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All my atheist morals

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    Ain't No SunshineAin't No Sunshine Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Why would there NOT be a dividing line? Atheists could very well have unique and differing drives regarding certain things. Following them, in a properly free and organized society, wouldn't force anyone else to do anything different.

    There seems to be a drive here to reduce the problem, to chunk it and render a single solve. That's not what I'm interested in doing. I'm more interested in sliding the various blocks that make up secular morality around like the planes of a rubik's cube.

    I wasn't suggesting that individual atheists should give up whatever drives them in favor of general ethical principles; I was criticizing the idea that being an atheist fundamentally categorizes a person in such a way that their thinking would not be compatible with general ethical principles.

    Edit to your edit: We're already on our way, then. Utilitiarianism gives us overarching moral goals, Humanism gives us the speed bumps we need to keep utilitarianism from running roughshod over minorities. What else should be added to the picture?

    Ain't No Sunshine on
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    JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Place at the tableRegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Why would there NOT be a dividing line? Atheists could very well have unique and differing drives regarding certain things. Following them, in a properly free and organized society, wouldn't force anyone else to do anything different.

    There seems to be a drive here to reduce the problem, to chunk it and render a single solve. That's not what I'm interested in doing. I'm more interested in sliding the various blocks that make up secular morality around like the planes of a rubik's cube.

    I wasn't suggesting that individual atheists should give up whatever drives them in favor of general ethical principles; I was criticizing the idea that being an atheist fundamentally categorizes a person in such a way that their thinking would not be compatible with general ethical principles.

    That's your assumption, your characterization of what I said. The idea that they posses unique beliefs or drives doesn't FREE them from any other ethic. A statement/question regarding what is unique to the atheist doesn't speak to the common qualities she also has or might have.

    JohnnyCache on
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    Irond WillIrond Will WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator Mod Emeritus
    edited January 2007
    That's your assumption, your characterization of what I said. The idea that they posses unique beliefs or drives doesn't FREE them from any other ethic. A statement/question regarding what is unique to the atheist doesn't speak to the common qualities she also has or might have.
    I don't understand why an atheist would necessarily "place a strong value on physical, genetic continuation and historical remembrance."

    Irond Will on
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    ElkiElki get busy Moderator, ClubPA Mod Emeritus
    edited January 2007
    MrMister wrote:
    Let's please not turn this into a religion thread, and let's please not turn this into a Dawkins thread either. I, for one, would much prefer to discuss ethics than to argue over whether Dawkins is a visionary or a big meanie.
    ^^let's do this^^

    Elki on
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    Ain't No SunshineAin't No Sunshine Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Why would there NOT be a dividing line? Atheists could very well have unique and differing drives regarding certain things. Following them, in a properly free and organized society, wouldn't force anyone else to do anything different.

    There seems to be a drive here to reduce the problem, to chunk it and render a single solve. That's not what I'm interested in doing. I'm more interested in sliding the various blocks that make up secular morality around like the planes of a rubik's cube.

    I wasn't suggesting that individual atheists should give up whatever drives them in favor of general ethical principles; I was criticizing the idea that being an atheist fundamentally categorizes a person in such a way that their thinking would not be compatible with general ethical principles.

    That's your assumption, your characterization of what I said. The idea that they posses unique beliefs or drives doesn't FREE them from any other ethic. A statement/question regarding what is unique to the atheist doesn't speak to the common qualities she also has or might have.

    It's just not that interesting of a question, ethically speaking. An atheist doesn't believe in a deity, which rules out divine command theory, and nothing else. Are there some properties to atheists, aside from that particular belief, that they all share and would therefore dictate a different ground for ethical debate than the norm?

    Edited in: I sort of saw the thread as less of an investigation and more of a construction. Organized religion often challenges the moral fiber of atheists. Why not write a schematic of humanist morality that any atheist could point to, one that answers all the typical challenges, and force the religious to respect the fact that godless does not equal heartless?

    Ain't No Sunshine on
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    JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Place at the tableRegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Why would there NOT be a dividing line? Atheists could very well have unique and differing drives regarding certain things. Following them, in a properly free and organized society, wouldn't force anyone else to do anything different.

    There seems to be a drive here to reduce the problem, to chunk it and render a single solve. That's not what I'm interested in doing. I'm more interested in sliding the various blocks that make up secular morality around like the planes of a rubik's cube.

    I wasn't suggesting that individual atheists should give up whatever drives them in favor of general ethical principles; I was criticizing the idea that being an atheist fundamentally categorizes a person in such a way that their thinking would not be compatible with general ethical principles.

    That's your assumption, your characterization of what I said. The idea that they posses unique beliefs or drives doesn't FREE them from any other ethic. A statement/question regarding what is unique to the atheist doesn't speak to the common qualities she also has or might have.

