Heinlein's Moral And Social Philosophy

moultanomoultano Creator of ns_shiva. Join Date: 2002-12-14 Member: 10806Members, NS1 Playtester, Contributor, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold, NS2 Community Developer, Pistachionauts Posts: 4,219 Advanced user
edited June 2004 in Discussions
a la Starship troopers.
For those who have not read the book, this short excerpt is an excellent summary. What do you think of it?

Comments

  • zoobyzooby Join Date: 2003-08-26 Member: 20236Members Posts: 429
    From what I remember of reading Starship Troopers, there was certainly some interesting political and philosophical discussions. However, given that the target audience (being like 14-yr olds at the time), I felt that the discussions were too one-sided, had somewhat flimsy logic, and were presented rather poorly. I felt that everything was kind of dumped onto the reader, who was forced to agree with what was being said. Nonetheless I still liked it. (hehe it appealed to the extremist inside of me)
    Them ignorants complain that we who control this space station think we're God. We're not God. We just use the "Smite" button profusely.

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  • taboofirestaboofires Join Date: 2002-11-24 Member: 9853Members Posts: 2,246
    Well, I agree with his thoughts about our current judicial system: punishment does not exist. Prison is better than living in the slums, which by annoying social and political forces tends to provide the most lawbreaking.

    Still, violence is not the solution, nor really any solution at all. Just like how prison puts offenders in a place where they can learn new tricks, using violence on them only affirms that violence is okay. That's no good either. The Clockwork Orange approach of aversion (to whatever crime they commit) therapy is dehumanizing, which is quite evident from watching the movie.

    Then there's simply flaws in the judicial system. Why do prisons house so many drug law violators when they are otherwise useful members of society? Or how about people simply falsely convicted? Giving them a sound beating is much more likely to instill a hatred of law and government than an "understanding" that they committed a "crime" by lighting up on a Saturday afternoon.

    Oh great, so now what? Prevention. How about we spend the crazy amount of money running prisons, and building new ones, on improving the lives of the American people (the same goes for other countries, but we've taken it to the extreme). Poverty breeds crimes of necessity. Remove one and you remove the other.

    Two other sources of crime are boredom and mental instability. The cure for boredom crimes, i.e. middle/upper class shoplifting, is parenting. That's gone out of style right there. How about sending some of the prison money that way? I can't tell you how you help the unstable people, or those who know what they do is wrong but that only encourages them, but I can tell you that a sound beating isn't the answer.
  • The_FinchThe_Finch Join Date: 2002-11-13 Member: 8498Members Posts: 661
    QUOTE
    Still, violence is not the solution, nor really any solution at all.


    The thing is, history and experience have shown that violence is a solution. Why do you think people still fight wars? Why do you think people use weapons during the commission of a crime? It's because violence works. If violence isn't solving the problem, you're simply not being violent enough.

    QUOTE
    Giving them a sound beating is much more likely to instill a hatred of law and government than an "understanding" that they committed a "crime" by lighting up on a Saturday afternoon.


    Not if the rules are made clear and children exposed to the consequences at an early age. Dropping a system of corporal punishment on the population now would probably have a detrimental effect since the population isn't acclimated to it. However, if one were to grow up in a society that used corporal punishment, like Singapore, such a punishment would be routine and part of the justice system. Frequent repetition of the rules, combined with an immediate enforcement of the punishment, make for a very effective training method. Drill Sergeants use such methods in the Army. The rules are made abundantly clear and any transgression is immediately punished, usually in public to reinforce the idea that one must follow the rules.

    While I agree that Heinlein's solution is overly simplified, I believe it's like that simply for the benefit of the reader as opposed to a plan to solve all of the problems of the modern world. Heinlein seems to be using this part of the book to establish not only a timeline, but a context for the society and why it's the way it is.

    I think the problem with discipline in the modern world is that the majority of the threats that are made against transgressors are simply idle. Shaking a finger at somebody who's been living in abject poverty and commiting crimes since they were 10 while saying, "No, no. Don't do that again or you'll be punished." isn't an effective means of discipline.
    QUOTE (X Stickman)
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  • X_StickmanX_Stickman Not good enough for a custom title. Join Date: 2003-04-15 Member: 15533Members, Constellation Posts: 3,567
    QUOTE (The Finch @ Jun 29 2004, 08:11 PM)
    QUOTE
    Still, violence is not the solution, nor really any solution at all.


    The thing is, history and experience have shown that violence is a solution. Why do you think people still fight wars? Why do you think people use weapons during the commission of a crime? It's because violence works. If violence isn't solving the problem, you're simply not being violent enough.


    Have to disagree there. Societies fighting one another is natural (always has been) but a society based on violent punishment would destroy itself sooner or later (people have feelings, pain causes anger/hatred. Only a matter of time).
    QUOTE(T h e m @ Apr 10 2005, 06:19 AM)
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  • EpidemicEpidemic Dark Force Gorge Join Date: 2003-06-29 Member: 17781Members Posts: 3,104
    He does makes alot of undocumented assumptions and go on from there.
    --

    I do not believe it's way to go, alot of it so-called morals I think can be inherited in the genes, and how the genes will percieve the world "to get the so-called moral"

    He also seems to imply that corporal punishment is not the only way to go, which I agree, and that dog compared to human scenerio is ridicilous as well, a dog wont ever know wrong or right, but it will know if it does that and this, it will be punished, so it avoids it, but not because it's wrong.

    I do not believe people can control corporal punishment, they must be short and exact, and something very wrong must have been done and you have to be sure it is very just, basically that's why we have a court system, to deal with all crimes, it just needs to be more effective.

    Lastly a danish book that got published in 195x showed a story on how violence can degenerate people and societies, basically dad hits mom, that hits the children that's hits the next in the power-hierachy
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  • kidakida Join Date: 2003-02-20 Member: 13778Members Posts: 1,458
    It depends on where you look.

