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Author Topic: Chivalry
WarrsawPact
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quote:
(I'd rather be a dead Knight than a live hypocrite.) (I can hear WP laughing)
Even though I was laughing pretty loud, I'm surprised you could hear that all the way in Houston. My maniacal cackles from here in CA usually don't make it past Arizona.

quote:
Firedrake, excellent Lazarus Long quote, I considered quoting that passage myself, but I have been quoting him a lot lately and was afraid coming from me WP might take offense.
Don't you worry about me taking offense [Smile] . I actually sent Firedrake an IM saying what a great quote it was, thoguh I do disagree with him a bit. Using lubrication to cover the dirt building up in that machine only invites more and more dirt to gum up the works. To stray from the analogy, all those manners make it awfully easy to keep up a billion lies a minute.
-=-=-=-
quote:
I think this is a form of chivalry that really should have a place in a modern society; the stronger ones giving place and special consideration for those who are physically weaker and that need accomodation.
When I'm weak (if I ever am), I hope no one accomodates me with the kind of patronizing pity that this chivalry entails. I'll deal with my own problems; if I have a walker or a cane, I don't want you treating me like any more or less a deserving person than you are. That behavior invites that story about the boy, the old man, and the donkey:
quote:
The boy rode on the donkey and the old man walked. As they went along they passed some people who remarked it was a shame the old man was walking and the boy was riding. The man and boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.

Later, they passed some people that remarked, "What a shame, he makes that little boy walk."They then decided they both would walk!

Soon they passed some more people who thought they were stupid to walk when they had a decent donkey to ride. So, they both rode the donkey.

Now they passed some people that shamed them by saying how awful to put such a load on a poor donkey. The boy and man said they were probably right, so they decided to carry the donkey.

As they crossed the bridge, they lost their grip on the animal and he fell into the river and drowned. The moral of the story?

If you try to please everyone, you might as well kiss your ass good-bye!

-=-=-=-=-
I question any morality that rewards weakness. I don't go easy on people because I know I despise it when people purposefully go easy on me. It leaves me with a sick feeling in my stomach: you felt that, since you're more skilled than I am, I would get some sort of fulfillment out of beating a person who's losing purposefully?

If you ever go easy on people in a competition, for example, shame on you. Better you should beat him soundly and encourage him to get better. People who politely favor the untalented and weak are only setting others up for bigger disappointments -- like going onto American Idol and being one of the victims of the Season Premiere humiliate-a-thon. Where has your dishonesty gotten that person? What favors have you done them?

People should be painfully aware of their current position in the world so that they know what they have to do to get ahead. You can help them by teaching them what to do to get better, but don't make them think they're already good.
-=-=-=-
Arthur missed the memo about living to fight another day, or incremental change.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
but if I remember correctly, ethics is the study of morality, or moral philosophy.
I don't think so, Funean. Machiavelli is widely credited as the architect of modern Ethics. I just had a course in Legal Ethics last semester, and it had nothing to do with the study of morality or moral philosophy. It was more a study in what is expected of us in the legal community, what we can get away with, and what we can't get away with.

I've never heard of an ethic that measured thought. Lusting after woman man or donkey in your heart may be immoral, but it certainly is not unethical. I suppose a hypothetical society of telepaths might create ethics about thought, but otherwise, thought is pretty much off limits. If it doesn't affect another person, then it absolutely cannot have anything to do with ethics.

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Funean
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Of course I had to go look [Smile] .
This suggests that "my" meaning is the original (and probably beginning to be archaic) definition, which makes perfect sense given the stuffiness of my philosophy department, whereas "your" meaning is probably more the general usage of the word.

But I do agree with you that there isn't really any such thing as "unethical thought." That's more the purview of morality.

WP, is it your view then that chivalry is devoid of respect?

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Mike_W
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WP,
You seem to be hung up on Chivalry as only being related to the treatment of those "fairer and weaker". Like I said above, not every human interaction is a zero sum game - it is not always competition. Chivalry was a whole code of behaviour, much of which was designed to prevent violence, or at least limit the cost of violence between all those well armed men that Jefferson likes to point out. One could argue that the rules regarding women were also part of that strategy, since women could often be the cause of violence and discord between men. If the rules are known, and most people play by the rules, a whole lot less people get hurt. Pragmatic, no?

