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Old 12th February 2019, 10:51 PM   #121
Robin
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
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.
What you have missed is this. What exactly creates the "obligation" in the first case?

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Old 12th February 2019, 10:55 PM   #122
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Singer's moral principle is this:



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.



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?"
You don't appear to have answered my question about why the second "ought" follows from the first.

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Old 12th February 2019, 10:56 PM   #123
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
You don't appear to have answered my question about why the second "ought" follows from the first.

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Yes I have...

Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
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.
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Old 12th February 2019, 10:57 PM   #124
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This part
Quote:
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
is just an assertion. How does he justify it?

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Old 12th February 2019, 11:10 PM   #125
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
This part

is just an assertion. How does he justify it?

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I suppose he justifies it on the basis that preventing bad things is good. As he says, it is something of an assumption, and admits that if people argue that death from starvation and lack of medical care are not bad things, or even that they are good things, then there is probably little to be gained from arguing with them.
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Old 12th February 2019, 11:33 PM   #126
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
I suppose he justifies it on the basis that preventing bad things is good. As he says, it is something of an assumption, and admits that if people argue that death from starvation and lack of medical care are not bad things, or even that they are good things, then there is probably little to be gained from arguing with them.
But how does he get from "such-and-such is good" to "we morally ought to do such-wnd-such"?

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Old 12th February 2019, 11:36 PM   #127
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Yes I have...
No, all you have done is shown that there are similarities in each case. How does that imply that we should act the same in both cases?

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Old 12th February 2019, 11:42 PM   #128
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
But how does he get from "such-and-such is good" to "we morally ought to do such-wnd-such"?

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Oh, if this boils down to an is-ought problem then basically you may as well ask that about any moral question.

He tends to ask people "Do you feel morally obligated to do X?"

If they say yes, he may ask, "Do you feel morally obligated to do Y?"

If they say yes, then no problem. If they say no he may ask what the moral distinction between the two happens to be.

In the case of sending money abroad he asks if there is some moral relevance to distance. Most people would answer that no, there is nothing inherently morally relevant about the distance.

Maybe he could ask if there is some moral distinction between person A (in the pond) and person B (in Bangladesh). In his opinion, and that of many others, each human life should have equal consideration (I would admit that when it comes to family members I think we do have a greater responsibility but that's not something that's relevant here).

In other words, if you accept a set of similar assumptions and begin with the premise that we are morally obligated in the first case, and agree that the moral weight is not diminished by distance or nationality etc... then it follows you are morally obligated in the second case.
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Old 12th February 2019, 11:52 PM   #129
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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?)

It’s telling that these philosophical scenarios only work when you eliminate all other logical options.

Here’s something more realistic:

Would you forgo a whole year of cell phone service if it meant that one or more poor families could have enough food to survive?


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Old 13th February 2019, 12:44 AM   #130
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Do you actually think that they get rich by making shoes?!
Obviously not. Don't put words in my mouth.
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Old 13th February 2019, 01:03 AM   #131
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
It’s telling that these philosophical scenarios only work when you eliminate all other logical options.

Here’s something more realistic:

Would you forgo a whole year of cell phone service if it meant that one or more poor families could have enough food to survive?
Actually, what I find more telling, and it was said already but here goes again, is that they need to eliminate all other real world connections and considerations to make it seem like an equivalence.

E.g., why IS that guy wearing an expensive pair of shoes in the first place? Sure, some people do it just as status symbol, but usually there is a reason even for those.

Is it maybe that his appearance actually counts? Is he going to a meeting with a client, for example? Job interview? Is he due in court? Or what?

In that case saying he should basically wear rags and sending everything to charity, is actually a case of cutting open the goose that lays golden eggs. Very soon he will lose that job where appearances matter, and the money going to charity will drop to even lower than before.

It's also ignoring the effect of human communication. If I show up late and soaked wet ONCE to a meeting with a client, but it's because I had to jump in a lake to save a kid, and you can see it in the news tonight if you don't believe me, then that probably won't get me in the crapper. (Or on the contrary, it might get me sacked, if I was on disability leave that day.) If I show up in rags and the only reason I can offer is basically boiling down to a thinly veiled version of, screw you, kids in Somalia are more important than keeping appearances in front of your fat-cat clients, then I WILL lose that job sooner or later. And, see above, then it's no more money to charity either.

Etc.

