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Re: Exceptionless rules and rules that hold only for the most part

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  • Grioghair McCord
    Good Day All, I still don t understand how it can *ever* be unjust to steal a car, unless one concedes the existence of another category of harm other than the
    Message 1 of 6 , Aug 1, 2004
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      Good Day All,

      I still don't understand how it can *ever* be unjust to steal a car, unless one
      concedes the existence of another category of harm other than the usual
      strict Stoic understanding of harm. (harm in the realm of indifferents) - this
      was the point of my post. Dave argued that my argument for the necessity of
      engagement in political judgements and acts was incomplete since, I did not
      demonstrate that people are harmed by the unjust actions of a tyrant, since in
      a Stoic understanding of harm, these people are not really harmed (the
      abuse by the tyrant, in and of itself does not make them vicious, hence they
      are not harmed). I responded by conceding that although these people were
      not harmed *in the strict Stoic sense* nonetheless they did suffer some form
      of harm. My statement about the car thief was made in an attempt to show,
      that unless one concedes that there is a category of harm (physical and
      mental suffering), experienced by non-sages, strictly speaking , there can be
      no such thing as injustice to another individual. I believe that Malcolm is
      correct when he writes:

      "A basis of Stoic Ethics is the the whole is more important than the
      parts that constitute it. The city is more important than the
      citizan. Stealing is harmful to the life of the society, and is
      vicious on that account, even if the individual car thief is not
      motivated by passion."

      But... harmful in this passage is not used in the 'strict Stoic sense' either (i.e. -
      only one's own virtue and acts motivated by virtue can benefit oneself, and
      only one's own vice and acts motivated by vice can harm oneself)
      Malcolm's argument too hinges on whether we are willing to concede that
      there is a real category of harm in the realm of indifferents which is different
      to the absolute understanding of harm, in the realm of virtue and vice.

      Of course one might argue, that the disruption of the stable society is only
      harmful, because it is detrimental to the exercise of virtue, but then we run up
      against the same brick wall again, that the disruption of society cannot be
      detrimental to virtue since, only our own acts can make us virtuous or vicious.

      I really don't see a way out of this, except to concede 2 categories of harm (in
      no way equal - but at two different levels). Which, if one is willing to concede,
      justifies my original argument (see post 7742) that, it is incumbent upon the
      Stoic to engage in political judgements and acts.

      Tell me if I'm off track. (I expect nothing less of you guys!)

      Best Wishes,
      Grioghair



      --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, Jan E Garrett <jangarrett@j...> wrote:
      > I agree with those who say that it might (rarely) be one's appropriate
      > action to "steal" a car, in the sense of taking someone's car without his
      > or her permission. This is recognized in various situations when it is
      > even regarded as legal to "commandeer" a car. Thus human law
      recognizes
      > exceptions. If it is possible that in some jurisdictions the (human) law
      > does not recognize such exceptions and does not permit us rightly to
      > rename what might otherwise be stealing as commandeering, then what
      might
      > be naturally just in the circumstances would be legally, i.e., by human
      > law, unjust.
      >
      > There has been a considerable debate among scholars over the past 15
      > years whether the Stoic natural law ever implies exceptionless rules
      > (other than the more or less empty rule "thou shalt always follow the
      > natural law"). One scholar, who argues that it sometimes does, refers to
      > Socrates' position in the Crito (by Plato), where he takes it as a
      > virtual axiom that "One should never return injustice for injustice."
      > (The scholar's point is part of a larger argument that the early Stoics
      > were more indebted to accounts of Socrates by his contemporaries than
      > most people with acquaintance of Stoicism are inclined to think.)
    • John
      I would refer anyone interested in this line of thought to the Cambridge Companion to The Stoics, note on page 287. It says that the Sage might find it
      Message 2 of 6 , Aug 1, 2004
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        I would refer anyone interested in this line of thought to the
        Cambridge Companion to The Stoics, note on page 287. It says that the
        Sage might find it appropriate to save a drowning child, not because
        the outcome affects his goodness or badness, but because doing so
        sets up the correct pattern of indifferents. In other circumstances
        he might find it appropriate to drown a child, 'like and unwanted
        puppy'.
      • Papini, Mauricio
        In my opinion, Grioghair s argument fails to recognize that people do suffer harm, according to the Stoic argument. There is only one state of harm (not two)
        Message 3 of 6 , Aug 1, 2004
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          In my opinion, Grioghair's argument fails to recognize that people do suffer harm, according to the Stoic argument. There is only one state of "harm" (not two) and it may be suffered by those who take externals as their own property. When a tyrant acts to remove these people's externals, they feel harmed and suffer. Now, Stoics would argue that they do not need to, but not that they do not know that they are not suffering. So, a Stoic may find it a matter of duty to help others to alleviate their pain, whether by conforting them (as a father, as somebody argued in a compelling metaphor), or by teaching them how to avoid suffering (as a teacher-philosopher, in Epictetus sense).

          For the sage, a tyrant cannot produce any harm because the sage has a way of dealing with these acts so as to dissolve the judgments that would normally (in the nonsage) generate passion.

          Best wishes, Mauricio.


