Re: Arguing with a Power Was: Moral Complexity
Wed, 25 Feb 1998 22:06:49 -0800 (PST)

On Wed, 25 Feb 1998, Damien R. Sullivan wrote:

> On Feb 25, 1:25pm, wrote:
> > uselessness of merely abstract guarantees against abuses. It seems the
> > thing that best buttresses security and stability is a plurality of
> > competing Powers no one of whom can do too much damage without stepping on
> > toes that matter.
> If one assumes a huge difference in power between Powers and humans, how
> does competition among Powers increase the security of humans?

On the assumption that one of the things these competing Powers compete
about is the proper handling of mehums. My point was that no abstract
framework (whether a system of property rights or an ingrained injunction
to respect diversity or whatever) would be robust enough on its own to
police a massively more powerful Power, but that a proliferation of
competing Powers very well might. One Power who sees the likes of us as
ubergoo feedstock may check the impulse to act on that assumption if she
knows that others of her rank would take that as a violation of their own
understandings of rights, respect, civility, or even the dictates of
prudence (the unforseeable pleasure/unforseeable danger criterion).

> Humans
> who were the favored pets of Powers would be safe from others, but
> by the same token humans in the sphere of a non-benign Power would be
> left to its devices.

Yeah, if I had to be a Power pet I'd sure rather my Power incline more to
the model of a Banksian Mind than that of a Vingian Blight. Yikes!
Best, Dale