Friday, November 23, 2007

Singer Offers Hope

Most of us in the HBD movement have either been worried over the political implications of the recent torrent of race-intelligence media events, from Watson, to NYtimes, to Slate. Or, others have simply not cared to much and have just been happy that their viewpoint has been validated, such as on gene expression

Honestly, I haven't seen too much in terms of viable solutions, given how terrible human beings can be. But, when looking through some old animal rights propaganda, I found the old Singer essay that has the potential to SUBSTANTIALLY assist the liberals in re framing their political philosophy to deal with racial differences in intelligence. Here's a substantial chunk from his work (caps I added for relevant emphasis):

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When we say that all human beings, whatever their race, creed, or sex, are equal, what is it that we are asserting? Those who wish to defend a hierarchical, inegalitarian society have often pointed out that by whatever test we choose, it simply is not true that all humans are equal. Like it or not, we must face the fact that humans come in different shapes and sizes; they come with differing moral capacities, differing intellectual abilities, differing amounts of benevolent feeling and sensitivity to the needs of others, differing abilities to communicate effectively, and differing capacities to experience pleasure and pain. In short, if the demand for equality were based on the actual equality of all human beings, we would have to stop demanding equality. It would be an unjustifiable demand.

This is a possible line of objection to racial and sexual discrimination. It is not, however, the way that someone really concerned about equality would choose, because taking this line could, in some circumstances, force one to accept a most inegalitarian society. The fact that humans differ as individuals, rather than as races or sexes, is a valid reply to someone who defends a hierarchical society like, say, South Africa, in which all whites are superior in status to all blacks. The existence of individual variations that cut across the lines of race or sex, however, provides us with no defense at all against a more sophisticated opponent of equality, one who proposes that, say, the interests of those with I.Q. ratings above 100 be preferred to the interests of those with I.Q.s below 100. Would a hierarchical society of this sort really be so much better than one based on race or sex? I think not. But if we tie the MORAL principle of equality to the FACTUAL EQUALITY of the different races or sexes, taken as a whole, our opposition to racism and sexism does not provide us with any basis for objecting to this kind of inegalitarianism.

There is a second important reason why we ought not to base our opposition to racism and sexism on any kind of factual equality, even the limited kind which asserts that variations in capacities and abilities are spread evenly between the different races and sexes: we can have no absolute guarantee that these abilities and capacities really are distributed evenly, without regard to race or sex, among human beings. So far as actual abilities are concerned, there do seem to be certain MEASURABLE DIFFERENCES between both races and sexes. These differences do not, of course, appear in each case, but only when averages are taken. More important still, we do not yet know how much of these differences is really due to the different GENETIC ENDOWMENTS of the various races and sexes, and how much is due to environmental differences that are the result of past and continuing discrimination. Perhaps all of the important differences will eventually prove to be environmental rather than genetic. Anyone opposed to racism and sexism will certainly hope that this will be so, for it will make the task of ending discrimination a lot easier; nevertheless it would be DANGEROUS TO REST THE CASE AGAINST RACISM AND SEXISM ON THE BELIEF THAT ALL SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES ARE ENVIRONMENTAL IN ORIGIN. The opponent of, say, racism who takes this line will be unable to avoid conceding that IF DIFFERENCES IN ABILITY did after all prove to have some GENETIC connection with race, RACISM would in some way be DEFENSIBLE.

It would be folly for the opponent of racism to stake his whole case on a dogmatic commitment to one particular outcome of a difficult scientific issue which is still a long way from being settled. While attempts to prove that differences in certain selected abilities between races and sexes are primarily genetic in origin have certainly not been conclusive, the same must be said of attempts to prove that these differences are largely the result of environment. At this stage of the investigation we cannot be certain which view is correct, however much we may hope it is the latter.

The appropriate response to those who claim to have found evidence of genetically-based differences in ability between the races or sexes is not to stick to the belief that the genetic explanation must be wrong, whatever evidence to the contrary may turn up: instead we should make it quite clear that the claim to equality does not depend on intelligence, moral capacity, physical strength, or similar matters of fact. Equality is a moral ideal, not a simple assertion of fact. There is no logically compelling reason for assuming that a factual difference in ability between two people justifies any difference in the amount of consideration we give to satisfying their needs and interests. The principle of the equality of human beings is not a description of an alleged actual equality among humans: it is a prescription of how we should treat humans.