    It's just not that interesting of a question, ethically speaking. An atheist doesn't believe in a deity, which rules out divine command theory, and nothing else. Are there some properties to atheists, aside from that particular belief, that they all share and would therefore dictate a different ground for ethical debate than the norm?

    It's the aside from that particular belief that throws me here.

    Your belief about what happens to you when your limited time on earth is interrupted is VERY meaningful. It would seem to have pyschological import I'm not sure one can segment away from other beliefs. If you believe, utterly, in a pleasing afterlife as a consequence of one sort of behavior and eternal punishment or anihilation the consequence of another, you will respect the path to that afterlife.

    This statement, or I guess, this belief on my part leads me to question the sincerity of the average american churchgoing sinner.

    If there's no ethical difference in a religious person and an atheist, apart from that belief, what DOES the religious person believe in?

    Edited to respond to your edit: I think that's nicely summed up by saying "Have you (religious person being addressed) ever stopped to consider if you do the things you do because you SHOULD or because you'll be punished if you don't?"

    I'm genuinely curious how many 'christians' or members of other religions actually think about the spiritual consequences of their actions and how many simply take their ethical structure from the true source of most ethical strucure - their formative environment.

    JohnnyCache on
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    Ain't No SunshineAin't No Sunshine Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Alright, I feel that. I think it depends more on a personality, though, and less on the belief system. There's a selfless kind of person that could be theist or atheist, but regardless cares more about doing what's good for the world than what they're getting in the end. The difference between selfless atheists and selfless theists is that the theists, in their pursuit of the good, need to cross their t's and dot their i's to follow the divine commands. Other than that necessity, they live their lives the same way.

    On that spectrum, there's a less selfless kind of person who is concerned with doing good for the world and also doing good things for themselves. The goals of a theist and an atheist are a bit more obvious in these persons (the theist puts more importance on his dogma, the atheist is interested in making her mark on the world). They live their lives quite differently.

    When either personality is trying to be a maximally moral person, though, it seems like they'd both be following the general principles as best they can.

    Ain't No Sunshine on
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    YarYar Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    joy = good
    sorrow = bad
    Regardless of mine, your, theirs, its. Regardless of solitude or society.

    We should seek to maximize joy and minimize sorrow. An arguable corrollary is that the latter is even more important than the former.

    So, how do we go about it?

    Yar on
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    SumalethSumaleth Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    So it was morally wrong for Lucas to make the new Star Wars films?

    That sounds about right.

    Sumaleth on
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    KetherialKetherial Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Yar wrote:
    joy = good
    sorrow = bad
    Regardless of mine, your, theirs, its. Regardless of solitude or society.

    We should seek to maximize joy and minimize sorrow. An arguable corrollary is that the latter is even more important than the former.

    So, how do we go about it?

    yar, you keep saying this, but im not sure it's a complete enough picture.

    just to illustrate my point, if trillionaire x has children, he can easily support them for life, spoil them and provide for their every whim, practically ensuring that they never "suffer" (at least materially). however, im not sure that i would consider that a good, ideal or even moral decision on his part.

    even if there are no future negative effects whatsoever, even if no suffering would ever result from spoiling the child, i would still argue that it's not for the child's benefit and likely immoral to provide that child with nothing but "joy".

    i see value and virtue in patience, endurance, integrity, discipline, etc. i believe it is immoral to raise your children knowing that they will not be able to develop these qualities. if theoretically, we could raise well developed, mature, thoughtful adults through a regimen of nothing but "joy", that would be great. but if joy and integrity come into conflict, if we must sacrifice some joy in order to have more integrity, i would argue that the moral decision must be to not spoil a child, to in effect "make them suffer" in order to ensure that they grow up well developed.

    i know this is somewhat tangential to the point you are making above, but i thought i might as well bring it up. joy, even if it is without any penalty whatsoever is not the only concern. i have other concerns, ideals and morals separate from joy which are just as, if not more important. again, just to make it exceedingly clear, even if developing patience in a child would add no additional joy in his life and would in fact make him suffer more, i would nevertheless choose the path that allows the child to develop patience. because i dont think learning patience is just a road to maximizing joy in the future. i think patience is a virtue in and of itself, even if we (could) separate it from the concept of joy.

    Ketherial on
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    jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Ketherial wrote:
    Yar wrote:
    joy = good
    sorrow = bad
    Regardless of mine, your, theirs, its. Regardless of solitude or society.

    We should seek to maximize joy and minimize sorrow. An arguable corrollary is that the latter is even more important than the former.

