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interesting phenomenon in moral thought

 
 
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 06:46 pm
Quote:
This is an interesting phenomenon in moral thought more generally, it seems. There can be cases where it might be right to do X but it would be a bad thing if people (including ourselves) generally thought it is right to do X because we can't be sufficiently trusted to judge when something is a genuine case of X. Think about the examples where X involves involuntary euthanasia.


I came across this quote and found it interesting. I was considering something similar at one point when were discussing the trolley problem and its variations. I think engineer also brought it up in the watchmen dilemma thread.

I agree with the above quote, but I'm not sure how you would word it. Do we say "involuntary euthanasia is wrong" just because that's what we should believe? Is it right to believe it in our gut if we remember that there are possible exceptions?
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Ionus
 
  0  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 07:07 pm
@Jebediah,
All death is nature's own brand of involuntary euthanasia.
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  0  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 09:03 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah wrote:

Quote:
This is an interesting phenomenon in moral thought more generally, it seems. There can be cases where it might be right to do X but it would be a bad thing if people (including ourselves) generally thought it is right to do X because we can't be sufficiently trusted to judge when something is a genuine case of X. Think about the examples where X involves involuntary euthanasia.


I came across this quote and found it interesting. I was considering something similar at one point when were discussing the trolley problem and its variations. I think engineer also brought it up in the watchmen dilemma thread.

I agree with the above quote, but I'm not sure how you would word it. Do we say "involuntary euthanasia is wrong" just because that's what we should believe? Is it right to believe it in our gut if we remember that there are possible exceptions?


You are confusing morality as a spiritual attachment to others with the social forms of behavior fashioned out of the moral form...Morality does not tell anyone how to behave in any specific circumstance, but is only a term used for the feeling that guides people...You can try to tell people how to behave, but if the feeling isn't there, moral behavior will not result...
0 Replies
 
PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2010 06:41 am
This brings to mind the actions of the medical team caring for termanially ill patients in a hosptial after Katrina. Taking care of people at death's door in a facility that would have had no electricity, staff or medicine for days on end. Awful dilemma.

Just recently, I signed papers for my mother - age 88 dementia, for a DNR code. I have the same orders, but making that decision for another person is unsettling.

joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 30 Jun, 2010 08:16 am
@Jebediah,
The paradox you cite isn't all that uncommon. In fact, it's at the heart of rule utilitarianism. Act utilitarians typically believe that certain acts are, in themselves, utile or disutile, depending upon the utility or disutility produced by those acts. Rule utilitarians agree, but they also believe that there are rules that are even more utile for people to follow than calculating the utility of individual acts. So there may be some acts which are "moral" (in the sense that they are more utile than disutile) when considered on their own merits but which are "immoral" when measured against the rule.
0 Replies
 
PUNKEY
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Jul, 2010 07:44 am
There are a whole lot of people who think Jack Kevorkian rules . . .
HexHammer
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Aug, 2010 12:36 am
@Jebediah,
Jebediah wrote:
I came across this quote and found it interesting. I was considering something similar at one point when were discussing the trolley problem and its variations. I think engineer also brought it up in the watchmen dilemma thread.

I agree with the above quote, but I'm not sure how you would word it. Do we say "involuntary euthanasia is wrong" just because that's what we should believe? Is it right to believe it in our gut if we remember that there are possible exceptions?
There are many situations where one should do "X", but shouldn't because doing "X" can be abused by others who doesn't observe the same moral and ethic, or because there are insufficient legislation about given action.

Imo terminal ill patiens who are in sever pain, should have the choise of choosing suicide, it is inhuman to keep them in state of sever pain. The unfortunate sideeffect would be that normal but depressed persons would see it as an opputunity to commit suicdie, which is why there need sufficient legislatino on the area to prevent unessesary mishaps.

0 Replies
 
mrthingy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Aug, 2010 02:34 am
@Jebediah,
Quote:
There can be cases where it might be right to do X but it would be a bad thing if people (including ourselves) generally thought it is right to do X because we can't be sufficiently trusted to judge when something is a genuine case of X.


The problem with this is it's focus on 'X', an action, rather than the situation the action takes place in. Rather than involuntary euthanasia which is a whole can of worms in it's self, violence maybe a better example. The action of hitting someone is wrong, how ever if it's done to stop some greater wrong then it's excused (nobody would say somebody who fought off a rapist should be arrested for assault).

