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Trolley Problem

seraine
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6/27/2011 5:38:09 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Here is the trolley problem: A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, you could flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch or do nothing?

Many people say yes to this one, but say no to this one.

As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by dropping a heavy weight in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you - your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?

This feels like a contradiction to me. As far as I see, the are both the same. In both cases, you can either allow the five to die or kill the one. If you do not act, the five die. If you do act, the one dies. The only difference is that in one case you directly act, while you don't in the other. As such, I think your answer should be the same for both.

I will admit, this problem has confounded me. At first, I was for it because of a consequentialist viewpoint. Then I was against it because of the Non-Aggression Principle. Now I am divided.

I think this problem boils down to two different questions.

First, can consequentialism (and following from that, utilitarianism) be used to decide whether or not an action is moral?

And secondly, is allowing someone to die as bad as killing someone?

To answer the second, allowing someone to die is not as bad (I think) because of the following comparison.

Is allowing a little child to drown as bad as holding a little child under?

I think the answer is no; so you could say it boils down to consequentialism.

Obviously, if you don't act, five die. If you do act, 1 dies. So if the act is morally wrong, something about how you killed the one outweighs the lives of the other five. You could say that you're violating the Non-Aggression Principle or the person's right to life, but does that outweigh the lives of the other five?

I am evenly split about this right now, so what are your thoughts on it?

Also, if you are against it, what if it was 1 and 10? 1 and 100? 1 and 1000? 1 and 10,000?
OMGJustinBieber
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6/27/2011 5:46:38 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 5:38:09 PM, seraine wrote:
Here is the trolley problem: A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, you could flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch or do nothing?

Many people say yes to this one, but say no to this one.

As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by dropping a heavy weight in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you - your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?

This feels like a contradiction to me. As far as I see, the are both the same. In both cases, you can either allow the five to die or kill the one. If you do not act, the five die. If you do act, the one dies. The only difference is that in one case you directly act, while you don't in the other. As such, I think your answer should be the same for both.

I will admit, this problem has confounded me. At first, I was for it because of a consequentialist viewpoint. Then I was against it because of the Non-Aggression Principle. Now I am divided.

I think this problem boils down to two different questions.

First, can consequentialism (and following from that, utilitarianism) be used to decide whether or not an action is moral?

And secondly, is allowing someone to die as bad as killing someone?

To answer the second, allowing someone to die is not as bad (I think) because of the following comparison.

Is allowing a little child to drown as bad as holding a little child under?

I think the answer is no; so you could say it boils down to consequentialism.

Obviously, if you don't act, five die. If you do act, 1 dies. So if the act is morally wrong, something about how you killed the one outweighs the lives of the other five. You could say that you're violating the Non-Aggression Principle or the person's right to life, but does that outweigh the lives of the other five?

I am evenly split about this right now, so what are your thoughts on it?

Also, if you are against it, what if it was 1 and 10? 1 and 100? 1 and 1000? 1 and 10,000?

Utilitarianism is sort of its own special brand of consequentialism. The actions of under utilitarianism are not solely judged by consequences, but whether you acted in such a way to produce the net benefit. I personally side the Utilitarianism over NAP almost every time. It just seems much more rational and flexible to me. With NAP you wouldn't kill the fat man regardless of however many men there are on the tracks - it could be 50.

I certainly believe consequences are extremely important, but Utilitarians should also understand that things certainly won't work out sometimes, but this shouldn't stop them making moral judgments. It's shades of grey in terms of whether failing to save is tantamount to killing. On one hand, if you're 2 feet away from a drowning child it's very close to killing to refuse to save him. On the other hand, if a 200 lb. man is drowning and thrashing around and you're an mediocre swimmer the situation is entirely different. The closer and more convenient the matter is the stronger the duty.
OMGJustinBieber
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6/27/2011 5:59:41 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 5:57:27 PM, seraine wrote:
Also, if you're for it, to what degree does sentiment play into it (i.e. what if it was five and your mom)?

I would never push my mother.
Cody_Franklin
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6/27/2011 6:16:00 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 5:38:09 PM, seraine wrote:
Here is the trolley problem: A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, you could flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch or do nothing?

Neither is morally obligatory.

Many people say yes to this one, but say no to this one.

As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by dropping a heavy weight in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you - your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?

Neither is morally obligatory.

This feels like a contradiction to me. As far as I see, the are both the same. In both cases, you can either allow the five to die or kill the one. If you do not act, the five die. If you do act, the one dies. The only difference is that in one case you directly act, while you don't in the other. As such, I think your answer should be the same for both.

I will admit, this problem has confounded me. At first, I was for it because of a consequentialist viewpoint. Then I was against it because of the Non-Aggression Principle. Now I am divided.

I think this problem boils down to two different questions.

First, can consequentialism (and following from that, utilitarianism) be used to decide whether or not an action is moral?

No.

And secondly, is allowing someone to die as bad as killing someone?

No.

To answer the second, allowing someone to die is not as bad (I think) because of the following comparison.

Is allowing a little child to drown as bad as holding a little child under?

No.

I think the answer is no; so you could say it boils down to consequentialism.

Obviously, if you don't act, five die. If you do act, 1 dies. So if the act is morally wrong, something about how you killed the one outweighs the lives of the other five. You could say that you're violating the Non-Aggression Principle or the person's right to life, but does that outweigh the lives of the other five?

Neither choice carries moral weight.

I am evenly split about this right now, so what are your thoughts on it?

