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The fallacies of "Might makes right"

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libertygrl
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Posted 03/28/11 - 5:46 PM:
Subject: The fallacies of "Might makes right"
We've talked about "Might makes right" here at the Couch before, but it's come up a few times in recent discussion, so I thought I'd revisit it.

I think where it falls short as a concept is that certain principles may temporarily have power behind them and later be deemed as "wrong" by a greater power. For example, while the Holocaust was happening, someone could have argued that "might makes right", in order to justify the atrocities. Ultimately, though, the world proved that it felt differently about that, and brought down Hitler's regime.

"Might makes right" has a certain contextual sensibility, and it appeals to me as well in correlation with another aphorism, "Justice prevails". But insofar as the expression is used to justify tyranny - ie. "I'm right only because I'm holding a bigger stick", then I think that kind of might makes wrong.

Any thoughts?
BRAVO
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Posted 03/28/11 - 6:05 PM:

I want to know,why US policies are valid in every context?
Instead of being an independent organization;UN is still a puppet whose command is in US hand.
Why...?
Because "Might is Right".
Thinker13
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Posted 03/29/11 - 1:08 AM:

lib wrote:
We've talked about "Might makes right" here at the Couch before, but it's come up a few times in recent discussion, so I thought I'd revisit it.

I still recall a very entertaining thread, with a very enchanting conversation between Henry, Xanthos, Der Eingie, Monk2400 and Willem! It was on MPG.
lib wrote:

I think where it falls short as a concept is that certain principles may temporarily have power behind them and later be deemed as "wrong" by a greater power. For example, while the Holocaust was happening, someone could have argued that "might makes right", in order to justify the atrocities. Ultimately, though, the world proved that it felt differently about that, and brought down Hitler's regime.

Might makes right in the context. Tentative might makes right until it is not superseded by another ‘mightier might’.

lib wrote:
"Might makes right" has a certain contextual sensibility, and it appeals to me as well in correlation with another aphorism, "Justice prevails". But insofar as the expression is used to justify tyranny - ie. "I'm right only because I'm holding a bigger stick", then I think that kind of might makes wrong.


You are right.
Thinker13
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Posted 03/29/11 - 1:10 AM:

I want to know,why US policies are valid in every context?

Who says so?

Instead of being an independent organization;UN is still a puppet whose command is in US hand.

Is that so?


BRAVO
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Posted 03/29/11 - 6:11 AM:

To-Thinker13,
Graffiti are not washable by detergent.
Some gift of US to the world are unforgetable(Iraq,Afgan war )
Again,
If UN is independent,then why did US attack on Afgan.?
Why...?
Because they have power,and they know very well that how to use it.
henry quirk
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Posted 03/29/11 - 10:35 AM:

'Might makes/is right' is not a justification of any-thing or -one but merely a descriptor of what 'is', of how the world 'works'.

For example: 'justice prevails'...sure it does: some one's or ones' particular interpretation or definition of justice prevails as enforced by the 'might' or 'power' or 'force' of that one or ones.

For example: *U.S. policies are 'valid' in every context because the U.S. is currently the holder of the biggest 'stick'...that is: the polices are 'valid because the 'might'-holder says the policies are valid.

Again: 'might makes/is right' is not a justification or rationalization for any-thing or -one...'might makes/is right' is simply a descriptor for how the world works (as it always has and always will).

Even if the absent communitarian’s 'utopia' came to pass, the longevity of that 'utopia' (where all the folks live cog-like in utter peace and machine-like harmony) is entirely dependent on the 'force' or 'might' the 'utopians' can bring to bear against, say, one scrawny, recalcitrant, idiosyncrat.

If the 'utopians' can't defend 'utopia' then 'paradise' is lost.

In other words: pacifists, pussies, and peaceniks either die young or reveal their essential hypocrisy in their willingness to use 'force' or 'might' to preserve what they each value (making each utopian, cog, communitarian, etc. just as violent as 'me', but not nearly so honest... wink ).



*More accurately: those individuals 'in power' at any given time...the U.S. is simply a model, a construct, with no independent existence...that is: the U.S. is an ideal living inside the heads of each and every one who holds true to the ideal.
Monk2400
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Posted 03/29/11 - 1:13 PM:

In reality, logic makes 'right' as it does with every other kind of value. A value is determined by a logical relationship between a standard and an object/act/event.

To put it another way, the human spirit, imagination, and cognitive power make, create, 'right'. There's no strength or force involved, and indeed, force in establishing such a relationship usually leads to error, inconsistency, and incoherence, that is, values that are illegitimate.

What we can say is that 'might enforces value' in a social setting. And this much is true. Where you have multiple agents competing for the assertion and dominance of their values, it takes a force to make one form the dominant value and apply that to society. The 'force' in question might be physical but it could be psychological, emotional, spiritual, or even rational--an appeal to logic.

Pure 'might' does not make right in and of itself in the following sense--merely asserting a course of action does not make that action consistent with a single overarching standard of value.

Values arise in a system; they are defined all at once at the creation of the standard and are fixed by logical necessity. Values are tools axiological agents use to help them produce ends in a consistent manner. Competing values create conflicting ends, and thus cannot produce the things they are aimed at producing. Which is why a system of value needs to be thoroughly consistent from end to end and not mixed with other systems or their elements. Confusing and confounding values and standards leads to chaos.

Thus, a might may be explicitly asserting a value standard while simultaneously betraying that standard in their actions, hence, acting against even their own stated ends. To wit, their 'might' in enforcing some course of action is not 'right' in terms of the logical connection of values.

