Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

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Re: Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

Post by SpheresOfBalance » Fri Jun 20, 2014 1:07 am

Wyman wrote:
As far as I'm concerned Mr. Harry Frankfurt is simply rationalizing as his station affords. His understanding of what having less entails is juvenile at best.
The same could be said for the less 'advantaged.' They're simply rationalizing as their station affords and their understanding of what having more entails is ... .

So, do you have to be rich to argue for equality and poor to argue for non-egalitarian values?
I read Harry Frankfurt's bit, did you? It's obvious to me that you really didn't understand my point, sometimes few words can do that. You forget that he's supposed to be the educated one, speaking of the less educated poor. But what is education for if you're specialized thus ignorant of other things you decide to speaking of.

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Re: Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

Post by Wyman » Fri Jun 20, 2014 1:31 am

Since I didn't understand your point, why don't you expound? You say he's educated and is commenting on the uneducated poor. So what?

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Re: Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

Post by SpheresOfBalance » Fri Jun 20, 2014 1:42 am

the Hessian wrote:I don't get the thinly veiled comment.

It was an honest question. The concepts of "shrinking middle class" and "ecomonomic mobility" sound more pragmatic than moral. I'm not shitting on it. I am pointing out that there are also very valid reasons to control wage inequality that have nothing to do with morality. It is not necessarily implied that working to control wage inequality is motivated by a morality grounded in equality.
OK, And I attempted to answer honestly, but maybe a bit hasty.

So tell me, why it's practical, more so than right?

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Re: Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

Post by SpheresOfBalance » Fri Jun 20, 2014 2:08 am

Wyman wrote:Since I didn't understand your point, why don't you expound? You say he's educated and is commenting on the uneducated poor. So what?
You said:
Wyman wrote:The same could be said for the less 'advantaged.' They're simply rationalizing as their station affords and their understanding of what having more entails is ... .
Then I said so as to directly counter:
SpheresOfBalance wrote:You forget that he's supposed to be the educated one, speaking of the less educated poor.
Obviously, knowledge is power in understanding anythings dynamics, such that your comment is not a fair reciprocal.

Initially though I was referring to reasoning such as this: "It is true that people in the lowest strata of society generally live in horrible conditions, but this association of low social position and dreadful quality of life is entirely contingent.There is no necessary connection between being at the bottom of society and being poor in the sense in which poverty is a serious and morally objectionable barrier to a good life."
A contradiction.

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Re: Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

Post by Wyman » Fri Jun 20, 2014 3:35 am

Obviously, knowledge is power in understanding anythings dynamics, such that your comment is not a fair reciprocal.

Initially though I was referring to reasoning such as this: "It is true that people in the lowest strata of society generally live in horrible conditions, but this association of low social position and dreadful quality of life is entirely contingent.There is no necessary connection between being at the bottom of society and being poor in the sense in which poverty is a serious and morally objectionable barrier to a good life."
A contradiction.
Impenetrable, incomprehensible jibberish. Let's agree to disagree.

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Re: Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

Post by the Hessian » Fri Jun 20, 2014 4:16 am

SpheresOfBalance wrote: Initially though I was referring to reasoning such as this: "It is true that people in the lowest strata of society generally live in horrible conditions, but this association of low social position and dreadful quality of life is entirely contingent.There is no necessary connection between being at the bottom of society and being poor in the sense in which poverty is a serious and morally objectionable barrier to a good life."
A contradiction.
I am not an apologist for Harry (I don't know him or his philosophy from the proverbial hole in the ground, and he may be the devil incarnate) but I keep finding myself getting sucked back into this conversation to try and produce some balance in the reading of him.

The quote that you draw attention to is indeed problematic. I'm chewing on it, and the best I can come up with is something like....

Is it possible to imagine a society existing such that even those occupying the lowest social position in it lived in conditions that were in no way offensive, demeaning or objectionable? Given the possibility of this, is it then not possible that the association we currently make between low social position and objectionable conditions of living is historically contingent? If the association is historically contingent, does that change the way we think about equality as a universal ideal?

This is tricky stuff here.

