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What is the Best Normative Ethical Theory?

Orangatang
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1/3/2014 3:09:49 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
What do you think is the best normative ethical theory to uphold and why?

I did not study normative ethics in detail but I think consequentialism is the best theory I have heard/read about so far, and I would love to hear about other theories. Utilitarianism is the best form of consequentialism even though it is ridiculously hard to uphold in practice. I think utilitarianism is the best form of consequentialism because it advocates to maximize the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest amount of people. It advocates a strictly objective perspective and if followed correctly, it would necessarily tell you the greatest possible moral action for any situation.
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Objectivity
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1/3/2014 3:26:27 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/3/2014 3:09:49 PM, Orangatang wrote:
What do you think is the best normative ethical theory to uphold and why?

I did not study normative ethics in detail but I think consequentialism is the best theory I have heard/read about so far, and I would love to hear about other theories. Utilitarianism is the best form of consequentialism even though it is ridiculously hard to uphold in practice. I think utilitarianism is the best form of consequentialism because it advocates to maximize the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest amount of people. It advocates a strictly objective perspective and if followed correctly, it would necessarily tell you the greatest possible moral action for any situation.

You have no problem with the fact that utilitarianism is in strict contrast to most Western theories including republicanism, individualism, rational self-interest, etc?

It is relatively easy to say that Bentham's utilitarianism might be the most applicable under a meritocratic dictatorship. Are you fine with accepting this fact?
Orangatang
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1/3/2014 4:41:31 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
You have no problem with the fact that utilitarianism is in strict contrast to most Western theories including republicanism, individualism, rational self-interest, etc?


I'm sorry what exactly do you mean by republicanism (could not find how it contrasts with utilitarianism)?

As for individualism and rational self-interest (or ethical egoism), I do not think they would lead to the greatest possible human progress. Simply because these theories advocate that people act to fulfill self-interests or treat oneself with greater moral worth than another. These theories do not advocate collaboration, if everyone were to follow them then everyone would be at odds with one another trying to fulfill their own self-interests. The species as a whole would not progress. It is better to have a theory which diminishes any arrogance and self-centered attitudes such that we treat each other with equality and respect. Utilitarianism leads to collaborative efforts which will inevitably progress the human species.

It is relatively easy to say that Bentham's utilitarianism might be the most applicable under a meritocratic dictatorship. Are you fine with accepting this fact?

I am not confident that utilitarianism necessarily leads to a meritocratic dictatorship in the first place, but regardless utilitarianism in this situation would still give the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest amount of people. I do not see how this theory is worse than others.
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EndarkenedRationalist
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1/3/2014 4:45:13 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I agree. I support utilitarianism as it is objective and thus logical. It's simply quantitative - one life equals one life, so everything should be done to maximize overall happiness. Although it's important to note that infringing on individual liberties seldom advances collective happiness. There's entirely too much emphasis on rational self-interest, which is basically egoism, so much so that it spawned Rand's so-called Objectivism.
Objectivity
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1/4/2014 11:56:03 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/3/2014 4:41:31 PM, Orangatang wrote:
You have no problem with the fact that utilitarianism is in strict contrast to most Western theories including republicanism, individualism, rational self-interest, etc?


I'm sorry what exactly do you mean by republicanism (could not find how it contrasts with utilitarianism)?

Republicanism is the individualist cousin of Democracy as it includes a constitution that is upheld by the government and law to protect individual rights against the majority. If we applied Bentham's Utilitarianism to the letter we would see appalling violations of human rights on a daily basis. If I was a millionaire who earned my money by inheritance would it be in the best interest of the people in my city to rob me blind and distribute the money among themselves? Certainly, more people would be getting happiness from this money then just me, and since these people probably need it more they will be getting more happiness from it. Therefore we can say thievery is appropriate if we follow Utilitarianism to the letter.

As for individualism and rational self-interest (or ethical egoism), I do not think they would lead to the greatest possible human progress. Simply because these theories advocate that people act to fulfill self-interests or treat oneself with greater moral worth than another. These theories do not advocate collaboration, if everyone were to follow them then everyone would be at odds with one another trying to fulfill their own self-interests. The species as a whole would not progress. It is better to have a theory which diminishes any arrogance and self-centered attitudes such that we treat each other with equality and respect. Utilitarianism leads to collaborative efforts which will inevitably progress the human species.

I vehemently disagree. I believe there are very few systems that foster true human progress in the evolutionary sense except possibly National Socialism, which I contest as violating the NAP and basic human rights, or the system which I uphold; free market capitalism,ethical egoism/self interest and individualism. I do not believe that individualism necessitates putting oneself above the other in a moral aspect, but more in a practical aspect. Consider a scenario; There is a commune, we will call this commune Prosperity. Now let's assume that at first this commune due to having abundant natural resources and a populous devoted to their people, so much so that each individual puts their commune and their commune's interest above self. Now let's say that flooding hits prosperity and wipes out 65% of their crop yield, and the flooding was so horrendous that the about half of their land can no longer yield crops for two decades. Now Prosperity has two choices if they wish to keep their commune alive, remember the people of Prosperity do not value individualism, so they value commune above self and therefore most of them refuse to emigrate. Prosperity can either conquer a neighboring village (which would not be consistent with utilitarianism since it is universal and does not apply to just countries), or they can distribute their now scarce resources among the populous. Now from a humanitarian perspective (which I'm relatively sure you are not arguing from), this would be the ideal way to go, but from an evolutionary and practical perspective, this is detrimental. After all, instead of just letting the struggle situation occur, (struggle situations usually foster some of the quickest and most evolutionary processes, after all; as seen in Africa and Asia up until the last half century), the whole populous now likely becomes starving, sickly and weak to ensure that even the weak live, since the resources are being distributed. The best way to go from an evolutionary standpoint would be to let people compete for resources until only the strongest 35% live, and these people will live to rebuild society and have full stomachs, live comfortably. The strong 35% will re produce and have well fed offspring, in time Prosperity will be re populated and this time with a intellectually and physically stronger populous. And this is all thanks to individuals putting their interests above the collective, people valuing an actually prosperous 35% over a starving and weak 100%.

It is relatively easy to say that Bentham's utilitarianism might be the most applicable under a meritocratic dictatorship. Are you fine with accepting this fact?

I am not confident that utilitarianism necessarily leads to a meritocratic dictatorship in the first place, but regardless utilitarianism in this situation would still give the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest amount of people. I do not see how this theory is worse than others.

Well considering even in a Democracy there is voter apathy, usually to the extent that the only time the majority of people might vote is in an election for the head of state, the majority of people usually do not even know or care what is going on around them and are so apathetic they are unwilling to promote their own happiness. So in the case of an apathetic democracy or republic, wouldn't a meritocratic dictatorship be best? Also, there is a relatively common saying along the lines of "The tyranny of the majority", I do not believe the rights of the 51% are so precious as to allow them to strip away all the rights of the 49%, but this is consistent with utilitarianism.
Orangatang
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1/8/2014 4:53:20 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Republicanism is the individualist cousin of Democracy as it includes a constitution that is upheld by the government and law to protect individual rights against the majority. If we applied Bentham's Utilitarianism to the letter we would see appalling violations of human rights on a daily basis. If I was a millionaire who earned my money by inheritance would it be in the best interest of the people in my city to rob me blind and distribute the money among themselves?...

Great argument. I think in a utilitarian government however thievery, murder, and other criminal offenses would probably be outlawed in the first place. An argument can be made that any government/society that allows these offences would quite obviously cause an outbreak or bandwagon effect of thievery and hostility. Therefore a utilitarian government would be one in which these criminal activities are barred as they do not bring about the greatest possible happiness to the greatest amount of people.

It is also important to note that a rich person would get his money from his merits alone, not from inheritance, or blind luck. In a utilitarian society if anyone receives more money than he/she deserves then that extra cash will be distributed according to merit, or can be used as taxes to improve society. Currently the the top 1% in the world owns 46% of the world's wealth (http://www.huffingtonpost.com...)!!! This is extremely unfair and if this money were fairly distributed to those that deserve it, then there would be much more happiness in the world. Great progress as a civilization will be made as people will come to understand that hard work and merits get rewarded. I do agree however that there is a problem as always with theory and practicality. What system could we use to fairly pay individuals based on merit? I don't know but pragmatically figuring it out is essential to improving our world.

I vehemently disagree. I believe there are very few systems that foster true human progress in the evolutionary sense except possibly National Socialism, which I contest as violating the NAP and basic human rights, or the system which I uphold; free market capitalism,ethical egoism/self interest and individualism. I do not believe that individualism necessitates putting oneself above the other in a moral aspect, but more in a practical aspect. Consider a scenario; There is a commune, we will call this commune Prosperity. Now let's assume that at first this commune due to having abundant natural resources and a populous devoted to their people, so much so that each individual puts their commune and their commune's interest above self. Now let's say that flooding hits prosperity and wipes out 65% of their crop yield, and the flooding was so horrendous that the about half of their land can no longer yield crops for two decades. Now Prosperity has two choices if they wish to keep their commune alive, remember the people of Prosperity do not value individualism, so they value commune above self and therefore most of them refuse to emigrate. Prosperity can either conquer a neighboring village (which would not be consistent with utilitarianism since it is universal and does not apply to just countries), or they can distribute their now scarce resources among the populous. Now from a humanitarian perspective (which I'm relatively sure you are not arguing from), this would be the ideal way to go, but from an evolutionary and practical perspective, this is detrimental. After all, instead of just letting the struggle situation occur, (struggle situations usually foster some of the quickest and most evolutionary processes, after all; as seen in Africa and Asia up until the last half century), the whole populous now likely becomes starving, sickly and weak to ensure that even the weak live, since the resources are being distributed. The best way to go from an evolutionary standpoint would be to let people compete for resources until only the strongest 35% live, and these people will live to rebuild society and have full stomachs, live comfortably. The strong 35% will re produce and have well fed offspring, in time Prosperity will be re populated and this time with a intellectually and physically stronger populous. And this is all thanks to individuals putting their interests above the collective, people valuing an actually prosperous 35% over a starving and weak 100%.

