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Old 10th February 2019, 03:14 PM   #81
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
No, Peter Singer is not arguing that you ought to do what makes a favourable emotional impact on you, he's merely saying that if you start with the premise that you ought to save a child's life at the expense of a pair of shoes, and that you would willingly sacrifice a pair of shoes in a situation in which a child can demonstrably be saved, then you ought to send money to save a child's life if you can do it.
OK, lets go through this again, according to you Singer is saying:
Quote:
if you start with the premise that you ought to save a child's life at the expense of a pair of shoes, and that you would willingly sacrifice a pair of shoes in a situation in which a child can demonstrably be saved, then you ought to send money to save a child's life if you can do it.
So we agree on what Singer is saying, right? So I am saying:
Quote:
if you start with the premise that you ought to save a child's life at the expense of a pair of shoes, and that you would willingly sacrifice a pair of shoes in a situation in which a child can demonstrably be saved, then it does not follow that you ought to send money to save a child's life if you can do it.
Now do you see the difference between what I am saying and what Singer is saying?
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Old 10th February 2019, 03:15 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
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.
Ok. There is no inconsistency because one deals with their immediate world. I manage my household finances, not that of Bangladesh. There is no inconsistency because the issue is not of valuing life in general, but rather interaction with your here-and-now.
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Old 11th February 2019, 11:33 AM   #83
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
A person writes down "2,4,6,8,"

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

Time to transubstantiate!
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Old 11th February 2019, 11:37 AM   #84
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Originally Posted by Craig4 View Post
What do you have against people working in shoe factories? It seems those employees found a way out of poverty by making your shoes.

Do you actually think that they get rich by making shoes?!
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Old 11th February 2019, 12:21 PM   #85
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An issue (I don't think based on a skim of the thread has been mentioned) is that in the drowning scenario there is presumably no-one else to save the child, in the charity alternative there's the thought that others, perhaps wealthier or via government, will step in and take care of it.

I have read that if you have a life threatening emergency like a heart attack you're better off having relatively few people around as they feel compelled to do something rather than waiting for someone else to do it.
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Old 11th February 2019, 12:47 PM   #86
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Can't I ruin my shoes and just save the child?
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Old 11th February 2019, 12:55 PM   #87
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Everything is still boiling down to some variation of "The moral choice is simple in a hyper-simplified scenario where there are clear choices, no downsides, no external factors to complicate things, and where everything has been simplified to the point that the question actually being asked is 'Are you a psychopath or not?' I don't understand why it's so hard in that pesky real world."

Yes you save the perfectly spherical child from drowning in the infinite plane of uniform gravity in a friction-less vacuum. Got it

Moral questions with every real world variable removed are completely meaningless. It's like doing the calculations for an Earth to Mars injection orbit by assuming the Earth, Sun, and Mars don't have any gravity to make the calculations easier and then handing off your "completed calculations" to somebody else and going "Okay that's the hard part, now just factor back in that whole gravity thing and we're good" and getting mad and haughty when they point that's not how it works.
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Old 11th February 2019, 01:00 PM   #88
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Originally Posted by P.J. Denyer View Post
An issue (I don't think based on a skim of the thread has been mentioned) is that in the drowning scenario there is presumably no-one else to save the child, in the charity alternative there's the thought that others, perhaps wealthier or via government, will step in and take care of it.

I have read that if you have a life threatening emergency like a heart attack you're better off having relatively few people around as they feel compelled to do something rather than waiting for someone else to do it.
That's the S.E.P. I mentioned earlier: its somebody else's problem
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Old 11th February 2019, 02:03 PM   #89
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Everything is still boiling down to some variation of "The moral choice is simple in a hyper-simplified scenario where there are clear choices, no downsides, no external factors to complicate things, and where everything has been simplified to the point that the question actually being asked is 'Are you a psychopath or not?' I don't understand why it's so hard in that pesky real world."

Yes you save the perfectly spherical child from drowning in the infinite plane of uniform gravity in a friction-less vacuum. Got it

Moral questions with every real world variable removed are completely meaningless. It's like doing the calculations for an Earth to Mars injection orbit by assuming the Earth, Sun, and Mars don't have any gravity to make the calculations easier and then handing off your "completed calculations" to somebody else and going "Okay that's the hard part, now just factor back in that whole gravity thing and we're good" and getting mad and haughty when they point that's not how it works.
I agree that that's the basic problem, at least when one gets more than passingly interested in it. I'm not convinced that such problems have no value at all in trying to sort out one's own priorities and beliefs, but like the trolley problem or one of those "Sophie's Choice" ones, it works only in the abstract, and the more you try to fit it into reality, the less clear it is.

