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Is Obesity (or Gluttony) Immoral?

 
 
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Sep, 2009 05:51 pm
@RDanneskjld,
There's reason to believe that a propensity to become obese is genetic. People who live on islands in the Pacific tend to be chubby. Their ancestors would set out on sea adventures looking for other islands. They might have to go without food for an extended period of time... therefore the ability to store a lot of fat was a survival tactic.

If you're metabolism is fast-paced and you can eat as much as you want and not become obese, you're ancestors probably had access to plentiful food supplies... because you're not genetically equipped to handle famine.

And my morality meter doesn't jump on the issue. I've cared for obese people in every sense of the word.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Sep, 2009 08:54 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;91959 wrote:
Maybe it is worth noting that, while I have immense respect for Mill's subtle and brilliant system, I also almost completely disagree with him.
Consequentialism can never be reduced to a precise science or calculus of outcomes, but I don't think that is what Mill truly meant. Besides, what is a moral position worth if its consequences are bad?
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 08:43 am
@Aedes,
Mill did not want people to sit down and calculate morality at each impasse. He states this specifically.

I'd have to hear more of what you think about his Utilitarianism to give much more of a response. I don't think we've had this conversation, actually - which is surprising. I feel comfortable with his work, so if you just want me to unleash concerns I'd be more than happy to oblige. Perhaps they are unfounded. As I understand the psychology, most people are well intentioned utilitarians.

You are quite right about that last sentence in particular. And I think Mill would agree - and so would I. But any version of consequentialism gets you the same conclusion as far as that goes. Which is why I so appreciate consequentialism, especially JS Mill's variety.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 10:49 am
@Pythagorean,
What I'd say is that PURE consequentialism and PURE deontology both can leave you with ridiculous situations. A pure consequentialist argument would leave a mother in a position of sacrificing her one baby to save three other lives -- and that's just not how humans work. And deontology forces us to think about chemotherapy for metastatic choriocarcinoma as murder, for instance, if we define a fertilized egg as a human being. It's been a while since I've read Utilitarianism, actually it was when I was in college and I graduated from college in 1996 -- but in terms of the idea that we should entertain the maximum good for the greatest number, doesn't that just seem like common sense? The problem is figuring out the greatest good, and I don't think you can do that without having operating principles. In other words, consequentialism and deontology make the most sense as some sort of hybrid that has flexibility and takes into account human psychology, i.e. we don't make choices in our lives as if we're an impartial judge.
0 Replies
 
Kontrover-c
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 07:31 pm
@Pythagorean,
I don't think I need to state that obesity is not immoral.

As for Gluttony, if you look at certain circumstances such as gluttony in the face of poverty. In that case I would definitely consider it immoral. Gluttony in general although may be unattractive and poor in manner, it does not really have any connection with morals.
0 Replies
 
TheSingingSword
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Sep, 2009 08:31 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;90495 wrote:
I was wondering how many people believe that gluttony, defined as "habitually eating to excess", is immoral behaviour -?

Doesn't such habits lead to a sloppy and undisciplined society?

It would seem to me that our collective refusal to insist upon self-restraint and moderation hurts precisely those individuals who are prone to obesity, the majority of whom will die prematurely of heart disease and the like.

The poor and undereducated are, of course, the ones who suffer most from the immoral elites who refuse to apply the minimal standards of basic human decency to the society as a whole.

As long as the poor and uneducated people continue to follow the general permissiveness that is de rigour among the attitudes of the liberal elites (think The New York Times crowd), then they will suffer disproportionately.

Let us revolt by discovering genuine virtue.

Nothing is immoral in the grand scheme of things. There are simply those things any given culture appreciates, those things which stand neutral, and those things that are punished. Just depends where, when, and who you are.
Emil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Sep, 2009 03:00 am
@Pythagorean,
I'm undecided and the poll leaves that position out.

I've read the entire thread and I didn't see any clear argument for that obesity is immoral. Can someone state the argument(s) clearly and completely? It seems that Pythagorean is somewhat alone in his belief that it is immoral to a high degree.

Obesity has bad consequences for one-self. But does it follow that it is immoral? Prima facie it does not. Unless one ascribes to ethical egoism or something like that.
0 Replies
 
Kontrover-c
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Sep, 2009 05:01 am
@TheSingingSword,
TheSingingSword;93207 wrote:
Nothing is immoral in the grand scheme of things. There are simply those things any given culture appreciates, those things which stand neutral, and those things that are punished. Just depends where, when, and who you are.