    So, how do we go about it?

    yar, you keep saying this, but im not sure it's a complete enough picture.

    just to illustrate my point, if trillionaire x has children, he can easily support them for life, spoil them and provide for their every whim, practically ensuring that they never "suffer" (at least materially). however, im not sure that i would consider that a good, ideal or even moral decision on his part.

    even if there are no future negative effects whatsoever, even if no suffering would ever result from spoiling the child, i would still argue that it's not for the child's benefit and likely immoral to provide that child with nothing but "joy".

    i see value and virtue in patience, endurance, integrity, discipline, etc. i believe it is immoral to raise your children knowing that they will not be able to develop these qualities. if theoretically, we could raise well developed, mature, thoughtful adults through a regimen of nothing but "joy", that would be great. but if joy and integrity come into conflict, if we must sacrifice some joy in order to have more integrity, i would argue that the moral decision must be to not spoil a child, to in effect "make them suffer" in order to ensure that they grow up well developed.

    i know this is somewhat tangential to the point you are making above, but i thought i might as well bring it up. joy, even if it is without any penalty whatsoever is not the only concern. i have other concerns, ideals and morals separate from joy which are just as, if not more important. again, just to make it exceedingly clear, even if developing patience in a child would add no additional joy in his life and would in fact make him suffer more, i would nevertheless choose the path that allows the child to develop patience. because i dont think learning patience is just a road to maximizing joy in the future. i think patience is a virtue in and of itself, even if we (could) separate it from the concept of joy.

    Are you saying this because making someone develop 'good qualities' would make them feel good, or because it would make you feel good? Your position could be much closer to Egoism than you think.

    jothki on
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    KetherialKetherial Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    jothki wrote:
    Are you saying this because making someone develop 'good qualities' would make them feel good, or because it would make you feel good? Your position could be much closer to Egoism than you think.

    actually, the point im trying to make is that there are some things that i value regardless of how they make me or anyone "feel". i find these qualities to be axiomatically good just as yar finds joy to be axiomatically good.

    Ketherial on
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    Ain't No SunshineAin't No Sunshine Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Ketherial wrote:
    jothki wrote:
    Are you saying this because making someone develop 'good qualities' would make them feel good, or because it would make you feel good? Your position could be much closer to Egoism than you think.

    actually, the point im trying to make is that there are some things that i value regardless of how they make me or anyone "feel". i find these qualities to be axiomatically good just as yar finds joy to be axiomatically good.

    It seems as if Yar is suggesting that there are some things that we should do, and that you are suggesting some thing that we should be. I like that, and I think the positions help each other. Your position is immune to the pure hedonism criticism ("why don't we all just put our brains in vats with a lot of morphine forever..."), for one thing. Why not only try to create pleasure and remove sorrow by taking actions that are consistent with someone who is strong, patient, and so on? The last bit would require a lot more precision to go anywhere, of course...

    Ain't No Sunshine on
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    dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    You don't have to be believe in a diety to apply the golden rule.

    There are neurons that act in empathy with those of others, which if they're working right should discourage you from commiting acts of unprovoked violence.

    Society rewards and trains us from a very young age that people who obey the rules get the best stuff. The job market and social gatherings teach us that your attitude will determine whether you fit in.

    I make this arguement because I don't believe that a religious text offers morals, it offers societal guidelines. If you really think stoning women for trying to drive, or removing their clitoris is moral by any standards, I think your compass is broken.

    dispatch.o on
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    ElJeffeElJeffe Not actually a mod. Roaming the streets, waving his gun around.Moderator, ClubPA Mod Emeritus
    edited January 2007
    Yar wrote:
    joy = good
    sorrow = bad
    Regardless of mine, your, theirs, its. Regardless of solitude or society.

    We should seek to maximize joy and minimize sorrow. An arguable corrollary is that the latter is even more important than the former.

    So, how do we go about it?

    Under this system, I assume it would be moral to torture and slaughter two people in order to bring a tiny amount of happiness to 300 million people, because the cumulative happiness of those 300 million is greater than the sorrow of the two?

    Say, murder two people, and give the 300 million free DVD players?

    ElJeffe on
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    dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Is it even possible to quantify happiness?

    dispatch.o on
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    Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    ElJeffe wrote:
    Yar wrote:
    joy = good
    sorrow = bad
    Regardless of mine, your, theirs, its. Regardless of solitude or society.

    We should seek to maximize joy and minimize sorrow. An arguable corrollary is that the latter is even more important than the former.

    So, how do we go about it?

    Under this system, I assume it would be moral to torture and slaughter two people in order to bring a tiny amount of happiness to 300 million people, because the cumulative happiness of those 300 million is greater than the sorrow of the two?

    Say, murder two people, and give the 300 million free DVD players?

    note what i bolded.

    Loren Michael on
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    ElJeffeElJeffe Not actually a mod. Roaming the streets, waving his gun around.Moderator, ClubPA Mod Emeritus
    edited January 2007
    ElJeffe wrote:
    Yar wrote:
    joy = good
    sorrow = bad
    Regardless of mine, your, theirs, its. Regardless of solitude or society.