I picture the author of this problem secretly going out to the local farmers' market or food co-op with a spray can and painting over all the "Think Globally, Act Locally" bumper stickers.
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Old 11th February 2019, 02:19 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
That's the S.E.P. I mentioned earlier: its somebody else's problem
Sorry missed that. If you can't answer the question with Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett, the question probably wasn't worth asking!
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Old 11th February 2019, 09:54 PM   #91
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Originally Posted by P.J. Denyer View Post
Sorry missed that. If you can't answer the question with Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett, the question probably wasn't worth asking!
That's assuming you didn't first find the XKCD cartoon.
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Old 12th February 2019, 07:08 AM   #92
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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.
Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
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.
You can read his famous article on the topic here.

Perhaps the most important point in his article is this:

Quote:
if it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it.
He then goes on...

Quote:
An application of this principle would be as follows: if I am walking past a shallow pond and see a child drowning in it, I ought to wade in and pull the child out. This will mean getting my clothes muddy, but this is insignificant, while the death of the child would presumably be a very bad thing.
If you read the whole article you can see he is primarily concerned with alleviating a famine and argues that those who are better off ought to shoulder a larger burden for it than they are.

I expect Robin will now post the article that he/she is referring to where the be-all and end-all is about consistency. Or maybe Robin won't.
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Old 12th February 2019, 07:10 AM   #93
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Ok. There is no inconsistency because one deals with their immediate world. I manage my household finances, not that of Bangladesh. There is no inconsistency because the issue is not of valuing life in general, but rather interaction with your here-and-now.
Your household finances probably don't include a "save a kid from drowning in a pool" fund either.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 12th February 2019, 07:17 AM   #94
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Originally Posted by P.J. Denyer View Post
An issue (I don't think based on a skim of the thread has been mentioned) is that in the drowning scenario there is presumably no-one else to save the child, in the charity alternative there's the thought that others, perhaps wealthier or via government, will step in and take care of it.

I have read that if you have a life threatening emergency like a heart attack you're better off having relatively few people around as they feel compelled to do something rather than waiting for someone else to do it.
Yes, as it happens I have just read about that in Cialdini's book, Influence, in which he talks about how people will often look to others to see if there is really an emergency going on before acting, and if everyone else is also looking nervously around but trying not to look alarmed then nobody acts. And I expect all kinds of feelings of either helplessness or assumptions that other people will or should do something prevents people from acting. But that misses the point of the article. It isn't a question of how people do or do not act in certain situations, but how they should.

This is why, Singer has elaborated on this situation by asking what you should do (not necessarily what you would do, as you may have no idea until it happens), if you saw the kid drowning and also saw others around, such as Bob Geldof in his scuba gear, or baron in his Guccis, or me pretending I had an urgent call to rescue a kid in another lake, etc... What if none of the rest of us was doing a damn thing about it? Would this mean you would have no moral obligation either?
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 12th February 2019, 07:20 AM   #95
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Everything is still boiling down to some variation of "The moral choice is simple in a hyper-simplified scenario where there are clear choices, no downsides, no external factors to complicate things, and where everything has been simplified to the point that the question actually being asked is 'Are you a psychopath or not?' I don't understand why it's so hard in that pesky real world."

Yes you save the perfectly spherical child from drowning in the infinite plane of uniform gravity in a friction-less vacuum. Got it

Moral questions with every real world variable removed are completely meaningless. It's like doing the calculations for an Earth to Mars injection orbit by assuming the Earth, Sun, and Mars don't have any gravity to make the calculations easier and then handing off your "completed calculations" to somebody else and going "Okay that's the hard part, now just factor back in that whole gravity thing and we're good" and getting mad and haughty when they point that's not how it works.
Nice fulminating. Care to join in the discussion?
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 12th February 2019, 07:26 AM   #96
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
I agree that that's the basic problem, at least when one gets more than passingly interested in it. I'm not convinced that such problems have no value at all in trying to sort out one's own priorities and beliefs, but like the trolley problem or one of those "Sophie's Choice" ones, it works only in the abstract, and the more you try to fit it into reality, the less clear it is.

