Kodi Arfer / Wisterwood

Is it immoral...

Topic List
#001 | BUM |
...to attempt to preserve the human race? Does the action of enabling mankind to survive count as a sin? If all one can guarantee for a man's existence generations down the line is his inevitable death (we can try to guarantee a lot of things, but that's the only thing we can do for sure) then are we simply throwing dice and hoping for the best?

Isn't it wrong to put someone in a situation where they will feel pain? What I mean is, wouldn't the world be a happier place if there were, for example, no one alive? If everyone collectively decided a few hundred years ago to stop the human race there (not through warfare, simply through stopping the process of adding people to the world), wouldn't the end result have been a better state (and, assumption here, therefore a morally superior choice)? Or am I off base? Isn't that the most selfless thing one can do- not exist? Existence is selfish by nature.
#002 | Kodiologist |
This is the philosophy one of the villains in my novel ends up adopting, although he thinks obliterating the entire universe is an appropriate means to such ends.

My own thinking is that there are more important things than avoiding suffering. I construe the management of feelings, whether by avoiding suffering, attaining happiness, or whatever, only as a means to other ends, not as an end in and of itself. But you knew that already.

octopuses : octopi : octopodes :: address : URL : URI
Smash Bros. : tires don exits :: Transformers : trukk not munky
#003 | Dont Interrupt Me |
It's a weird question and I'm not sure if it makes any sense. I'll tell you this: As far as I can see, morality exists so we can make the world better for the people around us, and the people to follow us. If there are no people to follow us, there's no point in asking moral questions anymore. I don't see minimizing suffering as an end unto itself so much as a good guideline for how to be better to your fellow people.

On the flip side, I guess prolonging the human race isn't per se a moral action either (as long as no one suffers). However, it's a biological imperative, and to some extent a social imperative. After all, new people give us all great joy and hope and to deny us that would be a shame.
Was it a car or a cat I saw?
#004 | HeyDude |
Well, and I think there's a lot of potential beauty left to be enjoyed in the world and that there always will be. I know when I made Ben that I thought it would be worth it, not just for me but for him as well. I didn't for a second thing that the bad would outweigh the good in his life.
#005 | BUM | | (edited)
As a precursor... obviously I don't mean to offend with this topic, only to investigate. It's probably contentious among, I don't know, most of the world. But I'm merely opening it up for debate, not claiming my idea has any real truth to it.

Following our biology doesn't seem like a great way to justify unethical behavior. The lion kills, yes, but it doesn't murder, because the lion doesn't have the faculty to distinguish (so far as I'm aware, and neither does any animal [though I did hear an *uncited* report once of a primate that, when it pulled a lever to get food, witnessed another get doused with cold water to the point of misery, and eventually the primate stopped getting food nearly to the point of starvation so as to avoid the misery the other creature received]) between moral and immoral behavior. We do, and so the fault can lie with us for knowing better when we make a decision.

As far as a social imperative, it just seems, again, vain and selfish or at best misguided. Obviously no rational human thinks to themselves -I shall have a child, which shall make me or my spouse happy, though I care not whether or not the child wishes to make me or my spouse happy- Yet, isn't that greed? Most likely it's simply thoughtless, at which we can't really point any fingers of blame, and at best it's misguided kindness/thoughtlessness. But that's all- at best it's thoughtless, never noble.

Bringing someone into the world, even if 3 out of 4 people are glad that they got the chance to live, or even 99 out of 100, still is rolling the dice. Even if the odds are in your favor, is it fair to bet with someone else's chips, when they aren't there to tell you to? If you're right, and the bet pays off, sure, they're pleased. But what if you were wrong? Wasn't your assumption that they would want you to place the bet foolish? What if they don't want to gamble?

And even if we can guarantee that they will be pleased with our bet, what about anything else? Isn't our existence the cause of so much degradation, destruction, and pain across the world, not just to human life, but to all forms of life? This can't be debatable- of course we've caused such grief and misery to so many species on Earth. It's unbearable how much evil we've done. Can we really claim that benefiting the human race is a justifiable reason to exist, if nevertheless it harms every other race? Isn't that the chiefest of conceits? If intentionally causing harm to some person is immoral, then can we agree that intentionally causing harm to some animal or other life form is immoral? Of course, most of us do not harm the environment intentionally.

