Old 01-8-2019, 05:48 AM   #1
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Default Speech, Power, and Responsibility

Part of this is for a sanity check, since I just finished a pretty disconcerting conversation with some friends, but anyway -----

Do those with power have a higher moral responsibility w/r/t their actions and words compared to others? How responsible are they for the actions of people they affect? If somebody else carries out an act in your name, what are you obligated to do to repent? (This includes with misinterpretations of your words)

An obvious example is with Nietzsche --- the philosophy of the Ubermensch was famously mischaracterized by Hitler, who used it to justify genocide and the rise of the Third Reich. How responsible does that make Nietzsche for the Third Reich? How obligated was he to take action? (In reality, he strongly disavowed National Socialism and anti-semitism, but he passed before the end of WWII)

A lesser example is with JK Rowling, who is known to include several problematic passages in the "Harry Potter" series. One that comes to mind is the story of Hermione and Kreacher, wherein Hermione tries to free the house elves from indentured servitude, but Kreacher basically tells her that the house elves live to be servants and don't know what they would do if they actually had freedom. Naturally people saw the connections between this and American slavery apologism (with Kreacher as "Uncle Tom") and criticized her for not being more thoughtful. Did she have a heightened responsibility to be careful with what she was saying, considering that she was an internationally best-selling author? And that children paid strong attention to the words she wrote? Does she have a responsibility to publicly recontextualize that passage?

I personally think that those with more power have a higher moral responsibility to "do the right thing" than those of lower status. It's why I'm more concerned with Rowling spewing toxic bullshit than I am with Anon#2143 doing the same --- your actions have consequences, and the larger your audience/circle of influence, the more consequences there are.

It's also why I think Jordan B. Peterson is so evil. He has a sizable fanbase; people listen to him. He's also fairly good with rhetoric, so he's able to say something innocuous like "lobsters are motivated by serotonin" to present a sinister, subliteral dogma without having to use the words "systems of oppression are necessary for human societies to progress". And, of course, because all he's talking about is lobsters, he's able to wriggle his way out of any criticism with "that's not what I meant!" He assumes no responsibility for his TRUE denotations and more or less forces the task of interpretation of all his statements onto others. It's a classic case of cowardly dog-whistling --- despite his power and influence, he doesn't want to dirty his hands by actually admitting what his actual beliefs are. Beliefs that he knowingly tries to convey to his impressionable audience.
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Old 01-8-2019, 06:35 AM   #2
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Default Re: Speech, Power, and Responsibility

i believe everyone has the right to speak their mind ,if someone happens to follow another's ideology and takes action based on it then they're accountable for it as long as they have followed said ideology freely(families enforcing religions, schools enforcing ideologies and such all dont fit) the only time the first party would be accountable is when the person who took action isn't there to take the blame.

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Do those with power have a higher moral responsibility w/r/t their actions and words compared to others?
Generally yes. the bigger the action that's taken the more responsible they'd be.
It's ok to drop the responsibility if you're sure the other party isn't gonna take any drastic action(making edgy jokes with your friends)

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How responsible are they for the actions of people they affect? If somebody else carries out an act in your name, what are you obligated to do to repent? (This includes with misinterpretations of your words)
it mostly depends on how large the scale of the action is, if what i happen to say ends up starting a nuclear war then yes i am very much responsible, if it only ends up making a little kid stop believing in santa claus then it's fiine monkaS

I wouldn't say they're obliged to repent that's optional, the thing that may be obliged is punishment on them depending on how grave the action was.

usually in everyday talk non of this takes place(the actions) and if someone seems like they may do I'd personally avoid talking to them in my free time, maby give them a well thought talk then stop at that.
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Old 01-8-2019, 10:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: Speech, Power, and Responsibility

I think it's less that people in power have a higher moral responsibility flat out and more has to do with the more people you have an influence over, the more people will expect and hold those people in power to higher moral standards than someone with less influence.

In my opinion, there's been a general social movement lately against digging up past statements, and using that as ammunition towards muddying the impression of people that are held to higher moral standards than others due to their influence.

If I'm understanding the final question correctly (If somebody else carries out an act in your name, what are you obligated to do to repent? (This includes with misinterpretations of your words), if someone just randomly carries out an act in your name, it's fraud. If you asked someone to do something and they misinterpreted and get in trouble doing so, then in my opinion it should be clarified to the third party about that misinterpretation and direct blame, or take the blame yourself and then let that person know yourself (within a business scenario for example). If someone carries out an act without your notice under your name, again, that's fraud/deception and is illegal in a workplace setting.

