JS-Kit/Echo comments for article at http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2004/07/history-and-moral-philosophy-if-and.html (23 comments)

jsid-1090743321-220564  Blandus Rex at Sun, 25 Jul 2004 08:15:21 +0000

Wow. And I thought Starship Troopers was just about men and women taking showers together in the Army...

jsid-1090766260-220603  Kevin Baker at Sun, 25 Jul 2004 14:37:40 +0000

Someone should beat Paul Verhoven vigorously about the head and shoulders for that travesty of film with the same name.

jsid-1090772328-220616  John Lopez at Sun, 25 Jul 2004 16:18:48 +0000

Heinlein: "(T)he instinct to survive can be cultivated into motivations more subtle and much more complex than the blind, brute urge of the individual to stay alive. ...your 'moral instinct' was the instilling in you by your elders of the truth that survival can have stronger imperatives than that of your own personal survival. Survival of your family, for example. Of your children, when you have them. Of your nation, if you struggle that high up the scale."

Baker: "Absolutely. Honor, duty, morals, ethics - all are learned, as is the concept of rights."

Baker: "When the right and the corresponding duty support the instinct to survive, then they are objectively "correct." When they do not, they are not."

Are you saying that the good of the nation properly takes precedence over the good of the individual, Kevin?

jsid-1289406347-724  bogbeagle at Wed, 10 Nov 2010 16:25:47 +0000 in reply to jsid-1090772328-220616

That's how I read it ... and my "socialist-dogma antennae" immediately began to twitch.

jsid-1090772902-220618  Kevin Baker at Sun, 25 Jul 2004 16:28:22 +0000

John, how old are you? Twenty? I ask because your worldview is so narrow and simplistic.

Define "good" as used in that question. Be specific. Be complete. Give examples. Perhaps then we can discuss the topic.

jsid-1090778167-220640  John Lopez at Sun, 25 Jul 2004 17:56:07 +0000

"I ask because your worldview is so narrow and simplistic."

Is it objectively correct, though?

"Define "good" as used in that question."

Good: desireable to the entity in question, in accordance with its nature as that entity.

In other words: good for an individual as an individual, or good for a nation as a nation.

Example: something "good" for an individual is something that is desireable to that individual according with his nature as a thinking being, such as production. Something good for a nation is desireable to that nation according to its nature** as a collective of individuals, such as production.

**Note: "nation" is often used as an ambiguous-collective term.

jsid-1090783196-220652  Laughing Wolf at Sun, 25 Jul 2004 19:19:56 +0000

Kevin, thanks so much for posting that. I really needed to read that again, esp. today, and it is a good reminder and some good food for thought. Thanks.

jsid-1090784053-220653  Chris Byrne at Sun, 25 Jul 2004 19:34:13 +0000

The basic fallacy of liberal thought is that ideals and philosophies have inherent value, or inherent, even universal truth.

This is also the basic fallacy of moral philosophy (or any philosophy really).

But believing in something doesn't make it true.

Nothing has real value (aside from purely aesthetic or spiritual) without a presence in the physical "real" world.

Of course philosphers disdain this as "empiricism" to which I respond, "damn right!"

I'm an engineer, whatever I think or want, I recognize it doesnt matter if I can't do soemthing about it.

The same applies to "absolute rights".

Philosophically I beleive in absolute rights, but I dont delude myself into thinking that my desire for a moral ideal has any effect on reality.

The only practical rights I have, are those which I can defend, or which can be defended for me, by those around me, or by my society.

jsid-1090784109-220654  Chris Byrne at Sun, 25 Jul 2004 19:35:09 +0000

The moral philosopher believes that all men have the right to live. The NAZI society (yes the whole society. Acceptance of the NAZIs actions makes the whole society culpable) showed for all time that if a society so decides, an entire group of people have no rights whatsoever. Countless other groups have proven this since.

Let me say this again. Morally and philosophically you can have whatever rights you want, but in the real world you only have those rights which you can secure for yourself.

How hard is that to understand?

jsid-1090788357-220661  Larry at Sun, 25 Jul 2004 20:45:57 +0000

I read that book circa 1963. I enlisted in the Army in 1969.

Dubois' class as recounted by Rico as well as my family history made it inevitable.

jsid-1090790566-220665  Kevin Baker at Sun, 25 Jul 2004 21:22:46 +0000


Is it "good for an individual as an individual" to voluntarily join an organization that puts him in harms way, with a real opportunity to be killed or maimed by people who don't share the same beliefs? And it is "right"?

(Struck a little close with that age question?)

jsid-1090795497-220688  LabRat at Sun, 25 Jul 2004 22:44:57 +0000

Almost all cat species are solitary. Lions are the only one that as a matter of normal natural history lives in social groups.