Now, some of the flowery nonsense may very well be an anachronism, and, it could even represent some disrespect at some level, but I'm not sure about that. Most of us don't throw our jackets in the mud these days. I'll hold a door open for anyone, man or woman, but I won't make an ass of myselft trying to get to it first if they are closer.

MOst "Chivalry" in a modern context is one of two things; an extension of civility (good), or an attempt to score points and get laid (good or bad, depending on your ethics) ;-)

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aupton15
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I'm not sure I understand this fixation on weakness. All it really accounts for is convenience. When you see someone who is having some difficulty, or about to encounter an obstacle (even one as simple as a door) you can take a small step to make their path easier. A strong man carrying a couch will probably appreciate it if you hold the door for him...and probably won't think of himself as weak for accepting the effort. There are no doubt some situations where it seems that weakness is being rewarded, but I don't think weakness is necessary for chivalry to take place. I also think there is an element of self-centeredness to chivalry...not that a chivalrous person is self-centered, but the idea is that *I* want these characteristics. *I* want to make the extra effort. Other people are helped, almost as a by-product of self-improvement. I don't think the idea is to look outward for weakness as much as it is to improve personal virtue.
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Pete at Home
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My apologies, Funean; I've had no background in philosophy; my MA was in rhetoric and I just had that class on legal ethics, so I'd always been taught that ethics was tied to the practices of a particular group.

Aupton -- the term "self-centeredness" has some negative connotations, but I think you have your finger on something important. Among other things, it addresses my question of what the chivalrous person gets out of it.

[ May 15, 2005, 10:17 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Funean
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Pete, no apologies necessary; it doesn't even matter as long as we agree to use the same sense of the word. An MA in rhetoric: cool! And the classics still live...

Anyway I still think the key to chivalry lies either between or at the intersection of manners and morality.

quote:
Other people are helped, almost as a by-product of self-improvement.
This might be getting close, because it seems to me that chivalry is more than a set of behaviors, but the behavior *is* the key, more so than those moralities that are concerned with personal virtue, regardless of whether it has any effect on another person. And yet, as one does good things in order to effect change oneself, that results in good effects for others.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Anyway I still think the key to chivalry lies either between or at the intersection of manners and morality.
Agreed, I think. It's at the intersection, but not bounded by that intersection.
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Funean
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I was trying to think of a way of thinking of chivalry that wasn't as gender-bound as chivalry actually is, and the closest I came was charm. Not fake charm, but the effort we make to be pleasing to one another for no reason other than to make another person's day a little brighter. I think that might be the same kind of thing as chivalry, albeit writ much smaller; perhaps a subset.

It's more than manners, because it's not merely the following of a code of behavior; it has to be from the heart. It's not morality, because there's not enough to it for that, but there is a kind of deep valuing of our fellow human beings that is both a prerequisite and a product of chivalry or charm.

The charm model works similarly to KE's chivalry model, but sidesteps Warsaw's issues with weakness and pity (I don't agree that these are an issue with chivalry, only at a first or superficial read of the value).

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Pete at Home
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Charm is another ethic that operates in the same general sphere, but doesn't relate to strength or advantage.

But even if chivalry was totally gender-bound, what's wrong with having an ethic that's gender-bound? [Big Grin] Once you recognize that men and women are different in terms of average strength and average aggression.

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WarrsawPact
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Funean - In a sense, yeah. Chivalry does not denote a total lack of respect, but it is not respectful. There is no deference in chivalry that places someone on a pedestal of actual honor, unless you honor the weak (in which case my previous posts are correct).

Mike_W -
quote:
Like I said above, not every human interaction is a zero sum game - it is not always competition.
I would dispute this.
Zero sum? I don't believe that's part of the equation.
Competition? Why not?

Let's say you help out a person feeling that you did so totally altruistically. How can you be sure your motives were so pure? Perhaps you were carrying out a form of biological altruism, helping out those who are like you to secure the success of your kind. Perhaps you expect a reward and you're fooling yourself into thinking what a tremendously helpful and pure person you are. Or perhaps the idea of acting altruistically is something that gives you a good feeling, so you make it a habit... just like the effects of feeling righteous are an awful lot like a narcotic.

quote:
Chivalry was a whole code of behaviour, much of which was designed to prevent violence, or at least limit the cost of violence between all those well armed men that Jefferson likes to point out. One could argue that the rules regarding women were also part of that strategy, since women could often be the cause of violence and discord between men. If the rules are known, and most people play by the rules, a whole lot less people get hurt. Pragmatic, no?
I've got a better idea, one that makes all the conceits and dishonesty of chivalry, all the unnecessary effort, needless.
Perfect accountability (and thus, honesty).

