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Rational Egoism Is Self-Defeating

PoeJoe
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6/18/2010 4:07:53 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Summer is here, so I started a YouTube channel. I'm planning to make videos every other day. If you're interested, please subscribe!

In any case, what do you guys think about my argument here?
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Ragnar_Rahl
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6/18/2010 4:34:42 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Is everything else enjoyable pathetic too? :) Also, certain careers take things far beyond the scale of "convert 50 mooks" and into "convert world-changing numbers of mooks." Also, "Rational egoism" and "arguing for rational egoism" are two distinct quantities. You may argue them incompatible but this doesn't render the former self-defeating even if you were correct.
There's no argument for "needing to love one another simply because we do." especially as opposed to needing to be loved for something noncircular.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
PoeJoe
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6/18/2010 4:43:19 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 4:34:42 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:
Is everything else enjoyable pathetic too? :)

No. But turning debate into something not about truth but about what makes someone feel good is very pathetic, imo.

Also, certain careers take things far beyond the scale of "convert 50 mooks" and into "convert world-changing numbers of mooks."

...such as?

I know you want to be a politician, but first it's unlikely that'll every happen, and even then not all politicians accomplish much.

Also, "Rational egoism" and "arguing for rational egoism" are two distinct quantities. You may argue them incompatible but this doesn't render the former self-defeating even if you were correct.

I said at 0:23, "And in this video I'm not going to debunk it."

I'm just showing that it's stupid to argue for rational egoism, and because of its practical stupidity, it'll never be pervasive.

There's no argument for "needing to love one another simply because we do."

Either you believe in altruism or you don't.
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TheSkeptic
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6/18/2010 4:44:31 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Derek Parfit makes an interesting criticism of rational egoism, coming from a personal identity-esque approach (obviously, given what he's known for).
Ragnar_Rahl
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6/18/2010 4:47:01 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 4:43:19 PM, PoeJoe wrote:
At 6/18/2010 4:34:42 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:
Is everything else enjoyable pathetic too? :)

No. But turning debate into something not about truth but about what makes someone feel good is very pathetic, imo.
And if truth makes you feel good?

Also, certain careers take things far beyond the scale of "convert 50 mooks" and into "convert world-changing numbers of mooks."

...such as?

I know you want to be a politician, but first it's unlikely that'll every happen, and even then not all politicians accomplish much.

Aside from that one, large-market writers.

And the rewards are proportional to the unlikelihood of accomplishing something.

There's no argument for "needing to love one another simply because we do."

Either you believe in altruism or you don't.
Why even bring up the topic then? :P
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
PoeJoe
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6/18/2010 4:57:29 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 4:47:01 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:
At 6/18/2010 4:43:19 PM, PoeJoe wrote:
At 6/18/2010 4:34:42 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:
Is everything else enjoyable pathetic too? :)

No. But turning debate into something not about truth but about what makes someone feel good is very pathetic, imo.
And if truth makes you feel good?

That's not always necessarily the case.

Also, certain careers take things far beyond the scale of "convert 50 mooks" and into "convert world-changing numbers of mooks."

...such as?

I know you want to be a politician, but first it's unlikely that'll every happen, and even then not all politicians accomplish much.

Aside from that one, large-market writers.

And the rewards are proportional to the unlikelihood of accomplishing something.

Still, altruists will always want to change the world more than egoists, and will therefore win.
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Ragnar_Rahl
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6/18/2010 5:04:57 PM
Posted: 6 years ago

Still, altruists will always want to change the world more than egoists, and will therefore win.

Why? It's the egoists who live in that world. Altruists just live in their imaginary conception of others' happiness, to which they have no actual access and about which they are generally wrong.

Also, there's a billion kinds of altruist that contradict each other. That's a pretty narrow balance for egoists to fill.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
mongoose
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6/18/2010 8:57:57 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 5:04:57 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:

Still, altruists will always want to change the world more than egoists, and will therefore win.

Why? It's the egoists who live in that world. Altruists just live in their imaginary conception of others' happiness, to which they have no actual access and about which they are generally wrong.

Also, there's a billion kinds of altruist that contradict each other. That's a pretty narrow balance for egoists to fill.

Altruism doesn't exist. People who are supposedly altruists are simply increasing their utility in a different way, usually feeling good about themselves for helping others, or a feeling of superiority over the people who didn't do their good action.
It is odd when one's capacity for compassion is measured not in what he is willing to do by his own time, effort, and property, but what he will force others to do with their own property instead.
PoeJoe
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6/18/2010 8:59:51 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 8:55:09 PM, Nags wrote:
Nice hair.

