Rape is good for your health : Memes and Normative Bias

Paul Marsden (PMarsden@compuserve.com)
Tue, 10 Jun 1997 15:45:42 -0400

Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 15:45:42 -0400
From: Paul Marsden <PMarsden@compuserve.com>
Subject: Rape is good for your health : Memes and Normative Bias
To: "INTERNET:memetics@mmu.ac.uk" <memetics@mmu.ac.uk>

This is a reply to Tim Perper's call for a moral stance to be taken in
memetics that has

"Eventually, one must take an ethical position about what sorts of
memes -- of ideas, values, traditions, call them what you will -- *should=
be promulgated."

There is certainly no *must* about taking such a position, and as a socia=
scientist who is committed to value-freedom in my work I certainly shall
not be deciding what is "decent" for everybody. Blaise Pascale once said=

that what is true on one side of the Pyranees is false on the other. Onc=
you realise that there are no absolute values, and that values are
relative, you become more modest in wanting to impose your morality on
other people. For me, the goal of memetics should be to recount as
faithfully as possible with our unique set of analytical tools what is, n=
what should be. As far as rape is concerned, as a memetician I have no
moral position to take, but as an individual engaged in society I find th=
infliction of pain and suffering on others abhorrent, and so am against i=
and will argue against it. But as a social scientist, who has too often
seen the effects of unintended consequences, I am committed to a calculus=

of modesty, partly because because any alternative would take any claim f=
objectivity away from memetics, but mostly because I respect my fellow
humans enough to let them make their own minds up (infected or not) about=

what is right and wrong. I counter your demand with a plea : Memetics mu=
be value free.
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