Ahh thats a great point of view, beautiful in its simplicity i'm wondering what your position on what is immoral and what isnt immoral within your own culture is...?
0 Replies
 
NoOne phil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Sep, 2009 09:39 am
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean;90495 wrote:
I was wondering how many people believe that gluttony, defined as "habitually eating to excess", is immoral behaviour -?

Doesn't such habits lead to a sloppy and undisciplined society?

It would seem to me that our collective refusal to insist upon self-restraint and moderation hurts precisely those individuals who are prone to obesity, the majority of whom will die prematurely of heart disease and the like.

The poor and undereducated are, of course, the ones who suffer most from the immoral elites who refuse to apply the minimal standards of basic human decency to the society as a whole.

As long as the poor and uneducated people continue to follow the general permissiveness that is de rigour among the attitudes of the liberal elites (think The New York Times crowd), then they will suffer disproportionately.

Let us revolt by discovering genuine virtue.


If one asks for opinion, then one gets opinion, but if one asks for truth, one must then define what one is.

Every organism lives by processing the environment. One can then be more precises,

An organisms environmental acquisition system is that system of an organism which must acquire something from the environment, process that which it has acquired, for a product that maintains and promotes the life of that organism.

The extremes of defect are too little or too much. Moral behavior is that behavior that complies with a things definition, it was put simply once as "to have life and to have it more abundantly."

So ask the definition, not opinion.
bait bludgeon
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Sep, 2009 10:48 am
@NoOne phil,
It seems as though in the title of the post there are two conflicting words used i.e. obesity and gluttony. Obesity is assigned to a state, a condition that an individual is in, as a result of a certain action or series of actions. Gluttony regards the simple action (although mind you it is in the form of a noun or adjective). Let us consult a dictionary for further clarification:

(glŭt'n-ē) http://cache.lexico.com/g/d/dictionary_questionbutton_default.gif
n. pl.
Excess in eating or drinking.

(ō-bē'sĭ-tē) http://cache.lexico.com/g/d/dictionary_questionbutton_default.gif
n. The condition of being obese; increased body weight caused by excessive accumulation of fat.

Now although these definitions do not hold any sort of weighted complexity, they are more than suitable for the discussion at hand. The question is: Is the state or the action immoral? And thereby we need to understand whether the state or action is immoral. Or both.

Now when we look at the word obesity, we do not see the actions leading up to it, but merely the state the individual is in i.e. a state of obesity. What gluttony regards is not the state per se a person is in but also the actions by which the individual partakes in i.e. excess in eating or drinking (and also sexing if you wish to broaden the scope of gluttony, which is completely acceptable). Gluttony does not check the state a person is in at a given time but merely the actions (excessive eating, drinking, sexing) that a person partakes in when being gluttonous. A person could very well be a very skinny, fit, individual but at the same time may be involved in one form of gluttony or another.

Now keep in mind that I left out the word "healthy" when I look at a gluttonous person. Generally speaking, gluttony leads to some form of health problem(s). Too much drinking (binge drinking) can lead to liver problems; too much cocaine or drugs can lead to a person whose brain is blown out like an overused engine; and too much eating can lead to obesity or an assortment of other problems.

In regards to the word obesity though, we do not know per se how the person became obese. It could very well be that the person has cancer and a giant malignant tumor has grown on the persons body to over two hundred pounds, person is genetically prone to gain weight i.e. slow metabolism, thyroid problems, &c. &c. We can assume however, based on cause and effect, that a person is obese solely because of gluttony and nothing else.

I hope I have made the distinction clear on to the functions of the words stated in the thread title so we can hopefully moves this thing along with a solid correctness.
0 Replies
 
Leonard
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Sep, 2009 07:03 pm
@Pythagorean,
Obesity can't be helped. Certain actions, and sometimes genetics will cause obesity. The thing that gets me is how people succumb to gluttony. So personally, I see the two as different things.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Sep, 2009 07:49 pm
@Leonard,
Leonard;93804 wrote:
Obesity can't be helped. Certain actions, and sometimes genetics will cause obesity.
It's always a bit of both, never just genetics and never just behavior. When I have obese patients do food diaries there is always something they could do differently. But they also usually come from families with a lot of obesity, and studies keep showing that obesity during infancy and toddlerhood are major predictors of adult obesity.
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Sep, 2009 08:31 pm
@Pythagorean,
Leonard wrote:
Obesity can't be helped.


Shouldn't that be sometimes it can't be helped? Such as if someone has a real medical complication causing it to be tremendously hard to lose weight.