Sarcastic or no?

When's the next video coming out? I'd respond but I think Ragnar covered everything.

In that case, I'll do one on laisez-faire on capitalism Monday... or tomorrow. This summer I have a lot of free time on my hands... not that I plan to make videos my entire summer, I have other things planned, too.
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Xer
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6/18/2010 9:02:26 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 8:59:51 PM, PoeJoe wrote:
Sarcastic or no?

Sarcastic, lol. Typical asian hair, tehe.

In that case, I'll do one on laisez-faire on capitalism Monday... or tomorrow. This summer I have a lot of free time on my hands... not that I plan to make videos my entire summer, I have other things planned, too.

Kewl.
PoeJoe
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6/18/2010 9:02:50 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 8:57:57 PM, mongoose wrote:
At 6/18/2010 5:04:57 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:

Still, altruists will always want to change the world more than egoists, and will therefore win.

Why? It's the egoists who live in that world. Altruists just live in their imaginary conception of others' happiness, to which they have no actual access and about which they are generally wrong.

Also, there's a billion kinds of altruist that contradict each other. That's a pretty narrow balance for egoists to fill.

Altruism doesn't exist. People who are supposedly altruists are simply increasing their utility in a different way, usually feeling good about themselves for helping others, or a feeling of superiority over the people who didn't do their good action.

Are you telling me this because you want me to know or because you're benefiting from it?
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mongoose
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6/18/2010 9:05:18 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 9:02:50 PM, PoeJoe wrote:
At 6/18/2010 8:57:57 PM, mongoose wrote:
At 6/18/2010 5:04:57 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:

Still, altruists will always want to change the world more than egoists, and will therefore win.

Why? It's the egoists who live in that world. Altruists just live in their imaginary conception of others' happiness, to which they have no actual access and about which they are generally wrong.

Also, there's a billion kinds of altruist that contradict each other. That's a pretty narrow balance for egoists to fill.

Altruism doesn't exist. People who are supposedly altruists are simply increasing their utility in a different way, usually feeling good about themselves for helping others, or a feeling of superiority over the people who didn't do their good action.

Are you telling me this because you want me to know or because you're benefiting from it?

Hm. I think it has to do with me wanting to feel good for spreading what I believe to be the truth. Then, if someone contradicts me, I feel superior and try to convince them what I believe. I don't know the extent of this, but that is the general idea.
It is odd when one's capacity for compassion is measured not in what he is willing to do by his own time, effort, and property, but what he will force others to do with their own property instead.
PoeJoe
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6/18/2010 9:10:22 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 9:05:18 PM, mongoose wrote:
At 6/18/2010 9:02:50 PM, PoeJoe wrote:
At 6/18/2010 8:57:57 PM, mongoose wrote:
At 6/18/2010 5:04:57 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:

Still, altruists will always want to change the world more than egoists, and will therefore win.

Why? It's the egoists who live in that world. Altruists just live in their imaginary conception of others' happiness, to which they have no actual access and about which they are generally wrong.

Also, there's a billion kinds of altruist that contradict each other. That's a pretty narrow balance for egoists to fill.

Altruism doesn't exist. People who are supposedly altruists are simply increasing their utility in a different way, usually feeling good about themselves for helping others, or a feeling of superiority over the people who didn't do their good action.

Are you telling me this because you want me to know or because you're benefiting from it?

Hm. I think it has to do with me wanting to feel good for spreading what I believe to be the truth. Then, if someone contradicts me, I feel superior and try to convince them what I believe. I don't know the extent of this, but that is the general idea.

So, let me get this straight. You just told me that I'm an egoist, and you say this because it makes you feel good... in that case, truth has nothing to do with it; all that matters is that what you say makes you feel good, truth being irrelevant.

Like I said, truth searching is inherently altruistic.
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Danielle
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6/18/2010 9:11:52 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Unfortunately I don't have access to a cam at this time for a full response, but here's some quick thoughts about why I don't think your logic makes much sense. For the record I'm not a rational egoist, but I don't think your arguments were very strong. This is constructive criticism I suppose because I'd love to see a follow-up video :) I'll bold your statements and respond to a couple...

"Rational Egoism: The ethical philosophy that you should maximize your own self-interest."

Some RE's think that using your self-interest as a reference for morality is ethical because it's natural (i.e. people are inclined to do what's in their own interest). Of course that begs the naturalistic fallacy but you get the idea.

"If you're a rational egoist and believe that you should only follow your own self-interest, then it doesn't make sense for you to argue for your own beliefs."