Forgive me, for I only read the questions and added responses for them, I didn't read the whole post walao
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Old 01-8-2019, 10:40 AM   #4
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Part of this is for a sanity check, since I just finished a pretty disconcerting conversation with some friends, but anyway --
i'm kinda curious about what the disconcerting conversation was about since it prompted you to make this thread
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Old 01-8-2019, 10:42 AM   #5
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Default Re: Speech, Power, and Responsibility

I might be missing some context since I haven't read the Harry Potter books myself. But in general, just because something is depicted in a book/movie/etc doesn't necessarily mean that the author/director/etc condones or condemns such things. If anything, I'd say that it's important for things that people find to be problematic to be included in such works of fiction since not doing so would be considered an erasure of the experiences of those negatively affected by such problematic things.
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Old 01-8-2019, 12:31 PM   #6
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Default Re: Speech, Power, and Responsibility

nobody has any kind of innate moral responsibility due to position in life. The rich have no obligation to help the poor, the fed have no obligation to help the hungry, the happy have no obligation to help the sad. Innately. These people can choose to accept a responsibility to help others but should not be criticized if they choose not to do so. Would the world be better off if they did? Probably, but it comes at the cost of personal freedom if it was forced.
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i was pretty close to letting this slide tbh, but honestly your utter lack of understanding of the situation irritates me more than anything else at this point
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seriously everything i wrote went way over your head if your reading comprehension is so far below third grade level while people may care about your opinion you should refrain from giving it because it's worthless
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Old 01-8-2019, 02:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: Speech, Power, and Responsibility

Sure, those in power should use their power responsibly. The better outcome would be for them to never have that power in the first place. Every example where power is wielded as a cudgel just shows another place where the power structure needs to be ripped apart. Rowling's failure shows us systemic hierarchies in media publishing to dismantle; Nietzsche's failure shows us systemic hierarchies in education and academic publishing to dismantle; Peterson's failure shows us systemic hierarchies in social media and search engine optimization to dismantle.

The problem is the power itself.

Or as Foucault put it (one of the "Postmodernist Marxists" that Peterson hates):

"Do not demand of politics that it restore the “rights” of the individual, as philosophy has defined them. The individual is the product of power. What is needed is to “de-individualize” by means of multiplication and displacement, diverse combinations. The group must not be the organic bond uniting hierarchized individuals, but a constant generator of de-individualization."
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Old 01-8-2019, 02:55 PM   #8
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Probably, but it comes at the cost of personal freedom if it was forced.
Treating personal freedom as a deontological absolute is the sort of naivete that shouldn't last beyond your high school libertarian phase.

Here's a basic intractable problem for it: You get in a car, you drive somewhere. You exercised your freedom. I go for a walk, I breathe in the emissions from your car. You've impinged on my personal freedom to breathe clean air because you've created a negative externality. Do you actually have the freedom to place negative externalities onto me or not? Do I actually have the freedom to not have to deal with your negative externalities or not?

If we changed this scenario to "Do you have the right to shoot me" the answer is suddenly very obvious, and even the full "personal freedom" person will find some sort of excuse to make not shooting the correct answer. Personal freedom advocates usually think in terms of these very striking scenarios because they don't bother to have the mindfulness for others to consider the more subtle scenarios. But our life is full of these subtle externalities in interactions with each other. Increasing our own freedom often reduces someone else's freedom. Freedom versus respect for others is in a constant tug of war when we're actually mindful of our actions.

Ditch "personal freedom" as a deontological basis. "Compassion for all living beings" is a much better choice.
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Old 01-8-2019, 03:37 PM   #9
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it's still a choice
people who can't make the right choices shouldn't stay in power, as much as i agree freedom is nice and wonderful i wouldn't enjoy it if i had to lost luxuries for the incompetence of people in power(if we have a choice) and more competent people willing on the task should take their place for the better of everyone.

people dont always choose to be in power yes but that doesn't mean they get a free pass from the responsibilities associated. Life is a little unfair.
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Old 01-8-2019, 03:43 PM   #10
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people who can't make the right choices shouldn't stay in power, as much as i agree freedom is nice and wonderful i wouldn't enjoy it if i had to lost luxuries for the incompetence of people in power(if we have a choice) and more competent people willing on the task should take their place for the better of everyone.

people dont always choose to be in power yes but that doesn't mean they get a free pass from the responsibilities associated. Life is a little unfair.
some stations in life come with a responsibility to help people (like religion or social work for example) but if people are interpreting your writing as you being a slave apologist you don't really have a responsibility to renounce it even if it's The Right Thing To Do. It's clearly better for everyone if you just say "no this is bad" but if you're prepared to accept the consequences it shouldn't be coerced
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i was pretty close to letting this slide tbh, but honestly your utter lack of understanding of the situation irritates me more than anything else at this point
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seriously everything i wrote went way over your head if your reading comprehension is so far below third grade level while people may care about your opinion you should refrain from giving it because it's worthless
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Old 01-8-2019, 04:23 PM   #11
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Default Re: Speech, Power, and Responsibility

Personally I think it ultimately comes down to the level of power the person has. An author, celebrity, artist, etc. clearly does not have the same power as someone like say, a governor, congressmen, president, etc.

