Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Sat Sep 25 15:55:55 2010
Naked Humanity

This morning, I was surprised by a utility person, and it led to philosophy!

As I often am when hanging around my apartment, I was not dressed this morning, alternating between doing stuff for work, cleaning, and listening to the usual set of interesting things on the net (ok, I was playing some Civ 3 too!). I looked up, and was a bit surprised to see a utility person on a ladder working right by one of the giant ceiling windows in my place - yeah, kind of awkward (although he was high enough up that he wasn't seeing naked Pat at the time). Should I get dressed?

Well, is it appropriate? Mandatory? Courteous? So many ways to approach the question...

Issues: What are the expectations in our society? Is nudity inherently problematic? If we think not, do we still conform in our less-than-ideal society, or do we, knowing that society is what we make it, act as members of our ideal society and hope to change what's normative in so doing? That doesn't always work, but sometimes it does. Maybe an analogy - roomates in university - we would probably get at least a bit dressed for them... but is it really analogous? This is an unannounced and unwelcome(ish... they surely are doing a job, but it has nothing to do with me so I'm not welcoming them to be there not that I think what they're doing in their job is problematic) person who has accidentally stepped against the normal strategic coverings of windows that keep me from being visible accidentally - is it instead analogous to a "Honey, I shrunk the kids" type situation where someone sees up somebody's kilt by virtue of being where/as people don't expect? Well, maybe not that either.

Why think about it that way? Don't I have a value-framework that I spent some time concocting? Why yes! But that doesn't employ quite the same style of discussion, it's more where we put our values (likely felt out through the process of achieving a Rawlsian Reflective Equilibrium) and futz with them until we're happy. It says a bit about how one reaches conclusions, but not a lot. Still, I feel that whatever conclusion I reach, it's weak enough to be a preference, and I barely even have one at that. The purpose of a value system being to precompute our decisions in ways that stop us from doing this kind of chewing-on-things all the time, because I don't really care (except in that it's fun to chew on it), it kind of fails. It's certainly not something I'd chide anyone else for doing differently than whatever I end up doing, and exerting stronger pressures is incredibly unlikely.

Side question that becomes the main - why do I use that as such a metric for values? What's the reasoning behind tying how we respond to value-laden situations to our overall analysis? Is this conflation?

Answer: The conflation is intentional - three reasons:

In any case, I put a towel on. I'm not shy about being naked (nor photographed or sketched in that state - hey, you can even download MRI images of my brain, and if my genetics is ever sequenced, I'd probably share that with the world too), but I decided that situationally it'd be nice not to distract or bother said maintenance person once I knew he was there.

I don't remember how I came across this, but it makes me happy to think about piles of kittens.

Random goodies:

Tonight: going to a friend's birthday gathering. Haven't seem them for awhile.