Monday, August 25, 2008

Liberatorr Comment Splat

Aware that people don't follow links, I am going to paste Stuart's whole recent post (in blue):

Fortunately for readers, I don’t really have the energy for another epic post with any attention paid to minimal coherence. Trevor’s recent posts did inspire some thoughts though. So here’s a rambling comment splat.

“The thing is people don't like feeling like they are being morally judged, which is probably a large reason why vegetarianism gets under the skin of others.”

I think it’s strange that vegetarianism seems to have a bigger effect on people than most of our ethical views. We have moral views on so many things! Judgment is always implicit when people act in ways that conflict with out moral views. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that this does upset people, but generally we expect our friends and family hold at least some different moral views from us and judge us accordingly. What does Trevor think of the people who think he’s immoral for not being a teetotaler? Check out the comments section of vegan posts on Megan McArdle’s blog; where the hell does that kind of stuff come from?

“Is it a problem making people feel uncomfortable about things that you believe to be true?”

I think I could easily misinterpret this, but my understanding is that Trevor wasn’t exactly shy about his views on apartheid (which was good!), so I find the question puzzling.

“As I said, this kind of thing gives me `impending doom' because I find the idea of being very accepting of different points of view very appealing.”

This combined with the comments about how I’m not a liberal and wanting to run naked through the fields makes me want to clear up how I understand liberalism and permissiveness. In terms of what I think it’s morally acceptable to do, I am incredibly permissive. Way beyond the average person. There is an important proviso however, which is that our carefree frolicking shouldn’t harm others!! If we don’t have this constraint, then being tolerant of other points of view quickly becomes tolerance of stuff we normally don’t much approve of.

“Do I think that if I had read enough and thought about it enough, I would still believe what I do. I would like to think not, but that is probably what I think.”

I guess I agree with the sentiment here and call me a quibbler, but I think if we think our beliefs would change if we studied up then either we should simply believe what we think our views would change to, or if we expect our views to change, but don’t know how, we should simply give up our belief without replacing it. If we think our views would change after study, I don’t even know if we can really be said to hold the views we think we do.

A few comments...

I do get upset/amused by people who think I am immoral for being a teetotaler. I guess there are some things I feel uncomfortable about people passing judgement on, and others I feel comfortable with.

1) I feel comfortable passing judgement on people who are racist.
2) I don't pass judgement but feel comfortable telling people that I am uncomfortable with people imposing their smoking habits on other people.
3) I think I should be more outspoken about my feelings on the danger of religious extremism.
4) I am sure there are other things I pass judgement on.
5) I would agree with the sentiment that people can do whatever they like as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. I still feel unease about the level of responsibility we have or should have to people who are self-destructive, and what obligations there are for intervention in such cases.
6) Some beliefs aren't simply a case of giving up. If they are practical, you believe one way or the other.
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