Staredit Network > Forums > Serious Discussion > Topic: Simple Truths
Simple Truths
Aug 3 2015, 8:29 pm
By: Vrael  

Aug 20 2015, 2:03 am Oh_Man Post #21

Find Me On Discord (Brood War UMS Community & Staredit Network)

Quote from Vrael
In both the vaccination and masochism examples, the pain is merely a side effect of the intended consequence. A short sting is necessary to prevent disease, and yes in the masochism example "inflicting pain" is necessary on the path to pleasure. But the intention of both examples is not to cause harm, it's to protect against disease and to cause pleasure. If you think it's worth arguing further that the side-effect pain in these two cases is actually important, I'll be happy to continue this part of the discussion, but I think it's simple to show how the goals of these actions eclipses the necessary, non-permanent damage forming pain inflictions.
I didn't say masochism. I said sadomasochism.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". For a sadomasochist they would be happy to inflict pain on other people, because they themselves enjoy having pain inflicted on them.

But if they are inflicting pain on people who are not masochistic then there is no pleasure derived. They are simply inflicting pain.

This is one of the flaws of the Golden Rule.


Quote from Roy
Trolly Problem
This is less to do with the Golden Rule specifically. This is more a general example of the differences between consequentialist morality and deontological morality.

If you're a deontologist you're not going to kill the one person to save two. If you're a consequentialist, you will save the two.

I'm not sure if you guys know these terms. I have studied morality academically so I know a bunch random shit about the subject of morality.

Post has been edited 1 time(s), last time on Aug 20 2015, 2:13 am by Oh_Man.




Aug 21 2015, 6:33 pm Vrael Post #22



Quote from Oh_Man
... sadomasochism ...
Ah, I see. So you're talking about a sadist really, one who derives enjoyment from inflicting pain on others. In this case, as in Lanthanide's example, I still think it's somewhat trivial to amend what is meant by pain. Let us consider only those pains in which some form of permanent, meaningful damage is done. A whiplash may cause real physical pain and marks, but it isn't likely to leave any permanent physical or mental damage, but chopping off someone's arm will. A sadomasochist would not want their arm chopped off, therefore they should not do it to others by the golden rule.

In any case, this thread of the discussion ties back to the original argument which I had already admitted was flawed, in that murder is wrong because it creates pain. Unless you think there is a good reason why it's non-trivial to expand or contract the definition of pain I'm using, I'm not really interested in "Lawyering away" the "exceptions" like this one, or Lanthanide's hermit example. If you think there's a root idea here which is non-trivial please do continue, but otherwise I'd like to put this to rest.


Quote from Oh_Man
I have studied morality academically so I know a bunch random shit about the subject of morality.
So please, contribute more :)

Quote from NudeRaider
Quote from Vrael
If we assume that there was a person who truly wanted to die, but was too afraid to commit suicide and instead wanted us to kill them, would killing them still be wrong?
Despite the wording being about what you would or would not want it's actually about what they want. By that logic: No, not wrong.
Here's the kicker: "it's not wrong" I cannot reconcile the fact that even if they wanted death, it still takes a conscious choice on my part to kill them. How is making that choice not wrong, even if they want me to make that choice that way? I can see an argument for exceptional circumstances, where if a person was in complete pain they might choose death over the alternative, but at that point the choice becomes more about "ending the pain" than "removing the life". Of course, who am I to say if a person decides that they don't want to live, is any less or more important than the physical pain of another person? Would a "mercy killing" still be wrong, or is it not wrong because the person wants death? Perhaps the only valid 'exceptional circumstance' would be when you merely act as a proxy for someone elses choice. If a person wanted to kill themselves, but was so incapacitated that they could not, and you did it for them, for example. I think that would be very different than if someone healthy wanted to kill themself and you did it for them. :hurr:



None.