Now, sure, depending on how the information is presented can and should have responsibilities. But what if say, there is a negative topic in a book like slavery, rape, murder, whatever... and someone takes their own meaning based on that, out of context, and tries to claim the author inspired them to take whatever action? They should not face any ramifications due to that.

It's kind of the whole thing with censorship in music. People will always derive their own meanings out of practically anything. It wouldn't make sense to punish the creator for that because someone misunderstood it or took it too far. i.e. a musician writing a song about their struggles with drug abuse, and a person becoming inspired to do drugs as a result. As Reuben said, just because a topic is included does not mean the person who said/wrote it condones the action or topic.
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Old 01-8-2019, 09:29 PM   #12
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It's also why I think Jordan B. Peterson is so evil. He has a sizable fanbase; people listen to him. He's also fairly good with rhetoric, so he's able to say something innocuous like "lobsters are motivated by serotonin" to present a sinister, subliteral dogma without having to use the words "systems of oppression are necessary for human societies to progress". And, of course, because all he's talking about is lobsters, he's able to wriggle his way out of any criticism with "that's not what I meant!" He assumes no responsibility for his TRUE denotations and more or less forces the task of interpretation of all his statements onto others. It's a classic case of cowardly dog-whistling --- despite his power and influence, he doesn't want to dirty his hands by actually admitting what his actual beliefs are. Beliefs that he knowingly tries to convey to his impressionable audience.
Just as an aside, Peterson says extremely explicit and absolute things ALL THE TIME. Like, the idea that he's somehow using rhetorical technique to avoid responsibility for his actions is silly. He will literally go on record saying things like "A woman who wears a dress to work should expect to be sexually harassed" or "Birth Control is responsible for the destruction of Western Civilization"

His -followers- try to avoid being called to account for supporting somebody who says those things by insisting that he can only be understood in a greater/larger context but anybody with the slightest bit of knowledge or facility with rhetoric knows that Peterson is 100% grade-a Bullshit.

To the actual thread:

Yes, people with power or authority are obliged to be more careful about how their words could be used to translate into actions by others. Yes, if such a thing happens that they think is a misinterpretation or mischaracterization of their words, they should be obliged to state such, clearly and right away.

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The rich have no obligation to help the poor, the fed have no obligation to help the hungry, the happy have no obligation to help the sad. Innately. These people can choose to accept a responsibility to help others but should not be criticized if they choose not to do so.
It is immoral to have wealth, full stop. If you are rich you absolutely have an obligation to help the poor. You're a human. Basic application of empathy and compassion should make you obliged to help people when you can. I do not believe it is possible to be a billionaire and not also evil. Yes, even the ones who donate some pittance of a percentage of their billions to good causes.
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Old 01-8-2019, 10:33 PM   #13
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Default Re: Speech, Power, and Responsibility

then you can call these people immoral, but the responsibility you think applies to all humans only applies to whoever accepts that responsibility
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i was pretty close to letting this slide tbh, but honestly your utter lack of understanding of the situation irritates me more than anything else at this point
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seriously everything i wrote went way over your head if your reading comprehension is so far below third grade level while people may care about your opinion you should refrain from giving it because it's worthless
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Old 01-9-2019, 06:11 PM   #14
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Default Re: Speech, Power, and Responsibility

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It is immoral to have wealth, full stop. If you are rich you absolutely have an obligation to help the poor. You're a human. Basic application of empathy and compassion should make you obliged to help people when you can. I do not believe it is possible to be a billionaire and not also evil. Yes, even the ones who donate some pittance of a percentage of their billions to good causes.
1 billion is 1,000 times more than 1 million. For a comparison, this means that something that costs $1,000 to a person with 1 million dollars is like $1 to a person with 1 billion dollars (who spends the same amount, $1,000).

Somebody with 1 billion dollars who donates 1 million dollars, is only giving 0.1% of what they own. If someone who only has $10,000 donates $1,000 then that is 10% of what they own. It gives perspective on how if someone that is obscenely rich makes a donation of six figures or more, it really isn't as impressive as it seems.

