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Subject: The "Veil of Ignorance" and indoctrination rss

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Mutton Chops
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An interesting video here from TheraminTrees, a fairly even-handed atheist YouTuber. What intrigued me was the thought experiment proposed by moral philosopher John Rawls (starts here) called the "Veil of Ignorance", which I'd not heard of before. It seems quite a useful experiment to apply to many moral and political areas...
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mutton_chops wrote:
An interesting video here from TheraminTrees, a fairly even handed atheist YouTuber. What intrigued me was the thought experiment proposed by moral philosopher John Rawls (starts here) called the "Veil of Ignorance", which I'd not heard of before. It seems quite a useful experiment to apply to many moral and political areas...


It's an interesting thought experiment, and I think the Rawlsian contractarian approach to justice is useful, but I've always thought that the "Veil of Ignorance" is a little too close to the faux-neutrality adopted by modern racists, etc.

For example, libertarians often hide their self-interest in maintaining a particularly unjust status quo arrangement behind abstract moral indignation at coercion, i.e. "yes, my preferred political position does substantially advance my self-interest as a rich white dude, but I didn't even consider that! I don't even see race, I'm just universally opposed to redistribution!" In other words, many groups and individuals already justify their positions with an appeal to the "Veil of Ignorance," and only some of them are doing it in bad faith- I think the majority think they are genuinely attempting to assess things from a neutral subject position, but their unexamined ideology still takes over when it comes to expounding a theory of justice.
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I call BS.

Let's imagine instead of religion using language in that thought experiment. Well, trying not to teach a child a language until they got older not only couldn't work but would damage the kid psychologically. Religious ideas and dealing with them are as natural to humans as language. Claiming not to teach them until later is so much nonsense.
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whac3 wrote:
I call BS.

Let's imagine instead of religion using language in that thought experiment. Well, trying not to teach a child a language until they got older not only couldn't work but would damage the kid psychologically. Religious ideas and dealing with them are as natural to humans as language. Claiming not to teach them until later is so much nonsense.


Well, right- disinterested assessment of which language, religion, etc. to adopt is fine in theory, but not ever actually possible.

Now, what the video describes in the context of religion is maybe just an example of what more enlightened parents might do- educate the child about their range of options is, rather than just have the child "born into" the religion of their parents. However, in practice, the child will often tend to gravitate towards the beliefs of their parents anyway, because they admire their parents, the religion's correspondence with other lessons taught by the parents, etc.
 
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Religion is our cultural context for our culture's ethics, traditions, rituals, etc. Western society in its ultra-individualism has abstracted this to personal beliefs and especially those involving a deity or deities. Throughout history that definition of a religion simply would not work-- with the remarkable exception of modern Western society. That definition also undercuts meaningful analysis. Most atheists are indistinguishable in beliefs and practices from lapsed or religiously unobservant Christians.
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Mutton Chops
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whac3 wrote:
I call BS.

Let's imagine instead of religion using language in that thought experiment. Well, trying not to teach a child a language until they got older not only couldn't work but would damage the kid psychologically. Religious ideas and dealing with them are as natural to humans as language. Claiming not to teach them until later is so much nonsense.


How is it "BS"? A child simply does not require religious* thought to survive in the modern world in the same way it needs language. It may be useful for the child to know that religious ideas exist, but knowing that religious ideas exist is not the same as being taught to believe in the truth of them - that's rather the whole point of the video. It's demonstrably preposterous to claim that religious ideas are as natural to humans as language, since many people do not espouse them. If you think that it's not possible to bring up a child without teaching them a religion (as opposed to teaching about religion, which the creator of the video explicitly states he considers the preferred situation), I can tell you that you're wrong, from personal experience.

Of course, it's highly implausible to claim that religious parents would be receptive to their child not being brought up into their religion, for reasons which are made very clear in the video. The video doesn't claim that this would be a trivial thing to achieve, or even possible, it simply seeks to explain why some people consider that situation as abusive towards the child.




*In the way it's usually defined. If you adopt a kind of presuppositionalist approach to the definition of religion, of course, all bets are off.
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You've adopted an absurd definition of religions that presupposes them to be irrelevant and then accuse me of adopting an absurd definition? That's rich.
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whac3 wrote:
You've adopted an absurd definition of religions that presupposes them to be irrelevant and then accuse me of adopting an absurd definition? That's rich.


Well, it's the definition of "religion" which is common to those raised in Christian societies, which we both know you know. I get that your understanding has virtues this one doesn't, but why are you acting like you don't know that that's what everyone else in the conversation means by it?
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J.D. Hall
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Good Christ, how many atheist/religion threads show up here positing the same old shit? I'm done with opening religious-themed threads. Most of the atheists are beyond condescending and many of the religionists are maddening unable to think outside their own culture/religion/bubble. Fuck it.

