Thursday, August 24, 2017

The painful division of colonial India

My wife and I enjoyed watching Viceroy's House. It chronicles the last days of British colonial rule in India and the events leading to the partition into two nations, India and Pakistan. It uses the powerful device of "upstairs downstairs", showing how the political negotiations and events happening with the Viceroy "upstairs" play out in the lives of the servants "downstairs". This effectively shows how the political decisions of the powerful bring pain and conflict to the everyday relationships of ordinary citizens.

One surprising thing, particularly given it the Indian screenwriter, was the very positive and sympathetic portrayal of Mountbatten and his wife. Others do not view them in such a way. Here is one critical review of the movie from my favourite Indian newspaper.

Friday, August 11, 2017

A hierarchy of moral choices and actions

What is the relationship between personal moral convictions and public policy?
These days public debate is often acrimonious as different groups try to "impose" their views on one another. People on both the left and the right do it.
The issue could be tax evasion, human rights, sexual harassment, abortion, swearing, smoking, hate speech, substance abuse, religious discrimination, gambling, pornography, ...

Suppose I believe that action X is morally wrong. Then I think there is a whole range of possible responses and actions I can take, moving from the private to the public.

I decide that it is my goal to personally not do X.

I tell people I am in close relationship with (e.g. family members) that I believe they should not do X.

Although I believe that X is wrong I do not publically tell others they should not do X.
This might be because I don't think I have the right or because of the relational breakdown that may occur or public ridicule or I don't think people will actually listen.

I publically state that people should not do X.

I take an activist role to raise public awareness that X is wrong.

I advocate that the government should make action X illegal.

I vote at an election solely for candidates or politics parties that want to make X illegal.

I undertake civil disobedience to try and stop people performing X. I am willing to go to jail.

I am willing to use physical force (violence) to stop people doing X. [For example, subduing a rapist].

I find this hierarchy helpful because I think it is actually what most people do, although subconsciously.

What do you think?