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You're Bad People

MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
edited December 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
I'm going to kick things off with a quote:
Rathe wrote:
I'm not pointing this out to tell people that they shouldn't donate money to worthy causes but its more about my personal issue with people making the assumption that if they donate money to something it gives them some sort of morale high ground.

My question is: why the hell wouldn't it give them a moral high ground? If doing good things doesn't give you a moral high ground, then it must not exist. This is, of course, related to psychological egoism, a depressingly popular philosophy on this forum. Psychological egoism is the notion that people always do what they want. The usual inference is then that acts of kindness and charity don't make you a good person--after all, you gave that money to charity because you wanted to, probably because you get off on the warm fuzzy feeling. That's selfish.

There are a lot of problems here. Let's take the direct problems with the theory first--it's either trivial or false, depending on how you interpret the term 'want.' People proposing the theory usually take it to be self-evident that people do what they want, however, if it's really just a definitional matter, then the fact that people do what they want has no bearing on our moral conceptions. It should then be no more surprising or relevant than A=A. The second possible way of defining 'want' is as a certain psychological state of the brain. However, if that's the case then there's no real reason to suppose that people do, in fact, always do what they want. To have evidence of that we would need to do empirical studies and collect data . Furthermore, the fact that proponents of psychological egoism here never seem to think that such studies would be necessary leads me believe that they're generally using the trivial version of the theory.

Of course, the theory has another seldom-mentioned consequence. Not only does it make the people giving to charity no better than you, it also makes you no better than Charles Manson. Do you really think that you're no better than Charles Manson?

I'm convinced the popularity of psychological egoism stems from the way people can use it as a cheap cop-out from moral responsibility. Despite the fact that it's actually a pretty shitty idea in terms of intellectual validity, people like it because it's a good defensive dodge. So I'm telling you to give it up--you really would be better people if you gave money to charity, and you should, and as long as you don't I'm going to have the moral high ground on the issue. Of course, there are probably other things you're doing better than me, and there are also certainly other people who are giving more to charity than I am, and hence who have the high ground on me there as well. But I'm not going to pussy-foot around it and act like no judgments are applicable to my behavior. You shouldn't either.

Cowboy up and learn to live with the fact that your actions have significance.

MrMister on
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Posts

  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    I've got no problem with the idea of charitable works giving you a moral high ground. However, it's pretty tough to gracefully take advantage of that high ground yourself without forfeiting it - i.e. revealing that your selfish reasons for giving to the charity (you're right, they're always there) outweighed the generous reasons.

    It reminds me of a scene in the movie "I <3 Huckabees" where the main characters are arguing with a fundamentalist Christian family who brought a Sudanese refugee over to live with them. They get angrier and angrier at the accusations getting thrown around until the mother yells out "How dare you?! We brought a Sudanese refugee into our house!" (the guy was sitting right there) So long moral high ground.

  • skippydumptruckskippydumptruck ill-ass lemony snicket Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    What do you do with "moral high ground"? Defend it from all comers? Sit up there and lord over people lower than you?
    MrMister wrote: »
    Of course, there are probably other things you're doing better than me, and there are also certainly other people who are giving more to charity than I am, and hence who have the high ground on me there as well.

    So the people who donate the most have the highest ground? And how do you relate to them?

    I think I understand the idea you are getting at, but it seems really strange to me to create a hierarchy of morality (just to focus on giving to charity) where the more money you give out, the higher you rank. Strange, and purposeless.

  • spacerat100spacerat100 Registered User
    edited December 2007
    the problem starts when people on said moral high ground start chucking please donate rocks at the amoral masses below. Most people donate because in settings like work it's required socially to not be the one guy who did not donate. This stance effectively negates any sort of "moral high round" and knocks it into the socialism/wellfare/free money-hats category.

    (is money hats a compound word, hyphenated, or 2 words?)

  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    I think I understand the idea you are getting at, but it seems really strange to me to create a hierarchy of morality (just to focus on giving to charity) where the more money you give out, the higher you rank. Strange, and purposeless.

