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Author Topic:   Why It Is Right To Do Good To Others
Stile
Member
Posts: 3439
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.5


Message 31 of 304 (404255)
06-07-2007 4:29 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by joshua221
06-06-2007 5:07 PM


Re: Objective is not the same as absolute
Rosietherelativist writes:

I see that you are a relativist.

But the paper stated that a relativist does not objectively decide upon one side or the other, but rather "rides the fence", regardless of how much information they have. I may very well be a relativist, as far as the word is defined in regards to morality. However, as far as the word was defined in that paper I most certainly was not a relativist, as your initial answer proves.

I do objectively decide. I just do it once enough information's in to warrant such a decision.


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Stile
Member
Posts: 3439
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.5


Message 32 of 304 (404257)
06-07-2007 4:43 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by New Cat's Eye
06-07-2007 2:26 PM


And so we are on to definitions...
Stile writes:

Can you provide a single example where something is morally good that does not increase the inner-feelings of another being?]

Catholic Scientist writes:

1. Picking up a piece of trash out in the woods


I would say such an act is morally neutral. Why do you say it is morally good? I can see it being morally good if you add some more information such as:
-the wood was dying from pollution. In which case "the being" you're helping here is the wood itself. I was trying to be careful and not use the word "person" so as to include any living creature. Including plants.

But, well, that just helps my point.

2. Not stealing a pack of gum from WalMart

That's not "good". It's just "not bad". I would say this is morally neutral, or "meh" as I put it in Message 1. Again, why do you think this is morally good?

3. Stopping the boiling water from spilling on the baby

Not being able to read the future, I won't be able to say that this baby is going to be incredibly thank-ful or not. Chances are though, once they are capable to express their thanks, they would.
What if the baby wanted to be burnt? I agree this is almost a totally absurd question. But, well, there are lots of things that people like that I find absurd.
---------------------------------------
I thought of something else on my ride home.
The inner-feelings of the baby are still increasing. If the boiling water hits the baby, we can pretty safely assume that the baby's inner-feelings are going to decrease dramatically, no? So preventing the boiling water from hitting the baby is increasing the inner-feelings of the baby from negative-to-neutral. This is still an increase.

Edited by Stile, : Added extra explanation below the dashed line


This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by New Cat's Eye, posted 06-07-2007 2:26 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 34 by Jon, posted 06-08-2007 1:47 AM Stile has responded
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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 33 of 304 (404305)
06-08-2007 1:32 AM
Reply to: Message 27 by Stile
06-07-2007 3:55 PM


Is that your final answer?
Nonsense. Sometimes you can know during the action. Or you can use what you've learnt to know that what you're going to do will result in good.
But yes, usually you're just trying to do good.

Well, now I'm as confused as the guy we've been giving drinks to. First you said:

...the good is decided afterwards...

Then I pointed out the flaw:

quote:
Then you can never claim that you are deciding to do good, since you cannot know that you've done good until after the action is carried out.

And now you have changed your tune:

Sometimes you can know during the action

Is that your final answer?

But... um... I don't have a heart attack every time I increase someone else's positive inner-feelings. And no, I'd probably die from the heart attack and not be able to continue.

The point is that when interacting with others I will either increase, decrease, or not change their inner-feelings. Therefore, I'm going to choose to try to increase them.

Okay, not heart-attacks. Let's just say you felt like absolute shit every time you increased someone's positive inner-feelings. How about, for every one point increase of positive inner-feeling you give to someone else, you vomit. Going to continue increasing other peoples' positive inner-feelings?

Yes, that was poorly worded by me.

Well, are you going to clear it up then?

It's not "wrong to kill him". It's "wrong to kill him with the information you provided for the situation".

Information? What information? You've already said that we can't know until afterwards. Okay, I'm standing next to his bed, bloody knife in my right hand, his dead body atop the sheets. It's after the act; it's afterwards. What logical steps should I take to calculate the morality of my actions?

If someone's going to rape someone else, and the only way to stop them is to kill them, then it is right to kill them.