    We should seek to maximize joy and minimize sorrow. An arguable corrollary is that the latter is even more important than the former.

    So, how do we go about it?

    Under this system, I assume it would be moral to torture and slaughter two people in order to bring a tiny amount of happiness to 300 million people, because the cumulative happiness of those 300 million is greater than the sorrow of the two?

    Say, murder two people, and give the 300 million free DVD players?

    note what i bolded.

    Even in that case, it still seems to imply that murder someone is justifiable if you can give enough people those DVDs.

    ElJeffe on
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    VariableVariable Mouth Congress Stroke Me Lady FameRegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    that's the problem with defining ethics in... three sentences?

    Variable on
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    RandomEngyRandomEngy Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Well it would have to be a ton of DVD players to counteract the fear felt by everyone that they'd be the ones picked. But at some point, it is worth it. Vastly improved life for a tiny chance of death? I'd do it.

    RandomEngy on
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    PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Is this hedonism again?

    Paladin on
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    TroubledTomTroubledTom regular
    edited January 2007
    ElJeffe wrote:
    Yar wrote:
    joy = good
    sorrow = bad
    Regardless of mine, your, theirs, its. Regardless of solitude or society.

    We should seek to maximize joy and minimize sorrow. An arguable corrollary is that the latter is even more important than the former.

    So, how do we go about it?

    Under this system, I assume it would be moral to torture and slaughter two people in order to bring a tiny amount of happiness to 300 million people, because the cumulative happiness of those 300 million is greater than the sorrow of the two?

    Say, murder two people, and give the 300 million free DVD players?

    If you really want to kill two people it's going to have to be HD. No wacky Sony formats either.

    TroubledTom on
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    Nexus ZeroNexus Zero Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Are there any Christian moral axioms?

    Nexus Zero on
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    L*2*G*XL*2*G*X Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Nexus Zero wrote:
    Are there any Christian moral axioms?

    Yes, the ten commandments. They dropped commandments ten to fifteen :/

    L*2*G*X on
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    Nexus ZeroNexus Zero Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    L*2*G*X wrote:
    Nexus Zero wrote:
    Are there any Christian moral axioms?

    Yes, the ten commandments. They dropped commandments ten to fifteen :/

    Oh of course, what was I thinking? Looking through them, the three that stand out to me as base morals I've held through my life are don't kill, steal or commit adultery. It seems to me those have evolved along with society, and that the matter is as simple as that. The most arbitrary morals are derived from religion anyway, with random rules against homosexuality and contraception, or with leaders against rock and alcohol. It seems to me that commandments like "do not covet thy neighbours wife or house" are actively shunned in capitalist societies, especially ultra-Christian, ultra-capitalist America, where desire and jealousy provide the backbone of its economy.

    Nexus Zero on
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    L*2*G*XL*2*G*X Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Well, it's not like they were carved in stone..


    I know, I know, but I couldn't resist.

    L*2*G*X on
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    itylusitylus Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Nexus Zero wrote:
    L*2*G*X wrote:
    Nexus Zero wrote:
    Are there any Christian moral axioms?

    Yes, the ten commandments. They dropped commandments ten to fifteen :/

    Oh of course, what was I thinking? Looking through them, the three that stand out to me as base morals I've held through my life are don't kill, steal or commit adultery. It seems to me those have evolved along with society, and that the matter is as simple as that. The most arbitrary morals are derived from religion anyway, with random rules against homosexuality and contraception, or with leaders against rock and alcohol. It seems to me that commandments like "do not covet thy neighbours wife or house" are actively shunned in capitalist societies, especially ultra-Christian, ultra-capitalist America, where desire and jealousy provide the backbone of its economy.

    Given the huge range of different commands (or commandments) given in the Bible, and the range of different interpretations as to which ones it is necessary to follow and which ones it isn't, it's not surprising to find that the ones which contradict the flow of powerful social and economic forces tend to be ignored.

    I think, though, if one were to seriously try to follow the "new commandment" of Jesus, "love one another, as I have loved you", one would probably end up acting in more or less the same way as someone following the sorts of ethical maxims being advocated by Peter Singer, albeit with differing explanations and reasons for those actions.

    itylus on
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    poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Eljeffe said:
    Loren Michael wrote:
    ElJeffe wrote:
    Yar wrote:
    joy = good
    sorrow = bad
    Regardless of mine, your, theirs, its. Regardless of solitude or society.

    We should seek to maximize joy and minimize sorrow. An arguable corrollary is that the latter is even more important than the former.

    So, how do we go about it?


    Under this system, I assume it would be moral to torture and slaughter two people in order to bring a tiny amount of happiness to 300 million people, because the cumulative happiness of those 300 million is greater than the sorrow of the two?

    Say, murder two people, and give the 300 million free DVD players?


    note what i bolded.


