I want to respond to multiple points made here. I will break my thoughts into two posts because of time constraints, and I will try to catch up with the points omitted here at a later time. In this first post I want to address the points made by murthymail and astrokid.nj. It wil seem as though I am digressing throughout this post, but just humor me. These issues do not exist in vacuum and our entire way of thinking must often be examined to see things in the right light. I'm using this subject to think out loud while making my argument. Much of this is not essential here, but it is useful to be aware of in general
The Moral Premise
There are two qualitatively different levels of logic. One is concerned with the nature of objective reality
and the other is concerned with inter-subjective ethics
. The former is the realm of natural (or positive) science. However, when ethics is involved, the type of science is known as applied (or normative) science. Applied science has all the attributes of natural science, but includes a moral premise.
This distinction is not intuitive. The failure to understand and apply it properly has, for example, been responsible for much confusion in economic theory.
Let me give you an example.
Studying religion as a natural phenomenon is a natural (or positive) science. It is classified as such. However, if you ask the question "should I study religion as a natural phenomenon?", you are in the territory of normative science. This is because you are giving science a direction, a fork in the road, by placing it under the purview of a moral premise. It has acquired an application-oriented quality, because of this moral premise.
Now, the reason I state all this is because when discussing whether women who get raped are "Asking For It By Dressing And Behaving Like Sluts", we are only concerned with deciding the moral premise.
That is all that is within the purview of that question. This moral premise can be justified in pragmatic terms taking into consideration facts about the natural world, making it an applied science, but the moral premise itself is an emotional premise.
(BTW, Sam Harris is right about a good many things, but he is wrong about this subject, because he ignores the category error. He has been called out by established academics on his re-hashing of early 20th century scientism. If he publishes his up-coming book in a peer reviewed article- which he is of course not doing- logicians, ethicists and scientists would rip it apart, although there is no-doubt a small minority that will agree with him. Most academics are actually really dismissive of him, because he has simply ignored all relevant the literature on the subject in making his argument. He uses a lot of spurious arguments in his reasoning. Harris' arguments on this subject are neither new nor correct. Many people have made the same category error before Harris, notably all religious people in history who justified morality in non-subjective terms (pretty much all of them, since god is an objective claim) as well as all those who subscribed to Social Darwinism and eugenics.)
Category errors are not limited to morality, but also apply in other qualitatively distinct areas of logic. To extend the category error to an area other than morality, imagine thinking that 'blue' is a property of the universe because all humans perceive that particular wavelength and attribute a word to it. It would be like thinking that if blue were not an objective property of the universe, the concept of color itself is meaningless. Obviously this is not true. We can have perfectly meaningful lives under the knowledge that blue is an inter-subjective experiential state. The knowledge obtained from science helps tell us what wavelength of light corresponds with blue, but it doesn't give us the experience of blue itself. That experience is completely subjective. An external observer, like an alien for example, might perceive and experience that same wavelength in the way we perceive and experience purple, or salty or hot. But I digress....
Murthy, you said:
Quote:"Of course, the person you mention has no excuse to have made such a stupid remark. Of course, its terribly chauvinistic, tribal and a stone age mindset to treat women as meat for a man's sexual gratification. And this is where most of the arguments of "dressing modestly" arise in India. But, lets look at it from a more Indian perspective: "
The first part of that paragraph you are talking about the moral premise. This is the actual question we were talking about, and we are in agreement about the moral premise. But in the last sentence, you are implying that the same subject is to be discussed in Indian terms in the next paragraph.
Quote:"let me put forth a situation that probably happened not so long ago. Consider a not so well educated villager brought up with traditional beliefs and mindset of a domineering patriarch...Say a car driver..............."
You are not discussing the moral premise anymore, although you implied that you were. This is bordering on making the category error. When people make this error, they smudge the difference between the moral premise and the application of that moral premise in the real world. The fact is, the moral premise itself cannot be affected by the fact that Indians are bigoted or that men are barbaric. In fact, it is the moral premise that is used to make that determination that men are barbaric, in this situation. Answering the question "Are Women Who Get Raped "Asking For It By Dressing And Behaving Like Sluts"?" is strictly an inter-subjective area.
