2
   

Hey buddy, can you spare some morality?

 
 
Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 05:38 pm
LOL!

Just imagining Adrian explaining his take on morality to Rags, as he watches Mr Rich pocket that $3...
0 Replies
 
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 05:44 pm
Ah, nimh. I saw the brief cameo on CNN tonight about Sudan and their plight. Crying or Very sad
0 Replies
 
Adrian
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 06:47 pm
OK, First Sophia;

Quote:
Mr Rich doesn't owe Rags anything.

If he chooses to give to him, it is illogical to deem this act as immoral.


I agree with the first part. As for the second, An unjustified feeling of morality is VERY close to immorality.

Craven;

Quote:
I don't think it is in any way immoral.

Heck, I think I'll buy a needy person a beer today. I'm on my way to have drinks and fun at the beach and I don't think that someone's misfortunes should necessarily make them enjoying a drink a bad thing.


This sentiment I have no problem with. I have bought many a stranger a drink. Some of those have been homeless. The immorality comes from thinking you're doing "good" when you buy that drink.

As for the comments about The Sudan, maybe it wasn't the best example to use but the point remains. Aid agencies don't just hand out cash and leave. Food, shelter, health care, safety, ACTUALLY SHOWING YOU CARE. That is how you help. Handing Rags a buck then walking away feeling good about yourself is a disservice to the moral code I assume most of us live by and thereby immoral.

If you don't REALLY want to help then just walk on by.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 07:33 pm
Hmmm - question is - what is "good"?

Is giving Rags some pleasure bad?

Ok, his pleasure is not "good" for him in the sense of enhancing his physical health. One assumes that he is drinking himself to death, in fact. However, who has the right to decide that his chosen means to happiness, or numbness, or whatever it is, is wrong for him? if it causes him to hurt other people, then I accept it is "bad" - however, I think it rather puritanical to say drink=bad while food, or investment on the stock exchange, or paying for a bus to get to church, or whatever is your personal definition of what would be "good" for Rags = "good".

This is especially so given the notoriously poor outcomes for benevolent attempts to make Ragses into happy citizens.

For Ragses who are the "beneficiaries" of appallingly badly funded de-hospitalization programs, which have, at least here, left many mentally ill people unable to cope and homeless, but with treatable mental illnesses, then attempts to improve mental health services again could be argued as the "good" thing to do.

However, the people who DO work effectively with Ragses here strongly advocate assisting them with sleeping, eating and food when they wish - and making rehab available - but respecting their decisions as to whether they take them up or not. Interestingly, that is where government policy in my state is going re homeless folk - similarly to harm minimization strategies re drugs.

I think giving Rags a drink is fine. If it increases Rags' happiness, even temporarily, I see that as a good - I would temper that by saying I am talking about confirmed Ragses - I would hesitate to give a nouveau Rags the means to increase his chances of becoming a confirmed rags - I would rather give that money to a proven program for prevention or rehab.

I abhor the notion that the community has no responsibility for assisting Ragses - and believe in assisting good programs re rehab, practical assistance (which I donate to) and early intervention (which I work in) to try to minimise the circumstances which produce Ragses.

As Eliza Doolittle's father said, in Pygmalion, the "undeserving poor" have greater needs than the "deserving" ones....(this is a joke for any humour challenged folk here!)
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 08:44 pm
Adrian wrote:

Craven;

The immorality comes from thinking you're doing "good" when you buy that drink.


I can't imagine how you'd support the notion that thinking you are doing good when you are not is immoral, perhaps misguided but immoral?

In any case, not meeting your "save the world" standard doesn't mean someone is not doing good. After all, maybe the giver simply wants to brighten someone's day.

Quote:

If you don't REALLY want to help then just walk on by.


Why? This just makes no sense. Simply not walking by can be a boon to someone whose day is filled with people walking by.

This seems like an odd "save the world or do nothing" rule you've made, and gone so far as to claim that those not operating under this rule are acting immorally.

Perhaps we just have a very different concept of immorality on a definitional level. <shrugs>
0 Replies
 
Adrian
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 09:52 pm
Quote:
I can't imagine how you'd support the notion that thinking you are doing good when you are not is immoral, perhaps misguided but immoral?


Thinking you are doing good when you are not = false morals.
False morals = "bad".
"bad" = immoral.

Quote:
This seems like an odd "save the world or do nothing" rule you've made, and gone so far as to claim that those not operating under this rule are acting immorally.


No, I'm saying that to give a dollar is an amoral act. To think you are being moral by doing so is an immoral act.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 09:58 pm
Thomas wrote:
Mr. Rich is acting morally, because the purpose of the dollar is to make Mr. Rags happy. Nobody knows what makes Mr. Rags happy as well as Mr. Rags does. His judgment in the matter may well be wrong, but then again, so may Mr. Rich's. Therefore, Mr. Rich is doing the right thing by giving Mr. Rags the dollar and letting Mr. Rags decide what to do with it.