I think the 'we can't be trusted to judge' bit is unhelpful. We have to constantly put our trust in everybody to only use violence when there is no other way to prevent a worse crime, but not to use it to beat and take other peoples money. Personally I think the 'we can't be trusted to judge' is also implicit in our laws and courts, if people could be trusted to always make a morally correct choice then there would be no need for these institutions that force moral behaviour on us.
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  0  
Reply Sat 28 Aug, 2010 05:59 am
@PUNKEY,
PUNKEY wrote:

This brings to mind the actions of the medical team caring for termanially ill patients in a hosptial after Katrina. Taking care of people at death's door in a facility that would have had no electricity, staff or medicine for days on end. Awful dilemma.

Just recently, I signed papers for my mother - age 88 dementia, for a DNR code. I have the same orders, but making that decision for another person is unsettling.



The fact that you have to tell some one to dnr at that age with the issues your mother faces is unsettling... Everyone in society ought to be able to make those dicissions for themselves, who they will save and who they will let die based upon their own best judgement, essentially putting themselves in the other person's situation...
There are a lot of people who think their life is sacred, or the life of a baby is sacred who do not hold that all life is sacred, who for political reasons disregard their own beliefs and kill others, men women and children simply by allowing it... We are not above cruelty and hypocracy in our actions, and that is one reason why we should understand morality in its milieu...

What is morality as an emotional attachment to people, and when one acts as we consider moral, how do they feel???.... For example... I once helped save a guy from drowning in a river I swore I would not go in to save my own life... I can tell you I did it because I thought the person was human, as myself, and I felt obligated to try though I resisted trying to the last possible moment...

People often do what is moral like they clean the toilet, feeling it must be done, and that one is obligated to do so...Just like cleaning the toilet, we all feel better when the job is done, and more than that; when we refrain from harming others in society though they deserve it, just by banishing the thought of doing so we feel moral, a part of society, and this because morality is the form of relationship between the person and his community...
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  -1  
Reply Sat 28 Aug, 2010 06:18 am
@PUNKEY,
PUNKEY wrote:

There are a whole lot of people who think Jack Kevorkian rules . . .


Only because freedom and justice are moral.... There is no reason for the rationing of health care... It is retarded when people are driven to hate their lives and wish every moment of them away into old age, that at death's door the should resist walking through... We need lives we can love, but also have such love for our communities that we will surrender our lives for our community... Getting from here to there, to an earlier point in time emotionally, is the problem... It is not just that we wish our lives away, moment by moment out of a profound misery, but that society says: Go ahead and die... Society won't miss us, but no one wants a death on their conscience...

How can we face up to the fact that modern society has robbed us all of our support, our communities in which we were some one, in which our sacrifices made sense, and left us struggling paycheck to paycheck, living the lonely lives of individuals cut off from all context... Once we have bought the big lies obout our modern western society, its values and its capitalism, we can no longer judge it for what it is, a giant Kavorkian offering us our deaths on a silver plater, reminding us of how futile and meaningless is our existence, and telling us we are cowards for not opening our veins... It is the cowards who imprisoned Kavorkian... They make suicide illegal to prevent themselves from using it to escape because they are cowards to skiird to face up to their own pain and demand justice from life... Those who say they value life only fear death... They cannot bring themselves to crown meaningless lives with nothing what ever...At least, when primitives gave themselves up to death, it was for something, it meant some thing, it was for the life of the people...
0 Replies
 
jgweed
 
  2  
Reply Sat 28 Aug, 2010 07:03 am
@Jebediah,
Morality is an accepted complex of rules and principles that guide certain human actions recognised as falling within the moral horizon. The origins of this complex can be external (the always already complex of the society in which one lives) or internal; the latter accounts for the variations in accepted morality within members of a society in which some existing rules are accepted, others rejected or replaced).

Whatever the origins, there seems to be a hierarchy within the complex, and recognised exceptions that follow, for example, rules for more specific instances. Perhaps this explains, given that philosophers attempt to find a single general and over-riding rule into which every moral action is somehow made to fit, the historical confusion in the ethical tradition. Certainly a genealogical investigation of the origins of a morality would show that there have been many variations (even if there is general agreement about "key" rules) throughout space and time, especially when "authorised" exceptions to these key rules are considered. The morality of slave ownership, for example, from the earliest recorded time to the present, has undergone a very significant change.

