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Awesomelyglorious
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05 Jun 2010, 10:46 am

What are your thoughts on ethics?

What ethical systems do you promote and why do you promote them?

Who are your favorite ethicists or ethical writings and why are they your favorite?

What kind of features would you look for from an ethical system?

I know that some atheists like the teachings of Alonzo Fyfe, whose idea is Desire Utilitarianism: http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/Overvi ... itarianism His blog is here: http://atheistethicist.blogspot.com/ , but Luke at www.commonsenseatheism.com also likes Fyfe's ethical system.

I mention Alonzo to reflect how I am STRIDENTLY atheistic.
(This message has been paid for by the commission to awesomize Awesomelyglorious)

Also, I just wanted to share this because it is mildly related:
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you_are_what_you_is
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05 Jun 2010, 12:10 pm

I'm a utilitarian. I don't think I could accept desire utilitarianism since I'm an eliminative materialist, so that system is based on entities which on my view probably don't exist.

The main problem I would have with persuading people to adopt utilitarianism (or any ethical viewpoint) is probably that I simply don't think morality is objective. I don't believe that people can be rationally compelled to live according to any ethical system. There is nothing that makes utilitarianism correct. It isn't correct. It isn't incorrect, either, but neither is an ethics that would allow you to rape and murder whenever you want. I don't believe that rape is objectively wrong, just as I don't believe that Frank Zappa's music is objectively good.

I like the idea of maximizing happiness. Do you have to like it also? No, but I hope you do. The best I can do is just appeal to people emotionally - but 1) I'm not very good at doing that, and 2) many defenses of utilitarianism result in things that people would intuitively emotionally object to (the controversy around many of Peter Singer's claims is testament to this).


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Awesomelyglorious
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05 Jun 2010, 1:31 pm

you_are_what_you_is wrote:
I'm a utilitarian. I don't think I could accept desire utilitarianism since I'm an eliminative materialist, so that system is based on entities which on my view probably don't exist.

I am not a utilitarian, but I agree with you on desire-utilitarianism, "desire" isn't a basic entity as it is presumed to be.

Quote:
The main problem I would have with persuading people to adopt utilitarianism (or any ethical viewpoint) is probably that I simply don't think morality is objective. I don't believe that people can be rationally compelled to live according to any ethical system. There is nothing that makes utilitarianism correct. It isn't correct. It isn't incorrect, either, but neither is an ethics that would allow you to rape and murder whenever you want. I don't believe that rape is objectively wrong, just as I don't believe that Frank Zappa's music is objectively good.

I like the idea of maximizing happiness. Do you have to like it also? No, but I hope you do. The best I can do is just appeal to people emotionally - but 1) I'm not very good at doing that, and 2) many defenses of utilitarianism result in things that people would intuitively emotionally object to (the controversy around many of Peter Singer's claims is testament to this).

I basically agree with you on the rest of the stuff about ethics as well, it makes a lot of sense given your stated eliminative materialism as well, as you likely couldn't accept an objective ethics, since such a thing would appeal to some reality that held mental things as basic, mental things that you eliminate. I would doubt that you are even a strict utilitarian yourself given the problems with utilitarianism itself in dealing with "pain" and "pleasure" given that the ability to "feel pain" is just a result of our development, but not intrinsic as found with dogs raised in isolation. http://publications.mcgill.ca/headway/2 ... d-melzack/ Rather, I imagine that such a thing is considered an easy way to deal with the realities faced.

I would generally argue that utilitarianism is too simplistic though, and that you likely are better off trying to come up with a richer and "fuzzier" system given all of the "intuitive emotional objections", especially given that you probably could share them yourself on some level.



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05 Jun 2010, 1:45 pm

I mixed and matched bits and pieces of different schools of thought and put it all together like Mr. Potato Head.

Game theory is great--very helpful for predicting the behavior of people.



you_are_what_you_is
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05 Jun 2010, 2:12 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
I basically agree with you on the rest of the stuff about ethics as well, it makes a lot of sense given your stated eliminative materialism as well, as you likely couldn't accept an objective ethics, since such a thing would appeal to some reality that held mental things as basic, mental things that you eliminate. I would doubt that you are even a strict utilitarian yourself given the problems with utilitarianism itself in dealing with "pain" and "pleasure" given that the ability to "feel pain" is just a result of our development, but not intrinsic as found with dogs raised in isolation. http://publications.mcgill.ca/headway/2 ... d-melzack/ Rather, I imagine that such a thing is considered an easy way to deal with the realities faced.

I would generally argue that utilitarianism is too simplistic though, and that you likely are better off trying to come up with a richer and "fuzzier" system given all of the "intuitive emotional objections", especially given that you probably could share them yourself on some level.