    Gonna have to agree with skippy here

    There is a reason that "moral high ground" is used exclusively as a mocking term.

    Also the conclusions you reach based on your definition of psychological egotism are a little strange. How does it suddenly equalize me and Manson? Maybe - maybe - that could be true if you evaluate someone's character based entirely on their intentions and not on their actual deeds, but that would be silly.

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  • ElJeffeElJeffe Super Moderator, Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited December 2007
    I think the lesson to be learned from psychological egoism (and I agree that it's somewhat but not entirely tautological) isn't that a philanthropist is no better than Charles Manson. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't, but that's not really the point.

    The point is that we need to adopt a slightly different tack in encouraging people to be charitable. Some people - and I have seen you do this to a small extent, Mr^2 - basically say, "Charity means giving up a lot of shit and making yourself unhappy for the greater good. Just suck up and do it, or you're a prick." That's a lousy sales pitch. If we recognize that people basically do things that they feel maximize their happiness, then it allows us to try to boost charity by making it more obviously rewarding.

    For a simplistic and childish example, it's pretty boring to drop a quarter in a box at the grocery store. Quarter goes plop, the end. Whee. If the quarter, instead, goes through one of those little obstacle course thingies, where it goes down slides and pegboards and makes flags wave and shit, now it's suddenly interesting. Instead of getting a warm fuzzy feeling, you get a warm fuzzy feeling and ten seconds of bells and whistles. It costs pretty much nothing more to implement this sort of charity box, but you'll probably get a lot more service from people who are attracted to shiny objects.

    Basically, make charity more rewarding. Instead of trying to get people to write a check and then leave them alone, try to get people to attend a charity auction. Harness the tendency for people to do things they like and make good use of it. It'll be a lot more effective than yelling at them because their moral ground isn't high enough.

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  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    I think the lesson to be learned from psychological egoism (and I agree that it's somewhat but not entirely tautological) isn't that a philanthropist is no better than Charles Manson. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't, but that's not really the point.

    The point is that we need to adopt a slightly different tack in encouraging people to be charitable. Some people - and I have seen you do this to a small extent, Mr^2 - basically say, "Charity means giving up a lot of shit and making yourself unhappy for the greater good. Just suck up and do it, or you're a prick." That's a lousy sales pitch. If we recognize that people basically do things that they feel maximize their happiness, then it allows us to try to boost charity by making it more obviously rewarding.

    For a simplistic and childish example, it's pretty boring to drop a quarter in a box at the grocery store. Quarter goes plop, the end. Whee. If the quarter, instead, goes through one of those little obstacle course thingies, where it goes down slides and pegboards and makes flags wave and shit, now it's suddenly interesting. Instead of getting a warm fuzzy feeling, you get a warm fuzzy feeling and ten seconds of bells and whistles. It costs pretty much nothing more to implement this sort of charity box, but you'll probably get a lot more service from people who are attracted to shiny objects.

    Basically, make charity more rewarding. Instead of trying to get people to write a check and then leave them alone, try to get people to attend a charity auction. Harness the tendency for people to do things they like and make good use of it. It'll be a lot more effective than yelling at them because their moral ground isn't high enough.

    Especially since cutting a check is the most abstract aspect of it for all parties involved and needs to be sexed up. Actually rolling up your sleeves and serving someone soup in a kitchen, or being a day laborer at a house for humanity, or just staring at a wall between passing out brochures is a great deal more rewarding and desireable for people to take part in, because you're actually doing something for the cause and can see the benefits to cause ____ which, you feel are important, in action. You don't know where your money goes after you call a telethon, but you do know where your effort went when you are the one on the ground doing some legwork.

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  • Gnome-InterruptusGnome-Interruptus Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    So if say the Bill & Malinda gates foundation decided to donate a couple $Texas to the Republican party, how much of a moral high ground would that give them? I mean, the Republican party does do some things to help some people. (farm subsidies lol)

    Does that give them an equal moral high ground to donating $Texas to help stop malaria or aids in Africa?