I picture the author of this problem secretly going out to the local farmers' market or food co-op with a spray can and painting over all the "Think Globally, Act Locally" bumper stickers.
Why? It's not as if people don't donate to charity and that the very idea is preposterous.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 12th February 2019, 07:38 AM   #97
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Your household finances probably don't include a "save a kid from drowning in a pool" fund either.
Not the point.

As I see the argument, there is the immediate, tangible assistance versus the distant, indirect assistance. The moment you extrapolate to the distant (or abstract), you have reframed the problem, because there is not one lone kid in Bangladesh in need of your help. There are more than you could manage, becoming the proverbial drop in the bucket, and there is no way to reasonably establish a cutoff for how many are worth sacrificing your shoe budget for.

This is why I think of the distant in terms of collective, well-coordinated efforts, as opposed to the OP dilemma of another remote individual. You don't try to help tsunami victims by mailing an envelope full of nails to help them rebuild. The drop in the bucket problem, of course. But if a well orchestrated relief effort is underway, absolutely you should contribute. I certainly do, in my smallish ways. But ultimately it has nothing to do with the drowning child in front of you. They are vastly different paradigms.
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Old 12th February 2019, 07:44 AM   #98
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Nice fulminating. Care to join in the discussion?
Not slavishly agreeing with you isn't "not joining the discussion."

I'm not impressed by how effective a moralistic philosophy is in a scenario cultivated after the fact for it to work in.

Saving a drowning child in a pure scenario with no other factors isn't a moral question.
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Old 12th February 2019, 07:47 AM   #99
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Not slavishly agreeing with you isn't "not joining the discussion."
I have not asked for you to "slavishly agree" with me. Jeez! Apparently you're not interested in discussion.

Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I'm no impressed by effective a moralistic philosophy is in a scenario cultivated after the fact for it to work in.
I don't even know what this means.

Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Saving a drowning child in a pure scenario with no other factors isn't a moral question.
Why not? If I decided I didn't want to rescue the drowning kid, despite being perfectly capable of doing so with the only cost to me being getting my clothes wet, do you not think there is any moral dimension to my indifference?
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 12th February 2019, 07:58 AM   #100
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Not the point.

As I see the argument, there is the immediate, tangible assistance versus the distant, indirect assistance. The moment you extrapolate to the distant (or abstract), you have reframed the problem, because there is not one lone kid in Bangladesh in need of your help. There are more than you could manage, becoming the proverbial drop in the bucket, and there is no way to reasonably establish a cutoff for how many are worth sacrificing your shoe budget for.

This is why I think of the distant in terms of collective, well-coordinated efforts, as opposed to the OP dilemma of another remote individual. You don't try to help tsunami victims by mailing an envelope full of nails to help them rebuild. The drop in the bucket problem, of course. But if a well orchestrated relief effort is underway, absolutely you should contribute. I certainly do, in my smallish ways. But ultimately it has nothing to do with the drowning child in front of you. They are vastly different paradigms.
Actually, to be fair, I think things have changed quite a lot since the 1970s when the article was written. Probably many if not most people do give more to charity and feel some kind of moral obligation to doing so.

It could be similar to how people feel about plastic in the oceans. Some people might indeed have felt that their own waste was not of much consequence, and also wouldn't have bothered cleaning up beaches or parks by themselves. Things change in terms of how people feel about what they can contribute.

Also, some of the people who are now involved in the Effective Altruism movement now argue that instead of going into fields such as philosophy professor, they should become bankers and bring in big salaries because the percentage of their salary they can give to charity will therefore be larger.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 12th February 2019, 08:08 AM   #101
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Actually, to be fair, I think things have changed quite a lot since the 1970s when the article was written. Probably many if not most people do give more to charity and feel some kind of moral obligation to doing so.

It could be similar to how people feel about plastic in the oceans. Some people might indeed have felt that their own waste was not of much consequence, and also wouldn't have bothered cleaning up beaches or parks by themselves. Things change in terms of how people feel about what they can contribute.
Exactly. I give blood every two months, not because of a specific kid that might need it, but because of the well coordinated mass effort. My kids and I do beach clean ups as part of Surfrider Foundation sponsored efforts, too. The 'act locally' mentality can be very powerful in the collective, without the Sisyphean angst of contemplating the billions in need.

