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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2000 4:17 pm 
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(1) Yona's at-the-movies scenario....

Yona is at the movies and finds herself involved in an altercation over getting butter for popcorn. The dialogue goes like this:

Y: "Could I just scoot in and get some butter, please?"
X: "No, I'm busy, go use another."
Y:"I'd like to, but this is the only one open."
X: "Then you can wait."
Y: "Sometimes it seems like you're the only person in the world...."
X: "Sometimes fat people shouldn't put butter on their popcorn; then they wouldn't have to wait."

As always with written language, there's a problem here because the intonation -- the tune the words are set to -- is missing. If Yona's opening line -- "Could I just scoot in and get some butter, please?" -- was in Placater Mode, then the fight was pretty well guaranteed; if her additional lines were also Placating, that strengthens the guarantee. X's body language -- monopolizing the butter station, ignoring other people obviously waiting, and so on -- was almost certainly Blamer Mode. [Making other people wait, without apologizing or explaining or even acknowledging their existence, is blatant power-tripping, which is a kind of nonverbal Blaming.] Any combination of Blaming and Placating creates a hostility loop and escalates toward a fight.

For sake of discussion, let's assume that Yona's lines were _not_ Placating but simply neutral Leveling or Computing utterances, and that all of the additional lines from Person X were in Blamer Mode. In that case Person X added a verbal attack to the nonverbal one, for one of two reasons. The most likely reason is that X really wants and enjoys the attention she gets with this behavior; it's also possible (though far less likely) that she is a sadist and enjoys causing pain. Either way, when she threw the "fat people" line at Yona, she achieved exactly what she was after -- it worked. Yona says that the line "stopped me dead in my tracks and I was completely silent." After which Person X -- satisfied after having gotten what she wanted -- left.

Someone behaving the way Person X was behaving, in public, is sending out an invitation. The metamessage is "Look at ME, using all the butter so nobody else can get any! Come on over here and give me a chance to show you that there's no way you can keep me from doing this! Come on over and play this game with me, so I can fill my need for human attention and feed on your emotional reactions! Victim wanted here! Step right up!"

In such a situation, there are only two plausible strategies.

One: Ignore Person X. Refuse the invitation. Person X should be treated as if invisible, inaudible, and nonexistent, until it becomes clear to her that what she's doing is not going to work.

Two [for EXPERTS only]: Go _smother_ Person X with attention -- neutrally, and without any emotional goodies attached. Like this:

You: "Boy, it's hard to make that butter thing work! Here you are, trying to enjoy a movie, and you have to spend half your time out here in the lobby struggling with a stupid machine! There are days when it seems like the whole world is against you, right? If that machine worked the way it's supposed to work, you wouldn't have to stand there and coat every single grain of popcorn individually the way you're doing it -- you'd be in your seat watching the movie you paid good money for! You know, watching you do that reminds me of something that happened to me when I was just a little kid. We were living in Tulsa at the time, and..... No! Wait a minute, it couldn't have been Tulsa, it must have been after we moved to Kansas City, because......." And so on, endlessly, and inexorably.

The metamessage that goes with this move is: "I see you there, asking for someone to come pay attention to you and play games with you. I'll be more than glad to help you out. Be aware that it's going to be no fun for you at all -- just excruciatingly boring."

Note: Ordinarily, when a verbal attack comes from a stranger or from somebody you're not likely to have to deal with again, the most sensible reaction is to think to yourself what a sorry spectacle the attacker is and let it pass. Breaking verbal abusers of their habits is work; when they're someone you have to deal with all the time, it's worth your investment of time and energy to do that work. Doing it with other people makes sense only as a kind of public service, for which you are of course free to volunteer if that's your inclination.

Final Note: I know one or two very skilled VSD artists who could have walked over to Person X and Leveled -- firmly but neutrally -- saying: "What you're doing is unacceptable. Cut it out." And Person X would have instantly yielded. You're the only one capable of knowing whether you're that skilled or not; if the move doesn't work, the consequences will be extremely unpleasant.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2000 4:23 pm 
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About leaving the forum....

My sincere thanks to all of you for the kind words about my leaving the forum.

I want to be sure you understand why I'm leaving. It's for one and only one reason: I am so heavily committed to other work that there's no way I can serve as moderator here and do a job that meets either your standards or mine.I'm truly sorry about that. For me this stint as moderator has been a learning experience and of great value; I'd like to continue.

Unfortunately, I can't do it and meet all my other obligations -- and I refuse to do it in a careless or slapdash way. I will do my best to put in extra time here during this final month, and then I will leave with much regret.

