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Social welfare a fallacy?

rarugged
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5/20/2011 1:05:09 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Why do people, especially liberals, insist on promoting "societal" welfare?

Many of them seem inclined to talk about the capitalism being an "evil profit system", but simply, what's wrong with that?

How do you measure societal welfare? Hypothetically in an extreme situation, if a person receives $1 million from killing a fellow individual and donates that money to charity, how do you measure if "society" is actually benefited?

A death for a million dollars worth of charity. Which one is better for society?

Liberals also harbor a predilection in attacking conservative ideology and policies through arguments such as "Capitalists just want to make profit; they don't actually want to help others." or the classic "Pharmaceutical companies care more about making money than saving lives."

What's wrong with that? Is there something morally wrong about caring for your own welfare more than someone else's? Is it somehow wrong not to care for the homeless living in Alabama or the uninsured living in Florida? Is it somehow immoral to care more about making $100 than saving a life?

What's the answer?
If Jesus came back tomorrow, a cross would be the last thing he would want to see.
darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
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5/20/2011 1:31:10 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Reminds me of a Seinfeld skit:

George: Why does everything have to be 'us'? Is there no 'me' left? Why can't
there be some things just for me? Is that so selfish?
Jerry: Actually, that's the definition of selfish.

It should be self-evident that choosing to spend one's money on a person that needs medical help is a more ethical choice then spending the money on pornography.

However, the liberal view would be that it would be alright to force another person to give money to a person that needs help. This position clashes with negative rights. Yes, this is what government welfare is. Liberals tend to believe this is alright, as long as its for the "greater good". Libertarians and conservatives believe this is wrong.
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CosmicAlfonzo
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5/20/2011 1:45:47 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
This may come as a complete shock to everyone, but life is unfair, and we are not equal. Some people really are born in disadvantaged situations. Whether or not you wish to help those who are born in environments that are counterproductive towards class mobility is more of a reflection of your own character than anything.
Official "High Priest of Secular Affairs and Transient Distributor of Sonic Apple Seeds relating to the Reptilian Division of Paperwork Immoliation" of The FREEDO Bureaucracy, a DDO branch of the Erisian Front, a subdivision of the Discordian Back, a Limb of the Illuminatian Cosmic Utensil Corp
rarugged
Posts: 172
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5/20/2011 1:50:02 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Again, this is not a debate on my own moral beliefs. Of course I would give my the same amount of money to someone in need than buying pornography, but I'm trying to generalize this.

And what is wrong with selfishness?
If Jesus came back tomorrow, a cross would be the last thing he would want to see.
CosmicAlfonzo
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5/20/2011 1:57:24 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
I never said there was anything wrong with anything. I just said that it is a reflection of your own character.
Official "High Priest of Secular Affairs and Transient Distributor of Sonic Apple Seeds relating to the Reptilian Division of Paperwork Immoliation" of The FREEDO Bureaucracy, a DDO branch of the Erisian Front, a subdivision of the Discordian Back, a Limb of the Illuminatian Cosmic Utensil Corp
rarugged
Posts: 172
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5/20/2011 1:59:19 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Was responding to the user above you; sorry for the confusion.
If Jesus came back tomorrow, a cross would be the last thing he would want to see.
feverish
Posts: 2,716
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5/20/2011 4:19:44 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
It's hard to give to charity if you're struggling yourself, if you know that some of your tax is going to help people less fortunate then I guess that could help assuage any guilt you might have over not donating more.

At 5/20/2011 1:50:02 AM, rarugged wrote:
I would give my the same amount of money to someone in need than buying pornography

Say what?
badger
Posts: 11,793
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5/20/2011 8:08:39 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 1:45:47 AM, CosmicAlfonzo wrote:
This may come as a complete shock to everyone, but life is unfair, and we are not equal. Some people really are born in disadvantaged situations. Whether or not you wish to help those who are born in environments that are counterproductive towards class mobility is more of a reflection of your own character than anything.

this.
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badger
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5/20/2011 8:12:55 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
though i've one friend who's been given 200 euros a week on welfare for the last 3 years and all things considered i certainly don't think it's fair lol. it's something that should be taken great care with to be sure.
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darkkermit
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5/20/2011 8:17:52 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Selfishness: You only benefit yourself
Selflessness: You and others benefit

Just think how much more starvation and social problems would occur if everyone ones selfish.

