ISF Logo   IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Reply
Old 9th February 2019, 02:21 PM   #41
ynot
Philosopher
 
ynot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 8,316
Anyone would be morally justified to let this thread drown .
__________________
Paranormal beliefs are knowledge placebos.
Rumours of a god’s existence have been greatly exaggerated.
To make truth from beliefs is to make truth mere make-believe.
ynot is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 03:33 PM   #42
bruto
Penultimate Amazing
 
bruto's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Way way north of Diddy Wah Diddy
Posts: 23,867
My main issue with this whole discussion is the implication that two actions are equivalent and mutually exclusive. I think most of us would without much thought rescue the kid beside us, at the expense of our shoes and perhaps much else, for various reasons including our immediate emotional response. We could do this irrespective of whether we also provide abstract benefits to persons we do not see, or whether we wear expensive shoes or drive fancy cars, or satisfy some moral scold's definition of what is enough. The two actions overlap at an ethical point, but they are not equivalent.

I get the basic point but my other problem is with the cutoff point, as well as the implied presumption that a decision based on immediate emotional response is somehow inferior to one based on abstract ideas is if they were not founded on emotional decisions as well. If you do not love the world, what reason is there to save it at all? It's not easy to define what is enough or not enough, or to find a non-emotional motivation to do anything at all in a world hopelessly bogged down in suffering. The basic argument works fine as a goad to remind us to think globally, but stalls when you start to try to fine tune it.

Who decides what causes are more worthy than others, when enough is enough, what it is or is not reasonable to withhold for oneself?

There will always be an argument possible that you're not doing enough, or not doing the right thing, or not doing the thing right. It's fine, I think, to argue ethical points, to ask if we're thinking well about them, to try to convince us that things we do have unseen consequences, but ultimately it's up to us to decide what we can do, how and for whom.
__________________
I love this world, but not for its answers. (Mary Oliver)

Quand il dit "cuic" le moineau croit tout dire. (When he's tweeted the sparrow thinks he's said it all. (Jules Renard)
bruto is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 03:47 PM   #43
Robin
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 9,515
Originally Posted by bruto View Post



Who decides what causes are more worthy than others, when enough is enough, what it is or is not reasonable to withhold for oneself?
I think it is quite obviously up to each individual, since these decisions can be based on nothing else than our emotional responses to these situations.


I am only pointing out that it is absurd to say we are being inconsistent if we help in one case and don't in another, or that helping in one case logically implies we should help in another.



Sent from my Moto C using Tapatalk
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 03:49 PM   #44
Robin
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 9,515
Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Anyone would be morally justified to let this thread drown .
If you are not interested then you don't need to respond to the thread at all

I know that concept overwhelms your mental powers, but try to work on it.

Sent from my Moto C using Tapatalk
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 04:55 PM   #45
kellyb
Penultimate Amazing
 
kellyb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 11,118
Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
No, it isn't. Obviously the distancing effect explains why we feel that the situations are different. But it doesn't mean that we can't apply reason as well as feels.

That is the point of Singer's thought experiment - to get people to think, and to reason. Though it usually results in people rationalizing, which is a very different thing.
I think this is a case where the rationalization is absolutely correct.

Charity is a very cheap substitute for justice, and resources are better spent fixing the systems which cause the suffering in the first place.
__________________
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts ~ Bertrand Russell
I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend.
kellyb is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 07:48 PM   #46
bruto
Penultimate Amazing
 
bruto's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Way way north of Diddy Wah Diddy
Posts: 23,867
Originally Posted by Robin View Post
I think it is quite obviously up to each individual, since these decisions can be based on nothing else than our emotional responses to these situations.


I am only pointing out that it is absurd to say we are being inconsistent if we help in one case and don't in another, or that helping in one case logically implies we should help in another.