If unintentional harm is a no-blame-game because ignorance is our justification, then continuing the human race is, therefore, being that our existence is the cause of degradation etc... of the world, a no-blamer. Ignorance makes a veil of innocence for most of us, almost as it does for the lion who kills a gazelle. But what about when we become cognizant of our roles as destroyers? When we realize that everything we do is at the sacrifice of something else, that never asked to be sacrificed? Are we not constantly living in a contemptible state? Always knowledgeable of the horrors we create or support, simply in an effort to do the most selfish and vain of things- to exist, to cling to life?
#006 | BUM |
A simple person can do so many things- he can have revenge upon another person and believe it is justified, because evil should be returned with evil. But another sort of man knows that evil repaid with evil is just as immoral and therefore totally unjustified, and thus he can never revenge himself without the knowledge that he's acting contemptibly.

If a person gives a starving man a gun and places him in the room with a wealthy, undefended man, he does not cause any evil, right? Yet he enables evil. Isn't this nearly as bad?

If the perseverance of the human race enables great evil (certainly it doesn't cause great evil), and I am aware of my role in the evils visited upon not only men and women but every living thing upon the earth, then how can I justify not ceasing everything that causes evil?
#007 | BUM |
Also, let's bear in mind that I, like the rest of us, cannot possibly prove a definitive idea of what is "good" or "moral", or the opposite. Of course, there's nothing I can really prove, or even begin to attempt to prove.

Only, in order to make sense of the world, we have to assign some arbitrary assumptions to it (though we can do this with our tongues in our cheeks the whole time) and mine (at least, the assumptions I've currently assigned and am more than likely to change as I grow older, if the past can teach us anything) are bringing me to loggerheads with this issue.
#008 | HeyDude | | (edited)
So far as I'm concerned, this question is between creating beauty and creating destruction. Sure, they go hand in hand. But isn't the combination worth it? Isn't nothingness the ugliest thing of all?

I always figure that God created us, flaws and all, because sharing the world with someone in relationship is a beautiful thing. It's like marriage; for all the work and for all the flaws in it, I did it because it's a beautiful relationship. The joy is worth the pain.

It also helps if you believe, as I do, that at some point the world will be restored from the fallen state to a state where the lion will lay down with the lamb. Why did we have to go through a flawed state of existence first? Because we chose to turn our backs on the source of everything good. So of course perfection was diminished.

Whether the Bible is literal or not with the Genesis narrative, I think it's a very helpful and meaningful story that explains a lot of these fundamental questions.

EDIT: Antinatalism is the term for the position you're describing; natalism the term for mine. There's a Voluntary Human Extinction movement as well. Looks like philosophers have come down on both sides and so there are books on this issue that I think would greatly interest you, Mark.

2ND EDIT: Also, if life isn't inherently good, then why is it important that the animals be made to thrive? If life is inherently good, then why do you think that human life isn't? Does all human life necessarily encroach on the Earth *so much* that it outweighs the inherent good of life?
#009 | Kodiologist |
Okay, Mark, a question: what do you think the purpose of ethics (or morals, if you prefer) is? What is it good for? However you answer these question, I'm betting that the silliness you're suggesting is counterproductive to the ultimate goal.

octopuses : octopi : octopodes :: address : URL : URI
Smash Bros. : tires don exits :: Transformers : trukk not munky
#010 | BUM |
Kodi: ethics, to me, is an arbitrary code created for the purpose of making sense of our perceived reality, especially in relation to making sense of decision making. Without a (albeit arbitrary) code of laws to call "good" and "bad", well, I don't know. I'm not capable of figuring out what I would feel like if I couldn't distinguish good from bad. Animalistic, I suppose.

Obviously it's paradoxical to admit one agrees with the principals of nihilism (how can one not?) and yet live reality through a series of unfounded assumptions, but that's what many of us do, including myself. In order to function, I make a lot of assumptions, like for example that the things I see are real. I also make assumptions that there are such things as good and bad, though if you pressed me to define something that was truly good and to prove it, I could not.

