Saturday, 15 April 2017

Natural Injustice

I said here that a death by natural causes was neither just nor unjust whereas a death caused by a human being could be either. In other words, human beings apply value terms like "justice" to human actions but not to natural events - which, in legal terminology, are "acts of God." In this sense, "God" also is neither just nor unjust.

SM Stirling's character, Tiphaine, reflects:

"...a woman had to work harder to build upper-body strength, and train harder to maintain it, one of life's manifold injustices."
-SM Stirling, A Meeting At Corvallis (New York, 2007), Chapter Nineteen, p. 512.

However, Tiphaine is not contradicting my view of injustice but applying this word in an extended and ironic sense. When I studied Law, the phrase, "...in accordance with the dictates of natural justice...," was used but this meant what people usually or naturally think of as justice not that some kind of justice was built into non-human nature. Christian theologians conceived of a natural moral law whereas others distinguish between the realms of nature and of value judgments. Some of this is down to changing uses of words. However, the fact remains that moral and legal judgments become applicable when a man is killed by another man but not when he is killed by a wild animal or an avalanche, an "act of God." I do not expect to find a moral agent behind nature.

7 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Tiphaine d'Ath was being ironic or rueful? Yes, she certainly could be!

I would have expanded your comment about the natural moral law to include how that means analyzing ethical questions and problems using reason and logic.

Yes, moral and legal judgments can only be applied when a man is killed or injured by another man. Wild animals and accidents like avalanches cannot be so judged.

Needless to say, if mankind ever makes contact with non human alien races, then moral and legal judgments will need to be applied when injuries are done by one or the other parties.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Asimov's future history ends with the realization that the laws of psychohistory and the Laws of Robotics both refer to human beings and make no provision for encounters with extragalactic aliens.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Now that was interesting. I had not known that. In which of Asimov's books can that be found?

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
The very last Foundation volume: FOUNDATION AND EARTH?
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Dang! I have that book but I simply don't recall any mention, I think, of extragalactic nonhuman beings. I do recall lengthy debates about whether the human race should merge into a single galaxy wide hive mind. No way!

One of the implausibilities of Asimov's Robots/FOUNDATION books was how there were only humans in the galaxy. Only once, in a single short story, "Blind Alley," do we see aliens.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Even at the end the extragalactocs are only speculative. Asimov wrote a humans only galaxy because Campbell wanted his writers to show humanity as always superior to other races. Rather than clash with Campbell on this, Asimov avoided the issue. He revealed this in THE EARLY ASIMOV.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I too have a copy of THE EARLY ASIMOV, and I remember this and other points of disagreement Asimov had with John Campbell. I'm not sure how just this complaint of Asimov was, however. After all, Poul Anderson wrote many stories, some of them pub. by Campbell, giving us sympathetic non humans, and with humans being no better or worse than them. So, if Campbell thought like this, he could still be persuaded to pub. stories he did not entirely agree with.

Sean