Basically I'm with Robin on this one: the two aren't equivalent at all, unless you take them as abstracts in a complete void, where your whole life experience doesn't actually count in any form or shape towards that decision.
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Old 13th February 2019, 01:06 AM   #132
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Actually, now that I think about it, even the first situation is really taken as existing in a vacuum, not just the second one.

E.g., ok, now I have a pair of ruined shoes. Now what? Does it assume that I'll for ever walk around in ruined shoes? Or, if I'm going to job interviews for a job where appearances matter, I'm just going to buy other expensive shoes to replace them? Where does that money come from? From this month's charity budget maybe, if I'm otherwise stretching it thin?

It may not seem obviously relevant, but in fact jumping into that lake might not even be a net positive: I might just be trading one kid's life for another kid's life. A kid in Somalia will go without antibiotics this month, and probably die, because I saved the kid in the lake.

If I have to replace more than a pair of shoes for that exercise -- e.g., I also just bought some expensive outfit and watch, because I'm going to job interviews for a job where looks matter -- it might even be a net minus. Maybe TWO kids in Somalia have to die this month, so the kid in the lake gets saved.


In fact, now it occurs to me that I could now ask the opposite question: if things are measured in numbers like that, and it is in fact the case that my saving the kid in the lake would be a net minus, does that mean that I'm morally obliged to let the kid drown?
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Old 13th February 2019, 01:14 AM   #133
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
That works. I was thinking "Motorway".


https://www.lyricsfreak.com/t/tom+ro..._20150181.html
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Old 13th February 2019, 05:24 AM   #134
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
In that case saying he should basically wear rags and sending everything to charity,...
*bzzzzzzt!*

Nobody is saying that at all!
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 13th February 2019, 05:27 AM   #135
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
In fact, now it occurs to me that I could now ask the opposite question: if things are measured in numbers like that, and it is in fact the case that my saving the kid in the lake would be a net minus, does that mean that I'm morally obliged to let the kid drown?
You could of course take the example to absurd lengths if you really want, but the point is not to make sacrifices that are morally significant to begin with.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 13th February 2019, 05:36 AM   #136
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
It’s telling that these philosophical scenarios only work when you eliminate all other logical options.
Sure, but that's the nature of thought experiments. Like other experiments, you want to narrow down the variables.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 13th February 2019, 05:51 AM   #137
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No, I'm very serious. If situations A and B are equivalent, an equivalence relationship is reflexive and transitive, so we can do all sorts of fun things with it. (Or we could admit that the whole over the top "you wouldn't save a child???" setting is just appeal to emotion style trolling. But let's not do that.)

So if for the price of a pair of shoes I could save a child in Somalia, what if I'm also wearing my best Armani suit, and I have the most expensive and non-waterproof iPhone, and so on? The price of those clothes could save several children, if I give the money to charity instead of saving one idiot in a lake and having to buy all that again. Is it not objectively better to save 3 or 4 children instead of one? Is preventing 3-4 deaths not worth the cost of 1 life lost?

Basically, do you not agree that then the moral DUTY is to let that kid drown?

(Also, aren't we at this point reinventing indulgences? Except it's self-managed. so would that be self-indulgences?)

And once we establish that a death is a fair price for preventing 3-4 deaths elsewhere, then let's not stop. Let's dive deeper down this rabbit hole.

Let's say I have a very wasteful wife and teenage daughter. Not only they're not into charity, but always have to have the latest iPhone, and the coolest clothes, and I swear it must be more shoes than Imelda Marcos ever had. If they didn't exist, I could probably plonk many hundreds of dollars into charities. Think how many dozens of lives could be saved in the third world with that money. (Well, I'd also pay more tax, but that's helping provide services for my countrymen, so it's not something bad.)

So is it not my moral DUTY then to murder the two bitches?

And it may seem far fetched, but essentially I've just reframed the trolley problem that way. So it's not even that original, really.
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Old 13th February 2019, 06:00 AM   #138
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
No, I'm very serious. If situations A and B are equivalent, an equivalence relationship is reflexive and transitive, so we can do all sorts of fun things with it. (Or we could admit that the whole over the top "you wouldn't save a child???" setting is just appeal to emotion style trolling. But let's not do that.)

So if for the price of a pair of shoes I could save a child in Somalia, what if I'm also wearing my best Armani suit, and I have the most expensive and non-waterproof iPhone, and so on? The price of those clothes could save several children, if I give the money to charity instead of saving one idiot in a lake and having to buy all that again. Is it not objectively better to save 3 or 4 children instead of one? Is preventing 3-4 deaths not worth the cost of 1 life lost?