Suzette


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2000 4:54 pm 
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Naturally, I am also very sorry to learn that Suzette won't be continuing as forum moderator. I've learned a great deal during her short stay and will miss her words of wisdom.

I nominate "Student" as someone who could help moderate this forum in Suzette's absence. He seems to have a pretty good grasp of the VSD and the martial arts.

What say Student?

------------------
GEM


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2000 7:12 pm 
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Panther-
It's about relative values. Morals are heirarchical- they are not all equal. I would guess that maorally, you consicer lying to be wrong. Also interfering with someone's autonomy and standing by to watch some one die.

If a friend extracted a promise from you to never repeat what you are about to hear, then confessed an intention to commit murder you would have to choose, from your moral hierarchy whether breaking your word (to contact someone who could help), interfering with a persons autonomy (and stopping the friend yourself) or passively letting someone die was the worst evil.

Whichever decision you make is morally wrong _only_ if you believe all choices are equivalent. They clearly aren't.

The upshot of this is that all moral choices are decisions and what you do (completely separate from what you think, believe, or say you will do) are clues to your value system.

Both your friend and Suzette seem to be realists enough to be aware that they, although they would like to live to a ripe old age without ever using any level of violence (and it is extremely likely for most folks) that given a choice between dying and punching someone there stated morals will give. That's where ethics come in.

Ethics is what happens when you try to list your morals in black and white. When you frame the words "X is wrong." or "Q is always preferable to P." We can always come up with far-fetched exceptions to any rule- which is why so many people who are brave enough to state their ethics formally, like Suzette, get baited so hard. The blanket statement is an easy target.

I am a little concerned that it would be characterized as a "moral failure". All it would be is a show of value- e.g. "my daughter is more important than my pacifism".
The only failure would be a difference between words and deeds which some would brand hypocracy. I don't see any failure in that (though I have a personal preference for changing my stated position when I find out something about myself!)

Rory


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2000 7:57 pm 
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Rory,

Good reply and I agree.

However, saying that I wouldn't lie, won't divulge a secret, wouldn't interfere with someone else's autonomy, and wouldn't stand by and let an innocent person die, are understandably broken if the circumstances or instance dictates the need. That is, IMO, very different from classifying something in an absolute and going even further to admonish that breaking that absolute makes me a "moral failure". That is where I have a problem and spiral into a mental short circuit.

You seem to agree and understand the crux of my problem in your last paragraph. For me, personally, I will not do anything that I feel would make me a "moral failure". That is why (with my friend and here with Suzette), I've tried to "leave an out" which is that some acts (lying, telling a secret, interfering with someone's autonomy, using physical force in defense of self or others) can be deemed "justified" or "justifiable". That's the "out", but when the response (from both my friend and Suzette) includes the belief that "violence is never justified", getting physical in self-defense is violence (can't really disagree with that), and therefore by defending yourself physically one becomes a "moral falure"... well...

If I am a "moral failure" for using physical force - violence - in self-defense and...
If no violence is ever justified...
Then I am never justified in defending myself or anyone else. Otherwise, I lose my very soul (for lack of a better term) to a lack of conviction in my moral absolutes.

Yes, there are grey areas, but in order to take an action, one must feel that action is justified. Otherwise there is no reason to take that action. Forget all of the hindsight is 20/20 crap... At the time that one takes an action, if they don't feel like that action is morally justified, then they shouldn't take that action.

I hold certain strong convictions about certain things and absolutely feel that I would be a moral failure for breaking those rules. For those beliefs and convictions, there is zero chance that I will break those rules. Zero, for I would rather die with those convictions intact than live as a "moral failure". Such as going into a rage at the person hogging the popcorn butterer and committing an act of terminal violence on them when I could just as easily think, "us old, fat fahts don't really need butter on our popcorn anyway". However, there are certain moral guidelines that I have which I feel on rare occasions are justifiably ignored. Such as the moral guideline to abstain from using violence... for defense of self or loved ones who have been put into a situation of imminent death or grave bodily harm, that moral guideline is justifiably ignored if the need arises.

It is that conviction to uphold certain moral absolutes, while at the same time feeling that there can be justification for breaking certain moral guidelines, that causes my paradox when trying to understand the position of my friend (or Suzette). If something can not ever be justified, then it falls into the moral absolutes folder for me and I would die before I betrayed those convictions. Therefore, I can not reconcile someone who thinks something is never justified, yet would break that moral conviction and live feeling that they are a moral failure.

I could understand feeling as if they'd failed in the situation, or if the action could be reconciled as a justified breach of the moral values... but doing something that is never justified and therefore becoming a complete moral failure?!?!