A component of morality is benefit society, not just one's own needs.
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Cody_Franklin
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5/20/2011 8:31:45 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 8:17:52 AM, darkkermit wrote:
Selfishness: You only benefit yourself
Selflessness: You and others benefit

This is a really naive interpretation, I think. Selfishness is concern with one's own interests. Selflessness is concern with others' interests. When one is being selfish, keep in mind that other people can be part of one's interests. Even though I may do something to make my girlfriend happy, for example, I'm doing it because I derive joy from her happiness and her continued flourishing existence.
darkkermit
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5/20/2011 8:37:14 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 8:31:45 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 5/20/2011 8:17:52 AM, darkkermit wrote:
Selfishness: You only benefit yourself
Selflessness: You and others benefit

This is a really naive interpretation, I think. Selfishness is concern with one's own interests. Selflessness is concern with others' interests. When one is being selfish, keep in mind that other people can be part of one's interests. Even though I may do something to make my girlfriend happy, for example, I'm doing it because I derive joy from her happiness and her continued flourishing existence.

Yes, It was a really naive interpretation. But selflessness is about putting your interest above other interests. It can be said that selflessness can improve society as a whole.
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Cody_Franklin
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5/20/2011 8:43:22 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 8:37:14 AM, darkkermit wrote:
At 5/20/2011 8:31:45 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 5/20/2011 8:17:52 AM, darkkermit wrote:
Selfishness: You only benefit yourself
Selflessness: You and others benefit

This is a really naive interpretation, I think. Selfishness is concern with one's own interests. Selflessness is concern with others' interests. When one is being selfish, keep in mind that other people can be part of one's interests. Even though I may do something to make my girlfriend happy, for example, I'm doing it because I derive joy from her happiness and her continued flourishing existence.

Yes, It was a really naive interpretation. But selflessness is about putting your interest above other interests. It can be said that selflessness can improve society as a whole.

It can also be said that making altruism the guiding principle results in social decay. :P I mean, being selfish doesn't preclude things like donating to charity or volunteering at habitat for humanity or anything like that. It just changes the motivators. The altruist is likely to do these things out of a sense of obligation or a desire to conform to the resultant social norms. The egoist is likely to do that out of a legitimate sense of beneficence and good will toward others.

In other words, the egoist just employs more discretion when exercising his faculty of compassion.
feverish
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5/20/2011 9:03:16 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 8:31:45 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 5/20/2011 8:17:52 AM, darkkermit wrote:
Selfishness: You only benefit yourself
Selflessness: You and others benefit

This is a really naive interpretation, I think.

Naive or not, it's just plain wrong. Being selfless is specifically not thinking of your own benefit at all. A example of a selfless act would be throwing yourself in front of a bullet to save someone else.
Cody_Franklin
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5/20/2011 9:07:22 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 9:03:16 AM, feverish wrote:
At 5/20/2011 8:31:45 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 5/20/2011 8:17:52 AM, darkkermit wrote:
Selfishness: You only benefit yourself
Selflessness: You and others benefit

This is a really naive interpretation, I think.

Naive or not, it's just plain wrong. Being selfless is specifically not thinking of your own benefit at all. A example of a selfless act would be throwing yourself in front of a bullet to save someone else.

Eh. I myself am skeptical that selfless action is even possible. You wouldn't throw yourself in front of the bus if you didn't value the consequence more than you valued your own life. Maybe the moral and psychological satisfaction is greater than the satisfaction of continued survival at that moment in time. If you're throwing yourself in front of it to save your spouse, obviously you value their survival more than your own (or, rather, losing the value of their existence would make your own unbearable). So, in some way, your action, though "selfless" in the superficial sense, is still purposeful action to achieve some value of one's own.
Kinesis
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5/20/2011 9:17:03 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
@Cody

I find this kind of wrangling over the exact definition of terms to be an irrelevant waste of pixels and thought. One can agree over every detail of a case involving someone sacrificing themselves for someone else, but still disagree over whether it should be called 'selfless' or not. It doesn't matter; It's just a label. Replace the label with the substance if you can't agree over what it should be called.
Cody_Franklin
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5/20/2011 9:19:29 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 9:17:03 AM, Kinesis wrote:
@Cody

I find this kind of wrangling over the exact definition of terms to be an irrelevant waste of pixels and thought. One can agree over every detail of a case involving someone sacrificing themselves for someone else, but still disagree over whether it should be called 'selfless' or not. It doesn't matter; It's just a label. Replace the label with the substance if you can't agree over what it should be called.

