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  #1  
Old 11-27-2005, 08:39 PM
hmkpoker hmkpoker is offline
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Default Indigenous savages: to help or not to help?

You and your friend are traveling around the ocean in a boat when you come across an island that hasn't been charted on the map. Intrigued, you anchor at the shore.

You pull out a pair of binoculars and see some people on the island. Racially, they look similar to you. Their shoddy garb suggests that they live with stone-age technology. Curious, you and your friend make some clothes similar to theirs, and approach the people trying to blend in (you pack a gun just in case things get out of hand).

You both meet a few of the men of the island, and thanks to some keen linguistic abilities and quick wit, you both manage to blend in. You spend the next few days with the natives, and discover the following about their culture:

They have lived on this island for countless generations, and don't know any world outside of it. There are approximately 300 inhabitants on the island. It is a hunter-gatherer society, with no technology past fire, the wheel and alcohol-brewing. There is no well-defined theology. The males are very aggressive and often hostile toward one another, and toward women. Rape is not frowned upon, and takes place frequently. Consequently, the men are angry, insecure and belligerent, and the women are submissive and frequently depressed. There is a high infant mortality rate, and the average life expectancy is in the high twenties.

No one seems interested in the idea of a different (or better) life; in fact, you find that discussing it raises ire. Regardless, everything we know about psychology (and common sense) tells us that these people are not living very healthy, happy or fulfilling lives.

You have a ton of money and a lot of time on your hands. With your help, these people could be educated into living a better life.

Does this seem to be a reasonable cause?
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Old 11-28-2005, 01:28 AM
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Default Re: Indigenous savages: to help or not to help?

This description of the psychological and societal effects on the indigenous savages seems to reflect on problems unique to a more civilized culture. Of course, it's your society and you devised it how it is, but it doesn't seem realistic. For instance, why would rape be common? I think even cavemen learned that women were easier to be around if given a little respect. And you mention insecurity and depression, but these things probably wouldn't exist in a community of that nature.

But, given your society the way it is, no, I would not help them. They will adapt on their own. I know it's been a long time and they haven't yet, but that is why I don't think it's realistic. I guess what I'm saying is I can't answer the question.
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  #3  
Old 11-28-2005, 09:22 AM
hmkpoker hmkpoker is offline
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Default Re: Indigenous savages: to help or not to help?

I don't know about the insecurity and depression, you may be right about that, I don't know. I know rape was something that occurred frequently in the middle ages (one of our D&D geeks was a medieval studies major). Basically all that matters is that these people live a poorer quality of life than we do.

So the question, simplified, is "should we help others who don't want to be helped, even if their desire not to be helped stems from not knowing any differently?"
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  #4  
Old 11-28-2005, 10:59 AM
Darryl_P Darryl_P is offline
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Default Re: Indigenous savages: to help or not to help?

I think the morally correct thing to do would be first to find out if they really consider those things better that you do, ie. a longer life. Just ask them...would they like to live longer? If they say yes, then ask what they would be willing to trade for it. It could be you'll get stuck at the first question because they believe in an afterlife which is better than their current life and nothing can shake their beliefs. Of course you can try to convince them in various ways, but if they still don't buy in to it, then your only two reasonable choices IMO would be to adopt their values and blend in, or leave.

Of course if you had enough resources to overpower them, you could take them over and create your own society in which they will have the same two choices.
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Old 11-28-2005, 05:07 PM
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Default Re: Indigenous savages: to help or not to help?

"Should we help them" in one sense is a question we could think of in terms of absolute morality and I am under the belief that there is no such thing; and therefore in this sense we have no obligation to help these people. However, I'm sure if I saw them I would want to help them because I would feel compassion. That is me, though, and I cannot speak for what we "should" do in any absolute sense.

That being said, I think the real dilemma is not "should" but "how should" we help them, if we decide to do so. Trying to help in a wrong way could end up doing more harm than good. Plus, who is to say what's good and what's bad? What's good for a civilized society may not have a positive impact on this savage community. One would have to study these people and theorize on ways their community could be improved -- which begs the question, why wouldn't one of them be doing this already? You say they don't want to be helped (which is very plausible), but I can't imagine they wouldn't want to help themselves. Eventually someone would be born who has the brains and leadership to improve society. He may be worshipped as a God, who knows. Otherwise, they would probably die out as a race.

If I came along I would probably want to help them but I wouldn't know how. They would probably dislike my intervention because that's a rather natural primitive human reaction. I imagine I would eventually give up and get the hell out of there, and I wouldn't feel bad about it. It would probably be the most humane thing for both parties.
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Old 11-28-2005, 05:32 PM
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Default Re: Indigenous savages: to help or not to help?

I am intrigued by this idea, actually. Let's forget about the moral question for a minute. I'm curious how a society would evolve if it started from these unusual circumstances. Suppose 20 people, 10 men and 10 women, landed on this deserted island say 200 years ago. They were regular God-fearing American farmers, we will say. They were common folk -- not too bright or educated, but they managed to survive using basic ingenuity.

Now, 200 years later, what kind of a society would they be? It's interesting to think about this "de-evolution" so to speak. After a couple generations I think they would mostly forget about civilized society because necessity would demand it; but I bet they would have some kind of legend/lore associated with it. A notion of the Christian God would probably remain but would be radically altered.

I wonder if they could manage to forget their past misery of losing all that they had and continue to move on? The above account is only one possibility... what if the first generation turned against itself in misery and dread? This people would be then doomed for sure. If they cannot forget, they will die out or at least live a miserable existence.

This presents a good analogy IMO for an individual life in which a person cannot forget past tragedies. If we don't forget and move on, we cease to care about our present and future situations. The desire to procreate may even diminish; that is, the procreation in thought and in physicality.
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  #7  
Old 11-28-2005, 06:12 PM
Darryl_P Darryl_P is offline
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Default Re: Indigenous savages: to help or not to help?

I think the island of Pitcairn is pretty close to what you're talking about. Currently about 50 people live there and is considered one of the most remote places in the world (if not THE most remote).
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  #8  
Old 12-02-2005, 06:11 AM
mr_whomp mr_whomp is offline
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Default Re: Indigenous savages: to help or not to help?

Read about cultural relativism. You have no right to believe your morals are any better than theirs.
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  #9  
Old 12-02-2005, 09:20 AM
hmkpoker hmkpoker is offline
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Default Re: Indigenous savages: to help or not to help?

[ QUOTE ]
Read about cultural relativism. You have no right to believe your morals are any better than theirs.

[/ QUOTE ]

Luckily I don't believe in either of these things.
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  #10  
Old 12-02-2005, 09:34 AM
mr_whomp mr_whomp is offline
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Default Re: Indigenous savages: to help or not to help?

thats ok, I dont believe in cultural relativism.
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