It just proves the truth behind that country song title:
God is Great, Beer is Good, and People are Crazy.
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Mutton Chops
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remorseless1 wrote:
Good Christ, how many atheist/religion threads show up here positing the same old shit? I'm done with opening religious-themed threads. Most of the atheists are beyond condescending and many of the religionists are maddening unable to think outside their own culture/religion/bubble. Fuck it.

It just proves the truth behind that country song title:
God is Great, Beer is Good, and People are Crazy.


I'd be interested in understanding where exactly in this thread you see atheist condescension.
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Mutton Chops
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whac3 wrote:
You've adopted an absurd definition of religions that presupposes them to be irrelevant and then accuse me of adopting an absurd definition? That's rich.


Can you indicate exactly where in my posts I claim or imply that religions are "irrelevant"?

My footnote simply observes that if one occupies a kind of presuppositionalist position, where everything, including rational thought, all discourse, and all human activity, is inherently "religious", then the discussion becomes meaningless. Of course, one still needs to demonstrate that such a position is valid - simply claiming that it is will not suffice.
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Interesting topic, crap responses as expected in RSP. lol
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mutton_chops wrote:
It seems quite a useful experiment to apply to many moral and political areas...


Robert Nozick has an interesting counter argument to Rawls if you care to look it up.
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Mutton Chops
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red black wrote:
mutton_chops wrote:
It seems quite a useful experiment to apply to many moral and political areas...


Robert Nozick has an interesting counter argument to Rawls if you care to look it up.


I am, and I will, thank you!
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J.D. Hall
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mutton_chops wrote:
remorseless1 wrote:
Good Christ, how many atheist/religion threads show up here positing the same old shit? I'm done with opening religious-themed threads. Most of the atheists are beyond condescending and many of the religionists are maddening unable to think outside their own culture/religion/bubble. Fuck it.

It just proves the truth behind that country song title:
God is Great, Beer is Good, and People are Crazy.


I'd be interested in understanding where exactly in this thread you see atheist condescension.


Okay.

mutton_chops wrote:
It's demonstrably preposterous to claim that religious ideas are as natural to humans as language, since many people do not espouse them.

Really? Can you find a culture that DOESN'T have a religion?

I'll wait.

To further my point: Many people are vegetarians, but they are a small minority among the omnivores that are their fellow people. Vegetarians, like condescending atheists, believe their viewpoint is right, logical, and moral.

Religion is a universal experience among humans, even those who don't espouse religions. And lest you think I am some fundamentalist, let me describe my nuclear family unit:

Me -- generic Deist.
Wife -- Liberal Christian
Oldest Daughter -- Buddhist.
Youngest Daughter -- Atheist.

WE taught our kids about our religion, exposed them to other religions, encouraged them to make up their own minds (I call it "find your true path").
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rinelk wrote:
whac3 wrote:
You've adopted an absurd definition of religions that presupposes them to be irrelevant and then accuse me of adopting an absurd definition? That's rich.


Well, it's the definition of "religion" which is common to those raised in Christian societies, which we both know you know. I get that your understanding has virtues this one doesn't, but why are you acting like you don't know that that's what everyone else in the conversation means by it?

I understand but it's not a useful definition for approaching or addressing these types of questions because they end up being reasoned entirely circularly.
 
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Mac Mcleod
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I agree with the veil of ignorance.

It's a great way to put your mind in a state more open to seeing reality and injustice.
 
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maxo-texas wrote:
I agree with the veil of ignorance.

It's a great way to put your mind in a state more open to seeing reality and injustice.

Direct counter-example:
In one society there is a program called Affirmative Action which employs people based on race according to a quota system. In the other society, no race has an advantage in hiring.

Which is the more racist society? By the Veil of Ignorance approach one reaches the wrong conclusion if Affirmative Action is a program for correcting social injustices in hiring based on race.
 
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Mac Mcleod
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whac3 wrote:
maxo-texas wrote:
I agree with the veil of ignorance.

It's a great way to put your mind in a state more open to seeing reality and injustice.

Direct counter-example:
In one society there is a program called Affirmative Action which employs people based on race according to a quota system. In the other society, no race has an advantage in hiring.

Which is the more racist society? By the Veil of Ignorance approach one reaches the wrong conclusion if Affirmative Action is a program for correcting social injustices in hiring based on race.


Looking from my veil of ignorance are the races treated equally so quotas are not needed or is one race discriminated against in hiring, housing, law enforcement, and school quality?