Ta-da!
-=-=-=-=-
Oh, and charm can also be terribly demeaning. My family is great at spotting charmers... we call it "buttering me up." It usually means somebody wants something from you.

FDR believed he could charm anybody into anything, and he was (almost always) right until the day he met Stalin.

[ May 16, 2005, 02:50 AM: Message edited by: WarrsawPact ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Let's say you help out a person feeling that you did so totally altruistically. How can you be sure your motives were so pure?
See above. Chivalry is an ethic, and ethics have no bearing whatsoever on thoughts. Chivalry is about duty and acceptable behavior, like medical ethics or legal ethics. Yes, like legal ethics or medical ethics, Chivalry can be superficial. It still protects both the user and society at large.

[ May 16, 2005, 02:54 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Funean
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"But even if chivalry was totally gender-bound, what's wrong with having an ethic that's gender-bound?"

Oh, nothing; I was just extrapolating from the personal (as usual) and trying to come up with something analogous in my own conduct. Lying in the bed later I realized they are both facets of a system of honorable behavior: behaving well for no reason other than that.

"Oh, and charm can also be terribly demeaning."

Sure, if you're talking about insincere or manipulative charm; just as chivalry can be a negative if it's predicated on a notion of superiority. But can you see that in both cases if the motive is clean the conduct is positive?

And like Pete said, even if the motive were insincere or not wholly disinterested, there still can be value to society in the conduct: the weak are protected from those who would otherwise prey on them, in the case of chivalrous behavior; the dispirited are cheered, in the case of charm.

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Richard Dey
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PaH says, wrongly: "If it doesn't affect another person, then it absolutely cannot have anything to do with ethics." This was never so. Animal were first give 'rights' under ethics, not morality. Consider the armor manufactured for dogs, for example.

And the idea that chivalry keeps some peace is preposterous. Its primary purpose was warfare; its primary purpose was offensive warfare; its primary purpose was offensive warfare against the pagan Slavs, the heretics of Bulgaria and France, and the Moors.

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A. Alzabo
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quote:
And the idea that chivalry keeps some peace is preposterous.
I think it "[kept] some peace" in the sense that the rules of chivalry helped keep the class of noble fighters from absolutely exterminating eachother in petty fashion.

quote:
Its primary purpose was warfare; its primary purpose was offensive warfare; its primary purpose was offensive warfare against the pagan Slavs, the heretics of Bulgaria and France, and the Moors.
I agree with the development being related to warfare, since originally it just referred to a knight's combat horsemanship skill. Like the word "arete," "chivalry" picked up a lot of baggage over time.
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aupton15
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Richard, each of the things you assert include one very important word...WAS. Since KE's first post we have been talking about what chivalry IS. I don't think we should absolutely have to use a completely new word in order for those old meanings to be removed. How many different meanings does the word "practice" have? You can practice medicine or baseball, and they mean completely different things (and thank goodness, I don't want my doctor practicing like a baseball player does). Can't chivalry mean all that war-related stuff with it's old definition, and also have a new meaning that is genuine and good? Can't we be brave, honorable and helpful for all the right reasons instead of the wrong ones? We're arguing about semantics here...I think KE should be able to call his personal code of conduct chivalry without bringing up the Middle Ages...is that too much?
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WarrsawPact
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Pete -
quote:
Chivalry is an ethic, and ethics have no bearing whatsoever on thoughts.
I think you'd have a very difficult time proving that. If the thought of chivalry or any other ethic gets into your head, and you take it on as a value, your neurons are rewiring themselves. You'll think differently.

quote:
Chivalry is about duty and acceptable behavior, like medical ethics or legal ethics. Yes, like legal ethics or medical ethics, Chivalry can be superficial. It still protects both the user and society at large.
Are you sure about that? It seems to me like this ethic is largely dead now precisely because of its tendency to run into people who don't fight fair. Remember that kid who was getting into that "one-on-one" fight in my anecdote? One kid internalized rules that don't exist and the other decided to not "fight fair." Who benefited, ultimately? Do you want to be the chivalrous kid, beaten and broken and bloody? If so, I have to ask what's so wonderful about this ethic. "Yeah, I'll be screwed over time and time again, but I'll feel really good about myself at the end!"

