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  1.  (4896.21)
    *shrug* No biggie, and no offence meant or taken.
    • CommentTimeJan 31st 2009
    I think a person's ethics are going to depend on what they value about life. Some people place little value on human life (ie: me, a year ago), and so are more okay with killing and allowing suffering and stuff. Other people are not even okay with making a distant animal stranger suffer, and we don't eat meat because of it. In a drowned world like in FA or CROSSED... the life is totally different, but the things you value about life itself are still the same. Example: I think one of the most beautiful mundane things is the innocent, pure beauty of a child. I like to think of what amazing things could still be accomplished in the world by that kid, therefore I would like to have kids myself, and oppose inhumane treatment of said kids. Drown the world, and the potential for that same person is somehow diminished to the point I might not oppose some of what would usually be considered horrid. No, wait-- that doesn't make any sense. Innocence is always possible... maybe just a bad example, and my point still carries a little bit? Hopefully?
  2.  (4896.23)

    Read 'Lord of the Flies'. Kills that 'Innocence' dream right quick. I love 'em, but kids are very blunt in their honesty, naivety and cruelty in my experience.
    • CommentAuthorkierano
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2009 edited
    "The ethical resistance of the powerless others to our capacity to exert power over them is therefore what imposes unenforceable obligations on us. The obligations are unenforceable precisely because of the other’s lack of power. That actions are at once obligatory and at the same time unenforceable is what put them in the category of the ethical. Obligations that were enforced would, by the virtue of the force behind them, not be freely undertaken and would not be in the realm of the ethical"

    -David Couzens Hoy (cited in the somewhat messy but nonetheless enlightening Wikipedia article)

    What he's driving at is that ethics are where the agent (you) has no fear of reprisal for an action, but feels an obligation not to take it.

    If you choose not to break the law simply because of fear of reprisal, then you do so out of fear, and not ethics.

    What is most interesting about the Freak Angels is that there are no forceful consequences to their actions (other than from each other), since there is no force in their world which can rival them. I wonder if Warren constructed this situation deliberately, to explore just that: what are the ethics of super-beings upon which no obligations are enforceable?

    Anyway, back to the original question of ethics in a post-apocalyptic world:

    A lot of people so far have talked about situations involving the absence of ethics: either people would act in ways that harm others out of pure selfishness, or they would choose not to out of fear of the reprisals from re-emerging justice systems (tribal authorities, etc). One train of thought is the cynical idea that most people in the modern world have a lack of ethics in their daily lives, choosing to act purely out of fear of authority. (I'm personally a little more optimistic - there are some scary people out there, but there are plenty of ethical ones, too.)

    I guess primarily it would depend on the balance between ethics and survival. Certainly I can see people going to great lengths to ensure their (or their loved ones') survival, if the situation were dire enough. That's probably where the refugees had gotten to - there was a community full of food, and they tried to take it by force (well, that's probably what happened, but this is a nice, twisty tale.)

    On the other hand, I can't see too many situations where things would get so dire that it would be necessary to kill people for food. If that was your only source of sustenance, you'd run out of people to kill (or get killed by someone defending themselves) pretty quickly.

    WWII is another interesting situation, as the erosion of ethics on the part of soldiers on the front line are well documented. I'm sure the horrors of a post-apocalyptic world would erode people's ethics. However, after the initial cataclysm, things would be likely to settle down, if for no other reason than that population density would decrease peoples' exposure to other people, and hence to further horror. A lot of the soldiers recounting immoral actions committed in WWII express horror and regret - that state of eroded ethics seems fairly temporary.

    On that note, I wonder if the Angel's own infliction of disaster on the entire world - a grossly immoral act - is intended to be explained by their treatment at the hands of the people hunting them down. And now that they're no longer hunted, they have a chance to return to a "normal" ethical state.

    To summarise: I think things would be bad - people with low ethical values would run rampant until brought into check by re-emerging authorities, while people with higher ethical values would occasionally be faced with situations where they had to compromise their ethics for survival. Nevertheless, I don't think it would be a survivalist wet dream.
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2009 edited
    @kierano - I think the nature of, well, authority, has always been one of Mr. Ellis's prominent themes, going back to /The Authority/ or Spider's refusal to embrace his authority at various points in /Transmetropolitan/, or Doktor Sleepless and his relationship to the grinders. So yeah, I think we're probably going to see more of that.

    And honestly, I think this is one of the great themes of our time. Nietzsche saw this as the fundamental problem of humanity: How do we invent an animal capable of giving the law to itself? Is humanity capable of ruling and directing itself without reference to God or superheroes as the big external Daddy that says 'No'? Or short of ruling themselves, can people just manage not to be total fucks to one another when nobody's watching (or when lots of people are watching and begging for more)?