Why? Whose positive inner-feelings is it better to increase now? You will add one point of positive inner-feelings to the rape victim because now he/she is no longer being raped. But, you will subtract 2 positive inner-feeling points from the rapist—one for stopping them from raping, another for killing them. Based on your system, you've now just done more harm than good, as you've left a net of -1 positive inner-feelings (PIF) points.

So, using your system of positive inner-feelings of others, why is it right to kill the rapist?

No one has the right over anyone else to tell them what to do or what to stop doing.
...
...the only way to stop them is to kill them...

Not only did you lower his PIF points by stopping him, but by stopping him you also seem to have done something that you yourself declared to be 'not right.' Better subtract another point; that puts you at -2.

It isn't possible to know for sure if they really wanted you to kill them (as far as I know about current technology, anyway).

As far as science and technology are concerned, we cannot technically know anything 100%. But if we let that get in the way of our decision making, we'd get nowhere. At some point or another, we must make up our minds; we must ask the question 'is that our final answer?'

Murdering someone is claiming that you don't think someone else deserves to live any longer. That decision is not up to you.

Yet you have no problem killing the rapist? First you stop the poor fella from raping, which takes off 1 point for his PIF, and another for doing something you had no right to do. But now, it would also seem that it's not just doing something that takes off a point, but the decision to do it also takes off a point. That puts you at -3.

Doesn't that seem a bit counter-productive? Remember that the entire basis of this system is about trying to make other people feel better.

Yet playing the game by your rules leaves you in the hole. Counter-productive indeed. Now, lets play the game by my rules and see if we end up ahead:

I stop the rapist because it increases MY PIF, + 1.
I make the decision to kill the rapist because it increases MY PIF, +1.
I carry through and kill the rapist because it increases MY PIF, +1.
I rescue a helpless rape victim because it increases MY PIF, +1.

Final score:

Stile = -3
Jon = +4

:)

Jon


In considering the Origin of Species, it is quite conceivable that a naturalist... might come to the conclusion that each species had not been independently created, but had descended, like varieties, from other species. - Charles Darwin On the Origin of Species
_ _ _ _ _ ____________ _ _ _ _ _

En el mundo hay multitud de idiomas, y cada uno tiene su propio significado. - I Corintios 14:10


This message is a reply to:
 Message 27 by Stile, posted 06-07-2007 3:55 PM Stile has responded

Replies to this message:
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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 34 of 304 (404307)
06-08-2007 1:47 AM
Reply to: Message 32 by Stile
06-07-2007 4:43 PM


Re: And so we are on to definitions...
Stile writes:

Can you provide a single example where something is morally good that does not increase the inner-feelings of another being?]

Catholic Scientist writes:

1. Picking up a piece of trash out in the woods


I would say such an act is morally neutral.

If cutting down every tree in the Amazon increased the positive inner-feelings (PIF) points of the world moreso than it decreased them—i.e., there is a net increase—, would it be right to cut down every tree in the Amazon? Would deforestation then be a good thing?

Remember, trees, wood, non-creatures, and plenty of animals do not have positive inner-feelings about which we must worry, so an answer such as 'but you're hurting the trees' feelings' will simply not be acceptable.

Jon


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 1569 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 35 of 304 (404344)
06-08-2007 7:28 AM
Reply to: Message 34 by Jon
06-08-2007 1:47 AM


Why it is Right?
The thread is essentially about why it is right to do good to others. It isn't about actually deeming what specific actions are good or what individual actions are right, but generally why it is right to do good to others (individuals}.

What is good changes through the ages, so it doesn't matter what is deemed good right now.

I think JavaMan was on the right path in Message 23.

JavaMan writes:

What is morality when we get down to it, apart from the rules we use to regulate our behaviour towards one another? And why do we need to regulate our behaviour? So that I can get on with pursuing the things I want to do, and you can get on with the things you want to do.

I'd argue that there's nothing more to morality than that. If I increase your pain or reduce your happiness, I'm acting immorally; conversely, if I reduce your pain or increase your happiness, I'm acting morally.

Doing "good" to someone else is generally considered a positive action and not a harmful action.

In the OP Stile gives his definition of what it means to do good to others.