I like the example however, one can arrive at the beneficial 35% survive situation from a utilitarian perspective. If there was no neighboring village and 65% of crops were annihilated then competing until 35% survive and eventually reproduce and become happy is better than having all of them suffering or starving. Utilitarianism does not necessarily advocate that all humans are the same and that all deserve equal rewards, only the best get the most rewards. In reality all rules would go out the window anyway equal distribution would be out of the question, and our human instinct will necessarily lead us to killing each other to ensure our own survival. Now, if there is a possibility of attacking another village, and taking their crops for survival then this action is not excluded by utilitarianism either. Either 65% of Prosperity die from competition, or some percentage of the village dies. Whichever, in the end gives the greatest possible happiness to the greatest amount of people is the best action Prosperity ought to take.
I know that you vehemently disagree, as we all have a natural evolutionary tendency to do anything it takes to survive, but consider this situation:
If you had to make the choice to either kill yourself, or kill 5 other people (as equally qualified in every way as yourself). Which would you choose? Nearly everyone that values individualism and their own life would probably kill the 5 other people. But from an objective viewpoint (utilitarianism) that would be making the wrong choice. Thinking oneself, as more important than the society is detrimental and crippling.

Well considering even in a Democracy there is voter apathy, usually to the extent that the only time the majority of people might vote is in an election for the head of state, the majority of people usually do not even know or care what is going on around them and are so apathetic they are unwilling to promote their own happiness. So in the case of an apathetic democracy or republic, wouldn't a meritocratic dictatorship be best? Also, there is a relatively common saying along the lines of "The tyranny of the majority", I do not believe the rights of the 51% are so precious as to allow them to strip away all the rights of the 49%, but this is consistent with utilitarianism.

Perhaps a meritocratic dictatorship would be good, I do not think it would be the best. Any society that operates under a dictatorship will almost always lead to huge problems. Only in the most effortless and simplistic sense of utilitarianism will 49% of people's rights be stripped. A utilitarian society is most consistent with an advocacy of human rights, otherwise happiness as you point out would not be maximized. It is probably more beneficial/fair for two people to be in an unaffected state rather than one person being quite happy and another person suffering.

Another thing I would like to point out is that there is a trend here. You point to an example that shows that simplistic utilitarianism may cause a detrimental problem and show a better response. In any case I have shown that whatever you suggest as a better response is actually the utilitarian position! This happens because you are using an oversimplified idea of utilitarianism (look at everything in the both short and long term). I do not think it rational to argue against utilitarianism because you are essentially arguing that maximizing happiness is bad.
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whatledge
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1/8/2014 10:48:07 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/3/2014 3:09:49 PM, Orangatang wrote:
What do you think is the best normative ethical theory to uphold and why?

I did not study normative ethics in detail but I think consequentialism is the best theory I have heard/read about so far, and I would love to hear about other theories. Utilitarianism is the best form of consequentialism even though it is ridiculously hard to uphold in practice. I think utilitarianism is the best form of consequentialism because it advocates to maximize the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest amount of people. It advocates a strictly objective perspective and if followed correctly, it would necessarily tell you the greatest possible moral action for any situation.

Kantian Ethics. I think you might be interested in reading about it.
Objectivity
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1/9/2014 12:10:53 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Great argument. I think in a utilitarian government however thievery, murder, and other criminal offenses would probably be outlawed in the first place. An argument can be made that any government/society that allows these offences would quite obviously cause an outbreak or bandwagon effect of thievery and hostility. Therefore a utilitarian government would be one in which these criminal activities are barred as they do not bring about the greatest possible happiness to the greatest amount of people.

But I do think that taking someone's inheritance is a form of thievery, whether that thievery is justified or not is another matter.

It is also important to note that a rich person would get his money from his merits alone, not from inheritance, or blind luck. In a utilitarian society if anyone receives more money than he/she deserves then that extra cash will be distributed according to merit,

I am not sure merit should entitle one to anything, if you are claiming merit in general as in being a good person then I am not sure I follow you, you are basically saying everyone would be entitled to money then because I don't believe in inherent morality, therefore we all are 'good people'. If you are advocating that we should give people money for work, even if they don't have the skills necessary to do work that is in demand on the labor market, you would be advocating for communism or socialism, which is a whole different argument (that I am willing to engage you in) that I would rather not have here.

or can be used as taxes to improve society. Currently the the top 1% in the world owns 46% of the world's wealth (http://www.huffingtonpost.com......)!!! This is extremely unfair and if this money were fairly distributed to those that deserve it, then there would be much more happiness in the world. Great progress as a civilization will be made as people will come to understand that hard work and merits get rewarded. I do agree however that there is a problem as always with theory and practicality. What system could we use to fairly pay individuals based on merit? I don't know but pragmatically figuring it out is essential to improving our world.

The justification is interesting and if I believed that we should give the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest amount of people I would agree with you, although I value the rights of the individual before the collective and therefore if one individual could take all the happiness for themselves if they were strong and capable enough to do it, I don't see why anyone has the right to stop them. Consider Nietzsche's Master-Slave Morality, it is only the slave that believes that instead of surpassing the master, they should bring their master down to slavery with them.

I like the example however, one can arrive at the beneficial 35% survive situation from a utilitarian perspective. If there was no neighboring village and 65% of crops were annihilated then competing until 35% survive and eventually reproduce and become happy is better than having all of them suffering or starving. Utilitarianism does not necessarily advocate that all humans are the same and that all deserve equal rewards, only the best get the most rewards. In reality all rules would go out the window anyway equal distribution would be out of the question, and our human instinct will necessarily lead us to killing each other to ensure our own survival. Now, if there is a possibility of attacking another village, and taking their crops for survival then this action is not excluded by utilitarianism either. Either 65% of Prosperity die from competition, or some percentage of the village dies. Whichever, in the end gives the greatest possible happiness to the greatest amount of people is the best action Prosperity ought to take.
I know that you vehemently disagree, as we all have a natural evolutionary tendency to do anything it takes to survive,

I suppose we then butt heads at what Utilitarianism is and the ultimate question "What would Bentham say?" I suppose that is what it comes down to, although I have not read Bentham's detailed laws and moral codes that elaborate on Utilitarianism and how it should be applied, and I am aware if we looked to it we would probably find the answer to what Bentham would do in this situation, and if you have read his works I would certainly appreciate a citation of what makes you think Utilitarians would do this. I will probably get around to reading it, but hell; I just finished the Prince and am just reading Leviathan now, I have some work to do on the basic stuff (like Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Nietzsche, etc.) before I get to Bentham's works. Is there a way Bentham measures happiness so we can look at situations and clearly see which promotes the most happiness with the most amount of people? I suppose before I continue with my arguments it would be best to see a reply to this, as they will outline my arguments against Utilitarianism, or ultimately cause me to concede and agree with you.

but consider this situation:
If you had to make the choice to either kill yourself, or kill 5 other people (as equally qualified in every way as yourself). Which would you choose? Nearly everyone that values individualism and their own life would probably kill the 5 other people. But from an objective viewpoint (utilitarianism) that would be making the wrong choice. Thinking oneself, as more important than the society is detrimental and crippling.
R0b1Billion
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1/9/2014 9:41:50 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/3/2014 3:09:49 PM, Orangatang wrote:
What do you think is the best normative ethical theory to uphold and why?

The morality presented by Jesus Christ is the best. I think a lot of you philosophers forget, while you are polishing your high-brow theories to impress each other, that a good theory needs to be SIMPLE as well as effective. The more complicated it is, the less overly useful it is - especially considering that the vast majority of people are not philosophers!

Jesus taught to resist pride, selfishness, and indulgence. A more thorough analysis creates the seven "sins:" Pride, selfishness, greed, lust, envy, wrath, and gluttony. All one has to realize is that we are naturally prone to these vices due to our intelligent nature, and then work to eliminate these impetuses from your decision-making process. That is all. Simple and perfectly effective. Perfection is always a goal that will be out of reach, but when perfection is broken it will be because you allowed these vices to control you some, NOT because there was confusion or inconsistency in Jesus' theory.

