My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

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My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby James Kroeger » Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:53 am

I've put together a somewhat unique analytical perspective which asks certain questions that classical philosophers appear not to have had any particular interest in. The foundational assumptions that I embrace and defend would---if they were taken seriously by established academic philosophers---threaten to eclipse the contributions of Descartes, Hume, Mill, Kant, Nietzsche, and Sartre. (Did I miss anyone?) :)

There are some key epistemological assumptions/observations that underlie my analysis of the Mind/Body problem, but I'll save that for another time. What I wanted to focus on in this posting is the very different basis upon which I constructed my ethical theory.

Like Aristotle, Kant, and most other ethical philosophers, I begin with my understanding of what "most people" (non-philosophers) really mean when they say, "That behavior is just so wrong", or "That's immoral!" What they are actually doing (whether they realize it or not) when they make these judgments is ask themselves a very basic question about the behavior they are witnessing/judging. It is this:

"Would this action (or decision to not act) make everyone better off if everyone were to act (or choose not to act) in the same way?"

If so, then the action (or choice to not act) is moral. If everyone would be worse off if everyone were to act (or choose not to act) in the same way, then the action (choice to not act) would be immoral. If everyone would be neither better off nor worse off if everyone were to act (or not act) in the same way, then the action, or choice to not act, would be neither moral nor immoral (though it may be prudential).

I articulate this question as a 'test' which can be used to establish whether any act is moral or immoral or neither. It is a question which directly addresses the individual's concerns about justice/fairness. "I can see how/why you might benefit from this kind of behavior, but what if everybody did that?" Morality, from this POV, is a concern about which kinds of behavior merit the approval of all the other members of the tribe (because all would benefit if all emulated the same kinds of moral behavior, or if all eschewed the same kinds of immoral behavior).

Yes, there are many questions to answer regarding this 'test', but I'll wait for them to be mentioned before addressing them. But let me go ahead and acknowledge that this 'foundational principle' for ethics does echo Kant's Categorical Imperative in that it ultimately stresses the necessary universalizability of a moral code. But also notice that my formulation makes my POV purely consequentialist. There is no reference to duty, for those 'duties' that are moral are those which would make everyone better off if everyone were to execute them.

For reasons that I'll not go into just yet (it gets quite involved) my ethical theory fully accepts and embraces self-interest as the ultimate basis for acting morally. A 'Good Will' is something we embrace because everyone is intuitively aware that we would all be better off if we were all to develop a Good Will.

Also notice how this solves some of Utilitarianism's biggest problems. I make no mention of 'utility', although the word does correspond in a way to the phrase I prefer which is "better off." One cannot imagine my Ethics as recommending the sacrifice of any individual or minority in order to achieve the 'higher end' of more 'total' happiness for those who are not asked to make the sacrifice. Cuz if everyone were required to accept enslavement, we would not all be better off, but would indeed be worse off. In my formulation, actions are not moral if only one person, or a smaller number of people (e.g., an elite) would be better off at the expense of others (who are part of 'everybody').

Yes, because mine is a consequentialist conceptualization of The Moral, the calculus of "better off" can sometimes get complicated, depending upon the variables that are involved. But the problem we have with moral dilemmas is that they are complicated, and that cannot be avoided under any Ethical theory that tries to be relevant in our complicated modern world. It's just complicated, that's all. The more info we have about all relevant variables, the better our judgment will be re: which course of action is indeed the moral one we should embrace.

That should be enough to get this started off. Let me know what you think so far...
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:17 am

1) your rule may make it somewhat clear for you what actions to choose, because you agree with you about what better off is. Other people will have other evaluations.
2) choosing to go to war, choosing not to go to war. Neither option will make everyone better off.
3) one thing we can always be sure of is that not everyone will do what I do. Are there not things that can be good if many but not all people do them?
4) if I get a dog as a pet, it will have certain effects. if everyone gets a dog as a pet, all sorts of problems will arise - just the amount of protein that will need to be produced causes all sorts of problems. Let alone buying a car or getting a divorce. Must I stay married to prevent everyone ending their marriages? And sure, we can fine tune to, everyone who does not get along with their partners. But then, perhaps in my case, it will not ever work out, but many people with the same feelings and thoughts I have, will be able to reconcile and their partner is the best one.
5) consequentialism, as I try to make clear in point 1, is always grounded on deontology. The criteria we use to determine if the consequences are good ones or bad ones. Deontology can be looked at in a number of ways- as thinking one has a method for divining God's rules, for example. But it can also be seen as acknowledging that we cannot easily work out all and perhaps even many of the major effects of certain choices or rules. Over time cultures adopt rules based on natural selection. What seems to work. Consequentialists are essentially claiming they can consciously track the effects of a moral rule or behavior. I regard that optimism with the same confidence I regard the people who thought cane toads would reduce the problems of certain insects in Australia. How far forward in time do we speculate? Given that humans can be influenced in a myriad of ways, many hard to track, yet important, how do we choose what variables to consider and how do we track cause and effect? Let's say one argues, sure it's fallible, but it's the best we got. I am not sure that is the case. I have a couple of systems for determining my behavior, one is conscious rational analysis and another is intuitive. Everyday I use both and it would be impossible to live if I relied on one. I see these two as parallel to conseuquentialism and deontology. I am certainly not arguing that intuition is better or not fallible, but I see no reason to cut out one part of my brain/heuristics/mind/approaches, especially given how long it has taken to develop the mix.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Prismatic567 » Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:51 am

James Kroeger wrote:Like Aristotle, Kant, and most other ethical philosophers, I begin with my understanding of what "most people" (non-philosophers) really mean when they say, "That behavior is just so wrong", or "That's immoral!" What they are actually doing (whether they realize it or not) when they make these judgments is ask themselves a very basic question about the behavior they are witnessing/judging. It is this:

"Would this action (or decision to not act) make everyone better off if everyone were to act (or choose not to act) in the same way?"

Yes, there are many questions to answer regarding this 'test', but I'll wait for them to be mentioned before addressing them. But let me go ahead and acknowledge that this 'foundational principle' for ethics does echo Kant's Categorical Imperative in that it ultimately stresses the necessary universalizability of a moral code. But also notice that my formulation makes my POV purely consequentialist. There is no reference to duty, for those 'duties' that are moral are those which would make everyone better off if everyone were to execute them.

My approach to Morality and Ethics is mostly Kantian.
Btw, Kant's Morality and Ethics is not deontological as believed by most. Kant's approach is the System approach. [comprising objectives, input, output, control, feedback and continuous improvement].

Kant's Categorical Imperative is not merely one imperative but there are 5 imperative Formulations.