    If things are done peacefully, through comprimization, the end product will arrive much later (whatever that may be). It has been proven through history that in order for a dramatic change to occur, violence was the key. But when you talk about punishment, I believe violence is not necessary; it is actually a reverse dentriment happening in its own cause. Instead of a change that one would expect, it often leads to a rebelious state within that person, and that person I am specifically implying, is a child. Moreover, the judicial system is very flawed, and I would like to see it change in some way or form.

    The best solution to prevent crimes from occuring, is educating a child in moral conduct, and by that I mean showing him the full brunt of what love is.



  • taboofirestaboofires Join Date: 2002-11-24 Member: 9853Members Posts: 2,246
    QUOTE (The Finch @ Jun 29 2004, 03:11 PM)
    QUOTE
    Still, violence is not the solution, nor really any solution at all.


    The thing is, history and experience have shown that violence is a solution. Why do you think people still fight wars? Why do you think people use weapons during the commission of a crime? It's because violence works. If violence isn't solving the problem, you're simply not being violent enough.

    Let's put it a different way: What problems does violence solve? It just so happens that it's the same problems that violence contributes greatly to.

    War is the biggest one. Why do we fight them? Resources, pride, whatever. Why do those problems exist? Because we couldn't find a peaceful, mutually beneficial solution in the past, which further changed the balance of power, which further changed resource control and hurt prides, and so on. It is easier to just keep fighting than to actually solve anything, so long as you're winning. And if you're losing, you have to keep fighting because the enemy knows that they can just use force to hurt you, so negotions are useless. And the balance of power keeps getting worse from there.

    Getting out of it requires a moral act on the part of the stronger people. Give a little so both sides can be happy, and neither side will be dead.

    Why bother to get out when war is so easy (when you're winning)? You can give your citizens more than they can ever have winning hundreds of wars - both a high quality of life (even just from building goods instead of guns) and the lives of their children.
  • CMEastCMEast Join Date: 2002-05-19 Member: 632Members Posts: 1,655
    QUOTE
    Man has no moral instinct. He is not born with moral sense. You were not born with it, I was not -- and a puppy has none. We acquire moral sense, when we do, through training, experience, and hard sweat of the mind


    Totally agree. I'm not so sure on his idea of punishment in order to instil someone with morales but I agree that we don't start off with them automatically.

    I also agree that we don't have rights, just a concept we invented so we could shout "Unfair!" when something goes wrong. They are a useful idea to base a society on but they don't actually exist.
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  • SgtFurySgtFury Join Date: 2003-02-07 Member: 13219Members Posts: 127
    The main point I took is since the punishments are infrequent, its not the violence itself that installs the moral instinct but the THREAT of violence instead.

    The fact is nowadays the people that help install morals into children do not have any threats they can seriously hold over the kids. When I was at scholl the whole caning thing was just being phased out, but you still had respect for teachers, since the threat was almost there. Nowadays the respect is gone and nothing cn be done to bring it back, unless some threat can be used.
  • The_FinchThe_Finch Join Date: 2002-11-13 Member: 8498Members Posts: 661
    edited July 2004
    QUOTE
    Have to disagree there. Societies fighting one another is natural (always has been) but a society based on violent punishment would destroy itself sooner or later (people have feelings, pain causes anger/hatred. Only a matter of time).


    The society isn't based on the punishment, but rather the strict adherence to the law. The punishment is simply a consequence of transgressions against order, rather than an entity unto itself. Heinlein isn't suggesting that random violence would solve anything, nor am I. Corporal punishment has to be applied consistently and it has to be made clear why it's being applied. Vigilantes roaming the streets with sacks of doorknobs won't solve any social problems.

    QUOTE
    War is the biggest one. Why do we fight them? Resources, pride, whatever. Why do those problems exist? Because we couldn't find a peaceful, mutually beneficial solution in the past, which further changed the balance of power, which further changed resource control and hurt prides, and so on. It is easier to just keep fighting than to actually solve anything, so long as you're winning. And if you're losing, you have to keep fighting because the enemy knows that they can just use force to hurt you, so negotions are useless. And the balance of power keeps getting worse from there.

    Getting out of it requires a moral act on the part of the stronger people. Give a little so both sides can be happy, and neither side will be dead.

    Why bother to get out when war is so easy (when you're winning)? You can give your citizens more than they can ever have winning hundreds of wars - both a high quality of life (even just from building goods instead of guns) and the lives of their children.


    You assume that there is a peaceful, mutually beneficial solution and that at least one side is willing to work for it. You also assume that giving a little will appease the weaker side, rather than drive the desire to have even more.

    War is beneficial in itself. It spurs innovation, drives economies and helps control overpopulation. However, according to you, these benefits are outweighed by the fact that such conflict is "immoral." That morality is an artificial standard that has little to do with human history and progress. History has shown us that morality is useful to enforce order within a culture, but is drastically less effective cross-culturally. I particularly disagree with your last paragraph. You make the huge assumption that there's enough resources to fulfill the needs of both parties. Rather than one society getting enough, you have two societies that are slowly starving.

    However, even the war example isn't particularly relevant to this topic. Heinlein's excerpt isn't discussing the use of violence between different societies, but rather the use of violence within a single society as a means of enforcing order. Heinlein is contending that violence is part of a means to an end, not an end itself.

    QUOTE
    I also agree that we don't have rights, just a concept we invented so we could shout "Unfair!" when something goes wrong. They are a useful idea to base a society on but they don't actually exist.


    I agree with Heinlein's assertation that such natural rights don't exist and prefer Mao's quote, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." It's not a college student with a witty placard that grants rights and freedoms, but rather heavily armed soldiers who are willing to use violence to grant and safeguard those rights. If the government of the U.S. decided to use the military to squash protests, do you really think that protesters would stop them?

    QUOTE
    Nowadays the respect is gone and nothing cn be done to bring it back, unless some threat can be used.