Also, if you are against it, what if it was 1 and 10? 1 and 100? 1 and 1000? 1 and 10,000?

I have a purely political conception of the nonaggression principle because I am a moral nihilist. If I have to push an angry, rude obese man in front of a train to save five hot girls, I would do it. If I have to pull the switch to kill one hot girl to save five rude douchebags, I wouldn't do it.

Once we reach the level of an existential threat, i.e. kill one person to save everyone on the planet, including yourself, I would take into consideration that the person is dead either way. In one case, everyone dies--in the other, only he dies. Politically speaking, the nonaggression principle just tells you how liability is distributed. For example, if I come into your house, hit you into the head with a bat, and steal a bunch of your stuff, it's not "immoral"--I'm just liable to pay damages and whatnot for all the aggressive acts I committed against you. When it comes to combating an existential threat, I'm willing to accept the liability for my aggression, since I value continued existence over whatever legal consequences I have to face post facto.
Rob1_Billion
Posts: 1,300
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6/27/2011 6:46:33 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I look at intent instead of ends. What is your emotional impetus? If your anger takes hold of you and forces you to do something that logic wouldn't suggest, then it's going to be immoral. In this case, nothing about intention is outlined; simply asking whether you would save one to kill five or vice versa doesn't address morality since there is no data about intention involved. Catch-22s are not an effective way to go about moral analysis.
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OMGJustinBieber
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6/27/2011 6:55:05 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 6:46:33 PM, Rob1_Billion wrote:
I look at intent instead of ends. What is your emotional impetus? If your anger takes hold of you and forces you to do something that logic wouldn't suggest, then it's going to be immoral. In this case, nothing about intention is outlined; simply asking whether you would save one to kill five or vice versa doesn't address morality since there is no data about intention involved. Catch-22s are not an effective way to go about moral analysis.

So is anger always bad? When you say it could go against logic, is that implying that there is logical, good behavior independent of emotional intent?
Cliff.Stamp
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6/27/2011 6:55:37 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Seraine this problem is to note how people will judge morality by their involvement much more so than any kind of strict utility. The more up close and personal then the more it is likely to be considered wrong. Of course the fat guy is just as dead in both cases.
BennyW
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6/27/2011 7:10:08 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I have heard this one and at first I thought the answer was obvious, cause the least amount of deaths. However, as you brought up that would be the active approach. However, doing nothing also holds you morally responsible. Either case you could be held accountable for the deaths, but for the death of the one you could make an argument of causing the least amount of damage. That being said, the world rarely falls into a false dichotomy such as this and you should always choose the option that foes not result in death.
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askbob
Posts: 7,254
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6/27/2011 7:10:33 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 5:38:09 PM, seraine wrote:
Here is the trolley problem: A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, you could flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch or do nothing?

flip the switch - utilitarian principal. UNLESS you know that the one person is of greater personal value than the 5 people. Then let the 5 die. For example if the 1 person is a hot chick who will bone you for saving her life while the others are hicks.

Many people say yes to this one, but say no to this one.

As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by dropping a heavy weight in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you - your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?

Yes given perfect knowledge. Fat people are inherently less likely to breed, are most despised and probably will die of health complications sooner.

This feels like a contradiction to me. As far as I see, the are both the same. In both cases, you can either allow the five to die or kill the one. If you do not act, the five die. If you do act, the one dies. The only difference is that in one case you directly act, while you don't in the other. As such, I think your answer should be the same for both.

The difference is one is fat the other is not.

I will admit, this problem has confounded me. At first, I was for it because of a consequentialist viewpoint. Then I was against it because of the Non-Aggression Principle. Now I am divided.

Personal utility then societal utility.

I think this problem boils down to two different questions.

First, can consequentialism (and following from that, utilitarianism) be used to decide whether or not an action is moral?

Define moral. I define it as the option producing the most happiness.

And secondly, is allowing someone to die as bad as killing someone?

Yes.

To answer the second, allowing someone to die is not as bad (I think) because of the following comparison.

Is allowing a little child to drown as bad as holding a little child under?

Yes it is. It does not matter the method but the ends.

I think the answer is no; so you could say it boils down to consequentialism.

Obviously, if you don't act, five die. If you do act, 1 dies. So if the act is morally wrong, something about how you killed the one outweighs the lives of the other five. You could say that you're violating the Non-Aggression Principle or the person's right to life, but does that outweigh the lives of the other five?

I am evenly split about this right now, so what are your thoughts on it?

Utility maximization ftw.

Also, if you are against it, what if it was 1 and 10? 1 and 100? 1 and 1000? 1 and 10,000?

again all factored into utility.
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Cody_Franklin
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6/27/2011 7:34:31 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 7:10:33 PM, askbob wrote:
At 6/27/2011 5:38:09 PM, seraine wrote:
Here is the trolley problem: A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, you could flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch or do nothing?

flip the switch - utilitarian principal. UNLESS you know that the one person is of greater personal value than the 5 people. Then let the 5 die. For example if the 1 person is a hot chick who will bone you for saving her life while the others are hicks.

EXACTLY. Always go with the hot chick.

Anyhow, I think there are some unresolved tensions here. You seem to make personal value the ultimate arbiter, which makes me question the basis on which you advocate utility in circumstances where everyone's a stranger. You seem to presuppose superficial nominal utilitarianism (i.e. "5 lives saved is better than one life saved) without justifying its validity, especially when the ultimate criterion you've proposed is which group you personally hold to be more valuable.