If, from a veil of ignorance, I would happily chose to be of any race because I knew it made no difference then I wouldn't see the value of affirmative action.

if, from a veil of ignorance I saw being one race or the other would lower my employment prospects, I would want affirmative action.

The veil of ignorance allows us to look at the world and set aside our bias and privilege. It helps us to walk a mile in others shoes and to be more empathetic. It's just a tool...one of many that we can use to improve the world.

....

The v.o.i I am familiar with asks, if you didn't know where you would be in a situation ... do you think position X in the group is treated fairly and would be willing to take that position.

For example.. we have a society where 99 people are treated great but 5 out of the hundred are worked 85 hours a weak until they die prematurely years earlier.

Not knowing if you would be the 5 or the 95, is that society fair and would you be willing to take a random role in it?
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whac3 wrote:
maxo-texas wrote:
I agree with the veil of ignorance.

It's a great way to put your mind in a state more open to seeing reality and injustice.

Direct counter-example:
In one society there is a program called Affirmative Action which employs people based on race according to a quota system. In the other society, no race has an advantage in hiring.

Which is the more racist society? By the Veil of Ignorance approach one reaches the wrong conclusion if Affirmative Action is a program for correcting social injustices in hiring based on race.


Why would the Veil of Ignorance preclude Affirmative Action? It seems perfectly plausible that, from behind the Veil of Ignorance, one would think it more just for society to include hiring processes like Affirmative Action to correct social injustices based on race (although, presumably, the ideal society one would imagine from behind the Veil of Ignorance would not contain those injustices in the first place).
 
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Moshe Callen
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You both presume the person behind the Veil of Ignorance would know about social injustices. Why would they? Looking at things through a veil of ignorance would necessarily preclude any but a surface analysis.

EDIT:
You can't be both ignorant and have a perfect in-depth knowledge of that kind of intimate detail.
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Mac Mcleod
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whac3 wrote:
You both presume the person behind the Veil of Ignorance would know about social injustices. Why would they? Looking at things through a veil of ignorance would necessarily preclude any but a surface analysis.

EDIT:
You can't be both ignorant and have a perfect in-depth knowledge of that kind of intimate detail.


This is a more valid point.

If the floorless are desived but the shumps are ripsized, the veil of ignorance wouldn't help you to know if it was fair or if it is better or worse to be a shump or floorless.

However if you can't understand the basic vocabulary or concepts of a problem not many tools will work.

Fortunately we have decades of experience with hiring discrimination, lynchings, racial hatred, promotion discrimination, law enforcement discrimination so the tool voi works in this situation.

Anyway.. I agree a philosophical screwdriver isn't useful as a hammer. The right tool for the right job.
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whac3 wrote:
You both presume the person behind the Veil of Ignorance would know about social injustices. Why would they? Looking at things through a veil of ignorance would necessarily preclude any but a surface analysis.

EDIT:
You can't be both ignorant and have a perfect in-depth knowledge of that kind of intimate detail.


You don't know anything about your own identity or potential place within society behind the Veil of Ignorance (which I think is implausible and a problem with the Veil of Ignorance, as I take some of the things discarded by the Veil of Ignorance to be, in different capacities for different people, essential to one's concept of self, and thus imagining oneself behind the Veil of Ignorance requires engaging in a contradiction), but while it has been a long time since I read Rawls for my comps (and honestly, I wasn't that interested at the time), I recall nothing indicating you need to be ignorant about anything else. You don't know what your race is, but there's nothing saying, to my recollection, that you don't know what 'race' is, what injustice is, or how those things play out in the society you're considering from behind the Veil.
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whac3 wrote:
I call BS.

Let's imagine instead of religion using language in that thought experiment. Well, trying not to teach a child a language until they got older not only couldn't work but would damage the kid psychologically. Religious ideas and dealing with them are as natural to humans as language. Claiming not to teach them until later is so much nonsense.


I'm not sympathetic to the conclusions of the video (although, to be honest, I couldn't get the whole way through it - it was way too heavy-handed), but there's lots of disanalogies between language and religion. Language development is arguably necessary for concept formation - it's not obvious that religion is even necessary for a good and full human existence. I get that religion is very important to some people and an essential part of their culture (one of my problems with the kind of Christianity I was raised with is this problematic idea that religion and culture are somehow separable), and so I think in certain contexts you can no more raise a child without religion than you can raise them without culture. However, it's not obvious that not teaching a child religion would harm them psychologically, or that religious ideas are as natural to humans as language - there's no reason to swing the pendulum the other way, to treat religion as being as essential or natural as language, and thus something we ought to teach children, which is what, if we treated religion as being as natural as language, we'd have to do. That's too strong.
 
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