It definitely can sometimes be helped, can't it?
bait bludgeon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Sep, 2009 11:00 am
@Zetherin,
Is not gluttony a choice of life? I extremely doubt someone could innately be gluttonous. That is something that is of choice i.e. free will. To say that someone is not in control of himself i think is taking away the responsibility of the individual to do things for himself. Now there are people who are obese because of certain conditions, but this does not apply to everyone who is in this state. Not everyone is obese because of genetics or something in the realm of science, but there are other alternatives as well e.g. gluttony, rare tumors that grow to outrageous proportions. It is a human beings duty to take care of these things and do their duty to take care of themselves and not simply waste away.

- Quite frankly, the fact that we are bringing up people who are obese because of some genetic default should not be the centre of the discussions. But might I add that although someone may genetically have this condition it is still nonetheless their duty to make themselves healthy and to work at improving their bodies. What should be the centre of the discussion is whether a person who wholly commits to a gluttonous life is considered moral, amoral, or immoral.
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Sep, 2009 11:12 am
@Pythagorean,
Let's keep in mind that a very thin person could be just as gluttonous!
bait bludgeon
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Sep, 2009 11:14 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;94078 wrote:
Let's keep in mind that a very thin person could be just as gluttonous!


Thank you! I couldnt have said it better myself! :-)
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Sep, 2009 11:28 am
@Pythagorean,
bait_bludgeon;94274 wrote:
Thank you! I couldnt have said it better myself! :-)


I think it's the title of the thread that's causing the most confusion.

Obesity and gluttony are entirely different things, but in the title it seems as though they are used as no less than synonyms. As a result, people have been approaching this thread implicitly relating the two concepts, with the actual question becoming muddled. Even though the OP did define gluttonous in the beginning as "habitually eating to excess", obesity is not always directly related (to eating to excess) and this created further confusion.

To be short: Obesity does not necessarily equal excess eating. Gluttony does not necessarily equal excess eating. Obesity does not necessarily equal gluttony.
0 Replies
 
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Sep, 2009 11:59 am
@Pythagorean,
Right, Zetherin. After 6 pages, you've finally pointed out the big problem with this thread.

It would be pretty hard to argue that obesity itself could be considered immoral, as in many cases, it can be an issue of genetics and/or psychological disorder...in this case, it is no more immoral than someone who might have genes that predispose them to a sleeping disorder, or someone who develops a psychological problem like schizophrenia.

In the case of gluttony, it's much easier to argue that it is immoral, because the term 'gluttony' seems to include the idea that someone's gluttonous behavior is dependent on a conscious desire to be gluttonous. Someone pointed out earlier that a hardcore bodybuilder would be a good example of this, and I agree.

Then again, that could be seen as a form of psychological disorder, as perhaps gluttony itself could, so it's hard to just categorically state that "gluttony is immoral". I think you would have to look at it on an individual basis. If someone intends to be very gluttonous, while knowingly caring little for the negative impact they might be having on others in the process, then they could be seen as engaging in immoral behavior.
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Sep, 2009 12:16 pm
@Pythagorean,
Indeed, Pangloss. And this really leads into the broader point: Moral judgments can be as carefully reasoned as one chooses them to be. One can choose to further consider any topic we ascribe morality to, and the limit of this consideration is often just us.

Personally, even after looking at individual cases with the intent to make a definitive moral judgment, I often times cannot!
0 Replies
 
bait bludgeon
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Sep, 2009 12:25 pm
@Pangloss,
Pangloss;94279 wrote:
Right, Zetherin. After 6 pages, you've finally pointed out the big problem with this thread.

It would be pretty hard to argue that obesity itself could be considered immoral, as in many cases, it can be an issue of genetics and/or psychological disorder...in this case, it is no more immoral than someone who might have genes that predispose them to a sleeping disorder, or someone who develops a psychological problem like schizophrenia.

In the case of gluttony, it's much easier to argue that it is immoral, because the term 'gluttony' seems to include the idea that someone's gluttonous behavior is dependent on a conscious desire to be gluttonous. Someone pointed out earlier that a hardcore bodybuilder would be a good example of this, and I agree.

Then again, that could be seen as a form of psychological disorder, as perhaps gluttony itself could, so it's hard to just categorically state that "gluttony is immoral". I think you would have to look at it on an individual basis. If someone intends to be very gluttonous, while knowingly caring little for the negative impact they might be having on others in the process, then they could be seen as engaging in immoral behavior.


I thought I might have made some headway on page 5 but I suppose not. Thanks regardless because now we have finally (after 6 pages) solidified what we were aiming at all along.
0 Replies
 
 

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