Sent from my Moto C using Tapatalk
As I said in my undoubtedly too verbose above post, I agree with that because I do not think the cases are the same even if they resemble each other.
__________________
I love this world, but not for its answers. (Mary Oliver)

Quand il dit "cuic" le moineau croit tout dire. (When he's tweeted the sparrow thinks he's said it all. (Jules Renard)
bruto is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 07:56 PM   #47
sylvan8798
Master Poster
 
sylvan8798's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 2,846
Originally Posted by Robin View Post
There is an argument in moral philosophy, that sets out a scenario that I am out walking in an expensive pair of shoes and I see a child drowning, but in order to save him I will ruin my expensive shoes. The argument goes that I would not hesitate to sacrifice those shoes in order to save the child, so I am being inconsistent if I would not forgo buying the shoes in the first place in order to send the money overseas to save the life of a child.
I don't really see how these actions are analogous. If I buy the expensive shoes, the probability that I have to sacrifice them to save Drowning Child is very small. Infinitesimal really. Even if I do, it is likely that I have worn and enjoyed said shoes numerous times. In the alternative scenario, I don't get to enjoy the shoes at all. Not only that, but I don't get to enjoy ANYTHING that I might have earned the power to buy, since I have to send everything I get to save persons elsewhere. I live under a bridge and dig in dumpsters, because, according to my philosophy, if I would sacrifice item X in order to save Drowning Child, then I must sacrifice item X immediately in order to save Distant Child.
__________________
DoYouEverWonder - Engineers and architects don't have to design steel buildings not to collapse from gravity. They already conquered gravity when they built it.

- Professional Wastrel
sylvan8798 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 08:10 PM   #48
Robin
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 9,515
Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
The OP did a bad job of presenting the problem.



Anyway, I still don’t understand the objection.



You seem to be making a Nirvana fallacy - “if we save one kid in Bangladesh then they’ll all want saving so best save none!”


That is not even remotely like anything I said. It sounds like you didn't read what I wrote, which is fine.

Here is the gist. Some philosophers say that a person who would sacrifice X dollars to save a child dying in front of them but not sacrifice a similar amount for a child dying overseas is acting inconsistently.

I am saying those philosophers are wrong. There is no inconsistency. They are acting perfectly consistently with the rule they were following when they said they would sacrifice X dollars to save the child right in front of them.

Sent from my Moto C using Tapatalk
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 08:15 PM   #49
Robin
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 9,515
Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
S
Obviously the distancing effect explains why we feel that the situations are different. But it doesn't mean that we can't apply reason as well as feels.
But who said we couldn't use reason?


Sent from my Moto C using Tapatalk
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 08:49 PM   #50
Robin
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 9,515
Here is an old chestnut in philosophy:

A person writes down "2,4,6,8,"

What is the next number they should add to this series in order to be consistent?

Sent from my Moto C using Tapatalk
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 08:58 PM   #51
Loss Leader
I would save the receptionist.
Moderator
 
Loss Leader's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Florida
Posts: 26,354
Originally Posted by Robin View Post
I am saying those philosophers are wrong. There is no inconsistency. They are acting perfectly consistently with the rule they were following when they said they would sacrifice X dollars to save the child right in front of them.

Yes, they are acting consistently with a rule, but that rule is, "be biased in favor of a situation you are physically close to." And, in fact, humans do display that kind of bias. But that just begs the question, because the real question is whether that sort of bias is rational. I personally think it can be rationalized away with enough hand-waving, but am not at all certain that it actually is.
__________________
I have the honor to be
Your Obdt. St

L. Leader
Loss Leader is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 09:18 PM   #52
kellyb
Penultimate Amazing
 
kellyb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 11,118
Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
Yes, they are acting consistently with a rule, but that rule is, "be biased in favor of a situation you are physically close to." And, in fact, humans do display that kind of bias. But that just begs the question, because the real question is whether that sort of bias is rational. I personally think it can be rationalized away with enough hand-waving, but am not at all certain that it actually is.
It's emotional, not rational. The 3d sight of a child right in front of you who's about to die is an exceedingly strong environmental stimuli that taps right in to our altruistic instincts as a social species in a really powerful, emotional way.
__________________
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts ~ Bertrand Russell
I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend.
kellyb is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 09:21 PM   #53
Robin
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 9,515
Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
Yes, they are acting consistently with a rule, but that rule is, "be biased in favor of a situation you are physically close to." And, in fact, humans do display that kind of bias. But that just begs the question, because the real question is whether that sort of bias is rational. I personally think it can be rationalized away with enough hand-waving, but am not at all certain that it actually is.
In what way is it not rational? Are you saying there is some objective fact if the matter about how we should feel about the situation?