Quote:
Also, some of the people who are now involved in the Effective Altruism movement now argue that instead of going into fields such as philosophy professor, they should become bankers and bring in big salaries because the percentage of their salary they can give to charity will therefore be larger.
Yet another dilemma, though: collectively, people at the bottom of the banking pyramid have to go without in order to fund those massive salaries. The money eventually comes off the backs of the little guy, in the end. Which prevents them from effectively donating as much as they could.
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Old 12th February 2019, 08:10 AM   #102
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Why not? If I decided I didn't want to rescue the drowning kid, despite being perfectly capable of doing so with the only cost to me being getting my clothes wet, do you not think there is any moral dimension to my indifference?
Yeah and if you pull the kid from the water, raped him, skinned him alive, and wore his face as a mask to taught his grieving mother you'd be worse. So?

"Would you save the drowning child" is not a question of morality. It's just asking "Hey are you evil or not? That's not morality, that's a moral choice question in a video game. That's asking someone do they pick Jedi or Sith on the Star Wars Video Game Character Creation Screen.

You've simplified the entire scope of human actions to a simple "Do good or not do good" question. Again that's not morality, that's handing someone a notecard that reads "Are you a psychopath? Check yes or no."

"We have a fixed budget of 100 million dollars. Do we spend 100 million dollars to buy insulin to save 10,000 diabetes patients in the next year or spend 100 million on diabetes research and social programs to prevent 100,000 people from getting diabetes in the next 10 years" is a legit moral question with fair arguments on both sides and no clear answers.

"Do we give the diabetic standing in front of us the insulin shot they need to not go into a diabetic coma or do we mock them and play 'keep away' with it" is not a moral question, it's a "Are you an evil bastard or not?" question.
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Old 12th February 2019, 08:17 AM   #103
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Exactly. I give blood every two months, not because of a specific kid that might need it, but because of the well coordinated mass effort. My kids and I do beach clean ups as part of Surfrider Foundation sponsored efforts, too. The 'act locally' mentality can be very powerful in the collective, without the Sisyphean angst of contemplating the billions in need.
I am not sure what angst has to do with it. Nor the Sisyphean part of it. Surely it is not as though people who become doctors throw up their hands and say, "Oh to Hell with this! We are never going to get rid of disease! What's the point?" Besides, is there any reason why "act globally" cannot also be very powerful? Is there any reason why one should necessarily preclude the other?

Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Yet another dilemma, though: collectively, people at the bottom of the banking pyramid have to go without in order to fund those massive salaries. The money eventually comes off the backs of the little guy, in the end. Which prevents them from effectively donating as much as they could.
Sure, but someone is going to be that banker at some point. Isn't it better if there person doing it is giving away large amounts of their cash?

I suppose it is similar to someone like Bill Gates giving away a lot of his money. It is probably better than Gill Bates whose rival company Macrohard never made it, because Gill Bates is a total ******* and he would have demanded Towers built by slaves from molten gold.
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Old 12th February 2019, 08:26 AM   #104
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Yeah and if you pull the kid from the water, raped him, skinned him alive, and wore his face as a mask to taught his grieving mother you'd be worse. So?

"Would you save the drowning child" is not a question of morality. It's just asking "Hey are you evil or not? That's not morality, that's a moral choice question in a video game. That's asking someone do they pick Jedi or Sith on the Star Wars Video Game Character Creation Screen.

You've simplified the entire scope of human actions to a simple "Do good or not do good" question. Again that's not morality, that's handing someone a notecard that reads "Are you a psychopath? Check yes or no."

"We have a fixed budget of 100 million dollars. Do we spend 100 million dollars to buy insulin to save 10,000 diabetes patients in the next year or spend 100 million on cancer research and social programs to prevent 100,000 people from getting diabetes in the next 10 years" is a legit moral question with fair arguments on both sides and no clear answers.

"Do we give the diabetic standing in front of us the insulin shot they need to not go into a diabetic coma or do we mock them and play 'keep away' with it" is not a moral question, it's a "Are you an evil bastard or not?" question.
Of course it is a question of morality. The reason why you seem to not realize it is because it is so elementary as to be obvious.