[This message has been edited by Panther (edited June 02, 2000).]


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2000 8:40 pm 
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Suzette,

Glad to see your reasons for leaving are not hard feelings! I admire your integrity greatly. Your determination to redouble your efforts in your last days is something I truly admire. You are a martial artist, whether you realize it or not. You have fighting spirit, and a sense of give and take.... fairness, something we all should be cultivating. Thanks for the great interaction!


------------------
"There ain't no graduation from this kind of education"


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2000 5:23 am 
All my best wishes to you. Suzette.

I second the nomination, George.

------------------
Allen, Home: http://www.ury2k.com/ mirror: http://home.ici.net/~uechi/


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2000 5:32 am 
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by gmattson:

I nominate "Student" as someone who could help moderate this forum in Suzette's absence. He seems to have a pretty good grasp of the VSD and the martial arts.

What say Student?

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thank you, but no. And thank you, Allen. My life at this moment needs me to spend less time on the computer, not more. And this is such a vast topic I couldn't do it half the justice it deserves.

And if I can't be at least half-vast, it's not worth it, is it? Image

student


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2000 5:54 am 
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Suzette,

Thanks for the excellent and detailed analysis. Intonation is really important, no doubt about it.

I'm still at odds with understanding how someone could ever do something that they consider makes them a moral failure.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2000 6:41 pm 
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_Yona's garden scenario, and the three-part message technique_

Yona cautions us that the scenario is hypothetical but corresponds to a real situation about which she prefers not to provide details. Then she writes: "Let's say I have a garden in my yard, which for various reasons needs to be kept private, no kids allowed. My husband thinks this is silly, and will let the children use the garden when I am not around. ... More than once we have discussed this. In the old days, before VSD, he used to argue, then I would do the debating, pleading, fighting thing. Now I don't. I have been very clear about this, but still he just smiles, then repeats the behavior when I am not looking. I am guessing I will have to use a three-part message..."

Let me say first of all that my immediate reaction is that a great deal more than just language behavior is going on here, and that a discussion of that would go far beyond what's appropriate for this forum, as well as go beyond my expertise. I'm not a therapist or counselor, I'm a linguist. But suppose we set that aside and behave as if this were a simple difference of opinion rather than a complex ongoing struggle. Suppose we focus just on the language aspect -- is there anything Yona could do with VSD to improve this situation? She suggests the three-part message technique. I'll explain it briefly here; if you want details, you'll find them in my books, which should be available at your library.

Adults in our culture react negatively to criticism and complaints, both of which presuppose "I have a right to comment on your behavior and suggest/request that you change it in some way." Often their negative reaction is not to the content of the criticism or complaint but simply to the fact that you _are_ criticizing or complaining; often the person doesn't even listen to the content of what's being said, because the negative reaction is so automatic. The three-part message is a language pattern constructed to bypass that kneejerk negative reaction.

The three-part message began with the traditional "I-message" (for which I have been unable to identify the person who should receive first credit), as in "I feel annoyed when you yell at me." It was then developed by Thomas Gordon into something Gordon called a "three-part assertiveness message." Others, including me, have developed it further. I don't use "assertiveness" as part of its label because I think that's a mistake; my reasons for that aren't relevant here.

The pattern looks like this: When you (X), I feel(Y), because (Z). X is filled with a single item of behavior that you want changed; Y is filled with the emotion you feel in response to the behavior; Z is filled with the real world consequence or fact that justifies your action of criticising or complaining. All three -- X, Y, and Z -- must contain concrete items verifiable in the real world. (This doesn't mean you can't complain or criticize without meeting that standard; it _does_ mean that only meeting that standard constitutes a valid three-part message.)

Example: When you don't water the tomato plants, I feel angry, because plants die without water. (Leveling) - or - When the tomato plants don't get watered, people feel angry, because plants die without water. (Computing)

Part 1 (when you don't water the tomato plants) is verifiable because the person did not water those plants. ( If that's _not_ verifiable, you can't proceed; let's assume that it's not a matter of dispute.) Part 2 (I feel angry) is verifiable because your body language backs up the emotion claimed and it's appropriate to the situation. Part 3 (because plants die without water) is verifiable for obvious reasons and can be easily demonstrated. You choose between Leveling or Computing based on the situation. When Leveling is safe and appropriate it's always the better choice. The more defensive and touchy the person you're complaining to is, the more likely it is that Computing is the better choice; with teenagers, it's almost always preferable.