Stile writes:

Good is increasing the positive inner-feelings of another being.

So explain what your hypothetical Amazon situation below has to do with individuals?

Jon writes:

If cutting down every tree in the Amazon increased the positive inner-feelings (PIF) points of the world more so than it decreased them—i.e., there is a net increase—, would it be right to cut down every tree in the Amazon? Would deforestation then be a good thing?

As an individual, I'm not going to be cutting down every tree in the Amazon, so the hypothetical situation is useless in this discussion.

In the dictionary meaning of good (noun) we see the meaning: advancement of prosperity or well-being which follows with the OP definition. There are other meanings to the noun form, but his definition is valid.

So what is your argument? Is it right to do good to others or not?


"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz
This message is a reply to:
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ikabod
Member (Idle past 2604 days)
Posts: 365
From: UK
Joined: 03-13-2006


Message 36 of 304 (404345)
06-08-2007 7:30 AM
Reply to: Message 28 by Stile
06-07-2007 4:15 PM


Re: Going out on a limb to test a hypothesis, any takers?
A specific example:
A guy is holding a box and asks me to open the door for him, in order to help him get inside. I open the door for him.

..and so you open the door letting the bomber and his bomb hidden in the box into the building

you seem to keep missing the ponit .. we are not equiped to tell what is a good act , we can only do what we "think" is right at the time .

An abstract example:
Saving an innocent life.

so how much time do to you take to check how innocent the life is , and how long that innocent will last , and if that will lead to "bad" events out doing any good created by the saving.

you can not make such judgments on what will increase the total world good , we act on what makes us feel/think that we are doing good , reguardless of the reality of the event and its consequenceis .

Go ahead, try to think of "a (morally) good thing" that is not based directly on increasing the inner-feelings of another person. Do that, and I must seach again for what good actually is.

i dont think i ever said "good" does not increasing the inner-feelings of another person , and as morality is all about person to person interactions thats what you would expect " good" to do .

what im saying is you cant pick a "good" and say this will increasing the inner-feelings of another person/s

reguradless of what you label your actions , good , bad , indifferent , right , wrong , those are you choice of what you desided to do , and your reasons for so doing are personal , ie scoring point so you get a good after life , cos douing good makes you feel good about yourself , cos you have been educated to act towards others in a certain way .

you are not doing any absolute good , you are mere doing what you need to do to be able to live your life in a way acceptable to you .


This message is a reply to:
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pelican
Member (Idle past 3097 days)
Posts: 781
From: australia
Joined: 05-27-2007


Message 37 of 304 (404350)
06-08-2007 7:58 AM
Reply to: Message 34 by Jon
06-08-2007 1:47 AM


Are you good?
To Jon and Stiles, I've enjoyed your debate. It's great to see minds at work. still on the topic of being good and passing on the good vibes, I can tell you that you cannot predict your effect on others. Being good can rub some people up and you wouldn't know. Keep your own council and keep your own best interests at heart. You can't go wrong. Regards dameeva
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JavaMan
Member (Idle past 430 days)
Posts: 475
From: York, England
Joined: 08-05-2005


Message 38 of 304 (404352)
06-08-2007 8:21 AM
Reply to: Message 32 by Stile
06-07-2007 4:43 PM


Re: And so we are on to definitions...
Although I've defended your position in a previous post, I think your arguments here are indefensible.

2. Not stealing a pack of gum from WalMart
That's not "good". It's just "not bad". I would say this is morally neutral

Stealing (even from WalMart) is considered morally wrong in all societies. It may sometimes be justified, but it is never considered morally right or even morally neutral. If your definition of morality fails to allow for this fact, then there must be something wrong with your definition.

If you steal from me, that reduces my happiness; if I steal from you, that reduces your happiness. As a society, therefore, we voluntarily agree not to steal from one another, so that we can enjoy our possessions in peace. That voluntary agreement is enacted as a moral prohibition against the act of stealing, so that any such act, in whatever circumstances, attracts social and even legal punishment.