Nevertheless, we need to establish that you actually agree with this (despite the fact that you said you didn't want to agree with me, but nevermind).

The next point is similarly elementary:

Quote:
I begin with the assumption that suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad. I think most people will agree about this, although one may reach the same view by different routes. I shall not argue for this view. People can hold all sorts of eccentric positions, and perhaps from some of them it would not follow that death by starvation is in itself bad. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to refute such positions, and so for brevity I will henceforth take this assumption as accepted. Those who disagree need read no further.
Do you (slavishly) agree that suffering and death from lack of food, shelter and medical care are bad as well?
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 12th February 2019, 08:42 AM   #105
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
I am not sure what angst has to do with it. Nor the Sisyphean part of it. Surely it is not as though people who become doctors throw up their hands and say, "Oh to Hell with this! We are never going to get rid of disease! What's the point?" Besides, is there any reason why "act globally" cannot also be very powerful? Is there any reason why one should necessarily preclude the other?
That's true, and I agree. Acting globally certainly works, and the doctor is part of a collective effort to change the global condition, a step at a time. My argument is that you cannot analogize the drowning kid in fromt of you to a faux-individual drowning kid in Bangladesh. That argument takes a trying-to-be-invisible reframing step.

Quote:
Sure, but someone is going to be that banker at some point. Isn't it better if there person doing it is giving away large amounts of their cash?

I suppose it is similar to someone like Bill Gates giving away a lot of his money. It is probably better than Gill Bates whose rival company Macrohard never made it, because Gill Bates is a total ******* and he would have demanded Towers built by slaves from molten gold.
Good point, and I am certainly glad Gates walks it like he talks it. I guess it would come down to how many of our altruistic bankers would follow through, and by what morally justifiable means they acquired their salaries.
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Old 12th February 2019, 09:04 AM   #106
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
That's true, and I agree. Acting globally certainly works, and the doctor is part of a collective effort to change the global condition, a step at a time. My argument is that you cannot analogize the drowning kid in fromt of you to a faux-individual drowning kid in Bangladesh. That argument takes a trying-to-be-invisible reframing step.
I think it might come down to how the money is donated. If, for example, there were easily preventable diseases which require drugs or other interventions that are not expensive but which are still in short supply, then sending money to an NPO that buys and delivers these medications may, literally, save lives.

Peter Singer actually founded an organization called The Life You Can Save which also has an "Impact Calculator" where you can type in a donation sum and see what that can buy.

https://www.thelifeyoucansave.org/impact-calculator

They choose charities which they think make the biggest impact and have also, perhaps controversially, argued for certain charities which make differences to whether people live or die rather than other charities such as those that train seeing eye dogs as being comparatively a waste of money.

Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Good point, and I am certainly glad Gates walks it like he talks it. I guess it would come down to how many of our altruistic bankers would follow through, and by what morally justifiable means they acquired their salaries.
The website, 80,000 Hours was set up by an acolyte of Singer called Will McAskill, and you might like to read it as I probably couldn't do his arguments justice.

Anyway, the point of this is that unlike some of the criticism here, Singer's thought experiment is not merely some ivory tower strokey beard question that has no application to real life. It has actually inspired a lot of people to devote themselves to charitable works and begun the Effective Altruism movement.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)

Last edited by angrysoba; 12th February 2019 at 09:06 AM. Reason: Included the bits in italics which I had left out.
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Old 12th February 2019, 12:21 PM   #107
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It's hard, I think, to be clear about this sort of thing, but I don't think I'm in real disagreement with angrysoba and Singer about the basic idea of the problem. It's a real and interesting exercise in sorting out one's ideas and priorities, and ought, in practice, to influence how one acts in reality. My reading of Singer suggests that this is the case. I think he is fairly careful to keep the argument at the level of general principle and not to turn it into a set of specific rules on what one must do or how one must do it.

What I have a problem with is when this rather general rule is applied, as it seems sometimes to be (or at least is alleged by Robin to be), by moral scolds to dismiss the actions of those they disagree with as inconsistent or insufficient or misdirected. What we do and when we do it can depend on many things. You ought, reasonably, to forego some luxury for the sake of the unseen people of the world, as you would for one next to you. But I don't think anyone is therefore in a position to say just which shoes cross the line, or just which causes are permissible. I realize this is not a direct issue with Singer's argument, but it does come up with a similar argument behind it, as I have run into some people over the years who apply what I like to think of as "moral triage," to belittle the efforts of those whose causes are not their own. How can you justify (name your cause) when (name my cause) has not been solved?