In what way would sacrificing a similar amount to save children overseas be more rational?

Do you think that decision would be any less based on emotion?

Sent from my Moto C using Tapatalk
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 09:25 PM   #54
Robin
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 9,515
Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
It's emotional, not rational. The 3d sight of a child right in front of you who's about to die is an exceedingly strong environmental stimuli that taps right in to our altruistic instincts as a social species in a really powerful, emotional way.
Why is a decision based on emotion not rational?

If I decide to do something that makes me happy rather than something that makes me unhappy, is that not a rational decision.

Is there such a thing as a purely rational decision free of emotion?

Aren't all rational decisions based, ultimately, on emotions?

Sent from my Moto C using Tapatalk
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 09:41 PM   #55
Thermal
Philosopher
 
Thermal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: NJ USA. We Don't Like You Either
Posts: 7,469
Wouldn't a valid way to look at this be that you are not searching the world for dragons to slay (or children to save), but if one was thrust upon you, you have an immediate imperitive to slay (save) it? That negates the whole extrapolation of needy kids who are not right in front of you. They are S.E.P.
__________________
"Half of what he said meant something else, and the other half didn't mean anything at all" -Rosencrantz, on Hamlet

Last edited by Thermal; 9th February 2019 at 10:03 PM.
Thermal is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 09:41 PM   #56
kellyb
Penultimate Amazing
 
kellyb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 11,118
Originally Posted by Robin View Post
Why is a decision based on emotion not rational?

If I decide to do something that makes me happy rather than something that makes me unhappy, is that not a rational decision.

Is there such a thing as a purely rational decision free of emotion?

Aren't all rational decisions based, ultimately, on emotions?

Sent from my Moto C using Tapatalk
I'm not saying it's irrational to do what makes you happy. Overall, doing what makes you happy is usually rational enough.

I do think some decisions are based on pure logic and not emotion, or so little emotion it doesn't really count in my mind. Like, choosing to buy the cheaper version of the same product on Amazon.
__________________
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts ~ Bertrand Russell
I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend.
kellyb is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 11:15 PM   #57
Loss Leader
I would save the receptionist.
Moderator
 
Loss Leader's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Florida
Posts: 26,354
Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
It's emotional, not rational. The 3d sight of a child right in front of you who's about to die is an exceedingly strong environmental stimuli that taps right in to our altruistic instincts as a social species in a really powerful, emotional way.

And I think you've highlighted the crux of the problem. Caring for the people immediately around us who are in imminent danger is clearly evolutionarily advantageous. Caring for somebody in another tribe far away doesn't really aid the survival of your particular clan. If morality is defined as purely a function of our animalistic nature, then saving the drowning girl in front of you is moral. But if morality is something greater than our biological programming, then I start to have doubts.

I think that there's an inborn evolutionary drive to just murder everyone who doesn't look like you. We extinguished at least two other hominid species just because they made us feel bad about ourselves. Without the human desire to kill neanderthals, we don't exist right now. Those guys were tough. But then you translate that to the Turkish desire to rid the world of Armenians, and that is absolutely immoral. So evolutionary advantage can't be the only way we measure moral behavior.

It's a house of mirrors. I don't see easy answers.
__________________
I have the honor to be
Your Obdt. St

L. Leader
Loss Leader is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th February 2019, 11:28 PM   #58
kellyb
Penultimate Amazing
 
kellyb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 11,118
Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
And I think you've highlighted the crux of the problem. Caring for the people immediately around us who are in imminent danger is clearly evolutionarily advantageous. Caring for somebody in another tribe far away doesn't really aid the survival of your particular clan. If morality is defined as purely a function of our animalistic nature, then saving the drowning girl in front of you is moral. But if morality is something greater than our biological programming, then I start to have doubts.

