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Old 05-11-2021, 01:42 AM   #21 (permalink)
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why?

It seems like the only thing you could say it's cause it's more fair or something which in itself is a sort of good outcome

Like any of those values if you drill down to the core... Freedom, truth, democracy etc are only valued because they're implicitly associated with the utility they provide
not true at all

there's a pretty immediate and visceral response in most primates (I think) towards something perceived to be unfair for example

I don't think there's some kind of Utilitarian calculation going on, we just don't like injustice
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Old 05-11-2021, 01:49 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Omg the whole point is that you develop ethics from utilitarian principles so that you don't have to go through that calculation. That ethics system is developed ages ago and we inherit it with our culture, so of course it feels like that. That doesn't mean there isn't anything like utilitarism at the root of it
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I don't think this is true

you first have to have decided that "happiness" or "harm reduction" are valuable

you can't use utilitarianism to tell you that, you simply have to believe it
That's just like the axioma the theory is built on
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why?

It seems like the only thing you could say it's cause it's more fair or something which in itself is a sort of good outcome

Like any of those values if you drill down to the core... Freedom, truth, democracy etc are only valued because they're implicitly associated with the utility they provide
Thats exactly what I mean
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Old 05-11-2021, 01:56 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Also, the whole idea of an ethical system like this is that you can (in theory) determine which outcomes are desirable without ethics, in this case by somehow measuring people's happiness.
Sorry for interupting the discussion but it looked unaviodable. While ethics might be determined by the dictionary, that is predetermined by someone. What does it commonly connect, if i may use the word common sense?

Is it not something what every human being feels generaly regardless of how/where she/he develops?

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Old 05-11-2021, 02:24 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Omg the whole point is that you develop ethics from utilitarian principles so that you don't have to go through that calculation. That ethics system is developed ages ago and we inherit it with our culture, so of course it feels like that. That doesn't mean there isn't anything like utilitarism at the root of it

That's just like the axioma the theory is built on

Thats exactly what I mean
utilitarianism is a consequentialist philosophy towards determining what is moral no?

the way you're describing it, it's literally impossible to not be a utilitarian

pretty much making the word pointless

I personally don't believe morality has any real logical basis...but human emotions should be considered when making a world that humans inhabit
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Old 05-11-2021, 02:42 AM   #25 (permalink)
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But none of these moral systems work perfectly cause they are all ad hoc rationalizations for an inner sense of morality that is ultimately more instinctual and less strictly rational... Imo
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there's a pretty immediate and visceral response in most primates (I think) towards something perceived to be unfair for example

I don't think there's some kind of Utilitarian calculation going on, we just don't like injustice
Humans have an inbuilt moral compass. All social animals do. To varying degree, it is derived by evolution through natural selection and so the very basics of moral is somewhat predictable. For example, you would expect humans and other animals to generally not like being stolen from because genes that accept being stolen from won't be as successful, won't be competitive and proliferate and so will get weeded out. Similarly, we should f.ex. expect men to want their female partners to remain sexually loyal because if you spend your resources raising someone elses kids, your altruistic genes are not going to get passed on as much. We should expect humans to want kindness to be reciprocated and so on.

Then, so you don't think I'm a complete idiot, I should add that there's of course morals derived from culture on top of that which can potentially attempt to reprogram our base morals, like what might happen in very religious environments like a cult.

Generally, everyday human interactions is something we've adapted to by natural selection. For good or bad, this (along with culture/experience) does equip us with a knee-jerk sense of morality which is what most of us operate on in our daily lives. However, evolution has not necessarily equipped us with a way to figure out big issue stuff like politics, so that's where I think moral theory is valuable.

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I don't think this is true

you first have to have decided that "happiness" or "harm reduction" are valuable

you can't use utilitarianism to tell you that, you simply have to believe it
Morals is a social thing in that if you were the only person in the world, you wouldn't have a need for morals. If you think of the nature of humans, being social is kind of our super power. Long before we became Homo Sapiens, we did it because through cooperation, our fitness will increase. Natural selection drove us to become more social. Because morals regulate social interactions, it also made us more morally minded.

So we know why humans have morals. We know what naturally selected morals are attempting to achieve, which is roughly speaking all those social interactions that has historically let us proliferate our genes into the future. Each person instinctually knows what these things are. Humans are social animals, so we want to have positive and meaningful relations with others. Humans are programmed to act in a way that leads to reproduction, so we want sex. We are programmed to avoid pain, so we want to be healthy and not suffer. And so on. Normal, healthy people want these things, consciously or not. We form societies and cooperate to better achieve them.

In utilitarianism, happiness to me is just the simplest way to represent these things that we naturally want. Getting them satisfies our natures and so makes us happy. However, it's not perfect because we also want some things that we don't need. Like some of us want heroin. Hence, I like to sometimes add a time perspective (long term) because I think that tends to distill utilitarianism a little more into what really matters as described above. I personally could just go for a more long-winded principle (my own version of utilitarianism), but I see the value of making it simple ("happiness").