It is an implication of this principle of equality that OUR CONCERN FOR OTHERS OUGHT NOT TO DEPEND ON WHAT THEY ARE LIKE, or what abilities they possess—although precisely what this concern requires us to do may vary according to the characteristics of those affected by what we do. IT IS ON THIS BASIS THAT THE CASE AGAINST RACISM AND THE CASE AGAINST SEXISM MUST BOTH ULTIMATELY REST; and it is in accordance with this principle that SPECIESISM is also to be condemned. IF POSSESSING A HIGHER DEGREE OF INTELLIGENCE DOES NOT ENTITLE ONE HUMAN TO USE ANOTHER FOR HIS OWN ENDS, HOW CAN IT ENTITLE HUMANS TO EXPLOIT NONHUMANS?

The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognized that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum, are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month, old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail? THE QUESTION IS NOT, CAN THEY REASON? NOR, CAN THEY TALK? BUT, CAN THEY SUFFER?

The capacity for suffering—or more strictly, for suffering and/or enjoyment or happiness—is not just another characteristic like the capacity for language, or for higher mathematics. Bentham is not saying that those who try to mark "the insuperable line" that determines whether the interests of a being should be considered happen to have selected the wrong characteristic. The capacity for suffering and enjoying things is a prerequisite for having interests at all, a condition that must be satisfied before we can speak of interests in any meaningful way.

The racist violates the principle of equality by giving greater weight to the interests of members of his own race, when there is a clash between their interests and the interests of those of another race. Similarly the speciesist allows the interests of his own species to override the greater interests of members of other species.[4] The pattern is the same in each case. Most human beings are speciesists. l shall now very briefly describe some of the practices that show this.

our practice of rearing and killing other animals in order to eat them is a clear instance of the sacrifice of the most important interests of other beings in order to satisfy trivial interests of our own. To avoid speciesism we must stop this practice, and each of us has a moral obligation to cease supporting the practice. Our custom is all the support that the meat-industry needs. The decision to cease giving it that support may be difficult, but it is no more difficult than it would have been for a white Southerner to go against the traditions of his society and free his slaves: if we do not change our dietary habits, how can we censure those slaveholders who would not change their own way of living?

Our practice of rearing and killing other animals in order to eat them is a clear instance of the sacrifice of the most important interests of other beings in order to satisfy trivial interests of our own. To avoid speciesism we must stop this practice, and each of us has a moral obligation to cease supporting the practice. Our custom is all the support that the meat-industry needs. The decision to cease giving it that support may be difficult, but it is no more difficult than it would have been for a white Southerner to go against the traditions of his society and free his slaves: if we do not change our dietary habits, how can we censure those slaveholders who would not change their own way of living?

what is this capacity to enjoy the good life which all humans have, but no other animals? Other animals have emotions and desires and appear to be capable of enjoying a good life. We may doubt that they can think—although the behavior of some apes, dolphins, and even dogs suggests that some of them can—but what is the relevance of thinking? Frankena goes on to admit that by "the good life" he means "not so much the morally good life as the happy or satisfactory life," so thought would appear to be unnecessary for enjoying the good life; in fact to emphasize the need for thought would make difficulties for the egalitarian since only some people are capable of leading intellectually satisfying lives, or morally good lives. This makes it difficult to see what Frankena's principle of equality has to do with simply being human. Surely every sentient being is capable of leading a life that is happier or less miserable than some alternative life, and hence has a claim to be taken into account. In this respect the distinction between humans and nonhumans is not a sharp division, but rather a continuum along which we move gradually, and with overlaps between the species, from simple capacities for enjoyment and satisfaction, or pain and suffering, to more complex ones.