Basically, do you not agree that then the moral DUTY is to let that kid drown?

(Also, aren't we at this point reinventing indulgences? Except it's self-managed. so would that be self-indulgences?)

And once we establish that a death is a fair price for preventing 3-4 deaths elsewhere, then let's not stop. Let's dive deeper down this rabbit hole.

Let's say I have a very wasteful wife and teenage daughter. Not only they're not into charity, but always have to have the latest iPhone, and the coolest clothes, and I swear it must be more shoes than Imelda Marcos ever had. If they didn't exist, I could probably plonk many hundreds of dollars into charities. Think how many dozens of lives could be saved in the third world with that money. (Well, I'd also pay more tax, but that's helping provide services for my countrymen, so it's not something bad.)

So is it not my moral DUTY then to murder the two bitches?

And it may seem far fetched, but essentially I've just reframed the trolley problem that way. So it's not even that original, really.
You've convinced me. Okay, why not indeed.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 13th February 2019, 07:10 AM   #139
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
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?

Yes, that last step on your list doesn't follow. There is no obligation.

Sure, most people would jump in. Sure, I myself would. Sure, it would probably be an indication of some kind of psychopathic lack of empathy if one did not jump in (unless there were some really overriding reason not to).

But no, there is no obligation, none. It is a purely voluntary decision.

In as much as one doesn't realize that this decision is voluntary, to that extent, I'd suggest, one isn't fully self-aware.



(Haven't read this entire thread, just browsed through some posts that caught my eye. Apologies if what I'm saying here -- which seems obvious enough -- has already been said by others.)



In fact, I'd suggest that it is this being-hit-on-the-head-with-a-hammer kind of urgency in seeing a child drowning before your eyes that makes you skip that intermediate step (that step that says, you do have a choice, that the decision is voluntary). In the other case, where you hear of a child starving away in some far-off land, that urgency is missing, and so the voluntary nature of your decision (to help or not, to save the child or not) becomes more obvious.
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Old 13th February 2019, 07:32 AM   #140
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Yes, that last step on your list doesn't follow. There is no obligation.

Sure, most people would jump in. Sure, I myself would. Sure, it would probably be an indication of some kind of psychopathic lack of empathy if one did not jump in (unless there were some really overriding reason not to).

But no, there is no obligation, none. It is a purely voluntary decision.

In as much as one doesn't realize that this decision is voluntary, to that extent, I'd suggest, one isn't fully self-aware.



(Haven't read this entire thread, just browsed through some posts that caught my eye. Apologies if what I'm saying here -- which seems obvious enough -- has already been said by others.)



In fact, I'd suggest that it is this being-hit-on-the-head-with-a-hammer kind of urgency in seeing a child drowning before your eyes that makes you skip that intermediate step (that step that says, you do have a choice, that the decision is voluntary). In the other case, where you hear of a child starving away in some far-off land, that urgency is missing, and so the voluntary nature of your decision (to help or not, to save the child or not) becomes more obvious.
Of course it is not an obligation in any legal or physical way. I also think that there are psychologically “normal” people who might do nothing to save the kid. It might even be a Western cultural norm that we ought to save the kid from drowning. In some countries the kid would simply drown. Tough to be that kid.

Nevertheless, you can make a rational calculation of what the best thing to do is IF you start with the premise that human lives ought to be saved. This is the point that Singer made that it is an assumption only that suffering and death are bad things and that if someone disagrees it will be difficult if not impossible to refute them.

Of course, in any of these discussions, if you simply want to take an axe to the very notion of morality then there’s not much to discuss.
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Old 13th February 2019, 07:45 AM   #141
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Of course it is not an obligation in any legal or physical way. I also think that there are psychologically “normal” people who might do nothing to save the kid. It might even be a Western cultural norm that we ought to save the kid from drowning. In some countries the kid would simply drown. Tough to be that kid.

Nevertheless, you can make a rational calculation of what the best thing to do is IF you start with the premise that human lives ought to be saved. This is the point that Singer made that it is an assumption only that suffering and death are bad things and that if someone disagrees it will be difficult if not impossible to refute them.

Why/how is that a premise? Wouldn't that be the conclusion of whatever line of reasoning it is you're following, even if that conclusion popped up, in practice, almost every single time?


Quote:
Of course, in any of these discussions, if you simply want to take an axe to the very notion of morality then there’s not much to discuss.