    So how do the humans outside Whitechapel feel about the Freakangels, and should they be behaving ethically towards them? There's another great bit in Nietzsche where he discusses the relationship between an eagle and a lamb. The eagle doesn't hate the lamb when swooping down to eat it, but the lamb hates the eagle. The difference between the two comes when you found moral systems based on your position in the relationship. The eagle swoops along thinking, "Hey, I'm an eagle and at the top of the food chain, I am totally awesome and therefore good!", while the lamb thinks, "Christ, I hate that fucking evil eagle. The eagle is soooo evil that I, the innocent lamb, must be good."

    I'm looking forward to more exploration of that. If those who oppose the Freakangels want to do so in the name of humanity, do they have positive human ideals to uphold or are they simply being reactive and embracing a "Freakanglels bad, therefore me good" mentality? Or is it really just all about gutter survival and being tired of eating rats and wanting to live in the white tower?
  3.  (4896.26)
    We do live in a post-apocalypse world, it just hasn't catched up with us yet. Only in the last century we've had two world wars, communism, and several genocides in too many countries to remember. And any kind of fair weather ethics that is abandoned when in a tight spot, is nothing. It's nill and void.

    Ethics is only valid when we can expect no reward from it whatsoever. Sure you can choose for survival-whatever-the-cost instead, however if you do that, the question is of course, what that survival - indeed, your very own life - really achieves. Whether you really are worth something, or whether you're just useless bio-matter. You certainly lose the right to complain about anybody else being a heartless cunt.
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2009
    Regarding FreakAngels, I suspect the real post-end-of-the-world ethics will be seen when/if Miki gets these sad sacks back to Whitechapel. The folks who have been getting by, knowing times are tight and scared to death of outsiders and grudgingly accepting the Angels as their overseers, they might not be so thrilled to have strangers in their midst. Just consider American reactions to illegal immigrants (and how such people are often conflated with legal immigrants when politicians want to rile people up).

    I think it's a good thing to take care of people who need help. There will always be a way. But the Angels will have to be dead clever in order to keep both the resources rolling to every corner of Whitechapel and to keep people from getting angry at the new, well, foreigners, for lack of a better term.
  4.  (4896.28)
    There was a book I read once, "Girl who Owned a City" or something close to that, wher everyone over the age of 12 died. That left children to figure out what ethicas are, and how they apply to life. They ended up redefining what we know as ethics, because they had so little experiance with life before hand.

    Thank god that the 'Angels are 23. They at least have some life experiance, even if they were on the run quite a bit. Athics really don't have a say in thier world right now. Right now, it's pretty much "Well, killing the world was a bad idea, let fix it best we can." And they have to do that by depending on eachothers strengths and weaknesses to give them a balance that one single person cannot have.

    In short, in the FA world, ethics=good judgement. Or the best they can manage. Which ever happens first.
    • CommentTimeFeb 4th 2009 edited
    @ Val: Word. I'd just finished Crossed 3 when I stumbled on this thread, but I see it's more in response to FA 44.
    kids are very blunt in their honesty, naivety and cruelty in my experience.
    I'm sorry.

    I just have two rules for RL, obviously not airtight, there will be exceptions, but regarding intentions, and operating under the assumption that happiness is a good thing, a goal even:
    1. Do what makes you happy without restricting others' abilities to do the same (hazy line, but not going too far-- just like a quick don't give money to people who cause what I deem "suffering", which I generally connect to economic disparity)
    2. Don't denegrate another person's happiness. Unless they're killing babies and lovin' it. Kill that fucker. 'Cause I'm not into baby killing unless they're gonna eat me.
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeFeb 4th 2009
    What's wrong with killing babies? They can't fight back? Sure they can. They're cute, aren't they? That's a helluva weapon. Next, you'll be saying we can't kill old people because they're "wise." (I'm only half-joking. Long story. It's a thing I'm working on.)

    If you act like an asshole, you'll be ostracized or killed. Period.

    The nearest thing we have to a post-apocalyptic society, from an ethical standpoint, is prison. If you owe, you pay up. You don't rat or play games or you pay the price. If you're alone, you're prey unless you are a bad-ass enough predator to afford the luxury of being alone. Weakness is to be despised. Weakness means death or worse, living-death, slavery, WORSE. Skills that people need will always be valuable, whatever the currency. And NO WHISTLING. Whistling will get you killed, songbird.
    • CommentTimeFeb 4th 2009

    Nailed it, mate. Crowley 2.0

    @Mr hex

    Please share your whistling pain....
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeFeb 4th 2009
    Whistling is annoying. It annoys other people. Prison is already loud. Loud enough without you whistling in the din. Besides, what're you so happy about, muthafucka? You in prison. No whistling.