I think that there's an inborn evolutionary drive to just murder everyone who doesn't look like you. We extinguished at least two other hominid species just because they made us feel bad about ourselves. Without the human desire to kill neanderthals, we don't exist right now. Those guys were tough. But then you translate that to the Turkish desire to rid the world of Armenians, and that is absolutely immoral. So evolutionary advantage can't be the only way we measure moral behavior.

It's a house of mirrors. I don't see easy answers.
I've had the same thought about the evolutionary origins of genocide. Depressing stuff.

I don't think an evolutionary advantage determines actual morality at all. It only explains some things about how our altruistic instincts tend to work.

All of the terrible drives we have are natural, and the naturalness does not make them moral. You definitely don't want to apply the "natural is better fallacy of logic" to human behavior, evolutionary roots, and deciding what's really and truly moral!
__________________
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts ~ Bertrand Russell
I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend.
kellyb is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 01:01 AM   #59
cullennz
Embarrasingly illiterate
 
cullennz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 15,268
Never really been that into buying anything expensive, let alone shoes.

Just stuff that works and doesn't fall apart after 6 months, so happy to save any kid.
__________________
I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s Internet technology we should be able to tell within 72-hours if a potential gun owner has a record.

Source: The America We Deserve, by Donald Trump, p.102 , Jul 2, 2000
cullennz is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 05:55 AM   #60
angrysoba
Philosophile
 
angrysoba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 24,931
Originally Posted by baron View Post
There are radically different. In one case you either act and the kid lives, or you don't act and the kid dies. That scenario does not play out when donating to charity. What happens is you donate to a cause and, if you're lucky, some of your money will go to improving the lives of an unspecified number of people.
Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
That's what I meant about the immediacy, and the triviality of the sacrifice. The OP extending the cost/benefit analysis, if you will, is not analogous
Originally Posted by baron View Post
Indeed, they're two separate concepts, which is why I brought up the issue of the either / or choice, as that would be a way of connecting them.
Doesn't anyone remember Bob Geldof banging the table and saying, "There are kids doy-ing, noy!"?
And then Bono, at Live AIDS, clapping his hands and saying, "Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies!" (And the yell from the audience, "Well, stop doing it, then!")?
Doesn't anyone remember when Liam Neeson was told by his friend that she...oh, wait...different story!

The argument is that there is a temporal immediacy - an urgency - for donations that could save lives. It is certainly one of the most common objections that we have no idea if that money is just going to end up as processing costs, the director's breakfast, ads for more charity donations, into some corrupt warlord middle-man's wallet. That's actually why people have set up the Effective Altruism website to evaluate charities in terms of how much good they do. A lot of charities are not worth giving to. In fact, on a recent Very Bad Wizards podcast, one of the hosts was saying, "Many people will argue that the reason for not sending money to charity is how difficult it is to assess the good that donations do, now that Effective Altruism has been launched, people will have to think up other excuses to answer Peter Singer." LOL!
__________________
"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
angrysoba is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 06:06 AM   #61
angrysoba
Philosophile
 
angrysoba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 24,931
Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
Why does the moral philosopher get off scot-free in this scenario? Why is he sitting around in a cushy job asking stupid questions when he could be working in a soup kitchen or curing AIDS in Africa? If he was being consistent, we wouldn't have to deal with these kinds of questions in the first place...
Well, actually, the moral philosopher was working in a soup kitchen AND simultaneously donating a kidney to sick child AND building a school in Cambodia while dictating this thought experiment to a homeless man with no legs in the hospital built with the philosopher's salary, for which he paid him from his book royalties.

OR

He was eating all the soup from the homeless shelter's kitchen while cackling maniacally and buying Cambodian kidneys off the black market and abusing his position as the director of a hospital by asset-stripping it and selling off the machines, and lavishly spending his obscene philosophy professor salary on drag-netted shrimp and dolphin, whale sandwiches and smoked ocelot, etc...