Consider more traditional variants. "When you don't water the tomato plants, I feel angry, because you're supposed to do your share around here!" "When you leave all the watering for me to do, it drives me crazy, and it's not fair, and I won't put up with it any longer!" "When you act like you don't have to help, I could just scream, because you promised we'd share the garden work!" (And so on.) All of these contain things about which argument is not only possible but probable. If you say "You're supposed to do your share around here" you invite an argument about whether the person is supposed to help, why that's so, how "your share" is to be defined, and so on. A valid three-part message offers nothing about which a rational person can argue. (If the person you're dealing with isn't rational, that's a different situation, beyond the scope of this brief discussion.)

So....back to Yona's scenario. To construct a three-part message, she would have to choose a single behavior about which to complain. The simpler and clearer it is, the better. Let's try this: "When you let the kids play in the garden..." That's Part 1, and it would be used when Yona had found the kids playing in the garden and the kids had truthfully said "Daddy told us it was okay." Let's assume that the emotion Yona feels, for Part 2, would be anger. That gives us "When you let the kids play in the garden, I feel angry..." So far so good. Now comes the hard part -- Part 3. Yona needs an item that is verifiable in the real world and justifies her claim that she has the right to make the complaint. For example:

"When you let the kids play in the garden, I feel angry -- because they pull up the plants by the roots, which kills the plants." If that's true, it's verifiable; good three-part message.

Alternatives that might leap to mind, but that won't work:
"When you let the kids play in the garden, I feel angry, because the garden is supposed to be kept private."
"When you let the kids play in the garden, I feel angry, because that's mean."
"When you let the kids play in the garden, I feel angry, because you're not supposed to let them do that."

If the real problem here is not the kids playing in the garden but the shenanigans that are going on in the relationship, the message would start out like this --

"When you promise me you won't do something and then do it behind my back, I feel angry, because....?"

-- but it would be much harder to find a Part 3 that is verifiable in the real world and is something no rational person would argue about.

Note: One thing I'd suggest, if it can be done, is that Yona have the spouse complete a three-part message something like this one, but tailored to the specific details of the situation: "When you tell me not to let the kids play in the garden, I feel amused, because...."


I've moderated many disputes (often between two or more sizable groups of people) using this technique. The rules for such negotiation are: "The two groups meet separately. Each group writes down its complaint(s) -- but only complaints in the form of valid three-part messages are allowed. The groups exchange the written complaints and meet again separately, to decide what each is willing and/or able to do in response to the complaint(s). Then the groups meet together to negotiate. The hardest part of this process is usually not the negotiation -- which is usually pretty straightforward, now that everybody is singing from the same page. The hardest part is constructing the three-part messages. People want to make complaints like "When you don't turn in your sales figures on time, I feel angry, because only jerks don't meet their deadlines." Such complaints may be valid, and justified, and meet all sorts of other criteria, but they're not three-part messages. The advantage of using three-part messages is that they have a long and solid track record of _actually bringing about the requested behavioral change_, and of doing so without any sort of coercion (or bribe) being required.

Suzette


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2000 12:16 am 
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Suzette,

Your last post got me thinking about a cultural difference in seeing disputes and I would really like your opinion.

I was raised in a family where logic and debate were highly prized. Almost all disputes were handled in the "computing" or "leveling" manner you described above. Losing tempers such as raising a voice or using emotional language we were taught was what happened when someone realized they were wrong and weren't flexible enough to accept it.
Fast forward many years later. My wife (9 years, very happy) was raised completely differently. In her family (1st generation Eastern European refugee, if that is relevant) a calm disagreement is not a disagreement. She can _only_ take a disagreement seriously if I lose my temper "If you aren't shouting I know it's no big deal."
Is there a compromise mechanism available that I can't see?

Rory


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2000 1:58 pm 
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About the "moral failure" question...

I'm going to make one final try with this -- but please be warned that it's an issue that has filled entire libraries over the course of history and will fill many more.

Suppose I believe -- as I do believe -- that violence is never justified and never acceptable. Suppose I violate that belief, in spite of my determination not to. [For me, the most likely scenario is that I would do something violent to prevent someone from harming a child.] The moral failure comes from the fact that I did not find some other solution -- some nonviolent solution.

Nonviolence is one of the most powerful forces in this world; it offers many possible courses of action. For me, it is my moral responsibility to find a nonviolent solution in many situations for which others (probably the majority) consider a violent solution acceptable.

Suzette


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2000 3:00 pm 
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ozarque:

I'm going to make one final try with this --<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thank you... I understand that this is a complex subject. I am truly sincere in my desire to understand the discrepencies (as I see them). However, I hope it isn't really your final attempt at trying to enlighten me.
I'll try to explain the paradox and discrepencies (as I see them) more clearly.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote
Quote:
Suppose I believe -- as I do believe -- that violence is never justified and never acceptable.