    Me, I love to whistle. And even I agree it's fucking annoying ...
    • CommentTimeFeb 4th 2009
    I'm Happy.

      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeFeb 4th 2009 edited
    From Duck Soup -

    "Just for illustration, for our information, tell us how you plan to run the nation.

    These are the laws of my administration ...

    No one's allowed to smoke ... or tell a dirty joke ... and whistling is forbidden."

    1933, muthafucka. No Whistling. (Or smoking, apparently. Which seems counter-intuitive, seeing as how it was 19thirtyfuckingthree.)
    • CommentAuthordirtymc11
    • CommentTimeFeb 4th 2009
    okay ethics are always boiled down to something like the following : As much as is possible I will do what I can to ensure that my actions do not intentionally harm others.
    However on the ground things get a little messy. One has to decide whether doing good for others would harm them or those they depend on each day. For instance bringing these refugees into their enclave will stress the resources available to those who were previously promised safety. people who have been contributing to the better of all. now they must be convinced that taking these people in will not stress them.
    What if the mother with the baby consumes resources that could have kept a contributing member alive? IS taking them in a good thing if it causes others to suffer?
  5.  (4896.36)
    @mister hex - If you act like an asshole, you'll be ostracized or killed. Period.

    But if you hide it well, like your common or garden psychopath, you'll rule your lesser beings.

    [Just for clarity, the above sentence is to be read in an ironic tone; not advocating psychopathy here, ok?]

    It's fascinating to read research [for which I cannot find the link right now, a situation I blame on the inhalation of burning plant matter] about how well suited psychopaths are to complex systems like modern society. Would they be more so in a less complex and more hand-to-mouth survival-of-the-fittest scenario?
    • CommentAuthordirtymc11
    • CommentTimeFeb 5th 2009
    When discussing ethics it is vitally important to know that in the purest sense ethics are always relative to the given situation. You can talk of God or some other imaginary friend by another name but ethics are something that is unenforced. its a bastardized quote (from clockwork orange i think) 'when you have taken away the ability to do bad you have not made a good person you have made a puppet.'
    Now one side could say that if the good of society as a whole is considered that it is perfectly okay to take away the right to make choices detrimental to the whole from a few people.
    Howevver if the individual is considered to be more important AS AN INDIVIDUAL then to take away their right to make choices (even evil ones) is worse than the choices they would make. To turn a man into a thing without choice would be viewed as worse than killing him.
    Now there has never been a society that has put the individual above the society as a whole. Some have given the individual greater importance but none have ever allowed them to freely do as they please.
    In a post apocalyptic world the rights of the individual will be sacrificed much more often than they are now. Theft of food might be seen as equal to murder and punishable as such.
    Individuals would be required to work together and have to have a reason to sacrifice their own desires to those of the group.
    Look for a rise in religious cults. Freakangels as the 2nd coming of Christ. He shall come in judgement and then establish a thousand year reign. Well the 'angels have already judged now they seem to be trying to help pick up the pieces of the wreckage.
    Notice how the 'angels interact very little with those outside of their own little group even within their holdings. They may walk the streets and people know their names but they are still removed from those they protect. they remove themselves.
    It would be interesting to see if there are any within their enclave who have set up cults based on the 'angels.

    also think about this : it is unquestionably the right thing to feel sympathy for these people and anyone who does not should be considered a bad person But what will people think about miki's decision once the dust settles?
    What about the man who has been a contributing member of whitechapel who suddenly sees 100 newcomers who havent done anything but drain the already limited resources of the society he is helping to build? If sending them away would make sure that the contributing members dont have to stretch their resources to the breaking point and maybe sending them away would mean that the resources consumed to get that mother and her baby healthy again could be used on his own wife and children. Would he be a bad man because he is not williung to take that risk?
    It does not make you a bad person if you buy a house and live there with your family instead of letting a family without a home live there. It just means that you do not have the means necessary to act on your sympathy for that family's plight.
    What happens when a member of the enclave who has been there awhile dies directly because they took in these outsiders. Do they blame Miki because she decided to take them in?

    When societies fall apart then social groups become smaller. The tribe replaces the nation. When every day is a struggle to survive then you cannot afford to be too welcoming to those who dont contribute in some way to your own survival.