    Who gets to judge which cause is more worthy of donations and thus gives the larger boost to the moral high ground?

    Outside of the do it because it makes you feel good thus you are selfish argument, arent you also picking which causes further what you want to happen in the world. And donating to them, thus furthering your own implementation of your world vision?

    Being selfish is not a bad thing, as long as you are not being selfish to the point of actively harming other people.

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  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2007
    I accept this rebuke, and will endeavor to do better in the future.

  • GreeperGreeper Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Uh well...

    I'm basically quoting my brother verbatim here, but he had some interesting things to say about stuff like this!

    Without religion, I'm not sure you can have moral high ground, y'know? It's relative. Let's say some aliens come and go all: "Teh Human Race Is Evilz >.<"

    then I'm worse than Charles Manson, at least he was killing these evil humans. Giving to charity? An act of sin, according to these aliens and their dogmatic religion of destruction.

    So...

    It all depends on what you think.

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  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited December 2007
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Basically, make charity more rewarding. Instead of trying to get people to write a check and then leave them alone, try to get people to attend a charity auction. Harness the tendency for people to do things they like and make good use of it. It'll be a lot more effective than yelling at them because their moral ground isn't high enough.

    Sure, that's definitely a good idea. Hunger banquets, for instance, are generally pretty fun and also good for raising awareness.

    Mainly what I was going after in my post was the bullshit subjectivism and relativism that runs rampant around these parts. Specifically, there is a huge aversion to anyone ever making a definitive moral claim: for instance, witness the response in the other thread when I said it was wrong to vote based exclusively on self interest. Or, in this thread, when I said that giving money to charity is categorically good. I got a lot of "you think you're so fancy, but you're not so fancy."

    News flash: giving to charity makes you fancy. If you want to be fancy you can do it too. I'm not going to pretend otherwise in order to cushion people's fragile, fragile egos.

  • EuphoricEuphoric Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Yeah, I think some people are getting a little hung up on the idea of the moral absolute you through out there as "Moral high ground." From my understanding, your point isn't specifically that someone can be more good than someone else, but just that someone can be good (and consequently evil) Greeper's bro has a good point though, but what you are saying is true too.

    Edit: You need to have a basis for the absolute good, which is where religion comes in, but in the absence of religion, you can have crappy society. (doesn't work nearly as well.) Relativism is for the dogs in my opinion, it lets you do whatever you want.

  • Gnome-InterruptusGnome-Interruptus Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    All giving to charity means is that you are disatisfied enough with the current situation of the world that it has motivated you to give of your time or money to change it.

    It doesnt make you moral, or fancy, or righteous. Just motivated.

    Anecdote Alert: I have never met someone give or collect charity that was not motivated to do so. Though level of motivation may vary, I often give to charity because my motivation is to not carry coins in my pockets.

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  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Shinto wrote: »
    I accept this rebuke, and will endeavor to do better in the future.

    <3 <3 <3

  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited December 2007
    All giving to charity means is that you are disatisfied enough with the current situation of the world that it has motivated you to give of your time or money to change it.

    It doesnt make you moral, or fancy, or righteous. Just motivated.

    And Charles Manson was motivated to kill a lot of people. The difference between the two is that being motivated to kill a lot of people makes you a psychopath, whereas being motivated to help the poor makes you moral, fancy, and righteous.

  • EuphoricEuphoric Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Of course your dissatisfied with the situation, otherwise there would be no charities. But isn't giving of time and money inherently good? Does it not serve to help society?

  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Euphoric wrote: »
    Of course your dissatisfied with the situation, otherwise there would be no charities. But isn't giving of time and money inherently good? Does it not serve to help society?

    Well, no. The systematic extermination of a race of people is going to take time and money.

  • EuphoricEuphoric Registered User
    edited December 2007
    You know what I meant. But isn't giving of time and money for the betterment of society inherently good?

    Edited to be less hostile.

  • LitejediLitejedi New York CityRegistered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Moral Relativism is a tired, old hat of a cliche. I want to punch people in the face for using it as an argument for, well, anything. A person can be secular, and still be good. Belief in religion is not something that is necessary to have a just and kind society, all you need is to put value on "life" and you've suddenly obtained a morality that is decent.