In addition to the usual criticisms of utilitarianism, e.g. interpersonal utility comparisons, how do you reconcile advocating personal value as a criterion in one circumstance, and "objective" measures of utility in cases where you, for all intents and purposes, are disinterested?

Many people say yes to this one, but say no to this one.

As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by dropping a heavy weight in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you - your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?

Yes given perfect knowledge. Fat people are inherently less likely to breed, are most despised and probably will die of health complications sooner.

This is a purely factual statement. How do you derive ethical prescriptions from that?

This feels like a contradiction to me. As far as I see, the are both the same. In both cases, you can either allow the five to die or kill the one. If you do not act, the five die. If you do act, the one dies. The only difference is that in one case you directly act, while you don't in the other. As such, I think your answer should be the same for both.

The difference is one is fat the other is not.

I will admit, this problem has confounded me. At first, I was for it because of a consequentialist viewpoint. Then I was against it because of the Non-Aggression Principle. Now I am divided.

Personal utility then societal utility.

How do you measure societal utility, and why do you prioritize personal utility first (especially in cases where you predict that it will require a "loss" in "social utility")?

I think this problem boils down to two different questions.

First, can consequentialism (and following from that, utilitarianism) be used to decide whether or not an action is moral?

Define moral. I define it as the option producing the most happiness.

Sidestepping the meta-ethical stuff a moment, I again have to pose the question of how you measure utility, how you can make utility comparisons, and why I have an incentive to act "morally" if my personal utility takes a loss lower than the total utility gains of whoever benefits (assuming we can measure and make those comparisons, of course).

And secondly, is allowing someone to die as bad as killing someone?

Yes.

Why?

To answer the second, allowing someone to die is not as bad (I think) because of the following comparison.

Is allowing a little child to drown as bad as holding a little child under?

Yes it is. It does not matter the method but the ends.

You're merely presupposing consequentialism here, which begs the question.

I think the answer is no; so you could say it boils down to consequentialism.

Obviously, if you don't act, five die. If you do act, 1 dies. So if the act is morally wrong, something about how you killed the one outweighs the lives of the other five. You could say that you're violating the Non-Aggression Principle or the person's right to life, but does that outweigh the lives of the other five?

I am evenly split about this right now, so what are your thoughts on it?

Utility maximization ftw.

Previous questions apply.

Also, if you are against it, what if it was 1 and 10? 1 and 100? 1 and 1000? 1 and 10,000?

again all factored into utility.

Previous questions apply.
seraine
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6/27/2011 7:54:15 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 6:55:37 PM, Cliff.Stamp wrote:
Seraine this problem is to note how people will judge morality by their involvement much more so than any kind of strict utility. The more up close and personal then the more it is likely to be considered wrong. Of course the fat guy is just as dead in both cases.

I dunno... I find this problem to be, frankly, fascinating from a moral standpoint. Whether or not morals is the intent, I like to look at it from a moral standpoint.
Cody_Franklin
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6/27/2011 8:13:18 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 5:46:38 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
Utilitarianism is sort of its own special brand of consequentialism. The actions of under utilitarianism are not solely judged by consequences, but whether you acted in such a way to produce the net benefit.

That's only true if you're a rule utilitarian, one criticism of which (on the basis of rules) is that it just devolves into act utilitarianism anyway as the rule structure expands to cover an increasing web of particularized situations.

I personally side the Utilitarianism over NAP almost every time. It just seems much more rational and flexible to me. With NAP you wouldn't kill the fat man regardless of however many men there are on the tracks - it could be 50.

This isn't an argument in favor of utilitarianism for two reasons:

1. It's based on your personal preference, which isn't really relevant to the legitimacy of an ethical theory. It seems more geared to make you feel better about decisions by giving you a framework to praise the decisions you probably would have made regardless.

2. You're criticizing the NAP on the basis of being un-utilitarian when it's utilitarian ethics which are being challenged here. It would only be a valid criticism if you guaranteed beforehand that utilitarianism was true.

I also reject the NAP as an ethical principle, but likely for different reasons.

I certainly believe consequences are extremely important, but Utilitarians should also understand that things certainly won't work out sometimes, but this shouldn't stop them making moral judgments. It's shades of grey in terms of whether failing to save is tantamount to killing.

Not true, if you analyze the underlying principles. To say "you shouldn't murder someone" implies a negative obligation to refrain from murder. To say "you shouldn't refrain from helping" implies a positive obligation to assist that person. I can't say at that point that it's "shades of gray".

On one hand, if you're 2 feet away from a drowning child it's very close to killing to refuse to save him.

It might be emotionally painful, but I don't see the logical comparison.

On the other hand, if a 200 lb. man is drowning and thrashing around and you're an mediocre swimmer the situation is entirely different. The closer and more convenient the matter is the stronger the duty.

You have to presuppose positive obligations to make that argument, and I'm certainly not prepared to accept your assumption.
askbob
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6/27/2011 8:13:39 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 7:34:31 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 6/27/2011 7:10:33 PM, askbob wrote:
At 6/27/2011 5:38:09 PM, seraine wrote:
Here is the trolley problem: A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, you could flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch or do nothing?

flip the switch - utilitarian principal. UNLESS you know that the one person is of greater personal value than the 5 people. Then let the 5 die. For example if the 1 person is a hot chick who will bone you for saving her life while the others are hicks.

EXACTLY. Always go with the hot chick.

Anyhow, I think there are some unresolved tensions here. You seem to make personal value the ultimate arbiter, which makes me question the basis on which you advocate utility in circumstances where everyone's a stranger.