No, I'm not a strict utilitarian - I've never been a strict anything when it comes to ethics. Still, I do look at problems from a utilitarian perspective, and I do try to avoid inconsistensies, so I'll often reach conclusions that most people would view as just as ridiculous as a strict utilitarian would. It is a problem that utilitarianism itself is based on concepts I take issue with (as you mentioned, pain and pleasure), but I try to avoid this problem by simply not adopting any specific brand of utilitarianism. Maybe that's cheating. But it's worth bearing in mind that this isn't a problem with utilitarianism in particular - it's a general deficiency in our commonsense framework of the brain that inevitably contaminates many other topics of study. There's not much one can do until improvements here are made.

Actually, although I'm well aware that other people do, I don't really feel those intuitive emotional objections. Utilitarianism makes the most sense to me on the level of 'gut reaction' (which is really all I can go on, given that I don't think any rational arguments could compel me one way or the other) - even in the most extreme cases. Maybe I'm just a psychopath who happens to like living according to consistent systems.

Thanks for that link, by the way; very interesting.


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Awesomelyglorious
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05 Jun 2010, 3:35 pm

you_are_what_you_is wrote:
No, I'm not a strict utilitarian - I've never been a strict anything when it comes to ethics. Still, I do look at problems from a utilitarian perspective, and I do try to avoid inconsistensies, so I'll often reach conclusions that most people would view as just as ridiculous as a strict utilitarian would. It is a problem that utilitarianism itself is based on concepts I take issue with (as you mentioned, pain and pleasure), but I try to avoid this problem by simply not adopting any specific brand of utilitarianism. Maybe that's cheating. But it's worth bearing in mind that this isn't a problem with utilitarianism in particular - it's a general deficiency in our commonsense framework of the brain that inevitably contaminates many other topics of study. There's not much one can do until improvements here are made.

Actually, although I'm well aware that other people do, I don't really feel those intuitive emotional objections. Utilitarianism makes the most sense to me on the level of 'gut reaction' (which is really all I can go on, given that I don't think any rational arguments could compel me one way or the other) - even in the most extreme cases. Maybe I'm just a psychopath who happens to like living according to consistent systems.

Thanks for that link, by the way; very interesting.

Well, you shouldn't be strict on matters of ethics.

I am not sure you can take "brandless utilitarianism" and really have any system, much less a consistent one. I mean, you, from the beginning are completely blown away given that you don't even know for certain what you are maximizing. I mean, do animals matter? Do some beings matter more than others? Is there a such thing as justice? If there is no "real" justice, then I feel that you have missed a major part of ethics, but I don't think the utilitarian account even begins to fit on this issue.

I find that sort of strange that you don't feel those intuitive emotional objections, but then again, I am torn between a lot of different ethical ideas and really try even less to have definiteness, despite the drive for consistency.

Yeah, no problem on the link. I wish I could do better, I found out about the pain thing from reading Donald Hebb's Organization of Behavior, but I can't give people the literal book, so I found that interview.



ruveyn
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05 Jun 2010, 3:47 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
What are your thoughts on ethics?



There are no ethical facts, or to put it differently, facts, as such, have no ethical import.

Systems of ethics are social constructs, they are conventions. There is nothing in the laws of physical nature that could lead one to an ethical conclusion.

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Sand
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06 Jun 2010, 2:03 am

ruveyn wrote:
Awesomelyglorious wrote:
What are your thoughts on ethics?



There are no ethical facts, or to put it differently, facts, as such, have no ethical import.

Systems of ethics are social constructs, they are conventions. There is nothing in the laws of physical nature that could lead one to an ethical conclusion.

ruveyn


Biological studies have clearly indicated survival success is enhanced by certain modes of social behavior which can be interpreted as ethics.



ruveyn
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06 Jun 2010, 5:38 am

Sand wrote:

Biological studies have clearly indicated survival success is enhanced by certain modes of social behavior which can be interpreted as ethics.


Or not interpreted as ethics, as the case may be. Most people support ethics on the basis of apriori principles. Basing ethics on our biological nature is NOT apriori. It is a posteriori. If we behave "ethically" as a result of our biological makeup then we do not need a separate theory of ethics. All we need do is follow our biological nature. That, at this stage of technology, is not the result of choice. We are what we are and we had nothing to do with choosing being what we are.

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06 Jun 2010, 6:06 am

I have often asked myself why I am not a gangster?

Think about it. In the caveman days it was a case of "me want, me take"

Civilisation is a joke.
If a man robs then he is bad.
If he is the leader of a band of robbers then he is bad.

But if has a big enough gang of murdering thugs behind him and takes over the whole area then he is now a king and "noble".

Say a farmer has six sons. One day he says "boys, arm yourselves. We are going to kill the farmer next door and take his land".
That would be bad, right?

But if he was a king then it would be perfectly normal.



ruveyn
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06 Jun 2010, 6:07 am

Wombat wrote:
I have often asked myself why I am not a gangster?

Think about it. In the caveman days it was a case of "me want, me take"

Civilisation is a joke.
If a man robs then he is bad.
If he is the leader of a band of robbers then he is bad.

