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Utilitarianism?

KhalifV
Posts: 13
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7/5/2014 12:54:14 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
To me utilitarianism seems to be the best ethical system.
If you disagree please state why, and also substantiate your proposed ethical system.
cyrillic
Posts: 15
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7/5/2014 3:43:54 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/5/2014 12:54:14 AM, KhalifV wrote:
To me utilitarianism seems to be the best ethical system.
If you disagree please state why, and also substantiate your proposed ethical system.

One of the many problems with pure utilitarianism is it fails to account for individual rights. The reason, for example, the US would collapse under pure utilitarianism is the overall most favorable outcome might substantially violate the constitutional rights of any number of citizens, and that would be ethically okay to have happen. Why that's an issue should be clear.

Relatively speaking, which ethical system is the best depends entirely on what you define as "best". A marathon runner is the best marathon runner because they run the marathon distance in the shortest amount of time. What would make an ethical system the best?
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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7/6/2014 6:42:49 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/5/2014 3:43:54 AM, cyrillic wrote:
At 7/5/2014 12:54:14 AM, KhalifV wrote:
To me utilitarianism seems to be the best ethical system.
If you disagree please state why, and also substantiate your proposed ethical system.

One of the many problems with pure utilitarianism is it fails to account for individual rights. The reason, for example, the US would collapse under pure utilitarianism is the overall most favorable outcome might substantially violate the constitutional rights of any number of citizens, and that would be ethically okay to have happen. Why that's an issue should be clear.

This would not lead to a US collapse. The US specifically has the suspension clause hard-coded into the constitution, that in certain circumstances (namely invasion or rebellion) constitutional rights can and may very well be suspended.

Relatively speaking, which ethical system is the best depends entirely on what you define as "best". A marathon runner is the best marathon runner because they run the marathon distance in the shortest amount of time. What would make an ethical system the best?
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
Envisage
Posts: 3,646
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7/6/2014 7:34:42 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/5/2014 12:54:14 AM, KhalifV wrote:
To me utilitarianism seems to be the best ethical system.
If you disagree please state why, and also substantiate your proposed ethical system.

Rights aside, it also runes into an issue of other held values by individuals of a population, such as their own comfort and well-being. According to utilitarianism it would be beneficial to have more people even at the most severe detriment to the well being of the both existing population and of the new people added.

It seems that any moral theory that intrinsically values human life will run into problems, since it conflates with other held values.

I use this issue in the problem of hell, in that non-existence is preferable to immeasurable torture, so clearly we finitely value human life.

Moreover the central thesis of valuing utility is not one that I see is supported in a way that is coupled with how people want to be, and want to live, maximising utility seems rather artificial.
cyrillic
Posts: 15
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7/6/2014 6:51:30 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 6:42:49 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
This would not lead to a US collapse. The US specifically has the suspension clause hard-coded into the constitution, that in certain circumstances (namely invasion or rebellion) constitutional rights can and may very well be suspended.


Our society, for all intents and purposes, I wager, would certainly collapse. Under pure utilitarianism, the rights of any number of people ought to be suspended for the overall best result. How that result is obtained isn't regulated under this ethical system. The rights, dignities and happiness of millions would be suspended for the best result of millions of others. Because our population is so large, this would certainly lead to social collapse.
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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7/6/2014 6:53:57 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 6:51:30 PM, cyrillic wrote:
At 7/6/2014 6:42:49 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
This would not lead to a US collapse. The US specifically has the suspension clause hard-coded into the constitution, that in certain circumstances (namely invasion or rebellion) constitutional rights can and may very well be suspended.


Our society, for all intents and purposes, I wager, would certainly collapse. Under pure utilitarianism, the rights of any number of people ought to be suspended for the overall best result. How that result is obtained isn't regulated under this ethical system. The rights, dignities and happiness of millions would be suspended for the best result of millions of others. Because our population is so large, this would certainly lead to social collapse.

You're essentially saying that martial law could not possibly occur in the US without collapse. I'm sure people in Lincoln's time said the same.