The optimum number of lions for maximal hunting success with enough food to go around for every lion is not the 8-15 that constitutes the average pride, but 2-3. The reason lions form prides is not for food but because it drastically reduces cub mortality; lions breed more litters and more of the cubs live to adulthood than any other species of cat.

They are still cats. Lion society is disorganized and often extremely brutal. It is often very bad to be a particular lion in a pride. But at one time they were the most successful mammals on the planet, spreading everywhere there were large herbivores to hunt and dominating the predator landscape. (We uprooted them from that exalted station through direct competition.)

jsid-1090795674-220689  LabRat at Sun, 25 Jul 2004 22:47:54 +0000

Nothing is more rooted in the individual than evolution. Fitness is purely selfish: you win the game by leaving the most copies of your genes behind, and you can't quit the game or lobby to change the rules.

And evolution demonstrates with great clarity that sometimes acting for the group is the best thing for the individual.

jsid-1090807742-220730  John Lopez at Mon, 26 Jul 2004 02:09:02 +0000

"Is it "good for an individual as an individual" to voluntarily join an organization that puts him in harms way, with a real opportunity to be killed or maimed by people who don't share the same beliefs? And it is "right"?"

Maybe. Without knowing the circumstances I hesitate to judge this individual, but I'll just note that this could go either way.

"(Struck a little close with that age question?)"

I'm old enough to have once viewed _Starship Troopers_ as received wisdom, Kevin.

jsid-1090812647-220744  Kevin Baker at Mon, 26 Jul 2004 03:30:47 +0000

Oooh. Testy! :-)

jsid-1090849225-220825  Ben Davis at Mon, 26 Jul 2004 13:40:25 +0000

Your comment reminded me of what I viewed as one of the central themes of the book, Kevin-that the control of the state (vote or franchise) should be left in the hands of those who have already proven that they are willing serve the other members of the group rather than just be focused on their own self-interest.

jsid-1090855806-220855  W. Ian Blanton at Mon, 26 Jul 2004 15:30:06 +0000

Thanks for posting that, although I feel it coulda used some editing down for this format. :)

I've always loved ST, and as much as I like Paul Vehoeven ("Flesh and Blood" was an excellent movie), I just cannot forgive him for that travesty of a "inspired by the title of" movie.

jsid-1090941847-221204  Strider at Tue, 27 Jul 2004 15:24:07 +0000

"Are you saying that the good of the nation properly takes precedence over the good of the individual... ?"

It's one of the bases of our free society. I want something. You have that something. "Good" for me: beat you up and take it. That is "bad" for the collective society, though (the "nation"). So the Nation punishes me for it.

No-Fault divorce: "good" for the individual. I decide I just don't want to be married anymore, and that's all that matters. On the level of the nation, this has caused massive harm to society, as children raised by single or split parents are more likely to do drugs commit crimes, suffer depression, etc . etc. etc. There is a push now to make divorce more difficult -- in essence the Nation is going to try to make divorce difficult (and "painful" financially) enough that the individuals will be more likely to first try to fix the marriage and stay together.

jsid-1090941877-221205  Strider at Tue, 27 Jul 2004 15:24:37 +0000

I remember this scene when I first read that book about 10 years ago. One of the most radical yet solid political discussions I've seen anywhere (and I follow politics).

I personally think that there _should_ be conditions before you can vote. At the least you should have to demonstrate a basic understanding of what the Constitution actually says, and what it doesn't. That would cull about 3/4 of the voting rolls right there. When people want to learn the core principles on which our system of government works, they can vote again.

jsid-1090983457-221395  John Lopez at Wed, 28 Jul 2004 02:57:37 +0000

"It's one of the bases of our free society."


Do words *mean* anything to you?

jsid-1091021155-221492  Kevin Baker at Wed, 28 Jul 2004 13:25:55 +0000

You're free to leave, aren't you?

jsid-1091064831-221705  John Lopez at Thu, 29 Jul 2004 01:33:51 +0000

"Strider" >>>It's one of the bases of our free society.
Lopez >>Do words *mean* anything to you?
Baker >You're free to leave, aren't you?

That's a big "no" from you, Kevin.

jsid-1093654046-229911  Robin at Sat, 28 Aug 2004 00:47:26 +0000

It's been too long since I read Starship Troopers. I recently went on a Heinlein kick and purchased a bunch of his books that I hadn't read for years and years, but for some reason (probably because of the movie), I passed on ST when I saw it.

Sorry for not commenting more on the main subject of this post, but really, Heinlein said everything about as perfectly as it could be said in this case.

I do, however, believe that some rights exist whether or not the government "allows" them, but I'll concede that my idea of a right is more of the "ideal" than the practice (in practice, I can see where your definition works better).

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