    Threats in themselves are only so useful. Eventually, somebody will call your bluff and you then have to either make good on your threat or back down. Heinlein believes, as do I, that modern threats aren't backed up with action and that this has led to a rise in disorder. Public schools frequently make threats about misconduct, but rarely enforce such threats. When students see that misconduct will only be given a slap on the wrist (or no punishment at all), there's no incentive to adhere to the rules.
    QUOTE (X Stickman)
    America's Army taught me that I'm more likely to be shot in the back by my own teammates, then have my sexuality insulted as well as accusations made towards my mother's sex life. If it's a recruitment tool, it's a damn poor one.
  • taboofirestaboofires Join Date: 2002-11-24 Member: 9853Members Posts: 2,246
    QUOTE (The Finch @ Jul 1 2004, 09:00 AM)
    You assume that there is a peaceful, mutually beneficial solution and that at least one side is willing to work for it. You also assume that giving a little will appease the weaker side, rather than drive the desire to have even more.

    I assume (safely) that there is a solution to all problems that doesn't involve violence or the threat of violence. I do not assume anyone is willing to work for it, rather I figure that's why we have wars at all: it's not as easy.

    I do assume that having physical wealth at the expence of others is equally or less satisfying than gaining reasonably high standard of living it through peaceful means. I think that is reasonable as well, as money buys little happiness, and certianly not enough to wipe away the blood.

    QUOTE
    War is beneficial in itself. It spurs innovation, drives economies and helps control overpopulation. However, according to you, these benefits are outweighed by the fact that such conflict is "immoral."


    I would chose the peaceful means even without any moral qualm with war. The same innovation and such can be achieved through peaceful means, and then some. Resources are limited, and using them to blow stuff up is economically stupid. Theft from other peoples is not sustainable.

    QUOTE
    However, even the war example isn't particularly relevant to this topic. Heinlein's excerpt isn't discussing the use of violence between different societies, but rather the use of violence within a single society as a means of enforcing order. Heinlein is contending that violence is part of a means to an end, not an end itself.


    Yes, I agree. War is not particularly on topic, and violence is being heralded as a means to an end.

    However, I still think that violence is not nearly the best method of encouraging civil behavior. It does not fix the cause of the problems, yet instills in the public the mindset that violence is the answer to society's problems, and their own. That's asking for it right there.

    Also, making punishments more severe doesn't make people less willing to commit crimes. It's not like people do things planning to be caught, and deciding whether or not it's worth risking. Even where the death penalty is issued like candy, people still commit crimes consistantly. However, it does have one big effect: if you figure that you're going to die if you get taken in, you might as well try to shoot your way out of it. That's just as bad as the roving gangs of hoodlums that Heinlein describes.
  • SwiftspearSwiftspear Custim tital Join Date: 2003-10-29 Member: 22097Members Posts: 7,019
    This artical is ludicrous, to use the cerebral capacity of a dog to defend a way of managing the behievor of people is absolutly outragous. Try raising a cat the same way you raise a dog, hit the cat whenever it does something you don't like, you'll see very soon a cat that will strike you at any chance it can get, you hit it, you are its enemy. You cannot determine the optimal way to treat one species of animal by the treatment that works with another, expecially when you compare a relatively simple pack animal like the dog, which is hardwired to respond to pysical abuse by the alpha as a punishment, to a complex creature like man, who we have no complete understanding of how he is hardwired.

    The groups of hooligans that the fictional teacher is refering too are probably, in of themselfs, the best example for this. To say that these people grow up with no sence of physical threat is exactly the opposite from the truth. The people in question grow up in environment where physical threat is a fact of life, that is why they gather in gangs to protect themselfs. The hard coded method of threatening people with physical pain and death when they step out of line (the one used by many gangs on thier members) by the observation of those under its influence does little else than force a state of instictual survival in which a person will go to any lenght to perpetrate his own existance.

    Man is capable of being a very cerebral beast, and when he is thinking least with his instinct, he is often at his best, creating the great technologies and developments that we take for granted today. The forcing of a lower instinctual state by perpetration of physical punishments and threats (which are proven to have intense pshycological effects, in essance forcing a man to drop any type of cognitive thought as long as it will releave him of his pain) is an action that I will not support in any way shape or form. To spank a child, a being with at a relitively low cerebral state, is one thing, as long as you understand that the results are temporary and only manifested on an instincual level, (man once was a pack animal) but to use the same method on an adult is absolutly unacceptable to me, you are only attemting to bend his intellectual state to a state lower than he is currently at, in essance violating his humanity.l

    That being said, even the value of instinct based punishment on childern must be weighed with a grain of salt, there must be some risk involved, as they are being with developing cerebral capacities.
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  • CMEastCMEast Join Date: 2002-05-19 Member: 632Members Posts: 1,655
    Never thought about it like that Swiftspear, thats really interesting!

    I still say humans have no in built morales though (do you reckon we will slowly evolve to become more domesticated in the same way animals do when bred?). The idea of people being nice to each other because they have worked out that its intellectually the best way to get what they want without getting hurt instead of 'because its right' isn't exactly palatable even if thats pretty much the position I'm in myself at the moment.
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  • SwiftspearSwiftspear Custim tital Join Date: 2003-10-29 Member: 22097Members Posts: 7,019
    QUOTE (CMEast @ Jul 2 2004, 07:56 AM)
    I still say humans have no in built morales though (do you reckon we will slowly evolve to become more domesticated in the same way animals do when bred?). The idea of people being nice to each other because they have worked out that its intellectually the best way to get what they want without getting hurt instead of 'because its right' isn't exactly palatable even if thats pretty much the position I'm in myself at the moment.