1. Picking up a piece of trash out in the woods
I would say such an act is morally neutral. Why do you say it is morally good? I can see it being morally good if you add some more information such as:
-the wood was dying from pollution. In which case "the being" you're helping here is the wood itself. I was trying to be careful and not use the word "person" so as to include any living creature. Including plants.

Again your purely psychological definition of morality is leading you astray. Fifty years ago you could have argued that leaving trash in the woods was a morally neutral act; but nowadays, when it's morally frowned upon and even illegal in some countries, it certainly isn't considered morally neutral.

Morality, in the main, is something decided upon by society as a whole, not by individuals. You don't get to decide that stealing or leaving trash in the woods are morally neutral. If you carry out either of those acts, and you get caught doing them, you'll suffer the appropriate social sanction, whatever your personal views.

3. Stopping the boiling water from spilling on the baby
Not being able to read the future, I won't be able to say that this baby is going to be incredibly thank-ful or not. Chances are though, once they are capable to express their thanks, they would.

Stopping a baby from being scalded by boiling water is a good thing. Everybody knows that. If your definition of morality has difficulty explaining why it's a good thing, then there's a problem with your definition. Don't waste your time trying to wriggle around the question, just adjust your definition.

The simple explanation of why it's considered a good thing is just that stopping people being harmed is a good thing. You don't need to create fanciful theories about the internal psychological state of the people (or babies) affected. Getting scalded hurts, and stopping someone from getting hurt, other things being equal, is always a good thing.


'I can't even fit all my wife's clothes into a suitcase for travelling. So you want me to believe we're going to put all of the planets and stars and everything into a sandwich bag?' - q3psycho on the Big Bang
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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 1569 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 39 of 304 (404353)
06-08-2007 8:48 AM
Reply to: Message 36 by ikabod
06-08-2007 7:30 AM


General Good
quote:
.and so you open the door letting the bomber and his bomb hidden in the box into the building

you seem to keep missing the point .. we are not equipped to tell what is a good act, we can only do what we "think" is right at the time.


Doesn't matter. The act of opening a door for someone is generally considered good because it is helpful. It doesn't matter if the person going through the door has bad intentions.

There are things in our society that are generally accepted as good actions. Opening the door for others, giving up one's seat to the elderly or pregnant, saving someone's life, etc. It doesn't matter if the people we help have bad intentions later or were worth the effort.

I think it is considered right to do good actions because the thought is that positive actions can have a positive effect on others as well as ourselves.

In the unlikely chance that the person one opens the door for may have a box with a bomb in it, there is also the chance that the positive action of opening the door could possibly change the person's negative intent.


"Peshat is what I say and derash is what you say." --Nehama Leibowitz
This message is a reply to:
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Stile
Member
Posts: 3439
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.5


Message 40 of 304 (404359)
06-08-2007 11:33 AM
Reply to: Message 33 by Jon
06-08-2007 1:32 AM


Re: Is that your final answer?
Jon writes:

Stile writes:

...the good is decided afterwards...


Then I pointed out the flaw:

Then you can never claim that you are deciding to do good, since you cannot know that you've done good until after the action is carried out.

And now you have changed your tune:

Stile writes:

Sometimes you can know during the action


Is that your final answer?

No, my final answer is the same as the first. The good is decided afterwards. You can't know you're doing any good unless you somehow receive information from whoever you're acting upon that their inner-feelings are actually increasing.

"Sometimes you can tell during the action.." ..was supposed to get you thinking about scenarios. Scenarios like this:
Alex begins to paint his house. His girlfried visits and says "You're doing a wonderful job honey, I love how you're making the house look". Alex now knows during his action of painting the house that he's doing good for his girlfriend. He can confidently complete the action knowing that it is doing good.

Then again, perhaps you are right here. Even getting this information during the act, Alex still doesn't know how his girlfriend will react after the house is finished. I suppose this information just helps him understand that he's probably on the way to doing some good.
Yes, I will retract that you can know what's good during an action, it needs to be after to find out if it was good or not.

If you think you can know that you're doing good before you do an action... then please give an example of such. How can you possibly know that doing something pleases someone until you do it and you receive some information to that effect?
They could tell you, but that would still only be them expecting that the action will make them feel better. You still can't really know until after it's done and they can see how their feelings changed.