Chivalry doesn't protect the user in any competition. Its only saving grace is that other people who believe in the same thing reward you for acting chivalrous.

This is unlike other mass delusions that I support, like belief in the value of paper money, which survive competition AND reward the believers.

quote:
But can you see that in both cases if the motive is clean the conduct is positive?
First, show me a clean motive. Then we can debate as if they actually exist.

quote:
And like Pete said, even if the motive were insincere or not wholly disinterested, there still can be value to society in the conduct: the weak are protected from those who would otherwise prey on them, in the case of chivalrous behavior; the dispirited are cheered, in the case of charm.
First of all, one can benefit the "weak" for pragmatic reasons without needing some strange notion that this is morally superior to predation.
Espcially if the notion carries with it a lot of other baggage.

And perhaps I'm reaching here, but is it really better to cheer someone's spirits with dishonesty than by offering a real hope?
-=-=-=-
aupton15:
quote:
I think KE should be able to call his personal code of conduct chivalry without bringing up the Middle Ages...is that too much?
Huh?
Why should he use a word that doesn't properly describe his code of conduct and then defend the word?

I asked KE to show me what was so fantastic about chivalry, not what was so fantastic about his personal code of conduct.

quote:
Can't chivalry mean all that war-related stuff with it's old definition, and also have a new meaning that is genuine and good? Can't we be brave, honorable and helpful for all the right reasons instead of the wrong ones?
The "right reasons" are a big part of why I'm arguing here.

[ May 16, 2005, 02:25 PM: Message edited by: WarrsawPact ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Animal were first give 'rights' under ethics, not morality. Consider the armor manufactured for dogs, for example.
The idea of giving animals rights presupposes that animals are persons. "If it doesn't affect another person, then it absolutely cannot have anything to do with ethics." Always so. If you assume that animals are people, then ALF and PETA suddenly seem like rational organizations.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Chivalry is an ethic, and ethics have no bearing whatsoever on thoughts.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think you'd have a very difficult time proving that. If the thought of chivalry or any other ethic gets into your head, and you take it on as a value, your neurons are rewiring themselves. You'll think differently.

[Big Grin] You're straining. I didn't say that chivalry has no effect on thought. If it makes it more clear, I'll rephrase: Systems of ethics, such as Chivalry do not regulate thought.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Are you sure about that? It seems to me like this ethic is largely dead now precisely because of its tendency to run into people who don't fight fair. Remember that kid who was getting into that "one-on-one" fight in my anecdote? One kid internalized rules that don't exist and the other decided to not "fight fair." Who benefited, ultimately? Do you want to be the chivalrous kid, beaten and broken and bloody? If so, I have to ask what's so wonderful about this ethic. "Yeah, I'll be screwed over time and time again, but I'll feel really good about myself at the end!"
Which is probably why the modern ethic of chivalry focuses on treatment of women, and deemphasizes rules of behavior in combat. I agree that the old Chivalric codes of combat are anachronistic. I don't think that they relate to KE's discussion.
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A. Alzabo
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WP:
quote:
Are you sure about that? It seems to me like this ethic is largely dead now precisely because of its tendency to run into people who don't fight fair. Remember that kid who was getting into that "one-on-one" fight in my anecdote? One kid internalized rules that don't exist and the other decided to not "fight fair." Who benefited, ultimately? Do you want to be the chivalrous kid, beaten and broken and bloody? If so, I have to ask what's so wonderful about this ethic. "Yeah, I'll be screwed over time and time again, but I'll feel really good about myself at the end!"

This is really true of any ethical system. An adherent is at a disadvantage against a nonadherent. I would say the problem with giving up on any ethics at all is that desireable systems can't function in a Hobbesian nightmare of everybody clawing for advantage.


quote:
And perhaps I'm reaching here, but is it really better to cheer someone's spirits with dishonesty than by offering a real hope?

I tend to think that a certain level of politeness (not necessarily "chivalry"), dishonest or not, is the lubricant of a functional civilization.

