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Old 5th August 2019, 08:51 AM   #41
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Morality and ethics are questions of reducing the suffering of conscious beings.
Why is reducing the suffering of conscious beings desirable?

You've asserted a philosophical premise there, can you back it with argument or must it be taken as a matter of faith?
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Old 5th August 2019, 08:53 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Morality and ethics are questions of reducing the suffering of conscious beings. The questions are answered like every other question; by weighing the evidence.
Absolutely.
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Old 5th August 2019, 08:53 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
You're missing the point--if I had chosen to do the selfish thing, it would be absurd to call the choice moral. The reason I didn't do it is precisely because I thought it would be unethical. Which means that it can't be true that morality/ethics just means just doing what we want. It's a very specific subset of desires, even if we accept the egoistic framing (and there are lots of good reasons why we shouldn't). Which means there's more work involved in calling them desires--what kind of desire, exactly? Saying "it's just us doing what we want to do" elides the whole topic.
The point you're missing is that you apparently want to be moral. Which is a desire that influenced how you chose to act.

Edited to fix damn autocorrect
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Old 5th August 2019, 08:53 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
You're missing the point--if I had chosen to do the selfish thing, it would be absurd to call the choice moral. The reason I didn't do it is precisely because I thought it would be unethical.
Would it be less absurd to call the choice moral if you have not chosen to do the selfish thing?

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Which means that it can't be true that morality/ethics just means just doing what we want
Yet you did what you wanted, even dressed up the whole choice in terms of morality, then how can your example refute the notion of morality as just doing what we want?
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Old 5th August 2019, 08:53 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
What values would you include?
Whatever the individual or group decides.

Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Morality and ethics are questions of reducing the suffering of conscious beings.
For you. It may not be about this for others.
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Old 5th August 2019, 08:55 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Why is reducing the suffering of conscious beings desirable?

You've asserted a philosophical premise there, can you back it with argument or must it be taken as a matter of faith?
The Hypocrisy clause!


Evolution. Self-preservation. Pain. Suffering.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:02 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Why is reducing the suffering of conscious beings desirable?
Ethical solipsism does not concern me. That isn't angels dancing on the head of a pin, it's Prince Alberts dancing on the head of an angel's penis.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:07 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
Oh, an observation, sorry.
I was asking about personal opinions, so naturally I thought that was yours.
What is your philosophy then?
Well it's also my personal opinion of course, it would be silly to hold a personal opinion which contradicts observation. I mean that it's not "my philosophy" in the same sense that my personal opinion that gravity exists is not just "my philosophy" but an opinion based on observation. A fact, basically.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:07 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
The point you're missing is that you apparent want to be moral. Which is a desire than influenced how you chose to act.
Well, no, that's an unfalsifiable assertion of psychological egoism, and it's not in fact how I think about such dilemmas.

But the claim wasn't "people have desires the influence them to act". The claim was that morality was nothing more than doing what we want to do. That's a hyper-simplistic model that completely ignores that we have conflicting desires, and that normative ethics is all about how we mediate those desires.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:10 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Ethical solipsism does not concern me.
TM's point has nothing to do with ethical solipsism. You stated an opinion on what should be considered ethical. Surely you must know that it is your opinion, not the actual definition of the word.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:18 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
Well, no, that's an unfalsifiable assertion of psychological egoism, and it's not in fact how I think about such dilemmas.

But the claim wasn't "people have desires the influence them to act". The claim was that morality was nothing more than doing what we want to do. That's a hyper-simplistic model that completely ignores that we have conflicting desires, and that normative ethics is all about how we mediate those desires.
I didn't say morality was "nothing more than doing what we want to do". I said morality, whatever it is, is something we choose to behave in accordance with (or not). It's perfectly possible, even common, to choose to act contrary to what one thinks is the moral choice.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:23 AM   #52
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Would it be less absurd to call the choice moral if you have not chosen to do the selfish thing?
Yes. Acting for a just, equitable outcome has a moral character that acting to satisfy your desire for ice cream does not.