Then it reverts to societal value.

You seem to presuppose superficial nominal utilitarianism (i.e. "5 lives saved is better than one life saved) without justifying its validity

There needs to be no validation. It's a ceterus paribus situation without more knowledge.

especially when the ultimate criterion you've proposed is which group you personally hold to be more valuable.

Personaly utility always trumps societal utility. It's only in cases where you have no knowledge of the situation where societal utility is used.

In addition to the usual criticisms of utilitarianism, e.g. interpersonal utility comparisons, how do you reconcile advocating personal value as a criterion in one circumstance, and "objective" measures of utility in cases where you, for all intents and purposes, are disinterested?

Reconcile? If something doesn't matter to me then since the choice provides me no utility or no disutility (is that a word) then society's interests are looked after as ultimately a happy society is a happy me. So even when it doesn't directly affect my decisions, it still in some way indirectly affects me.

Many people say yes to this one, but say no to this one.

As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by dropping a heavy weight in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you - your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?

Yes given perfect knowledge. Fat people are inherently less likely to breed, are most despised and probably will die of health complications sooner.

This is a purely factual statement. How do you derive ethical prescriptions from that?

It's a measure of societal utility. Which person is more likely to provide utility a fat person who is so big he can stop a trolley or an unknown. Since you have knowledge of one you can make a more informed decision when measuring utility.


This feels like a contradiction to me. As far as I see, the are both the same. In both cases, you can either allow the five to die or kill the one. If you do not act, the five die. If you do act, the one dies. The only difference is that in one case you directly act, while you don't in the other. As such, I think your answer should be the same for both.

The difference is one is fat the other is not.

I will admit, this problem has confounded me. At first, I was for it because of a consequentialist viewpoint. Then I was against it because of the Non-Aggression Principle. Now I am divided.

Personal utility then societal utility.

How do you measure societal utility, and why do you prioritize personal utility first (especially in cases where you predict that it will require a "loss" in "social utility")?

Personal utility is first because I care more about myself than I do society at large as everyone does. It's stupid to maximize societal utility first.

Example: Your mother is the one person, 5 strangers are on the other track. Clearly you're going to sacrifice any number to save your mother.

So that's why personal is first. Why should you care about saving 5 strangers more than your mother? You don't. However if the entities are equal then clearly societal matters.

I think this problem boils down to two different questions.

First, can consequentialism (and following from that, utilitarianism) be used to decide whether or not an action is moral?

Define moral. I define it as the option producing the most happiness.

Sidestepping the meta-ethical stuff a moment, I again have to pose the question of how you measure utility, how you can make utility comparisons, and why I have an incentive to act "morally" if my personal utility takes a loss lower than the total utility gains of whoever benefits (assuming we can measure and make those comparisons, of course).

You can make utility comparisons mainly on an opportunity cost/currency basis.

Example: paying someone to mow your lawn
Cost 10 dollars an hour
Earn 10 dollars an hour at work
Abillity to work overtime: Yes
Overtime Rate: 1.5
Utility from mowing the lawn: -5 dollars an hour
Decision Yes mow my lawn for me.
Net Benefit: over 15 dollars an hour

Utility from mowing the lawn:
If someone were to offer me 2 packs of milk duds for continuing to mow this lawn for an hour, would I continue mowing?

Answer: No I would stop mowing I would have to be offered at least 5 1 dollar candy selections in order for me to continue mowing this stupid lawn.

Yes it is. It does not matter the method but the ends.

You're merely presupposing consequentialism here, which begs the question.

You're going to have to be more clear on this.
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askbob
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6/27/2011 8:16:59 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
**Answer: No I would stop mowing if offered at least 5, 1 dollar candy selections.
Me -Phil left the site in my charge. I have a recorded phone conversation to prove it.
kohai -If you're the owner, then do something useful like ip block him and get us away from juggle and on a dofferent host!
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Me - i was being completely sarcastic
Kohai - then u misrepresented yourself by impersonating the owner—a violation of the tos
OMGJustinBieber
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6/27/2011 8:53:57 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Before I even comment on this, I have to just state where you're coming from, which is normative nihilism. So in your view I have no duty not go around bashing children's heads into walls or raping toddlers, and in doing so I am not doing anything wrong. I could go on about this, but this isn't a debate but a discussion and I'm just going to keep that in mind while I answer these.

That's only true if you're a rule utilitarian, one criticism of which (on the basis of rules) is that it just devolves into act utilitarianism anyway as the rule structure expands to cover an increasing web of particularized situations.

I've agreed with the assertion that there is some overlap. However, utilitarianism - whether act or rule, is a guide for action not a post action standard that past actions are judged against. Saving a baby who later grew up to be Hitler is still a good action (the action of saving him) because it resulted in a baby being saved, and in general that is good. Utilitarianism is its own special brand of consequentialism, and it would seem that anything that is 100% consequentialist could be inherently incoherent.

This isn't an argument in favor of utilitarianism for two reasons:

1. It wasn't intended to be a full fledged argument in support of utilitarianism, but rather a post to start a discussion. Well, people form these ethical frameworks around preconceived ideas so I see no fault in that. If I support X, Y, and Z I generally consider myself a liberal and if I support A, B and C I'm a conservative.

2. S/he never presented any challenge to Utilitarianism.

Not true, if you analyze the underlying principles. To say "you shouldn't murder someone" implies a negative obligation to refrain from murder. To say "you shouldn't refrain from helping" implies a positive obligation to assist that person. I can't say at that point that it's "shades of gray".