[ May 16, 2005, 02:08 PM: Message edited by: A. Alzabo ]

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OpsanusTau
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quote:
This is really true of any ethical system. An adherent is at a disadvantage against a nonadherent. I would say the problem with giving up on any ethics at all is that desireable systems can't function in a Hobbesian nightmare of everybody clawing for advantage.
And nearly all if not all human societies (plus a good many primate ones) operate with a basic system of generalized reciprocity. This may, in fact, be what they call "hard-wired" in, as a functional basis for being a social animal. What this means is that it is not at all unreasonable to think that if you treat someone well, there will be rewards for you.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
This is really true of any ethical system. An adherent is at a disadvantage against a nonadherent. I would say the problem with giving up on any ethics at all is that desireable systems can't function in a Hobbesian nightmare of everybody clawing for advantage.
That's why medical and legal ethics boards have enforcement panels. Ancient forms of chivalry functioned not only with reputation, but IIRC sometimes had formal processes as well. Modern Chivalry has no such equivalent, unless you count this discussion. [Smile]
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WarrsawPact
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Pete:
quote:
You're straining. I didn't say that chivalry has no effect on thought. If it makes it more clear, I'll rephrase: Systems of ethics, such as Chivalry do not regulate thought.
I think that if you internalize them, they certainly do.

quote:
Which is probably why the modern ethic of chivalry focuses on treatment of women, and deemphasizes rules of behavior in combat. I agree that the old Chivalric codes of combat are anachronistic. I don't think that they relate to KE's discussion.
Remind me again what advantages there are to chivalry, and we'll go from there in deciding whether or not it protects the "user" or society at large.
-=-=-=-
A. Alzabo:
quote:
This is really true of any ethical system. An adherent is at a disadvantage against a nonadherent. I would say the problem with giving up on any ethics at all is that desireable systems can't function in a Hobbesian nightmare of everybody clawing for advantage.
Name the desirable system. Intelligent pragmatists recognize the utility of cooperation where it reaps an advantage (which is pretty often). Hell, even dumb thugs recognize that.

See, this is all perfectly funny to me. I'm an amoralist, so all this talk about ethical people being at a disadvantage against unethical people is hilarious. It's simply not true all the time. People who share a certain ethic tend to band together in certain ways, often enforcing against those who do not share the ethic. It's a construct.

If they actually followed their own moral and ethical precepts, amoralists of any type would have a terribly easy time taking advantage of the system.
As it is, it requires quite a bit of intelligence and charisma to force people to stick to their guns. Only the most manipulative people and systems can get people to make real sacrifices for their codes of ethics and morality -- you can easily put someone in a spot of danger, but you can't lead them to certain doom too often.

Systems of ethics are more powerful at bonding people together than at actually enforcing their system of morality.

quote:
I tend to think that a certain level of politeness (not necessarily "chivalry"), dishonest or not, is the lubricant of a functional civilization.
And like I said, all that lubrication allows you to keep an awful lot of dirt in the engine. Those lies can be pretty destructive and pretty corrosive, and the big ones can destroy the system. Too much lubricant lets it build up. I prefer brutal honesty.
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WarrsawPact
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I must say KE, between this chivarly thread and the one about girls doing men's jobs, you've certainly made it interesting lately.
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A. Alzabo
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quote:
Name the desirable system. Intelligent pragmatists recognize the utility of cooperation where it reaps an advantage (which is pretty often). Hell, even dumb thugs recognize that.

I would say that ethical systems stem from this, rather than being opposed. The definition of ehtics that I tend to go by is that "ethics regulate behavior when morals/values collide." I think most systems of ethics have utilitarian seeds. Not lying in the military, for example, isn't just an individual show of character -- it's important to the mission of the organization, which performs better if information isn't purposely distorted.

quote:
See, this is all perfectly funny to me. I'm an amoralist, so all this talk about ethical people being at a disadvantage against unethical people is hilarious. It's simply not true all the time. People who share a certain ethic tend to band together in certain ways, often enforcing against those who do not share the ethic. It's a construct.

First, I don't find "amoralism" to be logically possible for an normal human. Most people have personal values that they feel -- I would say that you do, based on your writings on this forum. This doesn't mean they act on them.