I would say something that is good is something done with the intent of bettering the state of something else (what does bettering the state mean? Who knows. It doesn't matter, either, since it's up to the affecting individual what it means. In the gambling scenario, if you believe you're bettering the state of the person you gamble for, you've done good, even if by him you've done bad. But, if you considered that he may not want you to gamble for him, you've done bad by gambling, because your intent was to override his possible will). Therefore, if one believes a child to be born is a good thing, wholly and truly, then he or she is doing a good thing by having a child and cannot be blamed. But if one believes that it is a bad thing, then the same action is a bad thing, and the person responsible can be blamed. Obviously I can't offer any proof that either thing is good or bad, only completely unfounded opinion.

Of course, because I'm aware of the arbitrary nature of any sort of assumptions, including empirical ones, this is all a little ridiculous. Especially because my presumed qualities of "good" and "bad" can differ greatly from someone else's, and mine are just as arbitrary as theirs, at the foundation.

Really I never answered what they were good for, because I don't know what they're good for.
#011 | BUM | | (edited)
Alex: Edit 2 - I don't know if life is inherently good or bad, since I can't say much about good or bad. I guess it depends on the intent of the life. Life is inherently selfish (in that, it is costly to other things), though, whether or not we realize it. An animal doesn't have the capacity to be selfish, as far as I understand them, so they're not guilty of anything, though their existence is selfish (or costly to other things). But I do have the capacity to recognize the cost of my existence. Since I have that capacity, I should choose selflessness. My intent to live, given my knowledge of the cost I put on other life, is guilty of selfishness. Another man's intent to live, if he doesn't realize the cost he puts on other life, is without guilt.

So in answer, life is neither inherently good or bad. But those who haven't the knowledge of their selfishness are not bad, and are not guilty. And those who have the knowledge of their selfishness are bad, and are guilty. Thus the only way for a guilty man to avoid guilt and selfishness is to be selfless. There's no penalty to the animals- they can exist as such, because they're without guilt. So, too, can the people who don't realize their own cost, because they're without guilt.

Don't you think it's possible though, that it's all a test, from the Christian perspective? Like, here you go: live at the cost of the things around you and try to be a good person (snicker). Isn't the only thing you can do, once you've realized you're living at the cost of things around you, is to be selfless and stop living? Wouldn't that be a good test? Isn't that just, to say "thanks, but no thanks- I refuse to enjoy myself at the expense of so much other life"

Even if you enjoy the beauty and those close to you enjoy the beauty, isn't it more important to not destroy than it is to enjoy? If in order to live, a myriad of other creatures must die to nourish me, but at least I made someone feel special... sure, it's good I made a positive impression on someone else, but does it outweigh the slaughter I've created in my wake? Would those who died to make room for me say "Eh, it's fine- at least he got to make someone's day. That's worth it."

Edit for typos.
#012 | HeyDude |
But someone died to make room for them as well. It's your duty as a creature to die, as others died for you. In the final count, as long as you don't blast something into space, you don't have much of an impact on the world ecosystem. You die and all the products you left behind are there to furnish materials (matter, as it breaks down and forms new things) for the next generation.

I don't think the moral thing is to quit living. I don't think I cause that much destruction. Yes, I eat animals, but if I thought that was so destructive, I could stop and only eat plants. It's not inherent that I harm animals.

Also, there's no beauty unless there's something to create beauty, and to me the natural world just "is" -- it's neither beautiful nor ugly. To me the only way for beauty to exist is that voluntary creatures who could be *either* beautiful or ugly choose beauty.
#013 | HeyDude |
Also, isn't it immaterial whether animals and people are cognizant or not? That's very "morality is not violating your own conscience" of you. What about results? If Hitler wasn't immoral (let's assume he was crazy and therefore not cognizant of morals) would that mean he did nothing wrong and shouldn't be locked up?

(I know, I know, I invoked Hitler. It's just so easy to do.)

So to bring this discussion back to ground... if destruction and selfishness are wrong, why are they OK for the unaware? Are the unaware any less destructive?

If my intentions are the end-all-be-all, then what if I'm aware of what you're saying (fully aware) and I just disagree? Am I being willfully wrong by bringing Ben into the world?

