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2 comments

Right... (1)

cromano (162540) | more than 9 years ago | (#11282728)

...so where were we?

And we'll kinda need a moralizing troll to keep it interesting, you and I agree too much. ;-)

Things that have come up:
- Atheism does/does not necessitate force.
- Goal selection; what is "good", "desirable"; what latitude does one have.
- Is Common Good justifiable as a higher goal than individual self-preservation?
- Choice, and the ultimate human right/freedom: the right to self-determination [in my mind, this both justifies the point above, and helps against the "hive mind" objection to Common Good].
- Indirect reprocity, and why being "nice" ultimately increases the level of happiness of humanity (oh boy, millions of disputable terms right there).
- Atheistic ethics vs. moral subjectivism.

Things that haven't come up, I think, but could:
- Is any of this objectively justified?
- If a given philosophy can be proven to be "evolutionarily inferior", as in "will get you killed eventually", is adherence to it still justifiable?
- "Just because a lot of people believe something is moral doesn't make it moral" seems at odds with "morals are a matter of personal choice".
- To what extent is it permissible to go against "society" or "the majority", in pursuit of your chosen philosophy?

Oh, the possibilities. I should mention that my slashdot time is limited, and can't a priori commit to a full, thoughtful response, but I'll try. 8-)

Cheers,
Wolfe.

Re:Right... (1)

rossifer (581396) | more than 9 years ago | (#11285711)

Wow, that's a lot of topics. Let's see what I can do with just one of them:

To what extent is it permissible to go against "society" or "the majority", in pursuit of your chosen philosophy?

To directly answer the question: go against the majority as far and as long as you like, but be prepared to accept responsibility for your actions in the judgement of that majority.

The consensus morality of a society is presented through two primary means: behavioral norms and laws. Violating norms has a risk of ridicule, ostracism, exile, the occasional personal threat from bigots... Violating laws carries the risk of monetary loss, restriction of freedom, loss of reputation, exile, and ultimately loss of life. To back up for a moment, a risk has two components: the chance of the negative event happening, and the cost of the negative event should it happen. If you go against consensus morality, the specific violation carries a possible risk. If you're using a consequential model of decision making, this risk and it's possible impact upon the likelihook of maximizing your goals must be included in the decision to violate that particular norm or law.

To convert this theoretical discussion into a more practical one, from the age of 14 to 17, I was a shoplifter and stole quite a few things in my short career. When I was eventually caught, I went to JV hall for an evening, my parents were quite distressed and embarassed, and I had quite a bit of lying to do to explain my absense from school. Now, at the age of 32, with a fiancee, talking about children, having long term goals and being a lot smarter about how to achieve them... The tiny gain of a few dollars that are still in my pocket just isn't worth the risk of being caught and punished, or having to empathize with someone who was unwillingly deprived of an asset (I did something that I would not want done to me).

On the other hand, I have had a few marijuana joints in my day and feel absolutely no guilt about any of them. If offered a joint at a party next weekend, I would probably take a hit without a moment's hesitation as long as I wasn't going to drive soon after. Part of my rationale is my belief that marijuana consumption should not be a crime as it harms nobody except the user in much the same way as an alcoholic drink harms the drinker. Another part of my rationale is also the reality that there is low risk of being caught and a minimal punishment for posession of a single joint, given that I don't buy or sell the stuff.

Regards,
Ross
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