Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

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Coveny
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Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

Post by Coveny » Sat Mar 17, 2018 1:34 am

So I came across this video of children mining cobalt in Congolese and it got me thinking about the whole battery debate.


On one side they say we are responsible for the way children are being treated in this video because we purchased the phone, so we are providing the incentive to make children work, and putting children in these terrible conditions, with terrible futures.

On the other side though how can we be expected to know every piece in the supply chain? Is it our fault that the country wants to use child labor in mining conditions to turn a profit? Isn’t that the same thing we did here in the U.S. not so long ago? Proponents say it’s the lesser of two evils: “It is common for homeless children or those without parents or adult supervision to be pushed into the sex trade or towards other criminal activities in order to earn money to survive. In this context, working in sweatshops is a far better solution.”

https://www.triplepundit.com/2010/12/ga ... ing-world/

So who’s morally responsible for them working the mines, or do you believe it’s a lesser evil and we are helping not hurting?
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Re: Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sat Mar 17, 2018 2:42 am

Existentially, one is responsible "only" for one's own actions. Nonetheless, you present a reality that forces people of high morals to lengthen the line of causation? Just how moral are we feeling today?

.......I generally draw lines at national borders. ymmv.
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Re: Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

Post by Gord » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:32 am

Yes, we bear part of the responsibility.
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Re: Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Mar 18, 2018 12:56 am

Every product you buy has bad moral implications of some degree.

Morality in a vacuum........is empty.
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Re: Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

Post by OlegTheBatty » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:07 pm

Some details and a bunch of touchy-feely.

Going by the link, ~ 50% of cobalt comes from DRC, 20% of which comes from mines which are unsafe and/or use chid labour.

Looking at the production chain, it looks like it is impossible at this time to tell where the cobalt in your battery came from. Since there is undoubtedly mixing at the refinery, it looks like about 10% of the cobalt in your battery comes from bad sources.

So, what can people do about it?

Supply changes may be coming. There are several other deposits in the region. Some of them are of known extent, some of unknown extent. There were numerous mines around there a century ago which recorded cobalt ores, but many ignored it because of its low value.

If the demand for electric car batteries increases enough, new supply sources won't be enough to end horrific labour practices. OTOH, the instability in the DRC that permits evil labour practices is also a major reason why manufacturers want to find alternate sources. The only corporations that I could find that expressed a concern about humanitarian issues re cobalt are Apple and Tesla. FWIW.

I assume that corporations which express humanitarian concerns do so primarily because their marketing research show that their potential customers care about it.
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Re: Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

Post by Austin Harper » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:45 pm

Coveny wrote:On the other side though how can we be expected to know every piece in the supply chain?
This is the biggest problem. How could anybody know where every component of everything they buy comes from?
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Re: Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

Post by Coveny » Mon Mar 19, 2018 3:09 pm

Austin Harper wrote:
Coveny wrote:On the other side though how can we be expected to know every piece in the supply chain?
This is the biggest problem. How could anybody know where every component of everything they buy comes from?
In another thread a person responded with Mills position that if it's impractical to do something, then it's moral to not do it. I don't know that I completely agree with that stance, but it's a very interesting position on topics like this where it's very impractical to do the research on everything we buy. I mean researching what a used house you buy is built with alone could take years, and I guess you could eat locally grown food during that time but it would be a huge time sink, and that doesn't cover researching your employer, because in a way you are "buying" from them with your time. Just how far down the rabbit hole would you need to go to staisfy the "full" moral responsibility? It's an interesting topic in my opinion.
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Re: Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:47 pm

You want to give up your cheap toys? Go for it. I remember the first time I ever saw a TV. Nineteen inches, fed from a TV antenna. I remember wondering how they got those little people in that box. (No kidding, that cliche.) Now I have all the cool toys. Top twelve floors are all R&D.
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Re: Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

Post by ElectricMonk » Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:52 pm

TBH, I am more concerned about how electronic products are disposed of.

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Re: Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Mon Mar 19, 2018 9:04 pm

ElectricMonk wrote:TBH, I am more concerned about how electronic products are disposed of.
Let's leave my junk drawer out of this.
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Re: Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:51 am

Coveny wrote:Just how far down the rabbit hole would you need to go to staisfy the "full" moral responsibility? It's an interesting topic in my opinion.
Knock, Knock....... //// No cognitive dissonance at all?
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Re: Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

Post by Coveny » Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:04 am

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:
Coveny wrote:Just how far down the rabbit hole would you need to go to staisfy the "full" moral responsibility? It's an interesting topic in my opinion.
Knock, Knock....... //// No cognitive dissonance at all?
Not really. I'm fine with talking about almost anything, and I even agree that my core principals/traits are detrimental to both my social and financial interests, but I still chose to have them. (after long deliberations...)
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Re: Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Mar 20, 2018 4:01 am

thanks Coveny.....but the dissonance is linking "full moral responsibility" with a "rabbit hole." The first concept is an important serious issue....the second is unimportant, illusionary, and of no consequence. In context: what you are most reasonably saying is that there is "no" responsibility when it comes to how products/services are made.....but somehow I think you don't mean to say that.

Contra: is that analyzing extended moral responsibility is very thorny and highly debatable? But, that is not what rabbit hole means.

Rabbit Hole (from wiki) gives us a different definition than the one I'm thinking of, but is close enough for dissonance purposes:
"Down the rabbit hole", a metaphor for an entry into the unknown, the disorienting or the mentally deranging, from its use in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

a slang expression for a psychedelic experience, from the same usage
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Re: Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

Post by Coveny » Tue Mar 20, 2018 5:04 am

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:thanks Coveny.....but the dissonance is linking "full moral responsibility" with a "rabbit hole." The first concept is an important serious issue....the second is unimportant, illusionary, and of no consequence. In context: what you are most reasonably saying is that there is "no" responsibility when it comes to how products/services are made.....but somehow I think you don't mean to say that.
[/quote]

Free dictionary - To enter into a situation or begin a process or journey that is particularly strange, problematic, difficult, complex, or chaotic, especially one that becomes increasingly so as it develops or unfolds.

I have highlight my usage of the phrase "down the rabbit hole" which merely means that attempting to find all the products that were created, how those products were created, and how they were assemble is a process that would take a long time (maybe impossible depending on the item) on complex items.

So it is of consequence in the context of full moral responsibility. Or to put another way to:

It would be a long and difficult (maybe impossible) process to fully understand all the pieces of the moral landscape on purchases that involved many different parts from many different companies in many different countries. Because you not only have to look at where the lumber came from you have to look at the devices used to harvest the wood. The chemicals used to treat the wood. The labor conditions of the individual in all those various companies, some of which would likely be in other countries. And that's just for the lumber. There is a laundry list of materials that go into the construction of a house...

That clear it up?
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Re: Are we morally responsible for the making of what we purchase?

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:02 am

Yes Indeed......you are using a different definition. Somewhat "irritating" to me at least that a word IS defined in ways that give it very different meanings. Words are supposed to (help?) identify and isolate an issue/idea of interest...not lose it in a fog of ambiguity.

In my own view....trying to track down the source of all inputs to a product and put some kind of moral appreciation on it is not "becomes increasingly so as it develops or unfolds." Those issues are reasonably and fairly objectively known from the start? But, perhaps I am biased because I don't think it is an "individual" responsibility...because of its very complexity/difficulty. something our government is tasked to do and could do so quite competently if it weren't corrupted by the AlreadyTooRich. So....we don't have to go down a rabbit hole to find moral culpability much closer to home..........
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