As with IQ, there is MQ, i.e. Moral Quotient.
If the average MQ of humanity is say 20%, then everyone must be striving towards the impossible ideal of 100% from whatever is their current status. Obviously achieving the ideal is impossible but targeting and striving towards the ideal will ensure continuous improvement to one's optimal best.
In this case there will be a continuous improvement of the current average from 20% to 30% to 40% and higher within a certain timeline.
As such we should be expecting neural changes to the moral function of the brain within the individual. This is already progressing but very slowly so we need to hasten this progress.

The Kantian system was too advance for Kant's time [1700s] and it is only effective when the average MQ passes 50%, and it will take time for the neural moral function to rewire so we need expediting strategy to hasten the inherent [link below] moral function within.

Morality is not just something that people learn, argues Yale psychologist Paul Bloom: It is something we are all born with. At birth, babies are endowed with compassion, with empathy, with the beginnings of a sense of fairness.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/arti ... of-babies/


Another formulation is whilst the Moral Laws are universal, the point is it must be taken as if it is the individual who establish such a law [which happen to be the same for all] for him/herself. Thus there is no enforcement of the moral Law by others except by oneself within a Kingdom of where everyone is King.

There are already evidence of the natural progression of the above Moral and Ethical System is at work by itself.
Example, without the help of a God, humanity has already reach a state of natural morality and ethics where Chattel Slavery is banned in ALL Nations.
I am a progressive human being, a World Citizen, NOT-a-theist and not religious.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby James Kroeger » Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:12 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:1) your rule may make it somewhat clear for you what actions to choose, because you agree with you about what better off is. Other people will have other evaluations.


Of course, this is true. So even with everyone embracing such a rule, there will be disputes re: whether or not everyone will be better off or worse off, but these disagreements are over individual perceptions of all the variables that would be involved (one hopes properly weighted) and these differing perceptions are based on a general lack of knowledge of all the variables involved, or on an incomplete dispersion of the needed knowledge across all members of the tribe.

But these 'complications' in applying the rule to specific behavioral examples in no way invalidate the principle I'm highlighting that people commonly apply when they make moral judgments re: what kind of behavior is right or wrong. The solution to this basic problem is not scrapping the rule, but improving the accuracy of our guesses re: our projections of "everybody doing it."

2) choosing to go to war, choosing not to go to war. Neither option will make everyone better off.


Not sure of the context you are imagining here, but I'm inclined to disagree.

3) one thing we can always be sure of is that not everyone will do what I do. Are there not things that can be good if many but not all people do them?


Generally speaking, littering (as well as other kinds of environmental sins) is immoral, because if everyone did it, then we would all be worse off. This is justification for those who do not litter to chastise those who do. If most people did not litter, would it do a lot of good? Of course. But the condemnations of those who do litter would still be justified.

4) if I get a dog as a pet, it will have certain effects. if everyone gets a dog as a pet, all sorts of problems will arise - just the amount of protein that will need to be produced causes all sorts of problems. Let alone buying a car or getting a divorce. Must I stay married to prevent everyone ending their marriages? And sure, we can fine tune to, everyone who does not get along with their partners. But then, perhaps in my case, it will not ever work out, but many people with the same feelings and thoughts I have, will be able to reconcile and their partner is the best one.


You provide here examples of how complicated the actual calculus of a particular act's virtue can be. For example, in the context of a very sustainable population (relative to the quantity of natural resources available), having a dog or a car or two cars, etc., would not be a problem. (Imagine a world population of 1 billion) But if/when the population is close to outstripping the planet's natural resources (to sustain a particular lifestyle), then behavior that would not have been immoral if the human population was much smaller would become immoral once the population has reached a certain threshold (assuming other options are not available).

This is the kind of complexity we face in our attempts to make rationally justified moral judgments, but in no way does the complexity invalidate the principle that I claim people 'intuitively invoke' when they make moral judgments.

5) consequentialism, as I try to make clear in point 1, is always grounded on deontology. The criteria we use to determine if the consequences are good ones or bad ones. Deontology can be looked at in a number of ways- as thinking one has a method for divining God's rules, for example. But it can also be seen as acknowledging that we cannot easily work out all and perhaps even many of the major effects of certain choices or rules. Over time cultures adopt rules based on natural selection. What seems to work. Consequentialists are essentially claiming they can consciously track the effects of a moral rule or behavior. I regard that optimism with the same confidence I regard the people who thought cane toads would reduce the problems of certain insects in Australia. How far forward in time do we speculate? Given that humans can be influenced in a myriad of ways, many hard to track, yet important, how do we choose what variables to consider and how do we track cause and effect? Let's say one argues, sure it's fallible, but it's the best we got. I am not sure that is the case. I have a couple of systems for determining my behavior, one is conscious rational analysis and another is intuitive. Everyday I use both and it would be impossible to live if I relied on one. I see these two as parallel to conseuquentialism and deontology. I am certainly not arguing that intuition is better or not fallible, but I see no reason to cut out one part of my brain/heuristics/mind/approaches, especially given how long it has taken to develop the mix.


If you think about it, the examples I provided re: environmental issues make it clear that moral absolutes are necessarily relative to specific environmental (including social) circumstances. Given certain circumstances, certain kinds of behavior are 'absolutely wrong' or 'absolutely right', but it depends on those circumstances. My example: in primitive tribal societies, everyone was better off the more children were brought into the world...more babied meant more people to bring in the harvest, defend the tribe, and provide replacements for those who were lost through famine, plague, or war. But now, with an overpopulated planet, having more children because "you like large families" is probably a moral sin against the whole of society (although more so in India and China than in say Russia).

Keep in mind, the promise being made here is not that this 'rule' will end all moral disagreements or that it will magically give everyone supreme wisdom re: all the variables we try to project into the future; it simply establishes the fundamental principle upon which our moral decisions are based, and will always be based, if we do not prefer instead to rely on deontological rules passed down from earlier generations...
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:47 am

James Kroeger wrote:
2) choosing to go to war, choosing not to go to war. Neither option will make everyone better off.


Not sure of the context you are imagining here, but I'm inclined to disagree.
OK, should the US enter WW2. Yes, well it won't be better for the Germans and Japanese. No, it won't be better for....

How can one possibly decide what would make everyone better off?

In fact war is just a dramatic example. We are faced all the time with decisions where one choice benefits some and not others. How could I even pick a charity? to marry Jane not Sarah? To spend tax dollars on housing or schools or health care or research or....