Quote:
Yet you did what you wanted, even dressed up the whole choice in terms of morality, then how can your example refute the notion of morality as just doing what we want?
Because you can't get everything that you want, even if we accept the egoistic framing (and I don't). We have to mediate between conflicting desires, a fact that "morality/ethics is people doing what they want" completely ignores.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:27 AM   #53
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Ethical solipsism does not concern me. That isn't angels dancing on the head of a pin, it's Prince Alberts dancing on the head of an angel's penis.
If someone stated the base of ethics is to act in accord with the wishes of God you'd want them to back that up, wouldn't you?

Your premise is not so self-evident it can stand unsupported or unexamined.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:34 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
If someone stated the base of ethics is to act in accord with the wishes of God you'd want them to back that up, wouldn't you?

Your premise is not so self-evident it can stand unsupported or unexamined.
I'd ask them to prove God exists.

Are you asking me to prove conscious creatures exist and can suffer?
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:35 AM   #55
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
I didn't say morality was "nothing more than doing what we want to do".
I know. Robin did, and it's this idea I'm objecting to.

Quote:
It's perfectly possible, even common, to choose to act contrary to what one thinks is the moral choice.
Well, no ****. But we wouldn't call that choice the moral choice, which means there's a problem with saying that morality is just doing what we want to do.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:38 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
Yes. Acting for a just, equitable outcome has a moral character that acting to satisfy your desire for ice cream does not.
That depends the moral code you're using, doesn't it?

Quote:
Because you can't get everything that you want, even if we accept the egoistic framing (and I don't). We have to mediate between conflicting desires, a fact that "morality/ethics is people doing what they want" completely ignores.
But you could have gotten everything you claimed[*] you wanted, you were perfectly capable of locking everyone else out. The only thing that stopped you was you, so "you can't get everything that you want" doesn't really apply here. Clearly, there's something else you wanted even more (to act ethically) than to have good WiFi access. You did this thing you wanted most, claimed it to be the moral choice, yet consider that an argument against the notion of morality as "just doing what we want." Note that I don't necessarily agree with said notion of morality, but your example obviously doesn't refute it either, if anything it supports it.

*
Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
That seems hopelessly reductive to me. Yesterday I was on a bus with terrible wifi service, and I noticed that the mobile gateway was using the manufacturer's default password, so I could have blacklisted everyone but me and had decent service. And I wanted to do this.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:44 AM   #57
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Morality and ethics are questions of reducing the suffering of conscious beings. The questions are answered like every other question; by weighing the evidence.

These questions are difficult, fiendishly complicated at times, and complicated further by cultural baggage, but they are not magical woo-woo questions that either don't have answers or only have absolute answers handed to us by the burning bush.

Everything else is so much Angels dancing on the head of a pin and can be dismissed as the nonsense it is.
Your premise is that morality and ethics is about reducing the suffering of conscious beings. Is that statement a result of priori (self-evident) or posteriori (experience) knowledge? Can I be a carnivore and still be considered a moral being? It's probably a spectrum, not a right or wrong type of scale.

When you say that this question can only be answered by weighing the evidence, that leads me to believe you are stating that this question can only be answered by means of empiricism (experience or experiments). Is that an accurate portrayal of your position?
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:45 AM   #58
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I'd ask them to prove God exists.

Are you asking me to prove conscious creatures exist and can suffer?
I'm asking if you can support the premise that ethics is "reducing the suffering of conscious beings". Why is that a desirable thing?
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:46 AM   #59
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Whenever we talk morality/ethics I always get perturbed by the number of people who are, even if only on an argumentative level, either looking for a loophole to exploit to be a total psychopath and/or assume other people are doing the same.

Humans are social creatures who want and need to interact with each other, but we have different, sometimes conflicting, individual wants, needs, and desires.

We are unhappy when we don't get the things we want/need.
But sometimes the easiest, simpliest, most obvious way to get what we want/need causes unhappiness in other people.

Looking at the overall situation and going "How can we maximize personal happiness at least without sacrificing, ideally while also improving, overall group happiness?" is the only morality/ethics I feel is valid.

//Note. I use the term "happiness" as shorthand, but this refers to a broad range of positive human emotions.//
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:49 AM   #60
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Again I will not entertain "Prove to me why I shouldn't just be a psychopath" moral solipsism.

I'm comfortable starting at a point of "Suffering is bad" being self evidence.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:49 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
That depend the moral code you're using, doesn't it?
Not especially. The nature of ethical statements is distinct from any specific normative code.