What this means is that even though in a physical sense we are held captive by the 'bigger stick' it may be possible to demonstrate that the bigger stick is in fact 'wrong' by their own standards!!



But when appeals to reason fails, its open war for all.

8)
henry quirk
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Posted 03/29/11 - 1:43 PM:

Useless rant deleted.

I've already said my piece above.

Edited by henry quirk on 03/29/11 - 2:11 PM
henry quirk
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Posted 03/29/11 - 1:59 PM:

Second useless rant deleted.

I've already said my piece above.


Edited by henry quirk on 03/29/11 - 2:12 PM
libertygrl
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Posted 03/29/11 - 3:40 PM:

henry quirk wrote:
Useless rant deleted.

I've already said my piece above.

i'm glad i caught a glimpse before you deleted it. i thought you were making some good points.
libertygrl
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Posted 03/29/11 - 4:29 PM:

Monk wrote:
To wit, their 'might' in enforcing some course of action is not 'right' in terms of the logical connection of values.

What this means is that even though in a physical sense we are held captive by the 'bigger stick' it may be possible to demonstrate that the bigger stick is in fact 'wrong' by their own standards!!

But when appeals to reason fails, its open war for all.

yes, yes and yes. well stated.

Monk wrote:
Where you have multiple agents competing for the assertion and dominance of their values, it takes a force to make one form the dominant value and apply that to society

the force of making one form the dominant value sounds like "might making right" to me. force = might

i do agree that "might enforces value" makes much more sense. (but not as catchy; doesn't rhyme. lol)

Edited by libertygrl on 03/29/11 - 10:02 PM
smokinpristiformis
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Posted 03/30/11 - 8:36 AM:

i'm glad i caught a glimpse before you deleted it. i thought you were making some good points.


Henry always makes good points. He's far more interesting an opponent than some others... (small rant deleted for reasons of not spitting dirt while complimenting sticking out tongue)

He's coming from a radically different place and knows how to defend it superbly. It's a respectable quality. Especially because he forces you to rethink your own stance on a regular basis.
henry quirk
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Posted 03/30/11 - 9:06 AM:

"i'm glad i caught a glimpse before you deleted it. i thought you were making some good points"

Yeah, I did make good points, but, why shoot my load all at once?

I can be tiresome...and: when I become so, folks stops reading...and: when folks stop reading, the best points become 'useless rant'.

There's something to be said for pacing one's self.

It's doubtful we're gonna put 'might makes/is right' to bed in this thread...my points -- if solid -- are as good 'tomorrow' as they were yesterday.

#

"He's coming from a radically different place and knows how to defend it superbly"

Keep that up and I'll need to install little wheels under my ears to support and haul around my swollen head... wink
Monk2400
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Posted 03/30/11 - 1:56 PM:

libertygrl wrote:

the force of making one form the dominant value sounds like "might making right" to me. force = might


There is a distinction between merely enforcing one's will and enforcing a value that is right within a coherent moral system. For instance, a power may enforce some form of action from weaker agents and yet fully understand that doing so is 'wrong' according to their own stated and aimed for values.

Might can enforce things it considers 'right' and they may in fact be so given their value system. But it can also enforce things it knows are 'wrong' given their value system, or things that it doesn't realize are wrong but believes are right because of an error of value calculation.

All applications of value can be assessed and, if in error, corrected.

8)
henry quirk
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Posted 03/30/11 - 2:33 PM:

"There is a distinction between merely enforcing one's will and enforcing a value that is right within a coherent moral system."

As it pertains to 'might makes/is right' there is no distinction.

If I have all the 'might' and I put Joe to work in the mines: it maybe all-consuming to him to work out my 'value equation' and 'prove' me wrong (that my enslavement of Joe is wrong), but -- from my position as 'might-holder' and therefore 'right-maker' -- I don’t give a flip whether he thinks me right or wrong or insane or whatever.

He’s gonna work in the mines till I say otherwise.

Reason will not save him.

What 'can' save him is his successful attempt to escape the mines, or, kill me.

He may feel emboldened to pursue escape or assassination because of his assessment of my wrong-headed or hypocritical values, but the assessment itself matters to the sum of zero.

Reason is wonderful: among the like-minded, reason can be used to move mountains.

Between two dissimilar beasts (the value-seeking/balancing philosopher and the amoral/a-valued idiosyncrat): not so much.
Monk2400
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Posted 03/31/11 - 2:30 PM:

Just because you're beating someone with a big stick and making them do something doesn't mean you're making 'right'. You may just as easily be making 'wrong', enforcing 'wrong', even at your pleasure.

Thence such persons are what we would normally consider to be 'evil'.

8)
Thinker13
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Posted 03/31/11 - 11:51 PM:

smokinpristiformis wrote:


Henry always makes good points. He's far more interesting an opponent than some others... (small rant deleted for reasons of not spitting dirt while complimenting sticking out tongue)

He's coming from a radically different place and knows how to defend it superbly. It's a respectable quality. Especially because he forces you to rethink your own stance on a regular basis.

laughingthumb up
henry quirk
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Posted 04/04/11 - 5:28 PM:

"Just because you're beating someone with a big stick and making them do something doesn't mean you're making 'right'. You may just as easily be making 'wrong', enforcing 'wrong', even at your pleasure. Thence such persons are what we would normally consider to be 'evil'."

"Evil" is in the eye of the beholder (as that eye is held in the hand of the guy who plucked it out)... wink

"Good" or "right", of course, is whatever the guy or gal on top deems it to be.
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