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 Post subject: Re: SLEEP!
PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2020 3:14 pm 
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Katharine wrote:
... I think we can all agree that a fair number of people don't worry about something if it doesn't affect (or, doesn't negatively affect) them or theirs.

I'd normally be wary of making broad-brush assumptions about others, but unfortunately you're probably right. But such are the times that we might be seeing a change in this. Here's hoping.

Katharine wrote:
Now, if the server at the local diner gives you a slice of pie but makes Jeff pay for his, that is where the two of you might disagree on fairness or just-ness. He will say it's not fair because everyone should have to pay for the pie they consume, and he might have a point. You might say it's fair because Jeff makes well enough to not only buy his slice of pie but the whole diner, while you just lost your job, and you might have a point.

It's why I always try to be able to take context into account.

At my watering hole one newcomer's behavior had in short order earned him a heap of disfavor from others; they were judging him to be a bad person, and some were so aggravated by him that if violence were done to him, they were to the point that they would have cheered it on. But I had gotten to know him just a bit more than the rest had, and it was evident to me the the poor fellow was actually harmless except to himself. There was no malice in him, but he was subject to some kind of mental condition, and was suffering in his own personal hell that drove him endlessly from one impulsive bad decision to another; he desperately wanted a friend, but his intrusive manner and inability to read a situation drove people away. He was effectively a helpless bystander to being the very agent of his crap life becoming more crap. They hadn't considered this possibility until I offered my take on the matter. While we still wanted nothing to do with him due to his unpredictability, and his landing in jail was only a matter of time because he couldn't help himself out of his all-too-obvious downward spiral, at least we had this newfound perspective to better inform and help moderate our need to keep our distance. It wasn't actually cavalier reckless disregard we were seeing, but self-destructiveness and a bad sense of strategy, writ large and before our very eyes. Eventually and to no one's surprise, he yet again fell afoul of the law, went on the run, and that's the last I've heard of him.

There was nothing anyone could have done to help him - a beating wouldn't have worked, either - because his pathology, or at least his pattern of decision-making, was long out of his hands. But at least now we had perspective. It matters.

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 Post subject: Re: SLEEP!
PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2020 4:02 pm 
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david_h wrote:
So you agree it's a slippery but have different approaches to the challenge of hanging onto it?

I'm not quite sure what you mean here, either. Sorry. But let me take a stab at it: Are you saying, IOW, that justice is itself a slippery concept, but we use the word somewhat variously because somehow it still has a place in the question of ethics? If so, my sense is yes.

david_h wrote:
My 'problem' is that it can take an essay to set out one aspect and books for the whole thing but still leave me with nothing intuitive.

That's abstractions for you, isn't it.

david_h wrote:
Sure, one could write books on fairness and, if slices of cake are being doled out, on greed, punishment and reward but behind each of them is something that is easy to get hold of. And maybe not only for us humans.

Right. No matter how hard it can be to pin down, we still have a general concept, and it matters to us. And I do in fact believe that some animals are wired for at least some sense of fairness. How it plays out will depend on the species. When a smaller seabird's made to give up its catch to a larger, piratical one, doubtless it will feel angry, disappointed and frustrated, and is even more pressed with the urgency of feeding its young, for it must try again and the clock is ticking. But will it have a sense that it's unfair? I couldn't possibly venture to guess. Easier to guess at is that among some birds of prey, it's typical for one nestling to attack the other so that it can't thrive and compete for food, and it eventually dies. Does the parent have any sense of "fairness" about it? They don't normally intervene, so if so, I expect while it might feel pity for the weaker chick, any sense of fairness would probably be for the stronger one, where "fair and square" would apply. Still, in the end it's just conjecture. But I don't think any animal could exact vengeance - and some do - without first having at least some sense of fairness to drive it.

How far afield we've come from pillows!

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 Post subject: Re: SLEEP!
PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2020 7:32 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
At my watering hole one newcomer's behavior had in short order earned him a heap of disfavor from others; they were judging him to be a bad person, and some were so aggravated by him that if violence were done to him, they were to the point that they would have cheered it on. But I had gotten to know him just a bit more than the rest had, and it was evident to me the the poor fellow was actually harmless except to himself. There was no malice in him, but he was subject to some kind of mental condition, and was suffering in his own personal hell that drove him endlessly from one impulsive bad decision to another; he desperately wanted a friend, but his intrusive manner and inability to read a situation drove people away. He was effectively a helpless bystander to being the very agent of his crap life becoming more crap. They hadn't considered this possibility until I offered my take on the matter. While we still wanted nothing to do with him due to his unpredictability, and his landing in jail was only a matter of time because he couldn't help himself out of his all-too-obvious downward spiral, at least we had this newfound perspective to better inform and help moderate our need to keep our distance. It wasn't actually cavalier reckless disregard we were seeing, but self-destructiveness and a bad sense of strategy, writ large and before our very eyes. Eventually and to no one's surprise, he yet again fell afoul of the law, went on the run, and that's the last I've heard of him.