As it is, it is hard-coded in the Constitution. There's every reason to think that the US could survive by being internally consistent with its own laws and regulations.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
cyrillic
Posts: 15
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7/6/2014 9:01:22 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 6:53:57 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
You're essentially saying that martial law could not possibly occur in the US without collapse. I'm sure people in Lincoln's time said the same.

Why would the issue only be martial law? Martial law would likely be used to support the means by which the overall best result is obtained. In other words, the best result could be obtained through gross violation of state and federal laws, as well as the Constitution. At this scale, such action could result is massive violent protest, because under pure utilitarianism I doubt folks would use non-violent direct action. Martial law could be imposed to subdue this response, and that would only continue the cycle of disorder.

As it is, it is hard-coded in the Constitution. There's every reason to think that the US could survive by being internally consistent with its own laws and regulations.

That's true, but your assumption is that the primary concern would be martial law (which I doubt it would be) and that the issues would end with exercise of martial law (which I doubt it would).
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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7/6/2014 9:05:22 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 9:01:22 PM, cyrillic wrote:
At 7/6/2014 6:53:57 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
You're essentially saying that martial law could not possibly occur in the US without collapse. I'm sure people in Lincoln's time said the same.

Why would the issue only be martial law? Martial law would likely be used to support the means by which the overall best result is obtained. In other words, the best result could be obtained through gross violation of state and federal laws, as well as the Constitution.

Martial law is NOT a violation of state/federal/constitutional law...it IS state/federal/constitutional law during the appropriate periods.

At this scale, such action could result is massive violent protest, because under pure utilitarianism I doubt folks would use non-violent direct action. Martial law could be imposed to subdue this response, and that would only continue the cycle of disorder.

Are you saying that martial law enacted in Japan continued a cycle of disorder following WWII? Or that martial law enacted by Lincoln continued a cycle of disorder as the nation transitioned from war to reconstruction?

As it is, it is hard-coded in the Constitution. There's every reason to think that the US could survive by being internally consistent with its own laws and regulations.

That's true, but your assumption is that the primary concern would be martial law (which I doubt it would be) and that the issues would end with exercise of martial law (which I doubt it would).

I have no idea what you are saying here. Where did this talk about "primary concern" come from?
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
cyrillic
Posts: 15
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7/6/2014 9:11:33 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 9:05:22 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
Martial law is NOT a violation of state/federal/constitutional law...it IS state/federal/constitutional law during the appropriate periods.

I didn't say it was. But in the pursuit of the overall best result, society may very well violate them. Martial law would be imposed afterward, potentially. Martial law is constitutional. I apologize for any unclear wording.


Are you saying that martial law enacted in Japan continued a cycle of disorder following WWII? Or that martial law enacted by Lincoln continued a cycle of disorder as the nation transitioned from war to reconstruction?


I'm not. In your examples, pure utilitarianism wasn't present, so the outcomes of those martial law impositions don't apply to the scenario we're discussion.

I have no idea what you are saying here. Where did this talk about "primary concern" come from?

Martial law wouldn't be the issue. The primary issue would be the first thing that happens -- in my example, the first social issue would be gross violation of laws and the Constitution in rebellion to hardship incurred in the untamed pursuit of the overall best result. The secondary issue would be martial law, because the anger from the primary issue is being suppressed by the government. And so on.
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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7/6/2014 9:15:29 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 9:11:33 PM, cyrillic wrote:
At 7/6/2014 9:05:22 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
Martial law is NOT a violation of state/federal/constitutional law...it IS state/federal/constitutional law during the appropriate periods.

I didn't say it was. But in the pursuit of the overall best result, society may very well violate them. Martial law would be imposed afterward, potentially. Martial law is constitutional. I apologize for any unclear wording.


Are you saying that martial law enacted in Japan continued a cycle of disorder following WWII? Or that martial law enacted by Lincoln continued a cycle of disorder as the nation transitioned from war to reconstruction?


I'm not. In your examples, pure utilitarianism wasn't present, so the outcomes of those martial law impositions don't apply to the scenario we're discussion.

Why wasn't pure utilitarianism present there? What makes those scenarios different what we're talking about now?

I have no idea what you are saying here. Where did this talk about "primary concern" come from?