I hope that isn't what I'm doing here?

You don't have to be knee-jerk in order to be moral after all, do you? Irrespective of how you define morality?
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Old 13th February 2019, 07:57 AM   #142
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Of course, in any of these discussions, if you simply want to take an axe to the very notion of morality then there’s not much to discuss.
Of course, you could miss the point by a mile and assume the above nonsense.

The idea isn't to take an axe to the very notion of morality. The idea is to take an "ad absurdum" to some half-baked over-simplified models of it.

It's easy to have a theory of X, if it's only ok to apply it when it gives you the result you want. But in reality, the question is whether it can also give you some horribly wrong results that you don't want. In which case, it's broken.

It's, if you will, like the pre-Newton Aristotelian mechanics. You know, where speed not acceleration is proportional to the force applied, where a heavier cannonball falls faster, etc. Then someone like Galileo comes along and points out how the latter is fundamentally internally-contradictory. You could do the cognitive dissonance thing and go, "oh, he only wants to take an axe to the very idea of gravity". Or you could do the rational thing and take it as a sign that if it can produce horribly contradictory results, like Galileo showed, then, yeah, that theory is broken.

Same with philosophical models of morality, really. If the model can produce horrible results, then that model is broken. The point isn't "to take an axe to the very notion of morality", but to show that some of the models being waved around for it are fundamentally broken.
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Old 13th February 2019, 08:02 AM   #143
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Why/how is that a premise? Wouldn't that be the conclusion of whatever line of reasoning it is you're following, even if that conclusion popped up, in practice, almost every single time?
I think it could be either. Of course it may run close to being a question-begging argument.


Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I hope that isn't what I'm doing here?

You don't have to be knee-jerk in order to be moral after all, do you? Irrespective of how you define morality?
No, but no doubt there are people who argue for moral nihilism, and who will simply state that moral obligations cannot possibly exist in any form.
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Old 13th February 2019, 08:03 AM   #144
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Of course, you could miss the point by a mile and assume the above nonsense.

The idea isn't to take an axe to the very notion of morality. The idea is to take an "ad absurdum" to some half-baked over-simplified models of it.

It's easy to have a theory of X, if it's only ok to apply it when it gives you the result you want. But in reality, the question is whether it can also give you some horribly wrong results that you don't want. In which case, it's broken.

It's, if you will, like the pre-Newton Aristotelian mechanics. You know, where speed not acceleration is proportional to the force applied, where a heavier cannonball falls faster, etc. Then someone like Galileo comes along and points out how the latter is fundamentally internally-contradictory. You could do the cognitive dissonance thing and go, "oh, he only wants to take an axe to the very idea of gravity". Or you could do the rational thing and take it as a sign that if it can produce horribly contradictory results, like Galileo showed, then, yeah, that theory is broken.

Same with philosophical models of morality, really. If the model can produce horrible results, then that model is broken. The point isn't "to take an axe to the very notion of morality", but to show that some of the models being waved around for it are fundamentally broken.
Okay, then tell me what the "horrible results" that one model produces in contrast to a more viable alternative.
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Old 13th February 2019, 08:29 AM   #145
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By the way, there is a better version of the dilemma of saving a child or a valuable object that appears here in a debate on Effective Altruism between Will Macaskill, who is one of the most prominent advocates, and Giles Fraser who puts forward this thought experiment:

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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 13th February 2019, 08:33 AM   #146
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
That's assuming you didn't first find the XKCD cartoon.
All human wisdom is here.
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Old 13th February 2019, 08:37 AM   #147
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Okay, then tell me what the "horrible results" that one model produces in contrast to a more viable alternative.
I don't have to present an alternative to note that the model isn't holding up.

As for what horrible results, I just presented the case above where murdering my wife and daughter just because they're too expensive turns out to be objectively the moral imperative. If that doesn't ring all your alarm bells, I don't know what will.

Actually, I can even go one up, and involve more than a double murder. Take the "Black Kaiser" character from the new Netflix series "Polar." The guy is a paid assassin, but he paid IIRC something like 200,000 dollars each year to charity. Just think of how many lives that saves. Should he have stopped killing people and looked for another job? Well, virtually any other job he can find -- especially if he's not going to bring references from his assassin job, so essentially it looks like he never worked and has no experience whatsoever -- won't even pay that much per year, much less leave that much disposable for charity. So it seems to me like as long as his payments to charity save more lives than he takes (some quite horribly, I might add), then the moral imperative is to keep assassinating people.
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Old 13th February 2019, 08:38 AM   #148
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It looks a little that in essence Chankaya and Angrysoba are in agreement. In fact, I'm not sure there is really all that much disagreement here, other than in style of presentation.