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  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Euphoric wrote: »
    You know what I meant. Giving of time and money for the betterment of society. better?

    That's providing that what you think is good for the betterment of society does, in fact, improve society. Which is the point I was getting at in an admittedly flippant way. And for that, I apologize.

  • Gnome-InterruptusGnome-Interruptus Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    MrMister wrote: »
    All giving to charity means is that you are disatisfied enough with the current situation of the world that it has motivated you to give of your time or money to change it.

    It doesnt make you moral, or fancy, or righteous. Just motivated.

    And Charles Manson was motivated to kill a lot of people. The difference between the two is that being motivated to kill a lot of people makes you a psychopath, whereas being motivated to help the poor makes you moral, fancy, and righteous.

    Thats a logical fallacy.
    If all charity workers and donaters are motivated != All people who are motivated are charity workers and donaters.
    But isn't giving of time and money inherently good? Does it not serve to help society?
    People donated money to the KKK, racist social clubs / country clubs, ethnic cleansing, etc etc (almost Godwined it :P)
    The best you can do is donate your time and money in the way that you think will best benefit the world. You may be wrong, and there are definately people out there who will tell you that you are, and they may even be right.

    It was even discussed earlier how donating all the free food and free clothing to 3rd world countries destroys the local farmers and merchants ability to sustain themselves. You cant compete as a retailer or grower with people that are giving it away for free.

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  • skippydumptruckskippydumptruck ill-ass lemony snicket Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    MrMister wrote: »
    being motivated to help the poor makes you moral, fancy, and righteous.

    Here is what I don't get--

    So you have identified this spectrum where you can judge people (and yourself) as more or less moral based on the amount they give to charity.

    What do you gain from this?

    Surely you recognize that there are hypocrites, assholes and murderers who give to charity or engage in [moral action x].

    What I meant by my first comment, and what I mean by this, is that I don't see any benefit to establishing a bunch of criteria for who is good and who is not. I'd like to think I am more good than bad, and that my friends and loved ones are the same. Regardless, all of us still do some things I think are laudable, and some things I think are shitty. I don't know that I've ever met a "good" or "bad" person.

    What utility do you get out of this scale in real life?

    I have no problem with saying someone has done something you approve of or would like to emulate, I just don't see why it matters if other people don't agree that the action or person is objectively wonderful.

  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    MrMister wrote: »
    All giving to charity means is that you are disatisfied enough with the current situation of the world that it has motivated you to give of your time or money to change it.

    It doesnt make you moral, or fancy, or righteous. Just motivated.

    And Charles Manson was motivated to kill a lot of people. The difference between the two is that being motivated to kill a lot of people makes you a psychopath, whereas being motivated to help the poor makes you moral, fancy, and righteous.

    Thats a logical fallacy.
    If all charity workers and donaters are motivated != All people who are motivated are charity workers and donaters.

    MrMister never tried to establish that all people who are motivated are charity workers. He merely asserted that not all motivated people act morally.

  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Litejedi wrote: »
    Moral Relativism is a tired, old hat of a cliche. I want to punch people in the face for using it as an argument for, well, anything. A person can be secular, and still be good. Belief in religion is not something that is necessary to have a just and kind society, all you need is to put value on "life" and you've suddenly obtained a morality that is decent.

    Moral relativism is extremely useful, it just isn't an actual moral code despite what some angsty teenagers might tell you. It is a tool to empathise with the viewpoints of people from varying and disparate cultures/regions so as to better understand their motivations and come to collusion on shared goals without hitting a snag because you wanted to go out and celebrate with bacon and liquor on a friday after sunset. It is not a justification for ennui, apathy, or assholishness.

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  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    MrMister wrote: »
    being motivated to help the poor makes you moral, fancy, and righteous.

    Here is what I don't get--

    So you have identified this spectrum where you can judge people (and yourself) as more or less moral based on the amount they give to charity.