Something which is nice with a consequence-based moral theory is that it can be empirically tested. Let's say you study life satisfaction compared to income and you find good evidence that satisfaction rises until a household earns 150 000 USD, but then the curve flattens out or even becomes negative. You could use that information to try to make a society which makes 10 households earn 150 000 instead of one household that makes 1 500 000 and 9 that makes nothing. That's an example of how I think utilitarianism should be used.

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I'm not married to that idea, but I also think utilitarianism is an attempted easy answer to an incredibly difficult question
To me, the question is not that difficult, but also the end goal of utilitarianism is not so simple. Take a democrat and a republican. Both could have utilitarian ideals for society, but have two different and perhaps even opposing ideas of how to achieve it.

A slight side note, I also like the some of the ideas of social contracts as I find them quite descriptive. A society is a bunch of humans getting together. In order for everyone to do better, they agree to abandon certain freedoms. For example, everyone can on average can do better if everyone agrees not to murder and not to steal from eachother. The goal of society is to raise up those who adhere to the social contract. That is done through cooperation and also the removal of the freedoms that would put otherwise everyone down.
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Old 05-11-2021, 02:46 AM   #26 (permalink)
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not true at all

there's a pretty immediate and visceral response in most primates (I think) towards something perceived to be unfair for example

I don't think there's some kind of Utilitarian calculation going on, we just don't like injustice
I don't disagree with you with regard to it not being based on utilitarian calculus.. or in other words we don't work out said calculation when making moral decisions. like I said I think all these systems are basically ad hoc rationalizations for something more instinctual. But those instincts can also be intrinsically based on a sort of evolutionary cost benefit analysis which goes back to the same question of utility.

So if you say we have a visceral reaction to unfairness that's no difference from saying we have a visceral reaction to suffering.... Both of these can be framed as "bad outcomes" and once again fed into a sorta question of utility

Like the deeper question is why do we have visceral reactions to these things... And I think that essentially it's because they're implicitly associated with negative outcomes

Like you said before even these concepts you say have inherent value don't have infinite value... I would argue the extent to which they don't have infinite value is the extent to which they can lead to bad outcomes when left completely unrestricted.

Like the reason that the inherent value of truth breaks down with regard to an example like the Jews in the attick... The only reason it breaks down is because the outcome it leads to there is so obviously negative. Or do you have some other explanation...?
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Old 05-11-2021, 02:47 AM   #27 (permalink)
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I wouldn't be so certain on using evolution and genetics to describe human social behavior

but it does seem a sense of justice is just inherent across all humans

in which case it isn't a matter of judging outcomes
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Old 05-11-2021, 02:53 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Like the reason that the inherent value of truth breaks down with regard to an example like the Jews in the attick... The only reason it breaks down is because the outcome it leads to there is so obviously negative. Or do you have some other explanation...?
I think simply the value of truth in this instance is just less so, than the human lives

this doesn't remove all value from truth

the classic thought exp is whether you'd like to know your partner was cheating on a marriage even if not knowing had no ill effects
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Old 05-11-2021, 02:59 AM   #29 (permalink)
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I wouldn't be so certain on using evolution and genetics to describe human social behavior

but it does seem a sense of justice is just inherent across all humans

in which case it isn't a matter of judging outcomes
Of course it is, but justice systems are like the atomic model.

Atoms don't really have shells with small ball electrons flying around them like planets. But it's a simple model that we "get". Similarly, breaking laws don't always lead to unwanted consequences, only usually, which is why we also tend to operate with judge and jury to assess severity of crimes.

We do care about consequence, but we make simpler rules, virtues and explanations because it is practical. It's easier to communicate.

About natural selection and genes to describe human behaviour, we wouldn't exist without our genes. Their blueprints make our bodies including our brains, so the idea that you can separate behaviour from genes is.. kinda religious, I guess? For all the evidence we have, genes do matter.

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The classic thought exp is whether you'd like to know your partner was cheating on a marriage even if not knowing had no ill effects
As is, the answer from a utilitarian point of view is no. However, the example makes itself somewhat irrelevant by imposing the impossible caveat of the surety of knowing it has no ill effects. In a real world scenario, cheating does tend to include risk to the one being cheated on.

I would also say the example is in the realm of knee-jerk morals and so isn't necessarily something that needs to be tackled by moral theory or something that moral theory needs to deal with.
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Old 05-11-2021, 03:02 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Yeah ok you can say that but that seems like a different way of phrasing the same thing

The value of truth is overridden but the otherwise negative consequences it would cause

Why would you wanna know your wife is cheating if it doesn't lead to better outcomes? I get the instinctual response is to say people would prefer to know such a thing but I think there's an implicit logic as to why which generally once again boils down to striving for better outcomes.. like people would say stuff like honesty in a relationship is paramount to a successful relationship etc... It's not so easy to actually divorce any of these values from either certain outcomes or at least the perception of pursuing certain outcomes.
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