Quote:
But you could have gotten everything you claimed[*] you wanted, you were perfectly capable of locking everyone else out.
I couldn't have, not if I accept the framing (that I wanted good wifi but also wanted to not be a dick). These desires are in conflict.

If I reject the framing, then I only had one desire, and it wasn't satisfied, precisely because I acted in the way that I thought was moral/ethical.

Either way, the idea that morality was just me doing what I wanted to do is false. It's a considered act, and the consideration is where the work of ethics and morality gets done.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:51 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Looking at the overall situation and going "How can we maximize personal happiness at least without sacrificing, ideally while also improving, overall group happiness?" is the only morality/ethics I feel is valid.
I don't know what overall situation you are looking at, but when I look at the world, how societies are structured and organized, I see something quite different from that.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:54 AM   #63
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You can take any topic and recursive (yes I verbed recursive) it into null level "You can't know anything" meaningless.

We might as well just start arguing whether or not we're in the Matrix.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:54 AM   #64
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Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
I couldn't have, not if I accept the framing (that I wanted good wifi but also wanted to not be a dick). These desires are in conflict.
And you could've gone with either one, there was nothing stopping you from doing either but yourself (for example you had the admin password etc).

Quote:
Either way, the idea that morality was just me doing what I wanted to do is false. It's a considered act, and the consideration is where the work of ethics and morality gets done.
It's still you wanting to consider the act in terms of ethics and morality, it's a completely free choice you made. You could've ignored any ethics or morality or, indeed, chosen not to even consider the act in those terms.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:55 AM   #65
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Whenever we talk morality/ethics I always get perturbed by the number of people who are, even if only on an argumentative level, either looking for a loophole to exploit to be a total psychopath and/or assume other people are doing the same.
That's not what's happening here. This is a philosophical discussion, you must expect tough questions. Note that this isn't the Politics forum: it's not games and agendas and gotchas here. You have an idea, we want to examine it, that's all.

Quote:
Humans are social creatures who want and need to interact with each other, but we have different, sometimes conflicting, individual wants, needs, and desires.

We are unhappy when we don't get the things we want/need.
But sometimes the easiest, simpliest, most obvious way to get what we want/need causes unhappiness in other people.
Okay, now you're introducing something new. What is happiness, and how does it relate to the suffering in the premise? That's not a trick question, there is a common answer to it in this context.

Quote:
Looking at the overall situation and going "How can we maximize personal happiness at least without sacrificing, ideally while also improving, overall group happiness?" is the only morality/ethics I feel is valid.

//Note. I use the term "happiness" as shorthand, but this refers to a broad range of positive human emotions.//
Okay, that seems clear enough, once the happiness question is settled. You appear to favor maximizing a good while minimizing harm, for the many rather than the few when they conflict. Again, not an uncommon view.

But it assumes several things as given and hinges on concepts that are as yet undefined, and has implications that could be explored. This stuff isn't easy.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:57 AM   #66
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Again I will not entertain "Prove to me why I shouldn't just be a psychopath" moral solipsism.

I'm comfortable starting at a point of "Suffering is bad" being self evidence.
But that WASN'T your claim. Your claim wasn't that suffering is bad. It's that ethics are about suffering.

ETA: Ethics are defined as "moral principles that govern a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity." Whether that pertains to suffering or not, or to what extent, depends on the individual and society.
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:58 AM   #67
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
You can take any topic and recursive (you I verbed recursive) it into null level "You can't know anything" meaningless.

We might as well just start arguing whether or not we're in the Matrix.
That makes no sense. Obviously you can know things, for example by looking at the overall situation you can know that "might is right" is a much more accurate description than "maximizing happiness while not making the group unhappy" - indeed, it seems that the paradise of the rich (the "maximized personal happiness") is built on the backs of the poor (the "large group being made unhappy because of it")
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Old 5th August 2019, 09:59 AM   #68
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Again I will not entertain "Prove to me why I shouldn't just be a psychopath" moral solipsism.
That's not what's happening here.

Quote:
I'm comfortable starting at a point of "Suffering is bad" being self evidence.
That's not sufficient here.
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Old 5th August 2019, 10:01 AM   #69
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
That's not what's happening here. This is a philosophical discussion, you must expect tough questions.
Tough questions yes. Meaningless recursion, no. I will play for a while, but when everything I say is answered "And then?" I will bow out.