Utilitarianism is the opposite of this line of thinking in many ways. First, instead of principled actions based on intent, we are instead concerned with results. In other words: the ends justify the means. Once you allow the ends to justify the means, all ethical hope is lost for you. The 7 vices explained earlier will start to creep back into your decision-making process while you concentrate on your goals, unable to realize when these goals are actually reflections of your own selfishness. I may wish that all people have televisions, for instance, and work towards that goal. But is it a worthy goal? Maybe it's because I own stock in TV companies... maybe it's because I watch a lot of TV and want others to be like me. The possibilities are endless. If you REALLY want to help people, follow Jesus' lead, not your own faulty intellectual reasoning. Utilitarianism is built upon the intellect (the ends) while Jesus' method is built upon the heart (the means). Utilitarianism suppresses morality with intellectual ends and can be used to justify any atrocity one can possibly imagine.
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- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
Orangatang
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1/10/2014 3:46:03 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
I am not sure merit should entitle one to anything, if you are claiming merit in general as in being a good person then I am not sure I follow you, you are basically saying everyone would be entitled to money then because I don't believe in inherent morality, therefore we all are 'good people'. If you are advocating that we should give people money for work, even if they don't have the skills necessary to do work that is in demand on the labor market, you would be advocating for communism or socialism, which is a whole different argument (that I am willing to engage you in) that I would rather not have here.

By merit I mean a person's usefulness or work/research related based accomplishments. Obviously not everyone would be able to work in this way, so some kind of social security probably needs to be administered, and those who don't work and are lazy should either get paid for little or none at all.

The justification is interesting and if I believed that we should give the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest amount of people I would agree with you, although I value the rights of the individual before the collective and therefore if one individual could take all the happiness for themselves if they were strong and capable enough to do it, I don't see why anyone has the right to stop them. Consider Nietzsche's Master-Slave Morality, it is only the slave that believes that instead of surpassing the master, they should bring their master down to slavery with them.

I see where your coming from but I just plainly don't think that it is fair or just for one individual to claim all the happiness over many individuals sharing it. If the top 1% would share their money with those in poverty, the world would be a much more happy and productive place.

I suppose we then butt heads at what Utilitarianism is and the ultimate question "What would Bentham say?" I suppose that is what it comes down to, although I have not read Bentham's detailed laws and moral codes that elaborate on Utilitarianism and how it should be applied, and I am aware if we looked to it we would probably find the answer to what Bentham would do in this situation, and if you have read his works I would certainly appreciate a citation of what makes you think Utilitarians would do this. I will probably get around to reading it, but hell; I just finished the Prince and am just reading Leviathan now, I have some work to do on the basic stuff (like Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Nietzsche, etc.) before I get to Bentham's works. Is there a way Bentham measures happiness so we can look at situations and clearly see which promotes the most happiness with the most amount of people? I suppose before I continue with my arguments it would be best to see a reply to this, as they will outline my arguments against Utilitarianism, or ultimately cause me to concede and agree with you.

I think you are right, one of us has to go and check what exactly Bentham's methodology is for figuring this stuff out. Even so there are many disagreement's with Bentham other forms of utilitarianism that may be more feasible. I will try to brush up on reading his work when I have the time, unfortunately that will probably take a while. Thank you for the interesting discussion. :D
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Orangatang
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1/10/2014 4:00:01 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/9/2014 9:41:50 AM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/3/2014 3:09:49 PM, Orangatang wrote:
What do you think is the best normative ethical theory to uphold and why?

The morality presented by Jesus Christ is the best. I think a lot of you philosophers forget, while you are polishing your high-brow theories to impress each other, that a good theory needs to be SIMPLE as well as effective. The more complicated it is, the less overly useful it is - especially considering that the vast majority of people are not philosophers!

Jesus taught to resist pride, selfishness, and indulgence. A more thorough analysis creates the seven "sins:" Pride, selfishness, greed, lust, envy, wrath, and gluttony. All one has to realize is that we are naturally prone to these vices due to our intelligent nature, and then work to eliminate these impetuses from your decision-making process. That is all. Simple and perfectly effective. Perfection is always a goal that will be out of reach, but when perfection is broken it will be because you allowed these vices to control you some, NOT because there was confusion or inconsistency in Jesus' theory.

I can see how these vices are detrimental and will probably agree with them in most cases, however morality includes much more than what is postulated here. Therefore I do not think this ethical theory has the range necessary to guide people with the majority of their moral actions. It does not postulate how to treat others and how to rationalize the best possible moral action in various situations.

Utilitarianism is the opposite of this line of thinking in many ways. First, instead of principled actions based on intent, we are instead concerned with results. In other words: the ends justify the means. Once you allow the ends to justify the means, all ethical hope is lost for you. The 7 vices explained earlier will start to creep back into your decision-making process while you concentrate on your goals, unable to realize when these goals are actually reflections of your own selfishness. I may wish that all people have televisions, for instance, and work towards that goal. But is it a worthy goal? Maybe it's because I own stock in TV companies... maybe it's because I watch a lot of TV and want others to be like me. The possibilities are endless. If you REALLY want to help people, follow Jesus' lead, not your own faulty intellectual reasoning. Utilitarianism is built upon the intellect (the ends) while Jesus' method is built upon the heart (the means). Utilitarianism suppresses morality with intellectual ends and can be used to justify any atrocity one can possibly imagine.

Utilitarianism in most of it's forms actually does take into account the means, as part of it's overall moral analysis for any situation which involves finite actions. You can also arrive at the same conclusion that all seven of the vices you list are indeed bad to the individual, and many more as well. Take selfishness for example. If a person were to act selfish, many people will soon notice this and see this selfish individual in a bad light. This would eventually result in the selfish person to have no friends and/or family, it is obvious in many ways to see how a selfish individual will lose a plethora of benefits from a utilitarian perspective. This can be done with all seven vices and much more. Utilitarianism can also include good actions or general virtues that one should aspire to like responsibility, trustworthiness, open-mindedness, selflessness, and so on. Utilitarianism is just more useful and I think people actually use utilitarianism in their everyday life whenever they weigh costs to benefits in their heads. Not only is utilitarianism have a greater range, but it gives better results, and is more effective as it appeals to our rational tendencies.
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R0b1Billion
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1/10/2014 12:39:46 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/10/2014 4:00:01 AM, Orangatang wrote:
At 1/9/2014 9:41:50 AM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/3/2014 3:09:49 PM, Orangatang wrote:
What do you think is the best normative ethical theory to uphold and why?

The morality presented by Jesus Christ is the best. I think a lot of you philosophers forget, while you are polishing your high-brow theories to impress each other, that a good theory needs to be SIMPLE as well as effective. The more complicated it is, the less overly useful it is - especially considering that the vast majority of people are not philosophers!

Jesus taught to resist pride, selfishness, and indulgence. A more thorough analysis creates the seven "sins:" Pride, selfishness, greed, lust, envy, wrath, and gluttony. All one has to realize is that we are naturally prone to these vices due to our intelligent nature, and then work to eliminate these impetuses from your decision-making process. That is all. Simple and perfectly effective. Perfection is always a goal that will be out of reach, but when perfection is broken it will be because you allowed these vices to control you some, NOT because there was confusion or inconsistency in Jesus' theory.

I can see how these vices are detrimental and will probably agree with them in most cases, however morality includes much more than what is postulated here. Therefore I do not think this ethical theory has the range necessary to guide people with the majority of their moral actions. It does not postulate how to treat others and how to rationalize the best possible moral action in various situations.

Give me specific examples of what you speak of and I will use only the seven sins to show you that the "range" is much more than you realize.

Utilitarianism is the opposite of this line of thinking in many ways. First, instead of principled actions based on intent, we are instead concerned with results. In other words: the ends justify the means. Once you allow the ends to justify the means, all ethical hope is lost for you. The 7 vices explained earlier will start to creep back into your decision-making process while you concentrate on your goals, unable to realize when these goals are actually reflections of your own selfishness. I may wish that all people have televisions, for instance, and work towards that goal. But is it a worthy goal? Maybe it's because I own stock in TV companies... maybe it's because I watch a lot of TV and want others to be like me. The possibilities are endless. If you REALLY want to help people, follow Jesus' lead, not your own faulty intellectual reasoning. Utilitarianism is built upon the intellect (the ends) while Jesus' method is built upon the heart (the means). Utilitarianism suppresses morality with intellectual ends and can be used to justify any atrocity one can possibly imagine.

Utilitarianism in most of it's forms actually does take into account the means, as part of it's overall moral analysis for any situation which involves finite actions. You can also arrive at the same conclusion that all seven of the vices you list are indeed bad to the individual, and many more as well. Take selfishness for example. If a person were to act selfish, many people will soon notice this and see this selfish individual in a bad light. This would eventually result in the selfish person to have no friends and/or family, it is obvious in many ways to see how a selfish individual will lose a plethora of benefits from a utilitarian perspective. This can be done with all seven vices and much more.

Morality is self-correcting. I see that you are under the assumption that justice and morality operate separately - they do not. How one ought to act morally also controls their overall success in life - that's the beauty of the system. And that's what Jesus taught. It is called "faith." Utilitarianism is a complete lack of faith. It involves one painstakingly calculating out results so that the ends can be maximized. This is not what Jesus suggested. Jesus instructed to concentrate on the means - through the lens of the seven sins - and letting the results take care of themselves. While he referred to "heaven" as the great equalizer, I have found that our rewards are immediate, and right here in this life. You explained it well when you described the selfish person being hated by people around him.

Utilitarianism can also include good actions or general virtues that one should aspire to like responsibility, trustworthiness, open-mindedness, selflessness, and so on.