Generally speaking, littering (as well as other kinds of environmental sins) is immoral, because if everyone did it, then we would all be worse off. This is justification for those who do not litter to chastise those who do. If most people did not litter, would it do a lot of good? Of course. But the condemnations of those who do litter would still be justified.
Sure, it works fairly well on some things. But not on others. What would happen if everyone was gay? If everyone took vows of chastity? If everyone moved to the city? if everyone drove or did not drive? if everyone was non-violent? 1) sometimes things work perfectly fine if many people do them, but not all. Sometimes there are things where some people MUST break the pattern. Etc.

4) if I get a dog as a pet, it will have certain effects. if everyone gets a dog as a pet, all sorts of problems will arise - just the amount of protein that will need to be produced causes all sorts of problems. Let alone buying a car or getting a divorce. Must I stay married to prevent everyone ending their marriages? And sure, we can fine tune to, everyone who does not get along with their partners. But then, perhaps in my case, it will not ever work out, but many people with the same feelings and thoughts I have, will be able to reconcile and their partner is the best one.


You provide here examples of how complicated the actual calculus of a particular act's virtue can be. For example, in the context of a very sustainable population (relative to the quantity of natural resources available), having a dog or a car or two cars, etc., would not be a problem. (Imagine a world population of 1 billion) But if/when the population is close to outstripping the planet's natural resources (to sustain a particular lifestyle), then behavior that would not have been immoral if the human population was much smaller would become immoral once the population has reached a certain threshold (assuming other options are not available).
If it is not sustainable for everyone to have a dog, does that entail that no one should be allowed to? same question with cars? four children? Your rule would eliminate all sorts of behavior, if the rule was followed, that might be neutral, perhaps even positive when a few, or many, but not all were allowed to do these things.

I can sort of turn the rule on its head: is it better for everyone if people are only allowed to do things that it would be good if everyone did them. Better for everyone. I doubt it.

This is the kind of complexity we face in our attempts to make rationally justified moral judgments, but in no way does the complexity invalidate the principle that I claim people 'intuitively invoke' when they make moral judgments.
I am not presenting complicated examples. I am presenting examples which, since they involve humans, happen to be complicated, but I am choosing them because it can be bad if everyone does something but neutral or even good if many do them but not all.

If you think about it, the examples I provided re: environmental issues make it clear that moral absolutes are necessarily relative to specific environmental (including social) circumstances. Given certain circumstances, certain kinds of behavior are 'absolutely wrong' or 'absolutely right', but it depends on those circumstances. My example: in primitive tribal societies, everyone was better off the more children were brought into the world...more babied meant more people to bring in the harvest, defend the tribe, and provide replacements for those who were lost through famine, plague, or war. But now, with an overpopulated planet, having more children because "you like large families" is probably a moral sin against the whole of society (although more so in India and China than in say Russia).
But in those tribal societies it would not be bad if someone decided not to have kids, even though it would be bad if they all made the same decision. Or decided to stop at one child. I know you can find examples that seem to confirm the rule. I am trying to point out that it causes problems with many examples.

Keep in mind, the promise being made here is not that this 'rule' will end all moral disagreements or that it will magically give everyone supreme wisdom re: all the variables we try to project into the future; it simply establishes the fundamental principle upon which our moral decisions are based, and will always be based, if we do not prefer instead to rely on deontological rules passed down from earlier generations...
I get that, especially now, that you do not see it as a panacea. But it seems like you see the problems as having to do with complexity. I see a fundamental problem with the rule. It will make one, at the very least, feel guilty about behavior that is either 1) neutral or 2) good. In addition to giving a heuristic that might make one abstain from some activities I'd be fine with everyone abstaining from. Would we be better off is everyone applied the rule to pedophilia? sure.

But there are a huge amount of decisions I make, including small things every day, that suddenly become problematic or 'bad' if I apply the rule.

I had the same problem with Kant.

And again, one thing I can know for sure is that my choices will NOT be made by everyone else in the world. It functions as if it is causal or the case, when in fact it cannot be the case. It seems like a more realistic set of criteria which acknowledged this would be more valid. It also eliminates gut reactions. Which may seem like poor predictors, but on the other hand, it is we who must live in the society calculated, with what I would consider hubris, by application of this rule. Humans also need to be in societies that fit their gut feelings, even if these cannot always be, via calculation, be proven correct, whatever that means in the end.

I actually sort of imagine men managing to make women feel guilty for having a gut feeling that some policy is fucked up, because the men think they can track all the variables and the women think, something is off here, I know it. Wait, that's the way things are already.

MLK is deciding whether to intentionally break the law on moral grounds. He then asks himself 'what if everyone decided to break the law on moral grounds?' Since morals differ there would be societal shutdown. He could then try to refine it. They would be wrong in evaluating morals. I am, in a sense, an expert, and know when it is moral to break laws. Then he worries, but then, they will think the same thing. They, like I am, consider themselves able to judge and we are all potentially fallible.

And so on.

What if everyone (the men and lesbians) went for someone who is considered by me and the majority, to be the attractive woman?

The no one ends up trying to be with the attractive women. Of course then we have to reset and come up with another application of the rule.

I think it also leads to absurdities.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Prismatic567 » Thu Jun 21, 2018 1:26 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
I had the same problem with Kant.

??
What is the problem with Kant.

Note I gave a rough idea of Kant's Framework and System of Morality & Ethics in my post above,
viewtopic.php?p=2703296#p2703296

I stated Kant's Framework and System of Morality & Ethics is not deontological [90% of readers thought it is] that enforces fixed moral rules.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Thu Jun 21, 2018 9:03 am

Prismatic567 wrote:
Karpel Tunnel wrote:
I had the same problem with Kant.

??
What is the problem with Kant.

His imperative, which has similar problems to the OP's version.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Fixed Cross » Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:34 am

Kants categorical imperative, like the OPs proposal, testifies of a draught of spirit, a lack of power to give. Essentially it is a typically plebeian problem.
A proper aristocratic ethics commands that one give more and do better than might be expected.
This is also the way of nature, absent parasites and the lowlier species of worms.

People coming from a culture of poverty can not imagine that the world is built of this; evolution happens through sexual selection which has based on the ability to lavishly expend. Similarly, real happiness is only possible when you are able to do better and give more than what is expected of anyone. That is the only real source of pride for a human, or for any species really.

