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  1. #1
    Senior Member BlackDog's Avatar
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    Default Does evil look less evil the further you 'telescope' your view of an event?

    Does evil look less evil the further you 'telescope' your view of an event?

    To take a small example, suppose you a random person standing in a McDonald's, and you see someone be really rude to the cashier.

    Now suppose you weren't there, but a third party tells you about it.

    Now suppose time has passed, and you are a random person reading the biography of the person who was rude; they turned out to be a famous inventor who revolutionized fuel cell technology and ended reliance on fossil fuels. This incident comes into the book as one of those little illustrations that let you into understanding the totality of someone's personality.

    Suppose more time has passed, and you are reading a book on the typical psychology of inventive personalities, and how certain kinds of behaviors are paired (this is real) like creativity and disagreeableness.

    -------------

    My opinion of what should happen has done a 360 by the time I reach this last story. If I'm right up close to the event, I view the rudeness as evil. If I'm very far away, I actively desire it to take place if it encourages creativity and a better future.

    I think this effect generalizes across many different kinds of evil. Is it inconsistent with morality, and is there a way to reconcile the big picture with the close up?
    Formerly Lion4!5

  2. #2
    Senior Member Jaguar's Avatar
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    Evil= rudeness at McDonald's?
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  3. #3
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackDog View Post
    s there a way to reconcile the big picture with the close up?
    Relativity gives us the big picture, and quantum mechanics gives us the close up. But so far we are unable to reconcile them. So perhaps it is equally difficult to reconcile the big picture and the close up of morality.
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  4. #4
    I could do things Hard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    Relativity gives us the big picture, and quantum mechanics gives us the close up. But so far we are unable to reconcile them. So perhaps it is equally difficult to reconcile the big picture and the close up of morality.
    Non sequitur. Those are two independent sets unrelated to each other.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard View Post
    Non sequitur. Those are two independent sets unrelated to each other.
    I am suggesting that physics and morality are analogous.

    And as you say, there is no obvious connection rather the analogy is suggestive of a sequitur. An unknown sequitur to be sure.

    We seek here, we seek there, we seek everywhere for the unknown sequitur.

    There are known knowns, there are unknown knowns, and there are even unknown unknowns, so surely we can find an unknown sequitur in there somewhere if we rummage around.

  6. #6
    deplorable basketcase Tellenbach's Avatar
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    Yes, positive acts will extenuate my perception of an individual. Phil Spector allegedly murdered a woman and Bill Cosby allegedly raped 30 or so women but I view them differently than the ordinary criminal who hasn't contributed to society. In fact, I'd probably give Spector a reduced sentence because of his contributions in music.
    Senator Rand Paul is alive because of modern medicine and because his attacker punches like a girl.

  7. #7
    Pubic Enemy #1 Crabs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackDog View Post
    Does evil look less evil the further you 'telescope' your view of an event?

    To take a small example, suppose you a random person standing in a McDonald's, and you see someone be really rude to the cashier.

    Now suppose you weren't there, but a third party tells you about it.
    i think most events that people witness firsthand have a greater emotional impact than hearing about it from a third party. car crashes, natural disasters, violent tragedies, et cetera. even seeing photographs may evoke more emotion than having it explained to you or reading about it.

    depending on how "evil" a person was at a particular point in their life, the amount of time that elapses may impact other's perception of them in the long run because people change over time.

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackDog View Post
    Now suppose time has passed, and you are a random person reading the biography of the person who was rude; they turned out to be a famous inventor who revolutionized fuel cell technology and ended reliance on fossil fuels. This incident comes into the book as one of those little illustrations that let you into understanding the totality of someone's personality.
    the nazis made a lot of scientific contributions, mostly at the expense of innocent people who were experimented on against their will. i don't think most people would exonerate these scientists because of their accomplishments or excuse their crimes against humanity.

    it really depends on the event in question and how subjectively evil it is. third party accounts aren't always accurate anyway; and they don't necessarily reveal both sides of the story. was the person at mcdonald's being rude to the cashier because the cashier was being rude to the customer before the third party arrived? maybe the cashier and customer were acquainted with each other prior to the incident and there's bad blood between them.