    A little to unpalatable for me I'm afraid. As much as I would like to belive that there is no built in morals in humanity, that particular factor keeps coming up and slapping me in the face. That combined with the hundreds of repentance stories... I find it really hard to belive that there at very least isn't something hardcoded into us that makes us crave continuity with our sociaties to the point where we adapt concepts such as morality so strongly that we take them as a granted part of our being.
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  • ForlornForlorn Join Date: 2002-11-01 Member: 2634Banned Posts: 6,498
    QUOTE (Swiftspear @ Jul 2 2004, 02:06 AM)
    This artical is ludicrous, to use the cerebral capacity of a dog to defend a way of managing the behievor of people is absolutly outragous. Try raising a cat the same way you raise a dog, hit the cat whenever it does something you don't like, you'll see very soon a cat that will strike you at any chance it can get, you hit it, you are its enemy. You cannot determine the optimal way to treat one species of animal by the treatment that works with another, expecially when you compare a relatively simple pack animal like the dog, which is hardwired to respond to pysical abuse by the alpha as a punishment, to a complex creature like man, who we have no complete understanding of how he is hardwired.

    The groups of hooligans that the fictional teacher is refering too are probably, in of themselfs, the best example for this. To say that these people grow up with no sence of physical threat is exactly the opposite from the truth. The people in question grow up in environment where physical threat is a fact of life, that is why they gather in gangs to protect themselfs. The hard coded method of threatening people with physical pain and death when they step out of line (the one used by many gangs on thier members) by the observation of those under its influence does little else than force a state of instictual survival in which a person will go to any lenght to perpetrate his own existance.

    Man is capable of being a very cerebral beast, and when he is thinking least with his instinct, he is often at his best, creating the great technologies and developments that we take for granted today. The forcing of a lower instinctual state by perpetration of physical punishments and threats (which are proven to have intense pshycological effects, in essance forcing a man to drop any type of cognitive thought as long as it will releave him of his pain) is an action that I will not support in any way shape or form. To spank a child, a being with at a relitively low cerebral state, is one thing, as long as you understand that the results are temporary and only manifested on an instincual level, (man once was a pack animal) but to use the same method on an adult is absolutly unacceptable to me, you are only attemting to bend his intellectual state to a state lower than he is currently at, in essance violating his humanity.l

    That being said, even the value of instinct based punishment on childern must be weighed with a grain of salt, there must be some risk involved, as they are being with developing cerebral capacities.

    Actually, this isn't true.

    QUOTE
    Try raising a cat the same way you raise a dog, hit the cat whenever it does something you don't like, you'll see very soon a cat that will strike you at any chance it can get, you hit it, you are its enemy.


    I've seen plenty of people raise cats and scold them when the cats do something wrong. All animals are the same in this aspect. Cats will grow abusive towards their owner only if they are abused for no reason. Cats also tend to have a really good memory, and so if a little child pulls the tail on a cat for no reason other than to be friendly to it, the cat will not forget this senseless pain and if the child returns, to have grown by say 3 feet over the next 2 years, the cat will avoid that person.

    Also, you fail to notice that a cat's ancestors and relatives were pack animals as well. Think of a 'den of lions'.

    It isn't very different for a dog either. Dog's aren't quite as intelligent as cats, and are generally mean to anyone that are not introduced by the owner of the pack, or by another member of the pack. Dog's are instinctually different from cats, of course, but that's another topic. They are still very much the same.

    However, Heinmen's comparison of a dog to a young child in the case of learning morals aka "The right thing to do!" is correct. Ever consider why Heinman uses a dog in this case?
    It's because dog's have been chosen over all other animals as they best simulate loyalty, companionship, friendship, as well as many other human qualities. Simply put, no other animal resembles humans as well as dogs do. And the process of raising a dog as been done down to a science for a lovable and cute companion.

    In fact, one can see the strength of Heinman's comparision of a child to a dog when evaluated closer -

    Mankind has been domesticating animals for their uses for thousands of years. Domesticating an animal does not only make the animal evolve to our needs (yes, that's right. The cow, for example, a few thousand years ago only provided a pint of milk today, as opposed to the gallons it cranks out daily now), but it also installs a sense of 'morals' in the animal; that is, the animal will not do anything that would harm it or make it's chances of surrival lower, such as making a human being angry.

    And the exact same analogy applies to a child, as a child has the same level of basic instincts when young. And as any animal trainer can tell you, the best time to start domesticating is to do it when the said animal is young. A child, a puppy, is most impressionable when young.

    I have analyized this article for several days thinking about what it has said, and it has proved to be quite an eye opener for me. I cannot find any flaws in it. I always knew Heinman was a genius, indeed, he wrote enough works in his life to take up two lifetimes. However, I never realized that he wrote the orginal Starship Troopers, nor did I realize this was contained in it.

    This article is 90% true, and it does do a lot of explaining about ever increasing crime rates, police force, and useless jurisdiction.

    The one point I do agree with this excerpt is when Heinman suggests that losing corporal punishment in schools is a bad thing; teachers should NOT be the ones rasing a child, nor should they be the ones who punish them either. That is way too prone to abuse. Punishment should be at the parents discretion, only.

    A great place to understand this; religion. Straight from somewhere in the bible,

    "Spare the rod and spoil the child."

    As we all know, the bible may tell elabote stories or all be true, that is not the point; we can all agree that religion serves as a moral basis for people. And as you can see here, the creators of the bible indeed realized that if they wanted their faith to be a success, and their morals to last, it needed to be instilled early on in children so it would passed on and on.

    So why has this changed?

    Now, I am not saying to go bust out the whipping cane and beat down 3 and 5 year olds, but a simple slap on the hand, a spank on the butt - it can only make the child's skin red at the worst, and at best keep the child out of really bad trouble in the future, such as not harming another human being's feelings, doing drugs, etc. etc.

    You'd be surpised how little things can build up.

    Furthermore, the hooligans who come from an abusive household; why are their parents abusive? Did they have abusive parents too? And what about their parents? And thiers? And theirs? Eventually, it will come down to this type of parent, the worst type of parent:

    The lazy one.