    What do you gain from this?

    Surely you recognize that there are hypocrites, assholes and murderers who give to charity or engage in [moral action x].

    What I meant by my first comment, and what I mean by this, is that I don't see any benefit to establishing a bunch of criteria for who is good and who is not. I'd like to think I am more good than bad, and that my friends and loved ones are the same. Regardless, all of us still do some things I think are laudable, and some things I think are shitty. I don't know that I've ever met a "good" or "bad" person.

    What utility do you get out of this scale in real life?

    I have no problem with saying someone has done something you approve of or would like to emulate, I just don't see why it matters if other people don't agree that the action or person is objectively wonderful.

    For one, it's a sliding scale. For two, why does it need to be usefully applicable to every day life?

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  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    MrMister wrote: »
    being motivated to help the poor makes you moral, fancy, and righteous.

    Here is what I don't get--

    So you have identified this spectrum where you can judge people (and yourself) as more or less moral based on the amount they give to charity.

    What do you gain from this?

    Surely you recognize that there are hypocrites, assholes and murderers who give to charity or engage in [moral action x].

    What I meant by my first comment, and what I mean by this, is that I don't see any benefit to establishing a bunch of criteria for who is good and who is not. I'd like to think I am more good than bad, and that my friends and loved ones are the same. Regardless, all of us still do some things I think are laudable, and some things I think are shitty. I don't know that I've ever met a "good" or "bad" person.

    What utility do you get out of this scale in real life?

    I have no problem with saying someone has done something you approve of or would like to emulate, I just don't see why it matters if other people don't agree that the action or person is objectively wonderful.

    If you have a fairly objective set of measures that can determine how moral someone is, it becomes much easier to point out immoral behavior. I'm willing to bet that most people have a desire to be perceived as moral. Therefore, if they are aware of a certain basic set of moral behaviors, they will emulate those behaviors in order to demonstrate that they are moral people. In a more relativistic system, people can convince themselves and others of their morality with a handwave and an appeal to the kind of egoism that MrMister talks about in the OP. At the end of the day, the purpose of having a set of criteria for morality is that it will compel more people to be moral.

  • SolandraSolandra Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    I give to a charity. I also bake cakes and bread for fundraisers. I tell people I don't know that I appreciate them, not just because they may have done something for me, but because I appreciate the abstract idea of "Them"-ness. I smile at children and arrange Santa visits for the children of close friends, and I try to be pleasant and helpful whenever I can get away with it.

    Ya know why I do all that stuff? Because it makes me feel good. I'm very happy to be selfish that way.

    All that said, my own greedy self-satisfaction is one thing, it's when folks start comparing tax receipts with their neighbor or fellow church-member that I have issues with it, because not everyone has the same means to do the same variety of "good." Acts of community improvement (i.e. charity, or "good deeds" or whatever) should not be a dickwaving contest - I will never get any sort of Charity Fundraising Soccer Mom badge.

  • EuphoricEuphoric Registered User
    edited December 2007
    It was even discussed earlier how donating all the free food and free clothing to 3rd world countries destroys the local farmers and merchants ability to sustain themselves. You cant compete as a retailer or grower with people that are giving it away for free.

    Well yeah, but is that the point? I'm sure some charities are horrible and it would be bad to give to them. Others would be good to give to. And you might want to give to either of them, but if you give to the charity that is helping society, isn't that good, whether you want to or not?

  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited December 2007
    What utility do you get out of this scale in real life?

    Deciding what actions are good and bad helps you decide what to do. It's pretty straightforward.

  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Solandra wrote: »
    Acts of community improvement (i.e. charity, or "good deeds" or whatever) should not be a dickwaving contest - I will never get any sort of Charity Fundraising Soccer Mom badge.

    I agree to an extent. A little moral dickwaving is pretty much harmless, but if it escalates to the point where the actual charitable undertaking suffers, it's obviously a problem. This is one of the reasons that modesty, like charity, is a virtue.