Like in the painting example. Alex could finish, and his girlfriend could visit, and she might say "Oh.. well, I didn't think it would look like this.. how ugly". This would mean that painting the house was actually a bad thing for Alex to do to his girlfriend.
Notice how the same action maybe good for, say, his mom (if she liked the paint job).

So now you may ask "Was painting the house good or bad, then?" And the answer is that the question doesn't make sense. Paining a house in and of itself isn't a good or bad thing, it's just a coating of a substance on a wall.

The question is "Was painting the house good for his girlfriend? (or Mom?)" And the answer is no (or yes).

How about, for every one point increase of positive inner-feeling you give to someone else, you vomit. Going to continue increasing other peoples' positive inner-feelings?

If I wanted to be a good person and do good, then yes. If I valued myself and my own health over being a good person and doing good, then no. Of course, then I'd never do any good things, either.

Well, are you going to clear it up then?

Umm... yes... that's why I posted a rather large reply to you.

Okay, I'm standing next to his bed, bloody knife in my right hand, his dead body atop the sheets. It's after the act; it's afterwards. What logical steps should I take to calculate the morality of my actions?

You can't. You'd have to get the information from him. And, well, he's gone. You can use the information available to you to guess if what you did was good or not. But you can't figure out whether or not you increased his inner feelings, as far as I know, anyway. This is why killing someone is so risky if you want to do good. You can't really know if it was actually good after you killed them. Even if they're in extreme pain, no hope for recovery, will be forced into this pain for 20 years, they plead you to kill them and assure you it's what they want... you can be relatively confident that killing them will be a good thing. But you can't know for sure, because they won't be able to tell you if it was good for them or not afterwards.

Why? Whose positive inner-feelings is it better to increase now? You will add one point of positive inner-feelings to the rape victim because now he/she is no longer being raped. But, you will subtract 2 positive inner-feeling points from the rapist—one for stopping them from raping, another for killing them. Based on your system, you've now just done more harm than good, as you've left a net of -1 positive inner-feelings (PIF) points.

Not only did you lower his PIF points by stopping him, but by stopping him you also seem to have done something that you yourself declared to be 'not right.' Better subtract another point; that puts you at -2.


I think you're confused. People are equal. It is wrong to force yourself on another. The rapist has decided to lower the IF of another being. He has decided to forfeit the respect of their IF and in turn, forfeits any respect for his own IF. Therefore it's right to stop him and increase the IF of the victim. The rapist has forfeited any respect towards his own IF, they are no longer in "the equation".

Sorry, I was assuming such a thing was obvious, I hadn't been talking about such basic scenario's. Haven't you ever heard "You're right to swing your fist stops where my face begins"?

Yet you have no problem killing the rapist? First you stop the poor fella from raping, which takes off 1 point for his PIF, and another for doing something you had no right to do. But now, it would also seem that it's not just doing something that takes off a point, but the decision to do it also takes off a point. That puts you at -3.

As I said above, the rapist forfeited any respect for his own IF when he decided to forfeit the respect for another's. His IF no longer exist in the equation. You can't subtract something from nothing. How many apples can you remove from an empty basket?

Yet playing the game by your rules leaves you in the hole.

No, you played by your rules. Which were not mine. You can play by any rules you like. No matter how nonsensical they are. I'll stick with my practical, workable, and best-I've-heard-of-so-far system for understanding when I'm doing good and when I'm doing bad.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 33 by Jon, posted 06-08-2007 1:32 AM Jon has not yet responded

    
Stile
Member
Posts: 3439
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.5


Message 41 of 304 (404362)
06-08-2007 11:46 AM
Reply to: Message 34 by Jon
06-08-2007 1:47 AM


Re: And so we are on to definitions...
Jon writes:

If cutting down every tree in the Amazon increased the positive inner-feelings (PIF) points of the world moreso than it decreased them—i.e., there is a net increase—, would it be right to cut down every tree in the Amazon? Would deforestation then be a good thing?


Yes. Why wouldn't it be?
I don't understand how you would ever calculate this. Or, even if you could, that it would ever result such as this. But yes, if it was, then deforestation would then be a good thing.