    And this parent is the one who does absolutely nothing to raise the child, and the child just grows up with the only influence being society. And also this child grows up to be a crappy parent as well.

    You can be damn well sure here, that the lazy parent does nothing to make sure his child learns any morals in the first place.

    QUOTE

    That being said, even the value of instinct based punishment on childern must be weighed with a grain of salt, there must be some risk involved, as they are being with developing cerebral capacities.


    Everything has risk, and therefore this concern is irrelevent. If it works for 95% of the other kids out there but fails on yours, it does not mean everyone else should stop punishment on the other 95% just so the other 5% will not suffer.
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  • the_johnjacobthe_johnjacob Join Date: 2003-04-01 Member: 15109Members, Constellation Posts: 89
    QUOTE
    Man has no moral instinct. He is not born with moral sense. You were not born with it, I was not -- and a puppy has none. We acquire moral sense, when we do, through training, experience, and hard sweat of the mind


    i rather like this quote, cuz it kinda starts off my own little philosophy on morals, which is also fairly relevant, i think, to this thread, so let's begin shall we?

    first, we'll define a moral code. morality can be(safely i think) defined as a code or definition of how to act in order to the "good" out of every situation. now there's that little word "good" in there. what is "good"? good can be defined, in this context, as anything that is beneficial to the acting person at the time. as long as said person sees more benefits than punishments/pain/injury, it can be seen as "good".

    now, how does a person come to define their moral code? i don't see how we can be born with a moral code, honestly this does not make sense to me. how is it we can have an inborn code of what is good, and yet see so many differences between societies in today's world, let alone historical civilizations. however, there are certain things that are common throughout, though few, one general thing is a societies accepted moral of "killing = bad" there are variations, like Indian moral "killing has levels of badness, depending on the caste of the killee" or whatever the case may be. i see these consistancies as a basic human need for companionship, a need for humans to gather, and that is not possible if people within the group are killing without a thought. but i see so much variation i believe that this need for companionship is the limit of our instincts.

    ok, if it's not born within, it must be learned. but when? and how? there are so many different kinds of people out there, and there are people with totally different family backgrounds with very similar morals? how the hell?confused.gif

    well, let's take an infant, first thing he or she will do is discover his/her surroundings. what will and will not hurt, cause pain, or injure said infant. then, what's next is what matters. how far can this infant push it's authority figures to get what it wants and do what it wants before it's punished. now we go back to the definition of the moral code, when does it become bad to do something. said infant learns these limits, can rules set by the adults be stretched? can they be broken? if i'm caught twice, will the punishment be the same? or can i sweet talk my way out of it..."oooh, oops, sorry, i know i told you i wouldn't, but i promise this time, i won't ever do it again" gg no punishment = good = no lesson learned = moral code adjusted.

    so, from the perspective of this, i do believe that the THREAT of violence is probbly the best thing that can happen to a child, as long as you show that you are willing to use it whenever the child does something against the rules, and even more so were the rules brokent he second time. pain is a very primitive emotion, and a human, will do almost anything to avoid it. pain is injury, injury is bad, very bad. that's about as basic as you can get i think.

    anyway, that's my take on this situation, enjoy :-)
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  • SwiftspearSwiftspear Custim tital Join Date: 2003-10-29 Member: 22097Members Posts: 7,019
    QUOTE (Forlorn @ Jul 4 2004, 11:29 PM)
    I've seen plenty of people raise cats and scold them when the cats do something wrong. All animals are the same in this aspect. Cats will grow abusive towards their owner only if they are abused for no reason. Cats also tend to have a really good memory, and so if a little child pulls the tail on a cat for no reason other than to be friendly to it, the cat will not forget this senseless pain and if the child returns, to have grown by say 3 feet over the next 2 years, the cat will avoid that person.

    Also, you fail to notice that a cat's ancestors and relatives were pack animals as well. Think of a 'den of lions'.

    Firstly I'll point out that it has been proven quite conclusively in both cats and dogs that inflicting pain on the animal while training it is not nessicary; equal results can be achived with expressing authority, correcting behivior and expressing dissapointment with failure, anger is not nessicary. Secondly I will point out that I wasn't argueing that cats never had pack animal insticts, but simply that they are trained via differnet means then dogs (with the exception of lions and tigers, which are both pack animals, and train using canine standards quite well)

    QUOTE
    It isn't very different for a dog either.  Dog's aren't quite as intelligent as cats, and are generally mean to anyone that are not introduced by the owner of the pack, or by another member of the pack.  Dog's are instinctually different from cats, of course, but that's another topic.  They are still very much the same.

    However, Heinmen's comparison of a dog to a young child in the case of learning morals aka "The right thing to do!" is correct.  Ever consider why Heinman uses a dog in this case?
    It's because dog's have been chosen over all other animals as they best simulate loyalty, companionship, friendship, as well as many other human qualities.  Simply put, no other animal resembles humans as well as dogs do.  And the process of raising a dog as been done down to a science for a lovable and cute companion.

    This argument is ludicrous, Even dolphins represent pack behivior and normal beheivioral patterns that much more closely resemble human's than dogs do. Not to mention several species of chimpanzees and apes. I'll also point out that you don't use violence or agression in the training of dolphins.
    QUOTE
    In fact, one can see the strength of Heinman's comparision of a child to a dog when evaluated closer -

    Mankind has been domesticating animals for their uses for thousands of years.  Domesticating an animal does not only make the animal evolve to our needs (yes, that's right. The cow, for example, a few thousand years ago only provided a pint of milk today, as opposed to the gallons it cranks out daily now), but it also installs a sense of 'morals' in the animal; that is, the animal will not do anything that would harm it or make it's chances of surrival lower, such as making a human being angry.

    And the exact same analogy applies to a child, as a child has the same level of basic instincts when young.  And as any animal trainer can tell you, the best time to start domesticating is to do it when the said animal is young.  A child, a puppy, is most impressionable when young.