The virtues that utilitarianism espouses are false virtues that are not perfect and thus not overly useful like the seven sins are. To use the ones you have already listed, I can say right off the bat that selflessness is already captured by my system - it is the opposite of greed. Being open-minded is not perfect. Sometimes the situation calls for being less open-minded, like in the example of a child being told be his peers to use drugs and not simply listen to his parents. As for trustworthiness and responsibility, these are not technically virtues, these are states of being; accomplishments. I can't look at a moral problem and say "how do I apply the virtue of trustworthiness to get my answer?" Trustworthiness is something achieved through acting with fidelity over a long period of time. Compare this to charity, for instance. I could be confused about a moral situation and ask myself "how do I apply the virtue of charity to this scenario?" It would likely yield an answer that would suggest I be nicer and more giving to others. Responsibility is not a virtue either. While being responsible is virtuous, again, it is an accomplishment that is achieved; an end state, not a means to help guide action. If I am confused about a moral dilemma, I could ask myself "what is the good thing to do? As you can see, "good" is simply a state of being, not a useful moral tool. Asking what is "responsible" or "trustworthy" is similar in that they don't offer specific guidance to the moral actor. Now I will give you seven questions that will capture the whole of all human morality, both succinctly and completely. Let's say you have a moral conundrum, and need guidance. Consulting the seven sins, you would ask:

What is the humble thing to do? (opp: pride)
What is the patient thing to do? (opp: wrath)
What is the charitable thing to do? (opp: greed)
What is the temperant thing to do? (opp: gluttony)
What is the chaste thing to do? (opp: lust)
What is the kind thing to do? (opp: envy)
What is the diligent thing to do? (opp: sloth)

You can ask me moral questions until the end of time, and every single one of them would relate back here for a perfect answer. No complicated, dubious utilitarian calculations. No justifying the ends with the means. Just simple, complete guidance that both people who have low IQs and high IQs can follow and have faith that they are being good people.

Utilitarianism is just more useful and I think people actually use utilitarianism in their everyday life whenever they weigh costs to benefits in their heads. Not only is utilitarianism have a greater range, but it gives better results, and is more effective as it appeals to our rational tendencies.

I guarantee my system will not only provide better results than yours, but they will be derived quicker and easier with less ambiguity.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
EndarkenedRationalist
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1/10/2014 12:53:43 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I'm a big fan of utilitarianism because it represents the ability for humans to reach their highest potential. Utilitarianism forces people to acknowledge the objective truth - that they are not superior to others, that their lives do not matter more than others. Utilitarianism is concerned with the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. It deals with people logically, rationally, and objectively, which is how things ought to occur.

Pure utilitarianism does have some dangers, however. If it benefits society to kill a few innocent people, than those people have to die. So I do not advocate utilitarianism in its most extreme sense.

A lot of people criticise utilitarianism for infringing on individual rights. I don't think it does. For example, it does not benefit society to limit freedom of speech, religion, or the press. Another large question is this: does the redistribution of wealth benefit society? At first, utilitarianism would appear to say it does. But if you look beyond the short term, you see more issues begin to arise (people out of work eventually run out of money, and the people whose wealth gets redistributed see no reason to accumulate more wealth). So utiliarianism does not necessarily advocate wealth redistribution.
Orangatang
Posts: 442
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1/10/2014 2:00:47 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Give me specific examples of what you speak of and I will use only the seven sins to show you that the "range" is much more than you realize.

OK, just copying a pasting a few good ones from lists of very difficult moral dilemmas.
1) A madman who has threatened to explode several bombs in crowded areas has been apprehended. Unfortunately, he has already planted the bombs and they are scheduled to go off in a short time. It is possible that hundreds of people may die. The authorities cannot make him divulge the location of the bombs by conventional methods. Some high level official suggests torture in this desperate situation. Do you agree? If you do, would it also be morally justifiable to torture the mad bomber"s innocent wife if that is the only way to make him talk?

2) This is a true story that happened in World War 2. You are an inmate, imprisoned in a concentration camp. A guard tells you that you must choose one of your two children for him to take to the gas chamber. If you choose neither, he will take them both. What would you do?

3) Your wife is suffering from a debilitating disease that has put her in constant and permanent excruciating pain and agony. Finally, one day, she decides that she really wants to die. However, her condition is such that she cannot die on her own. She is begging and pleading with you to help her commit suicide. This would, of course, be illegal in this situation. What would you do?

I fail to see how you can directly relate the seven sins to these situation without going through some elaborate acrobatics. Utilitarianism can answer them quickly and efficiently.

Morality is self-correcting. I see that you are under the assumption that justice and morality operate separately - they do not. How one ought to act morally also controls their overall success in life - that's the beauty of the system. And that's what Jesus taught. It is called "faith." Utilitarianism is a complete lack of faith. It involves one painstakingly calculating out results so that the ends can be maximized. This is not what Jesus suggested. Jesus instructed to concentrate on the means - through the lens of the seven sins - and letting the results take care of themselves. While he referred to "heaven" as the great equalizer, I have found that our rewards are immediate, and right here in this life. You explained it well when you described the selfish person being hated by people around him.

Faith isn't a good reason to believe anything in the first place. Faith is by definition believing in something with absolutely no evidence and no good reasons. If you believe things on faith then not only are you extremely gullible, but you have no useful methodology for distinguishing which moral system you are to follow, and no useful way to distinguish between fact and fiction. If you only use faith to justify belief then how do you choose Christianity over Islam, Judaism, and the hundred other religions? It is a very good thing Utilitarianism doesn't require faith, because if it did there would be no good reason to use it.

The virtues that utilitarianism espouses are false virtues that are not perfect and thus not overly useful like the seven sins are. To use the ones you have already listed, I can say right off the bat that selflessness is already captured by my system - it is the opposite of greed. Being open-minded is not perfect. Sometimes the situation calls for being less open-minded, like in the example of a child being told be his peers to use drugs and not simply listen to his parents. As for trustworthiness and responsibility, these are not technically virtues, these are states of being; accomplishments. I can't look at a moral problem and say "how do I apply the virtue of trustworthiness to get my answer?" Trustworthiness is something achieved through acting with fidelity over a long period of time. Compare this to charity, for instance. I could be confused about a moral situation and ask myself "how do I apply the virtue of charity to this scenario?" It would likely yield an answer that would suggest I be nicer and more giving to others. Responsibility is not a virtue either. While being responsible is virtuous, again, it is an accomplishment that is achieved; an end state, not a means to help guide action. If I am confused about a moral dilemma, I could ask myself "what is the good thing to do? As you can see, "good" is simply a state of being, not a useful moral tool. Asking what is "responsible" or "trustworthy" is similar in that they don't offer specific guidance to the moral actor. Now I will give you seven questions that will capture the whole of all human morality, both succinctly and completely. Let's say you have a moral conundrum, and need guidance. Consulting the seven sins, you would ask:

What is the humble thing to do? (opp: pride)
What is the patient thing to do? (opp: wrath)
What is the charitable thing to do? (opp: greed)
What is the temperant thing to do? (opp: gluttony)
What is the chaste thing to do? (opp: lust)
What is the kind thing to do? (opp: envy)
What is the diligent thing to do? (opp: sloth)

This is all cool but it is all way too vague not appealing in the slightest. This is perhaps a reason why Jesus' teaching are not even discussed upon ethical philosophers (except of course those apologetics). What do you mean open-mindedness is not perfect? I could say the same of the opposing sins, being patient is not perfect, being kind is not perfect; or of the sins themselves, refraining from being selfish is not perfect. What exactly do you mean? A moral virtue need not be perfect to be a generally useful rule of thumb. Trustworthiness and responsibility are definitely virtues and not at all accomplishments, it is common knowledge. They are describing what makes up a person's moral characters and what shapes his future actions.

You can ask me moral questions until the end of time, and every single one of them would relate back here for a perfect answer. No complicated, dubious utilitarian calculations. No justifying the ends with the means. Just simple, complete guidance that both people who have low IQs and high IQs can follow and have faith that they are being good people.

As I said before means are included in the analysis. I don't know why you keep saying "the ends justify the means." Utilitarian calculation may at times be complicated but most times much easier to calculate and more rational than Jesus' teachings, all one needs to follow utilitarianism is some common sense logic. And it is quite arrogant for you to claim a "Perfect" answer don't you think? I personally don't think you can get anywhere close to perfect with a moral system as vague as yours.

I guarantee my system will not only provide better results than yours, but they will be derived quicker and easier with less ambiguity.

How is maximizing happiness ambiguous? Perhaps the actual calculations may be time-consuming but in the end it is always worth it as if your intentions and calculations are close to the mark you will directly create the best possible increase in happiness in the world.
Read and Vote Please! http://www.debate.org...
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,733
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1/10/2014 2:07:06 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/10/2014 12:53:43 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
I'm a big fan of utilitarianism because it represents the ability for humans to reach their highest potential. Utilitarianism forces people to acknowledge the objective truth - that they are not superior to others, that their lives do not matter more than others. Utilitarianism is concerned with the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. It deals with people logically, rationally, and objectively, which is how things ought to occur.

Pure utilitarianism does have some dangers, however. If it benefits society to kill a few innocent people, than those people have to die. So I do not advocate utilitarianism in its most extreme sense.

You do realize you just drove a dagger through the heart of the ideology...

A lot of people criticise utilitarianism for infringing on individual rights. I don't think it does. For example, it does not benefit society to limit freedom of speech, religion, or the press. Another large question is this: does the redistribution of wealth benefit society? At first, utilitarianism would appear to say it does. But if you look beyond the short term, you see more issues begin to arise (people out of work eventually run out of money, and the people whose wealth gets redistributed see no reason to accumulate more wealth). So utiliarianism does not necessarily advocate wealth redistribution.