Remember, trees, wood, non-creatures, and plenty of animals do not have positive inner-feelings about which we must worry, so an answer such as 'but you're hurting the trees' feelings' will simply not be acceptable.

What makes you think that trees, wood, and plenty of animals do not have inner-feelings? Perhaps we're doing bad everytime we drink a glass of water and kill all the bacteria included? Maybe every breath we take is a bad thing? We can't know because we don't have the information (right now, anyway). And we have to make assumptions in order to carry on with our practical lives. We assume they aren't capapble of our "higher brain functions" simply because they don't have a brain. But what if they are capable of those functions in another manner? It could very well be that we're all doing a hell of a lot of bad things to creatures we're not even thinking about.
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Stile
Member
Posts: 3439
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.5


Message 42 of 304 (404364)
06-08-2007 11:59 AM
Reply to: Message 36 by ikabod
06-08-2007 7:30 AM


Re: Going out on a limb to test a hypothesis, any takers?
ikabod writes:

..and so you open the door letting the bomber and his bomb hidden in the box into the building

you seem to keep missing the ponit .. we are not equiped to tell what is a good act , we can only do what we "think" is right at the time.

But that didn't happen in my scenario.
I grant though, that if we're talking about your scenario then it certainly was not a good thing. It was even a bad thing.

We certainly are equipped to tell what is and what is not a good act. You agree that opening the door was good. However, opening the door for the bomber was bad. We're both equipped to see this. The fact that different situations are different is, well, rather obvious.

And yes, we can only do what we "think" is right at the time. That's why we have to wait until after the action to know if it was good or not.

I let him in. No bomb. It was good.
I let him in. Building explodes and thousands died. It was bad.

you can not make such judgments on what will increase the total world good , we act on what makes us feel/think that we are doing good , reguardless of the reality of the event and its consequenceis.

I agree completely. How does this change the fact that we can judge smaller things? There are things where we can ascertain "the reality of the event and it's consequences", and therefore we can judge whether or not these actions are good or bad.

what im saying is you cant pick a "good" and say this will increasing the inner-feelings of another person/s

That's exactly what I'm saying too. However, you can pick "an action", and if you're able to obtain information on the results of that action you can say if it was "good" or "bad".

you are not doing any absolute good , you are mere doing what you need to do to be able to live your life in a way acceptable to you.

Never said I was doing absolute good. I said I was doing good, and I know that I'm doing good.
I am not "merely doing what I'm able to in a way acceptable to me", I'm doing good, and I know that I'm doing good.

Good is increasing the inner-feelings of another being. You can't always tell if you're doing this. But sometimes you can, and if you can tell, then you can know that you did good. Then you can learn what is more likely to do good and what is not. Then you can attempt to do as much good as possible.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 36 by ikabod, posted 06-08-2007 7:30 AM ikabod has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 71 by ikabod, posted 06-11-2007 6:54 AM Stile has responded

    
Stile
Member
Posts: 3439
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.5


Message 43 of 304 (404372)
06-08-2007 1:54 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by pelican
06-08-2007 7:58 AM


Re: But are you better?
Welcome to the debate :) Have fun!

dameeva writes:

I can tell you that you cannot predict your effect on others. Being good can rub some people up and you wouldn't know. Keep your own council and keep your own best interests at heart. You can't go wrong.

I half-agree.
I am in full agreement that "you cannot predict your effect on others". Which is why I've been saying you need to wait until you get some information about "your effect" before you know if you did any good or not.

Well, I also agree that if your motiviation is to better yourself then, yes, if you keep your own counsel and your best interests at heart then you can't go wrong.

But what if there's a better motivation?
I think that a motivation such as wanting to better others or increasing the amount of good in this world as much as possible are much better motivations. Perhaps they're all good, but certainly some will be better than others, no? These seem less selfish and more honorable to me.

