Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2014 01:07 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
Well, isn't that a problem with utilitarianism? If an ethical theory can't definitively determine whether an action is ethical or unethical, then that strikes me as a pretty significant flaw.

Not me. Consider the analogy in American law. You can't always determine if an act is legal or illegal. For example, were George Zimmerman's acts towards Trayvon Martin legal or illegal? The jury couldn't definitely determine this under Florida law, so the law fell back on the presumption of innocence and acquitted Zimmerman. Does this strike you as "a pretty significant flaw" in the theory of criminal procedure?

Assuming that it doesn't, how is the process of answering Boomerang's question so different? Our applicable social mores offer two defaults, well justified under any theory of ethics: (1) Don't judge people without a reason. (2) When judging, start by giving people the benefit of the doubt. So what's wrong with asking would-be boycotters for sufficient evidence to overcome the benefit of the doubt? How is that "tipping the scale"?
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2014 01:20 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Assuming that it doesn't, how is the process of answering Boomerang's question so different?

In the interest of preventing misunderstandings: I'm NOT saying that the cases are similar. I'm saying that the process of judging them is.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2014 01:31 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
Couldn't the same be said about your position? You're not being entirely altruistic in your estimation of the pros and cons of this situation, are you?

Of course not. I neither know nor care about Boomerangs neighbors and this farmer/proprietor. My posts in this thread are entirely motivated by vanity: my selfish agenda to be seen, by Boomerang and others, as an intelligent, interesting, and insightful correspondent. As a result of this, I may be wrong. Stranger things have happened.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2014 01:55 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Not me. Consider the analogy in American law. You can't always determine if an act is legal or illegal. For example, were George Zimmerman's acts towards Trayvon Martin legal or illegal? The jury couldn't definitely determine this under Florida law, so the law fell back on the presumption of innocence and acquitted Zimmerman. Does this strike you as "a pretty significant flaw" in the theory of criminal procedure?

No, because the law in that case was clear. Zimmerman could have easily conformed his actions to the law without any doubts about whether he was acting legally or illegally.

Thomas wrote:
Assuming that it doesn't, how is the process of answering Boomerang's question so different? Our applicable social mores offer two defaults, well justified under any theory of ethics: (1) Don't judge people without a reason. (2) When judging, start by giving people the benefit of the doubt. So what's wrong with asking would-be boycotters for sufficient evidence to overcome the benefit of the doubt? How is that "tipping the scale"?

Any ethical theory must be able to inform a person of the ethical way to act before that person acts. Otherwise, the ethical theory is largely useless. The ethical theory would be equally useless if it required the person to take a poll or a survey of all interested persons before acting. If you, relying on a utilitarian calculus, can't decide on your own whether boycotting the store is ethical or not before you decide to engage in the boycott, then that's a problem with utilitarianism. And that's a lot different from the law, where you don't have to wait for everyone to offer their opinions before you decide whether an action is legal or illegal.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2014 03:00 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
Any ethical theory must be able to inform a person of the ethical way to act before that person acts.

Not if the facts that figure into the decision aren't clear enough. "Give people the benefit of the doubt, and don't punish them unless you have good evidence that they're guilty of something", is a perfectly sound ethic on which to act.
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2014 03:45 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:

How do you decide where to shop?

I'm late to this one but I would respond with another question. Would you fire someone who held different beliefs than you? In a small way, a store owner is working for you so my question is just extrapolating out a bit. If the answer is no, then I wouldn't consider not patronizing a store (hurting someone's income) because I disagree with their beliefs. If the answer is yes, then boycott away.
0 Replies
 
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2014 03:51 pm
@Romeo Fabulini,
Quote:
In fairness to gays, let me say I also wouldn't like to buy food if a smoker has been handling it.
I'd buy other stuff from smokers and gays, but not food, no way hozay..


Thats not funny on any sort of level. Trivializing a set of other humans. Gob smacked.

Gays and smokers bother you, but fiddlers and child molesters can handle your food. Good to know.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 07:53 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

Thomas wrote:
What's good about the boycott is mostly driven by impact on third parties. Yet what's good for the boycotteer --- like the pleasant feelng of moral superiority --- is still what drives their decision.

I'm not sure I'd agree with that, but suppose you're right. Couldn't the same be said about your position? You're not being entirely altruistic in your estimation of the pros and cons of this situation, are you?