But if has a big enough gang of murdering thugs behind him and takes over the whole area then he is now a king and "noble".

Say a farmer has six sons. One day he says "boys, arm yourselves. We are going to kill the farmer next door and take his land".
That would be bad, right?

But if he was a king then it would be perfectly normal.


Die Macht ist das Recht ---- Friedrich Nietzche

ruveyn



Sand
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06 Jun 2010, 7:18 am

ruveyn wrote:
Wombat wrote:
I have often asked myself why I am not a gangster?

Think about it. In the caveman days it was a case of "me want, me take"

Civilisation is a joke.
If a man robs then he is bad.
If he is the leader of a band of robbers then he is bad.

But if has a big enough gang of murdering thugs behind him and takes over the whole area then he is now a king and "noble".

Say a farmer has six sons. One day he says "boys, arm yourselves. We are going to kill the farmer next door and take his land".
That would be bad, right?

But if he was a king then it would be perfectly normal.


Die Macht ist das Recht ---- Friedrich Nietzche

ruveyn


And of course you conveniently forgot you flatly stated Nietzsche was insane.



ruveyn
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06 Jun 2010, 7:44 am

Sand wrote:
ruveyn wrote:
Wombat wrote:
I have often asked myself why I am not a gangster?

Think about it. In the caveman days it was a case of "me want, me take"

Civilisation is a joke.
If a man robs then he is bad.
If he is the leader of a band of robbers then he is bad.

But if has a big enough gang of murdering thugs behind him and takes over the whole area then he is now a king and "noble".

Say a farmer has six sons. One day he says "boys, arm yourselves. We are going to kill the farmer next door and take his land".
That would be bad, right?

But if he was a king then it would be perfectly normal.


Die Macht ist das Recht ---- Friedrich Nietzche

ruveyn


And of course you conveniently forgot you flatly stated Nietzsche was insane.


That he was. But he was Right about Might. Even a broken clock tells the right time twice a day. The difference between a genius and a lunatic is often a matter of degree. Look at Einstein for instance. Saying trains become shorter as they move is clearly insane.

ruveyn



Sand
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06 Jun 2010, 9:02 am

ruveyn wrote:
Sand wrote:
ruveyn wrote:
Wombat wrote:
I have often asked myself why I am not a gangster?

Think about it. In the caveman days it was a case of "me want, me take"

Civilisation is a joke.
If a man robs then he is bad.
If he is the leader of a band of robbers then he is bad.

But if has a big enough gang of murdering thugs behind him and takes over the whole area then he is now a king and "noble".

Say a farmer has six sons. One day he says "boys, arm yourselves. We are going to kill the farmer next door and take his land".
That would be bad, right?

But if he was a king then it would be perfectly normal.



Die Macht ist das Recht ---- Friedrich Nietzche

ruveyn


And of course you conveniently forgot you flatly stated Nietzsche was insane.


That he was. But he was Right about Might. Even a broken clock tells the right time twice a day. The difference between a genius and a lunatic is often a matter of degree. Look at Einstein for instance. Saying trains become shorter as they move is clearly insane.

ruveyn


But it was not Einstein but Lorenz who talked about short trains.
Since you are so confident of your chronological correctness I assume you always use a stopped wristwatch to tell time . On he basis of your statement I would not take the judgment of one whacko on the status of another.



ruveyn
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06 Jun 2010, 10:25 am

Sand wrote:

But it was not Einstein but Lorenz who talked about short trains.
Since you are so confident of your chronological correctness I assume you always use a stopped wristwatch to tell time . On he basis of your statement I would not take the judgment of one whacko on the status of another.


Lorentz had the equations (in 1904), but he did not really believe time slowed down. Einstein was the one who took the equations seriously. Lorentz was trying to account for shortening of material bodies with aether. There is only one problem; there is no aether. Later on Lorentz admitted that it was Einstein who got it right and the foundations. Lorentz was trying to preserve the aether theory, but that had to give way to facts. No aether. Light is not carried by some space filling stiff Jello, it is photons through empty space.

ruveyn



Sand
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06 Jun 2010, 11:24 am

ruveyn wrote:
Sand wrote:

But it was not Einstein but Lorenz who talked about short trains.
Since you are so confident of your chronological correctness I assume you always use a stopped wristwatch to tell time . On he basis of your statement I would not take the judgment of one whacko on the status of another.


Lorentz had the equations (in 1904), but he did not really believe time slowed down. Einstein was the one who took the equations seriously. Lorentz was trying to account for shortening of material bodies with aether. There is only one problem; there is no aether. Later on Lorentz admitted that it was Einstein who got it right and the foundations. Lorentz was trying to preserve the aether theory, but that had to give way to facts. No aether. Light is not carried by some space filling stiff Jello, it is photons through empty space.

ruveyn


Which gives you no privileges as to determining which of Nietzsche's ravings were sane and which insane.