It is possible to define criminality in the same terms as corruption, bullying and other sociopathic or more generally pathological elements. A model I recently set up actually links ideology with ethics, but the nature of ideology is defined in terms of opportunity and legitimacy, where the latter is defined in terms of normative standards, accountability and regulation, and the former in terms of social, economic and political attributes. These tend to be structurally coupled in one way or another.

On Thu, Oct 16, 2008 at 1:53 AM, Roger Harnden <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Russell, to pick up your and Allenna's  'failed notice' thread. This is Roger-speak and is not intended to interrupt the flow of your very positive interaction with Allenna. Hence the new thread.

Did Stafford ever define criminality, Allenna? I never heard him do so, and it's pretty hard to do. Unless we define it as something like 'a person who undermines the status quo' - which isn't very satisfactory. But sure as damnit there's no objective definition. Even 'evil', Russell, has problems. It is almost totally relative to a viewpoint or a culture's dominant logic. If we take the systems' approach that Allenna writes about, then we end up talking about the failure of the system - the point I raised in my previous message. All very well if you believe the system is not constituted through human actions, but is somehow a reification - but then please define it.

And when, following Ern, we attempt to make a distinction between 'ourselves as human beings' and 'ourselves as social beings' we arrive at the hub of the issue. It's bloody difficult to make such a distinction in practice, though the words make it sound simple.

However, I believe we can, impeccably, make a distinction between our shifting and changing subjective and indeterminate sense of self, and the self that we ascribe to others. Hence my use of the terms ethics and morals.

Of course, outside this territory we have 'systems', but they are constituted by human interactions, and I believe, their nature largely determined consensually through recurrent exchanges of generalisations of mind rather than by the interactions themselves in isolation. In other words, they are judgements about what is the case, where the case itself can only be the case. They are exchanges at the S5 level of the individuals. And, perhaps following Luhmann or Foucault, individual human beings can be described as 'relays' for the dynamics of the emerging systems. But, if this is the case (and with reference to Spencer Brown), the human as a relay has a choice to close or fracture a 'circuit' or to provide closure to the system pattern (as did many individuals concerned with the concentration camps or the banking crisis. Neither Foucault nor Luhmann appear to embrace such an option. In Foucault's conclusions there is a fatalistic inescapability to what he calls the 'microphysics of power'. No-one can step outside it.

However, I am deeply suspicious of the notion that we have to leave an 'enactive' individual out of the picture. What von Foerster, Maturana and others intend by the concept of 'responsibility' is surely correct. Or haver I got this wrong? In other words, whatever the system, the individual has choice over which relays they open and which they break. And the decision taken defines the ethical nature of that individual to him or her self, and defines their moral status in their social context.  The individual may or may not amplify a given flow of power/knowledge, through his or her decision about engagement or disengagement from any network of social relations.

I suppose, Russell, that it might be interesting to see 'where' criminality exists in terms of the VSM. But I am not sure we would 'find' it. The model has been used by a whole variety of people, and attracted many, some of whom have an authoritarian perspective, some a democratic one. Each extreme fits the model to their own world-picture, in many cases quite satisfactorily for their own purposes. Which is probably OK. Claims that a model is intrinsically 'moral'  or 'ethical' are surely a contradictinction in terms. Models are surely, triumphantly, about systems, and not about human individuals. What we might choose to do is to define that class of individual who seeks to undermine 'our' model of reality (whether that model is VSM or something else), 'criminal'. And, then. low and behold, we will call them 'immoral'. We could not say anything about their ethical being, though.

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Professor Dr. Maurice Yolles
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