I would also say that pretty much any human code or categorization is a "construct." Logic is a "construct." An F-16 is a "construct." Civilization is a huge set of "constructs," both tangible and intangible. I'm not certain that this invalidates reality of these things.

quote:
If they actually followed their own moral and ethical precepts, amoralists of any type would have a terribly easy time taking advantage of the system.
As it is, it requires quite a bit of intelligence and charisma to force people to stick to their guns. Only the most manipulative people and systems can get people to make real sacrifices for their codes of ethics and morality -- you can easily put someone in a spot of danger, but you can't lead them to certain doom too often.

Sociopaths often have the charisma you speak of, as well as being amoralists by "wiring." I would also say that they do have a fairly easy time working our system, and that a surprising number of our society's leaders are sociopaths. I think part of what shields them is that normal people have a hard time imagining that someone else would manipulate them without any conscience and will rationalize their behavior.

quote:
Systems of ethics are more powerful at bonding people together than at actually enforcing their system of morality.

And you see no pragmatic utility in this?

quote:
quote:
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I tend to think that a certain level of politeness (not necessarily "chivalry"), dishonest or not, is the lubricant of a functional civilization.
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And like I said, all that lubrication allows you to keep an awful lot of dirt in the engine. Those lies can be pretty destructive and pretty corrosive, and the big ones can destroy the system. Too much lubricant lets it build up. I prefer brutal honesty.

I agree that in can be overdone to the point of bad faith or falsity. But a middle level of "get along" social behavior seems desirable to me. A society full of "brutally honest" (your word choice seems loaded, to me) people doesn't seem like a pleasant place, nor particularly effective. Not to mention that a place full of people rubbing eachother the wrong way doesn't seem conducive to "the utility of cooperation where it reaps an advantage (which is pretty often)."
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Pete at Home
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quote:
You're straining. I didn't say that chivalry has no effect on thought. If it makes it more clear, I'll rephrase: Systems of ethics, such as Chivalry do not regulate thought.
------------------------------------------
I think that if you internalize them, they certainly do.

If you internalize Clinton by ramming a copy of "My Life" where the sun don't shine, you may have bowel problems. That doesn't mean you can say that Clinton causes constipation.

[ May 16, 2005, 03:21 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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A. Alzabo
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Pete:
quote:
If you internalize Clinton by ramming a copy of "My Life" where the sun don't shine, you may have bowel problems. That doesn't mean you can say that Clinton causes constipation.

Yuck! But I agree with the sentiment, since I think ethical systems are constructed for exactly when people haven't internalized morals. More to the point, ethical systems regulate the collision of different internal values within groups of people.

If everybody had the same internalized morals, there would be no need for codified ethics.

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Mike_W
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WP,
I think you are confusing altruism and it's motivation (an age old argument that I actually just avoid - never having seen anything of use come of it) with civility and chivalry, which are codes of conduct not necessarily having anything to do with altrusim. I've pointed out twice, that these sets of rules have a positive, one might even say pragmatic impact on the operation of the culture as whole. When I say a human interaction is not a zero sum game, I mean precisely that. My behaviour will result in a series of short, medium, and long term outcomes. Doing the best thing in the short run (passing on the right on the highway to get somewhere sooner) may not deliver the best results in the long run (efficient traffic flow). This is PURELY pragmatic.

Now, you can argue that some of the rules are anachronistic. But, do you wish to argue there is no utility in codes of behaviour where individuals make short term sacrafices ( e.g. giving up a seat on a bus) for the greater good?

As for direct accountability; how? How can I be held accountable for the negative consequences of my action, such as behaving badly in traffic, when the consequence is much farther down the chain of causation? And, the marginal cost of enforecement never makes sense if I only look at the immediate cost?

Thinking in an evolutionary sense, most cultures (all?) have evolved codes of conduct (chivalry being one) because they are a pragmatic answer to questions that might very well be answered by direct accountabiilty, but no pragmatic means has been found to administer such accountability.

In the absence of ideological perfection, we humans do the best we can with the tools at hand.

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Pete at Home
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I said:
quote:
If you internalize Clinton by ramming a copy of "My Life" where the sun don't shine, you may have bowel problems. That doesn't mean you can say that Clinton causes constipation.
AA interpreted:
quote:
I think ethical systems are constructed for exactly when people haven't internalized morals. More to the point, ethical systems regulate the collision of different internal values within groups of people.