In either case, how the philosopher lives is irrelevant to the validity of the argument.
__________________
"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
angrysoba is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 06:09 AM   #62
Craig4
Penultimate Amazing
 
Craig4's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Alexandria, VA Home to the Deep State.
Posts: 17,938
What do you have against people working in shoe factories? It seems those employees found a way out of poverty by making your shoes.
Craig4 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 06:15 AM   #63
angrysoba
Philosophile
 
angrysoba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 24,931
Originally Posted by Robin View Post
And I never suggested for a moment that he was arguing that.


And I am pointing out that it doesn't follow.

It all depends on why you think you ought to save the child in front of you.

If it because of some objectively existing moral standard then he could be right

But if it is instead based on our emotional reaction to the drowning child then it doesn't follow since, as human beings, we have different emotional reactions to people at greater separation from us.

You and. I are both psychopathic towards people sufficiently far away.

Sent from my Moto C using Tapatalk[/quote]

Huh?

I think you are merely restating exactly what he is pointing out. We are less given to thinking about actions or consequences of actions (or inactions) when we are removed from the situation. I don't know why you are telling me this. I have been explaining this already.

It is like George Orwell's contention that a man can be dropping bombs on a city who wouldn't have the slightest desire to kill someone face-to-face.
__________________
"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
angrysoba is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 06:19 AM   #64
angrysoba
Philosophile
 
angrysoba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 24,931
Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
I think this is a case where the rationalization is absolutely correct.

Charity is a very cheap substitute for justice, and resources are better spent fixing the systems which cause the suffering in the first place.
There's no reason why both can't be done.

I think an analogy here would be, if you are walking to work and saw the child in the pond, you could wade in and save the kid, or you could tut and say, "Someone really should put a fence up around this pond!"

Singer even modifies the thought experiment to say, "What if there were others around who could help, but they don't, does this mean that you shouldn't?"

No, the fact that they aren't doesn't change the normative aspect for someone who thinks that saving a life is important.
__________________
"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
angrysoba is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 06:26 AM   #65
angrysoba
Philosophile
 
angrysoba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 24,931
Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
It's emotional, not rational. The 3d sight of a child right in front of you who's about to die is an exceedingly strong environmental stimuli that taps right in to our altruistic instincts as a social species in a really powerful, emotional way.
Yes...and?

There is no mystery here about why people think that saving the child in the pond is important and that the same brain software fails to kick in when the child is on the other side of the globe.

But Singer's argument is that this perceptual difference is irrelevant to the moral stakes.
__________________
"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
angrysoba is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 06:44 AM   #66
angrysoba
Philosophile
 
angrysoba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 24,931
Originally Posted by bruto View Post
My main issue with this whole discussion is the implication that two actions are equivalent and mutually exclusive. I think most of us would without much thought rescue the kid beside us, at the expense of our shoes and perhaps much else, for various reasons including our immediate emotional response. We could do this irrespective of whether we also provide abstract benefits to persons we do not see, or whether we wear expensive shoes or drive fancy cars, or satisfy some moral scold's definition of what is enough. The two actions overlap at an ethical point, but they are not equivalent.

I get the basic point but my other problem is with the cutoff point, as well as the implied presumption that a decision based on immediate emotional response is somehow inferior to one based on abstract ideas is if they were not founded on emotional decisions as well. If you do not love the world, what reason is there to save it at all? It's not easy to define what is enough or not enough, or to find a non-emotional motivation to do anything at all in a world hopelessly bogged down in suffering. The basic argument works fine as a goad to remind us to think globally, but stalls when you start to try to fine tune it.

Who decides what causes are more worthy than others, when enough is enough, what it is or is not reasonable to withhold for oneself?

There will always be an argument possible that you're not doing enough, or not doing the right thing, or not doing the thing right. It's fine, I think, to argue ethical points, to ask if we're thinking well about them, to try to convince us that things we do have unseen consequences, but ultimately it's up to us to decide what we can do, how and for whom.
I think there are a lot of points here, but not much of a knock-down argument.

"ultimately it's up to us to decide what we can do, how and for whom"

Okay, but this is why Peter Singer starts with an example that in his mind so obviously compels most of us to act. If we were colleagues and I turned up at your office and said that on my way to work I passed by a kid in a pond who was drowning and I told you about how I walked on anyway thinking, "Sucks to be him!" I think you would think I had a moral obligation to wade in and save him. If I retorted, "well, ultimately it's up to me to decide what I will do, how and for whom", you would probably not be very impressed with the response.