Of course doing the right thing in an immediate situation is more obvious, and the realization that it's optional is likely to be forgotten. It seems to me that this is more or less the point of Singer's example: that if you find the one act reasonable to do, then when you think about it you have justified similar acts which are more obviously voluntary. I don't think there's a down side to thinking about our options and why we do what we do.

I think it's a reasonable thought exercise for understanding and organizing one's values, and trying to act accordingly is a good thing, but using a complex situation as an example for a relatively simple thought experiment makes it imperative that we understand the example is not a prescription. The thought exercise can come up with general ideas of what we ought to do but not with rules for what we must, nor with condemnations for those who come to different conclusions. I don't think Singer goes quite so far, but it seems as if Robin presumes that he or others using his example, do. To suggest that consistency implies a certain conclusion is not quite the same as accusing someone who comes to a different conclusion of inconsistency or error.

In real life the reasons why one acts in a certain way in an obvious local emergency are varied, and may well be different from why you act in other circumstances. We're social animals, and we act differently toward individuals in our immediate vicinity differently than we act toward humanity as a whole. Any general principle that loses sight of the relations between individuals misses something. In this case it's presumed that you know you're the only one in the universe who can, at this moment, do what needs to be done, and even an effective gift to a known charity for a similar purpose across the world differs in this regard. Thinking about it, one might well decide (as Singer suggests) that this immediacy is an insufficient reason not to support the less immediate charity, and you might realize that it's an excuse for laziness on your own part, but it is a real difference nonetheless. There are lots of reasons, good or bad, obvious or not so obvious, why we might act in one way toward an individual child we see drowning in our back yard than toward an abstract child we do not see drowning on the other side of the world, and a good result is a good result even if it's done for bad reasons. If you save the kid because his screaming interrupts your thoughts, or because you don't want the cops finding your pot plantation, or because you are secretly in love with his mother, you still save him.

I think in a way this whole thread adds up mostly to noise about nothing. It's reasonably clear that, in a general way, realizing the similarity between one circumstance and another can goad us into understanding ethical issues, and perhaps into behaving more ethically. It's also pretty clear, I think, that though there is an overlap, the situation used as an example is not a simple substitute.

Well, I'm off to shovel snow and stuff, so may not be around for a while to respond.
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Old 13th February 2019, 08:44 AM   #149
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I don't have to present an alternative to note that the model isn't holding up.

As for what horrible results, I just presented the case above where murdering my wife and daughter just because they're too expensive turns out to be objectively the moral imperative. If that doesn't ring all your alarm bells, I don't know what will.
To be honest, you haven't demonstrated that you need to kill your wife and daughter. If you hold the purse strings then just don't buy them their expensive things.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Actually, I can even go one up, and involve more than a double murder. Take the "Black Kaiser" character from the new Netflix series "Polar." The guy is a paid assassin, but he paid IIRC something like 200,000 dollars each year to charity. Just think of how many lives that saves. Should he have stopped killing people and looked for another job? Well, virtually any other job he can find -- especially if he's not going to bring references from his assassin job, so essentially it looks like he never worked and has no experience whatsoever -- won't even pay that much per year, much less leave that much disposable for charity. So it seems to me like as long as his payments to charity save more lives than he takes (some quite horribly, I might add), then the moral imperative is to keep assassinating people.
I did spell out the argument earlier.

Quote:
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).
Can anyone in the class point to the flaw in HansMusterman's contention that Singer is advocating paid assassinations and murder of his family?
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 13th February 2019, 09:07 AM   #150
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I think that the whole debate between McAskill and Fraser is worth listening to.

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McAskill argues that there are indeed a lot of things that go against our "intuitions" regarding how we should think about our relations with the developing world.

At one point he argues that global poverty could be eradicated if the richest 10% of the world's population donated 10% of their salary. He says the idea is popular with a lot of people until they find out they are in the 10%.

He also says boycotting sweat shops is a bad idea. As terrible as they are, they are better than the available alternatives. If you want the alternatives, see the above.

Also, he is against Fair Trade, as it is implemented.

Here's also an interesting video with Peter Singer. He begins the talk, instead of using the child in the pond example, a video of an actual case in which passersby could save a child's life, but don't.