"Only excess of strength is proof of strength", and this goes most of all for the strength of ones bestowing virtue. If it isn't excessive, you might as well not exist.
Thats why humans congregate in churches and town halls, to hide from the terrifying generosity of even the most mundane forms of nature. They invented the Cristian God to be able to pretend to look up to their own worst sin, the poverty of their spirit, their jealousy.
In better days Gods represented this excessiveness, this example of nature to which man, with his feeble mind, had to try to live up.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Thu Jun 21, 2018 2:48 pm

Fixed Cross wrote:"Only excess of strength is proof of strength", and this goes most of all for the strength of ones bestowing virtue. If it isn't excessive, you might as well not exist.
So how does one decide whom to bestow the excess on? whom not to? who to take from? The specifics of moral action, that is.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Meno_ » Thu Jun 21, 2018 9:32 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
Fixed Cross wrote:"Only excess of strength is proof of strength", and this goes most of all for the strength of ones bestowing virtue. If it isn't excessive, you might as well not exist.
So how does one decide whom to bestow the excess on? whom not to? who to take from? The specifics of moral action, that is.



Comment: A true Kantian will not have difficulty in a decision like that: he would simply try to arrive at a demonstration (in his mind) perhaps using a Prisoners' Dilemma in a scenario to decide whether expousing a big difference between relative excess powers is worth to keep such difference exclusive.

The history of aristocracy could prove that the refusal to do so, as noble it appears to be,. is mostly self defeating, for the most part.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby James Kroeger » Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:13 am

It looks like I need to offer a clarification. I am not proposing something that I'm claiming is some kind of shining, golden key which magically melts away all need for the discussion of moral matters. It's no "End of History" claim. What I am suggesting is that I have identified the central concern that people have when they spontaneously judge the moral worth of some behavior they've just witnessed.

They may have observed that the individual actor's behavior was carried out to achieve some kind of benefit for himerself. Because we are beings possessed of strong imitation instincts---we ask ourselves in our reflective moments what the likely consequences would be if every member of the tribe acted likewise? Would we like the outcome? Would we be better off?

If I perceive that "it's all good" if everyone acts the same way, then I'm probably going to want to imitate that behavior for myself. But if I can see that we would all be much worse off if everyone were to act the same way, then I'm going to want to see if it is possible to arrive at an agreement among all/most members of the tribe that this is a behavior that we should all eschew, for if we do forswear such behaviors, we will indeed all be better off.

Now I'm not really sure how you can disagree with these basic observations.

I believe the 'rule' I've presented captures the concerns and intentions of those who witness and judge the moral worth of some action they've just witnessed. Applying that understanding of the ultimate concerns behinds our moral evaluations does not guarantee that we will always be able to easily find agreement as to which behaviors are moral/immoral/amoral.

So when you ask me, "How can one possibly decide what would make everyone better off?" My answer is that yes, it can be hard to decide, but we nevertheless try to make accurate projections. Making guesses is what we do. The fact that our guesses at one point or another may be wrong does does not in any way justify a conclusion that any such effort (to improve our guesses) is utterly futile.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:How can one possibly decide what would make everyone better off? In fact war is just a dramatic example. We are faced all the time with decisions where one choice benefits some and not others. How could I even pick a charity? to marry Jane not Sarah? To spend tax dollars on housing or schools or health care or research or....


Actions by individuals which seek in part to provide/impart a benefit to some other individual/group are not generally recognized as behaviors that could be construed to be immoral for the sole reason that not everyone in the tribe benefits from the behavior.

For most of us, our capacity to provide a benefit to others is limited, but acting to provide a benefit to anyone at all has got to be considered an essentially moral act, since someone will experience a benefit that would not otherwise have occurred if the act had not been carried out. If everyone acts in ways that provide a benefit to anyone at all, then surely everyone in the tribe would be better off as a direct consequence.

Wish I had time for more, but not today...
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:39 pm

James Kroeger wrote:If I perceive that "it's all good" if everyone acts the same way, then I'm probably going to want to imitate that behavior for myself. But if I can see that we would all be much worse off if everyone were to act the same way, then I'm going to want to see if it is possible to arrive at an agreement among all/most members of the tribe that this is a behavior that we should all eschew, for if we do forswear such behaviors, we will indeed all be better off.

Now I'm not really sure how you can disagree with these basic observations.
I did try to give explain this both at the abstract level and then with specific examples.t

Abstract: there are actions that can be neutral and good, that become a problem if everyone does them. For example civil disobedience. I think law X is terrible and working politically has not helped. I decide that civil disobedience is the way to change the law. You and I might agree - depending on the law - that this is a good thing. I break the law for what you and I recognize as the greater good and am willing be fined or do a little jail time.

But if I apply your rule: what if everyone decided that things were not working via voting and legislation - not at all, not fast enough - and broke the law as civil disobedience. Well - we get filled courts, filled jails societal stoppage, huge law enforcement expenses, loss of work time, parents away from children while being processed, schools and businesses shut down. Also everyone who is not like you and me, will be doing civil disobedience for things we think are trivial, for what we think is wrong, etc.

I gave other examples where I think one can rationally fail your criterion, and then decide not to do something really quite good. And many, many things were it would be neutral.

I mean as far as neutral. I jaywalk. If everyone jaywalked, it would be a nightmare. I consider myself a good jaywalker. I don't slow down cars or endanger myself or others. Of course, that is my assessment. Most people assess themselves positively. I think it is silly for me to decide not to jaywalk because if everyone on earth jaywalked, there would be chaos. And honestly I think even Kant did that kind of stuff too.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:51 pm

James Kroeger wrote:I believe the 'rule' I've presented captures the concerns and intentions of those who witness and judge the moral worth of some action they've just witnessed.
I think many people think this way. I think many consider their own individual skills and situaiton and the local effects, rather than trying to imagine what would happen if everyone did something.

Applying that understanding of the ultimate concerns behinds our moral evaluations does not guarantee that we will always be able to easily find agreement as to which behaviors are moral/immoral/amoral.
And just to be clear, again, my main point is not that it will be hard - I have this response to all consequentialists - but rather that it immediately and necessarily leads to decisions I consider bad.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:How can one possibly decide what would make everyone better off? In fact war is just a dramatic example. We are faced all the time with decisions where one choice benefits some and not others. How could I even pick a charity? to marry Jane not Sarah? To spend tax dollars on housing or schools or health care or research or....


Actions by individuals which seek in part to provide/impart a benefit to some other individual/group are not generally recognized as behaviors that could be construed to be immoral for the sole reason that not everyone in the tribe benefits from the behavior.
I was in part responding to the idea that everyone would be better, which was how you phrased it. I mean, the Germans were not better off when the US joined WW2. More died, they lost, etc. I am even granting here, that the test case, is an example where their intentions are actually good - rather than the at best mixed intentions of some of the recent US wars. Even then it cannot be the case that everyone benefits. And even small, not dramatic actions fail to benefit everyone. I mean, you couldn't choose between candidates for a job.