Aug 21 2015, 7:34 pm Oh_Man Post #23

Find Me On Discord (Brood War UMS Community & Staredit Network)

Quote from Vrael
Ah, I see. So you're talking about a sadist really, one who derives enjoyment from inflicting pain on others. In this case, as in Lanthanide's example, I still think it's somewhat trivial to amend what is meant by pain. Let us consider only those pains in which some form of permanent, meaningful damage is done. A whiplash may cause real physical pain and marks, but it isn't likely to leave any permanent physical or mental damage, but chopping off someone's arm will. A sadomasochist would not want their arm chopped off, therefore they should not do it to others by the golden rule.
It needs to be both for this to work. Sadist and masochist, so sadomasochist.

Let's use a specific example, cock and ball torture. A sadomasochist could inflict this on someone else (thereby making him a sadist), but he also enjoys CBT himself (making him a masochist). He does not violate the Golden Rule. "Treat others as one would like others to treat oneself." This other person would not be a masochist, and would therefore not enjoy a bit of CBT, it would just be plain torture with no pleasure involved. So to one's commonsense this would come across as immoral, but yet it doesn't violate the Golden Rule.

This isn't really an 'exception'. This is just a really good example to show one of the ways in which the Golden Rule is flawed. Since morality is relativistic there will be many other examples of people being okay with something being done to them, and therefore be willing to do it to others. Even the Silver Rule does not escape this (Don't treat others in ways you wouldn't want to be treated). The Silver Rule avoids other problems the Golden Rule has which is separate to the flaw I am detailing above.


Quote
Why is murder wrong? I'm taking a leaf out of Douglass Adams' work here, and saying we know the answer (42) but have yet to find the question. In the same way, I don't think anyone really doubts that murder is wrong, but what is the simple justification for that fact? I'm not interested in empirical arguments ('when murder rates go down, society improves') or transcendental arguments ('god said so') or existential arguments ('everythings pretty much the same unless you're dead'), or social contract arguments ('we agree as society that murder is bad'), or even 'pure' rational A->B type arguments. I just want a simple, reasonable argument whose assumptions seem sound and seems to point to the truth. I'm not interested in petty semantics, and of course you can use elements from all the argument styles I mentioned above, I really just mean that I've seen all those core arguments before and there's something missing. If all that existed in the universe was you and another person, and you had the knife, why wouldn't you kill that person? Why would that be wrong?
Okay...

This is a prima facie simple question but it's actually extremely complicated to answer. I don't get what you mean by "simple, reasonable argument whose assumptions seem sound and seems to point to the truth." Why is that mutually exclusive to all the other examples you mentioned?

I will just start with my own personal views I've come to over study of the subject:
* Morality is subjective to the individual, though there are societal moral norms that individuals share, and laws which individuals are cozened into obeying even if their personal moral views conflict with those laws.
* Morality is a human construct, that is, it doesn't exist in actuality. There is no divine being with a set of absolute moral laws that we are all trying to adhere to.

In order for morality to really work you have to make an assumption, and that assumption is basically always going to be unsupported by anything. Morality is really nonsensical at the base level, I believe. Here are the three tiers of morality that we were taught about:

Meta-Ethics
This is basically the starting point of ethics. Nowhere near as specific as 'is murder wrong'. Do moral truths actually exist? If you hold the view that moral truths don't exist you'd be called a nihilist or moral anti-realist. Some people do hold this view, but I think it's impossible to actually live your life by this view.

Normative Ethics
This is the next level below. If you accept moral truths exist, then you have to ask how to establish what they are. There are basically two main views:
(1) Deontology - morality is about following rules. If you adhere to these rules, you're moral, if you don't, you're immoral. It's focused on the act itself "murder is wrong" rather than the consequences.
(2) Consequentialism - as the name suggests it's about morality being the consequences of your actions. Under this view, murder is neither right nor wrong. It's only the consequences of that murder that determine whether it was right or wrong. If you murder someone, and it turns out they were just some innocent, you're in big trouble. If you murder someone and it turns out they were going to become the next Hitler - you're a paragon!
(3) There are a bunch of other random ones, like virtue ethics from Aristotle, for instance - but I never learnt much about them.