It's entirely shades of grey because of the multitude of circumstances that arrive in real life. It implies, it does not demand at every occasion. It would be absurdity if your ethics demanded that you help everybody in need whenever possible. There are so many shades of grey in real life, that I can't help but think you're only viewing this in terms of a strict linguistic or semantical viewpoint and abandoning reality all together.

You have to presuppose positive obligations to make that argument, and I'm certainly not prepared to accept your assumption.

Of course, because you're a normative nihilist. But this isn't about you, is it? If someone wants to believe that poking out the eyes of every third child is morally correct, I can't prove them wrong. I can't provide some mathematical proof that will do so.
OMGJustinBieber
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6/27/2011 8:54:51 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Personaly utility always trumps societal utility. It's only in cases where you have no knowledge of the situation where societal utility is used.

This is morally correct or this is practically correct?
askbob
Posts: 7,254
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6/27/2011 9:02:33 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 8:54:51 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
Personaly utility always trumps societal utility. It's only in cases where you have no knowledge of the situation where societal utility is used.

This is morally correct or this is practically correct?

Is there a difference?
Me -Phil left the site in my charge. I have a recorded phone conversation to prove it.
kohai -If you're the owner, then do something useful like ip block him and get us away from juggle and on a dofferent host!
Me -haha you apparently don't know my history
Kohai - Maybe not, but that doesn't matter! You shoukd still listen to your community and quit being a tyrrant!
Me - i was being completely sarcastic
Kohai - then u misrepresented yourself by impersonating the owner—a violation of the tos
OMGJustinBieber
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6/27/2011 9:06:36 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 9:02:33 PM, askbob wrote:
At 6/27/2011 8:54:51 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
Personaly utility always trumps societal utility. It's only in cases where you have no knowledge of the situation where societal utility is used.

This is morally correct or this is practically correct?

Is there a difference?

In my reality there is. I guess you couldn't credibly claim an injustice was committed against you then if someone mugged you or ripped you off.
askbob
Posts: 7,254
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6/27/2011 9:11:29 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 9:06:36 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
At 6/27/2011 9:02:33 PM, askbob wrote:
At 6/27/2011 8:54:51 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
Personaly utility always trumps societal utility. It's only in cases where you have no knowledge of the situation where societal utility is used.

This is morally correct or this is practically correct?

Is there a difference?

In my reality there is. I guess you couldn't credibly claim an injustice was committed against you then if someone mugged you or ripped you off.

I could credibly claim it if there was utility to be gained from claiming it.
Me -Phil left the site in my charge. I have a recorded phone conversation to prove it.
kohai -If you're the owner, then do something useful like ip block him and get us away from juggle and on a dofferent host!
Me -haha you apparently don't know my history
Kohai - Maybe not, but that doesn't matter! You shoukd still listen to your community and quit being a tyrrant!
Me - i was being completely sarcastic
Kohai - then u misrepresented yourself by impersonating the owner—a violation of the tos
OMGJustinBieber
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6/27/2011 9:22:46 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 9:11:29 PM, askbob wrote:
At 6/27/2011 9:06:36 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
At 6/27/2011 9:02:33 PM, askbob wrote:
At 6/27/2011 8:54:51 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
Personaly utility always trumps societal utility. It's only in cases where you have no knowledge of the situation where societal utility is used.

This is morally correct or this is practically correct?

Is there a difference?

In my reality there is. I guess you couldn't credibly claim an injustice was committed against you then if someone mugged you or ripped you off.

I could credibly claim it if there was utility to be gained from claiming it.

This operates on a few levels and it seems contradictory. If we have a dispute over land or a girl, your ethical philosophy encourages me to relentlessly pursue that self interest, and you, yours. However, it becomes in your self interest to refute my moral philosophy, and in doing so you can basically renounce your own moral philosophy. It doesn't seemingly have any universalizability or coherence. Not to mention the obvious intuitive situation of saving a drowning orphan vs visiting your girlfriend for 5 more minutes of fvcking time.
askbob
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6/27/2011 9:37:01 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 9:22:46 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
At 6/27/2011 9:11:29 PM, askbob wrote:
At 6/27/2011 9:06:36 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
At 6/27/2011 9:02:33 PM, askbob wrote:
At 6/27/2011 8:54:51 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
Personaly utility always trumps societal utility. It's only in cases where you have no knowledge of the situation where societal utility is used.

This is morally correct or this is practically correct?

Is there a difference?

In my reality there is. I guess you couldn't credibly claim an injustice was committed against you then if someone mugged you or ripped you off.

I could credibly claim it if there was utility to be gained from claiming it.

This operates on a few levels and it seems contradictory. If we have a dispute over land or a girl, your ethical philosophy encourages me to relentlessly pursue that self interest, and you, yours.
yes

However, it becomes in your self interest to refute my moral philosophy, and in doing so you can basically renounce your own moral philosophy.

It's called lying bro.

I:t doesn't seemingly have any universalizability or coherence.

Got to provide examples

Not to mention the obvious intuitive situation of saving a drowning orphan vs visiting your girlfriend for 5 more minutes of fvcking time.

If I choose to save the drowning orphan it will mean that saving the life causes me greater happiness.