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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 13th February 2019, 09:43 AM   #151
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Can anyone in the class point to the flaw in HansMusterman's contention that Singer is advocating paid assassinations and murder of his family?
You're missing the part where I essentially mixed it with the trolley problem, so it's not purely Singer's argument any more. All I kept from there is equivocating the value of a life with the price of some shoes, or really any other monetary value you want to put on it. If giving X dollars equals +Y lives in that model, then I can do all sorts of fun things with it.

Yeah, no, I still don't have to apply the model strictly on the cases where it works well. Not even if you're sarcastic about it, sorry

But essentially, the trolley is coming for a lot of people in Africa. Kids even. Except the trolley is famine, disease, etc. AIDS alone will kill a LOT of them. Again, kids, even. But I can throw the switch so other, fewer people get run over by it, except this time it's by bullet in the head.

If it's moral to throw the switch when it's an actual trolley, why isn't it when it's a metaphorical one?
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Old 13th February 2019, 09:50 AM   #152
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Old 13th February 2019, 09:55 AM   #153
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
A related philosophical experiment:

Picture a moose. Picture the moose's ****. Picture the person contriving these ridiculous unwinnable paradoxes sucking the moose's ****.

These things suck moose ****.
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Old 13th February 2019, 09:56 AM   #154
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
You're missing the part where I essentially mixed it with the trolley problem, so it's not purely Singer's argument any more. All I kept from there is equivocating the value of a life with the price of some shoes, or really any other monetary value you want to put on it. If giving X dollars equals +Y lives in that model, then I can do all sorts of fun things with it.

Yeah, no, I still don't have to apply the model strictly on the cases where it works well. Not even if you're sarcastic about it, sorry

But essentially, the trolley is coming for a lot of people in Africa. Kids even. Except the trolley is famine, disease, etc. AIDS alone will kill a LOT of them. Again, kids, even. But I can throw the switch so other, fewer people get run over by it, except this time it's by bullet in the head.

If it's moral to throw the switch when it's an actual trolley, why isn't it when it's a metaphorical one?
If you are “mixing it with the trolley problem” then you are just advocating an argument which isn’t being made. Why shouldn’t you go around advocating a society based on murder and assassination? Probably because the society would not last long. Singer and the Effective Altruists are not demanding the asset stripping of society and the impoverishment of everyone so you have no business advocating it on their behalf.
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 13th February 2019, 01:17 PM   #155
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So, I'm a bit lost...

Is ruining a pair of gloves drowning a child still equivalent to paying someone to kill children, instead of buying the gloves in the first place?

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Old 13th February 2019, 02:50 PM   #156
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Oh, if this boils down to an is-ought problem then basically you may as well ask that about any moral question.
It is not down to the is-ought pseudoproblem, it is a matter of moral realism versus moral non-realism.

If there are not objectively true moral facts (and we have no reason to believe there are) then what is the determination about the child in the pond based on other than emotion?

If that determination is based on emotion then you can't draw any conclusions from one situation to another where you have different emotions.
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Old 13th February 2019, 02:59 PM   #157
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
It is not down to the is-ought pseudoproblem, it is a matter of moral realism versus moral non-realism.

If there are not objectively true moral facts (and we have no reason to believe there are) then what is the determination about the child in the pond based on other than emotion?

If that determination is based on emotion then you can't draw any conclusions from one situation to another where you have different emotions.
Moral realism is a prerequisite for any question of "is x a moral obligation" if you are not a realist, then the answer is obviously going to be no.

That's like a libertarian who believes all tax is theft entering a discussion on whether a particular change in brackets is reasonable.

Its like getting cast in a play, showing up at rehearsal during debate over a bit of blocking and announcing "I don't think people should even put on plays".

If you want to debate moral realism, that's its own subject. Trying to insert it into a question that takes moral realism as a baseline is among the most awkward ways to do that.
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Old 13th February 2019, 03:16 PM   #158
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
Moral realism is a prerequisite for any question of "is x a moral obligation" if you are not a realist, then the answer is obviously going to be no.
So is Peter Singer a moral realist?
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Old 13th February 2019, 03:17 PM   #159
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
So is Peter Singer a moral realist?
In the context of this particular argument.
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Old 13th February 2019, 03:55 PM   #160
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Originally Posted by Hellbound View Post
So, I'm a bit lost...

Is ruining a pair of gloves drowning a child still equivalent to paying someone to kill children, instead of buying the gloves in the first place?
Are they fair trade gloves?
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