    Or for something closer to our Points of Reference think about this :
    America suffered a couple of attacks on one day several years ago. It was decided that in order to protect ourselves we needed to take the fight to our enemies. In order to prevent more Americans from dying we have done things that have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Were we right or wrong? Only the people who get to write the history books will be able to say. Were we ethical? I believe so. We were acting on what we percieved as a direct threat to our way of life and we did what we thought was necessary to prevent it.
    I am not making a value judgement either way. Just pointing out how we (i am using the Democratic we) often make decisions that we know will hurt others but so long as we can put the suffering on those outside of our sphere of interaction we will do so.
    Incidentally its ironic to think that in order to make sure that we didnt suffer another attack that took the lives of almost 2000 of our people we have willingly chosen to sacrifice the lives of atleast twice as many americans (in Iraq alone) as died on 9/11.
    Not only is ethics relative to your point of also isnt very good at math :>
    • CommentAuthorgeoffmark
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2009
    @mister hex
    If you act like an asshole, you'll be ostracized or killed. Period.

    As much as I hope for this to be true, sadly it isn't. Depending on your definition of assholey acts. Plenty of assholes rise to levels of power. One could argue that, on average, you must act like an asshole in order to gain prominent political office. And I guarantee that it's a job requirement at the top levels of the entertainment industry, union leadership, etc.

    Back to the FA world ... it seems as if every time two or more FAs get together, once they stop wailing on each other, they get into an ethics discussion. Among the ones we've met, they seem to run the gamut of ethical philosophies, which probably stems from being born & raised in such different circumstances. It could well be that, once you get past the "what if the world were destroyed by a bunch of post-pubescent superhumans by accident" concept, FA is really all about the ethics of being superhuman. Or, it's all about living in a world with terrible booze.
  6.  (4896.39)
    The nearest thing we have to a post-apocalyptic society, from an ethical standpoint, is prison. If you owe, you pay up. You don't rat or play games or you pay the price. If you're alone, you're prey unless you are a bad-ass enough predator to afford the luxury of being alone. Weakness is to be despised. Weakness means death or worse, living-death, slavery, WORSE. Skills that people need will always be valuable, whatever the currency. And NO WHISTLING. Whistling will get you killed, songbird.

    Prison isn't like that. It's all about numbers. Whomever has the biggest group, wins. There is no big, bad tough guy, because there's enough of everyone else to take you down.

    And everyone is snitching on each other, because everyone is paranoid that someone is snitching on them (which they are) so then they try to pre-emptively snitch on their friend/enemy first.

    There is no honor among thieves. There is no code at all. It's just watch your own ass, and hang around with a bunch of other assholes who say they'll watch yours, against another group of assholes. But it's a big Mexican Standoff, because nobody is really ballsy enough to do anything.

    Anyways, just saying. Prison on TV makes a good analogy. In fiction. Reality, sadly enough, isn't cool or fun, it's just depressing.
    • CommentAuthorRedwynd
    • CommentTimeDec 8th 2009 edited
    ...Unless they're killing babies...

    This brings to mind my favorite ethical dilemma: the North American Baby. It sort of the "tree falling in the forest" of my personal ethics: for each of the first five years in life, a North American child consumes, or is the cause for consumption of, enough resources (electricity, food, housing, medical care,etc) to feed, cloth, and house six adults from the Third World*, and consumption by the NA child grows from there. These amounts are not offset by productive contributions** to society, so where the child contributes nothing and is capable of contributing nothing, by comparison those living in less prosperous areas are at least capable of contributing something to the greater tribe. It is also true, however, that with the resources dedicated to that child in the maturing years, and greater opportunities in adult life, more contribution will come from the NA child once they are an adult than the six Third World adults in their entire lives. So, in a world of finite resources (true) and limited annual resource production (also true), the current question arises: who lives and who dies?***

    This is, of course, an exercise in reductio ad absurdium, but I think the point is valid, and as an ethical question is one of the more relevant to life in Western society than anything Kant put to paper. We are very much beginning to live in a world where resources produced anywhere in the world can be consumed anywhere in the world (though cost is added via distance), and yet production and consumption are very much unbalanced. As proof, the U.S., in 2008, exported only $1.27tn, as compared to a whopping $2.11tn in imports, only 25% of which comes from its own continent. Economics has virtually created a united world, that encompasses smaller principalities within it, like small children all fighting for Mommy's attention and love. Our reaction, as a global society, to this is what while define our actions as "ethical" or "unethical" in the eyes of future generations (if there are any).

    * = I don't have an actual source for this, I came up with it while writing a school paper a few years back - but I did draw most of my supporting figures from the CIA World Factbook, which I'm sure are still there.
    ** = Define "contributions however you like. Goods produced, services rendered, etc., etc., they all contribute to the general well-being of our species. In economic theory, at least.
    *** = I've got my answer to this, but then I just don't like children. I suspect that people with less developed knee-jerk reactions might have a little bit of a harder time.
    Edit to add: grammer, spelling, that sort of thing.