You've refuted absolutely nothing.
Me -Phil left the site in my charge. I have a recorded phone conversation to prove it.
kohai -If you're the owner, then do something useful like ip block him and get us away from juggle and on a dofferent host!
Me -haha you apparently don't know my history
Kohai - Maybe not, but that doesn't matter! You shoukd still listen to your community and quit being a tyrrant!
Me - i was being completely sarcastic
Kohai - then u misrepresented yourself by impersonating the owner—a violation of the tos
Rob1_Billion
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6/27/2011 9:56:28 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 6:55:05 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
At 6/27/2011 6:46:33 PM, Rob1_Billion wrote:
I look at intent instead of ends. What is your emotional impetus? If your anger takes hold of you and forces you to do something that logic wouldn't suggest, then it's going to be immoral. In this case, nothing about intention is outlined; simply asking whether you would save one to kill five or vice versa doesn't address morality since there is no data about intention involved. Catch-22s are not an effective way to go about moral analysis.

So is anger always bad?

As strictly an emotion, no. When you choose to act on it, then yes - it is always bad. I've been defending this position for a long time on DDO. The opposition usually settles on questioning my ability to determine 'badness.'

When you say it could go against logic, is that implying that there is logical, good behavior independent of emotional intent?

Yes. Logically, I wouldn't eat at McDonald's.
- nutritition
- quality
- environmental concerns
- money (eating at home is cheaper than even dollar menu stuff)
- ethics (subjecting poor souls to that type of work)
- culture (are you proud of fast food culture?)
- corporatism, lobbying (why not give the money to a local establishment, local farmers, etc instead of McCorporate?)

I don't think there is any lack of literature on the subject, regarding why eating at McDonald's is a bad idea. IOWs, it's rather illogical for all these people in our society to do it. Many people say we're stupid; I think not. It is vice at work, not stupidity. We know it's bad for us, it's not sustainable for our wallets, it promotes lots of stuff we don't want in our culture and in our economy, but we eat there anyway because emotion intercepts our logical judgment.

In this case, it's mostly greed and sloth. We are too lazy to make our own food, to go to the store and cook (even though it feeds us for longer and we are enhanced with culinary skills by doing it). We are greedy (i.e., selfish) and neglect the fact that we are putting McDonald's employees through hell, the animals in the poor living conditions through hell, the countries which lose their good arable lands to cattle-grazing, etc. Everyone may not be totally privvy to all these but we understand it's bad and we do it anyway. That's vice. That's immorality.
kfc
OMGJustinBieber
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6/27/2011 10:32:38 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 9:37:01 PM, askbob wrote:
At 6/27/2011 9:22:46 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
At 6/27/2011 9:11:29 PM, askbob wrote:
At 6/27/2011 9:06:36 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
At 6/27/2011 9:02:33 PM, askbob wrote:
At 6/27/2011 8:54:51 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
Personaly utility always trumps societal utility. It's only in cases where you have no knowledge of the situation where societal utility is used.

This is morally correct or this is practically correct?

Is there a difference?

In my reality there is. I guess you couldn't credibly claim an injustice was committed against you then if someone mugged you or ripped you off.

I could credibly claim it if there was utility to be gained from claiming it.

This operates on a few levels and it seems contradictory. If we have a dispute over land or a girl, your ethical philosophy encourages me to relentlessly pursue that self interest, and you, yours.
yes

However, it becomes in your self interest to refute my moral philosophy, and in doing so you can basically renounce your own moral philosophy.

It's called lying bro.

I:t doesn't seemingly have any universalizability or coherence.

Got to provide examples

Not to mention the obvious intuitive situation of saving a drowning orphan vs visiting your girlfriend for 5 more minutes of fvcking time.

If I choose to save the drowning orphan it will mean that saving the life causes me greater happiness.

You've refuted absolutely nothing.

The fact is you have no solid grounds for refuting anyone who didn't save the orphan. If I told you I didn't, I could easily insist that I was acting morally in doing so because I got some poon, and you have no real counter besides "well, I would have totally been happy with myself if I saved that orphan..."
OMGJustinBieber
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6/27/2011 10:43:16 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
As strictly an emotion, no. When you choose to act on it, then yes - it is always bad. I've been defending this position for a long time on DDO. The opposition usually settles on questioning my ability to determine 'badness.'

So if I see a guy pushing around a little kid on a playground and out of shock and disgust push that guy away, my act was wrong? Lets even say I had told him to stop before? How about if I rob a store or rip someone off out of love for my parents as a way to repay them (lol, irony). We can feel certain emotions tied to any number of acts.

I don't think there is any lack of literature on the subject, regarding why eating at McDonald's is a bad idea.

Is it immoral to eat at McDonald's or just illogical? I'm a little confused now, which takes precedent the logical standard or the feeling of hatred, like what if out of hatred for McDonald's I passed by the restaurant and at Joe's American Bar and Grill next door is that good or bad? I'm accepting the logical (moral?) standard, but I'm acting out of anger.
Rob1_Billion
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6/28/2011 12:44:47 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 10:43:16 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
As strictly an emotion, no. When you choose to act on it, then yes - it is always bad. I've been defending this position for a long time on DDO. The opposition usually settles on questioning my ability to determine 'badness.'

So if I see a guy pushing around a little kid on a playground and out of shock and disgust push that guy away, my act was wrong?

You're on the right track, but I forget that I have not yet explained to you the whole system. There are seven purely negative emotions; what you know as the seven sins. Sloth, wrath, lust, greed, envy, pride, and gluttony. These are the ones which always produce negativity. Other emotions are morally neutral. The Christians were onto this concept a long time ago, but unfortunately they concentrate on much less important things nowadays...