So far, I'm with you... To understand where I'm at, for me, never has a specific meaning. (I.E.: not ever, at no time, not in any degree, not under any condition)

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote
Quote:
Suppose I violate that belief, in spite of my determination not to. (For me, the most likely scenario is that I would do something violent to prevent someone from harming a child.)


So... here is one specific scenerio that, all other options having failed to prevent someone from harming a child, you could see yourself violating your belief and using violence if necessary. I call it defense, either way it is a physical response. Thus, in this case, you must have reached the conclusion that violence was justified or acceptable and violated your belief that it was never justified and never acceptable.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote
Quote:
The moral failure comes from the fact that I did not find some other solution -- some nonviolent solution.


I can completely understand the need and desire to find some nonviolent solution. I can also understand that to prevent someone harming the child in the cirumstances that would make you violate your beliefs that you would have no other viable option and the actions of the person intent on harming the child, no matter what other options you would attempt, would dictate the violation of the fundamental belief in non-violence.

However, psychologists who council survivors of violent attacks (rapes, muggings, etc) will tell their patients that the acts of another person can not and should not reflect on them as a person. Therefore, the violent acts of someone who was intent on harming a child that placed you in a position to defend that child should not cause you to become a "moral failure" because someone else can't dictate your own self worth.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote
Quote:
Nonviolence is one of the most powerful forces in this world; it offers many possible courses of action.


Couldn't agree more... I think Ghandi did a fine job of proving that. At least to a large extent. Image

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote
Quote:
For me, it is my moral responsibility to find a nonviolent solution in many situations for which others (probably the majority) consider a violent solution acceptable.


Completely understand and completely agree. I also would make every attempt to find a nonviolent solution. In fact, I'd bet that our lines aren't that far apart in the sand (or stone) Image ... However, just as I pointed out in previous posts and just as I've discussed with my friend who maintains the same belief, (The belief that violence is never justified and never acceptable, though interestingly enough they also have a point at which they would cross the line and would defend self and other innocents), you have just give us a case where a physical response to someone else's violent actions would or could be taken.

My point has been, and is, that we have a difference not in the use of violence or even when and if, but in one piece of the semantics puzzle. You (and my friend as well) gave a case where you would give a physical response. Therefore in that extreme case, a physical defensive response to someone else's physical violence is either justified or acceptable... otherwise, IMNSHO, you should not have used a physical response at all. Given the mere fact that you would consider a physical response, to me, shows that the absolute term of never either shouldn't be used, is misunderstood, misplaced or is hypocritical. I really don't feel that you or my friend are hypocritical, so I firmly believe that this is a semantics issue caused by one of the first reasons. As a linguist, I'm sure you can see my point on that. If the belief were rephrased slightly, say as, "violence is only justified and only acceptable as the very last resort when all other options have failed and only in the defense of yourself or some innocent person who is in imminent danger of death or grave bodily harm."

Then my paradox of something being done that, by doing, would make one a "moral failure"... which should never be done... and the act of actually taking such action under the most extreme circumstances (of self-defense), do not conflict with each other. Is that understandable? IMO, if there is even one single case where someone can say that an act could or would be used, then the term never must be removed from the equation.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2000 3:25 pm 
Panther,

I don't want to speak for Suzette, but it seems to me there is a slight but significant confusion here (it may be on my part it's true). When you say "would make one a "moral failure", "moral failure" refers to the actor. When Suzette says "moral failure"she refers to the act. This is a small difference in meaning, but a huge difference in concept.

maurice

------------------
maurice richard libby
toronto/moose jaw
ICQ9474685
Ronin at large


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2000 6:22 pm 
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by maurice richard libby:

This is a small difference in meaning, but a huge difference in concept.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thank you! There is a big difference. A big part of my confusion lay in the fact that I, personally, would never do any act that would make me (personally) a moral failure. However, when thinking of it in the term of a "moral failure" or "moral victory" for the act, that makes a difference.

That eases things greatly, but still leaves the problem of saying that something is never justified, yet knowing of extreme cases when that course of action would/could be taken. If the course of action would/could be taken for a specific instance, then that course of action must (IMNSHO) be "
justified" or "justifiable" (at least) for that specific instance... therefore the use of the term "never" is in conflict.

I feel better with your pointing out the difference in the use of "moral failure". Thank you! It makes me feel like the understanding is even closer. Image

be good to each other...


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