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Re: Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

Post by mickthinks » Fri Jun 20, 2014 6:32 am

I agree with you. In the quote that SoB found contraditory, Frankfurt seems to be saying that, just because the poorest throughout human history have always been degraded and distressed, that doesn't mean that being poor entails being degraded and distressed, which raises the question, what then is the moral objection to unequal distributions of wealth?

He's right, I think. Those who want to argue on moral grounds against extremes of wealth inequality, must either make a better case* for regarding wealth inequality as morally wrong, or must defeat this point by showing that poverty does necessarily entail distress, degradation (or other morally unacceptable consequences).


*That is, better than simply pointing to the unpleasant lives that the poorest people lead and saying that society is morally obliged to protect people from such unpleasantness.

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Re: Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

Post by SpheresOfBalance » Fri Jun 20, 2014 7:14 am

Wyman wrote:
Obviously, knowledge is power in understanding anythings dynamics, such that your comment is not a fair reciprocal.

Initially though I was referring to reasoning such as this: "It is true that people in the lowest strata of society generally live in horrible conditions, but this association of low social position and dreadful quality of life is entirely contingent.There is no necessary connection between being at the bottom of society and being poor in the sense in which poverty is a serious and morally objectionable barrier to a good life."
A contradiction.
Impenetrable, incomprehensible jibberish. Let's agree to disagree.
For you probably, your inabilities, of course, to your minds eye, definitely! Sure, this, the only way you have an out!

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Re: Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

Post by SpheresOfBalance » Fri Jun 20, 2014 9:36 am

May take, broken down:

"It is true that people in the lowest strata of society generally live in horrible conditions,
In this clause he is simply admitting that people with a lower social status, for the most part, live in environments not conducive to unfettered human growth, physically, mentally, socially, etc

but this association of low social position and dreadful quality of life is entirely contingent.
Here we have to ask what these two are contingent upon. Isn't it obvious? Money! Of course it's finally clear with the next sentence. The reason I chose this definition for contingent as in, on/upon, is because to use it philosophically is totally absurd, as money is logically necessary to defeat a low social class and deplorable quality of life.

There is no necessary connection between being at the bottom of society and being poor
Here in the first half of the sentence he tries to convince us that money has no bearing on social position, au contraire! And of course this is where he confirms that money is what the second clause was dependent upon, though he denies it.

in the sense in which poverty is a serious and morally objectionable barrier to a good life."
In this second half he tries to qualify the first half, such that my objection may not stand. In what sense is the first half true? Well of course it's in that, a good life is not contingent upon money, that the lack of money, poses no serious or morally objectionable affect, to preclude a good life, (why only good, why not GREAT life, as I'm sure some people would characterize their life as GREAT, probably those with money. Oh that's the reason why only good was used, I see, but I digress. Or do I?)

Sorry, but I find that horrible conditions are contrary to a GREAT, err, ah, sorry, "good" life. Or in other words, "a contradiction!" Not to mention the others that I've already covered.


In the totality of this passage, he's trying to convince us of something absurd, unfathomable!
Harry Frankfurt wrote:It is true that people in the lowest strata of society generally live in horrible conditions, but this association of low social position and dreadful quality of life is entirely contingent. There is no necessary connection between being at the bottom of society and being poor in the sense in which poverty is a serious and morally objectionable barrier to a good life.
He's trying to rationalize that his social position, having money, and the best of things, is equal to those at the bottom, with no money, and the worst, because they can always grin and bear it, as if that's all it takes for a "good" life. A guilt soothing technique, I'm sure applied by many of those that believe themselves of higher social standing, and well to do.

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Re: Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

Post by the Hessian » Fri Jun 20, 2014 2:59 pm

SpheresOfBalance wrote:
Harry Frankfurt wrote:It is true that people in the lowest strata of society generally live in horrible conditions, but this association of low social position and dreadful quality of life is entirely contingent. There is no necessary connection between being at the bottom of society and being poor in the sense in which poverty is a serious and morally objectionable barrier to a good life.
He's trying to rationalize that his social position, having money, and the best of things, is equal to those at the bottom, with no money, and the worst, because they can always grin and bear it, as if that's all it takes for a "good" life. A guilt soothing technique, I'm sure applied by many of those that believe themselves of higher social standing, and well to do.
But is that really what he is saying? Or is that what you think he is saying because you already believe that he has money and is simply trying to rationalize away his guilt? I definitely think it is a big stretch to say he think having money is equal to not having money. That's absurd.