There was nothing anyone could have done to help him - a beating wouldn't have worked, either - because his pathology, or at least his pattern of decision-making, was long out of his hands. But at least now we had perspective. It matters.

But, at the end of the day, no one still wanted to associate with him, even if they felt sorry for him... but I assume the knowledge you all gained about him is what kept him from getting his rear kicked at some point?


(Also, can we agree that now that the subject has been brought up, this discussion really should be continued over pie? (Or cake, if you so wish. Or both.) Because now I kind of want some... :) )

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 Post subject: Re: SLEEP!
PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2020 9:22 pm 
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A slightly different take on all this:
https://www.popsci.com/science/article/ ... crows-say/
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/artic ... ne.0056885

Bob

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 Post subject: Re: SLEEP!
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:55 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
I'm not quite sure what you mean here, either. Sorry. But let me take a stab at it: Are you saying, IOW, that justice is itself a slippery concept, but we use the word somewhat variously because somehow it still has a place in the question of ethics? If so, my sense is yes.
Yes, I lost the word 'concept' in an edit. My use of 'slippery' followed from the phrase 'get a grip on'. My observation being that an aspect of the word 'justice' that you liked was - its many possible meanings in different contexts - seemed to be what Ben found challenging (and I agreed with).

an seanduine's links were rather better than the one Google found me (above). They may have been among the ones I was remembering.

As for your nestlings, a behavior that allows one strong survivor rather than two weaker ones may be good for the species, though I think mapping that back to humans and justice systems (some parallels come to mind) is a bit too far from pillows.


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 Post subject: Re: SLEEP!
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 12:28 pm 
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As I see it, 'fairness' is an instinctive judgement based on keeping everyone happy. This 'fairness' helps to maintain stability and will confer an evolutionary advantage on the group. There will of course be exceptions (for example, alpha gets first pick, but should not abuse the privilege).

When the group gets larger, and individuals develop the intelligence to rationalise their self-interest (what else is intelligence for?) then some will be treated unfairly. The perpetrators may not have a motivation to rectify this, and so the group will rectify it, or at least fantasise about rectifying it. This rectification, which is a form of coercion or punishment, is called 'justice'.

Since the culpable individuals will likely not cooperate with the justice, a degree of force will be required.

Justice = force + fairness.

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 Post subject: Re: SLEEP!
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:08 pm 
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Katharine wrote:
... I assume the knowledge you all gained about him is what kept him from getting his rear kicked at some point?

Precisely. And that was fairness. The set of possible consequences to him for his rash bumblings would include justice. Here, at least, I can (and must) clearly separate the two.

david_h wrote:
As for your nestlings, a behavior that allows one strong survivor rather than two weaker ones may be good for the species ...

Right. This is the usual cold eye of reason, and I don't dispute it. Rather, firmly convinced as I am that all higher animals have emotional lives, I was indulging in the decidedly unscientific exercise of venturing to put myself in the adult's shoes (were eagles to wear them).

DrPhill wrote:
When the group gets larger, and individuals develop the intelligence to rationalise their self-interest (what else is intelligence for?) then some will be treated unfairly. The perpetrators may not have a motivation to rectify this, and so the group will rectify it, or at least fantasise about rectifying it. This rectification, which is a form of coercion or punishment, is called 'justice'.

All right; I like your analysis. And tailor-made to this discussion, it is fair.

I'm still likely to use "justice" rather flexibly as a rhetorical device, but this discussion has been most beneficial to me, for because of it, I'm now able to weigh the word with more clarity and rigor of definition than I have, for some reason, had available to me in the past. :)

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 Post subject: Re: SLEEP!
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 5:16 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Katharine wrote:
... I assume the knowledge you all gained about him is what kept him from getting his rear kicked at some point?

Precisely. And that was fairness. The set of possible consequences to him for his rash bumblings would include justice. Here, at least, I can (and must) clearly separate the two.


I don't know. I think I would call "if you're socially-undesirable, people will not want to associate with you" to be justice (and fair, too). If you want to think of "justice" in terms of someone getting what they deserve. (some would erroneously also call it "karma," but I wouldn't.)

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 Post subject: Re: SLEEP!
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 6:53 pm 
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Katharine wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
Katharine wrote:
... I assume the knowledge you all gained about him is what kept him from getting his rear kicked at some point?

Precisely. And that was fairness. The set of possible consequences to him for his rash bumblings would include justice. Here, at least, I can (and must) clearly separate the two.

I don't know. I think I would call "if you're socially-undesirable, people will not want to associate with you" to be justice (and fair, too). If you want to think of "justice" in terms of someone getting what they deserve.

Well, I did consider such things, but I wanted to show just a simple illustrative difference between the two that satisfied me; and besides, I'm trying to curb my usual temptation to blacken a page with yet more wearisome cholesterol. :lol:

As for the law catching up to his parade of self-wrought messes, IMO justice most fair would be for him to be assigned intervention and professional help, rather than only fruitless time languishing in the pokey.

Katharine wrote:
(some would erroneously also call it "karma," but I wouldn't.)

Yeah, that vernacular horse has long left the barn.

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