  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2007
    MrMister wrote:
    I'm convinced the popularity of psychological egoism stems from the way people can use it as a cheap cop-out from moral responsibility. Despite the fact that it's actually a pretty shitty idea in terms of intellectual validity, people like it because it's a good defensive dodge. So I'm telling you to give it up--you really would be better people if you gave money to charity, and you should, and as long as you don't I'm going to have the moral high ground on the issue.

    Good for you. Would you like a cookie?

    I'm not saying this to troll, but rather bring to attention the question of why having a high moral ground matters at all. Especially in this case, where your moral high ground is the equivalent of a tiny knoll on a god damn flood plain.

    I give money to charity because I think those people deserve a chance. This belief of mine and the action that follows it exist independently of any moral context; if I lived in a society where giving money to charity was regarded as wrong or evil, I'd still do it.

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  • Grid SystemGrid System Registered User
    edited December 2007
    Hachface wrote: »
    I'm willing to bet that most people have a desire to be perceived as moral.
    Also, a desire to associate with other (good) moral people.

  • ElJeffeElJeffe Super Moderator, Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited December 2007
    People donated money to the KKK, racist social clubs / country clubs, ethnic cleansing, etc etc (almost Godwined it :P)
    The best you can do is donate your time and money in the way that you think will best benefit the world. You may be wrong, and there are definately people out there who will tell you that you are, and they may even be right.

    This is a 32 oz bottle of weak sauce. There is a definite subset of charitable causes that any reasonable person would agree are virtuous. I mean, giving food to starving homeless people is a good cause by any non-stupid definition. When someone chooses to watch a football game instead of helping out at the soup kitched, he is in no way trying to do what he thinks best benefits the world. He is trying to sit back and watch a fucking game.

    While I don't necessarily agree that people who don't regularly donate are inherently morally inferior to those who do, I still recognize that the soup kitchen guy is doing an objectively more beneficial thing with his time than the couch potato.

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  • skippydumptruckskippydumptruck ill-ass lemony snicket Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Hachface wrote: »
    If you have a fairly objective set of measures that can determine how moral someone is, it becomes much easier to point out immoral behavior. I'm willing to bet that most people have a desire to be perceived as moral. Therefore, if they are aware of a certain basic set of moral behaviors, they will emulate those behaviors in order to demonstrate that they are moral people. In a more relativistic system, people can convince themselves and others of their morality with a handwave and an appeal to the kind of egoism that MrMister talks about in the OP. At the end of the day, the purpose of having a set of criteria for morality is that it will compel more people to be moral.

    I guess the reason why this doesn't make sense to me is because I tend to see things as contextual.

    A couple of good examples have already been given where giving to a charity or a cause would be regarded by most people as bad, and not good (KKK). I'm sure we could all come up with a bunch more.

    So why try and say that X is objectively moral, rather than evaluating each situation in context? And when you do take a contextual view, it seems to me to follow that people's interpretations are going to start to come into play, making it very hard to come up with any "objective" standard of what is good and what is bad.

    We're not all going to agree on what is good and what is bad, and I'd rather not have my morality decided on by the majority in any case.

    I don't know if I'm derailing or if Mr^2 is shooting for objective/relative discussion. I guess I just don't see the point to worrying too much about if something is Good or Bad in some objective sense -- you make the best decisions you can in the context, and go on with your life.

    If you think donating to charity is good, fine by me. But it seems silly to then judge those who decide not to as somehow less than -- and why would you want to be the person handing out moral gold stars anyway?

  • HachfaceHachface Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    ElJeffe wrote: »

    While I don't necessarily agree that people who don't regularly donate are inherently morally inferior to those who do, I still recognize that the soup kitchen guy is doing an objectively more beneficial thing with his time than the couch potato.

    Is anyone really saying that, though? Mr^2 pointed out in the OP that there are many things that make you more moral; giving to charity is just one of them.

  • skippydumptruckskippydumptruck ill-ass lemony snicket Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    MrMister wrote: »
    What utility do you get out of this scale in real life?

    Deciding what actions are good and bad helps you decide what to do. It's pretty straightforward.