I don't see how this follows. Why isn't it in your interest to preach something you believe and should be used as a global standard? If I'm poor I could see what you mean -- It wouldn't be in my self-interest to argue against welfare (for example). But it WOULD be in my interest to argue that stealing (welfare) is wrong, because I don't want others stealing for me.

"Paritcularly if you've spent a lot of time arguing for your own beliefs, how much have you really changed the world? ... If you're a rational egoist, how much does your life really benefit from trying to convert people? ... Converting 50 people doesn't change much in the grand scheme of things..."

Here it sounds like you're talking specifically to Ragnar lol. Why are you under the impression that REs spend all their time debating or trying to convert people? I've already explained that preaching a standard of morality you believe in is seemingly beneficial to one's self whereas you're just implying that it's not without giving a real reason. There's no reason to assume that a ridiculously influential politician or scientist or doctor wouldn't be a RE.

"If you really want to change the world and be consistent with your beliefs, you have to be an altruist. You have to want to change the world out of the goodness of your heart, because it does not serve your self interest to argue otherwise"

Why does one HAVE to be an altruist? It just seems like you're making these assertions with no backing. One can change the world out of the goodness of their heart (i.e. charity, activism, etc.) but be an egoist. Mayhaps they felt so strongly about a cause that it was worth their time or money. Also in what way does the world need to be changed? A RE might say that we're not responsible for saving the world. And most of the time, people are rewarded in some way for their efforts anyway. That's why incentives (like money, fame, power, prestige, knowledge, fulfillment, etc.) encourage productivity.

Conclusion: Just because something makes you feel good doesn't necessarily mean that it's ethical.

Interesting. I know what a RE's response to this would be but I think this is the most interesting point you've made and you should expand on it :)
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Danielle
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6/18/2010 9:13:29 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 9:10:22 PM, PoeJoe wrote:
Like I said, truth searching is inherently altruistic.

No it's not :P
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PoeJoe
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6/18/2010 9:22:34 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 9:11:52 PM, theLwerd wrote:
Unfortunately I don't have access to a cam at this time for a full response, but here's some quick thoughts about why I don't think your logic makes much sense. For the record I'm not a rational egoist, but I don't think your arguments were very strong. This is constructive criticism I suppose because I'd love to see a follow-up video :) I'll bold your statements and respond to a couple...

I'm not arguing against rational egoism. I'm just telling them to stfu.

"If you're a rational egoist and believe that you should only follow your own self-interest, then it doesn't make sense for you to argue for your own beliefs."

I don't see how this follows. Why isn't it in your interest to preach something you believe and should be used as a global standard? If I'm poor I could see what you mean -- It wouldn't be in my self-interest to argue against welfare (for example). But it WOULD be in my interest to argue that stealing (welfare) is wrong, because I don't want others stealing for me.

I expounded on this later, saying that there isn't really much benefit to argue for rational egoism according to a rational egoist's rules. It's a simple cost/benefit analysis: how much am I really getting in return for arguing?

"Paritcularly if you've spent a lot of time arguing for your own beliefs, how much have you really changed the world? ... If you're a rational egoist, how much does your life really benefit from trying to convert people? ... Converting 50 people doesn't change much in the grand scheme of things..."

Here it sounds like you're talking specifically to Ragnar lol. Why are you under the impression that REs spend all their time debating or trying to convert people? I've already explained that preaching a standard of morality you believe in is seemingly beneficial to one's self whereas you're just implying that it's not without giving a real reason. There's no reason to assume that a ridiculously influential politician or scientist or doctor wouldn't be a RE.

I am not under the impression that REs spend all their time debating or trying to convert people. I'm just saying that if you are not an influential politician, you're not going to get anything in return for arguing for rational egoism.

That said, I can understand why an influential politician or philosopher could and would argue for rational egoism. Like I said, though, for the rest of us rational egoism is self-defeating.

"If you really want to change the world and be consistent with your beliefs, you have to be an altruist. You have to want to change the world out of the goodness of your heart, because it does not serve your self interest to argue otherwise"

Why does one HAVE to be an altruist?

If you're arguing for something without a return, you are by definition doing an altruistic service.

Conclusion: Just because something makes you feel good doesn't necessarily mean that it's ethical.

Interesting. I know what a RE's response to this would be but I think this is the most interesting point you've made and you should expand on it :)

Sure. Let's use an example you used before. Sweat shops. Not very ethical. An RE would support them, though... unless said RE was working for the sweat shop, of course.
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Danielle
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6/18/2010 9:29:20 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 9:22:34 PM, PoeJoe wrote:
I expounded on this later, saying that there isn't really much benefit to argue for rational egoism according to a rational egoist's rules. It's a simple cost/benefit analysis: how much am I really getting in return for arguing?