If everybody had the same internalized morals, there would be no need for codified ethics.

You have the gift of interpretation of tongues, AA. Thank you for exercising it. I can only soar through philosophical abstractions for so long, without occasionally settling to rest on something a little more concrete.
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potemkyn
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WP,

quote:
And finally, the concept of honor, valor, bravery. This is just something that grates against my pragmatic nature. Any time you have the trappings of those three expectations, you encourage stupid risk-taking behavior that is expected to have less real-world reward than other similarly risky activities. It asks people, men especially, to take greater risks in order to attain a perfectly artificial reward... if they survive.

Does it bother you that you have condemned heroism to something that "grates" against your nature? Or is heroism, which I believe is central to a true chivalric ethic, something which must be overcome as well. I mean, afterall, if I were to attempt to save the woman in the burning building, I would only be deluding her about her ability to survive in a hostile environment.

Potemkyn

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OpsanusTau
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quote:
I agree that in can be overdone to the point of bad faith or falsity. But a middle level of "get along" social behavior seems desirable to me. A society full of "brutally honest" (your word choice seems loaded, to me) people doesn't seem like a pleasant place, nor particularly effective. Not to mention that a place full of people rubbing eachother the wrong way doesn't seem conducive to "the utility of cooperation where it reaps an advantage (which is pretty often)."
AA, that's an interesting point - that in order to cooperate, people have to like each other on some level. More accurately, I guess, in order to be cooperated with, people have to be liked or at least tolerated.
So while brutal honesty (as though such a thing were possible!) might be simpler in an Occam's Razor sort of a sense of paring things down to the bare minimum, I feel a good deal more charitably disposed towards the guy who holds the door when my hands are full than I do towards the guy who is routinely rude to me. This has nothing to do with me being a girl and that sense of chivalry - more with the sense of chivalry as a guideline for behavior wherein people inconvenience themselves for others. Because we are fundamentally social beings and dependant upon one another, and it just doesn't make sense not to be nice.

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Richard Dey
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Again, we wind up quibbling about the meaning of terms. Ignoring the tenor of chivalry, which is abstruse and obsolete, let's consider each in turn:

chevalier knight. I would be willing to bet that the majority of equestrians here (are equestriennes, for one thing) ride western saddle -- which would render them dead in combat. Let's call that obsolete, along with knights.

A body or order of cavaliers or knights. This is inevitably a religious organization. The men remain chaste. It has nothing really to do with women; and never really did. The presumption was that knights defended maidens in wardship. What records do we have suggesting that they ever did? Knights were bachelor knights who had taken vows of poverty. What woman would want one? A nun?

The cavalry. By this I presume is also meant a company of dragoons (who use horse or jeep merely to reach the battlefield and fight on foot). This just doesn't play in the Pentagon.

Law. A tenure of lands by knightly service. This is obsolete as should be all tenant farming.

Court of chivalry, a court formerly held before the lord high constable and earl marshal of England as judges, having cognizance of contracts and other matters relating to warfare. Obsolete -- or would any of you stand before the Duke of Norfolk expecting justice?

courtesy towards women; gallantry, politesse. This is sexist, insulting to women today, and absurdist. Women who do want it can read female pornography and romance magazines.

Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856):

# charity (I added that one but in fact a penniless knight, as all were, could not be fiscally charitable), generosity, impartiality

# drunkenness, Dutch courage. Not even laudable

# ancienne noblesse, nobleesse oblige (obsolete)

# aristocracy, brahmin, elevation, election, exaltation, elite, high society, nobility, noble-mindedness, nobleness, noblesse, noblesse de robe, noblesse oblige, old nobility, peerage, baronage, baronetage, courtliness, the Peerage, the Four Hundred, princeliness, the classes, upper classes, royalty, upper crust, upper ten, upper ten thousand, uppercut, (unAmerican and exactly what our nation was founded to eliminate)

# arms, art of war, war (poetic)

# bigheartedness, bigness, boldness, braveness, bravery, conspicuous gallantry, courage, courageousness, courtesy, doughtiness, elect, elevation, gallantness, gallantry, gallantry under fire, heroism, lionheartedness, loftiness, politeness, valiance, valiancy, valor, valorousness (just say so)