It's one of those essentially-contested concepts, just like personhood, justice, and so on.
Kinesis
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5/20/2011 9:24:16 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 9:19:29 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
It's one of those essentially-contested concepts, just like personhood, justice, and so on.

And I think that's just as stupid an issue. If there's a contested term, replace the term with your definition and move on. Arguing about what a word ought to mean is pointless - words don't 'ought' to mean anything, they're just convenient labels.
Cody_Franklin
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5/20/2011 9:28:29 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 9:24:16 AM, Kinesis wrote:
At 5/20/2011 9:19:29 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
It's one of those essentially-contested concepts, just like personhood, justice, and so on.

And I think that's just as stupid an issue. If there's a contested term, replace the term with your definition and move on. Arguing about what a word ought to mean is pointless - words don't 'ought' to mean anything, they're just convenient labels.

Well, obviously. Meaning is determined by use. But I think that arguing over the meaning of words for communicative purposes can be useful. If I use a word, and you construe it as meaning something else, it creates a pretty big degree of confusion. Yeah, we can sidestep that by just presenting the definitions straight, but it's sort of a matter of convenience. I'd say it's better to use terms, and give definitions if any confusion arises--especially in the case of terms whose meaning is contested.
PARADIGM_L0ST
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5/20/2011 9:41:05 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 1:05:09 AM, rarugged wrote:
Why do people, especially liberals, insist on promoting "societal" welfare?:

Because it's "nice."

Seriously, that's the extent. They're so emotive that they don't understand how things work in practical terms. It doesn't matter if they undermine their own efforts so long as they feel warm, squishy, and self-righteous at the end of the day.

Many of them seem inclined to talk about the capitalism being an "evil profit system", but simply, what's wrong with that?:

Because they have a warped sense of fairness. Seriously, their understanding of "fairness" is about as comprehensive as a child. If my son gets a toy as a reward for completing all his tasks, his sister assumes that she should get one too just because he has one. Apparently she thinks that simply gracing us with her presence is reason enough to get a toy also.

"Asking liberals where wages and prices come from is like asking six-year-olds where babies come from." – Thomas Sowell
"Have you ever considered suicide? If not, please do." -- Mouthwash (to Inferno)
Kinesis
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5/20/2011 9:42:28 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
I'd say it's better to use terms, and give definitions if any confusion arises--especially in the case of terms whose meaning is contested.

darkkermit gave a definition of selfishness and selflessness; you gave an opposing definition; Feverish gave yet another. Then, instead of just agreeing that throwing oneself under a bus would be selfless under kermit's, not selfless under yours and selfless under Feverish's (which would have been the end of it) you continued to argue that under your definition throwing oneself under a bus wasn't really selfless after all. It just seems like a waste of time to me when you guys all agree on the facts of the matter.
Kinesis
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5/20/2011 9:43:59 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 9:32:22 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Though I'll also note that I've not slept in a while, and that it is therefore entirely possible that I'm just talking out my @ss at the moment. :P

I just had an exam I wasn't very pleased with. I'm just here looking for an argument. :P
PARADIGM_L0ST
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5/20/2011 9:48:45 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 4:19:44 AM, feverish wrote:
It's hard to give to charity if you're struggling yourself, if you know that some of your tax is going to help people less fortunate then I guess that could help assuage any guilt you might have over not donating more.:

And that's the problem right there. Here's an excerpt from a paper I wrote in an Ethics course.

"In an essay entitled "Famine, Affluence, and Morality," writer Peter Singer argued that we, being in an affluent society, are morally obligated to give humanitarian aid. From a purely moral perspective, perhaps he is right. The only valid questions then are to whom are the proposed funds allocated and from whom are they extracted? Singer believes that it is the moral responsibility of the citizens of the United States, collectively, to give to those less fortunate via taxes.