So the point is, if I assume correctly that you would not apply the "do whatever you decide" norm all the way down the line, is there not a reasonable extension upwards of that moral responsibility.

As for the cut-off point, that's not really important. The idea is that if I can forego Luxury Item 1 and save Life A, that is better than nothing. If I can forego Luxury Items 1 and 2 and save Life A and Life B, that is better than the previous scenario, and so on. There's no need to pose the question of "But where does this slippery slope take us?!"
__________________
"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
angrysoba is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 06:57 AM   #67
angrysoba
Philosophile
 
angrysoba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 24,931
Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
I've had the same thought about the evolutionary origins of genocide. Depressing stuff.

I don't think an evolutionary advantage determines actual morality at all. It only explains some things about how our altruistic instincts tend to work.

All of the terrible drives we have are natural, and the naturalness does not make them moral. You definitely don't want to apply the "natural is better fallacy of logic" to human behavior, evolutionary roots, and deciding what's really and truly moral!
Yeah, like Paul Bloom and others have argued, empathy - which we have evolved, and which easily kicks in when we see a drowning kid - is a very poor substitute, as you might say , for "rational compassion".

There is an example from Paul Slovic, who had an experiment in which he asked subjects how much money they would give to a cause. In one case, he had a picture of a young girl and maybe biographical details including her name etc..., and asked how much money the subjects would donate. Apparently the donations were high. In a second, he had a similar picture of a young boy. Again the donations were quite high. In the third, a picture of the girl and boy together. The donations dropped. Slovic calls it psychic numbing. Even though the rational thing to do would be to give at least the same, if not more money, to two, people give less. This just shows one of the fundamental problems with relying on our feelings if we actually want to do more good.
__________________
"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
angrysoba is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 07:00 AM   #68
applecorped
Rotten to the Core
 
applecorped's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 19,287
If they were Air Jordans then I would let the kid drown
__________________
All You Need Is Love.
applecorped is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 07:56 AM   #69
Thermal
Philosopher
 
Thermal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: NJ USA. We Don't Like You Either
Posts: 7,469
Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Doesn't anyone remember Bob Geldof banging the table and saying, "There are kids doy-ing, noy!"?
And then Bono, at Live AIDS, clapping his hands and saying, "Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies!" (And the yell from the audience, "Well, stop doing it, then!")?
Doesn't anyone remember when Liam Neeson was told by his friend that she...oh, wait...different story!

The argument is that there is a temporal immediacy - an urgency - for donations that could save lives. It is certainly one of the most common objections that we have no idea if that money is just going to end up as processing costs, the director's breakfast, ads for more charity donations, into some corrupt warlord middle-man's wallet. That's actually why people have set up the Effective Altruism website to evaluate charities in terms of how much good they do. A lot of charities are not worth giving to. In fact, on a recent Very Bad Wizards podcast, one of the hosts was saying, "Many people will argue that the reason for not sending money to charity is how difficult it is to assess the good that donations do, now that Effective Altruism has been launched, people will have to think up other excuses to answer Peter Singer." LOL!
Ok, I think we are still arguing different topics. The OP asks if it is consistent or not to sacrifice your shoes now, but not donate that money directly. I opine it is consistent, under the 'tend your own garden first' POV.

By loose analogy, I am compulsive about recycling. But I do not police the trash of others to further that end. If I were to see a plastic bottle on the sidewalk, I would toss it in my own recycling bin. But I am not rooting through the public trash bins to separate recyclables.