For most of us, our capacity to provide a benefit to others is limited, but acting to provide a benefit to anyone at all has got to be considered an essentially moral act, since someone will experience a benefit that would not otherwise have occurred if the act had not been carried out. If everyone acts in ways that provide a benefit to anyone at all, then surely everyone in the tribe would be better off as a direct consequence.
Hitler intended to provide benefit to people.

Here you are now focusing on intentions. This leads to other problems. First it was a skyview analysis of what would happen if everyone did what you are considering doing. To that my objections focus on good actions (and neutral ones) that get necessarily elminated by this rule. Of course other stuff passes the test. I am pointing out a problem with the rule.

I do think track this is very hard and once you raise the general consequentialist problem of tracking consequences to speculation about what would happen if everyone did X, you are doing a thought experiment that 1) will not happen ever, yet are using it as the criterion for the test and 2) making the test about something that is easy to pretend one is imagining well, but likely not to. Whereas other more local focused consequentialisms, let along deontological approaches, may not suffer the same degree of challenge to the imagination.

Here, now you are focused on intentions: road to hell, and all that. Now many ethical rules and heuristics focus on intentions, so the road to hell paved with good intentions is one that many suffer, but it really comes in here, since we are supposed to imagine everyone doing what we are doing.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Fixed Cross » Sun Jun 24, 2018 4:00 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
Fixed Cross wrote:"Only excess of strength is proof of strength", and this goes most of all for the strength of ones bestowing virtue. If it isn't excessive, you might as well not exist.
So how does one decide whom to bestow the excess on? whom not to? who to take from? The specifics of moral action, that is.

None of it is an intellectual process.

A general rule; when you find yourself having to reason about morality, forget it. Just do whatever, you're already way beyond morality.

All morality that is real, that benefits people, comes from natural generosity. We see this in the animal kingdom as well.

Morality is lacking most structurally in fearful species and types. It is most evident in species that are able to enjoy their lives.
Enjoyment creates the will to share. Thats a real golden rule.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby James Kroeger » Tue Jun 26, 2018 12:57 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:I see a fundamental problem with the rule. It will make one, at the very least, feel guilty about behavior that is either 1) neutral or 2) good... But there are a huge amount of decisions I make, including small things every day, that suddenly become problematic or 'bad' if I apply the rule.


Your concern is noted, but I'm not sure it's a valid one, from a moral perspective. As you know quite well, there are many kinds of behaviors that are prudential, for the individual, because they are expected to provide the actor with a benefit, but which are clearly immoral. Cheating, for example.

Quite often, cheating will definitely provide a benefit to a single individual if she alone---or only a few---cheat and get away with it, but if everyone cheats and gets away with it, then none of them will benefit. Quite often in these situations, the benefit desired can only be realized if the cheater cheats while everyone else is obeying the rules. If everyone cheats, successfully, then the benefit evaporates.

Now cheating may be one of those "small things one does every day" that provides the cheater with a benefit, but it is in no way moral for them to do so. What I find incredible is when people habitually give themselves permission to seek out such 'immoral benefits', but then feel unfairly victimized when others angrily criticize them for doing so.

Mind you, I acknowledge that most people most of the time do give themselves permission to 'cheat' in small ways when they think they can get away with it. But does it really make any sense to go from "everybody {probably} does it" to "why should any effort be made to improve both our own behavior and the behavior of the whole tribe?"

There needs to be a recognition here that while we are all vulnerable to "immoral instincts" (road rage, for example), it is nevertheless also true that it makes sense for us to encourage each other to behave in ways that are moral, and to eschew behavioral options that are immoral.

The question arises: why is it that people ever abstain from 'immoral' behavior that they expect would provide them a desirable benefit, even though they feel quite certain they could get away with it?

My answer: the only reason they choose to do so is because of the importance they place on making themselves worthy of the approval of others (specifically, those who are capable of seeing the moral worth of their decisions). That, and/or their fear of making themselves worthy of the disapproval of others. ("Guilt" is ultimately nothing more than fear of the disapproval of others.)

I don't know if this answers any of your concerns, but perhaps it will provide some additional clarity... :)
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Fixed Cross » Tue Jun 26, 2018 2:30 pm

James Kroeger-
Who is going to enforce your totalitarianism? God, when he returns? A priestly caste?
Morality isn't a matter of abstract models, it is about what people actually are prone to, and responding to that somehow.

The idea that all humans have the same values is the ground to all fascism.

Taking the abstract unilateral universal approach is always going to lead to fascism. The idea that what is good for one guy is necessarily good for the next too is the antithesis to the delicate discernment of real humanity.

Because humans are so particular in their gifts and needs, all universalism regarding any humans tendencies would mean a prison for other types of humans.

A philosopher should stay out of people's lives.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Fixed Cross » Tue Jun 26, 2018 3:51 pm

Ill try to be clearer.

Your theory is that if any random human thinks of an act that the world would be better if everyone did it, then this is what morality is, what its made of. A universal claim to all humans in the conscience of a single human.
Now I may know very different type of people than you do - but I m sure glad the world doesn't work this way.

What happens in reality is that different types of people value in different ways, and value different ways - and these different ways are called cultures.
But even within a culture, people will tend to have different responses to the same actions and events.

Take Iran. The regime thinks it is better for everyone if it sends all its money to Hamas and Hezbollah, and Hamas and Hezbollah members think this is great idea. It seems moral to them, and quite absolutely so. But inside of Iran, the starving people don't really tend to agree, for them it woud be more evidently moral if the regime shared some of its riches with them, so they can eat. But as obvious as this is to them, the regime and the recipients of its money are oblivious to it.

This is a rather intense situation, but in general this is how the world works. Humans have different interests, different types of interests. And not all types of interests can grow out to signify a dominant culture, so that stye can become a dominant morality, which will be made evident anyone, if it doesn't go easy, then the hard way.

I urge you to think about what it is that makes moral judgments evidently truthful to people.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby James Kroeger » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:11 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:...there are actions that can be neutral and good, that become a problem if everyone does them...I break the law for what you and I recognize as the greater good and am willing be fined or do a little jail time.

But if I apply your rule: what if everyone decided that things were not working via voting and legislation - not at all, not fast enough - and broke the law as civil disobedience. Well - we get filled courts, filled jails societal stoppage, huge law enforcement expenses, loss of work time, parents away from children while being processed, schools and businesses shut down. Also everyone who is not like you and me, will be doing civil disobedience for things we think are trivial, for what we think is wrong, etc.


