Freedom and Greed

Levi Pearson levi at cold.org
Tue Jan 22 15:12:41 MST 2008


"William Attwood" <wattwood at gmail.com> writes:
>
> I was going to go down the serial killer route.... There isn't a universal
> right to life and property; some cultures live in such a way that there is
> no property ownership-- everyone in the society has equal access to all
> items, and they may simply leave them behind when they move on; is it
> temporary ownership, soceity ownership, or no ownership-- up to you to
> assume, I guess..

I would suspect that if someone is currently using something, and
another person snuck up on them and took it before they were finished
using it, it would be considered wrong.  Voluntarily relinquishing a
given piece of property is different from having it involuntarily
taken.  Protecting this right is one of the fundamental purposes of
society, but it gets taken care of in different ways.  The one you
illustrate is very different than ours, but it's protecting the same
basic right.

> If you take a gander outside of the box, you'll notice that most of what you
> believe, know, and agree to be true, is only so based on your society, and
> is in no way universal..  Everything is based on society, and it's up to us
> to adhere to what our society believes to be right and wrong, or not to and
> suffer the consequences (good, or bad).  Focus on my above use of the word
> agree.. We all agree with what we are comfortable with or what we are pushed
> into; that doesn't mean it's universal, that just means we have validated it
> ourselves in a way that we can agree with it.

I agree that we're highly context-sensitive beings, and that certainly
our societies have built up cultural norms that do vary from culture
to culture.  I don't think this rules out the concept of universal
ethical principles, though they way in which different cultures
express those principles will vary.  I also believe that in some
cases, cultures will embrace things that are morally wrong, and aren't
justified in doing so just because they are able to and they all (or
at least sufficient numbers to enforce it) agree to it.

I'm probably not going to be able to talk you out of your relativism,
though, so I guess we'll have to leave it at that.

                --Levi



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