How much are you getting out of arguing for altruism? You're not getting anything out of arguing for either side. You "get something" out of what you argue for.

I am not under the impression that REs spend all their time debating or trying to convert people. I'm just saying that if you are not an influential politician, you're not going to get anything in return for arguing for rational egoism.

And likewise, in the grand scheme of things you get nothing out of arguing against it amirite?

If you're arguing for something without a return, you are by definition doing an altruistic service.

But you are getting a return. You're getting fulfillment from arguing it in the first place (otherwise you wouldn't do it). You are successful if you convert someone. You get fulfillment from expressing yourself and your moral views. Also again you're only talking about PREACHING this idea - not living it.

Sure. Let's use an example you used before. Sweat shops. Not very ethical. An RE would support them, though... unless said RE was working for the sweat shop, of course.

Eh I can respond to this tomorrow... nite nite!
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mongoose
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6/18/2010 9:38:22 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 9:29:20 PM, theLwerd wrote:
At 6/18/2010 9:22:34 PM, PoeJoe wrote:
Sure. Let's use an example you used before. Sweat shops. Not very ethical. An RE would support them, though... unless said RE was working for the sweat shop, of course.

Eh I can respond to this tomorrow... nite nite!

Fun fact: Many people who work in said sweat shops are very happy about the existence of sweat shops and would be very sad if sweat shops were illegal.
It is odd when one's capacity for compassion is measured not in what he is willing to do by his own time, effort, and property, but what he will force others to do with their own property instead.
Xer
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6/18/2010 9:39:45 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 9:38:22 PM, mongoose wrote:
At 6/18/2010 9:29:20 PM, theLwerd wrote:
At 6/18/2010 9:22:34 PM, PoeJoe wrote:
Sure. Let's use an example you used before. Sweat shops. Not very ethical. An RE would support them, though... unless said RE was working for the sweat shop, of course.

Eh I can respond to this tomorrow... nite nite!

Fun fact: Many people who work in said sweat shops are very happy about the existence of sweat shops and would be very sad if sweat shops were illegal.

And how are sweat shops unethical, PJ?
mongoose
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6/18/2010 9:40:50 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 9:39:45 PM, Nags wrote:
At 6/18/2010 9:38:22 PM, mongoose wrote:
At 6/18/2010 9:29:20 PM, theLwerd wrote:
At 6/18/2010 9:22:34 PM, PoeJoe wrote:
Sure. Let's use an example you used before. Sweat shops. Not very ethical. An RE would support them, though... unless said RE was working for the sweat shop, of course.

Eh I can respond to this tomorrow... nite nite!

Fun fact: Many people who work in said sweat shops are very happy about the existence of sweat shops and would be very sad if sweat shops were illegal.

And how are sweat shops unethical, PJ?

You see, they pay people money for labor, with their consent. This is EVIL! UNIONS deserve this money.
It is odd when one's capacity for compassion is measured not in what he is willing to do by his own time, effort, and property, but what he will force others to do with their own property instead.
Xer
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6/18/2010 9:42:57 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 9:40:50 PM, mongoose wrote:
You see, they pay people money for labor, with their consent. This is EVIL! UNIONS deserve this money.

I agree completely. The minimum wage should be raised to somewhere around $100 to compensate these consenting victims.
mongoose
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6/18/2010 9:46:58 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 9:42:57 PM, Nags wrote:
I agree completely. The minimum wage should be raised to somewhere around $100 to compensate these consenting victims.

Then, when people are unemployed, we give them money for doing no work. This has to work.
It is odd when one's capacity for compassion is measured not in what he is willing to do by his own time, effort, and property, but what he will force others to do with their own property instead.
Xer
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6/18/2010 9:51:46 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 9:46:58 PM, mongoose wrote:
Then, when people are unemployed, we give them money for doing no work. This has to work.

Paying for their education, health care, food, electronics, and anything else they want is also necessary. Just think about all the happy people with everything they want. And no one will even have to work! Oh wait...
J.Kenyon
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6/18/2010 10:01:50 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
In his dumb video, PoeJoe said:
"Paritcularly if you've spent a lot of time arguing for your own beliefs, how much have you really changed the world? ... If you're a rational egoist, how much does your life really benefit from trying to convert people? ... Converting 50 people doesn't change much in the grand scheme of things..."

