Is the world getting better or worse?

Serious discussions on politics, religion, and the like.

Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby RyukaTana » Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:47 pm

fnordstar wrote:I very strongly agree that any justification of bigotry is entirely wrong. But I see a right as a freedom which you can only get by limiting the freedoms of others. So, for instance, the freedom to go kill someone is restricted to create the right to live without fear of your life.

A big issue in the UK right now is the homophobes claiming a right to conscience - to not have to recognise and conduct gay marriages. They are concerned that there's no legal justification for them to discriminate against homosexuals under current equality legislation. They believe that their right to practice religious beliefs against homosexuals trumps the right of others to marry who they want. My point is, rights can conflict with each other.

The irony is, many priests aren't homophobic, and feel that the conservatives are trying to limit their right to practice religion by not allowing them to conduct gay marriages. But I'm getting off topic here, sorry.


I have two sets of definitions I might apply to the word 'rights'. Neither has contradictions of that sort. For instance, in the first definition, I do have the right to kill someone, and they do not have the right to live without fear of their lives (except in that they have the right to choose not to fear). However, they also have the right to kill me, and ideally we agree that it's stupid for us to be doing that.

In my second definition, which is based on ethics, there's no 'right' to bigotry. If you're an asshole, and want to stop people from getting married for your stupid, selfish, religious (or non-religious) bullshit, you forfeit other rights you might have, and fuck you otherwise. Now, as a priest, one has the right NOT to marry anyone they don't want, but I sincerely doubt that would be that big a hindrance if gay marriage weren't actively opposed.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby fnordstar » Fri Aug 23, 2013 4:29 pm

JustinReilly wrote:I'm curious, fnordstar, are these Anglican priests or civil servants that don't want to conduct the marriages?


There are Anglican priests who don't want to conduct church marriages. Technically, they won't have to under British law, but the European Court of Human Rights can override those decisions, they're worried that if that happens they'll have to conduct gay marriages or discriminate.

Their answer is to limit the power of priests who would like to conduct gay marriages. This is really weird. There was even talk of a law that would ban the established Church from deciding to conduct gay marriages without further legislation. This was okay for the Church of England, who have their own constitutional body capable of passing national laws, but would have effectively banned the Church of Wales from making their own decisions on gay marriage. Religion by government edict. In the name of religious freedom. The world is odd.

Ryuka, your definition seems odd to me. How do you work out what a right is? Basing rights on ethics means that a homophobic group could make the same argument: they believe they're ethically right, everyone in the wrong forfeits their rights.

Surely, a lot of rights only apply to people in the wrong. For instance, if you get arrested and are in the wrong you still have a right to a lawyer, fair treatment, etc. These rights are not just because you may be innocent. They come bundled in with being a human being.

Anyway, I am really sorry for taking things off-topic. It wasn't intentional.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby RyukaTana » Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:08 pm

fnordstar wrote:Ryuka, your definition seems odd to me. How do you work out what a right is? Basing rights on ethics means that a homophobic group could make the same argument: they believe they're ethically right, everyone in the wrong forfeits their rights.


To me, a right is one of two things. Either, by my 'first' definition, something of which I am capable. I can kill you, so it's my right. In this system, rights really have no ethical value or really any purpose other than to describe my naturally given capabilities.

Or, by my 'second' definition, a right is behavior I may partake in ethically. Tailsteak once noted:

Tailsteak wrote:I always try to explain that I believe certain actions may be immoral (i.e., contrary to a religion or worldview) but not unethical (i.e., contrary to the greater good of society).


'Homophobia' falls clearly in the category of 'contrary to the greater good of society' as far as I am concerned. I will never accept otherwise, and I don't honestly give two shits what anyone who wants to believe the contrary thinks about ethics. They're wrong. Dead. Fucking. Wrong. The only doubt I have for that is the inherent doubt I have for everything. In the end, it's not enough for me to care for even a second what a homophobic person thinks about the subject. They are acting on 'morality' which is not a 'right' (ethically) they have to push on other people.

As Tailsteak further declared:

Tailsteak wrote:While one may strictly enforce morals in one's own life, I elaborate, in a pluralistic society, the only standard to which one can hold others is the standard of ethics.


fnordstar wrote:Surely, a lot of rights only apply to people in the wrong. For instance, if you get arrested and are in the wrong you still have a right to a lawyer, fair treatment, etc. These rights are not just because you may be innocent. They come bundled in with being a human being.


I disagree, these rights are exactly because 'you may be innocent'. That's the only reason anyone should need to have the right to defend themselves (again, in the ethical sense). I do not ascribe some special rights to 'being a human being'. It is for the greater good of society that we do not mistreat the possibly innocent, to the best of our ability. People (and animals, and to whatever ability plants can be, etc.) deserve to be happy and healthy, and being 'possibly guilty' does not remove that right. Being 'guilty' of a breach of ethics, might, but ethically, it is not okay to mistreat someone on a 'maybe' or even a 'pretty sure'. History has clearly shown how far and fast that rolls downhill (and still does, even when our 'ethical standards' are supposedly 'higher').

fnorstar wrote:Anyway, I am really sorry for taking things off-topic. It wasn't intentional.


I think this is all entirely on topic, or at least inherently related. I presume Merle intended (even if not on an entirely conscious level) to spark debate.
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Re: Is the world getting better or worse?

Postby JoshOfSpam » Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:13 pm

Merle wrote:More importantly - is there any good way of measuring the rate at which it is improving or degrading?

This Cracked article brought it to mind, but I'm often given to thinking that the world today is better - that humanity is better off, on the whole - than it ever has been before - but am I just fooling myself? I can think of a few criteria that can be measured - poverty rates, rates of malnutrition and crime and disease, freedom of thought and expression, statistics about war - but what I'm curious about is, have any of you ever put real thought into mathematically measuring the progress of humanity?

Hmmmmm...considering what people before us had to deal with, maybe the worlds a better place.

Maybe it could be better. Of coarse a thing to remember about problems that have been accumulating for a while will most likely take almost the same amount of time to fix.
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