Now if these are your motivations, then it won't be productive to keep your own counsel, and your best interests at heart. You need to try to help others as much as you can. But you need to learn how to help others, and understand if you're actually helping them as well. That's what I've been discussing.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by pelican, posted 06-08-2007 7:58 AM pelican has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 50 by pelican, posted 06-08-2007 7:16 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply

    
Stile
Member
Posts: 3439
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.5


Message 44 of 304 (404381)
06-08-2007 2:43 PM
Reply to: Message 38 by JavaMan
06-08-2007 8:21 AM


The tricky parts are... tricky
Stealing (even from WalMart) is considered morally wrong in all societies. It may sometimes be justified, but it is never considered morally right or even morally neutral. If your definition of morality fails to allow for this fact, then there must be something wrong with your definition.

If you steal from me, that reduces my happiness; if I steal from you, that reduces your happiness. As a society, therefore, we voluntarily agree not to steal from one another, so that we can enjoy our possessions in peace. That voluntary agreement is enacted as a moral prohibition against the act of stealing, so that any such act, in whatever circumstances, attracts social and even legal punishment.

I'm not sure if you're not explaining yourself well, or if you mis-read what's going on. I agree that stealing is morally wrong (you seem to be arguing that I think stealing is morally neutral?).

I just do not agree that not stealing is morally good. I'm not stealing everything in the world right now. I'm not being morally good. I'm not doing anything at all. I'm being morally neutral... ineffective in a moral sense.

Not stealing is certainly better than stealing. Since even neutral or ineffectiveness is better than negative acts. However, it's still not morally good.

Or, I suppose if you want to push this and say it is morally good... Then, well, I would have to say that you are, in fact, increasing the inner-feelings of the WalMart store-owner by not stealing. I'm sure they'll be thank-ful you didn't steal from them. I just find it easier, when nothing really changes, to say that nothing really changed and call it neutral.

Again your purely psychological definition of morality is leading you astray. Fifty years ago you could have argued that leaving trash in the woods was a morally neutral act; but nowadays, when it's morally frowned upon and even illegal in some countries, it certainly isn't considered morally neutral.

Not quite right. Fifty years ago I could have argued that leaving trash in the woods was a morally neutral act; but nowadays, since we have learned about the damaging effects, we have learned that it is actually morally wrong.

Just like this: Five hundred years ago I could have argued that slavery was morally neutral; but nowadays, since we have learned about the damaging effects, we have learned that it is actually morally wrong. It was wrong five hundred years ago, we just didn't know it.

People are equal today, they deserve equal rights today, slavery is wrong today.
People were equal 500 years ago, they deserved equal rights 500 years ago, slavery was wrong 500 years ago. It just so happens that the majority of the population either didn't understand that or didn't care.

Trash damages the ecosystem of a forest today, it's wrong today.
Trash damaged the ecosystem of a forest 50 years ago, it was wrong 50 years ago. It just so happens that the majority of the population didn't understand that or didn't care.

Morality, in the main, is something decided upon by society as a whole, not by individuals. You don't get to decide that stealing or leaving trash in the woods are morally neutral.

That's my point. That this thinking is incorrect. Morality isn't decided upon by society or individuals. No one, individuals or society, gets to decide that stealing or leaving trash in the woods are morally neutral, good, or bad. It's bad. It's wrong. It's damaging the wood. That's it. No discussion. You can say you don't care, or didn't understand, or whatever. It's still morally wrong.

If you carry out either of those acts, and you get caught doing them, you'll suffer the appropriate social sanction, whatever your personal views.

This is actually talking about legal right/wrong. I agree with you completely here. But it has no bearing whatsoever on what is morally right/wrong.

The problems with figuring out if something is right/wrong is when there's insufficient information, and we're guessing. Like abortion. We can't know how the fetus' internal feelings are affected. We do know how the mother's internal feelings are affected. We can assume that the baby is being hurt, or that the baby isn't developed enough to understand or even possess internal feelings... but the full information just isn't there. We cannot know if this is good or bad. We just go with what we know... the mother's internal feelings, and that we think to the best of our knowledge that the baby does not possess inner-feelings... and we decide that it's good to let the mother decide.

I really don't want to get into an abortion right/wrong debate here. So if you push this analogy, I'll most likely just ignore it. I just wanted to grab a scenario where it's obvious that we don't have (maybe even cannot get?) all the information we need to judge it.