Consider:

"(r)adically inferior lives are invariably bad....the radical inferiority of some people's life prospects is indeed...evil. But why is it an evil? The evil does not lie in the circumstance that the inferior lives happen to be unequal to other lives.... The evil lies simply in the unmistakable fact that bad lives are bad."

It's impossible for me to read this and think he is also trying to make the assertion that bad lives are equal to good lives. He's clearly not drawing any kind of equivalence between the two.

Again, I think you've zeroed in on a problematic quote. But in the context of the article, I understand him to be saying something like the fight against poverty is more right than the fight against financial inequality. And from this kind of statement, one can then get to the heart of his thesis aginast the ideal of equality and for the ideal of respect:

"(t)he claim of egalitarianism is derivitive. It is grounded in the more basic requirements of respect and impartiality."

That thesis should live or die based on its own merits, and not on account of some bias we feel compelled to project onto its author.

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Re: Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

Post by the Hessian » Fri Jun 20, 2014 3:06 pm

mickthinks wrote:I agree with you. In the quote that SoB found contraditory, Frankfurt seems to be saying that, just because the poorest throughout human history have always been degraded and distressed, that doesn't mean that being poor entails being degraded and distressed, which raises the question, what then is the moral objection to unequal distributions of wealth?

He's right, I think. Those who want to argue on moral grounds against extremes of wealth inequality, must either make a better case* for regarding wealth inequality as morally wrong, or must defeat this point by showing that poverty does necessarily entail distress, degradation (or other morally unacceptable consequences).


*That is, better than simply pointing to the unpleasant lives that the poorest people lead and saying that society is morally obliged to protect people from such unpleasantness.
I think that is how I understand him to mean as well. It gets very problematic, though, when we use the word poverty, because poverty always already conjures up the image of an offensive condition of living. Can we do without the word poverty? As in, imagining a possible state of affairs where the lowest position in it does not actually live in poverty at all, despite having much less than those living at the highest position? That is, is poverty a substantive rather than relative condition?

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Re: Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

Post by SpheresOfBalance » Fri Jun 20, 2014 10:41 pm

the Hessian wrote:
SpheresOfBalance wrote:
Harry Frankfurt wrote:It is true that people in the lowest strata of society generally live in horrible conditions, but this association of low social position and dreadful quality of life is entirely contingent. There is no necessary connection between being at the bottom of society and being poor in the sense in which poverty is a serious and morally objectionable barrier to a good life.
He's trying to rationalize that his social position, having money, and the best of things, is equal to those at the bottom, with no money, and the worst, because they can always grin and bear it, as if that's all it takes for a "good" life. A guilt soothing technique, I'm sure applied by many of those that believe themselves of higher social standing, and well to do.
But is that really what he is saying?
It is in fact what hes saying, Those words can be taken no other way. You mean to say, "is that what he's meaning?"

Or is that what you think he is saying because you already believe that he has money and is simply trying to rationalize away his guilt?
Well according to Wikipedia: "Harry Gordon Frankfurt was born on May 29, 1929. He obtained his B.A. in 1949 and Ph.D. in 1954 from Johns Hopkins University."
"He is professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton University and has previously taught at Yale University and Rockefeller University."
"His 1986 paper On Bullshit, a philosophical investigation of the concept of "bullshit", was republished as a book in 2005 and became a surprise bestseller, leading to media appearances such as Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. In 2006 he released a companion book, On Truth, which explores society's loss of appreciation for truth."
In fact Amazon lists
seven books for sale. One of the best ways to build wealth, do something once that keeps on giving.

So he's probably from money (those schools) and got money coming in, those books!


I definitely think it is a big stretch to say he think having money is equal to not having money. That's absurd.
Yet the words he used there, say as much.