What you are highlighting here, KP, is one of the features of reality which assures that The Rule does not represent The End Of History: differences in perception across the human population. It's not that there is a flaw in the rule, it's that individual applications of the rule will generate differing conclusions re: what constitutes "better off."

It is a reflection of the greater metaethical-epistemological question of why different people develop different perceptions of what is truth/knowledge if they are all constitutionally the same? My foundational epistemological claim is that {virtually} all knowledge is guesswork. From my second post here:

When the test we want to subject our various examples of 'objective knowledge' to is that of absolute certainty, almost none of that which we call "knowledge" survives the test.

I know at this current moment that "I" exist. I know that I am currently experiencing various sights/sounds/feelings. I can 'remember' existing previous to this moment. I don't know when I close my eyes to sleep at night if there will be another day tomorrow. I don't know if I will continue to exist five minutes from now. When the ultimate test of our 'knowledge' is that of absolute certainty, the number of things we can cite which satisfy that condition can probably be counted on a single hand.
All else is guesswork.

BUT, we discover, our guesses are not without value. Every time I embrace the guess that there will be another day tomorrow, I am rewarded with yet another validation that my guess was a good one. As scientists are quite aware, we've discovered over time that there are a lot of guesses we've made and recorded re: the material world that have continually proven to be accurate, pretty much without fail. But in spite of our virtual certainty re: these guesses, we cannot---as Hume correctly pointed out---be absolutely certain that what we saw occur five minutes ago will occur again five minutes from now.

(So yes, most of our 'empirical' knowledge---guesses---are contingent upon continued validation. Karl Popper agrees with me :) )

In a sense, it is accurate to describe Minds as 'guessing machines.' That is what we do, make guesses and see if they hold up over time. My point is that that is good enough. We are in Plato's Cave and cannot perceive things 'as they are', as Kant pointed out, but so what? Our guesses are good enough.

It is much more difficult to achieve certainty (or rather high levels of confidence in our guesses) when our guesses are of the analytical a priori type, but still, we are able to eliminate certain of those guesses when we see that they contradict other metaphysical guesses that have been proposed by various thinkers.


We say that different people have different 'values.' I point out that the 'values' people embrace are ultimately just their guesses as to what they believe will provide them with need-satisfaction.

One of my foundational ethical claims---that all humans are possessed of the same fundamental needs---is based on my foundational epistemological claim that 1) it is a guess, and 2) it is a guess that will be widely embraced by others IF those who "try it on for size" discover that their experience continually validates its usefulness.

So the guess I'm advancing is that all humans experience the same fundamental NEEDS that have been imposed on them as a condition of their existence. My observations/interactions with other human beings over a lifetime have continually validated this guess. Others must see for themselves.

Again, my starting metaethical position is that all humans have the same biological/emotional/mental needs. If this is true, then it means we all have the same ultimate values (need-satisfaction), even though we may differ re: our individual guesses as to 1) what precisely our needs are, and 2) how we might best act to get them satisfied.

With these 'complications' in mind, if I decide to disobey one or more laws of the state in order to draw attention to a social injustice, or to protest immoral decisions made by our leaders (like getting the tribe involved in an unnecessary war), it is indeed an act of moral guesswork and its ultimate legitimacy is dependent upon how accurate my information is. If my guesses re: what I believe is at stake, and what the moral alternative is are accurate, then my actions are indeed moral, by my definition.

On the other hand, if I find out later that my information was wrong, that my act of civil disobedience was inspired by misinformation promoted by cynical manipulators, it would inform me that I spent time in jail for nothing. Yes, this means that some groups of people who carry out acts of civil disobedience, are justified while others are not (e.g., those manipulated by the CIA). But none of these complicating factors invalidates the rule I'm recommending.

I should also point out that states can grant legal rights, and enforceable laws, that are in no way, shape or form moral, so it really is a mistake to conflate them as necessarily being equally deserving of 'obedience.' That is one of the types of misunderstanding that I think my rule helps to disentangle.

I also think it is quite reasonable to argue that everyone would indeed be better off if everyone were to carry out acts of civil disobedience if/whenever they perceive a serious danger that is threatening significant numbers of the tribe's membership. To the extent that such actions are indeed legitimate, the result we could reasonably expect is that injustices and/or suffering would be minimized within the tribe in the long run.

Let me go ahead and acknowledge that the accuracy and reliability of the Test I'm proposing is fully dependent upon the accuracy of the factual inputs that are being evaluated, as well as the projections that are being made of future consequences. If our guesses about these factors, and their weights, are rather questionable, then the output of the test will also be questionable. Is Action A the moral thing to do? Sometimes we just can't guess with any kind of accuracy in advance...
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:42 am

James Kroeger wrote:[
What you are highlighting here, KP, is one of the features of reality which assures that The Rule does not represent The End Of History: differences in perception across the human population. It's not that there is a flaw in the rule, it's that individual applications of the rule will generate differing conclusions re: what constitutes "better off."
That's one part of what I am saying. Another part is that if people who you think are good followed your rule, they would stop themselves, sometimes, from doing good, because of the rule.

It's not simply that Al-qaida and Mother Teresa will choose different approaches to making things better. It's that if everyone became a nun and helped the poor, homo sapiens would cease to exist.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby James Kroeger » Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:54 am

Fixed Cross wrote:I'll try to be clearer.


I appreciate that... :)

Your theory is that if any random human thinks of an act that the world would be better if everyone did it, then this is what morality is, what its made of. A universal claim to all humans in the conscience of a single human.


A universal claim to all humans in the conscience of a single human. Wow. An outrageous, insanely delusional notion, eh?

You know, my entire epistemological foundation arises from a 100% solipsistic starting point, where I basically challenge the certainty of just about everything. From that point, I proceed to the conclusion that---even though most of what we think of as 'knowledge' is actually just guesswork, those guesses are not without value.

And so I do not hesitate to offer guesses---that cannot be proven---but which can be shown to have value over time if they are validated by one's interactions with other humans." And yes, one of those guesses is that all other human beings are experiencing the same kind of 'world of thought' that I have been experiencing. It is a guess which, when I've embraced it as true, has provided me with feedback that has continually validated its legitimacy/utility.

After decades of such validation, I have a high degree of confidence in my guess that all of us Minds are experiencing the same kind of experience. But the single most important generalization I've arrived at is the realization that Other Minds experience the same kinds of physical and mental Pain & Pleasure that I have experienced.

And from a few experiments to test the limits of my Will, I have discovered that I have no capacity within my exercise of Willpower to either create or annihilate the "needs" that I've determined are responsible for the pain & pleasure I've experienced. They are apparently "externally imposed" upon me from without.