I think I misunderstood what you were asking here. Were you asking if a consumers' choice not to boycott is equally corrupted by inadequately considering third parties? If so, the answer is "yes", at least in principle. In practice, though, not boycotting is what we do by default anyway, and it's a sensible default for other reasons, too. So in practice, the argument will usually cut against the decision to boycott, not for it.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  0  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 08:34 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Not if the facts that figure into the decision aren't clear enough.

Again, that's a problem with utilitarianism.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 10:04 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
Again, that's a problem with utilitarianism.

Sure. It's a problem with every ethic that has enough moving parts to connect with the messy reality we live in. Other systems of ethics may be harder to game because they're more rigid and less dependent on facts. But this rigor comes at the expense of having useful things to say about the real world.

For example, remember our old hobby-horse, Kantian ethics. It's a more rigorous, harder-to-game system. But when someone asks you, "I want to murder X, is he in your house?", and X is in your house, what should you actually do? Kant has no useful answer to this. All he can do is proclaim that it's always wrong to lie, even to a murderer --- and that it's always wrong to assist in murder, even by telling the truth (or revealing it by your silence). I don't know about you, but I don't want an ethic that utters vacuous but unimpeachable proclamations. I want an ethic that's relevant and realistic. If that makes its prescriptions somewhat tentative and vulnerable, so be it.
joefromchicago
 
  0  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 10:49 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

joefromchicago wrote:
Again, that's a problem with utilitarianism.

Sure. It's a problem with every ethic that has enough moving parts to connect with the messy reality we live in.

It's a particular problem with utilitarianism.

Thomas wrote:
It's a more rigorous, harder-to-game system. But when someone asks you, "I want to murder X, is he in your house?", and X is in your house, what should you actually do?

That's easy: you shouldn't lie. That may not be the answer that you want, but then that just means you've already decided that it should be ethical to lie in that situation, and that, in turn, means that you've already chosen to adhere to some sort of ethical code that is contrary to Kantian ethics - at least in this situation.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 11:51 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
That's easy:

No it isn't, because the maxims "you shouldn't lie" and "you shouldn't assist murder" both pass muster under the Categorical Imperative. They are equally generalizeable, equally capable of reasonable people wanting them enacted as universal laws. (Kant conveniently neglects to discuss this.)

joefromchicago wrote:
you shouldn't lie. That may not be the answer that you want, but then that just means you've already decided that it should be ethical to lie in that situation,

No it's not, and no that's not the reason I consider Kant's answer useless. It's a useless answer because nothing you can do in this situation is consistent with all pertinent maxims under the Categorical Imperative. There is no right course of action (Kant doesn't guarantee that every situation has one), only wrong courses. Kant never bothers to inform you which wrong course you actually should take when no right course exists. I suppose philosophers could patch Kant's system to resolve stalemates between conflicting maxims --- but not without introducing the same flexibility, and hence the same vulnerability to gaming, that you deplore in Utilitarianism.

And with that, we have entirely drifted off Boomerang's topic. Isn't there some old thread on Kantianism or Utilitarianism we could revive?
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 01:44 pm
@Thomas,
Fair enough
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 08:55 pm
@boomerang,
Quote:
The farmer's view was printed in our local paper.


I've seen this kind before. He's likely boinking his heifers.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 08:58 pm
@boomerang,
Quote:
This is the city that fined a bakery hundreds of thousands of dollars for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.


Major OUCH!
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 09:01 pm
@boomerang,
Quote:
I don't facebook at all.


I always knew you were an eminently sensible person, Boomer!
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 09:13 pm
@bobsal u1553115,
Quote:
Gays and smokers bother you, but fiddlers and child molesters can handle your food.


Good god, what the hell is wrong with liking Charlie Daniels?!
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 09:26 pm
@ehBeth,
Quote:
People have all kinds of opinions I don't like. As long as they don't do anything that I think is wrong, I'm not going to concern myself too much with their views.


If the farmer thought the wife should stay at home, barefoot, in the kitchen, and the wife agreed and this extended to the farmer's daughters, how would you feel, Beth?
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 09:29 pm
@hawkeye10,
Quote:
Liberals much more than conservatives are sheep, they do as their leaders suggest.


You say some of the funniest things sometimes, Hawk.
0 Replies
 
Romeo Fabulini
 
  0  
Reply Thu 10 Apr, 2014 02:58 am
Quote:
Bobsal said:@RF- Gays and smokers bother you, but fiddlers and child molesters can handle your food. Good to know.

I never said peedos can handle my food, so get on here this instant!-

http://i53.photobucket.com/albums/g64/PoorOldSpike/naughty-stp_zps24352215.jpg~original
0 Replies
 
 

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