I know you don't mean to make this personal, but for anybody who has kids, it is.
#014 | BUM | | (edited)
Just because it's a zero-sum game in terms of the circle of life doesn't mean it's justified. I surely can't say sorry to those who suffered at my behest, and let them know I'll die too in the future. That's no consolation to them. They want their life back, they don't want mine to end. The only appropriate thing I can do is not rob them in the first place. Even if they are robbers themselves, robbing them in return makes me guilty (provided I recognize the act of robbery as bad).

I've always been a moral relativist! Of course Hitler's actions, if he believed wholly that what he was doing was good, and there was no inkling of him that thought "man... this is pretty bad, but eh, gotta do it anyways", don't deserve punishment. How could they? How could you take a man who believes at his very heart that he's done good and punish him [I don't believe he thought with every fiber of his being that he was a good man, so I don't vindicate him]? It's cruel- he'd never understand it. Will he be punished? Sure, might makes right in terms of society's viewpoints of good and bad. If the might is against him, he's wrong. If the might is with him, the people will love him. Will I enjoy his punishment? Sure, out of my own depravity, I'll be glad to see him go. But did he deserve punishment? Of course not. In fact, no one deserves punishment, even those who are bad. Punishment is cruel. If God is love, punishment is cruel, and cruelty is not love, then punishment is not godly.

That answers why the unaware are not guilty of their destruction- because they simply don't realize they are destructive. How can I cast my finger at the unaware and call them bad, when they don't realize they are? They're not willingly being bad. Results never matter, only intentions. If a giant hugs me out of love, and crushes me on accident, who cares of the result? He's not guilty, and he would never understand you calling him bad.

If one is aware of what I mean, but believe that I am mistaken, then of course they're not doing anything wrong. The wrongness of one's actions are wholly dependent upon whether or not the intent is wrong.

I know this is contentious, and I do apologize because it must stir the hearts of a lot of people in a bad way. But it also has been eating at my mind, and I need to expose it and see what happens. I'd rather the thought had never occurred to me, to be honest, because it bothers me immensely.

Edit: Furthermore, for the record, I'm not, nor would I ever, point fingers at others and call them bad or immoral. That's not my aim, nor is it the aim of my discussion, which is merely to see if I can find a logical answer to the moral quandary I've instituted for myself. I am certainly low and far from anything perfect, nor do I even truly attempt to be perfect. I am more of a damage control sort of guy, who lives his life and tries to minimize the negative effect on other things, but doesn't go far out of his way to add a positive effect on other things.
#015 | BUM |
Better yet, forget all the stuff I've feverishly said, and help me with this, the crux of everything else:

I've made three assumptions.
1) Life is (overall) a cost to other living things (whether through competition or predation)
2) Cost to another thing is harmful to it
3) Intent to harm is immoral

It obviously leads to the conclusion:
Intent to live is immoral. Obviously with the prerequisite that one buys into the three assumptions beforehand. If one has bought into these assumptions, is there any way out? Is there error with these assumptions? Is it possible that the benefits outweigh the costs in assumption 1 (it doesn't seem so to me... even if there are more smiles in humanity than frowns, do the scales tip the other way when you ask every other specie of life?)

Is cost really a harm, in assumption 2? Is killing something really harming it? Is making something afraid and sad, does that count as harm, either?
#016 | HeyDude |
Well, let's go down the Hitler path for a hot second. If we harm Hitler (and it doesn't have to be real, historical Hitler; just take it as a bad bad man that is uncontentiously bad) as a means to an end (let's say, we lock him up, limiting his freedom even though he believed himself fully righteous), the end being that tons of people don't suffer, is that OK? Or by your ethics, did we have an intent to harm, and the question stops there: it's immoral to lock up Hitler? And does this count as punishment? Are we putting him in a cell because we want to see him suffer, or because we don't want to allow him to make other people suffer? Is it punishment or is it rectification of a situation?

God Himself says that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. King Solomon says not to rejoice at the fall of your enemy. So I think punishment is centered on, can we stop this person from harming himself/others again? In that sense, you'd question Hell... it can't possibly be corrective (that's the whole thing with Hell is that you can't escape it) so what's its purpose? It's on this basis that many Christians don't believe in Hell; I personally have a very complicated explanation I could give of what I think Hell is and isn't, but that's highly peripheral.