Utilitarianism "does not necessarily advocate" anything! You can use its complexities to justify just about anything. Could Hitler not be a utilitarian for calculating, via utility, that Aryanism is best for society? Who are you to say that his ends are not the best? Only means can be scrutinized morally.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
EndarkenedRationalist
Posts: 14,201
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1/10/2014 2:19:20 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/10/2014 2:07:06 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 12:53:43 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
I'm a big fan of utilitarianism because it represents the ability for humans to reach their highest potential. Utilitarianism forces people to acknowledge the objective truth - that they are not superior to others, that their lives do not matter more than others. Utilitarianism is concerned with the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. It deals with people logically, rationally, and objectively, which is how things ought to occur.

Pure utilitarianism does have some dangers, however. If it benefits society to kill a few innocent people, than those people have to die. So I do not advocate utilitarianism in its most extreme sense.

You do realize you just drove a dagger through the heart of the ideology...

You realize utilitarianism itself abandoned its extremism a long time ago?

A lot of people criticise utilitarianism for infringing on individual rights. I don't think it does. For example, it does not benefit society to limit freedom of speech, religion, or the press. Another large question is this: does the redistribution of wealth benefit society? At first, utilitarianism would appear to say it does. But if you look beyond the short term, you see more issues begin to arise (people out of work eventually run out of money, and the people whose wealth gets redistributed see no reason to accumulate more wealth). So utiliarianism does not necessarily advocate wealth redistribution.

Utilitarianism "does not necessarily advocate" anything! You can use its complexities to justify just about anything. Could Hitler not be a utilitarian for calculating, via utility, that Aryanism is best for society? Who are you to say that his ends are not the best? Only means can be scrutinized morally.

It advocates what is ultimately the best end for society. People can then argue about what is better for society.
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,733
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1/10/2014 2:36:27 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/10/2014 2:19:20 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:07:06 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 12:53:43 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
I'm a big fan of utilitarianism because it represents the ability for humans to reach their highest potential. Utilitarianism forces people to acknowledge the objective truth - that they are not superior to others, that their lives do not matter more than others. Utilitarianism is concerned with the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. It deals with people logically, rationally, and objectively, which is how things ought to occur.

Pure utilitarianism does have some dangers, however. If it benefits society to kill a few innocent people, than those people have to die. So I do not advocate utilitarianism in its most extreme sense.

You do realize you just drove a dagger through the heart of the ideology...

You realize utilitarianism itself abandoned its extremism a long time ago?

How can a theory abandon its own extremism lol

A lot of people criticise utilitarianism for infringing on individual rights. I don't think it does. For example, it does not benefit society to limit freedom of speech, religion, or the press. Another large question is this: does the redistribution of wealth benefit society? At first, utilitarianism would appear to say it does. But if you look beyond the short term, you see more issues begin to arise (people out of work eventually run out of money, and the people whose wealth gets redistributed see no reason to accumulate more wealth). So utiliarianism does not necessarily advocate wealth redistribution.

Utilitarianism "does not necessarily advocate" anything! You can use its complexities to justify just about anything. Could Hitler not be a utilitarian for calculating, via utility, that Aryanism is best for society? Who are you to say that his ends are not the best? Only means can be scrutinized morally.

It advocates what is ultimately the best end for society. People can then argue about what is better for society.

Morality is not an argument, any more than physics is an argument.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,733
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1/10/2014 3:31:31 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/10/2014 2:00:47 PM, Orangatang wrote:
Give me specific examples of what you speak of and I will use only the seven sins to show you that the "range" is much more than you realize.

OK, just copying a pasting a few good ones from lists of very difficult moral dilemmas.
1) A madman who has threatened to explode several bombs in crowded areas has been apprehended. Unfortunately, he has already planted the bombs and they are scheduled to go off in a short time. It is possible that hundreds of people may die. The authorities cannot make him divulge the location of the bombs by conventional methods. Some high level official suggests torture in this desperate situation. Do you agree? If you do, would it also be morally justifiable to torture the mad bomber"s innocent wife if that is the only way to make him talk?

First off, I think these examples are poor tests of morality, which I will discuss later. To answer your question, No, I wouldn't torture him or his wife. I can assume you would calculate, through utilitarianism, that the torture would be justified. Now that's fine and dandy theoretically, but let's discuss the practicality of the matter.

You are charged with the torture of this man's wife. You put them in the room together, and start torturing her. He doesn't talk. You see the fear and amazement in her eyes as you inflict pain on her. Since he is still unwilling to talk, you are forced to continue attacking her.

At the end of the day you go home to your wife and family. What is it like for you? What do you tell your children that daddy has done at work today? How do you feel sitting at church that weekend? How does it feel trying to sleep while that woman's eyes are in your mind, begging you for mercy as you deny her and molest her further? Do you pull out your utilitarian literature and try to rethink some of those equations? Maybe you made an error some where in there, and it wasn't actually necessary to assault her. Maybe there was another way to get the information. Or maybe you're just so full of isht that you could justify evil just as bad as the person you're supposed to be saving the community from ;)

2) This is a true story that happened in World War 2. You are an inmate, imprisoned in a concentration camp. A guard tells you that you must choose one of your two children for him to take to the gas chamber. If you choose neither, he will take them both. What would you do?

A curious example - why do you think this is a question of morality? You seem to be preoccupied with the peculiar actions of severely deranged men. If I were to use you as a pawn in a sick, twisted game, then I doubt anybody is going to look at your peril and say that you had any moral obligation to perform. I can't honestly say what I'd do in that situation, there's so much of the situation that I don't understand. Perhaps one child is superior to the other in some way, for example. Sure, you can use utility to solve the problem, and you should - but that doesn't make it a moral issue, any more than working with utility in the business sense is a moral issue.

3) Your wife is suffering from a debilitating disease that has put her in constant and permanent excruciating pain and agony. Finally, one day, she decides that she really wants to die. However, her condition is such that she cannot die on her own. She is begging and pleading with you to help her commit suicide. This would, of course, be illegal in this situation. What would you do?

Kill her. It would be selfish of me not to honor her wishes.

I fail to see how you can directly relate the seven sins to these situation without going through some elaborate acrobatics. Utilitarianism can answer them quickly and efficiently.

Morality isn't about exceedingly rare, peculiar situations. Twisted games by sociopaths, concentration camps, people tied to train tracks that need help, etc. Morality deals with your minute-by-minute decision-making. In the last hour alone, you probably made several decisions that you used morality to guide you in. Maybe you didn't grab that ice-cream out of the fridge because you didn't want to be gluttonous. Maybe you told the cashier at the grocery store to "yes," donate that extra dollar to the local children's charity. Maybe you got angry at your dog and hit it because you were in a bad mood. Maybe you took an hour-long break from DDO to be diligent and study something from school.

There's so much going on all around us, morally-speaking, that it's nothing short of insane to concentrate on these whacked-out examples. To use your own terminology, what is the "utility" of worrying about what I'd do if I somehow found my way into a concentration camp? Should I prepare for the possibility that Hannibul Lectur is going to kidnap me and make me put on the strap-on knife? Sure, there's a non-zero percent chance it might happen, but I fail to see the intellectual significance here!

Morality is self-correcting. I see that you are under the assumption that justice and morality operate separately - they do not. How one ought to act morally also controls their overall success in life - that's the beauty of the system. And that's what Jesus taught. It is called "faith." Utilitarianism is a complete lack of faith. It involves one painstakingly calculating out results so that the ends can be maximized. This is not what Jesus suggested. Jesus instructed to concentrate on the means - through the lens of the seven sins - and letting the results take care of themselves. While he referred to "heaven" as the great equalizer, I have found that our rewards are immediate, and right here in this life. You explained it well when you described the selfish person being hated by people around him.

Faith isn't a good reason to believe anything in the first place. Faith is by definition believing in something with absolutely no evidence and no good reasons. If you believe things on faith then not only are you extremely gullible, but you have no useful methodology for distinguishing which moral system you are to follow, and no useful way to distinguish between fact and fiction. If you only use faith to justify belief then how do you choose Christianity over Islam, Judaism, and the hundred other religions? It is a very good thing Utilitarianism doesn't require faith, because if it did there would be no good reason to use it.

Faith is the acceptance that you are not all-knowing, and the act of humbling yourself to that fact.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
EndarkenedRationalist
Posts: 14,201
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1/10/2014 3:44:16 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/10/2014 2:36:27 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:19:20 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:07:06 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 12:53:43 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
I'm a big fan of utilitarianism because it represents the ability for humans to reach their highest potential. Utilitarianism forces people to acknowledge the objective truth - that they are not superior to others, that their lives do not matter more than others. Utilitarianism is concerned with the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. It deals with people logically, rationally, and objectively, which is how things ought to occur.

Pure utilitarianism does have some dangers, however. If it benefits society to kill a few innocent people, than those people have to die. So I do not advocate utilitarianism in its most extreme sense.

You do realize you just drove a dagger through the heart of the ideology...

You realize utilitarianism itself abandoned its extremism a long time ago?

How can a theory abandon its own extremism lol

I haven't seen any Christians stoning people recently.