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackDog View Post
    Suppose more time has passed, and you are reading a book on the typical psychology of inventive personalities, and how certain kinds of behaviors are paired (this is real) like creativity and disagreeableness.

    -------------

    My opinion of what should happen has done a 360 by the time I reach this last story. If I'm right up close to the event, I view the rudeness as evil. If I'm very far away, I actively desire it to take place if it encourages creativity and a better future.

    I think this effect generalizes across many different kinds of evil. Is it inconsistent with morality, and is there a way to reconcile the big picture with the close up?
    i don't think disagreeableness necessarily equates to being caustic or rude. it might just be someone who stands up for their beliefs in the face of opposition. rosa parks disagreed with the mandate to give up her seat, but she wasn't being mean. creativity is more associated with thinking outside of the box and not going with the flow or strictly conforming to outward influences.

  8. #8

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    The short answer is no.

    The long answer is that this all sounds like an attempt to rationalise evil, so what is someone did one reprehensible thing so long as they have so many other redeeming features or qualities or have made, seemingly redemptive, contributions quite apart from what evil they have done.

    Rationalising is after the fact judgement and theorising about something which has been an affect or emotion driven action, its likely to cause a reoccurence rather than prompt the individual to be cognizant of their actions and that allow that insight to prevent it being repeated. Hell, in most cases even the insight is insufficient to change but a good rationalisation is definitely not sufficient, not even a beginning of being close, its more likely to make up part of resistance to insights.

  9. #9
    Senior Member BlackDog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    The short answer is no.

    The long answer is that this all sounds like an attempt to rationalise evil, so what is someone did one reprehensible thing so long as they have so many other redeeming features or qualities or have made, seemingly redemptive, contributions quite apart from what evil they have done.

    Rationalising is after the fact judgement and theorising about something which has been an affect or emotion driven action, its likely to cause a reoccurence rather than prompt the individual to be cognizant of their actions and that allow that insight to prevent it being repeated. Hell, in most cases even the insight is insufficient to change but a good rationalisation is definitely not sufficient, not even a beginning of being close, its more likely to make up part of resistance to insights.
    No, it is an observation about my own tendencies in evaluating historical figures as opposed to people I know.

    I judge historical figures based mainly on whether their life trajectory was useful or not, along with a healthy dose of whether or not they made sense to me.

    This isn't to do with my own life, where I resist rationalization on the basis that it leads one to become unmoored from the restraints of social bonds, and thus free to commit all kinds of evil acts without it really sinking in very well.

    But does that hold true after the fact for famous individuals? Just because rationalization would be bad for me in the first person, does that also mean it is bad for others viewing from the future and in the third person?
    Formerly Lion4!5

  10. #10
    Senior Member BlackDog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pixie sticks View Post



    i don't think disagreeableness necessarily equates to being caustic or rude. it might just be someone who stands up for their beliefs in the face of opposition. rosa parks disagreed with the mandate to give up her seat, but she wasn't being mean. creativity is more associated with thinking outside of the box and not going with the flow or strictly conforming to outward influences.
    Exactly, but if a person for whatever reason is freed from the thought of the group, aren't they also probably more likely to be freed from the morals of the group, which are a part of the thought?

    I can't help but think that it would be undesirable for society if many people were this way. Just because they behave decently when there is just one or two of them doesn't mean they would in large numbers. Most of the 'great men' of history would, in my opinion, have been incalculably damaging to society just as easily as they were beneficial; they just happened to blow in a positive direction for whatever reason.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Tellenbach View Post
    Yes, positive acts will extenuate my perception of an individual. Phil Spector allegedly murdered a woman and Bill Cosby allegedly raped 30 or so women but I view them differently than the ordinary criminal who hasn't contributed to society. In fact, I'd probably give Spector a reduced sentence because of his contributions in music.
    Is that because there are few enough of these individuals that making exceptions of them wouldn't break down group norms?
    Formerly Lion4!5

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