Indeed, when one thinks only of humans, it can be very liberal, very progressive, to talk of the dignity of all human beings. In so doing, we implicitly condemn slavery, racism, and other violations of human rights. We admit that we ourselves are in some fundamental sense on a par with the poorest, most ignorant members of our own species. It is only when we think of humans as no more than a small sub-group of all the beings that inhabit our planet that we may realize that in elevating our own species we are at the same time lowering the relative status of all other species.

In case there are those who still think it may be possible to find some relevant characteristic that distinguishes all humans from all members of other species, I shall refer again, before I conclude, to the existence of some humans who quite clearly are below the level of awareness, self-consciousness, intelligence, and sentience, of many non-humans. l am thinking of humans with severe and irreparable brain damage, and also of infant humans.
(my comment: or pygmies or australoids, with average IQ<60)


(A possible justification of the division between imbecile and dog)
"
. . we respect the interests of men and give them priority over dogs not insofar as they are rational, but because rationality is the human norm. We say it is unfair to exploit the deficiencies of the imbecile who falls short of the norm, just as it would be unfair, and not just ordinarily dishonest, to steal from a blind man. If we do not think in this way about dogs, it is because we do not see the irrationality of the dog as a deficiency or a handicap, but as normal for the species, The characteristics, therefore, that distinguish the normal man from the normal dog make it intelligible for us to talk of other men having interests and capacities, and therefore claims, of precisely the same kind as we make on our own behalf. But although these characteristics may provide the point of the distinction between men and other species, they are not in fact the qualifying conditions for membership, to the distinguishing criteria of the class of morally considerable persons; and this is precisely because a man does not become a member of a different species, with its own standards of normality, by reason of not possessing these characteristics.
"

The final sentence of this passage gives the argument away. An imbecile, Benn concedes, may have no characteristics superior to those of a dog; nevertheless this does not make the imbecile a member of "a different species" as the dog is. Therefore it would be "unfair" to use the imbecile for medical research as we use the dog. But why? That the imbecile is not rational is just the way things have worked out, and the same is true of the dog—neither is any more responsible for their mental level. If it is unfair to take advantage of an isolated defect, why is it fair to take advantage of a more general limitation? I find it hard to see anything in this argument except a defense of preferring the interests of members of our own species because they are members of our own species. To those who think there might be more to it, I suggest the following mental exercise. Assume that it has been proven that there is a difference in the average, or normal, intelligence quotient for two different races, say whites and blacks. Then SUBSTITUTE "WHITE" for every occurrence of "MEN" and "BLACK" for every occurrence of "DOG" in the passage quoted; and substitute "HIGH IQ" for "RETIONALITY" and when Benn talks of "IMBECILES" replace this term by "DUMB WHITES"—that is, whites who fall well below the normal white l.Q. score. Finally, CHANGE "SPECIES" to "RACE." Now retread the passage. It has become a defense of a rigid, no-exceptions division between whites and blacks, based on l.Q. scores, not withstanding an admitted overlap between whites and blacks in this respect. The revised passage is, of course, outrageous, and this is not only because we have made fictitious assumptions in our substitutions. The point is that in the original passage Benn was defending a rigid division in the amount of consideration due to members of different species, despite admitted cases of overlap. If the original did not, at first reading strike us as being as outrageous as the revised version does, this is largely because ALTHOUGH WE ARE NOT RACISTS OURSELVES, MOST OF US ARE SPECIESISTS. Like the other articles, Benn's stands as a warning of the ease with which the best minds can fall victim to a prevailing ideology.

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So, food for though. All the hypothetical situations that Singer has given for race relations are now in front of us, and we must confront them.

Animal rights really is the natural result of the race realism movement.

I do not think oppressed minorities will be happy with this piece, but at least this natural philosophy shows we have SOME alternative to hitlerism and Jim Crow and slavery. I hope.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you should make your post smaller.

But on the main topic, I'll make it clear- I'm fucking sick of this tone. Why do you people think political equality and meritocracy are the only thing that matters? The real problem is that the existence of racial differences would eliminate any sense of a common, unified biological human nature. It would utterly fragment one's true sense of humanity. And political equality can't even touch some of the extremities you push off, such as Lahn's work- the people who ran with his work were suggesting those who lacked those alleles were somehow less sapient than those who had them. The rules would be much different for those people if it were true, so please stop buffering this retardation as some kind of reassurance.