A lot of people criticise utilitarianism for infringing on individual rights. I don't think it does. For example, it does not benefit society to limit freedom of speech, religion, or the press. Another large question is this: does the redistribution of wealth benefit society? At first, utilitarianism would appear to say it does. But if you look beyond the short term, you see more issues begin to arise (people out of work eventually run out of money, and the people whose wealth gets redistributed see no reason to accumulate more wealth). So utiliarianism does not necessarily advocate wealth redistribution.

Utilitarianism "does not necessarily advocate" anything! You can use its complexities to justify just about anything. Could Hitler not be a utilitarian for calculating, via utility, that Aryanism is best for society? Who are you to say that his ends are not the best? Only means can be scrutinized morally.

It advocates what is ultimately the best end for society. People can then argue about what is better for society.

Morality is not an argument, any more than physics is an argument.

Except morality is relative.
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,733
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1/10/2014 4:01:33 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/10/2014 2:00:47 PM, Orangatang wrote:

What is the humble thing to do? (opp: pride)
What is the patient thing to do? (opp: wrath)
What is the charitable thing to do? (opp: greed)
What is the temperant thing to do? (opp: gluttony)
What is the chaste thing to do? (opp: lust)
What is the kind thing to do? (opp: envy)
What is the diligent thing to do? (opp: sloth)

This is all cool but it is all way too vague not appealing in the slightest.

It can be vague if you don't have proper terminology. These terms have been bastardized, reinvented... You can't depend on Webster's to define them for you. But they are real, discrete aspects to our human psyche.

I could come up to you and talk to you about force, work, power, and action. Am I using them vague and colloquially? Or am I talking about exact physical concepts that have mathematically-precise definitions? That makes a big difference! You might here me talking about the mathematical aspects and shrug me off if you didn't already understand that the colloquial usages you normally hear are not the true meanings of the words.

This is perhaps a reason why Jesus' teaching are not even discussed upon ethical philosophers (except of course those apologetics).

Interesting statement, considering the amount of philosophers who are Christians.

What do you mean open-mindedness is not perfect?

I already gave you an example. Your parents tell you drugs are bad. You are approached by one of your teenage peers in school and told that you are not being open-minded to the possibility that drugs are actually good for you. I can come up with countless more examples if this one doesn't suit you...

I could say the same of the opposing sins, being patient is not perfect,

Patience is the resistance to your anger. We use the term in a more specific way colloquially, although not totally incorrect. Resisting your anger is perfect. I will field examples of you showing that anger can be utilized positively. I've done it a thousand times on DDO before, and with the high turn-over rate here I will do it a thousand times again. I've probably already answered the basic examples you are about to give.

being kind is not perfect;

Kindness is resistance to envy. We colloquially just swap "kind" with "nice," and it's meaning is lost nearly completely. For example, perhaps we are friends and I have a girl-friend who is not as attractive as yours. You introduce me to your new girl-friend, and I feel envy inside. Perhaps I want to tell you afterwards that "she's kind of dumb" or maybe "I bet she's a slut." Instead, I tell you that your new girl-friend is very pretty. It went against my gut-feeling, and I don't understand immediately how it benefits me to overcome this urge to trash her. But I do it anyway. That is faith. Not believing in a personified deity in the sky, not insisting something is right without evidence. It is the act of finding moral truth and then getting rid of your consequentialist urge to justify everything intellectually, in favor of a much deeper, simpler, and rewarding method - the achievement of becoming a good person.

or of the sins themselves, refraining from being selfish is not perfect. What exactly do you mean?

Selflessness is perfect. Without alluding to some twisted game forced upon one from a deranged sociopath, can you give me an example of selflessness that is not good?

A moral virtue need not be perfect to be a generally useful rule of thumb.

I demand perfection in physics calculations just as I do from moral calculations. Errors must be viewed as a sign of inconsistency in the theorem!

Trustworthiness and responsibility are definitely virtues and not at all accomplishments, it is common knowledge.

I gave detailed reasoning as to why trustworthiness and responsibility are not virtues, and you simply said "it is common knowledge" :P

They are describing what makes up a person's moral characters and what shapes his future actions.

The virtues that utilitarianism espouses are false virtues that are not perfect and thus not overly useful like the seven sins are. To use the ones you have already listed, I can say right off the bat that selflessness is already captured by my system - it is the opposite of greed. Being open-minded is not perfect. Sometimes the situation calls for being less open-minded, like in the example of a child being told be his peers to use drugs and not simply listen to his parents. As for trustworthiness and responsibility, these are not technically virtues, these are states of being; accomplishments. I can't look at a moral problem and say "how do I apply the virtue of trustworthiness to get my answer?" Trustworthiness is something achieved through acting with fidelity over a long period of time. Compare this to charity, for instance. I could be confused about a moral situation and ask myself "how do I apply the virtue of charity to this scenario?" It would likely yield an answer that would suggest I be nicer and more giving to others. Responsibility is not a virtue either. While being responsible is virtuous, again, it is an accomplishment that is achieved; an end state, not a means to help guide action. If I am confused about a moral dilemma, I could ask myself "what is the good thing to do? As you can see, "good" is simply a state of being, not a useful moral tool. Asking what is "responsible" or "trustworthy" is similar in that they don't offer specific guidance to the moral actor. Now I will give you seven questions that will capture the whole of all human morality, both succinctly and completely. Let's say you have a moral conundrum, and need guidance. Consulting the seven sins, you would ask:

You can ask me moral questions until the end of time, and every single one of them would relate back here for a perfect answer. No complicated, dubious utilitarian calculations. No justifying the ends with the means. Just simple, complete guidance that both people who have low IQs and high IQs can follow and have faith that they are being good people.

As I said before means are included in the analysis. I don't know why you keep saying "the ends justify the means." Utilitarian calculation may at times be complicated but most times much easier to calculate and more rational than Jesus' teachings, all one needs to follow utilitarianism is some common sense logic. And it is quite arrogant for you to claim a "Perfect" answer don't you think? I personally don't think you can get anywhere close to perfect with a moral system as vague as yours.

"Perfect" is, yes, an arrogant way to put it. I would say "complete" or something more 'correct,' but I'm trying to get a point across here.

I guarantee my system will not only provide better results than yours, but they will be derived quicker and easier with less ambiguity.

How is maximizing happiness ambiguous? Perhaps the actual calculations may be time-consuming but in the end it is always worth it as if your intentions and calculations are close to the mark you will directly create the best possible increase in happiness in the world.

The calculations are themselves ambiguous. How much "utility" is my college education? How much utility did I sacrifice by breaking up with my ex? There's no chance for exactitude in any of this...
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
R0b1Billion
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1/10/2014 4:05:43 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/10/2014 3:44:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:36:27 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:19:20 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:07:06 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 12:53:43 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
I'm a big fan of utilitarianism because it represents the ability for humans to reach their highest potential. Utilitarianism forces people to acknowledge the objective truth - that they are not superior to others, that their lives do not matter more than others. Utilitarianism is concerned with the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. It deals with people logically, rationally, and objectively, which is how things ought to occur.

Pure utilitarianism does have some dangers, however. If it benefits society to kill a few innocent people, than those people have to die. So I do not advocate utilitarianism in its most extreme sense.

You do realize you just drove a dagger through the heart of the ideology...

You realize utilitarianism itself abandoned its extremism a long time ago?

How can a theory abandon its own extremism lol

I haven't seen any Christians stoning people recently.

LOL, good answer. Funny, but painfully ignorant of what Jesus actually taught. I mean if I want to start a group of racist anti-afroamericans, and name ourselves the Martin Luther King Jrs, then that hardly replaces the ideas that Martin Luther King Jr actually taught, does it? Anyone who thinks Jesus taught people to stone one another has never actually read a word he said. The only problem with Jesus' teachings is that they aren't followed to the extreme.

A lot of people criticise utilitarianism for infringing on individual rights. I don't think it does. For example, it does not benefit society to limit freedom of speech, religion, or the press. Another large question is this: does the redistribution of wealth benefit society? At first, utilitarianism would appear to say it does. But if you look beyond the short term, you see more issues begin to arise (people out of work eventually run out of money, and the people whose wealth gets redistributed see no reason to accumulate more wealth). So utiliarianism does not necessarily advocate wealth redistribution.

Utilitarianism "does not necessarily advocate" anything! You can use its complexities to justify just about anything. Could Hitler not be a utilitarian for calculating, via utility, that Aryanism is best for society? Who are you to say that his ends are not the best? Only means can be scrutinized morally.

It advocates what is ultimately the best end for society. People can then argue about what is better for society.

Morality is not an argument, any more than physics is an argument.

Except morality is relative.

False.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
EndarkenedRationalist
Posts: 14,201
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1/10/2014 4:55:32 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/10/2014 4:05:43 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 3:44:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:36:27 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:19:20 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:07:06 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 12:53:43 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
I'm a big fan of utilitarianism because it represents the ability for humans to reach their highest potential. Utilitarianism forces people to acknowledge the objective truth - that they are not superior to others, that their lives do not matter more than others. Utilitarianism is concerned with the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. It deals with people logically, rationally, and objectively, which is how things ought to occur.

Pure utilitarianism does have some dangers, however. If it benefits society to kill a few innocent people, than those people have to die. So I do not advocate utilitarianism in its most extreme sense.

You do realize you just drove a dagger through the heart of the ideology...

You realize utilitarianism itself abandoned its extremism a long time ago?

How can a theory abandon its own extremism lol

I haven't seen any Christians stoning people recently.