Applied Ethics
Final level. What you have here are a series of attempts by philosophers and such to create moral theorems and apply them to the real world. Some examples:
Immanuel Kant had this concept of the Categorical Imperative. "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law." Which basically means, like, analyse your actions based on what would happen if all of society did it instead of just you. So if you murdered someone because they stole your lunch what would happen to society if everyone did that.
Golden Rule - a deontological maxim we've talked about.
Utilitarianism - morality is a big numbers game where you maximise good and minimise bad (consequentialist derivative).
Numerous religions and their adherence to commandments. They come under the banner of divine command theory, which defines morality as adherence to a divine being's will.



So, yeah.... info dump. That's why I say you can't really just expect some simple answer from 'is murder wrong?'. You basically have to 'choose' your morality, the one that makes most sense to you, then try and defend it as best you can and adhere to it as best you can. And from what I can tell NO moral theory is just devoid of flaws. I thoroughly believe that it's not possible to justify any moral stance about anything, because at the end of the day its a human construct. It's like fiction. As to why I personally don't murder people, well, I don't have any desires to murder any particular person. And if I did, I'd like to think that threat of jail, social ostracisation and self-guilt would be enough to dissuade me.

I just think when you all throw around words like wrong and right, you really haven't seriously considered what those words actually mean. It's like a child just continually asking why, why, why ad infinitum. It eventually dissolves into absurdity.

THERE, I contributed.


EDIT:
Quote
I don't think anyone really doubts that murder is wrong.
Just on this. This implies a deontological way of thinking. There are many times when murder would be RIGHT, if you ask me, as a consequentialist. Say if someone is about to kill you, and you kill them in self-defence. I believe that would be moral murder, or rightful murder. Then there are precarious slippery slope situations. Say you knew this person was going to detonate a bomb tomorrow killing X people, or w/e other immoral act. Let's say the situation was such that peacefully stopping him wasn't an option. Murdering this person then would be rightful, too, I would argue.

Post has been edited 4 time(s), last time on Aug 21 2015, 8:05 pm by Oh_Man.




Aug 21 2015, 11:26 pm Roy Post #24

An artist's depiction of an Extended Unit Death

Quote from Oh_Man
Let's use a specific example, cock and ball torture. A sadomasochist could inflict this on someone else (thereby making him a sadist), but he also enjoys CBT himself (making him a masochist). He does not violate the Golden Rule. "Treat others as one would like others to treat oneself." This other person would not be a masochist, and would therefore not enjoy a bit of CBT, it would just be plain torture with no pleasure involved. So to one's commonsense this would come across as immoral, but yet it doesn't violate the Golden Rule.
It's clear where the Golden Rule is failing and why. The Golden Rule is designed to prevent victimization, but in this scenario it fails to do so, and so we have a scenario that is wrong and yet accepted by the Golden Rule.

Perhaps the explanation for why murder is wrong is as simple as this: there is a victim.

(Also, was it really necessary to give a wiki link?)




Aug 21 2015, 11:51 pm Lanthanide Post #25



Quote from Roy
(Also, was it really necessary to give a wiki link?)
Better a wiki link than a google search results link :) You didn't have to click on it, clearly.

But you needn't look for sadomasochism to find a 'flaw' like this in the golden rule. Just look for any activity that person A enjoys that person B does not; it doesn't mean person A is justified in administering that same activity to person B.

Really the golden rule complicates the real message: treat other people as they want to be treated.

It's meant for children and other people who can't fully comprehend other people and their own feelings and rights as individuals, by imaginging if they themselves would like to be treated in the manner they are considering.

Suggesting we use the golden rule as the basis for moral actions is completely mis-understanding the purpose of the rule.