To say an idea is general or abstract is not to say it is useless or silly - just that it is not appropriate to turn it into a set of sumptuary rules.
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Old 12th February 2019, 02:06 PM   #108
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
You could, I suppose, keep only the bare minimum of resources you need to survive, and “sell all you have to give to the poor”....
There was allegedly a bloke said exactly that 990 or so years ago.

They started a church in his name, even, but nobody bothers following his advice.
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Old 12th February 2019, 02:25 PM   #109
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Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
There was allegedly a bloke said exactly that 990 or so years ago.



They started a church in his name, even, but nobody bothers following his advice.
No the poor man was confused probably due to the nailing and the spearing. Modern day churches actually have his real message. Take as much as possible from your confregation as possible by threats, guilt, blackmail, fraud and extortion. Hear confession and testomony to get more material for fraud and extortion. use your wealth as proof that if you are devout God will reward you in THIS life and the next. The best way to be seen as devout? give your time energy and money to the Church. simple.

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Old 12th February 2019, 03:23 PM   #110
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
That's the S.E.P. I mentioned earlier: its somebody else's problem
Ah. I was wondering what the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy had to do with it
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Old 12th February 2019, 03:30 PM   #111
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post



I expect Robin will now post the article that he/she is referring to where the be-all and end-all is about consistency. Or maybe Robin won't.
Or maybe you could respond to the post where I agreed with your account of Singer's position and showed exactly where I disagree with it so that you can at least understand what I am disagreeing about.

Or maybe you won't.
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Old 12th February 2019, 03:55 PM   #112
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Yes. Or "Who do we appreciate?" or "10' or "11" or "99" or anything really.
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Old 12th February 2019, 04:05 PM   #113
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I can post the other article if you like but there seems to be no point since I have agreed with angrysoba's account of what Singer is saying.

Again, according to angrysoba Singer is saying:
Originally Posted by angrysoba
if you start with the premise that you ought to save a child's life at the expense of a pair of shoes, and that you would willingly sacrifice a pair of shoes in a situation in which a child can demonstrably be saved, then you ought to send money to save a child's life if you can do it.
So we agree on what Singer is saying, right? We are on the same page about what Singer is saying.

And I have shown how I am claiming the opposite
Originally Posted by Robin
if you start with the premise that you ought to save a child's life at the expense of a pair of shoes, and that you would willingly sacrifice a pair of shoes in a situation in which a child can demonstrably be saved, then it does not follow that you ought to send money to save a child's life if you can do it.
OK? I am saying that this just doesn't follow.

So the question I am asking is this. Why exactly is Singer saying that if you think you ought to do one thing then you ought to do the other?
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Old 12th February 2019, 06:27 PM   #114
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Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
There was allegedly a bloke said exactly that 990 or so years ago.

They started a church in his name, even, but nobody bothers following his advice.
Perhaps his name was Dick Head?
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Old 12th February 2019, 06:54 PM   #115
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
I can post the other article if you like but there seems to be no point since I have agreed with angrysoba's account of what Singer is saying.

Again, according to angrysoba Singer is saying:

So we agree on what Singer is saying, right? We are on the same page about what Singer is saying.

And I have shown how I am claiming the opposite

OK? I am saying that this just doesn't follow.

So the question I am asking is this. Why exactly is Singer saying that if you think you ought to do one thing then you ought to do the other?
Let's take it step by step to find the point where the moral obligation disappears. Tell me which point you disagree with.

1) A child is drowning in front of you and you can only save them by jumping in and ruining your clothes (Note: I'm going back to Singer's original example to avoid all the shoe specific distractions we've had)

1a) Aside from the specifics, the general point are:
  • You encounter a child within your direct line of sight.
  • That child is in deep peril and may likely die without intervention
  • You are in a position to provide that intervention without major risk or loss.
  • There will be a minor consequence to you in the form of ruined property of a value that you can reasonably afford to replace.
  • You are morally obligated to provide that intervention

Let me just pause here to see if I'm missing any qualities from the original story that are necessary to create moral obligation and I'm generalizing correctly. See anything missing?