    Even in that case, it still seems to imply that murder someone is justifiable if you can give enough people those DVDs.


    The thing is, we can extrapolate. We can say, for example, that a society where you might be spirited away to be one of the 2 torture-sacrifices might be a nervous one. We can wonder whether the ones with the DVD players might feel guilty (and still, of course nervous) about how things are going. We might argue that in this kind of society the kind of people who like performing torture will become powerful, and those types ain't right.

    Being a utilitarian doesn't mean you have to be dumb. It's how to maximise happiness (or other related concepts) that is the problem.

    The psychological example posted earlier for example - I would die and kill to avoid a society where the different are brainwashed, and I don't think it would last very long. Difference is useful.

    poshniallo on
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    nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Brave New World would be a perfect example of utilitarianism gone bad. Everyone's happy but at the cost of thier free-will and independence.

    nexuscrawler on
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    YarYar Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Ketherial wrote:
    yar, you keep saying this, but im not sure it's a complete enough picture.
    Hence the, "How do we go about it?" But otherwise, yes, it is the complete picture.
    Ketherial wrote:
    just to illustrate my point, if trillionaire x has children, he can easily support them for life, spoil them and provide for their every whim, practically ensuring that they never "suffer" (at least materially). however, im not sure that i would consider that a good, ideal or even moral decision on his part.
    Children in this situation often end up lost and unhappy. Or at least no happier than their non-trillionaire counteparts. You're confusing actual joy with those things which people ignorantly assume are associated with joy, such as money.
    Ketherial wrote:
    even if there are no future negative effects whatsoever, even if no suffering would ever result from spoiling the child, i would still argue that it's not for the child's benefit and likely immoral to provide that child with nothing but "joy".
    Define "benefit." They'd benefit from being more unhappy? I literally cannot conceive of what "benefit" means in that sentence I just wrote.
    Ketherial wrote:
    i see value and virtue in patience, endurance, integrity, discipline, etc.
    Why? Because, in the long run, they lead to contentment and help to avoid many of the causes of human suffering?
    Ketherial wrote:
    If theoretically, we could raise well developed, mature, thoughtful adults through a regimen of nothing but "joy", that would be great.
    Agreed. Could we do that?
    Ketherial wrote:
    but if joy and integrity come into conflict, if we must sacrifice some joy in order to have more integrity, i would argue that the moral decision must be to not spoil a child, to in effect "make them suffer" in order to ensure that they grow up well developed.
    And by "well developed" you mean that which will generate more joy and less sorrow for themselves and those they affect.
    Ketherial wrote:
    i know this is somewhat tangential to the point you are making above, but i thought i might as well bring it up. joy, even if it is without any penalty whatsoever is not the only concern.
    Yes, it is. I never placed any restriction of a microcosm on it. I never said it was only about whether or not you give your child a cookie. I am fairly sure my son's life will be happier in the long run if I make him poop in the potty before I give him the M&M, even though free M&Ms and stress-free diaper poops are more joyful for him right now.
    Ketherial wrote:
    i have other concerns, ideals and morals separate from joy which are just as, if not more important.
    No, you don't. You just have higher-order moral concepts. But breaking them down, your core belief is that they tend to sacrifice some joy now for more later. Or sacrifice some joy for yourself in return for less suffereing for others.
    Ketherial wrote:
    again, just to make it exceedingly clear, even if developing patience in a child would add no additional joy in his life and would in fact make him suffer more, i would nevertheless choose the path that allows the child to develop patience.
    Why? And remember, I said not his, yours, mine, its. So it isn't jsut about his life. You really feel that even if you knew something would result in net loss of happiness for the universe, a net gain in sorrow, you'd do it anyway?
    Ketherial wrote:
    because i dont think learning patience is just a road to maximizing joy in the future. i think patience is a virtue in and of itself, even if we (could) separate it from the concept of joy.
    Why? What is good about patience?
    Ketherial wrote:
    actually, the point im trying to make is that there are some things that i value regardless of how they make me or anyone "feel". i find these qualities to be axiomatically good just as yar finds joy to be axiomatically good.
    The difference is that I can conceptually separate our notion of "good" from patience. Viewed in an total vaccuum, the concepts of "good" and "joy" are inseperable, whereas as "good" and "patience" don't intuitively link so directly. You can say patience is a virtue as an axiom, but I think it's intuitive that patience is a virtue because of what patience will wreak, not because of what patience is. Joy is good because of what joy is, not because of what it can achieve.
    ElJeffe wrote:
    Under this system, I assume it would be moral to torture and slaughter two people in order to bring a tiny amount of happiness to 300 million people, because the cumulative happiness of those 300 million is greater than the sorrow of the two?

    Say, murder two people, and give the 300 million free DVD players?
    Two things:

    1) Since such a decision isn't really on the table, my answer won't be that useful. You might as well have asked me, "does this system mean we should fgutzil all of our schnotzes?"

