yes, for the reasons I stated in my earlier post, and because it is a custom that results in good, fast waiter and food delivery service. The custom works because most people adhere to it, just like the benefits of a civilized, polite society accrue to everyone to the extent everyone observes social customs. Yes, I can get to my destination faster by running through the door and not holding it open for a woman. I can eat more quickly and efficiently by keeping my napkin at my side or more aggressively using my knife and fork or talking while eating, etc. But if I value civilized discourse with my fellow men, I don't behave that way.

    If I value good, responsive, fast service at restaurants or from the pizza delivery man, tipping is a social custom that should be observed for similar reasons that I adhere to customs of politeness. By the way, that is why not tipping is often viewed as rude behavior. Although not entirely the same as impoliteness, it is related to it. If I am with someone who doesn't tip (assuming the service was good), I view him as tacky. It is as if he did something very crude at the table. Speaking personally, I won't go out to eat with that person again, unless I have an over-riding reason to, such as a compelling business reason.

  16. The reason I separate out the pizza delivery example from the discussion of tipping in restaurants is because food delivery usually has the words "Free delivery" printed on the menu. Despite that, I think the practice of tipping for pizza delivery and service in a restaurant is quite similar. Both actions are TIPs as the acronym for To Insure Promptness. They work effectively for that purpose. I would argue, as I did in one of my posts that they primarily work in the negative. Very slow delivery or poor service results in no tip. It is the desire to avoid that outcome which encourages the pizza delivery person or waiter to provide fast service.

    Having said all that, tipping is entirely voluntary. However, if you don't tip, it is likely to hurt you. You may find that your pizzas arrive more slowly as they are placed at the bottom of the queue. You even run the risk of a vengeful delivery boy messing up your order somehow. In a restaurant, if you never go back to the restaurant you may encounter no problems, but if you desire to eat there more than once, eventually the waiters will mark you as someone who doesn't tip and provide you with what they deem is the appropriate level of service. Also, if you are dining in a social situation and you are splitting the bill or you are taking care of the bill, your dining companions are likely to disapprove of your behavior and, in fact, not want to eat out with you any more.

    So, it is eminently in your self-interest to tip. You can choose not to. That is your legal right, but quite often it would be self-sacrificial behavior.

    As a social custom, tipping is entirely rational. It fosters good service and, incidentally, good will. I am a little flummoxed as to the antipathy toward tipping that appears on this thread.

  17. Supposing that the proper legal foundation of public decency is determined, how would that foundation be implemented? I would caution assuming that municipal codes are a good option. The context is vitally important and it would be near impossible for a municipal code to address every circumstance, every factor. You merely have to look at any city's municipal code to see that many of the codes dreamed up by city councilmen, while potentially well intentioned (or not), wind up banning completely moral behavior. I'm not allowed to have farm animals on my property why? Because the code says so! If the animal smell was unbearable to the neighbors that would be a different story but the code outlaws the activity regardless whether any harm has been done.

    I agree completely with your concern over relying on municipal codes. That is why in my full post I emphasize the role of the courts in resolving property disputes. Courts would resolve the sundry lawsuits that arise as new and ever-changing interactions among humans bring up new conflicts to be resolved. The body of those decisions will provide guidance for future actors and court decisions. The courts also have a constitutional role in reviewing the constitutionality of municipal or state or federal laws. They invalidate laws that violate rights instead of preserving them.

    The primacy is with the courts in resolving property disputes because the circumstances are so contextual. The principle -- protecting the right to property -- is universal. The application is highly specific and often unique to the particular situation.

    Still, that would not rule out municipal codes. It seems entirely reasonable for government to restrict obvious violations of property rights. For example, a law could state that in a residential area, construction work which makes very loud noises is permissible, but only in daylight hours during the workweek. Etc.

  18. Being as I'm the only one that seems to recognize the fact that an expectation exists that Pizza Drivers be tipped and others not be, this discussion has become me vs. the world. Although I am convinced of my viewpoint I am uncomfortable with this arrangement.

    Badkarma556, you are not completely alone with your position. While I am not 100% convinced that one should tip pizza drivers, I believe that one's self-interest calls for it in nearly all circumstances. At least I view it as in my self-interest when I order pizzas or any other delivery food. (All of the delivery menus state that delivery is free, but it is widely understood and customary in New York to tip the delivery person. I would say that "free" delivery is comparable to "free" waiter service in a restaurant. It may be included at no explicit charge in your meal, but it is widespread and customary to tip.)