Quote:
Okay, now you're introducing something new. What is happiness, and how does it relate to the suffering in the premise? That's not a trick question, there is a common answer to it in this context.
As said I was using "happiness" as shorthand for the much more complex idea of a positive emotional state; lack of suffering, fulfillment... ya know the whole "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" thing. There's more to the positive emotional state then simple in the moment happiness.

Quote:
Okay, that seems clear enough, once the happiness question is settled. You appear to favor maximizing a good while minimizing harm, for the many rather than the few when they conflict. Again, not an uncommon view.

But it assumes several things as given and hinges on concepts that are as yet undefined, and has implications that could be explored. This stuff isn't easy.
Nobody wants to suffer. I have no problem "assuming" things which nobody is actually disagreeing on.
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Old 5th August 2019, 10:02 AM   #70
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
That's not what's happening here.
I always find it interesting when people do that sort of "but if you aren't enslaved to a moral code then what's stopping you from doing [insert immoral thing]?" It's similar to the one religious believers make against atheists: "but if you didn't have fear of God then what's stopping you from doing [insert immoral thing]?" In the same way the latter says more about the religious believer than the atheist, I think the former says more about the moralist than the amoralist.
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Old 5th August 2019, 10:05 AM   #71
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
And you could've gone with either one, there was nothing stopping you from doing either but yourself (for example you had the admin password etc).
And? I'm not saying I was forced to do the right thing.

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It's still you wanting to consider the act in terms of ethics and morality, it's a completely free choice you made. You could've ignored any ethics or morality or, indeed, chosen not to even consider the act in those terms.
If I had ignored morality, I could not claim to be acting morally. And yet I would have been acting in keeping with my desire. Which means it would be an error to say that "acting morally is just doing what you want to do". There's something more at work.

This is the only thing I'd like to establish.
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Old 5th August 2019, 10:11 AM   #72
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Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
And? I'm not saying I was forced to do the right thing.
Well you're the one who claimed that you couldn't have done otherwise.

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If I had ignored morality, I could not claim to be acting morally. And yet I would have been acting in keeping with my desire. Which means it would be an error to say that "acting morally is just doing what you want to do". There's something more at work.

This is the only thing I'd like to establish.
Then you'd have been better of with an example where you acted "immorally" instead, as that would actually refute the claim that "acting morally is just doing what you want to do." Why would a desire to act ethically be any more than any other desire? If your desire to act ethically is stronger than your desire to get good WiFi then you've still just done what you wanted most.
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Old 5th August 2019, 10:12 AM   #73
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Tough questions yes. Meaningless recursion, no. I will play for a while, but when everything I say is answered "And then?" I will bow out.
Yes, yes, we all remember the kid who quit playing Tag when he got tagged to be It. If you cannot keep your temper then philosophy is not for you.

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As said I was using "happiness" as shorthand for the much more complex idea of a positive emotional state; lack of suffering, fulfillment... ya know the whole "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" thing. There's more to the positive emotional state then simple in the moment happiness.
There was nothing wrong with using "happiness", it's not that simple a concept as you suggest. But here you give the definition I anticipated: happiness as the avoidance of suffering.

Quote:
Nobody wants to suffer. I have no problem "assuming" things which nobody is actually disagreeing on.
And yet people do suffer, willingly, sometimes. Athletes experience injury, dental patients and tattooed people endure pain, children suffer through school. If ethics were about reducing suffering would it therefore be ethical to stop sports, school, dentistry, and tattooing? What about the grief of losing loved ones? Better to never love than to experience the suffering of loss?

Obviously not. The avoidance of suffering is not by itself the basis of ethics. You are missing an element: purpose. The avoidance of suffering without a greater purpose being served fits better. But what is the purpose? Is there one in general, or is it specific and different per individual?
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Old 5th August 2019, 10:40 AM   #74
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
There was nothing wrong with using "happiness", it's not that simple a concept as you suggest. But here you give the definition I anticipated: happiness as the avoidance of suffering.
Don't do that. Don't play the "Ha I Socratically predicated that you would make that point in my previous point and lead you into it..." game, especially right after admonishing me for assuming people were gonna play gotcha.

Make the point you're making against the point I'm making, not some unspoken future point you'll assume I'll make.