None.

Aug 22 2015, 12:14 am Roy Post #26

An artist's depiction of an Extended Unit Death

Quote from Lanthanide
But you needn't look for sadomasochism to find a 'flaw' like this in the golden rule. Just look for any activity that person A enjoys that person B does not; it doesn't mean person A is justified in administering that same activity to person B.

Really the golden rule complicates the real message: treat other people as they want to be treated.

It's meant for children and other people who can't fully comprehend other people and their own feelings and rights as individuals, by imaginging if they themselves would like to be treated in the manner they are considering.

Suggesting we use the golden rule as the basis for moral actions is completely mis-understanding the purpose of the rule.
Or it's a misunderstanding of the rule to say that sadomasochism is a flaw. The action is causing pleasure: while a sadomasochist would find pleasure by having pain inflicted on them, it is not the means of causing pleasure on a non-sadomasochist, so a sadomasochist is not following "Treat others as one would like others to treat oneself" by causing an unpleasurable experience on another person. It's changing a variable and pretending it's the same thing.

If person A wants enjoyment, then providing enjoyment to person B would be following the Golden Rule. The activity might not be the same, but the action is.




Aug 22 2015, 12:19 am Lanthanide Post #27



Quote from Roy
If person A wants enjoyment, then providing enjoyment to person B would be following the Golden Rule. The activity might not be the same, but the action is.
Yes, but now you're you're twisting what the golden rule actually is by changing the definitions of things. When two kids get into a fight, say in a sandpit because one of them throws sand in the others face, the parent/teacher who intervenes might say "treat others how you want to be treated - you wouldn't like sand thrown in your face, so don't throw sand in their face". That is the golden rule. They don't say "you might enjoy having sand thrown in your face, but this other child does not, instead you should do things to this other child that makes them feel good".

Anyway, by trying to boil down the golden run and re-define it in the way you have, you've just arrived at what I said the rule real is: "treat other people as they want to be treated". The golden rule is a very basic and simple test that can be used to help determine how other people might want to be treated, in other words it is a tool that is a means to an end - determining how to treat others. But it is not an end in and of itself.

The golden rule really is just a simplistic learning aid. Trying to re-define 'what is actually means', means it is no longer the golden rule. It's like saying "if you just replace all of the meat in this stew with cabbage, it is much healthier" - true, but it's not really a stew any more.

Post has been edited 2 time(s), last time on Aug 22 2015, 12:24 am by Lanthanide.



None.

Aug 22 2015, 4:48 am Centreri Post #28

Relatively ancient and inactive

Quote
If all that existed in the universe was you and another person, and you had the knife, why wouldn't you kill that person? Why would that be wrong?

"Wrong" is wholly context-specific. The same action may be "right" in one context and "wrong" in another.

In your search for a more fundamental reason, you remove all context. I'd argue that by doing so you strip the word "wrong" of any meaning, making it a poorly-defined question to which you will find no satisfactory answer.



None.

Aug 22 2015, 9:45 am NudeRaider Post #29

We can't explain the universe, just describe it; and we don't know whether our theories are true, we just know they're not wrong. >Harald Lesch

Quote from Vrael
Here's the kicker: "it's not wrong" I cannot reconcile the fact that even if they wanted death, it still takes a conscious choice on my part to kill them. How is making that choice not wrong, even if they want me to make that choice that way? I can see an argument for exceptional circumstances, where if a person was in complete pain they might choose death over the alternative, but at that point the choice becomes more about "ending the pain" than "removing the life". Of course, who am I to say if a person decides that they don't want to live, is any less or more important than the physical pain of another person? Would a "mercy killing" still be wrong, or is it not wrong because the person wants death? Perhaps the only valid 'exceptional circumstance' would be when you merely act as a proxy for someone elses choice. If a person wanted to kill themselves, but was so incapacitated that they could not, and you did it for them, for example. I think that would be very different than if someone healthy wanted to kill themself and you did it for them. :hurr:
Well I was answering hypothetically about which morals to apply. In the real world you also gotta consider societal consequences. Simplest reason why you should never kill such a person is that his will to live might return later, but killing him is a final decision.