    The only thing I dissagree with here is that it ignores the fact that man guides his actions using duelistic principles. Firstly he generates a base decision using past experiance and instinctual tendancies, and secondly he cross checks his decision with intellectually based reasoning. For children simply developing a moral standard into thier instinctual programing may be effective, but adults more and more often won't use instinct as the desisive factor in thier reasoning. thus we should be teaching children to prime thier reasoning abilities, and not only training thier instincts.

    QUOTE
    I have analyized this article for several days thinking about what it has said, and it has proved to be quite an eye opener for me.  I cannot find any flaws in it.  I always knew Heinman was a genius, indeed, he wrote enough works in his life to take up two lifetimes.  However, I never realized that he wrote the orginal Starship Troopers, nor did I realize this was contained in it.

    This article is 90% true, and it does do a lot of explaining about ever increasing crime rates, police force, and useless jurisdiction.

    Just going to ephisize the fact that we are reading a work of fiction here, not a textbook, we are looking at a theory, not a fact.

    QUOTE
    The one point I do agree with this excerpt is when Heinman suggests that losing corporal punishment in schools is a bad thing; teachers should NOT be the ones rasing a child, nor should they be the ones who punish them either.  That is way too prone to abuse.  Punishment should be at the parents discretion, only.

    A great place to understand this; religion.  Straight from somewhere in the bible,

    "Spare the rod and spoil the child."

    As we all know, the bible may tell elabote stories or all be true, that is not the point; we can all agree that religion serves as a moral basis for people.  And as you can see here, the creators of the bible indeed realized that if they wanted their faith to be a success, and their morals to last, it needed to be instilled early on in children so it would passed on and on.

    So why has this changed?

    I'm don't know weather or not I agree with every thing you say here, but it generally rings true to me.

    QUOTE
    Now, I am not saying to go bust out the whipping cane and beat down 3 and 5 year olds, but a simple slap on the hand, a spank on the butt - it can only make the child's skin red at the worst, and at best keep the child out of really bad trouble in the future, such as not harming another human being's feelings, doing drugs, etc. etc.

    You'd be surpised how little things can build up.

    Furthermore, the hooligans who come from an abusive household; why are their parents abusive?  Did they have abusive parents too?  And what about their parents?  And thiers?  And theirs?  Eventually, it will come down to this type of parent, the worst type of parent:

    The lazy one.

    I question the existance of this 'lazy parent' entity, I have yet to encounter a parent that doesen't at least attemt to raise thier child to the best of thier ability. The fact of the matter is some kids are hard to raise and some parents arn't mentally or phsically equiped to be raising kids. If these 'lazy parents' do indeed exist I would argue that they are at very least the vast minority of the population of parents, an many of the beheivior patterns of childern you are using to place that label on parents are more accurately due to other factors, such as parental ignorance, exposure to harsh living conditions, ineptitude in parenting causing abuse, ineptitude in parenting valuing things over time spent with the child, or mental disability on the part of the parent, to name a few.

    QUOTE
    And this parent is the one who does absolutely nothing to raise the child, and the child just grows up with the only influence being society.  And also this child grows up to be a crappy parent as well.

    You can be damn well sure here, that the lazy parent does nothing to make sure his child learns any morals in the first place.

    QUOTE

    That being said, even the value of instinct based punishment on childern must be weighed with a grain of salt, there must be some risk involved, as they are being with developing cerebral capacities.


    Everything has risk, and therefore this concern is irrelevent. If it works for 95% of the other kids out there but fails on yours, it does not mean everyone else should stop punishment on the other 95% just so the other 5% will not suffer.

    does it meant that you are a bad parent though, if you successfully emulate what works for everyone else and it fails? I would speculate that the worst thing you can do is formulate raising your child the way you might formulate training a dog, some children will respond to physical punishment probably quite well, others might develop anger complexes, it is the responsability of the parent to gauge and adapt to the development and reaction of thier children to thier beheivior. This brings us to the gordian knot that you slice in half with formulation. We can't trust all parents to effectively and responsibly gauge their children, after all, they are just as human as the children they are raising.

    In retrospective I'm not really arguing a solution to a problem here, I'm just exploring the complication of a problem that I don't really intent on mathimatically working out.

    In essance the issue we are discussing here comes down to two sides each with a different set of risks and payoffs, neither which has been effectively mapped out yet. We choose between training based raising of children, which is, for all intensive purpouses tried tested and true, but may or may not cause phycological instability. Or we choose the somewhat more idealistic learing based rasing of children, which assumes that children will pick up moral values from observation and reasoning, and attemts to stroke that reasoning aspect as often as possible, although running the risk of being really never done before, and potentially far more damaging to the childs sence of moral balance than the former. Personally I prefer the latter, because I am somewhat of an idealist, and I am confident enough in myself to belive that I would pick up on imbalances early enough to correct them, either way, I have come to the conclusion that I really don't want to pick a side here right now, so I'm only going to pick apart arguments of others that I see a falace rather than further elaborating a prospective that I don't really have a grasp on.
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  • ForlornForlorn Join Date: 2002-11-01 Member: 2634Banned Posts: 6,498
    QUOTE
    Firstly I'll point out that it has been proven quite conclusively in both cats and dogs that inflicting pain on the animal while training it is not nessicary; equal results can be achived with expressing authority, correcting behivior and expressing dissapointment with failure, anger is not nessicary. Secondly I will point out that I wasn't argueing that cats never had pack animal insticts, but simply that they are trained via differnet means then dogs (with the exception of lions and tigers, which are both pack animals, and train using canine standards quite well)


    Proof?


    QUOTE
    This argument is ludicrous, Even dolphins represent pack behivior and normal beheivioral patterns that much more closely resemble human's than dogs do. Not to mention several species of chimpanzees and apes. I'll also point out that you don't use violence or agression in the training of dolphins.


    Dolphins are fundamently different, number one, they are not pets... they are not land based... the comparision between humans and dolphins does not exist.