For example, even if everyone universally accepts that killing another human being is "wrong," there are exceptions ("....unless under the following circumstances when a special rule applies"), e.g., self-defence. The real debate often concerns itself with whether the exception is ethically valid, whether the particular action falls within one exception or another, or whether the action actually falls under a different rule althogether.

Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Aug, 2010 07:30 am
@Jebediah,
Jebediah wrote:
Quote:
This is an interesting phenomenon in moral thought more generally, it seems. There can be cases where it might be right to do X but it would be a bad thing if people (including ourselves) generally thought it is right to do X because we can't be sufficiently trusted to judge when something is a genuine case of X. Think about the examples where X involves involuntary euthanasia.

Without knowing more about where you're going with this, "Involuntary Euthanasia" might be a rough example since it can be translated to, "Killing someone without their permission". Involuntary euthanasia is likely a mechanically-accurate term for most murders.

Jebediah wrote:
I agree with the above quote, but I'm not sure how you would word it. Do we say "involuntary euthanasia is wrong" just because that's what we should believe? Is it right to believe it in our gut if we remember that there are possible exceptions?

There are always exceptions. Almost any action we can take that sounds (on the surface) as bad likely has exceptions based on the situation - similarly with almost anything that sounds like a 'good' act. No matter where ones ethics lie; the situation, circumstances and motives can usually alter an initial, "without the details"-judgment.

As far as euthanasia and the, "...because we can't be sufficiently trusted to judge when something is a genuine case of X"-point. This is indeed interesting. If I'm right that the circumstances and details of a case can change an ethical judgment on an otherwise 'simple' situation, then who can be trusted to judge? Not that it matters.... people judge and react as they will anyway; regardless of what they have or haven't considered.

Good question

0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Aug, 2010 10:07 am
@jgweed,
jgweed wrote:

Morality is an accepted complex of rules and principles that guide certain human actions recognised as falling within the moral horizon. The origins of this complex can be external (the always already complex of the society in which one lives) or internal; the latter accounts for the variations in accepted morality within members of a society in which some existing rules are accepted, others rejected or replaced).

Whatever the origins, there seems to be a hierarchy within the complex, and recognised exceptions that follow, for example, rules for more specific instances. Perhaps this explains, given that philosophers attempt to find a single general and over-riding rule into which every moral action is somehow made to fit, the historical confusion in the ethical tradition. Certainly a genealogical investigation of the origins of a morality would show that there have been many variations (even if there is general agreement about "key" rules) throughout space and time, especially when "authorised" exceptions to these key rules are considered. The morality of slave ownership, for example, from the earliest recorded time to the present, has undergone a very significant change.

For example, even if everyone universally accepts that killing another human being is "wrong," there are exceptions ("....unless under the following circumstances when a special rule applies"), e.g., self-defence. The real debate often concerns itself with whether the exception is ethically valid, whether the particular action falls within one exception or another, or whether the action actually falls under a different rule althogether.



Morals as a word was coined to translate the meaning of Ethics into Latin, and ethics points to character, or custom, and not set of rules or normative behavior of any kind...All moral forms, what are commonly called virtues, but also their antagonists or opposites of antipods, are infinites which cannot be defined... So we have a quasi concept of good, or bad does not give us the power to formulate rules or laws holding true in every situation... Moral reality is different from physical reality where logic and laws can and do apply...

If you want to understand moral behavior then understand it in general... Moral behavior is that sort of behavior based upon a positive spiritual connection between people who realize they share this life together...And the fact that people try to build social forms like government or law, or marriage, or religions out of their moral forms is insignificant... All social forms have the potential of being turned to an immoral purpose by people who do not understand their purpose, or who wish to subvert their true purpose... As soon as you try to make a law for one based upon a moral understanding, you have created a loop hole for another...And people serve themselves and take advantage because they do not have that moral feeling... What we do we do for good, but too many believe their good requires bad for all others.. There is no better way of describing such people than immoral....They do not have a spiritual connection to their communities...
0 Replies
 
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Aug, 2010 12:55 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed wrote:

For example, even if everyone universally accepts that killing another human being is "wrong," there are exceptions ("....unless under the following circumstances when a special rule applies"), e.g., self-defence. The real debate often concerns itself with whether the exception is ethically valid, whether the particular action falls within one exception or another, or whether the action actually falls under a different rule althogether.