That is such an obscene amount of money that I'm legitimately convinced possessing that much money is entirely about control and nothing else. Donating 99% would still leave 10 million dollars.

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I might be missing some context since I haven't read the Harry Potter books myself. But in general, just because something is depicted in a book/movie/etc doesn't necessarily mean that the author/director/etc condones or condemns such things. If anything, I'd say that it's important for things that people find to be problematic to be included in such works of fiction since not doing so would be considered an erasure of the experiences of those negatively affected by such problematic things.
This is a highly underrated post. If a work of fiction is engaging the reader to the point where the reader is questioning the characters and assessing the situations they are in, I'd say that is good writing. It's not about what the author themselves think, but rather observing the characters and then discussing their motives and thoughts.

Controversial ideas can be inserted into literature as a way to inspire discussion on those topics. The reader has the freedom to disagree with the content.
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Old 01-22-2019, 02:57 PM   #15
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Default Re: Speech, Power, and Responsibility

I'm a bit late to the discussion, but there's certainly a lot to address in this thread, so let's keep the conversation going.


Re OP: There's a lot going on here. One of the first things I think is that while we don't necessarily have a higher moral responsibility as power / influence increases, we ought to.

The key to this puzzle is that everyone ought to take responsibility for the things they have power over. So while those who wield greater power should take more responsibility, that does not absolve those in lesser positions of their responsibilities. Everyone has power over someone or something, and regardless of how significant or insignificant that might be, society functions best when everyone is doing their best to account for the things they have control over.

I think that this solves one of the problems you run into if we extrapolate the logic you're looking at. For example, in Nietzsche's case, while he was an influence on Hitler's ideology, that influence was largely through misinterpretation and expansion of those ideas on behalf of Hitler, not something directly written by Nietzsche. To avoid a situation where we pass the blame on ad infinitum (what about influencers of Nietzsche?), Nietzsche is responsible for what he wrote, but ultimately Hitler has to take responsibility for the Third Reich. He can't take inspiration from someone else and pass the buck onto them; it was his doing. There were many, many years where the direction of the Third Reich could have changed if not for the ideological goals of Hitler, and nobody else can own that.


I think we should take advice from Spiderman here; with great power comes great responsibility. So take as much responsibility for something as you can. But not more. That isn't helpful.


With that said, you should probably seriously consider the fact that you might have inserted your own biases into the interpretation of Peterson's statement that may be a misinterpretation. Personally, I do not interpret the lobster statements that way. Obviously none of us are psychic, but in this case my interpretation was that this statement is an analogy used specifically to attack the idea that hierarchies arise causally as a result of systems of oppression. The assumption being that if hierarchies can arise in the absence of oppressive structures then they aren't causally related and biologically we would have to look deeper.


Interpretation is tricky business. That's why open dialogue is key, and everyone should be careful in making assumptions about what others mean by their statements. Sometimes those assumptions can reveal our own biases.

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It is immoral to have wealth, full stop. If you are rich you absolutely have an obligation to help the poor. You're a human. Basic application of empathy and compassion should make you obliged to help people when you can. I do not believe it is possible to be a billionaire and not also evil. Yes, even the ones who donate some pittance of a percentage of their billions to good causes.
I almost feel as if this would deserve a separate thread, but could you elaborate on this? More specifically, that it is immoral to have wealth, and that billionaires by definition are evil.

I disagree with both statements, but I would need to hear more from you to really get into this.
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Old 01-22-2019, 11:58 PM   #16
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I almost feel as if this would deserve a separate thread, but could you elaborate on this? More specifically, that it is immoral to have wealth, and that billionaires by definition are evil.

I disagree with both statements, but I would need to hear more from you to really get into this.
It's relatively simple in application: There is a certain amount of money/resources that are required to live comfortably. An amount that is required to live well. An amount that is sufficient for you to live well, and one or more generations that come after you to live just as well. All of those are well below being a billionaire.

A billionaire, by definition, has more money than they could possibly use to have even a luxurious lifestyle for themselves, their children, and their children. To hold that kind of wealth and use it to just grow itself and evade paying even the legally mandated taxes to the government under which you live for the betterment of others makes you evil.

Somebody with a billion dollars could lose 0.1% of their wealth and that is a MILLION DOLLARS. That million dollars could pay for 20 people's 50k university educations, or fund 100 classrooms with 10k each for supplies and better teacher compensation.