There is a lot more I want to say on this, but let me get to one more exchange.
Quote:Much as I hate to discuss the following point alongside a rape thread, I would at the same time like to hear from women, as to why many of them like to dress skimpily (I am talking about NYC skimpiness, for e.g. Not the quite conservativeness I last saw in India 10 years ago). Is it the weather? (I dont think so.. men live in the same weather too). Is it peer pressure to look more attractive? After all, the primary purpose of clothing/shoes is protection from the elements (i.e weather).
To which donatello said:
Quote:What really are you trying to explore here? Dressing is a form of expression, and people should accept it as such. There may be various reasons, but so what?
To which astrokid.nj said:
Freedom of expression is not without its consequences.
Quote:If you go to a job interview dressed in your shorts, and totally unkempt in general, good luck getting the job. The interviewer would like to know what exactly you are expressing. Likewise, I am curious to know what exactly skimply clad women are expressing, coz such an act definetely has an impact (No.. nobody is justifying rape or sexual assault. I am just saying there are other impacts).
In his TED talk: "Science Can Answer Moral Questions", Sam Harris has touched upon the 'great problem of women's bodies' http://www.samharris.org/ted_talk/. The in-your-face expression of women's bodies in the western culture isnt ideal either. So, understanding the reasons is important.
This is a classic case of making the category error, not surprisingly since Harris is mentioned. The truth is science is extremely important in determining what the various factors are that we take into consideration when determining the moral premise- factors such as suffering, sentience, quality of life, length of life etc.). The science is also extremely relevant when an applied solution is needed to determine what is to be done. But the moral premise itself is determined by how we feel about women being raped, no matter what the reason that men ascribe to that rape. It is a purely emotional choice. You may rationalize it one way, just as a rapist may rationalize his own way, but that doesn't make the moral premise itself objectively true. It is always subjective, like 'blue', and must be decided upon based on inter-subjective agreement. In the case of rape, the moral premise that I propose for intersubjective agreement is that rape cannot be justified as good under any circumstances (except in complicated moral thought-experiments that philosophers use to confound themselves).
Although astrokid.nj accepts the moral premise, he declares that the way women dress may have many impacts and causes that are relevant. In truth, the way women dress is indeed relevant, but not to the moral premise itself!
. It may be relevant (in theory, although I disagree in practice) as a practical issue that needs to be taken into consideration when solutions are sought. This distinction is important, because as far as the moral premise is concerned we should not be talking about the way women dress in the first place. None of that can justify rape, according to the moral premise that we have all accepted. We can only talk about the way women dress or the way men behave from a practical application-oriented perspective, given the moral premise that nothing can justify rape.
Donatello is, as I am, concerned with the moral premise alone. Murthy and astrokid.nj are asking other questions that seem to imply that the moral premise can be conditional. This is why it seems like there is some sort of justification going on. The problem here is that because of the complicated nature of the subject, we have little nuance in going about asking the right questions. It takes a lot of careful study of logic and scientific philosophy to see these distinctions. Both sides of this discussion are important, but the line must be clear. How women choose to dress may be something that can be discussed as a practical way for reducing the suffering of women, but no act of a woman can be relevant when deciding the moral premise on the subject of rape.
Lastly a brief note to vvjoshi: Evolutionary psychology is a very misused area of biology, and it has garnered a terrible reputation precisely because of misapplication in cases like these. I was not long ago a graduate student in Evolutionary Biology and have taken PhD level courses in Population Genetics, Evolutionary Ecology and so on, and I am well aware how EP should not
be used. Still, you are right that EP has valuable information to provide us with a reason for why men behave the way they do. Again, in order to avoid making the category error, we must preface this section by saying that the moral premise remains, and the EP perspective is irrelevant as far as that is concerned. I had originally meant to discuss this subject with you here, but the conversation between donatello, murthymail and astrokid.nj drew me to make this post. I will try to get to your points when I have time.
Sorry for this overly long and often irrelevant post. As I said, there are many issues going on here and its hard to see them all clearly without knowing enough philosophy to make our questions meaningful.