          -----Original Message-----
          From: Grioghair McCord [mailto:gregmc@...]
          Sent: Sun 8/1/2004 03:29
          To: stoics@yahoogroups.com
          Cc:
          Subject: [stoics] Re: Exceptionless rules and rules that hold only for the most part


          Good Day All,

          I still don't understand how it can *ever* be unjust to steal a car, unless one
          concedes the existence of another category of harm other than the usual
          strict Stoic understanding of harm. (harm in the realm of indifferents) - this
          was the point of my post. Dave argued that my argument for the necessity of
          engagement in political judgements and acts was incomplete since, I did not
          demonstrate that people are harmed by the unjust actions of a tyrant, since in
          a Stoic understanding of harm, these people are not really harmed (the
          abuse by the tyrant, in and of itself does not make them vicious, hence they
          are not harmed). I responded by conceding that although these people were
          not harmed *in the strict Stoic sense* nonetheless they did suffer some form
          of harm. My statement about the car thief was made in an attempt to show,
          that unless one concedes that there is a category of harm (physical and
          mental suffering), experienced by non-sages, strictly speaking , there can be
          no such thing as injustice to another individual. I believe that Malcolm is
          correct when he writes:

          "A basis of Stoic Ethics is the the whole is more important than the
          parts that constitute it. The city is more important than the
          citizan. Stealing is harmful to the life of the society, and is
          vicious on that account, even if the individual car thief is not
          motivated by passion."

          But... harmful in this passage is not used in the 'strict Stoic sense' either (i.e. -
          only one's own virtue and acts motivated by virtue can benefit oneself, and
          only one's own vice and acts motivated by vice can harm oneself)
          Malcolm's argument too hinges on whether we are willing to concede that
          there is a real category of harm in the realm of indifferents which is different
          to the absolute understanding of harm, in the realm of virtue and vice.

          Of course one might argue, that the disruption of the stable society is only
          harmful, because it is detrimental to the exercise of virtue, but then we run up
          against the same brick wall again, that the disruption of society cannot be
          detrimental to virtue since, only our own acts can make us virtuous or vicious.

          I really don't see a way out of this, except to concede 2 categories of harm (in
          no way equal - but at two different levels). Which, if one is willing to concede,
          justifies my original argument (see post 7742) that, it is incumbent upon the
          Stoic to engage in political judgements and acts.

          Tell me if I'm off track. (I expect nothing less of you guys!)

          Best Wishes,
          Grioghair



          --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, Jan E Garrett <jangarrett@j...> wrote:
          > I agree with those who say that it might (rarely) be one's appropriate
          > action to "steal" a car, in the sense of taking someone's car without his
          > or her permission. This is recognized in various situations when it is
          > even regarded as legal to "commandeer" a car. Thus human law
          recognizes
          > exceptions. If it is possible that in some jurisdictions the (human) law
          > does not recognize such exceptions and does not permit us rightly to
          > rename what might otherwise be stealing as commandeering, then what
          might
          > be naturally just in the circumstances would be legally, i.e., by human
          > law, unjust.
          >
          > There has been a considerable debate among scholars over the past 15
          > years whether the Stoic natural law ever implies exceptionless rules
          > (other than the more or less empty rule "thou shalt always follow the
          > natural law"). One scholar, who argues that it sometimes does, refers to
          > Socrates' position in the Crito (by Plato), where he takes it as a
          > virtual axiom that "One should never return injustice for injustice."
          > (The scholar's point is part of a larger argument that the early Stoics
          > were more indebted to accounts of Socrates by his contemporaries than
          > most people with acquaintance of Stoicism are inclined to think.)



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        • Dave Kelly
          Hi Grioghair, ... I disagree with this. I believe that the viciousness, the evil, is, or results from, a false value-judgment, a passion. The harm, the evil,
          Message 4 of 6 , Aug 2, 2004
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            Hi Grioghair,

            > I believe that Malcolm is
            > correct when he writes:
            >
            > "A basis of Stoic Ethics is the the whole is more important than the
            > parts that constitute it. The city is more important than the
            > citizan. Stealing is harmful to the life of the society, and is
            > vicious on that account, even if the individual car thief is not
            > motivated by passion."

            I disagree with this. I believe that the viciousness, the evil, is, or
            results from, a false value-judgment, a passion. The harm, the evil,
            is suffered by the one who made the false value-judgment, or anyone
            who incorrectly assents to the idea that their moral character, their
            true self, has been harmed by the action.

            The disorder that is brought to society by stealing is only an
            apparent evil. The disorder would, therefore be an example of your
            second category of 'harm', Jan's C-harm, a dispreferred indifferent;
            and we are obligated to treat it as such.

            Best wishes,
            Dave

            --
            PTypes
            http://www.geocities.com/ptypes/
          • Keith Seddon
            Hello Grioghair, ... unless one concedes the existence of another category of harm other than the usual strict Stoic understanding of harm.
            Message 5 of 6 , Aug 2, 2004
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              Hello Grioghair,

              >>>I still don't understand how it can *ever* be unjust to steal a car,
              unless one concedes the existence of another category of harm other than the
              usual strict Stoic understanding of harm.<<<

              To claim that an action is contrary to justice we do not need to show that
              the action has harmed anyone -- indeed, the fundamental Stoic principle is
              that good and bad reside entirely within each person, to be understood as
              qualitities of character.

              The Stoic, when treated unjustly, recognises no harm to themselves, for the
              injustice causes harm to the agent. When they are treated justly, they
              recognise no good to themselves, for the just action causes good to the
              agent. This is in contrast with other people who find harm and suffering in
              the unjust actions perpetrated against them.

              An action is unjust, not because it really harms someone else, even if they
              think they have been harmed. The action is unjust because it is contrary to
              nature.

              The virtues establish ideals for actions of various kinds that are in
              accordance with nature. An action which faces hardship and suffering with
              courage, is virtuous and in accordance with nature. As is the action which
              respects other people -- that is a just act. As is an action that master's
              one's passions, for that is self-control. The fourth virtue, wisdom, is
              harder to define in such brief terms, and perhaps can be applied to all
              types of action, including the courageous, just, and continent ones, and
              perhaps can be thought of as an approach one should take to one's life and
              its component projects when considered from a wider perspective.

              Best wishes,

              Keith
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