    As for other tipping, specifically restaurant tipping, but also including tipping doormen in New York apartment buildings, one's barber, etc., I do believe one should tip in all circumstances, except when service is poor. At restaurants, for example, I have found that waiters generally provide good service. There have been very few instances (count them on one hand) when I have not tipped at all in a restaurant because of remarkably poor service.

    My reasons are most fully stated here at post #70. I also responded in posts 48, 52, 55 and 57.

    Enjoy the near-aloneness of your position, and enjoy your pizzas and restaurant meals! :nuke:

  19. To add a little more to my prior post, philosophy defines the nature of rights and that the purpose of government is to enforce them. It is up to the courts to enforce them in the myriad situations human life creates. The broad principle need be established, and relevant subsidiary principles, but it is in no way advisable nor practical to define in advance the myriad ways one human can harm another in order to outlaw each of those actions.

    That, by the way, is the goal of regulation, which is so destructive because it proscribes human behavior in a context-less manner. Regulation forbids an action in advance in all contexts, whereas a courtroom resolving disputes using the principle of rights properly adjudicates disputes in a manner that reflects the specific facts of each situation.

    At a certain point, the best answer in a debate like this thread is if you think your neighbor has harmed you and you can't resolve the matter man-to-man (through suasion only), take him to court. I don't see the value in overly-analyzing some of the situations being discussed in this thread from one's armchair. The only broader, abstract issue one need establish is the validity of properly defined individual rights. On that issue, I assume most of the readers of this forum are in agreement.

  20. David,

    I don't think one can deduce a single, simple answer to your question. When it comes to nuisance law, for instance, there is a range of acceptable standards that would be equally ethical. I can imagine a (moral) legal precedence under which a the government could stop you from having a barbeque in your front yard, or making noise beyond 88 DB, or sunbathing naked on your front porch. An equally ethical government could have a legal precedence that did not restrict these things. There is an optional range here. You may need to be a professional legal historian to determine which would be the best option in a given case. So, don't feel bad for not immediately arriving at the answer, David!

    --Dan Edge

    I agree with Dan Edge's common sense approach here. These issues are rationally decided in courthouses and city councils across the country. The answers are contextual and often decided on a case-by-case basis. For example, can a penthouse owner in New York start up a goat ranch on his roof? What is the answer to that? No answer, because the situation hasn't happened yet. When it does, and a neighbor feels he is being harmed by the penthouse owner's actions, he will sue that person, and the issue will be decided in court.

    The sum of these lawsuits and municipal codes based on the same principles set up the rules of civilized conduct in any particular geographical region. Those rules are contextual to the particular region and, as Dan states, a range of outcomes is morally permissible. For example, the issue of goat ranching is quite different in Montana than it is on a Manhattan rooftop. The same applies for quarry mining with explosives, playing loud music, etc.

    I am not a lawyer, but my impression is that the body of cases that have been decided over the centuries of sundry disputes among men has actually established good, common sense standards of behavior. The bulk of those cases appear to be settled using the moral principle of property rights. Property rights did not emerge in a vacuum, or only all at once when Ayn Rand so capably and completely defined them. The legal principle of property rights has been honed over the ages, not just in the formulations of philosophers, but in the resolution of thousands and thousands of disputes between people.

    I have a lot of confidence in this approach, which is inductive and based on real life. Yes, it can go astray especially when philosophical principles become perverted. For example, zoning laws are an immoral violation of property rights, except insofar as they are used to restrict true violations of property rights. Unfortunately, that is not how they are principally used, and a superior method of protecting property rights is through the court system and municipal laws against objective rights violations.

  21. I don't remember it well either, but I think liberals may have loved it because Gump was successful by accident and by chance, not because he worked hard and applied intelligence.

    This is why I have not yet seen the movie. Is this assessment inaccurate, or are there other compensating virtues to this movie?

  22. 'On her Majesty's Secret Service' is the closest film to the book by a mile.

    The book contains the best chapter I have ever read, entitled 'death for breakfast'. All Bond buffs should read it, it's absolutely brilliant.

    That is the next Fleming book I will re-read. It's been awhile. Thanks for the recommendation.

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