Somebody like Jeff Bezos is worth 140 times that much. The same 0.1% of his wealth ratchets those 20/100 up to 2,800 people or 14,000 classrooms, for 0.1% of his wealth.

In a year where I made say, 40,000 dollars, 0.1% of that wealth is 40 bucks. If I could spend 40 bucks to give a university education to 2800 people, or cover supplies and a several thousand dollar a year raise for teachers in 14,000 classrooms, I would absolutely consider myself evil to withhold that pittance, that irrelevant amount of my wealth.

When you have more than you need, I believe it is a moral imperative to use the excess to help people who need it. I've been flush, and I helped those who were bust. Heck, I've been bust, and helped those who were more bust.

When you have the ability to fix major national crises for an amount of money so small you would literally not be able to notice it was missing, and you don't, I think you need to answer for that.

Hey look a very timely example of what I mean:

https://twitter.com/briantylercohen/...93604243128320

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Old 02-19-2019, 02:20 AM   #17
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Default Re: Speech, Power, and Responsibility

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Somebody with a billion dollars could lose 0.1% of their wealth and that is a MILLION DOLLARS. That million dollars could pay for 20 people's 50k university educations, or fund 100 classrooms with 10k each for supplies and better teacher compensation.

Somebody like Jeff Bezos is worth 140 times that much. The same 0.1% of his wealth ratchets those 20/100 up to 2,800 people or 14,000 classrooms, for 0.1% of his wealth.
How exactly did Jeff Bezos get his wealth? Did he go around stealing from people and getting away with it? Or did a large number of voluntary interactions happen in which both parties considered themselves better off for having closed the deal? I think the latter is the case.

And even when he became a billionaire and a public figure, people still bought products through Amazon, thus endorsing the fact that whatever income inequality was on display did not constitute inequity. People still felt better off and were willing to make the slight "sacrifice" of helping some people at a corporation become very rich.

If Bezos had given away all his money in 1999 besides one million dollars, would Amazon be as expansive and helpful to as many customers as it is today? I'm not even saying I like Amazon, but the market certainly does.

Some people are better with money than others, and people aren't nearly as replaceable as currency notes, especially within an industry. I won't be receiving a billion-dollar investment any time soon, because I'm not as productive as an Amazon warehouse.

Maybe Bezos can't be confident that investing in 20,000 people's college educations will be as productive as investing in 20,000 new jobs and a warehouse for workers in a business model he is entirely familiar with and therefore can more reliably predict the continued productivity of. Maybe more of the college students could be expected to drop out, or major in gender or ethnic victimhood studies. Either way, it's wise to invest in what you know rather than what you don't know. Just ask the Oracle of Omaha. Familial and community structures innately work in the same way, and justifiably so.

Of course the rich should give some money to charity, but 99% of it? Buffett is too nice.

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Old 02-19-2019, 08:12 AM   #18
123kappa3
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Default Re: Speech, Power, and Responsibility

In my opinion, you are only responsible for your actions. People make mistakes. People are misunderstood. People have different opinions. You cannot be held accountable for other people being dumb or misinterpreting your views. You can be aware if a lot of people hold a negative opinion of something you have said and you can atone for it, restate it, or back it up. The only responsibility people should have in my opinion is responsibility for what they themselves would like people to know not, how the public is going to use it.
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Old 02-19-2019, 12:58 PM   #19
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Default Re: Speech, Power, and Responsibility

An important thing not to miss is that most billionaires are not philanthropists. Elon is an outlier, and progress would be uniquely stymied without him. But, if all of the billionaires in the world had been equalizing their wealth out in various poverty reduction strategies, healthcare improvements, and raising the lowest bar of quality of life, then we would have been far better off far earlier than anything Elon can possibly do today.

The assumption is that technological advancement goes more slowly when there isn't any capitalistic incentive. This is mostly true, but it would still happen. And given the hundreds of additional years we would have had in equality and educational opportunity, I think we would be in a similar if not better place now.

Educated and smart people like spending time inventing things for free if they don't need to struggle to survive.

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Old 02-19-2019, 08:42 PM   #20
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Default Re: Speech, Power, and Responsibility

Quote:
Originally Posted by ledwix View Post
Maybe more of the college students could be expected to drop out, or major in gender or ethnic victimhood studies.
i bet you're a real hit with the ladies
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Originally Posted by MixMasterLar View Post
is funny eaman?
Can you like not use those stupid names right now? Took me long enough to get these screen names straight in my head
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GET DUNKED FUNNY
(eaman is her name irl, friend)

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There comes a point where we have to ask our selves, "do we really want to deal with that, desperate as we are?"

I think we can all agree on the answer, yeah?

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