Is it possible that Ragnar gets enjoyment out of destroying your terrible arguments?

I want to address a specific part of this quote. Suppose we substitute:

"Drowning 50 puppies doesn't change much in the grand scheme of things."

According to you, there is no meta-ethical reason to abstain from doing this. Moreover, your whole argument seems to be begging the question: rational egoism would be self defeating if it didn't postulate an answer as to why it ought to be propagated.
PoeJoe
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6/18/2010 11:19:49 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 9:29:20 PM, theLwerd wrote:
At 6/18/2010 9:22:34 PM, PoeJoe wrote:
I expounded on this later, saying that there isn't really much benefit to argue for rational egoism according to a rational egoist's rules. It's a simple cost/benefit analysis: how much am I really getting in return for arguing?

How much are you getting out of arguing for altruism? You're not getting anything out of arguing for either side. You "get something" out of what you argue for.

You're right. I'm getting very little from arguing for altruism--less than what I put into it, that's for sure. But that isn't a problem for me. It is a problem for rational egoists, however.

I am not under the impression that REs spend all their time debating or trying to convert people. I'm just saying that if you are not an influential politician, you're not going to get anything in return for arguing for rational egoism.

And likewise, in the grand scheme of things you get nothing out of arguing against it amirite?

Yes. But that isn't a problem for me.

If you're arguing for something without a return, you are by definition doing an altruistic service.

But you are getting a return. You're getting fulfillment from arguing it in the first place (otherwise you wouldn't do it). You are successful if you convert someone. You get fulfillment from expressing yourself and your moral views. Also again you're only talking about PREACHING this idea - not living it.

Okay. This isn't entirely altruistic. But this isn't rational egoistic, either.
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PoeJoe
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6/18/2010 11:27:20 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 10:01:50 PM, J.Kenyon wrote:
In his dumb video, PoeJoe said:
"Paritcularly if you've spent a lot of time arguing for your own beliefs, how much have you really changed the world? ... If you're a rational egoist, how much does your life really benefit from trying to convert people? ... Converting 50 people doesn't change much in the grand scheme of things..."

Is it possible that Ragnar gets enjoyment out of destroying your terrible arguments?

I'm sure Ragnar feels good when he counters my arguments. But when he does so, he isn't trying to find truth--at the very least, that's not his primary objective. His primary objective is to feel good.

I want to address a specific part of this quote. Suppose we substitute:

"Drowning 50 puppies doesn't change much in the grand scheme of things."

According to you, there is no meta-ethical reason to abstain from doing this.

Well, I haven't thought much about the moral implications of killing animals. I know Ragnar, for example, finds no problem with it. He would say puppies don't have rights.

That said, assuming puppies do have rights, an altruist would say that drowning fifty puppies is wrong simple because it is wrong. And this isn't a problem for an altruist, because things are just inherently true.

For a rational egoist, however, puppy drowning has to be related to self-interest, so if drowning fifty puppets benefited someone, it would actually be *MORAL* to kill a puppy, according to a rational egoist. So, I don't understand what you're trying to get at here.

Moreover, your whole argument seems to be begging the question: rational egoism would be self defeating if it didn't postulate an answer as to why it ought to be propagated.

Expound plz.
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Ragnar_Rahl
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6/18/2010 11:31:52 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I want to address a specific part of this quote. Suppose we substitute:

"Drowning 50 puppies doesn't change much in the grand scheme of things."

According to you, there is no meta-ethical reason to abstain from doing this.

Well, I haven't thought much about the moral implications of killing animals. I know Ragnar, for example, finds no problem with it. He would say puppies don't have rights.
True, but ethically, 50 puppies still take a lot of time and effort to drown, and I find it doubtful there's much reward proportional to it. It doesn't sound intrinsically enjoyable that's for sure. Even people who do revel in such bestial sadism would generally be better served by slowly torturing one at a time. Much cheaper and most likely more potent.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
J.Kenyon
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6/18/2010 11:40:48 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 6/18/2010 11:31:52 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:
True, but ethically, 50 puppies still take a lot of time and effort to drown, and I find it doubtful there's much reward proportional to it. It doesn't sound intrinsically enjoyable that's for sure. Even people who do revel in such bestial sadism would generally be better served by slowly torturing one at a time. Much cheaper and most likely more potent.

No doubt. Of course, we all know you have a disdain for all things cute, fluffy, and generally adorable, so it wasn't really directed toward you. My counterexample only works assuming that PoeJoe isn't a sociopath and agrees with the rest of humanity that drowning puppies is immoral.