Quote:
And yet people do suffer, willingly, sometimes. Athletes experience injury, dental patients and tattooed people endure pain, children suffer through school. If ethics were about reducing suffering would it therefore be ethical to stop sports, school, dentistry, and tattooing? What about the grief of losing loved ones? Better to never love than to experience the suffering of loss?
There's nothing illogical about trading temporary suffering for long term less suffering.
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Old 5th August 2019, 10:41 AM   #75
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Don't do that. Don't play the "Ha I Socratically predicated that you make that point in my previous point and lead you into it..." game.

Make the point you're making against the point I'm making, not some



There's not illogical about trading temporary suffering for long term less suffering.
Hey, Joe. Do you think you could address my points, here?
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Old 5th August 2019, 10:41 AM   #76
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Thanks for you posts mumblethrax, I'm enjoying them.


Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
I'm asking if you can support the premise that ethics is "reducing the suffering of conscious beings". Why is that a desirable thing?
I would actually like to be pro-active and change "reduce suffering" to "maximize happiness", it seems like a more worthy goal.


Since we are discussing ethics and we all agree it's about feelings, it makes sense to include things that experience feelings in developing an ethical framework.
Science informs us that evolution gave rise to conscious beings that experience both positive and negative feelings and emotions.
Since we are all selfish, we don't like experiencing negative feelings and want to avoid them.

The reason is simple, feelings are just evolution's way of compelling an organism to lead a healthy and productive life.
You feel negative feelings under situations best avoided back in evolutionary history. And positive feelings when in situations that lead to a productive life in terms of reproductive success.
That is why all animals that care, try to avoid suffering, pain, hunger etc. It's obviously damaging and could kill you if you ignore it. I think it might be a universal in the evolution of complex enough brains, together with the will to live.


I want to live and I don't want to suffer doing it, I want to enjoy myself.

It's pretty safe to say all conscious evolved beings feel the same.
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Old 5th August 2019, 10:48 AM   #77
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Don't do that. Don't play the "Ha I Socratically predicated that you would make that point in my previous point and lead you into it..." game, especially right after admonishing me for assuming people were gonna play gotcha.

Make the point you're making against the point I'm making, not some unspoken future point you'll assume I'll make.
Such a prickly bunny! I merely meant that you were aiming at a well-established line of thought. If you weren't so hostile to philosophy you'd have known what you're suggesting isn't new or unique, and been able to review prior atguments.

Quote:
There's nothing illogical about trading temporary suffering for long term less suffering.
I agree. I never said it was. This is the first time you've mentioned logic, so now we have another new element in the mix. Are you going to amend your original premise to include logic, or use logic to support it, or both?
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Old 5th August 2019, 10:52 AM   #78
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
I agree. I never said it was. This is the first time you've mentioned logic, so now we have another new element in the mix. Are you going to amend your original premise to include logic, or use logic to support it, or both?
Logic isn't something I should have to "bring up."

It's like asking an engineer for a bridge design and 1/3 of a way into the design process going "What? You never mentioned the bridge would be built in a place with Gravity!"
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Old 5th August 2019, 10:58 AM   #79
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Well you're the one who claimed that you couldn't have done otherwise.
I didn't make that claim. I made the claim that I could not satisfy both desires (the real and the putative), since they were mutually exclusive.

Quote:
Then you'd have been better of with an example where you acted "immorally" instead, as that would actually refute the claim that "acting morally is just doing what you want to do."
I was assuming that people here could imagine I might have acted otherwise. I'll concede that this might have been a mistake, since the responses have been perplexing.

Quote:
Why would a desire to act ethically be any more than any other desire?
Because we might consider it a more serious interest. Some desires are trivial, or even harmful if acted upon. The alcoholic who knows he is reckless when drunk has good reason to rate his second-order desire to abstain higher than his first-order desire to have a drink, even if the first-order desire is felt more strongly.

Quote:
If your desire to act ethically is stronger than your desire to get good WiFi then you've still just done what you wanted most.
So here we encounter some of the manifold problems with psychological egoism--if I claim that I didn't act according to my own desires at all, but in consideration of other people's interests, I'm told that not only do I feel such a desire, but that I must have felt it more strongly. Otherwise, psychological egoism would be false! *wank emoji*
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Old 5th August 2019, 10:58 AM   #80
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I guess I'm on ignore or something.
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