[LMB] OT: Fairness and such genes, was Philosophy Re: Bringing it back to LMB

Paula Lieberman paal at gis.net
Wed Sep 14 16:04:13 BST 2011

The word that I wanted instead of "fairness" is stubbornly resisting me
thinking of it at the moment.  However.... experiments even with animals
indicate that the animals generally get annoyed when there is in effect
cheating at getting a fair share of food and such.... Being helpful and
generous and such to others, is something that appears to actually have an
innate genetic component to it.... humans who don't have it get labelled
sociopathic or psychopathic.

There -are- environmental components, such as
training/readering/education/observation/experience and reward/punishment to
try to inculcate values (or acquisition of values by osmosis...) regarding
socially desired/accepable/allowed/exemplary behavior.  TV and film can be
very pernicious influences regarding behavior, the more compelling the
scene, the more learning happens.  People see things and imitate it,
consciously or not, everything from speech patterns and clothing, to hair
coloring, purchases, or even consciously modeling oneself after others, in
fact or in fiction.

Observation and experience tend to include learning, "helpfulness to others
tends to them tending to be helpful to you."  Fairness tends to breed
fairness, except in cultures and situations where there is institutionalized
inequity and values which promote/enforce the inequities... Henry Ford in
many things was a despicable bigot, but he did have the value that the
workers in his factories, should be treated and paid well enough to afford
and be consumers of the products they were making, and have a stake in at
least that much, in producing products they could be proud to be involved
in, and have that pride manifest as the products having quality, and being
products they were not only making, but could and would take pride in buying
and being owners of.    The counter to that, one example being the old
Soviet system, had people working in factories making products that the
workers had no personal stakes in as regards quality, the merchandise was
shoddy, the workers were often drunk, and there were no rewards for higher
production or better quality.... a worker whose work was higher quality, or
who produced more, got the coworkers upset for making them look like
slackers (especially if they were slackers).  Workers didn't get rewarded
for better quality or high production.  The incentive to work hard and 
excel, wasn;t there--because there were negative rewards and benefits 

Some cultures, such as Barrayar and cultures which Barrayar reflect, have 
"honor" and "loyalty" values and mythos which focus on honor and loyalty and 
fealty as cultural icons--the media of exchange on Barrayar including 
oathings of subordinate to master, and implicit responsibilities of masters 
to protect and nurture subordinates.  Issues with the Soviet system, were 
that there were no call them moral checks upon responsibilities.... in 
dog-eat-dog capitalism (Jackson's Whole) the profit and greed are the ruling 
values, but apparently there is The Deal which exercises some governing... 
there needs to be -something- used as control mechanism.  In the case of 
"fairness" there is the situation of involvement of an expectation, that in 
return for being late in the line, those up ahead won't take -everything- 
but will consider those later in the line....  ah, the word I wanted earlier 
is "altruism."

-----Original Message----- 
From: JenL
Sent: Sunday, September 11, 2011 10:36 PM
To: Discussion of the works of Lois McMaster Bujold.
Subject: [LMB] Philosophy Re: Bringing it back to LMB

On Sun, Sep 11, 2011 at 8:49 PM, Elizabeth Holden <azurite at rogers.com>wrote:

> Hmm. I just walked in on this one.
> Because in my philosophy, the greatest good is to minimize suffering and
> to
> foster happiness, love of life, and moral enlightenment; and for each of
> us
> to do what we can to make others happier; and for us to leave the world
> better than we found it if it is at all in our power to do so.
> This seems rational to me.
Similarly, my notions of morality and ethics are essentially "leave the
world a better place for your having been a part of it".  Which requires
both a "don't harm others" set of specifics and a "do your best to help
others and improve things" set of specifics.


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