    Next, there is a reason that dogs are much more popular than chimpanzees and apes for pets. Dogs are generally much more calm, easier to take care of, and generally are just like simplistic human beings.

    QUOTE
    The only thing I dissagree with here is that it ignores the fact that man guides his actions using duelistic principles. Firstly he generates a base decision using past experiance and instinctual tendancies, and secondly he cross checks his decision with intellectually based reasoning. For children simply developing a moral standard into thier instinctual programing may be effective, but adults more and more often won't use instinct as the desisive factor in thier reasoning. thus we should be teaching children to prime thier reasoning abilities, and not only training thier instincts.


    "Firstly he generates a base decision using past experiance and instinctual tendancies, and secondly he cross checks his decision with intellectually based reasoning."

    Nah, this isn't true because intellectually based reasoning is actually the same thing as past experience and instinctual tendancies. Your intellect is your conscience.

    Oh and just for the record, instict is used by adults a lot. A whole lot. Whether they feel attracted to a mate, or fighting in a war, to feeling jealous, to becoming angry... etc. etc. all of your emotions are 'instict'. How we control these emotions is our morals.

    If you think people use their 'intellect' to reason each and every situation, they you have a rude awaking coming to you irl.

    QUOTE
    Just going to ephisize the fact that we are reading a work of fiction here, not a textbook, we are looking at a theory, not a fact.


    Just like to point out that any historical or social analysis is always theory, and never fact. There is no sort of exact science, but I must say Heinman's position is a good one indeed.

    QUOTE
    I question the existance of this 'lazy parent' entity, I have yet to encounter a parent that doesen't at least attemt to raise thier child to the best of thier ability. The fact of the matter is some kids are hard to raise and some parents arn't mentally or phsically equiped to be raising kids. If these 'lazy parents' do indeed exist I would argue that they are at very least the vast minority of the population of parents, an many of the beheivior patterns of childern you are using to place that label on parents are more accurately due to other factors, such as parental ignorance, exposure to harsh living conditions, ineptitude in parenting causing abuse, ineptitude in parenting valuing things over time spent with the child, or mental disability on the part of the parent, to name a few.


    Lazy parents do exist, go to the suburbs or slums of a city to find them in plenty, next, all it takes is a small minority of parents to start screwing it up for others.

    QUOTE
    We choose between training based raising of children, which is, for all intensive purpouses tried tested and true, but may or may not cause phycological instability. Or we choose the somewhat more idealistic learing based rasing of children, which assumes that children will pick up moral values from observation and reasoning, and attemts to stroke that reasoning aspect as often as possible, although running the risk of being really never done before, and potentially far more damaging to the childs sence of moral balance than the former. Personally I prefer the latter, because I am somewhat of an idealist, and I am confident enough in myself to belive that I would pick up on imbalances early enough to correct them, either way, I have come to the conclusion that I really don't want to pick a side here right now, so I'm only going to pick apart arguments of others that I see a falace rather than further elaborating a prospective that I don't really have a grasp on.


    How can children pick up morals from reasoning and observation if one never teaches them?

    Imagine if your math teacher was like that. hahahaha...
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  • SaltzBadSaltzBad Join Date: 2004-02-23 Member: 26833Members Posts: 1,276
    On the same hand, imagine if all your math teacher did was throw problems at you, and smack you when you did it wrong. Punishment is indicative of your failure to communicate and convey understanding correctly, and by far not the backbone of raising a child.

    An understanding needs to be formed first, an incentive to act in a certain way - like in your example, the uses of mathematics. Once those become apparent, adhering to those rules of mathematics is something you'll do out of your own accord wherever possible. However, if all you have is punishment to remind you to not break the rules, you're simply instinctually bound and will provided a lack of threat forget all about these things.

    The same goes for the approach to running a society based on corporal punishment - it does not help breed the desire to co-exist at all, and is hence entirely dependant on a tireless and ever increasing effort to keep everyone in line, until you arrive at the point where you're missing people with the peaceful understanding and desire required to lead or execute such an effort (the very desire that lead you to create such an order in the first place), and the only people left would most likely be executing improperly.

    The logical exception would be if you assumed a dystopia like Orwells, where you posess the power to brainwash everyone to the last synapse. In that case we've just pretty much eliminated sentience though, and that does indeed solve alot of problems.
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  • SwiftspearSwiftspear Custim tital Join Date: 2003-10-29 Member: 22097Members Posts: 7,019
    If a person needed either positive or negitive beheivioral reinforcement to learn, then it would be impossible to learn from a book. I can read a book and in one day know how to do something I never had done before. I learn, I modify my behivior, feeding off niether experiance, nor training...

    Human beings are capable of learning without real training, You don't need to be punished to have beheivioral modifications.
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  • PvtBonesPvtBones Join Date: 2004-04-25 Member: 28187Members Posts: 390
    actually humans and dolphins are much different one example is humans have sex for pleasure, so do dolphins (iirc we and them are the only species on earth to do that)

    people I believe were missing out of and very important piece of the puzzle

    QUOTE
    it takes a village to raise a child


    we are continuing to more into a bigger and bigger cities, people don't form bonds with there neighbors like in smaller communities, I don't even know my nieghbors ( except for names and such) people jsut don't care what happens to teh kid 3 hourses down till after he does where they jsut talk about what he did and what his parents are doing wrong over a cup of coffee.

    I grew up ina small town and I mean like very small, I knew both of my neighbors and some people several blocks away. They knew my parents aswell they talked even if it was jsut once in a blue moon but they talked. I always have strong ties to my grandparents and I learned most of my lessons not by a hand or a belt or any other type of physical means my grandparents taught me most of my basic morals especially my grandfather he was in WW2. he was many horrible things. and almost everytime I went over to there hosue my grandpa would sit me down and talk to me like a human being not liek I was a 3 or 4 or 5 year (even though I was) he knew better than play games about teh topic. he ask me things like "do you know why you shouldn't hurt other people?" and "why is stealing wrong?" and he and I would talk and he would show me why if I didn't know or have half the answer.

    teach your child to respect you and your family and you can go along way in helping his future. respect is made by fists, hands, but though talk, if you need to use physical force(against him) inorder to get your childs respect then you should not be the one teaching your child how to be a good person.


