"As long as I'm not harming anyone..."

  • you_know_Its_...

    Posts: 236

    Jul 12, 2015 1:14 AM GMT
    That phrase is mentioned on this forum a lot, usually to justify things that people don't want to own up to. My question is "how do you define harm"? These guys will likely define it as obvious evils like rape, theft, assault, etc, stuff causing measurable loss to a specific person. As long as they don't rape or murder anyone, no one should judge them, they say.

    What about indirect, long-term harm? (emotionally degrading fetishes? Corrupting a young gay who doesn't know better?) Consensual harm? (drugs? desensitizing someone to nsa encounters?) What about participating in global trends that ultimately harm society? (we complain about socially retarded everyone has gotten, while buried in our hookup apps playing hard-to-get)

    The question should be "how much harm are we willing to do to others"?
  • whytehot

    Posts: 1141

    Jul 12, 2015 5:35 AM GMT
    Yeah... I prefer my simpler life of false dichotomies and reassuring platitudes icon_smile.gif
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    Jul 12, 2015 5:37 AM GMT
    you_know_its_true said..."how much harm are we willing to do to others"?

  • AMoonHawk

    Posts: 11405

    Jul 12, 2015 5:56 AM GMT
    If you look at it that way, even good acts can be indirectly harmful ... you help a homeless person on the street and maybe that just enables them to not try and to stay homeless. Build a city to house the people and you harm the earth and the creatures that in habit that area. The cemeteries are full of people that became the casualty of a well meaning act or intention.

    Life is not a series of planned steps, which if you take the correct ones, all will be well. Life is a chance and full of risk, who's outcome could go either way. A toss of the coin. Some risks bring opportunities, others bring lessons and still others may result in disaster. Some risks carry greater risks than others, but in the end, the outcome and the fallout (harm) is not known until you have arrived at that point in time.

    If there was never any risk taken there would never be any advancement. Religious zealots once sought to put Galleon to death for believing that the world was not flat, but he persisted and now man has been to the moon and back. Life does not consist of a single thread. Life is a tapestry and everyone is a weaver and a part of that tapestry.

    There really is action that will not in some way harm something because that is the nature of the universe. For every action there is a reaction. Even inaction can cause harm. What if no one had steep forward to re-act to the AIDS crisis? Perhaps the entire human race may have been on the verge of extinction, because the inability to fight of one disease could lead to a plethora of other diseases.

    What we seek as humans is to reduce immediate harm, such as rape murder etc. But governments can be more far reaching where long term goals outweigh the immediate harm.

    As individual humans, no one wishes to harm others, but there are many other things that come into play. Our well being out weighs mental harms we place on others. And then there are those members of society that do care whether or not they harm other, and with those members there can only be a reaction from their actions.
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    Jul 12, 2015 3:43 PM GMT
    John Stuart Mill is generally credited as the leading exponent of this philosophy, which found great acceptance - and revision - in the '60s. Google him and read "On Liberty" to learn his views - and why they are behind a lot of the problems we face today.

    Re: your specific question, this if from JSM's Wikibio:

    Conception of harm
    The harm principle[*] is central to the principles in On Liberty. Nigel Warburton says that Mill appears unclear about what constitutes harm. Early in the book, he claims that simply being offensive does not constitute harm. Later, he writes that certain acts which are permissible and harmless in private are worthy of being prohibited in public. This seems to contradict his earlier claim that merely offensive acts do not warrant prohibition because, presumably, the only harm done by a public act which is harmless in private is that it is offensive.
    Warburton notes that some people argue that morality is the basis of society, and that society is the basis of individual happiness. Therefore, if morality is undermined, so is individual happiness. Hence, since Mill claims that governments ought to protect the individual's ability to seek happiness, governments ought to intervene in the private realm to enforce moral codes.

    Then there's this, which many of Mills' supporters seem to ignore:

    Charges of racism and colonialism
    Mill is clear that his concern for liberty does not extend to all individuals and all societies. He states that "Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians". Contemporary philosophers Domenico Losurdo and David Theo Goldberg have strongly criticised Mill as a racist and an apologist for colonialism.

    Deal w/ Mill as you will, but for me much of his thinking is unrealistic, inconsistent, and simplistic. But then, I've always been a Herbert Spencer kinda guy.
    *Schadenprinzip? icon_cool.gif
  • you_know_Its_...

    Posts: 236

    Jul 31, 2015 2:21 AM GMT
    AMoonHawk saidAs individual humans, no one wishes to harm others, but there are many other things that come into play. Our well being out weighs mental harms we place on others..

    Yes, and we can be so selfish that we weigh a small benefit to ourselves as worth a major setback to someone else. Without getting too abstract, most of the examples I mentioned in the first post are extremely common, with a fairly obvious probability of harm, even if it can't be quantified. My point is that a lot of gays would defend anything that is "consensual".