It is no great leap from this point to arrive at a generalization that the other Minds I've communicated with have no more ability to create or annihilate the causes of their pain & pleasure (their needs) than I have, in spite of what many of them have tried to tell me (self-deception and wishful thinking being common to many who have struggled with mental pain...and pleasure).

Thus, one of my foundational ethical guesses has been my conclusion that all "values" can be ultimately traced to the experiences one has had with either 1) need-satisfaction, or 2) the avoidance of need-deprivation.

Through most of recorded history, there has been little agreement as to what precisely our mental/emotional needs are. We've had to figure that out, often by trial and error. Quite simply, we are not born with an innate understanding of what our needs are and of how we can best go about arranging for their satisfaction. That leaves us with a lot of different guesses, many of them specific to certain environmental variables one is immersed in.

In our Modern Era, science has been continually improving our understanding of what precisely our purely biological needs are. But when it comes to our purely mental needs (which when deprived, are not associated with any observable tissue damage), no consensus has been arrived at by philosophers/psychologists/sociologists as to what they are.

Indeed, many philosophers claim that mental needs either do not actually exist, or that they can be created/annihilated at will. I consider these guesses to be little more than wishful thinking. (There is a lot I have to say about what our mental/emotional needs actually are, but not now...)

From this analytical POV, it is not any kind of huge leap in logic to guess that because all human beings are assumed to be possessed of the same 'basket of needs', they must all be subject to the same moral 'considerations.'

The doubts you've expressed---that a single mind can deduce the ultimate values of all other humans---do not seem legitimate from my POV. To be precise, I'm not saying that the guesses that different humans put together about what precisely their needs are (and accordingly, their values) must be the same, but only that the actual needs that people have {noumena} are the same, and therefore that the actual need-satisfaction they desire...and value...is the same.

I understand and appreciate your fear of moral absolutism as it has taken form in various cultures. But don't let your fear of that 'threat' blind you to the logic which says that all people, no matter what their cultural traditions, have the same human needs that they want to get satisfied, and that means---ultimately---they all value the same things.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby James Kroeger » Fri Jun 29, 2018 12:53 am

Prismatic567 wrote:Morality is not just something that people learn, argues Yale psychologist Paul Bloom: It is something we are all born with. At birth, babies are endowed with compassion, with empathy, with the beginnings of a sense of fairness.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/arti ... of-babies/


I have to say I have serious doubts about Bloom's thesis that a "sense of morality" begins to show up in infants only months old. What I have observed over the years is something quite the opposite: it is immorality which begins to show up in infant behavior at a very early age.

By 'immorality' I am referring to behavior driven by The Anger Instinct. I remember witnessing an incident while I was watching a couple of infants sitting on a floor next to each other with blocks and other toys spread out in front of them. When one of the infants reached out and grabbed a toy rattle just as the other infant began to reach out for the same toy, the slower-to-act infant promptly struck the quicker infant with his hand in anger. It struck me as evidence that flatly contradicted the still-quite-popular notion that violence is learned behavior (because many want to believe that humans are 'naturally good').

My thesis is quite different. I argue that virtually all of those behaviors which are commonly referred to as "sinful" are motivated by our biological programming and are initiated on an instinctive, non-conscious level.

That human beings experience pain and pleasure (both physical and purely mental) is axiomatic. How humans ultimately respond to pain/pleasure events is fully determined by two variables 1) instinctive responses---associated with emotional feelings---that are set up by our DNA, and 2) The Mind. The biological responses to pain/pleasure---fear/anger/yearning---constitute the "default program" which will always determine how humans will behave without the interventions of The Mind.

The Mind is able to override the instinctive response apparatus when it is able to conceptualize superior response alternatives to the instinctive emotional response. Ultimately, it is The Mind's fears---of unnecessary pain/suffering, or of lost opportunities---which is able to inhibit the instinctive responses. It is how we are ultimately able to say "No" to an urge.

From this conceptualization of the Mind/Body relationship, I argue that it is the Mind alone which is able to initiate behavior that is fundamentally "moral." A baby patting the head of some crying infant may be a sign that it is feeling empathy on an 'instinctive' level, or it might just be an example of an infant's very powerful Imitation Instinct after it has witnessed an adult caregiver giving other crying babies comforting attention.

There are, of course, some other threads we can go down from this point, but I'll save it for later...
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Fixed Cross » Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:59 pm

An easier way to refute the OP is here:

If every person would be a heart surgeon, we would starve and die in all sorts of ways, there would be no electricians to even allow the surgeons to do their job.

Thus, according to the OP, to be a heart surgeon is immoral.

As is holding any particular profession.



Or, for the modern context:

If the whole world is homosexual, then procreation will only occur incidentally, and humanity dies out very quickly. Thus it is immoral to be gay.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby James Kroeger » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:55 am

Fixed Cross wrote:An easier way to refute the OP is here:

If every person would be a heart surgeon, we would starve and die in all sorts of ways, there would be no electricians to even allow the surgeons to do their job.

Thus, according to the OP, to be a heart surgeon is immoral.

As is holding any particular profession.


If the behavior you're applying the test to is characterized as the specific duties of a heart surgeon then the result you are going to get from the test is yes, it would be immoral if everyone were to carry out the specific duties of a heart surgeon to the exclusion of all else.

But if the behavior you're applying the test to is characterized as spending your days productively, utilizing skills you have acquired/developed to provide a service for other members of the tribe who are in need of such services---which is also an accurate description of the behavior of a heart surgeon---then the test will validate the conclusion that the surgeon's behavior is moral.

Which characterization is the most accurate/useful to our purposes? Well, that's something we need to discuss, and weigh, and second-guess, isn't it?

So yes, the ultimate 'rationality' of the test results is going to depend on how you characterize the behavior you are trying to evaluate. Which is an important reason why the test does not, will not, bring an end to all disputes re: the judgments people make re: the purported morality/immorality of some specific act.

What the test does do, I believe, is reflect the ultimate concerns that members of the tribe have re: the approvability/reprovability of particular behaviors that people have begun to talk about. They may be able to acknowledge the benefit that an individual would hope to gain from a particular kind of behavior, but before they decide to imitate that behavior, they see it as prudent to ask what would happen if everybody acted in the same way?

That is the value that I see in this formulation; not that it magically enables snap judgments of the morality of a given behavior, but only that it identifies the real concerns that people have when they ponder whether or not a particular behavior should be praised as moral, or condemned as immoral (as a threat to the entire tribe).

Or, for the modern context: If the whole world is homosexual, then procreation will only occur incidentally, and humanity dies out very quickly. Thus it is immoral to be gay.