    (sorry about the spelling it's late here and my mind is on it's last breath, but I think I was able to get the message across)
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  • ThE_HeRoThE_HeRo Join Date: 2003-01-25 Member: 12723Members Posts: 1,600
    QUOTE (PvtBones @ Jul 11 2004, 12:27 AM)
    actually humans and dolphins are much alike, one example is humans have sex for pleasure, so do dolphins (iirc we and them are the only species on earth to do that)

    I'm pretty sure monkey's and dogs do as well, I've seen monkey's masturbate at the zoo (imagine the kids that were asking, "and what is THAT monkey doing?), and I used to laugh when my old dogs used to have sex, because they technically couldn't. I know for a fact that dolphin's have sex when they get bored, it was the only thing I learned in Biology. Anyway

    Forlorn: In your post saying that a dolphin is not like a human because its a water animal, that's a terrible arguement. Intellectually, a dolphin and a human are quite alike, and it's been found that dolphin's even communcate with other dolphins via clicks and whistles, their own *spoken* language. Dog's don't have that. Not even chimps have that. Dolphin's also do alot of things for fun, ie. sex. Just because they can't be pets doesn't mean that they're not intellectually alike. And there are pet dolphins, just go look at any zoo. Problem is, they arn't feasible enough for the average, or even wealthy, citizen to own one.

    Anyway, I don't think Heinlein's choice of comparing man to a simple dog is very accurate, but I can see why it was made. Spanking only works on children to a certain age. I was spanked until around the age of 10 or so, and after 10, I could care less if I was spanked, it only hurt for a minute or so, and I could go back to whatever I was doing. So they stopped doing that fast. Now my parents ground me from my car, cell phone, going out, computer/games, etc etc. Taking away those certain privledges tends to stop any bad behavior of mine pretty quickly.

    However, as an adult, sure, Corporal Punishment might cure society temporarily, but sooner or later, most likely very soon, people won't care, and go back to doing whatever crime they commited.

    Offtopic: I'm vacationing in Saint Brieuc, France, in the region called Brittany, so a big shoutout to any forumites that live here.
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  • ScinetScinet Join Date: 2003-01-19 Member: 12489Members, Constellation Posts: 553
    QUOTE (taboofires @ Jun 29 2004 @ 01:26 PM)
    Well, I agree with his thoughts about our current judicial system: punishment does not exist.  Prison is better than living in the slums, which by annoying social and political forces tends to provide the most lawbreaking.


    Excuse me? Am I reading this right? A prison is in no way better than a slum. Of course you can argue that one is less likely to get shot in a prison than in a slum, but a prison has its own established social order and hierarchy, which the guards are also a part of. The fact is that connections and physical strenght run a prison just like they do any other place of residence, except for one major difference: in a prison you can't run.

    Most people who end up in prisons for 1-2 years are likely to return there. No-one wants to hire an ex-con and because it is hard to sustain oneself without some kind of income, many become repeat offenders. Their punishment is thus administered slowly and painfully for a minor initial offense and compared to this even a death sentence seems light. The short stint in prison is not the actual punishment, you see. The actual punishment is that society turns its back on the convict. Sometimes this is understandable, but in most cases it leads to more time behind the bars, and usually an acquired drug dependency during the prison time, if the person is not an addict already before his incarceration.

    The prison system punishes harshly those who require a light punishment, and is surprisingly light on those with huge criminal records and suitable connections. This is a problem that should be seen to, but it's an isolated one and should be dealt with in surgical precision, not with a blunt instrument mauling all convicts black and blue.

    ---

    The french philosopher Foucault compared the society to a panopticon prison. The panopticon prison is an old penitentiary system where the entire prison is overseen from an imposing central tower called the panopticon, ie. the all-seeing eye. Because the guards in the tower are shielded from the eyes of the convicts, yet they can see the convicts all the time, the tower instills in the prisoners a strong feeling of paranoia. Because they cannot know if there are guards in the tower at any given moment or not, they will naturally assume that they are being watched all the time. Thus paranoia becomes the number one order-instilling factor in the prison.

    The modern society is indeed built upon the panopticon model where even those tempted to break the laws are kept in check by constant fear of authority. Of course this does not work perfectly, since some members of the society do not care whether they are being watched or no, and some can see ways to circumvent the supervision. In fact, because people can actually see into the tower, its appearance becomes less frightening and more human, and in doing so the fear it instills is lifted. While the panopticon model is flawed, it is infinitely better than the more evolved model hinted by right wing authors and thinkers as a desirable one. This model could be called the randomopticon.

    From what I know of Heinlein I admire his idea of duty instead of paranoia as the basic pillar of society. I do not see duty as something militaristic. Instead I believe that our duty as members of the society is to contribute to the well-being of all its members. The western ideal of individuality conflicts with this belief, not because being an individual is wrong or unwanted behaviour, but because our hedonistic view of achieving individual happiness usually costs someone else theirs.

    This model of thought emphasises values and upbringing. It was established earlier in this thread that a human is not born morally conscious. This is why we should take the time to raise our children properly and teach them to contribute to the society. We should be taught that giving and seeking help are something that must not be shirked from or ashamed of. After all, the members of a functional society should exist solely to support eachother and in doing so support the entire society. Also, we need to stop being afraid. Just because the entire intricate system we call the society is a monolithic construct of such dimensions that its every facet is almost impossible to grasp, we should not cower in front of it. Just because it seems unmovable, unchangeable due to its sheer size does not mean we cannot try. The time of revolutions is over, it's time to take part instead of deconstructing.
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