    2) That being said, the very implication of your question seems to be that two people being tortured + 300 million new DVD players = net negative. So there's your answer.
    dispatch.o wrote:
    Is it even possible to quantify happiness?
    Very good point.
    ElJeffe wrote:
    Even in that case, it still seems to imply that murder someone is justifiable if you can give enough people those DVDs.
    How so? Isn't the point of your rhetorical question that you think murder is worse that lots and lots of DVD players? Isn't your answer already there?
    Brave New World would be a perfect example of utilitarianism gone bad. Everyone's happy but at the cost of thier free-will and independence.
    Except, a lot of them really weren't happy in a really serious way.

    Yar on
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    jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    ElJeffe wrote:
    Yar wrote:
    joy = good
    sorrow = bad
    Regardless of mine, your, theirs, its. Regardless of solitude or society.

    We should seek to maximize joy and minimize sorrow. An arguable corrollary is that the latter is even more important than the former.

    So, how do we go about it?

    Under this system, I assume it would be moral to torture and slaughter two people in order to bring a tiny amount of happiness to 300 million people, because the cumulative happiness of those 300 million is greater than the sorrow of the two?

    Say, murder two people, and give the 300 million free DVD players?

    Under that system, it would be completely moral. Are you trying to say that any system that contradicts what we've already decided about morality without using any logical system is wrong? Why not just say that common sense is the perfect moral system, and leave it at that?

    jothki on
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    Vincent GraysonVincent Grayson Frederick, MDRegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    jothki wrote:
    ElJeffe wrote:
    Yar wrote:
    joy = good
    sorrow = bad
    Regardless of mine, your, theirs, its. Regardless of solitude or society.

    We should seek to maximize joy and minimize sorrow. An arguable corrollary is that the latter is even more important than the former.

    So, how do we go about it?

    Under this system, I assume it would be moral to torture and slaughter two people in order to bring a tiny amount of happiness to 300 million people, because the cumulative happiness of those 300 million is greater than the sorrow of the two?

    Say, murder two people, and give the 300 million free DVD players?

    Under that system, it would be completely moral. Are you trying to say that any system that contradicts what we've already decided about morality without using any logical system is wrong? Why not just say that common sense is the perfect moral system, and leave it at that?

    No one in their right mind would find a system wherein casual murder of "innocent" people is allowed to be a good system of morals, because it places themselves, and those they care about, in danger.

    I don't kill people because I don't want to be killed, and casual murder is a good way to indicate the level of value one places on one's own life, as far as I'm concerned.

    edit: Essentially, I believe that you *own* moral system should be one you'd expect the whole world to follow, if only they'd listen. While you might understand that everyone *won't* follow the same system as you, if their doing so would be a bad thing, it's a poor moral system.

    Vincent Grayson on
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    jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    jothki wrote:
    ElJeffe wrote:
    Yar wrote:
    joy = good
    sorrow = bad
    Regardless of mine, your, theirs, its. Regardless of solitude or society.

    We should seek to maximize joy and minimize sorrow. An arguable corrollary is that the latter is even more important than the former.

    So, how do we go about it?

    Under this system, I assume it would be moral to torture and slaughter two people in order to bring a tiny amount of happiness to 300 million people, because the cumulative happiness of those 300 million is greater than the sorrow of the two?

    Say, murder two people, and give the 300 million free DVD players?

    Under that system, it would be completely moral. Are you trying to say that any system that contradicts what we've already decided about morality without using any logical system is wrong? Why not just say that common sense is the perfect moral system, and leave it at that?

    No one in their right mind would find a system wherein casual murder of "innocent" people is allowed to be a good system of morals, because it places themselves, and those they care about, in danger.

    I don't kill people because I don't want to be killed, and casual murder is a good way to indicate the level of value one places on one's own life, as far as I'm concerned.

    edit: Essentially, I believe that you *own* moral system should be one you'd expect the whole world to follow, if only they'd listen. While you might understand that everyone *won't* follow the same system as you, if their doing so would be a bad thing, it's a poor moral system.

    Two such systems already exist and are accepted by significant portions of many societies: drafts and the use of the death penality on people who are found guilty despite being innocent. While a number of good arguments can be made for the abolition of the death penalty, would you say that, say, World War II was immoral on our part?

    jothki on
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    Vincent GraysonVincent Grayson Frederick, MDRegistered User regular
    edited January 2007
    jothki wrote:
    jothki wrote:
    ElJeffe wrote:
    Yar wrote:
    joy = good
    sorrow = bad
    Regardless of mine, your, theirs, its. Regardless of solitude or society.

    We should seek to maximize joy and minimize sorrow. An arguable corrollary is that the latter is even more important than the former.

    So, how do we go about it?