2) Imagine a scenario just like the original, only instead of a loss of property, there is equivalent spending needed. (Note, good thought experiments take time, so mine may be a little silly just to get all the important moving parts together quickly).

Imagine in this scenario that a child is trapped on the subway tracks. a train is approaching but can't see him. It's late at night so no one's on that side of the tracks, so you'll have to swipe your card to get through the gate to save the child. (I suppose we could quibble about the amount of money here, but let's say they just implemented a weird surge pricing for latenights and you need to pay $50 to get in).

Is there still a moral obligation or have we lost anything? Does the switch from ruined clothes to money change anything? (Hopefully if any of the other details make a difference we've already caught them in 1a)

We can go over the differences one by one, but I'd like to know if you're at least with me that the moral obligation is preserved through stage 2.
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Old 12th February 2019, 07:11 PM   #116
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Taking this idea to the extreme [I rock a mic like a vandal]...

There are many millions more than my immediate family of 5 suffering in deprivation all over the world. Certainly, the $150 for the calculator my kid needs for his college Trig class could be better spent on a donation to a Bangladeshi food charity. I mean, if the choice is between my kid passing a, in the grand scheme of things, rather inconsequential class...how do I NOT deny him the stupid calculator? How do I morally justify the sums I pay to the college when that money could probably feed a whole country?

Easy. I take care of my own, no question.
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Old 12th February 2019, 07:34 PM   #117
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
Easy. I take care of my own, no question.
Thought experiment.

You've just bought your son the fancy calculator and you're walking back from the store.

You see a strangely unattended baby being charged at by a hungry looking rabid dog. You know you can't make it in time and the only way to keep the dog from eating the baby in one bite is to throw something at it to buy you time to grab the child and get it to safety. Unfortunately there are no throwable objects around except for your fancy calculator. Are you morally obligated to sacrifice the calculator or are you happy shrugging your shoulders and say "I take care of my own, no question"?
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Old 12th February 2019, 07:34 PM   #118
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
Taking this idea to the extreme [I rock a mic like a vandal]...

There are many millions more than my immediate family of 5 suffering in deprivation all over the world. Certainly, the $150 for the calculator my kid needs for his college Trig class could be better spent on a donation to a Bangladeshi food charity. I mean, if the choice is between my kid passing a, in the grand scheme of things, rather inconsequential class...how do I NOT deny him the stupid calculator? How do I morally justify the sums I pay to the college when that money could probably feed a whole country?

Easy. I take care of my own, no question.
{rule of} So, you wouldn't jump in the lake to save a kid with the calculator in your pocket if you couldn't afford to replace it? (assuming there was no way to just toss the calculator before humping in?)
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Old 12th February 2019, 07:35 PM   #119
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
{rule of} So, you wouldn't jump in the lake to save a kid with the calculator in your pocket if you couldn't afford to replace it? (assuming there was no way to just toss the calculator before humping in?)
Dammit, that would have been simpler than mine.
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Old 12th February 2019, 10:23 PM   #120
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
So the question I am asking is this. Why exactly is Singer saying that if you think you ought to do one thing then you ought to do the other?
Singer's moral principle is this:

Quote:
if it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it.
In each case, the saving of a child in the pond and the foregoing of a luxury item to save a child in another country involves the prevention of something bad happening without sacrificing anything morally significant.

Originally Posted by Robin View Post
But, in common with pretty much every other human being, children dying far away has a lot less emotional impact on me. That is just they way we are built.

So I am being perfectly consistent if I would sacrifice the shoes to save the child in front of my eyes but not the child overseas, because the reason I make the sacrifice is the emotional impact and I am proportioning the sacrifice I would make to that emotional impact of the death on me.
But the reasons why you would make a sacrifice are not to do with preventing something bad happening, per se, but rather because you personally don't want to feel bad.

Here is the argument as explicitly laid out by Singer:

1. suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad
2. if it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it

Conclusion: We ought to prevent suffering and death from lack of food, shelter and medical care if we are able to do it (unless it involves an onerous moral sacrifice).

Therefore we could ask ourselves "Can I prevent suffering and death without sacrificing anything morally significant?"
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