LOL, good answer. Funny, but painfully ignorant of what Jesus actually taught. I mean if I want to start a group of racist anti-afroamericans, and name ourselves the Martin Luther King Jrs, then that hardly replaces the ideas that Martin Luther King Jr actually taught, does it? Anyone who thinks Jesus taught people to stone one another has never actually read a word he said. The only problem with Jesus' teachings is that they aren't followed to the extreme.

There's little doubt that Jesus' teachings overall are much better than those practised by some contemporary Christians. But every sect has its extremists that are excluded from the main body. Utilitarianism and Christianity are no exception.

A lot of people criticise utilitarianism for infringing on individual rights. I don't think it does. For example, it does not benefit society to limit freedom of speech, religion, or the press. Another large question is this: does the redistribution of wealth benefit society? At first, utilitarianism would appear to say it does. But if you look beyond the short term, you see more issues begin to arise (people out of work eventually run out of money, and the people whose wealth gets redistributed see no reason to accumulate more wealth). So utiliarianism does not necessarily advocate wealth redistribution.

Utilitarianism "does not necessarily advocate" anything! You can use its complexities to justify just about anything. Could Hitler not be a utilitarian for calculating, via utility, that Aryanism is best for society? Who are you to say that his ends are not the best? Only means can be scrutinized morally.

It advocates what is ultimately the best end for society. People can then argue about what is better for society.

Morality is not an argument, any more than physics is an argument.

Except morality is relative.

False.

True. Excellent counterpoint by the way.
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,733
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1/10/2014 6:39:40 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/10/2014 4:55:32 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 4:05:43 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 3:44:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:36:27 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:19:20 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:07:06 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 12:53:43 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
I'm a big fan of utilitarianism because it represents the ability for humans to reach their highest potential. Utilitarianism forces people to acknowledge the objective truth - that they are not superior to others, that their lives do not matter more than others. Utilitarianism is concerned with the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. It deals with people logically, rationally, and objectively, which is how things ought to occur.

Pure utilitarianism does have some dangers, however. If it benefits society to kill a few innocent people, than those people have to die. So I do not advocate utilitarianism in its most extreme sense.

You do realize you just drove a dagger through the heart of the ideology...

You realize utilitarianism itself abandoned its extremism a long time ago?

How can a theory abandon its own extremism lol

I haven't seen any Christians stoning people recently.

LOL, good answer. Funny, but painfully ignorant of what Jesus actually taught. I mean if I want to start a group of racist anti-afroamericans, and name ourselves the Martin Luther King Jrs, then that hardly replaces the ideas that Martin Luther King Jr actually taught, does it? Anyone who thinks Jesus taught people to stone one another has never actually read a word he said. The only problem with Jesus' teachings is that they aren't followed to the extreme.

There's little doubt that Jesus' teachings overall are much better than those practised by some contemporary Christians. But every sect has its extremists that are excluded from the main body. Utilitarianism and Christianity are no exception.

So if my racist, anti-afroamerican cult started burning black people at the stake, you would simply say that " MLKJr's teachings overall are much better than those practised by some contemporary cults. But every sect has its extremists that are excluded from the main body. Utilitarianism and Christianity are no exception."

Seems kind of unfair to the guy, in my opinion...

A lot of people criticise utilitarianism for infringing on individual rights. I don't think it does. For example, it does not benefit society to limit freedom of speech, religion, or the press. Another large question is this: does the redistribution of wealth benefit society? At first, utilitarianism would appear to say it does. But if you look beyond the short term, you see more issues begin to arise (people out of work eventually run out of money, and the people whose wealth gets redistributed see no reason to accumulate more wealth). So utiliarianism does not necessarily advocate wealth redistribution.

Utilitarianism "does not necessarily advocate" anything! You can use its complexities to justify just about anything. Could Hitler not be a utilitarian for calculating, via utility, that Aryanism is best for society? Who are you to say that his ends are not the best? Only means can be scrutinized morally.

It advocates what is ultimately the best end for society. People can then argue about what is better for society.

Morality is not an argument, any more than physics is an argument.

Except morality is relative.

False.

True. Excellent counterpoint by the way.

Thank you. I learned it from Geo. I didn't see that your point was substantiated either, so why waste my time?
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
EndarkenedRationalist
Posts: 14,201
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1/10/2014 7:05:25 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/10/2014 6:39:40 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 4:55:32 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 4:05:43 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 3:44:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:36:27 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:19:20 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:07:06 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 12:53:43 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
I'm a big fan of utilitarianism because it represents the ability for humans to reach their highest potential. Utilitarianism forces people to acknowledge the objective truth - that they are not superior to others, that their lives do not matter more than others. Utilitarianism is concerned with the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. It deals with people logically, rationally, and objectively, which is how things ought to occur.

Pure utilitarianism does have some dangers, however. If it benefits society to kill a few innocent people, than those people have to die. So I do not advocate utilitarianism in its most extreme sense.

You do realize you just drove a dagger through the heart of the ideology...

You realize utilitarianism itself abandoned its extremism a long time ago?

How can a theory abandon its own extremism lol

I haven't seen any Christians stoning people recently.

LOL, good answer. Funny, but painfully ignorant of what Jesus actually taught. I mean if I want to start a group of racist anti-afroamericans, and name ourselves the Martin Luther King Jrs, then that hardly replaces the ideas that Martin Luther King Jr actually taught, does it? Anyone who thinks Jesus taught people to stone one another has never actually read a word he said. The only problem with Jesus' teachings is that they aren't followed to the extreme.

There's little doubt that Jesus' teachings overall are much better than those practised by some contemporary Christians. But every sect has its extremists that are excluded from the main body. Utilitarianism and Christianity are no exception.

So if my racist, anti-afroamerican cult started burning black people at the stake, you would simply say that " MLKJr's teachings overall are much better than those practised by some contemporary cults. But every sect has its extremists that are excluded from the main body. Utilitarianism and Christianity are no exception."

Seems kind of unfair to the guy, in my opinion...

I would call your cult extreme, yes. And hypocritical and ignorant of their founder In all aspects. No Christian religion that I am aware of goes against everything Jesus said. And Jesus' doctrine wasn't exactly roses and sunshine.

A lot of people criticise utilitarianism for infringing on individual rights. I don't think it does. For example, it does not benefit society to limit freedom of speech, religion, or the press. Another large question is this: does the redistribution of wealth benefit society? At first, utilitarianism would appear to say it does. But if you look beyond the short term, you see more issues begin to arise (people out of work eventually run out of money, and the people whose wealth gets redistributed see no reason to accumulate more wealth). So utiliarianism does not necessarily advocate wealth redistribution.

Utilitarianism "does not necessarily advocate" anything! You can use its complexities to justify just about anything. Could Hitler not be a utilitarian for calculating, via utility, that Aryanism is best for society? Who are you to say that his ends are not the best? Only means can be scrutinized morally.

It advocates what is ultimately the best end for society. People can then argue about what is better for society.

Morality is not an argument, any more than physics is an argument.

Except morality is relative.

False.

True. Excellent counterpoint by the way.

Thank you. I learned it from Geo. I didn't see that your point was substantiated either, so why waste my time?

If you wish to cling to your opinion, fine. Morality is nothing more than an instrument to measure 'good' and 'bad.' Since those two terms are different to different people, they are not objective, thus, morality is not objective. It's the same reason I don't believe in evil.
Wocambs
Posts: 1,505
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1/10/2014 8:04:24 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/10/2014 7:05:25 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 6:39:40 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 4:55:32 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 4:05:43 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 3:44:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:36:27 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:19:20 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 1/10/2014 2:07:06 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/10/2014 12:53:43 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
I'm a big fan of utilitarianism because it represents the ability for humans to reach their highest potential. Utilitarianism forces people to acknowledge the objective truth - that they are not superior to others, that their lives do not matter more than others. Utilitarianism is concerned with the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. It deals with people logically, rationally, and objectively, which is how things ought to occur.

Pure utilitarianism does have some dangers, however. If it benefits society to kill a few innocent people, than those people have to die. So I do not advocate utilitarianism in its most extreme sense.

You do realize you just drove a dagger through the heart of the ideology...

You realize utilitarianism itself abandoned its extremism a long time ago?

How can a theory abandon its own extremism lol

I haven't seen any Christians stoning people recently.

LOL, good answer. Funny, but painfully ignorant of what Jesus actually taught. I mean if I want to start a group of racist anti-afroamericans, and name ourselves the Martin Luther King Jrs, then that hardly replaces the ideas that Martin Luther King Jr actually taught, does it? Anyone who thinks Jesus taught people to stone one another has never actually read a word he said. The only problem with Jesus' teachings is that they aren't followed to the extreme.

There's little doubt that Jesus' teachings overall are much better than those practised by some contemporary Christians. But every sect has its extremists that are excluded from the main body. Utilitarianism and Christianity are no exception.

So if my racist, anti-afroamerican cult started burning black people at the stake, you would simply say that " MLKJr's teachings overall are much better than those practised by some contemporary cults. But every sect has its extremists that are excluded from the main body. Utilitarianism and Christianity are no exception."

Seems kind of unfair to the guy, in my opinion...

I would call your cult extreme, yes. And hypocritical and ignorant of their founder In all aspects. No Christian religion that I am aware of goes against everything Jesus said. And Jesus' doctrine wasn't exactly roses and sunshine.