    Under this system, I assume it would be moral to torture and slaughter two people in order to bring a tiny amount of happiness to 300 million people, because the cumulative happiness of those 300 million is greater than the sorrow of the two?

    Say, murder two people, and give the 300 million free DVD players?

    Under that system, it would be completely moral. Are you trying to say that any system that contradicts what we've already decided about morality without using any logical system is wrong? Why not just say that common sense is the perfect moral system, and leave it at that?

    No one in their right mind would find a system wherein casual murder of "innocent" people is allowed to be a good system of morals, because it places themselves, and those they care about, in danger.

    I don't kill people because I don't want to be killed, and casual murder is a good way to indicate the level of value one places on one's own life, as far as I'm concerned.

    edit: Essentially, I believe that you *own* moral system should be one you'd expect the whole world to follow, if only they'd listen. While you might understand that everyone *won't* follow the same system as you, if their doing so would be a bad thing, it's a poor moral system.

    Two such systems already exist and are accepted by significant portions of many societies: drafts and the use of the death penality on people who are found guilty despite being innocent. While a number of good arguments can be made for the abolition of the death penalty, would you say that, say, World War II was immoral on our part?

    Of course. I can't think of any way war would *not* be immoral. That doesn't mean it wasn't necessary.

    Vincent Grayson on
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    poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Now that, Vincent, does open up an interesting question. Namely, can a moral system encompass all the necessary choices of life? Is there a moral system which you can always follow, no matter what situation you find yourself in? Or is being moral a condition you aspire to, but sometimes have to abandon because of practicalities?

    (btw you can definitely see a Christian influence on the second kind of thinking, which I don't see so much out here in Asia.)

    The death penalty question is a good example. If you support the death penalty, do you think it's OK to occasionally kill innocent people, or that it's not, but a necessary evil of the system? And in war, of course soldiers kill innocents....

    Personally I'm the 'try to be moral all the time' type. I think a moral code needs to be something that can be followed in all aspects of life, even if that changes the nature of the code, because if it can be discarded once, it gets discarded a million times. But then I'm a pacifist hippy-with-a-haircut, so I might be odd.


    And as I said before, when you talk about utilitarianism you have to use your brain. Eating cake makes me happy, but then it makes me fat, lonely and diabetic (and I'm a porker so I know what I'm talking about). Enslaving your population Brave New World style makes some people VERY unhappy (the dissenters), makes the population extremely vulnerable (you can't respond well to an epidemic when you're tripped out on soma), prevents human society from ever developing, and probably ignores some deep-seated human psychological needs for challenge, change etc, causing emotional trauma.

    poshniallo on
    I figure I could take a bear.
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    s3rial ones3rial one Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    poshniallo wrote:
    Now that, Vincent, does open up an interesting question. Namely, can a moral system encompass all the necessary choices of life? Is there a moral system which you can always follow, no matter what situation you find yourself in? Or is being moral a condition you aspire to, but sometimes have to abandon because of practicalities?
    I think a couple thousand years of philosophers attempting to do so and coming nowhere close implies that it's unlikely we'll ever have such a system, whether or not it exists.

    s3rial one on
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    KetherialKetherial Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Yar wrote:
    Ketherial wrote:
    actually, the point im trying to make is that there are some things that i value regardless of how they make me or anyone "feel". i find these qualities to be axiomatically good just as yar finds joy to be axiomatically good.
    The difference is that I can conceptually separate our notion of "good" from patience. Viewed in an total vaccuum, the concepts of "good" and "joy" are inseperable, whereas as "good" and "patience" don't intuitively link so directly. You can say patience is a virtue as an axiom, but I think it's intuitive that patience is a virtue because of what patience will wreak, not because of what patience is. Joy is good because of what joy is, not because of what it can achieve.

    i disagree. you can conceptually separate "joy" from "good" as well. in fact, the language we are using does exactly that. see, joy. good. different words, different concepts. there are many good things that do not bring about nor are related to joy. integrity for instance. there are also many joyous things that are not clearly good. heroin for instance.

    by equating joy to good, you are in effect making your own point meaningless. in an earlier post you state, "joy = good, sorrow = bad". but for that statement to have any meaning joy must mean something different than just good. it must have some different nuance or concept buried within. otherwise you are just saying good = good, which contributes nothing.

    i dont think you meant to say "good = good". i think what you meant (and please correct me if im wrong) is that joy is a human feeling, and (in a vacuum) what causes joy is ultimately what we consider to be good. and i disagree with this statement. if, on the off chance that you are just making meaningless statements (e.g. good = good) then let's just drop this because you aren't saying anything worthwhile.

    my ultimate point is that your concept of axiomatic goodness seems to be based on perception, on human feelings (e.g. this makes me feel "joyous"). i dont think this provides a complete picture. axiomatic goodness can also be based on goals or ideals, totally separate from whether or not such ideals cause joy.

