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

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

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:59 am

James Kroeger wrote:(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.
That wasn't my point. My point was that when you abstracted, you added in words like 'service' - that is, words with postive characteristics. That was stacking the deck. We can't just look at what would happen if everyone did it, we have to make sure all these positive characteristics apply. The rule doesn't work on its own AND every positive valence word you add when abstracting away from the specific is open to different moral outlooks interpreting them differently.

Another way to put this is that you present a simple heuristic - and I do recognize you do not see this as a panacea or a way to eliminate all disagreement - but the moment we try to apply the heuristic, suddenly, at the more abstract level we need to introduce a number of moral laden terms.

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.
I would also question the assumption of the intent of the would be heart surgeon implicit in
acquired/developed to provide
and even the seemingly obvious 'need' is carrying with it moral assumptions. One bypass surgery in the US is 23,000 dollars. Imagine what could be done with that in Ethiopia.

Suddenly after the heuristic is abstracted for application, one HAS to add value laden terms to make it work. Each term controversial - even with a heart surgeon, despite the fact that Fixed Cross chose it to show how even obvious to most people examples could be problematic.

Shift this to abortion, and it adds nothing. But i think the problem is actually that it adds little in most cases, because to apply the heuristic one must end up using the same kinds of consequentialist and deontological arguments. It does not reduce the need for all those arguments, nor, do I think does it simplify them.

Beyond that I think also has a negative aspect, one form of it below.

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.
Let's take abortion, military spending, treatment and protection of nature, salaries of CEO vs. the common person and immigration policies. Those issues right now have more people than are in the US with strong opinions about unjust policies and laws. How can it be more, well people have strong reactions to each one. People are currently disatisfied with laws in both directions. The law is not anti-immigration enough to some, not pro enough for others.

If every anti-abortionist, anti-and pro-immigration person, anti-military spending and pro-military spending and action....etc. all felt it was justified to perform civil disobedience against unjust rules and policies, the country wuold shut down.

Despite that I think it can be moral to use civil disobedience against unjust laws, etc. I could have included more issues where large percentages of the population have strong opinions against current policy AND I could have added in a long list of 'orphan' injustices, with smaller percentages all potentially locking themselves to gates, occupying schools, hospitals, government offices and banks. Doing work slow downs and strikes, picketing Walmart and Hollywood.

Nearly every adult will have many civil disobediences to carry out. And if any of these have effects, than even many of the utterly indifferent and the rich and powerful who the system works for, will them themselves have reasons for civil disobedience.

So on the one hand that the heuristic does not reduce the need for the already present argument types used. And on the other that the heuristic has a tendency to morally judge individual reactions hence reducing diversity of responses and actions. Many more things that are just fine when some people do them or even it is really good that some people do them will be eliminated because it seems or does not pass the heuristic.
Karpel Tunnel
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