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Humanism and Progressive Taxation
Posted: 01 December 2006 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Why do you think Bush wanted to retain both houses of Congress? Because without them, the Democrats have subpoena power

Republicans? Democrats? I don’t think it really makes any difference. The poor will always will be poor, no matter who is in the White House or the Congress. Are the Democrats or the Republicans ‘the good guys’? They make us (you) believe that we have a choice to try to pursue the ‘ideal’, but…do we really? I sometime imagine being a king on a small island, trying to figure out how to maintain my kingdom alive. I am sure that if I was in such a position I would certainly try some of the “tricks” politicians often use: freedom, democracy, maybe even a religion. :wink:

I will reply to the rest of your post when I feel competent to do so. (I have never heard of the Magna Carta). I think I could be arguing about something I don’t really understand. :?

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Posted: 01 December 2006 05:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Doug: Dawkins and Pinker are not biological determinists, FYI.

They lean there far enough for me, thank you.

Barry wrote:
But actually, since humans do have the dispositions though our biological heritage to be either self-interested (and self-centered), or to have an extended self-interest (which shows itself as empathy and cooperation), our culture and environment plays the key role then of acting on our biology… allowing the expression or supression of such genes.


Doug replied: Dawkins and Pinker would both agree with this.

Then why are so many biologists and others saying otherwise?  Are they all wrong and the sociobiologists and EP’s of Dawkins’/Pinker’s brand right?

Barry wrote:
Capitalism in its uber-competitiveness, greed, emphasis on profit above people, free-market dog-eat-dog cut-throat attidudes and, in the end, its major inequality which leaves the top 10% of the world in political and economic power, and the botton 10% in utter dispair…. Well, it does not take much imagination to see what becomes of human behavior under such a system. Our negative tendencies (which are fewer than our positive) become greatly increased… And while our emotional pain and desensitization increases, born as it is of capitalism, our positive tendencies become less and less able to be expressed.

Doug: Capitalism, however, and competition generally, are natural states of affairs for humans. They spring up unbidden. Where they are forcibly suppressed this only results in the creation of a “black market”, which is capitalistic in itself and more cutthroat in being illegal and as a result unregulated.

Forgive Doug, fellow humanists, for he knows not of what he speaks. :evil:

George Benedik - Sure. But I still believe that it is our “selfishness” that created Capitalism, not the other way around. I remember, as a kid in Czechoslovakia, people being equally greedy. With one deference: instead of taking (stealing?) from each other, they stole from the state.

The State and Market Economy also causes selfishness in reaction to them.  Along with capitalism, they go far to bring out the worse in us.

George - And I still believe (to follow in Pinker’s and Dawkins’s footsteps) we are selfish due to biological reasons, not political. When you get a throat infection, you take antibiotics and kill the bacteria. Why? Because only one of you can win.

I think human society needs to be a bit more forward looking than that, George.  Survival is not the whole game.. except for those we keep poor and desolute, of course

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Posted: 02 December 2006 04:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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[quote author=“Barry”]Doug replied: Dawkins and Pinker would both agree with this.

Then why are so many biologists and others saying otherwise?  Are they all wrong and the sociobiologists and EP’s of Dawkins’/Pinker’s brand right?

Because there is a lot of caricaturing of opponents’ positions in this argument. People who attack Pinker and Dawkins all too often make them into straw men. Neither Pinker nor Dawkins is a “biological determinist”, as neither claims that genes determine behavior, or indeed, even the phenotype. Environment always has an important role to play.

I have quoted elsewhere the original ending to Dawkins’s Selfish Gene, where he says: “We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators. (p. 201)” Now, in this book, Dawkins got perhaps as close as he ever did to biological determinism. But even there, he made quite clear that the determination was not 100%, and that we had the ability to behave in opposition to our genes. Indeed, we do this every time we have sex using contraception.

Both Pinker and Dawkins talk at length about the evolution of cooperation and altruism, and both believe that we have a drive to behave cooperatively that comes from a biological, genetic basis. Both believe that we have dispositions to behave in both self-centered and altruistic ways, and that culture and environment can help determine in which way we actually do behave.

[quote author=“Barry”]Doug: Capitalism, however, and competition generally, are natural states of affairs for humans. They spring up unbidden. Where they are forcibly suppressed this only results in the creation of a “black market”, which is capitalistic in itself and more cutthroat in being illegal and as a result unregulated.

Forgive Doug, fellow humanists, for he knows not of what he speaks.

Based on what evidence? Competition is a clear human trait, indeed it is a trait of animals generally. You yourself have said, above, that humans have the disposition to be self-interested. That’s all it is to say that this is a “natural state of affairs” for us. (Please, let’s not caricature the position by claiming I argue it is our only natural state). Further, barter, exchange and interchange of goods is a cultural universal. This is basically proto-capitalistic. As cultures get more complex and sophisticated, money is invented as the commodity of interchange. Money was developed independently by many human societies for the very purpose of facilitating interchange of goods. Money (as capital) is arguably the most important and critical invention in the evolution of the capitalist system.

Clearly capitalism in the modern sense does require some sort of sophisticated social organization, including laws for property rights and the like.

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Posted: 11 January 2007 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Re: around long enough…

[quote author=“Barry”]Capitalism in its uber-competitiveness, greed, emphasis on profit above people, free-market dog-eat-dog cut-throat attidudes and, in the end, its major inequality which leaves the top 10% of the world in political and economic power, and the botton 10% in utter dispair…. Well, it does not take much imagination to see what becomes of human behavior under such a system.  Our negative tendencies (which are fewer than our positive) become greatly increased… And while our emotional pain and desensitization increases, born as it is of capitalism, our positive tendencies become less and less able to be expressed.

You don’t see these terrible things you describe, as being a consequence of coercive institutions like the state being coupled with the competitive instinct? In other words, wouldn’t it be more accurate to describe the economy of the United States, as really just a competitive mercantilism, and not “capitalism”, in the sense of the free market?

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Posted: 11 January 2007 05:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Re: Humanism and Progressive Taxation

[quote author=“Barry”]To learn more about inclusive democracy or participatory economics, read the works of Takis Fotopoulos and Michael Albert. Capitalism and hierarchal democracy have failed any and all tests of humanistic morality, as philosopher Ted Honderich has noted in his book, “Right and Wrong,” just as miserably as has statist socialism or communism; reforming what is broken will not work.

Thank you for these references, Barry! Amazon, here I come…  smile

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