    the way i try to measure concepts to consider whether they are axiomatically good or not, is to consider, all things being equal (e.g. no benefit or loss results), would i rather have more of x or not. or do i not care? all things being equal, would i think having more integrity is better than having less? or is it totally meaningless? personally, it's not meaningless to me. regardless of whether or not one has the opportunity to display their integrity, having more integrity is a good thing.

    more joy is one of the things which i (obviously) think is axiomatically good. i agree with you on that. but so is integrity, patience, generosity etc. bad things would be pain, suffering, malice, etc. meaningless things would be material objects, sense of humor, health, etc.

    again, this is assuming that all other things are equal. things like sense of humor, health, material objects, they are really a means to an end. for me, patience, generosity, integrity, joy, they are ends in and of themselves.

    while i appreciate the desire to distill concepts into their essential features, i do not think it is possible to say something as complicated as generosity is a simply tool for obtaining more "joy". if you try to do that, then what you are doing is essentially stripping away all meaning from the term joy (e.g. equating it to good) which like i say contributes nothing to this discussion.

    i would agree generally with a statement that says generosity is just a tool for obtaining more "good". i think that is a reasonable, albeit semi-meaningless statement. joy however is a totally different issue.

    Ketherial on
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    KetherialKetherial Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    poshniallo wrote:
    Now that, Vincent, does open up an interesting question. Namely, can a moral system encompass all the necessary choices of life? Is there a moral system which you can always follow, no matter what situation you find yourself in? Or is being moral a condition you aspire to, but sometimes have to abandon because of practicalities?

    i dont think morals are something that anyone can ever actually abandon.

    if you think it is immoral to kill people under any circumstance, then you dont ever kill anyone. you probably just get killed. however, most people dont have such broad moral codes. they are generally more nuanced.

    i think killing for bad reasons is immoral, but who ever does anything for bad reasons? self defense is, fortunately, a good reason for killing someone. for some, war is a good reason. for others, it's a bad reason. it's different for everyone.

    but like i said, i dont think anyone ever really abandons their morals. i think they just hold more nuanced, personalized morals which they adhere to.

    Ketherial on
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    MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    Ketherial wrote:
    there are also many joyous things that are not clearly good. heroin for instance.

    Bad example. Heroin is great in the short term, but the suffering more than outbalances the joy in the long run.
    by equating joy to good, you are in effect making your own point meaningless. in an earlier post you state, "joy = good, sorrow = bad". but for that statement to have any meaning joy must mean something different than just good. it must have some different nuance or concept buried within. otherwise you are just saying good = good, which contributes nothing.

    Not necessarily. Joy and Good can refer to the same thing through different modes of presentation. For example, the morning star, the evening star, and Venus all refer to the same planet--but it's hardly trivial to say "the morning star is the evening star." That's a genuine empirical discovery unknown to the ancients. See: Frege.

    However, literal identity between joy and good is unnecessary. All that's necessary is to establish that the balance of joy obtained is the defining characteristic of how good an action is.

    MrMister on
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    KetherialKetherial Registered User regular
    edited January 2007
    MrMister wrote:
    Ketherial wrote:
    there are also many joyous things that are not clearly good. heroin for instance.

    Bad example. Heroin is great in the short term, but the suffering more than outbalances the joy in the long run.

    hence why i said it was not clearly good, but clearly joyous (e.g. joyous and good are not identical). if youre trying to make a point by placing heroin in a time frame, i can simply say "heroin forever". does that make it suddenly good, now that ive taken away the suffering that comes in the long run? i would argue that no, it does not.
    by equating joy to good, you are in effect making your own point meaningless. in an earlier post you state, "joy = good, sorrow = bad". but for that statement to have any meaning joy must mean something different than just good. it must have some different nuance or concept buried within. otherwise you are just saying good = good, which contributes nothing.

    Not necessarily. Joy and Good can refer to the same thing through different modes of presentation. For example, the morning star, the evening star, and Venus all refer to the same planet--but it's hardly trivial to say "the morning star is the evening star." That's a genuine empirical discovery unknown to the ancients. See: Frege.

    if we are talking about the exact same thing, identical concepts, then his statement (and yours) are absolutely meaningless in this discussion. when we are talking about creating a moral system, a system that necessarily attempts to flesh out a code for what we think "good" is, it's totally meaningless to say "good = x", where x = good, which is what you are doing.
    However, literal identity between joy and good is unnecessary. All that's necessary is to establish that the balance of joy obtained is the defining characteristic of how good an action is.

    again, disagree. substitute x for the word joy. then substitute the word good for x. now tell me if that means anything.

    in order for your statement above to have meaning, joy must equate to something more (or less) than good. otherwise, you are simply defining good to be joy and in other words, avoiding the discussion altogether.

    Ketherial on
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