Your argument is torquing that to 'can't save them all so why save any', which is very much to the side, and not what I am arguing.
__________________
"Half of what he said meant something else, and the other half didn't mean anything at all" -Rosencrantz, on Hamlet

Last edited by Thermal; 10th February 2019 at 08:11 AM.
Thermal is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 08:09 AM   #70
baron
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,627
Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Doesn't anyone remember Bob Geldof banging the table and saying, "There are kids doy-ing, noy!"?
And then Bono, at Live AIDS, clapping his hands and saying, "Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies!" (And the yell from the audience, "Well, stop doing it, then!")?
And of course, the other factor when comparing the situations is the burden of action. The kid in the pool is drowning and I am the only one who can save her. If we extend the Live Aid analogy, we have me in my Gucci suit and loafers 100m from the pond, and Bob Geldof clad in full scuba gear up to his thighs in the shallows, the kid flapping and gargling beside him, clapping his hands at me shouting, "Come on! This kid is doying noy!"
baron is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 08:22 AM   #71
Cavemonster
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 5,383
Originally Posted by baron View Post
And of course, the other factor when comparing the situations is the burden of action. The kid in the pool is drowning and I am the only one who can save her. If we extend the Live Aid analogy, we have me in my Gucci suit and loafers 100m from the pond, and Bob Geldof clad in full scuba gear up to his thighs in the shallows, the kid flapping and gargling beside him, clapping his hands at me shouting, "Come on! This kid is doying noy!"
Imagine you came across exactly the situation you described here. You see that Gels or is clearly not helping the kid and is waiting for you. Do you feel like you'd be doing the morally right thing walking away?

You arrive at work and start telling the story to a coworker. "I saw the weirdest thing, this kid was drowning and the guy in the scuba suit wouldn't help him. He was much closer though so I just walked away. "
__________________
The weakness of all Utopias is this, ... They first assume that no man will want more than his share, and then are very ingenious in explaining whether his share will be delivered by motorcar or balloon.
-G.K. CHESTERTON
Cavemonster is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 08:34 AM   #72
baron
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,627
Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
Imagine you came across exactly the situation you described here. You see that Gels or is clearly not helping the kid and is waiting for you. Do you feel like you'd be doing the morally right thing walking away?

You arrive at work and start telling the story to a coworker. "I saw the weirdest thing, this kid was drowning and the guy in the scuba suit wouldn't help him. He was much closer though so I just walked away. "
I didn't say I wouldn't help in that situation, I was merely bringing the analogies closer together. What I might do first, though, is shout out to Geldof that there was a film crew hidden in the bushes; in that way Geldof would be motivated to rescue the kid and my Gucci loafers would remain dry.
baron is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 08:42 AM   #73
Cavemonster
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 5,383
Originally Posted by baron View Post
I didn't say I wouldn't help in that situation, I was merely bringing the analogies closer together. What I might do first, though, is shout out to Geldof that there was a film crew hidden in the bushes; in that way Geldof would be motivated to rescue the kid and my Gucci loafers would remain dry.
If your ethical obligation remains intact, then the analogy fits well enough.
__________________
The weakness of all Utopias is this, ... They first assume that no man will want more than his share, and then are very ingenious in explaining whether his share will be delivered by motorcar or balloon.
-G.K. CHESTERTON
Cavemonster is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 08:45 AM   #74
angrysoba
Philosophile
 
angrysoba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 24,931
Originally Posted by baron View Post
I didn't say I wouldn't help in that situation, I was merely bringing the analogies closer together. What I might do first, though, is shout out to Geldof that there was a film crew hidden in the bushes; in that way Geldof would be motivated to rescue the kid and my Gucci loafers would remain dry.
What would be even better is if you were wearing a Gucci "blackface" balaclava, and if there was a film crew in the bushes!

Images of you causing a commotion in the pond, frolicking in the water wearing blackface would hit Twitter like the proverbial poo on the fan, and there would be a massive wave of retweets of the racist guy in the pond. The tabloids would write up stories with headlines saying: "POND SCUM!" and the Guardian writers would work themselves into a frenzy to tell us what this means about society. Witness Bob Geldof would do the rounds of the TV shows talking about how horrified he was at seeing public racist commotions and remark how often he sees this on Mondays, which is why he hates them (new headline: "Blackface Monday!").

Then later, they might mention that you were saving some kid - an African kid, probably - in the pond.
__________________
"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
angrysoba is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 09:03 AM   #75
baron
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,627
Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
What would be even better is if you were wearing a Gucci "blackface" balaclava, and if there was a film crew in the bushes!