Now, to your example. If you act out of anger towards the man pushing around the child, then you will produce negative results. Any good fighter will tell you that keeping calm is essential to winning a fight. I've been in fights and performed terribly by letting my anger (wrath) get the best of me; suffice to say, the logical choice will be to defend the child without letting your anger control what you're doing. People think that just because they get mad while doing something right that the anger was justified, without ever realizing that whatever they were doing would have been done better independent of it. For example, what if you went over and realized it wasn't as bad as you thought, but were so angry before you got the full assessment that you became violent anyway?

One time, my friends and I decided to act out like they were jumping me. I laid on the ground, and the two of them started play-hitting me. This car stopped, and two beefy guys hopped out (we were only in middle-school at the time). I remember them beginning to walk up to us and we realized right away how stupid it was and I jumped up and was like "hey! We were just playing!" The guys were like "Oh, OK" and got back into the car. They were much bigger than us and we weren't expecting that, and I always wondered after that what would have happened if they had gotten pissed off at being decieved and what that would have meant for us. We got really lucky they were walking over calmly and not angrily, otherwise we would have gotten slaughtered, they might have gotten arrested, etc... anger could have turned that into an utter disaster.

Lets even say I had told him to stop before? How about if I rob a store or rip someone off out of love for my parents as a way to repay them (lol, irony). We can feel certain emotions tied to any number of acts.

Again, there is only the seven sins and the negativity attached to acting on them. All other emotional concerns are morally neutral.

I don't think there is any lack of literature on the subject, regarding why eating at McDonald's is a bad idea.

Is it immoral to eat at McDonald's or just illogical?

Both. I provided logical reasoning for not eating there, yet people still do. This illogic - which takes the form of damage to ourselves and our society - is only possible due to immoral tendencies that intercept our ability to make the logical choice. Greed and sloth affect us and due to our immoral weakness to avoid sating them, we produced the damage.

I'm a little confused now, which takes precedent the logical standard or the feeling of hatred,

Logic leads to many ends to consider. This is complex and subjective. Precedence is thus placed on the feeling of hatred. It is simple enough to recognize when hatred is creeping into your decision-making process and affecting it, instead of being a utilitarian and endlessly weighing ends in a futile attempt to come out ahead.

like what if out of hatred for McDonald's I passed by the restaurant and at Joe's American Bar and Grill next door is that good or bad? I'm accepting the logical (moral?) standard, but I'm acting out of anger.

The entire situation is that you are presented with a choice regarding McDonald's: do I once again sate my sloth and greed and buy a Big Mac, or should I sate my hatred of McDonald's by passing it by? In this situation, you have two immoral choices, and the dominant strategy is to find a third choice which doesn't involve vice - that is to pass by McDonald's without feeding your hatred of it. Simply taking a deep breath and rationalizing will do the trick.

But what if you refrain from purging the hatred before this decision, and essentially render positive ends from negative means? Does that mean my system cannot stand? Well, I would have to question how much of your decision is actually based on hatred. You say you're eating at Joe's because you hate McDonald's for ruining our society, but logic has already predisposed you towards making the decision to eat at Joe's without the anger to guide you - because you are only hating on McDonald's for hurting society. So you're saying you have a strong logical foundation for your action, and are merely using anger to make it happen.

This logic cannot stand. One does not construct a logical framework and then get angry simply to implement it. If you know what's right and fail to act, it isn't because you're not angry enough, it's because you're too lazy or being a coward. In any case, you can't convince me that an angry response is going to trump a collected and sober one in any situation.

To use hatred in your decision to boycott McDonald's merely takes a logical decision and peppers in a negative emotion, which yes, will cause immorality and negativity in a slight way. You see, your logical decision is not deflected by your immorality (compare this to, say, getting angry while in an argument and making the decision to hit someone), so you are not actually changing much about your actions. Therefore the degree of immorality is low. After all, how much hatred is one physically able to sate by walking by a McDonald's? The magnitude of the moral decision is quite low (compare this to the amount of sloth one can sate by eating at McDonald's). There will be a correspondingly minute amount of immorality involved, simply in the form of your own ignorance of your intentions (after all, it would have been more helpful to ponder the actual reasoning behind it instead of blindly acting on anger) as well as the tendency to want to sate your anger in the future. If you research the concept of catharsis in psychology, you'll see that releasing anger (i.e., hitting a punching bag while mad) may be a temporary and positive alternative to some other release (i.e., hitting a person), but this release only tends to cause more future episodes and therefore is not recommended (I believe exercise is one way to do it positively, without sating that urge for rage). So it is impossible to act out of anger without some problems, because, psychologically, it is addicting. You may have walked by McDonald's this time out of anger, but what is the likelihood that your next demonstration of anger will be positive?

Your question was very well posed, but I reject the notion that anger can be good simply because you can take a good action and get angry about it. Do you like to learn about stuff because you enjoy being intelligent? Or because you hate to be stupid? If you learn out of hatred for stupidity, do you think you'll fare as well as the lover of knowledge? I think not.
kfc
FREEDO
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6/28/2011 12:53:58 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Who's to say what those people on the train will do with their lives.

Maybe killing the most is the best! MWAHEHEHE
GRAND POOBAH OF DDO

fnord
Cody_Franklin
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6/28/2011 12:57:00 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/27/2011 8:13:39 PM, askbob wrote:
At 6/27/2011 7:34:31 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 6/27/2011 7:10:33 PM, askbob wrote
flip the switch - utilitarian principal. UNLESS you know that the one person is of greater personal value than the 5 people. Then let the 5 die. For example if the 1 person is a hot chick who will bone you for saving her life while the others are hicks.