I wanted to answer your feverishness with feverishness. Now that I've exhausted that, I have time to answer your basic assumptions. Coming right up...
#017 | BUM |
I see what you're saying... the action of stopping Hitler is not necessarily an intent to harm him, so much as an intent to help others. It seems like my silly question I once posed you about Jesus, a sniper rifle, and a man gunning down 100 babies. We concluded, I think, that when no other means exist, violence is a justifiable route? Surely Jesus couldn't allow the gunner to execute the babies, nor could he waste time running up to him and asking him to stop, because the execution will be over before he can do anything (and of course the stipulation was that the man was fully defended except for the headshot) Jesus would vouchsafe the course of action of 100 babies dying if he did not intervene immediately with a headshot. His intent was noble, not ignoble. Of course, if he could knock the man unconscious with exactly as much (or even less) effort as snipe him, then sniping him would suddenly become the immoral choice.

I was always a big fan of that question. Anyways, it illustrates that locking up Hitler is, in fact, not necessarily with the intent of his harm- but with the intent of the benefit of others, thus making it an acceptable action. Locking him up with the intent of punishment is immoral, and locking him up with the intent of helping others is noble. The same action, the same result, different intents. So I have to repeal what I said about how none should be punished. That was foolish. In fact, that kind of opens the doors to the idea of Hell, again (those doors were long rusted shut). If Hell serves to benefit rather than to punish, it can coexist with a benefactor. It was mutually exclusive to a benefactor when it was merely a place of punishment.
#018 | BUM |
Let me supply the following posit.

If "to live" is selfish and therefore immoral, what if "to live" is the same option as the headshot Jesus must take in order to secure a greater good? If my intent is not "to live", just as Jesus' is not "to headshot" but living is the best means for my end, "to make better" just as "to headshot" is Jesus' best means for his end, "to make better," then... life is justifiable? If and only if my intent is not to live, but to make better? Have we arrived at the exit of my loop?
#019 | Kodiologist |
Probably still relevant:

(02:29:00 PM) HeyDude378: Don't you think that you're making the very assumption that BUM is questioning?
(02:29:11 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Which?
(02:29:47 PM) HeyDude378: I think his topic is about "is being protosocial ethical, considering that society is damaging to the Earth" and you're kinda going, "uh, well of course it is, because ethics is defined as being protosocial"
(02:30:19 PM) Mimir the Jotun: "Protosocial"? You mean "prosocial"?
(02:30:30 PM) HeyDude378: Yes, I'm sure I do.
(02:30:41 PM) HeyDude378: Whatever word you used recently asking Pooty
(02:31:02 PM) HeyDude378: I could swear I remembered it being "protosocial" and I recently thought to myself, "that doesn't make sense, proto doesn't mean that"
(02:31:10 PM) ***Mimir the Jotun thinks
(02:31:14 PM) HeyDude378: and then just now I forgot that it didn't make sense and that therefore I must be misremembering
(02:31:47 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Yes, I think you are representing my criticism correctly.
(02:32:41 PM) Mimir the Jotun: In other words, I think that BUM is mixing up different kinds of oughts, or proximal oughts with distal oughts.
(02:33:12 PM) Mimir the Jotun: He thinks that what we ordinarily call ethics is the most distal sort of ought, but he provides an argumentum ad absurdum that shows that this notion is ridiculous.
(02:33:33 PM) HeyDude378: Define proximal and distal oughts for me please
(02:34:21 PM) Mimir the Jotun: A proximal ought is something you should do because it helps you achieve some other goal, either an proximal ought or a distal ought. A distal ought is something you have taken *for granted* is something one should do.
(02:34:30 PM) Mimir the Jotun: It's the difference between axioms and theorems.
(02:35:26 PM) Mimir the Jotun: "Not destroying the Earth", like "eating healthy", makes sense to me as a theorem, but not as an axiom.
(02:35:34 PM) HeyDude378: So "the most distal ought" would be like: things ought to be good, not bad
(02:35:44 PM) HeyDude378: something absolutely fundamental in which there is nothing more to define
(02:35:55 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Yes. A super-ethical "good" and "bad".
(02:36:12 PM) Mimir the Jotun: By "super" I here mean "beyond", not "especially".
(02:36:26 PM) HeyDude378: Right
(02:36:38 PM) HeyDude378: When he says "ethical" I don't think he's using jargon
(02:36:42 PM) HeyDude378: I think you are using jargon
(02:37:33 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Whatever he means by "ethics", it includes "not destroying the Earth" and yet it serves no practical purpose.
(02:37:40 PM) HeyDude378: So, was your post basically an instruction not to use the word "ethical" when talking about these constructions, because ethical deals solely in proximal oughts?
(02:37:57 PM) HeyDude378: "ethical"*
(02:38:42 PM) Mimir the Jotun: No, it was more of an argument along the lines of "You're coming to stupid conclusions because you've forgotten the purpose of ethical rules."
(02:39:23 PM) Mimir the Jotun: I don't think he really wants to save the earth for its own sake. I hope not, anyway.
(02:40:48 PM) HeyDude378: Why do you find that so silly?
(02:40:58 PM) HeyDude378: I think he is basically saying that yeah the Earth would be better off without humans
(02:41:07 PM) HeyDude378: Why do you dismiss that out-of-hand?
(02:41:56 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Of course it's true that the Earth would be better off without humans. But, unless I'm missing something, the only reason we usually care about the Earth's welfare is because we need it to survive.
(02:42:16 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Whose success are we trying to maximize here?
(02:42:27 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Bacteria's?
#020 | Kodiologist |
(02:43:57 PM) Mimir the Jotun: I don't want to keep pandas from going extinct because I think pandas are of ultimate value. I just see biodiversity as generally helpful to humankind.
(02:45:20 PM) Mimir the Jotun: So what is stupid here, to be clear, is to say "Guys, it would be more ethical if we didn't exist!", ignoring the purpose of ethics as facilitating human society, sort of like saying "Guys, things would be less expensive if there were no money!"
(02:45:44 PM) HeyDude378: Well, so you're using this jargon definition of ethics
(02:46:01 PM) HeyDude378: Where "ethical" necessarily means "prosocial"
(02:46:16 PM) HeyDude378: and therefore the *only* answer you can give to his question is no, it's not ethical to voluntarily go out of existence
(02:46:27 PM) Mimir the Jotun: But it is ethical.
(02:46:35 PM) Mimir the Jotun: It would just entirely defeat the point.
(02:47:04 PM) HeyDude378: Only if "the point" of ethics is necessarily to be prosocial
(02:47:15 PM) Mimir the Jotun: No, silly, that's circular.
(02:47:34 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Ethics is what defines what's prosocial.
(02:47:45 PM) HeyDude378: What?
(02:47:51 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Right?
(02:48:23 PM) HeyDude378: Why don't we start at the beginning. What is your critera for whether something is ethical or not? I thought you'd say the other way around: we say something is ethical if it is prosocial; we say something is unethical if it is not.
(02:49:27 PM) Mimir the Jotun: I see ethics as a set of guidelines that keep society running smoothly, without people's attempts to Get Things Done being unduly hindered by other people's actions.
(02:50:44 PM) Mimir the Jotun: To follow these rules, and more broadly, to try to benefit society, is to be prosocial. So yes, now that I think about it, prosociality is a bit broader than ethics.
(02:51:14 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Ethics is a matter of *not* doing certain things, but you can be prosocial by acts of commission as well as by acts of omission.
(02:51:53 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Am I making a little more sense now?
(02:52:32 PM) HeyDude378: Yes, but I still think you're ignoring the heart of BUM's question, which is, isn't it better for humans not to exist?
(02:52:43 PM) HeyDude378: Forget that he used the word ethical; I think you're getting hung up on that.
(02:52:46 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Better according to what standard?
(02:52:56 PM) Mimir the Jotun: According to the standards of ethics, yes.
(02:53:01 PM) Mimir the Jotun: But there should be higher standards.
(02:53:20 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Er, more important standards.
(02:53:24 PM) HeyDude378: What are the highest standards, and by those standards is it better or not?
(02:53:50 PM) Mimir the Jotun: My own very highest standard is human understanding, as you may recall.
(02:53:56 PM) Mimir the Jotun: I doubt BUM shares it.
(02:54:14 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Clearly human extinction is antithetical to human understanding.
(02:54:24 PM) HeyDude378: Why is that your very highest standard?
(02:54:36 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Remember that conversation we had way back when?
(02:54:51 PM) HeyDude378: Yes, and if I were to paraphrase what your highest standard was, it wouldn't have been that
(02:55:02 PM) HeyDude378: Didn't you want to *use* human understanding towards some goal?
(02:55:08 PM) HeyDude378: and doesn't that make that goal a higher standard?
(02:56:09 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Hmm. It's true that, strictly speaking, I do see understanding as a means to "solving" the "problem" of nihilism.
(02:56:29 PM) Mimir the Jotun: So you're right.
(02:56:35 PM) HeyDude378: And why is solving the problem of nihilism (nevermind defining that) a good thing?
(02:56:43 PM) Mimir the Jotun: It's an axiom.
(02:57:03 PM) Mimir the Jotun: The "why"s end there.
(02:57:21 PM) HeyDude378: Why do the why's end there?
(02:57:26 PM) Mimir the Jotun: :P
#021 | Kodiologist | | (edited)
I would be remiss not to include this little gem:

(03:07:00 PM) HeyDude378: I think God made Adam (ignore the question of feasibility of the Genesis story) for the same reason I made Ben
(03:07:20 PM) Mimir the Jotun: Because he was ambivalent about contraception?
(03:07:28 PM) HeyDude378: No, you ass
(03:07:56 PM) ***Mimir the Jotun will be here all week

octopuses : octopi : octopodes :: address : URL : URI
Smash Bros. : tires don exits :: Transformers : trukk not munky
#022 | BUM |
Though I got a good chuckle about the tidbit at the end, I couldn't stop laughing about saying "Guys, things would be less expensive if there were no money!" From that perspective I can see what you mean.

Ethics should guide us (or at least, restrict the inhibitions that might stop us) to a higher state of understanding-- is this the assertion? To that aim, my argument is ridiculous. If ethics guides us all off of a cliff, that's obviously far from where it was supposed to guide us.

So a proximal ought, like "save the earth" relates to an ultimate goal of "this allows us to continue in the search for higher understanding" And a distal ought... what reasoning does the distal ought have behind it? What is an example of a distal ought/axiom (if the two are the same)? Is gaining human understanding a distal ought? Is a distal ought just as arbitrary? If I understand correctly, a distal ought has no reasoning behind it, because it is axiomatic. If it had reasoning behind it, it'd be a means to an end, and therefore a proximal ought? Aren't all axioms arbitrary? How can they be proved to have meaning?
#023 | Kodiologist |
From: BUM | Posted: 11/14/2011 7:25:42 PM | #022
Ethics should guide us (or at least, restrict the inhibitions that might stop us) to a higher state of understanding-- is this the assertion?

It's even more mundane than that: without ethics, society wouldn't work. We'd steal food out of each others' mouths and murder for petty reasons. A dog-eat-dog world would bring the progress of mathematics, science, etc. to a halt, because everybody would have their hands full fending for themselves. A healthy society, by contrast, provides a supportive infrastructure for intellectual development.

I've used the term "distal ought" to mean the same thing as "axiom", and yes, axioms are by their very nature arbitrary. Is it epistemologically awkward to believe something which you know is entirely unjustified? Perhaps, but the alternatives, arguably, are even worse: your knowledge structure has to either have loops (a no-no in traditional logic) or be infinite. I admit that infinite ontologies have been looking more attractive to me lately.

octopuses : octopi : octopodes :: address : URL : URI
Smash Bros. : tires don exits :: Transformers : trukk not munky
#024 | BUM |
Hm... you'll have to explain what you mean by that last statement sometime.

Do ethics need to serve a practical purpose? Obviously when ethics are part of being prosocial it's necessary that they serve a prosocial purpose- otherwise they wouldn't be part of being prosocial. Can they not simply "be" without reason or rhyme? Can God's ethics "be" with no reason? Or do his ethics also serve a purpose?