True, Rich doesn't direct Rags to use the dollar in any particular fashion, so to that extent Rags decides what he will do with the money. But Rich is reasonably confident that Rags will use it to buy alcohol. And while you presume that Rich's dollar will make Rags happy, Rich can only be confident that the dollar will make Rags drunk -- a state that we can assume is desired by Rags, whether or not it will actually make him happy. So, given Rich's reasonable belief, is it right for him to give the money to Rags?


JLNobody wrote:
Joe, it seems to me that since we cannot know with certainty what the long-term consequences of our actions may be (a good consequence may even make possible a worse consequence in the future which may in turn make possible another good one, ad infinitum), we must give, in our moralogical considerations, primacy to the intention of the act. I think that Mr. Rich may give to Mr. Rags aid for the ease of his pain out of a sincere and spontaneous compassion without self-consciousness reference to moral principles.

No, we cannot foresee anything with certainty, but then morality never insists upon that degree of precognition. Instead, we rely upon foreseeability as our standard. Thus, if I fire a gun into a crowd, my action is judged to be morally condemnable, even if I am not aiming at anyone in particular, since it is foreseeable that I might shoot someone. In the same fashion, Rich can reasonably foresee that his dollar will go to buy alcohol for Rags. He cannot be absolutely certain, but then he need only be reasonably certain in order to judge the morality of his act.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 10:06 pm
Sofia wrote:
Well, this is the problem with all you folks, who are holding Mr Rich responsible for Rags presupposed behavior.

No one holds Rich responsible for Rags's behavior. Rather, we are judging the morality of Rich's action.

Sofia wrote:
Mr Rich would have to make a judgement about Mr Rags. And, that judgement would be based on ....what? Rags clothing? I detest this idea.

Mr Rags may be just a poor man, needing food. He may be a drinker--he may not be.

He may be a former drinker... He may have decided that day to quit drinking. He may be asking for money for his child, his friend...

According to my hypothetical, Rich has a very strong suspicion that Rags is an alcoholic. It is, of course, possible, but highly unlikely, that someone drinking Wild Irish Rose* is a recovering alcoholic.

Sofia wrote:
I believe when people allow themselves to make snap judgements on others' motivations based on their appearance, or anything other than absolute knowledge, they become guilty of a much worse immorality than accidentally buying some Thunderbird for a drunk.

Making snap judgments is immoral? Why?


*I just realized that some of the young'ns out there may be unfamiliar with Richard's Wild Irish Rose. It is a fortified wine, like MD20/20 or Thunderbird, and a "favorite seller in inner-city outlets and other places serving a low-income alcoholic clientele."
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 10:10 pm
Gala wrote:
there are laws in place for people like the dc snipers. no, we don't praise them for being good marksmen-- but, seeing as you are bringing issues of the law into this, such as donations that may be funding terrorists etc. then it is my opinion that society has a moral obligation to enact some kind of health care law to protect those who cannot help themselves.

I am definitely not bringing issues of law into this. We can presume that both giving money to beggars and drinking alcohol are legal in the jurisdiction where this hypothetical situation takes place.

Gala wrote:
on an individual level, because they are not supported by society, the best i can do is give them some money to relieve their burden, even if it's temporary.

A nice sentiment, but what if their burden is alcoholism? How do you help by providing them the means to increase their burden?
0 Replies
 
Chuckster
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 10:20 pm
Joe,my son, you must strive mightily to marshal your thoughts...or end up like Dan Quayle. Meantime, practice startled stares in front of headlights. And have another round!
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 10:20 pm
dlowan wrote:
Hmmm - question is - what is "good"?

Is giving Rags some pleasure bad?

You are presuming, of course, that alcohol actually gives Rags pleasure. But what if Rags's preferred form of pleasure is actually bad for Rags. Considering that Rags may not be in the best position to judge his own best interests, is Rich necessarily justified in taking the attitude that "it's his life, he can do with it what he will?"

dlowan wrote:
Ok, his pleasure is not "good" for him in the sense of enhancing his physical health. One assumes that he is drinking himself to death, in fact. However, who has the right to decide that his chosen means to happiness, or numbness, or whatever it is, is wrong for him? if it causes him to hurt other people, then I accept it is "bad" - however, I think it rather puritanical to say drink=bad while food, or investment on the stock exchange, or paying for a bus to get to church, or whatever is your personal definition of what would be "good" for Rags = "good".

I find this a rather curious position. Who has the right to decide that alcoholism is bad? Well, I suppose all the people who insist that alcoholism is a disease, that's who. You might as well ask who decided that cholera was bad.

dlowan wrote:
However, the people who DO work effectively with Ragses here strongly advocate assisting them with sleeping, eating and food when they wish - and making rehab available - but respecting their decisions as to whether they take them up or not. Interestingly, that is where government policy in my state is going re homeless folk - similarly to harm minimization strategies re drugs.