Aug 27 2015, 12:56 am payne Post #30

:payne:

Sorry guys, no time to read everything that was said...

Basically, I would call onto your premise (´´murder is wrong´´) and say it is flawed: murder is not inconditionally wrong.

I agree with murder to the extent that it has been proven to have a utilitarian value (I thus call upon the utilitarianist moral-philosophy).

That is to say, if one has the possibility to kill one person in order to prevent the killing of a whole city, I would consider the person to be in the right if he decides to kill the person, excluding a whole bunch of scenarios where the one guy might actually have a better utility-outcome than the whole city that is about to die (for example, killing a whole city like that might prove to be useful for humanity due to the reduced pollution that comes out of it).

EDIT: I just skimmed through most of what was said.
Thanks to Oh_Man for his post on philosophical theories.
Thanks to jjf28 for his utilitarian analysis.
Thanks to Centreri for pointing out something that seems quite fundamental to this problem.

You seemed to be saying that the utilitarian approach lacked a moral basis that would define ´´wrong´´ outside of a real-world context, and I think that would be where this problem came from.


Also, to expand a bit on Oh_Man´s post: Aristotle´s Moral of Virtue is more or a less a relative system. I cannot remember if it sets a bunch of conditions that an action must meet to be classified virtuous, or if he was listing virtues to be attained, or if let it open-ended (as if it was a Relativist Moral theory), but I do remember that he was arguing that as long as one was trying its best to improve himself in order to become more virtuous, one was acting righteously/morally. As soon as one acts in a less righteous manner than he already has, he is now acting immorally.
That would leave us with the possibility that someone might be considered to have a better utilitarian outcome than another one, but yet be rated as less moral due to him not trying to always improve himself (whereas the other individual which might have a lower utilitarian-calculus outcome might be said to be acting more morally than that first individual).


Anyhow, ultimately, I have a feeling that the type of analysis you present would lead you into a nihilist morality.

Post has been edited 4 time(s), last time on Aug 27 2015, 1:59 am by payne.




Sep 14 2015, 5:28 am Sacrieur Post #31

Still Napping

Quote from Vrael
Please provide some context and thought, statements masquerading as fact without support like this violate the terms of SD. I'm no longer a moderator here but I would have deleted this post once upon a time. If you wish to introduce some legal definitions, I would welcome your contribution, but there has already been some discussion relevant to what we are considering as murder in this thread which you should include in your arguments.

First, the dictionary defines it as
"1: the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought".

It's an unlawful killing. So why isn't it always wrong?

Because it's unlawful.

Any law may be created on whim and because of this, murder cannot be necessarily considered to be morally wrong. This is because while it is always an illegal act; killing is in of itself not inherently wrong. Granting this presupposition (as we all concede there are cases when it may permissible to kill, such as in self defense), then murder may be applied to whatever killings the government or ruling agency sees fit. For instance, a government may pass a law forbidding the taking of a life under any circumstance, even if your own life is threatened. Given this possibility, murder cannot be considered to be necessarily wrong.

---

That's really all the thought anyone need put into it.



None.

Dec 3 2015, 10:37 pm ClansAreForGays Post #32



Quote from Lanthanide
Really the golden rule complicates the real message: treat other people as they want to be treated.
Nah. If someone doesn't want to be punished for any of their behaviors, I'd rather have the golden rule.




Dec 3 2015, 11:34 pm Sand Wraith Post #33

she/her

Whosoever requires punishment for their behavior clearly did not respect the original message. Still, even in this sort of situation, society has already developed certain standards of punishment to safeguard against cruel and unnecessary punishment.




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