Martial law wouldn't be the issue. The primary issue would be the first thing that happens -- in my example, the first social issue would be gross violation of laws and the Constitution in rebellion to hardship incurred in the untamed pursuit of the overall best result. The secondary issue would be martial law, because the anger from the primary issue is being suppressed by the government. And so on.

You doubt the ability of a government to suppress a rebellion? Why, when there is so much precedence for governments doing exactly that?
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
cyrillic
Posts: 15
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7/6/2014 9:19:05 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 9:15:29 PM, wrichcirw wrote::
Why wasn't pure utilitarianism present there? What makes those scenarios different what we're talking about now?

I've never seen evidence to prove that the only ethical system used in those examples was pure utilitarianism. They're different because, to my knowledge, your examples didn't use pure utilitarianism, and my examples do. If you can provide citations, I'll concede, because you'd be correct.

You doubt the ability of a government to suppress a rebellion? Why, when there is so much precedence for governments doing exactly that?

Under relatively ordinary conditions government can surely suppress rebellion, and under those same relatively ordinary conditions it has worked even in the examples you provided. But that precedence isn't relevant to system functioning on pure utilitarianism.
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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7/6/2014 9:20:42 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 9:19:05 PM, cyrillic wrote:
At 7/6/2014 9:15:29 PM, wrichcirw wrote::
Why wasn't pure utilitarianism present there? What makes those scenarios different what we're talking about now?

I've never seen evidence to prove that the only ethical system used in those examples was pure utilitarianism. They're different because, to my knowledge, your examples didn't use pure utilitarianism, and my examples do. If you can provide citations, I'll concede, because you'd be correct.

You haven't provided any examples, nor have you defined what you mean by "pure utilitarianism".

You doubt the ability of a government to suppress a rebellion? Why, when there is so much precedence for governments doing exactly that?

Under relatively ordinary conditions government can surely suppress rebellion, and under those same relatively ordinary conditions it has worked even in the examples you provided. But that precedence isn't relevant to system functioning on pure utilitarianism.

Without knowing what you mean by "pure utilitarianism", it's impossible to continue this conversation.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
EndarkenedRationalist
Posts: 14,201
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7/6/2014 9:23:03 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/5/2014 3:43:54 AM, cyrillic wrote:
At 7/5/2014 12:54:14 AM, KhalifV wrote:
To me utilitarianism seems to be the best ethical system.
If you disagree please state why, and also substantiate your proposed ethical system.

One of the many problems with pure utilitarianism is it fails to account for individual rights. The reason, for example, the US would collapse under pure utilitarianism is the overall most favorable outcome might substantially violate the constitutional rights of any number of citizens, and that would be ethically okay to have happen. Why that's an issue should be clear.

No. Why is that an issue?

Relatively speaking, which ethical system is the best depends entirely on what you define as "best". A marathon runner is the best marathon runner because they run the marathon distance in the shortest amount of time. What would make an ethical system the best?
cyrillic
Posts: 15
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7/6/2014 9:25:15 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 9:20:42 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
You haven't provided any examples, nor have you defined what you mean by "pure utilitarianism".

I haven't provided any examples because, to my knowledge, there are none. The closest I could think of are, funny enough, the same ones you noted, but they don't use pure utilitarianism. Going back to the objective of this thread, the question is what we believe the "best" ethical system is. In order to evaluate which is the "best" ethical system, we have to first understand what "best" is. We don't know what the OP means by that yet, so the question logically becomes, under any current present society, which ethical system (and it's the only one by which we abide, no other ethical systems allowed) would sustain that given society. I haven't compared others to utilitarianism because we've only so far evaluated pure utilitarianism.
wrichcirw
Posts: 11,196
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7/6/2014 9:26:51 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 9:25:15 PM, cyrillic wrote:
At 7/6/2014 9:20:42 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
You haven't provided any examples, nor have you defined what you mean by "pure utilitarianism".

I haven't provided any examples because, to my knowledge, there are none.

At 7/6/2014 9:19:05 PM, cyrillic wrote:
I've never seen evidence to prove that the only ethical system used in those examples was pure utilitarianism. They're different because, to my knowledge, your examples didn't use pure utilitarianism, and my examples do.