# equitableness, fairness, magnanimity, openhandedness (what's wrong with equity?).

# honor, idealism (hardly peculiar to knighthood)

# liberality, liberalness (this in no way identifies knighthood, and is more romancing the tome)

# manfulness, manhood, manliness, martial spirit, martiality, military spirit, prowess, soldierly quality, stalwartness, stoutheartedness, stoutness (this is all sexist ... and ultimately sounds like Nelson Eddy is about to burst into a marching song)

# politeness (what the hell today is 'polite')

Notice what is critically missing from this definition by parameter, the very coeur d'essence of chivalry: male bonding excluding females. So no, I do not hold that the reinstitution of any form of chivalry, ancient or as revived in the Edwardian era, is a good idea for modern culture; and I am a member of a knightly order myself [Wink] .

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Pete at Home
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quote:
AA, that's an interesting point - that in order to cooperate, people have to like each other on some level. More accurately, I guess, in order to be cooperated with, people have to be liked or at least tolerated.
So while brutal honesty (as though such a thing were possible!) might be simpler in an Occam's Razor sort of a sense of paring things down to the bare minimum, I feel a good deal more charitably disposed towards the guy who holds the door when my hands are full than I do towards the guy who is routinely rude to me.

That's probably why some men that aren't chivalrous might feel threatened by men that are. Because it sets a standard of behavior that other men are judged against. Same issue as certain people who loathe Americans because we smile too much or work too hard.

You've also answered my question of what the chivalrous man gets out of it. Trust.

I've also noted that chivalrous and gentle behavior towards women tends to keep a single guy out of relations with women that are masochistic. You hear some guys complaining about the "nice guys finish last" syndrome, and there really are women that prefer to be with a man that is cruel to them. But these guys might ask themselves, isn't it better to narrow the dating pool than to end up making babies with a woman who hates herself?

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WarrsawPact
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If I wasn't really busy prepping for finals tomorrow, I would love to respond to all these posts, which are all interesting. I'll be back, probably tomorrow. 'Til then.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Notice what is critically missing from this definition by parameter, the very coeur d'essence of chivalry: male bonding excluding females.
Since you insist on keeping the connection to the historical chivalry, I'd like to point out that you overlook the exception that proves the rule. Joan of Arc was completely beloved of the knights that fought with her, as well as by the peasants that followed her. It was only the polititians and the priests who were frightened by her. And Joan was the epitome of Chivalric knighthood.
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TomDavidson
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There are actually two issues here, as I see it:

1) Is there something wrong with the chivalric ideal?

2) Is the idea of chivalry towards women inherently flawed?

To #1, I say no.
To #2, I must say "yes." Because "chivalry" of this sort, no matter how well-intentioned or well-meaning, says "I treat people of your gender well because you are special." Part of the problem here is that there's often an implicit "...as long as you adhere to a reciprocal code of conduct required of your gender." The other problem is that, in practice, any political minority that's considered "special" becomes -- inevitably -- a powerless one.

So women become both powerless and idolized under a chivalric model; to self-actualize, they also must abandon chivalric protections -- and, traditionally, as codes of chivalry extended to multiple other behaviors, this led to their being perceived as dangerous deviants.

If you believe that women are indeed a special class of citizen, I'd imagine that you would see no problem with this approach. Otherwise, I'm not sure that it leads to an equitable society.

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Pete at Home
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Here once again, Tom, you fail to distinguish between legal status issues such as "citizenship," and social perception.

Women can be a special class of people, without becoming a special class of citizens.

I don't recall anyone here saying that gestures of chivalry should be limited to citizens.

[ May 16, 2005, 10:07 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Funean
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I'm not sure that everyone is able to keep the distinction between citizenship and social perception as clear as you do, Pete. Otherwise, we shouldn't have to constantly enforce our anti-discrimination laws and suchlike. We might all agree (or at least generate enough of a climate of agreement that such laws are passed and enforced) that all citizens are equal, etc., but some of us surely do have a hard time keeping that in mind when our hidden prejudices are triggered.
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Funean
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Part of the problem with #2 in Tom's model is that there is an implicit requirement for the recipient of the chivalric benefit to "deserve" it, which of course obviates the idea of the chivalric ideal as being a standard of conduct worthy in its own right.

I am just old enough (39) and Southern enough (WV) to remember when being called unfeminine was a common, and stinging, rebuke.

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