As I've discussed in a previous post, whether or not procreative activity is judged to be moral or immoral really depends on the circumstances the tribe finds itself in. If much of the tribe's population was killed off in a plague, then it may indeed be held to be a sin to not participate in reproductive activity. But if the global population has reached 150 billion humans, any sexual behavior which threatens to increase the human population further would most likely be viewed as a sin against the entire tribe and its future generations.

It's the consequences after all that determines the morality of our actions, isn't it? :wink:
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:45 am

James Kroeger wrote:
[
What you are highlighting here, KP, is one of the features of reality which assures that The Rule does not represent The End Of History: differences in perception across the human population. It's not that there is a flaw in the rule, it's that individual applications of the rule will generate differing conclusions re: what constitutes "better off."
That's one part of what I am saying. Another part is that if people who you think are good followed your rule, they would stop themselves, sometimes, from doing good, because of the rule.


It's not simply that Al-qaida and Mother Teresa will choose different approaches to making things better. It's that if everyone became a nun and helped the poor, homo sapiens would cease to exist.


I see your response to FC about the heart surgeon, but notice how you have to, at the abstract level, add in a lot of positive valence words. That it is of service, etc. That's stacking the deck.

But let's retake an example: Should one rebel against laws or cultural practices one thinks are not moral or are bad for people....

If the answer is that it was good for one person to do it, it might be total chaos if everyone did.

Society has always needs individuals who go against the consensus. However if everyone did this it would be dangerous, even if most of them were right to do this.

If we abstract it as you did with the heart surgeon to...when one in the service of the community decide that certain rules are damaging to people one can decide to break that rule or rebel against authority...etc.

One person does this it may or may not be good. Everyone does this we have chaos.

If I seeing some unjust practice perform civil disobedience, it might be a great thing.

But if before this act I notice your rule...

I imagine everyone in society deciding to perform civil disobedience against laws and rule they consider damaging to others.....

We have societal chaos.

There is no room in that rule for, for example, insightful empathetic people to rebel against norms, because once everyone does this we have chaos.

And that's not even bringing in different values. Even if they were all good people with good insights.

Further the rule reduces moral choices to the lowest skill/insight denominator. If I have specific intelligence and insights then it can be OK if i do X. Whereas if everyone does X it may be bad because they in general lack my insight.

Further it may be good if Joe ignores the critics, takes a risk by leaving his job and starts what other people consider an unlikely to work social change organisation or company.

But if everyone ignores critics and takes a risk by heading into a venture and leaving a more stable economic situation or a mainstream way of living or tried and true methods of X,
we have a problem.

So Joe and all the Joes decide to stay in jobs they are not thrilled with and products or social changes that might have taken place do not.

This would even include things with selfish motivations. If everyone avoided acts that were based on, for call the person could tell at the time, selfish motives, we would have much less beautiful cultural artifacts. Because something is selfish it does not rule out it leading to positive societal results even if these are not forseeable in the beginning.


IOW 1) we can be sure of the fact that EVERYONE will not do what I do, so I question this use of it as a criterion. It treats my choices as if they must pass a test they will never have to pass 2) Is it good if everyone in a society only does what would be good to do if everyone else did it? IOW any choice or action I make - at a more abstract level - is one that would be good if everyone did it. I Think no. I Think society benefits from a diversity of approaches, some of which are good when a minority uses them, even though they would be problematic if everyone used them. We need room in any society for people to follow their intuitions, make leaps, break laws, challenge authority, even though it would be problematic if everyone did this. In part this is because NOT allowing this means that people stay in boxes and it makes it harder for new good things to be created and old bad things to be challenged.

When heart surgeon is abstracted out to someone Learning and using skills...etc.

we allow other analyses like...

someone challenging the system. This should always be a moral options, especially to those with skill and insight, however 1) who decides who has skill and insight, since this is often made by people trusting themselves and 2) Even if only people with skill and insight challenged the system, it would collapse.
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Re: My Fix for Utilitarianism, Kant's Deontology, etc...

Postby James Kroeger » Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:50 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
James Kroeger wrote:
[
What you are highlighting here, KP, is one of the features of reality which assures that The Rule does not represent The End Of History: differences in perception across the human population. It's not that there is a flaw in the rule, it's that individual applications of the rule will generate differing conclusions re: what constitutes "better off."
That's one part of what I am saying. Another part is that if people who you think are good followed your rule, they would stop themselves, sometimes, from doing good, because of the rule.


It's not simply that Al-qaida and Mother Teresa will choose different approaches to making things better. It's that if everyone became a nun and helped the poor, homo sapiens would cease to exist.


I see your response to FC about the heart surgeon, but notice how you have to, at the abstract level, add in a lot of positive valence words. That it is of service, etc. That's stacking the deck.


(smile) Well, yeah...but it's nevertheless true. People are in the daily habit of trading some of what they have (like time) for something that they don't have. It's behavior which clearly has led to everyone being better off. Some of 'what you have' is going to vary from person to person, so it's kind of ridiculous to ask what if everyone offered plumber skills in an attempt to ascertain the morality of that kind of activity. It goes from being a reasonable projection to a pure fantasy abstraction.

Sure, two observers with opposed interpretations/projections of the rule are going to offer characterizations & hypothetical-projections-of-the-future that favor the argument they are trying to make. But that's an important part of the process of applying the rule. Consider all of the different possible interpretations and then see if you can't agree on one that is most likely/apt.

But let's retake an example: Should one rebel against laws or cultural practices one thinks are not moral or are bad for people....


If we abstract it as you did with the heart surgeon to...when one in the service of the community decide that certain rules are damaging to people one can decide to break that rule or rebel against authority...etc.

One person does this it may or may not be good. Everyone does this we have chaos.


Should one act to publicly defy a law if one believes it is unjust? I say yes, it is moral to do so, largely because I challenge your "chaos" projection.

In order for us to reasonably project 'chaos', we have to make certain assumptions about "everyone" or "the situation" that are rather extreme.

For example, we'd have to assume either that 1) the civil code is absolutely replete with injustices (in order for "everyone acting in the same way" to result in chaos, or 2) everyone is actually deluded about what they perceive to be injustices deserving of a civil disobedience response.

Now, if everyone decided to defy a law that was clearly unjust, and it caused the law to be changed, then that would be a good outcome (if everyone was defying the law, it would be changed in prompt fashion, making any 'chaos' essentially momentary. "Chaos" for the lawmakers, for a number of hours, but not a projection of chaos that I would see as making everyone worse off.

We can certainly pull this apart further, but I've got to go now...
James Kroeger
 
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