[ExI] Religions and violence.

samantha sjatkins at mac.com
Mon Aug 2 22:10:26 UTC 2010

Jebadiah Moore wrote:
> Hi, I'm new here.  My name is Jebadiah Moore, pleased to meet you.
> 2010/8/2 samantha <sjatkins at mac.com <mailto:sjatkins at mac.com>>
>     The "community" is only a collection of individuals.  It has no
>     special rights that trump those of the individuals it is composed of.
> I'm not going to go into rights or how they should be assigned, but I 
> think your assumption that a community is "only" a collection of 
> individuals is faulty on two levels.
> First, you can look at "the principle that the good of the community 
> takes priority over that of the individual" as saying that whenever  a 
> decision must be made where one option aides many and one option aides 
> only one, the "right" choice is the one which aides the many.  I don't 
> think this is quite how Hitler meant it, but it is quite possible to 
> create a rule favoring the community (= a group of individuals) 
> without recognizing any special status of a community separate from 
> its constituents.

This is the wrong way to look at it.  Either individuals have rights 
just on the basis of being human beings or they do not.  If they do then 
it does not matter how many may benefit from violating those rights.  It 
is still wrong.  It is also wrong in that it implies that any 
numerically more numerous group may do whatever it wishes in principle 
both to every individual in that community and to the community itself.  
By such reasoning if it seems to the majority of the world more 
beneficial to destroy the US and parcel the assets thereof and of its 
citizens to everyone else then you would have no moral objection.   
> Second, and more importantly, a community ought to be thought of as an 
> entity in its own right, not just as a collection of individuals. 
>  Saying that a community is only a collection of individuals is like 
> saying that a human is only a collection of cells.  It's true, in the 
> sense that a community is composed entirely of individuals (well, plus 
> perhaps some cultural artifacts, memes, etc.), but it's a bad way of 
> looking at things because it makes you miss the forest for the trees.
It is your assertion it ought to be thought of as not only an entity but 
as an entity with more rights than possessed by the individuals that 
comprise it.   And no, it is not the same thing as the cell-body analogy 
does not accurately map to the relationship of an individual human being 
to a community.

> Now, whether or not you want to assign value to the community 
> separately from individuals is really your call.  But it's pretty 
> clear that it's worthwhile to view a community as an entity (due to 
> various emergent phenomena), and that a lot of people do view 
> communities this way, and that people *value* communities this way. 
>  In particular, they seem invested in trying to maintain the 
> stability, influence, and "essence" (as they perceive it) of the 
> communities they belong to, both during their own lifetimes and into 
> the future.  Perhaps this is a social simulacrum of the evolutionary 
> drive to support your gene pool.
> Regardless of whether you value communities separately or not, it 
> seems quite possible to make the argument that, at least in many 
> forms, the assignment of value to communities and the resulting 
> behaviors work to decrease individual happiness.  Of course, I can 
> also think of ways in which valuing the community increases individual 
> happiness.  I'd love to hear your arguments, since you seem to feel 
> strongly about this ("The widespread belief that it does is precisely 
> what makes horrors such as Nazism possible.  It is what is destroying 
> even that one time symbol of deepest appreciation of the individual 
> and individual rights, America.").
You have already heard the core argument.    It is not a mere topic for 

- samantha

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