You are being inconsistent, thus this conversation is going nowhere. Good day.
At 8/9/2013 9:41:24 AM, wrichcirw wrote:
If you are civil with me, I will be civil to you. If you decide to bring unreasonable animosity to bear in a reasonable discussion, then what would you expect other than to get flustered?
cyrillic
Posts: 15
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7/6/2014 9:29:20 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 9:26:51 PM, wrichcirw wrote:
You are being inconsistent, thus this conversation is going nowhere. Good day.

Well, not really. I used the same wording for two different issues. My examples are purely theoretical, because no practical ones exist. I used "examples" also to refer to your practical ones. I ought to be more clear, apologies.
cyrillic
Posts: 15
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7/6/2014 9:33:22 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 9:23:03 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
No. Why is that an issue?

If no other ethical system is present, why ought we comply with laws that are preventing us from achieving the overall best result, i.e., maximized happiness? Under pure utilitarianism, I'd imagine it wouldn't make sense to comply with something that's ethically wrong, and that the majority is ethically wrong. Not all people share the same idea of happiness and what's right, and that's where the issue would begin. For some people, what's right and maximizes happiness might violate laws and the Constitution, or it might be outright evil.
EndarkenedRationalist
Posts: 14,201
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7/6/2014 9:37:19 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 9:33:22 PM, cyrillic wrote:
At 7/6/2014 9:23:03 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
No. Why is that an issue?

If no other ethical system is present, why ought we comply with laws that are preventing us from achieving the overall best result, i.e., maximized happiness? Under pure utilitarianism, I'd imagine it wouldn't make sense to comply with something that's ethically wrong, and that the majority is ethically wrong. Not all people share the same idea of happiness and what's right, and that's where the issue would begin. For some people, what's right and maximizes happiness might violate laws and the Constitution, or it might be outright evil.

You don't think people have common desires?
cyrillic
Posts: 15
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7/6/2014 9:41:52 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 9:37:19 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
You don't think people have common desires?

In the US, a resounding no. I believe there are over 1,000 practicing religions, there's little dominant culture to speak, we have more co-cultures here than perhaps anywhere else in the world, education levels are wildly unequal, political differences are massive even amongst same-party voters, etc.
EndarkenedRationalist
Posts: 14,201
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7/6/2014 9:46:19 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 9:41:52 PM, cyrillic wrote:
At 7/6/2014 9:37:19 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
You don't think people have common desires?

In the US, a resounding no. I believe there are over 1,000 practicing religions, there's little dominant culture to speak, we have more co-cultures here than perhaps anywhere else in the world, education levels are wildly unequal, political differences are massive even amongst same-party voters, etc.

And do not people seek the same luxuries at the heart? Comfort? Stability? Utilitarianism need not be a Big Brother society beating down doors and enforcing thought police. The happiness of the individual is not mutually exclusive with that of the collective. Utilitarianism need only pave the way for a maximum output of happiness while allowing individuals to form that road.
cyrillic
Posts: 15
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7/6/2014 10:17:46 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 7/6/2014 9:46:19 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
And do not people seek the same luxuries at the heart? Comfort? Stability? Utilitarianism need not be a Big Brother society beating down doors and enforcing thought police. The happiness of the individual is not mutually exclusive with that of the collective. Utilitarianism need only pave the way for a maximum output of happiness while allowing individuals to form that road.

In the process of forming that road folks, under pure utilitarianism, have no reason to abide by laws and the Constitution if it's perceived to infringe on overall best result. Need pure utilitarianism be a social catastrophe? Absolutely not, but there are many things that ought to not be the case that are. I contend not that the flaws with pure utilitarianism will certainly happen, but that they can happen and that it's reasonable for them to happen given the size of the US population and the differences between people.

Having said that, evaluating any ethical system without the involvement of any others will show great flaws. This is also something we can only theoretically evaluate because, to my knowledge, we've never had a situation where there has been only one ethical system used by all people. Utilitarianism isn't bad, just like capitalism isn't bad. But if it's all that's used, just like capitalism, it might not be so good.