However, there are simpler scenario's where we do have all the information. Like slavery. People are equal. That's it. That's all the information we need. It's quite basic. Slavery is wrong because it's wrong for some people to force other people to do things against their will.

Can't explain why something is wrong? Then chances are it's not morally wrong, and you just personally don't happen to like it.

Granted... there are some basic principles that need to be agreed upon in order to objectively judge what is morally good. I propose that we only need one basic principle: Good is increasing the inner-feelings of other people. Agree to that, and we can objectively judge every situation we're able to aquire sufficient information.

Not only that, but I also propose that most people have already (possibly sub-concsiously or without really understanding...) have already agreed to this basic principle. Which is why:

Stopping a baby from being scalded by boiling water is a good thing. Everybody knows that.
(my bolding)

What I'm discussing is why does everybody know that? And I'm proposing that we know that because we know that:

Good = Increasing the inner-feelings of a being

The simple explanation of why it's considered a good thing is just that stopping people being harmed is a good thing. You don't need to create fanciful theories about the internal psychological state of the people (or babies) affected.

I admit that I was a little confused when I answered with the part you quoted. I just didn't erase that because I thought it was obvious that my correction (the edit added below the dashed line, right under the part you quoted) was replacing that answer. In my correction, I said mostly what you said here.

But you have to be careful. Not even "stopping people from being harmed" is always a good thing. What if the person wants to be harmed? Spanking is harming someone. Some people like to be spanked during sex. Preventing this harm from occuring to someone who wants it during sex is actually morally wrong.

And we're back to the same thing:

An act is only morally good IFF the being acted upon's inner feelings are increased.

(IFF = if and only if)

Getting scalded hurts, and stopping someone from getting hurt, other things being equal, is always a good thing.

That's just it though, isn't it? That tiny little part you added... the "other things being equal"... the "use your common sense"... the "everyone just knows it"...
Why? What is it that needs to be equal? What is the common sense? What does everyone "just know"?

I'm proposing that we all know:

An act is only morally good IFF the being acted upon's inner feelings are increased.

Hmmm.. my messages are steadily increasing in length :) I hope I'm not just being boring now.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 38 by JavaMan, posted 06-08-2007 8:21 AM JavaMan has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 45 by skepticfaith, posted 06-08-2007 3:28 PM Stile has responded

    
skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 3833 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 45 of 304 (404385)
06-08-2007 3:28 PM
Reply to: Message 44 by Stile
06-08-2007 2:43 PM


Re: The tricky parts are... tricky
quote:
That's my point. That this thinking is incorrect. Morality isn't decided upon by society or individuals. No one, individuals or society, gets to decide that stealing or leaving trash in the woods are morally neutral, good, or bad. It's bad. It's wrong. It's damaging the wood. That's it. No discussion. You can say you don't care, or didn't understand, or whatever. It's still morally wrong.


I found this to be a seriously offensive statement (well withing my moral outset)..
Morality IS decided by society and/or individuals. It is society (or certain segments of it ) that determime that leaving trash is BAD. The fact is it IS NOT MORALLY WRONG TO ME or to many others. You have no right to try to impose your beliefs on me.
The reason we have wars is because of DIFFERENCES in morality. Side A thinks that on issue A they are on the side of good, side B thinks they are opposite.
It is because of the lack of objective thinking that ALL modern wars have been fought. The victor then paints the losing side as being morally wrong and yippee we had a just war! Nonsense.
An alien from another planet would not give a hoot about our morality -they will not see good or evil in our civilization - all they will see is wars fought over power, and issues that people argue over.
Laws are imposed by people and it is a sad fact that certain people would like to impose laws to oppress people when laws should really be structured to make society run efficiently.
Even though I am not a Christian by faith, I think the greatest moral statement that should be considered reasonable by most was made by Jesus:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Everything else is just bickering over issues that people generally disagree on.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 44 by Stile, posted 06-08-2007 2:43 PM Stile has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 46 by Stile, posted 06-08-2007 3:52 PM skepticfaith has responded

  
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