EXACTLY. Always go with the hot chick.

Anyhow, I think there are some unresolved tensions here. You seem to make personal value the ultimate arbiter, which makes me question the basis on which you advocate utility in circumstances where everyone's a stranger.

Then it reverts to societal value.

Which is what? Purely nominal? Why?

You seem to presuppose superficial nominal utilitarianism (i.e. "5 lives saved is better than one life saved) without justifying its validity

There needs to be no validation. It's a ceterus paribus situation without more knowledge.

Saying "it's ceteris paribus behind a veil of ignorance" is an attempt at validation; however, there appears to be no prima facie reason why saving the five is morally superior to saving the one.

especially when the ultimate criterion you've proposed is which group you personally hold to be more valuable.

Personaly utility always trumps societal utility.

Why?

It's only in cases where you have no knowledge of the situation where societal utility is used.

That seems fairly arbitrary, though. More a personal method than an objective moral theory.

In addition to the usual criticisms of utilitarianism, e.g. interpersonal utility comparisons, how do you reconcile advocating personal value as a criterion in one circumstance, and "objective" measures of utility in cases where you, for all intents and purposes, are disinterested?

Reconcile? If something doesn't matter to me then since the choice provides me no utility or no disutility (is that a word)

To interject, yeah, I'm pretty sure that's a word.

then society's interests are looked after as ultimately a happy society is a happy me. So even when it doesn't directly affect my decisions, it still in some way indirectly affects me.

That's a fallacy of division (insofar as "society" can be said to be a unified thing). Though it's conceivable under some circumstances that "common good" intentions produce a personal benefit in some way, it's not necessarily the case that that which is good for "society" is good for some individual agent. At best, it's sort a rule of thumb which still doesn't seem to carry much binding moral weight.

Yes given perfect knowledge. Fat people are inherently less likely to breed, are most despised and probably will die of health complications sooner.

This is a purely factual statement. How do you derive ethical prescriptions from that?

It's a measure of societal utility.

Which you measure how?

Which person is more likely to provide utility a fat person who is so big he can stop a trolley or an unknown. Since you have knowledge of one you can make a more informed decision when measuring utility.

It's at best a farcical guest. Your decision is based on A) a nominal bet which is really superficial if you're trying to push utility maximization, and B) the sole knowledge that the man is fat, and that the five you're saving are unknowns. While it's possible that you could stereotype and say "fat people are generally lazy and worthless", it seems to me a really shaky epistemic premise. Of course, this assumes that the problems of directly measuring utility, making comparisons between the utility lost by the fat man and gained/lost by everyone else, choosing an arbitrary line to determine how far into the future we have to look to weigh potential utility impacts, why maximizing social utility (as a secondary rule, anyway) is a moral imperative, and stuff like that. That's what I could think of off the top of my head, but I'm sure I could think of other issues given some time.


Personal utility then societal utility.

How do you measure societal utility, and why do you prioritize personal utility first (especially in cases where you predict that it will require a "loss" in "social utility")?

Personal utility is first because I care more about myself than I do society at large as everyone does. It's stupid to maximize societal utility first.

Before covering the examples, I'd like to point out that this isn't an argument in support of utilitarianism, either of the personal or social variety. If your moral theory is just constructed around preexisting preferences, then it's more of a rationalization for actions you would otherwise have performed anyway, rather than an independent normative theory.

Example: Your mother is the one person, 5 strangers are on the other track. Clearly you're going to sacrifice any number to save your mother.

That isn't a moral argument, though, s just a description of typical human behavior.

So that's why personal is first. Why should you care about saving 5 strangers more than your mother? You don't. However if the entities are equal then clearly societal matters.

Again, it seems as though the notion of morality in play here is just a big rationalization for actions which would have occurred anyway. Ethics doesn't even seem necessary here.

Define moral. I define it as the option producing the most happiness.

Sidestepping the meta-ethical stuff a moment, I again have to pose the question of how you measure utility, how you can make utility comparisons, and why I have an incentive to act "morally" if my personal utility takes a loss lower than the total utility gains of whoever benefits (assuming we can measure and make those comparisons, of course).

You can make utility comparisons mainly on an opportunity cost/currency basis.

That's only a phenomenal comparison, though--a relatively uninformed moral heuristic. You can't actually measure utility other than on a superficial level, at which point your moral theory begins to break down.

Example: paying someone to mow your lawn
Cost 10 dollars an hour
Earn 10 dollars an hour at work
Abillity to work overtime: Yes
Overtime Rate: 1.5
Utility from mowing the lawn: -5 dollars an hour
Decision Yes mow my lawn for me.
Net Benefit: over 15 dollars an hour

Utility from mowing the lawn:
If someone were to offer me 2 packs of milk duds for continuing to mow this lawn for an hour, would I continue mowing?

Answer: No I would stop mowing I would have to be offered at least 5 1 dollar candy selections in order for me to continue mowing this stupid lawn.

That's not what I'm asking for, though, because you can't literally measure others' utility. You can make guesses, but you can't build an entire moral theory when the meta-ethical assumptions don't add up.

Yes it is. It does not matter the method but the ends.

You're merely presupposing consequentialism here, which begs the question.

You're going to have to be more clear on this.

In other words, you're presupposing that your specific brand of consequentialist meta-ethics are true to push forward with your normative theory.