I suppose they take the same approach with people who suffer from all other potentially fatal diseases?

dlowan wrote:
I think giving Rags a drink is fine. If it increases Rags' happiness, even temporarily, I see that as a good - I would temper that by saying I am talking about confirmed Ragses - I would hesitate to give a nouveau Rags the means to increase his chances of becoming a confirmed rags - I would rather give that money to a proven program for prevention or rehab.

Why?
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 10:22 pm
Chuckster wrote:
Joe,my son...

Dad?
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 10:40 pm
Adrian wrote:

Thinking you are doing good when you are not = false morals.
False morals = "bad".
"bad" = immoral.


bad != immoral

But just in case that gets by, I submit.

  • Not realizing my fantasies = bad
  • bad = immoral
  • "Lady (large breastacled one by the bar), join me and the goat or you're immoral."



Quote:
No, I'm saying that to give a dollar is an amoral act. To think you are being moral by doing so is an immoral act.


<shrugs>

As you will.
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 10:42 pm
Hmmm, this reminds me of my father-in-law, who was known to give $20 bills to lucky beggars with the admonition.... "Now, don't go spending this on something sensible, like food."

My take is, if you truly give something away, it shouldn't have any strings attached -- not expectations, morality or guilt. The poor people on the street have enough problems without having "Mr. Rich" make a judgement about them.

I don't think alcohol is the likely cause of a street person's problems. If it were, then why are there so many rich and successful alcoholics?
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 10:45 pm
Your father-in-law sounds like a stout fella.

I've always thought the tendency to attempt to impose morality onto the less fortunate (to a greater degree than one would attempt to impose to the equally fortunate) oddly distasteful.
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 10:58 pm
Joe, no matter what your dad, Chuckster, says. You'll never end up like Dan Quayle. Of that I'm certain.
Piffka, well put...and true.
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Aug, 2004 11:03 pm
Yep, Craven... my F-i-L was a character. I like to think his generosity was good conversational fodder for the recipients. I imagine them sitting around some illicit fire under a freeway bridge telling amazing stories. Perhaps his memory lives on.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2004 12:24 am
joefromchicago wrote:
But Rich is reasonably confident that Rags will use it to buy alcohol. And while you presume that Rich's dollar will make Rags happy, Rich can only be confident that the dollar will make Rags drunk -- a state that we can assume is desired by Rags, whether or not it will actually make him happy. So, given Rich's reasonable belief, is it right for him to give the money to Rags?

Yes. From a moral point of view, the purpose of donating the money is to make Mr. Rags happy, not to give Mr. Rich a warm fuzzy feeling about himself. If, in Mr. Rags' judgment, getting drunk is the best way for himself to get happy on a few dollars, it is still moral for Mr. Rich to give Mr. Rags the money.

Mr. Rich gets to either give Mr. Rags the dollar and make him happy on Mr. Rags' terms, or to spare the money. Mr. Rich doesn't get to keep his money and the moral high ground. In ethics as in economics, you can't eat your cake and have it too.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2004 05:52 am
Among the strangest things I ever heard
was when a friend of mine said "Man, let's get some thunderbird"
I said "What's that?" he just started to grin
slobbered on his shirt, his eyes got dim
he said "You got fifty-nine cents?"

I said "Yeah, I got a dollar, but don't be a smart-aleck
I ain't gonna spend it on no indian relic"
and he said "Thunderbird's not an old indian trinket,
it's a wine, man, you take it home and drink it."
I said "It sure don't sound like wine to me"
and he said he'd bet me the change from my dollar

We hustled on down to the nearest U-Tate-Um
the guy wanted my ID, I whipped her out and showed him
he got a green bottle from the freezing vault
my friend started doing backward somersaults
through the cottage cheese

Took it back to his house, started drinkin'
pretty soon I set in to thinkin'
"Man, this thunderbird tastes yum, yum, yummy
and I know it's doing good things to my tum, tum, tummy"
it's how you reason when you're on that crap

Got a few more bottles, chugged them down
I pulled myself up off the ground
decided I go see my dearest sweet wife
who met me at the door with a carving knife
said "Get them damn grape peel from between your teeth."

I could see we're gonna have a little misunderstanding
I said "Dear, I better get in touch with you later"
She said "Forget it, man, you're never touchin' me again!"

Now I've seen the light and heard the word
and I'm staying away from that ol' dirty thunderbird
a message come from heaven radiant, and fine,
all I drink now is communion wine
six days a week


(Townes van Zandt)
0 Replies
 
Gala
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Aug, 2004 05:54 am
hey, if i was an alcoholic homeless person and mr. rich decided to buy me a drink, i'd certainly think he did good by me.
0 Replies
 
 

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