Good and bad, for you (I think), explain whether actions lead toward the distal ought of increasing human understanding. Why can good and bad not simply be? It's silly, sure, but why is it any sillier than any other axiom? What's the difference between increasing understanding and not harming others? Increasing understanding is practical, but it's only practical if your goal is increasing understanding. Right?
#025 | Kodiologist |
Strictly speaking, there is no way to judge axioms without using other axioms. They are effectively beyond criticism. So yes, you can make "don't harm people" an axiom if you want (providing you don't also accept other, inconsistent axioms), but is that what you want? It seems kind of crazy to me. It's not too different from axiomatizing feelings management, which produces the philosophy of life we usually call hedonism. I have no rational basis for objecting to your proposed axiom that's independent of my own axioms, since I can only object to anything on the basis of my axioms, but informally… I think it's batty.

From: BUM | Posted: 11/14/2011 8:46:29 PM | #024
Hm... you'll have to explain what you mean by that last statement sometime.

The idea is, a way you can ensure that every one of your beliefs is justified by some other belief without having any loops is by using an infinite chain of justification. For example, you could say that the number 1 is the best number of all because it's one less than the second-best number, and 2 is the second-best number because it's one less than the third-best number, and so on. There is something elegant yet unsatisfying about these infinite knowledge structures.

You will notice that mathematics almost invariably uses axioms, not infinite chains of justification or knowledge structures with loops.

octopuses : octopi : octopodes :: address : URL : URI
Smash Bros. : tires don exits :: Transformers : trukk not munky
#026 | BUM |
Ok, then it's disagreeable and silly, which I'm okay with, but it's no more unjustifiable than anything else. Then I'm sated. Only, this day has really plagued my mind and kept me from doing anything productive. I'd like to let things rest and not continue on for a while with this train of thought- I'm satisfied at this station, and if I keep asking questions I might not get anything done for yet another day.
#027 | PaperSpock |
Are you assuming that anything capable of self reproduction is equal in value? Or are you weighting value by complexity? That is, do you consider washing your hands in soap an act of 'genocide' against bacteria? Weeding an act of 'genocide' against plants? How about killing a termite colony? Do you really consider all these to be equal? If not, why not? Do you consider some life more important than other life, or do you have a cut point?

Assuming you don't truly view anything capable of self replication to be equal, you seem to be assigning some form of value to complexity, which introduces some twists into your equation:

1) Life is (overall) a cost to other living things (whether through competition or predation)
2) Cost to another thing is harmful to it
3) Intent to harm is immoral

#3 becomes dependent on the life form in question that may be harmed.

I'd also dispute #2 on other grounds; chasing around your prey might impose an energy cost to it, but if you never catch it, you've given it exercise, making it more ready to avoid quicker predators. Also, human eliminating rabbit might be best for both populations at large, given appropriate conditions, which leads to my third objection....

For a system as complex as our earth is, determining the net effect of deaths on the net good is nigh impossible. For example, a death could cause a woman who was going to quit having children decide to have several more.

Lastly, I'll sort of reply to the general sense I got out of your first message:

I think that it is possible that, all the good in everyone's life, and all the bad in everyone's life average out to neutral. So nonexistence wouldn't cause an increase in the level of good in the universe. It would, however, be much less interesting.
Fame is but a slow decay.
-Theodore Tilton
#028 | HeyDude |
I was going to give you a response today (didn't have time last night) but if you're happy, I'm happy.
#029 | BUM |
[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]
#030 | BUM |
This appears more mysterious than it really was.
#031 | PaperSpock |
[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]
#032 | BUM |
Yeah, I saw it and I was going to respond but then it was gone so I had to delete mine or just look foolish, heh. I figured you deleted it for that reason though-- it just looks kind of mysterious now.
#033 | PaperSpock |
Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Fame is but a slow decay.
-Theodore Tilton
#034 | Kodiologist |
I dunno, Brain, if Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why does he keep on doin' it?

octopuses : octopi : octopodes :: address : URL : URI
Smash Bros. : tires don exits :: Transformers : trukk not munky
#035 | DarthMarth |
Late to the party: No, I don't think it's a sin in any well-known belief system that defines what a "sin" is...
DarthMarth - Better than a bowl of Cheerios.