It's basically a question of human existentialism, and I'm damn sick of seeing this naievity.

Anonymous said...

I should also mention that the same would hold true for environmentalism.

Anonymous said...

And look- I'm not saying that political equality and meritocracy can't work here, they're pretty unshakeable. But they are NOT as comprehensive and full-proof as you think.

Anonymous said...

And really- even though Lahn's work is extreme, there have been many cases I've seen of the idea of major biological differences pushed off by "race realistS" where the rules would be rather different overall. So please stop pushing this off with such hypocrisy in your midst.

TabooTruth said...

Yeah, will try to boil it down to the main points.

I don't really understand the attacks you're making specifically. I don't believe that humanity is special and unique.

But if you're objecting to underlying perspectives of the HBD movement, I would like to see you post on half sigma or steve sailer.

Anonymous said...

Insurance companies make a nice profitable stable business by discriminating against groups having bad statistics. Folks accept that, e.g., many teenagers are outstanding drivers but must pay through the nose for auto insurance. Likewise obese and smokers for life insurance.

If you belong to Group_B that has e.g., lousy low intractable test scores, seven times the crime rate, massive OOW_Breeding & welfare dependancy, compared to Group_W, then don't expect Group_W's to want to associate with you, employ you, rent to you, etc.

White_Flight is merely Mainstream_America voting with its "racist" feet.

Sorry, it's just common rational sense...

Anonymous said...

"I don't really understand the attacks you're making specifically. I don't believe that humanity is special and unique."

The problem for me is that I don't fully know the main reason why most people are repulsed by racial differences. I only recently realized my revulsion stems from the idea of it, again, eliminating a true sense of a unified human nature. And yet, I don't even know if this is a common problem I see with it. Is it really true that people are only put off by it because of a fear of genocide and discrimination?

Like I said, it's a question of human existentialism, and it doesn't really have to do with how "special" our species is. I haven't fully explored it, but I think I've touched on something most people have overlooked.

In fact, the only reason why the issue of political equality is drummed up so much is because of the same underlying fear of genocide and discrimination. It wouldn't even need to be stressed so much if that wasn't there.

Obviously, that sort of sense of humanity would still be there even if it were true, but it wouldn't be much.

"But if you're objecting to underlying perspectives of the HBD movement, I would like to see you post on half sigma or steve sailer."

What sort of perspectives? I've never been impressed by either. Sailer is a third-rate intellectual in my eyes.

TabooTruth said...

Human existentialism:

I would be curious to learn more about the specific ideas you are bringing to the table, in terms of a unified human identity?

I would not disagree that Sailer isn't a top-tier thinker. However, his willingness to confront these issues while more prominent thinkers flee earns him a large following. And I don't object.

Genocide and discrimination are still valid concerns, considering there are genocides going on right now.

Anonymous said...

People don't want inferiority shoved down their throats, and have to pay for it to boot ( diversity, affirmative action, integration...).

Anonymous said...

"I would be curious to learn more about the specific ideas you are bringing to the table, in terms of a unified human identity?"

Again, I haven't delved into it enough. It's simply an answer to what Michael Levin laid out, which was an excellent way of looking at racial differences- the idea that claims of "racism" and the like can't be made until one can substantiate as to why racial differences are immoral, whether a belief in them is bad, and whether saying they exist is bad.

Basically, I've noticed that what most people have offered up in answer to this, to any threat or fear people have over racial differences (and environmentalism overall) is the blanket statement of political equality.

What I've come up with is simply an actual answer to the morality of racial differences. I just don't like how you and others seem to think political equality is the only thing that matters.

"I would not disagree that Sailer isn't a top-tier thinker. However, his willingness to confront these issues while more prominent thinkers flee earns him a large following. And I don't object. "

And this doesn't give him much in the way of intellectual integrity, does it? He's callous, snide, and does little more than parrot the works of all the other luminaries of racialism out there.

"Genocide and discrimination are still valid concerns, considering there are genocides going on right now."

Not really. Again, the existence of race differences would not at all lead to this.