Consider:

"(r)adically inferior lives are invariably bad....the radical inferiority of some people's life prospects is indeed...evil. But why is it an evil? The evil does not lie in the circumstance that the inferior lives happen to be unequal to other lives.... The evil lies simply in the unmistakable fact that bad lives are bad."

It's impossible for me to read this and think he is also trying to make the assertion that bad lives are equal to good lives. He's clearly not drawing any kind of equivalence between the two.

Again, I think you've zeroed in on a problematic quote. But in the context of the article, I understand him to be saying something like the fight against poverty is more right than the fight against financial inequality. And from this kind of statement, one can then get to the heart of his thesis aginast the ideal of equality and for the ideal of respect:

"(t)he claim of egalitarianism is derivitive. It is grounded in the more basic requirements of respect and impartiality."

Consider:

That passage a Freudian slip? he was 68 when it was originally written.


That thesis should live or die based on its own merits, and not on account of some bias we feel compelled to project onto its author.

Speak for yourself! How are you doing/aspiring towards, social status and money? (Answer if you choose, or not.)

I relatively have none, and aspire to have none. Philosophically, I see money as it was born and promoted throughout history, as just another weapon, not unlike a rock, club or spear.

You may call it bias, where I just call the contrary view, denied truth, for obvious reasons.
Edit: the last line so as to make it more clear, was: "You may call it bias, where I just call it a denied truth, for obvious reasons."
Last edited by SpheresOfBalance on Fri Jun 20, 2014 11:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

Post by SpheresOfBalance » Fri Jun 20, 2014 10:48 pm

the Hessian wrote:
mickthinks wrote:I agree with you. In the quote that SoB found contraditory, Frankfurt seems to be saying that, just because the poorest throughout human history have always been degraded and distressed, that doesn't mean that being poor entails being degraded and distressed, which raises the question, what then is the moral objection to unequal distributions of wealth?

He's right, I think. Those who want to argue on moral grounds against extremes of wealth inequality, must either make a better case* for regarding wealth inequality as morally wrong, or must defeat this point by showing that poverty does necessarily entail distress, degradation (or other morally unacceptable consequences).


*That is, better than simply pointing to the unpleasant lives that the poorest people lead and saying that society is morally obliged to protect people from such unpleasantness.
I think that is how I understand him to mean as well.
Bias? How do you see yourself?

It gets very problematic, though, when we use the word poverty, because poverty always already conjures up the image of an offensive condition of living.
The author says as much.


Can we do without the word poverty? As in, imagining a possible state of affairs where the lowest position in it does not actually live in poverty at all, despite having much less than those living at the highest position?
It's a dichotomy, with/without, one can't exist without the other, and those with it, live off the lives of the ones without it, as it can be no other way, as the current model stands.

That is, is poverty a substantive rather than relative condition?
One can try and spin it, however it serves their needs, and they usually do.

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Re: Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

Post by the Hessian » Fri Jun 20, 2014 10:55 pm

SpheresOfBalance wrote:You may call it bias, where I just call it a denied truth, for obvious reasons.[/color]
I like this re-definition, and agree with you entirely. You are a closet Nietzschean. Works both ways, though, as Wyman has pointed out.

But anyway, well done. I take your point.

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Re: Equality and Respect by Harry Frankfurt

Post by SpheresOfBalance » Fri Jun 20, 2014 11:00 pm

the Hessian wrote:
SpheresOfBalance wrote:You may call it bias, where I just call the contrary view, denied truth, for obvious reasons.[/color]
I like this re-definition,
As to this, I'm pretty sure you didn't understand me, care to expound, or not! So as to believe something due to ignorance?

and agree with you entirely. You are a closet Nietzschean.
No, I'm just a nobody, no one special, just one of many with hemispheres, that I try and balance.

Works both ways, though, as Wyman has pointed out.
I seemed to have missed him pointing out anything of significance.

But anyway, well done. I take your point.
If genuine, thank you, but praise makes me feel uneasy, as I'm not used to being given anything.

I've edited your quote of mine above, so as to make it clear, though I suspect the reasons may not be obvious to some.

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