Images of you causing a commotion in the pond, frolicking in the water wearing blackface would hit Twitter like the proverbial poo on the fan, and there would be a massive wave of retweets of the racist guy in the pond. The tabloids would write up stories with headlines saying: "POND SCUM!" and the Guardian writers would work themselves into a frenzy to tell us what this means about society. Witness Bob Geldof would do the rounds of the TV shows talking about how horrified he was at seeing public racist commotions and remark how often he sees this on Mondays, which is why he hates them (new headline: "Blackface Monday!").

Then later, they might mention that you were saving some kid - an African kid, probably - in the pond.
Broadly correct, although you give too much credit to the media. The part about the kid would certainly be included but I would have been trying to drown him, not save him.
baron is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 01:10 PM   #76
theprestige
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 33,914
Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
Imagine you came across exactly the situation you described here. You see that Gels or is clearly not helping the kid and is waiting for you. Do you feel like you'd be doing the morally right thing walking away?



You arrive at work and start telling the story to a coworker. "I saw the weirdest thing, this kid was drowning and the guy in the scuba suit wouldn't help him. He was much closer though so I just walked away. "
The obvious moral choice here is to save the child and drown Bob Geldof.
theprestige is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 02:55 PM   #77
Robin
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 9,515
Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Huh?

I think you are merely restating exactly what he is pointing out.
So you are saying that Singer sees no inconsistency at all if someone would sacrifice X dollars to save a child in front of him, but not sacrifice a similar amount for a child in a distant land?

One of us is misunderstanding Singer.
Quote:
I don't know why you are telling me this. I have been explaining this already.
You have been explaining to me that there is no inconsistency involved in these two cases? I missed that.
Quote:
It is like George Orwell's contention that a man can be dropping bombs on a city who wouldn't have the slightest desire to kill someone face-to-face.
And are you saying that there is no inconsistency here also?
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"

Last edited by Robin; 10th February 2019 at 03:02 PM.
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 03:01 PM   #78
Cavemonster
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 5,383
Originally Posted by Robin View Post
So you are saying that Singer sees no inconsistency at all if someone would sacrifice X dollars to save a child in front of him, but not sacrifice a similar amount for a child in a distant land?

One of us is misunderstanding Singer.
Could you link to the version of Singer's argument that you'd like us to address?

There's something a bit absurd trying to address a particular argument based on the recollection of someone who's stated position is disagreement.

Since we're talking about what Singer thinks, and he isn't here, the least we can do is have his words to examine.
__________________
The weakness of all Utopias is this, ... They first assume that no man will want more than his share, and then are very ingenious in explaining whether his share will be delivered by motorcar or balloon.
-G.K. CHESTERTON
Cavemonster is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 03:09 PM   #79
Robin
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 9,515
Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
Could you link to the version of Singer's argument that you'd like us to address?

There's something a bit absurd trying to address a particular argument based on the recollection of someone who's stated position is disagreement.

Since we're talking about what Singer thinks, and he isn't here, the least we can do is have his words to examine.
It was others that brought up Singer. He is just one of the examples of people saying things like this. I was just referring to the argument in general, just as people referring to the trolley problem are not necessarily referring to Philippa Foot.

But if Singer thinks that it is rational if someone would sacrifice X dollars to save a child in front of him, but not sacrifice a similar amount for a child in a distant land then I am misunderstanding Singer and will have to find another example.
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th February 2019, 03:10 PM   #80
Thermal
Philosopher
 
Thermal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: NJ USA. We Don't Like You Either
Posts: 7,469
Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
Could you link to the version of Singer's argument that you'd like us to address?

There's something a bit absurd trying to address a particular argument based on the recollection of someone who's stated position is disagreement.

Since we're talking about what Singer thinks, and he isn't here, the least we can do is have his words to examine.
That's the problem I am having, too. The OP proposes a scenario that does not even mention Singer. Much easier to discuss if we know what responses are restricted to.
__________________
"Half of what he said meant something else, and the other half didn't mean anything at all" -Rosencrantz, on Hamlet
Thermal is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 08:10 PM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.