A lot of people criticise utilitarianism for infringing on individual rights. I don't think it does. For example, it does not benefit society to limit freedom of speech, religion, or the press. Another large question is this: does the redistribution of wealth benefit society? At first, utilitarianism would appear to say it does. But if you look beyond the short term, you see more issues begin to arise (people out of work eventually run out of money, and the people whose wealth gets redistributed see no reason to accumulate more wealth). So utiliarianism does not necessarily advocate wealth redistribution.

Utilitarianism "does not necessarily advocate" anything! You can use its complexities to justify just about anything. Could Hitler not be a utilitarian for calculating, via utility, that Aryanism is best for society? Who are you to say that his ends are not the best? Only means can be scrutinized morally.

It advocates what is ultimately the best end for society. People can then argue about what is better for society.

Morality is not an argument, any more than physics is an argument.

Except morality is relative.

False.

True. Excellent counterpoint by the way.

Thank you. I learned it from Geo. I didn't see that your point was substantiated either, so why waste my time?

If you wish to cling to your opinion, fine. Morality is nothing more than an instrument to measure 'good' and 'bad.' Since those two terms are different to different people, they are not objective, thus, morality is not objective. It's the same reason I don't believe in evil.

Seeing as morality is just an opinion, it seems quite clear to me that the only thing that's 'objectively' wrong is interfering with an innocent person.
Orangatang
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1/10/2014 10:48:56 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/10/2014 10:38:06 PM, Installgentoo wrote:
Theism.

Who is the more moral individual, an atheist who does good and moral actions for it's own sake or the theist who only does moral actions in fear of punishment or desire of rewards? Seems pretty obvious to me.
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Orangatang
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1/10/2014 11:01:47 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
What do you mean open-mindedness is not perfect?

I already gave you an example. Your parents tell you drugs are bad. You are approached by one of your teenage peers in school and told that you are not being open-minded to the possibility that drugs are actually good for you. I can come up with countless more examples if this one doesn't suit you...

Ok... What about a person who is so selfless that they become a hobo, or cannot pay for their own healthcare. Selflessness is not perfect. QED. Lol don't just use an example anyone can do that, show what you mean by perfection and how it doesn't apply to my virtues but does to yours. If you can't show that then you won't persuade anyone.

I could say the same of the opposing sins, being patient is not perfect,

Patience is the resistance to your anger. We use the term in a more specific way colloquially, although not totally incorrect. Resisting your anger is perfect. I will field examples of you showing that anger can be utilized positively. I've done it a thousand times on DDO before, and with the high turn-over rate here I will do it a thousand times again. I've probably already answered the basic examples you are about to give.

Anger helps us defeat our enemies in times of war. It can be fuel to push our ambitions towards positive goals. Do you really expect us to go into a war with a be nice, help your neighbor, Jesus attitude? No, you'd lose every war and innocent lives with dogma like that.

Kindness is resistance to envy. We colloquially just swap "kind" with "nice," and it's meaning is lost nearly completely. For example, perhaps we are friends and I have a girl-friend who is not as attractive as yours. You introduce me to your new girl-friend, and I feel envy inside. Perhaps I want to tell you afterwards that "she's kind of dumb" or maybe "I bet she's a slut." Instead, I tell you that your new girl-friend is very pretty. It went against my gut-feeling, and I don't understand immediately how it benefits me to overcome this urge to trash her. But I do it anyway. That is faith. Not believing in a personified deity in the sky, not insisting something is right without evidence. It is the act of finding moral truth and then getting rid of your consequentialist urge to justify everything intellectually, in favor of a much deeper, simpler, and rewarding method - the achievement of becoming a good person.

Being overly kind is not a good thing in every situation, your perfection standards do not hold I am sure you can think of a multitude of examples that support my case on this.

I demand perfection in physics calculations just as I do from moral calculations. Errors must be viewed as a sign of inconsistency in the theorem!

Utilitarianism or some form of it is the only way to get to the best possible action, as close to perfect as anyone could get.

I gave detailed reasoning as to why trustworthiness and responsibility are not virtues, and you simply said "it is common knowledge" :P

Read what I wrote about how trustworthiness and responsibilities, I did not merely just say it is common knowledge there is another sentence there that describes them that you answer directly below.

The calculations are themselves ambiguous. How much "utility" is my college education? How much utility did I sacrifice by breaking up with my ex? There's no chance for exactitude in any of this...

Granted but I still think your system is more ambiguous in how you apply each sin to situations which don't even include them hence proving utilitarianism has a greater range over moral dilemmas.
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Orangatang
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1/10/2014 11:27:58 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
First off, I think these examples are poor tests of morality, which I will discuss later. To answer your question, No, I wouldn't torture him or his wife. I can assume you would calculate, through utilitarianism, that the torture would be justified. Now that's fine and dandy theoretically, but let's discuss the practicality of the matter.

You are charged with the torture of this man's wife. You put them in the room together, and start torturing her. He doesn't talk. You see the fear and amazement in her eyes as you inflict pain on her. Since he is still unwilling to talk, you are forced to continue attacking her.

At the end of the day you go home to your wife and family. What is it like for you? What do you tell your children that daddy has done at work today? How do you feel sitting at church that weekend? How does it feel trying to sleep while that woman's eyes are in your mind, begging you for mercy as you deny her and molest her further? Do you pull out your utilitarian literature and try to rethink some of those equations? Maybe you made an error some where in there, and it wasn't actually necessary to assault her. Maybe there was another way to get the information. Or maybe you're just so full of isht that you could justify evil just as bad as the person you're supposed to be saving the community from ;)

Your morality is inferior in this case, which is exactly why I used this example, which is exactly why you don't like these dilemmas or think of them as "moral" dilemmas. Why is it inferior? Because according to your moral system you would rather take the risk of not torturing one woman over the risk of the impending death of hundreds of thousands of people. Just think of how much more pain, and agony would be caused in the hearts of those who loved them, your moral system does not lead to the best possible action in that situation. This holds true regardless of whether or not the bomber tells the bomb locations or not, it is justified as her getting tortured is not even close to being as bad as many people dying. It doesn't matter how I would feel afterwards, I would know I did the best I can do in that situation to prevent and save lives.

2) This is a true story that happened in World War 2. You are an inmate, imprisoned in a concentration camp. A guard tells you that you must choose one of your two children for him to take to the gas chamber. If you choose neither, he will take them both. What would you do?

A curious example - why do you think this is a question of morality? You seem to be preoccupied with the peculiar actions of severely deranged men. If I were to use you as a pawn in a sick, twisted game, then I doubt anybody is going to look at your peril and say that you had any moral obligation to perform. I can't honestly say what I'd do in that situation, there's so much of the situation that I don't understand. Perhaps one child is superior to the other in some way, for example. Sure, you can use utility to solve the problem, and you should - but that doesn't make it a moral issue, any more than working with utility in the business sense is a moral issue.

Morality concerns distinctions between good or bad, wrong or right actions. These dilemmas are moral dilemmas as they include these types of decisive actions albeit they are very hard dilemmas that usually do not come across in most people's lives. And here you admit the obvious truth of utilitarianism's power in deciding moral actions, however you just slickly called it utility. It is a moral issue, you would use use utilitarian principles to save the superior child. I just hope you would concede my point regarding utilitarian range at this point without your unjustified excuses.

3) Your wife is suffering from a debilitating disease that has put her in constant and permanent excruciating pain and agony. Finally, one day, she decides that she really wants to die. However, her condition is such that she cannot die on her own. She is begging and pleading with you to help her commit suicide. This would, of course, be illegal in this situation. What would you do?

Kill her. It would be selfish of me not to honor her wishes.

I would agree, but from her perspective wouldn't it be selfish to ask for such a thing? Jesus didn't seem to think these moral systems through.

Morality isn't about exceedingly rare, peculiar situations. Twisted games by sociopaths, concentration camps, people tied to train tracks that need help, etc. Morality deals with your minute-by-minute decision-making. In the last hour alone, you probably made several decisions that you used morality to guide you in. Maybe you didn't grab that ice-cream out of the fridge because you didn't want to be gluttonous. Maybe you told the cashier at the grocery store to "yes," donate that extra dollar to the local children's charity. Maybe you got angry at your dog and hit it because you were in a bad mood. Maybe you took an hour-long break from DDO to be diligent and study something from school.

Agreed these are probably the hardest of moral dilemmas but I think I showed why Utilitarianism is superior in every aspect of every dilemma. Furthermore, you fail to concede that all your sins can be derived from Utilitarianism however the reverse is not true. This also mean Utilitarianism can derive many more sins like slavery is always bad, or being responsible is generally a good virtue*.

There's so much going on all around us, morally-speaking, that it's nothing short of insane to concentrate on these whacked-out examples. To use your own terminology, what is the "utility" of worrying about what I'd do if I somehow found my way into a concentration camp? Should I prepare for the possibility that Hannibul Lectur is going to kidnap me and make me put on the strap-on knife? Sure, there's a non-zero percent chance it might happen, but I fail to see the intellectual significance here!

All the dilemmas you can think of can be properly addressed by Utilitarianism not just the hard ones I posited.

Faith is the acceptance that you are not all-knowing, and the act of humbling yourself to that fact.

No its belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. I accept I am not all-knowing without the use of faith. I extend that I do not hold faith in anything whatsoever, using the definition provided.
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