    So giving to charity is good, and not giving to charity is bad. All people should therefore give to charity in order to increase their good quotient.

    There are no exceptions, mitigating factors, shades of grey, or instances where the opposite is true. Everything is so clear!

  • EuphoricEuphoric Registered User
    edited December 2007
    MrMister, why oh why did you have to introduce the concept of "moral high ground?" It seems to be completely overshadowing any valid points you had :(

    well... not moral high ground itself, but hierarchical morality is just plain false.

  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    MrMister wrote: »
    What utility do you get out of this scale in real life?

    Deciding what actions are good and bad helps you decide what to do. It's pretty straightforward.

    So giving to charity is good, and not giving to charity is bad. All people should therefore give to charity in order to increase their good quotient.

    There are no exceptions, mitigating factors, shades of grey, or instances where the opposite is true. Everything is so clear!

    Exactly. Just like how there isn't any nuance to MrMr's point.

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  • Grid SystemGrid System Registered User
    edited December 2007
    I don't know if I'm derailing or if Mr^2 is shooting for objective/relative discussion. I guess I just don't see the point to worrying too much about if something is Good or Bad in some objective sense -- you make the best decisions you can in the context, and go on with your life.
    Objectivity (the notion that for any given situation there is one and only one set of non-contradictory facts-of-the-matter, i.e. what the good/right thing to do is) is not incompatible with Contexualism (the notion that no two given situations are identical).

  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited December 2007
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    People donated money to the KKK, racist social clubs / country clubs, ethnic cleansing, etc etc (almost Godwined it :P)
    The best you can do is donate your time and money in the way that you think will best benefit the world. You may be wrong, and there are definately people out there who will tell you that you are, and they may even be right.

    This is a 32 oz bottle of weak sauce. There is a definite subset of charitable causes that any reasonable person would agree are virtuous. I mean, giving food to starving homeless people is a good cause by any non-stupid definition. When someone chooses to watch a football game instead of helping out at the soup kitched, he is in no way trying to do what he thinks best benefits the world. He is trying to sit back and watch a fucking game.

    While I don't necessarily agree that people who don't regularly donate are inherently morally inferior to those who do, I still recognize that the soup kitchen guy is doing an objectively more beneficial thing with his time than the couch potato.

    If you view those two actions in a vacuum, sure.

    But what if the couch potato works in a volunteer organization on weekdays, and his watching a football game on a sunday afternoon boosts his efficiency and productivity when he works the next day?

    Hell, at the very least, watching the game might make him a happier person, and might cause him to treat other people better because he's a happier person. Is the total extra utility gained by those who interact with this person, as a result of being treated better, trumped out by the utility received by the visitors of some soup kitchen from an extra volunteer?

    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • Gnome-InterruptusGnome-Interruptus Registered User regular
    edited December 2007
    Euphoric wrote: »
    It was even discussed earlier how donating all the free food and free clothing to 3rd world countries destroys the local farmers and merchants ability to sustain themselves. You cant compete as a retailer or grower with people that are giving it away for free.

    Well yeah, but is that the point? I'm sure some charities are horrible and it would be bad to give to them. Others would be good to give to. And you might want to give to either of them, but if you give to the charity that is helping society, isn't that good, whether you want to or not?

    Very few people give to bad charities. Or at least, they dont see the charities as bad. Good and Bad are based on morals, and as we have been discussing, morals are relative.

    Even beyond that, giving food to hungry people sounds pretty good. Giving clothes to people that are cold and dont have any sounds pretty good. But again each action can have far ranging consequences, some of which can be negative.

    Does the negative outweigh the positive? Who gets to make that judgement? Honestly, no one has the right to make that type of judgement on anyone else.
    Thus if no one can make the judgement that what you are doing is good, then you do not recieve any extra gold stars, you do not become some special snowflake.

    Your just someone who gave to charity. No more, no less. That doesnt mean you cant feel good about it. Its the people who give to charity to lord it over others that have missed the point. Though I'm sure the charity appreciates the money all the same, and the person enjoys lording it over people all the same too.

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