Many exceptions...particularly, it's fine (good and honorable even) to kill if your country is at war and you're killing people other than your countrymen. In fact, I can't think of a single 'universal moral' in existence...all are socially determined and include exceptions..."thus it happens constantly that an individual brings to bear upon himself, by means of his morality, the tyranny of the majority."
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Aug, 2010 01:28 pm
@Pangloss,
Pangloss wrote:
... In fact, I can't think of a single 'universal moral' in existence...all are socially determined and include exceptions...

Aye, and neither can I.

Though I wish there were such a thing. In my most egotistical moments I believe that if everyone could take on the morals I believe are important - that the world would be a better place for everyone.

... but I think we all do that in our heart of hearts. The most adamant of us believe we've got it right if others would just listen to us. How completely human... how completely ridiculous.

Just a few meandering thoughts there.
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Aug, 2010 01:39 pm
@Khethil,
I used to believe that everyone could truly know the difference between 'good' and 'evil', whatever those things may be, without looking to their societies for guidance (a priori). While this was, I think, a nice ideal to hold, it was naive and incorrect. We've each got our own idea of morality, created and enforced by our respective societies, and to declare that ours is the 'the way' just doesn't work.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Aug, 2010 01:51 pm
@Pangloss,
Pangloss wrote:
I used to believe that everyone could truly know the difference between 'good' and 'evil', whatever those things may be, without looking to their societies for guidance (a priori). While this was, I think, a nice ideal to hold, it was naive and incorrect. We've each got our own idea of morality, created and enforced by our respective societies, and to declare that ours is the 'the way' just doesn't work.

Yea I know... and agree. But wouldn't you agree that most people who have strong opinions on various moral/ethical issues almost subconsciously hold the idea that if all were made to behave <their> way, that life would be better?

... I know I used to. I mean, for me its taken a good amount of hard knocks to realize that in some issues there is no "solution" while for others it simply doesn't matter. In any case, I'd agree that its only blind arrogance that one might TRULY feel this way.
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Aug, 2010 02:10 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:

But wouldn't you agree that most people who have strong opinions on various moral/ethical issues almost subconsciously hold the idea that if all were made to behave <their> way, that life would be better?


Oh yes...I doubt that many people would be as passionate as they are when debating politics and religion, if this were not the case.
0 Replies
 
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Aug, 2010 12:11 am
People remember my thread? Oh joy!

This is why I disagree with law on a fundamental moral basis, but understand it's necessity for it in a more complex one.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Aug, 2010 06:23 am
@Pangloss,
Pangloss wrote:

jgweed wrote:

For example, even if everyone universally accepts that killing another human being is "wrong," there are exceptions ("....unless under the following circumstances when a special rule applies"), e.g., self-defence. The real debate often concerns itself with whether the exception is ethically valid, whether the particular action falls within one exception or another, or whether the action actually falls under a different rule althogether.


Many exceptions...particularly, it's fine (good and honorable even) to kill if your country is at war and you're killing people other than your countrymen. In fact, I can't think of a single 'universal moral' in existence...all are socially determined and include exceptions..."thus it happens constantly that an individual brings to bear upon himself, by means of his morality, the tyranny of the majority."

What has always buggered those who would turn moral feeling in to social prescription has been the inability to find the logic of it... Before laws are formulated about the physical world the logic must be determined, and the reasons why, time after time, things occur as they do...Because moral behavior does not have an immediate effect following the cause people cannot get that a good and happy society result from individuals living a good and honorable life... It is not easy being moral, and individuals looking at life from the perspective of the individual do not have the in time visions of immortal humanity to judge good and bad... To be moral is to see things from the perspective of society, ones community... It does not just happen, and their is no direct chain of logic that can explain why things happen...The community is such an organism that it must suffer what it inflicts... When one person is murdered, another murders... When one steals another is robbed.... When we are taught to see all from the limited perspective of the individual good, and to judge all good by individual good we become blind to social good... The most moral statement we have is that what goes around comes around, and it says nothing about the nature of good...But it states the obvious, that what society inflicts it also suffers, and so individual health and happines go together with social health and happiness in a general fashion for which no direct logic can be presumed.
0 Replies
 
 

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