"If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, then we ought, morally, to do it." [1]

If, however, we pay for those services through a compulsory tax, what have we as individuals done morally? All we have done is paid our taxes. What great virtue has thereby been satisfied? In a nation which values individual choice, another moral imperative is jeopardized in the process of alleviating the other – namely, forced giving. Instead it would be more prudent, equitable, and in keeping with the spirit of giving, to allow individuals to give of their own volition. Besides, is the method of "charity" through taxes actually indicative of giving, or is it simply taking and redistributing wealth? If it is taking, it is merely substituting one moral [giving] at the expense of another moral [taking]. Because one moral is being substituted for the sake of the other, Singer's own thesis serves to be the very noose he hangs himself with. Statistically, one also needs to question whether or not this method is counterproductive; is this loose form of "charity" actually at the cost of another?"
"Have you ever considered suicide? If not, please do." -- Mouthwash (to Inferno)
Cody_Franklin
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5/20/2011 9:49:26 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 9:43:59 AM, Kinesis wrote:
At 5/20/2011 9:32:22 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Though I'll also note that I've not slept in a while, and that it is therefore entirely possible that I'm just talking out my @ss at the moment. :P

I just had an exam I wasn't very pleased with. I'm just here looking for an argument. :P

Lol. I noticed you seemed to have a slight chip on your shoulder there. F*ck this sh*t, then. I'm outta here.
mattrodstrom
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5/20/2011 9:54:13 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 1:57:24 AM, CosmicAlfonzo wrote:
I never said there was anything wrong with anything.

Yeah ya did.

I just said that it is a reflection of your own character.

Right there!

Implication that if people aren't nice they've got "bad character"

what if they just don't care about others? how's this make them bad or weak or faulty or something??

Instead if I were to say someone has Bad character it would be someone I thought couldn't bring themself to Do that which they would care to do.. those who are psychologically weak.

Those who would do things I wouldn't have done I don't call Wrong, or Weak, or Faulty..
I call them Pricks!..

that is, I say: I Disapprove!
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
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rarugged
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5/20/2011 3:21:44 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I think the point is being missed.

I'm neither arguing for altruism nor philanthropy. I'm also not saying an individual should not care about others at all.

What I'm questioning is the definition of 'society'? What does it mean to benefit society? Isn't everyone, the rich person, the poor person, part of society?

For example, if we raise tax rates on the rich in order to "benefit" the poor, how is this a net gain for society? One group loses and another wins. What does societal welfare even mean?

If we choose to measure societal welfare by the most number of people benefited, that would be utilitarianism, to an extent.

So, again, my question is not on whether one should donate or not (that's his/her choice, not mine), my question is on whether it is even appropriate or accurate to describe a policy as "benefiting" society?
If Jesus came back tomorrow, a cross would be the last thing he would want to see.
socialpinko
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5/20/2011 3:59:36 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 1:05:09 AM, rarugged wrote:

What's wrong with that? Is there something morally wrong about caring for your own welfare more than someone else's? Is it somehow wrong not to care for the homeless living in Alabama or the uninsured living in Florida? Is it somehow immoral to care more about making $100 than saving a life?

What's the answer?

It depends on what code of ethics you live by. If you're an egoist or an individualist than it's not. If you're an altruist or a collectivist then it's okay. People who promote stealing to promote societal welfare are using a botched form of utilitarianism. You know, "greatest happiness of the greatest number".
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Cody_Franklin
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5/20/2011 4:03:02 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/20/2011 3:21:44 PM, rarugged wrote:
I think the point is being missed.

I'm neither arguing for altruism nor philanthropy. I'm also not saying an individual should not care about others at all.

What I'm questioning is the definition of 'society'? What does it mean to benefit society? Isn't everyone, the rich person, the poor person, part of society?

For example, if we raise tax rates on the rich in order to "benefit" the poor, how is this a net gain for society? One group loses and another wins. What does societal welfare even mean?

If we choose to measure societal welfare by the most number of people benefited, that would be utilitarianism, to an extent.

So, again, my question is not on whether one should donate or not (that's his/her choice, not mine), my question is on whether it is even appropriate or accurate to describe a policy as "benefiting" society?

The way it's used, it basically means whatever group has currently won the privilege of being called "society".