The Falsity of Altruism

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Holiday20310401
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 11:23 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
No, it doesn't. Not all reflexes and instincts are beneficial. They just are what they are. The vomiting reflex is not beneficial when you're standing onstage and you're really nervous. It's a side effect of an imprecise reflex that happens to be beneficial in a restricted set of circumstances.


Well yes I was under the assumption that we'd already figured out self interest is restricted to conscious process.

Aedes wrote:
Ruthless Logic has claimed numerous times that it is, though.


Well I'm not taking his side, lol.

As for the objective thing, its only important that the bias is objective in survival... sorry... conscious survival. I would think conscious and unconscious survival affect the resultant, but are two different components.
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 11:25 pm
@Aedes,
... hmmmmmmmm - it seems I've misconstrued this discussion entirely ... it looks to be more of a debate about whether altruism is purely metaphysical or provably empirical, not one about whether or not altruism exists ... pardon my blatherings ... I'm checking out now Smile
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 11:27 pm
@paulhanke,
Oh, come on Paul; you think any of us are doing much more than blathering? Stick around, the thread is finally getting informative.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 11:31 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401;33810 wrote:
Well yes I was under the assumption that we'd already figured out self interest is restricted to conscious process.
If that's the case, then true altruism is by definition possible in the scenario where someone intends to help someone else but is unaware of any self-interest!

Quote:
As for the objective thing, its only important that the bias is objective in survival.
Ok, that's true.

Quote:
I would think conscious and unconscious survival affect the resultant, but are two different components.
Yes, because throwing yourself on a grenade to help some comrade you barely know certainly isn't a conscious survival instinct.
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 11:37 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Oh, come on Paul; you think any of us are doing much more than blathering? Stick around, the thread is finally getting informative.


... but I blather so much better when I know what I'm blathering about Wink
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 11:53 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Much appreciated -- seriously.

That is not self-interest -- it's just a mechanism. There is plenty of empirical evidence about the nature of that mechanism -- nerve impulses, neurotransmission, nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, ATP, actin and myosin, etc. But where is the empirical evidence that this is self-interest (a value judgement) rather than just a mechanism?

I think the exercise you need to consider here is the opposite scenario.

Can someone do harm to himself? If you pick up a gun and shoot yourself in the gonads (remembering that you believe that our main human imperative is to reproduce), have you done yourself harm? Not by your argument -- by your argument you've empirically fulfilled self-interest. Or if you think that reproduction supercedes judgements about self-interest, what about someone who has already reproduced going out on a killing spree. Is that fulfillment of self-interest?



Come on, are you willing to assign this complex interaction of physical and cognitive interplay as some mundane mechanism . The ability for Human Beings to provide dynamic interference within their natural world clearly reflects an inherent multitude of latitudes that can only be available to self-indulging creatures. The proof for this can also be empirically measured by our gentlemen who could of decided NOT to help the elderly lady, or only helped for 10ft or 30ft or only to the edge of the adjacent curb.

My answer to your 2ND part question is yes, yes, and yes. The wake of Self-Interested acts are completely indifferent to YOUR interpretation of the acts, because the pursuit and execution of self-interest can NEVER transcend the self-interested individual, because we are completely self-contained units consisting of self-interested consumption.

To show how self-contained we truly are, I will use your man with the gun scenario. Let's say the man is pointing his AR-15 at you demanding that you lay face down on the floor or he is going to shoot you. It appears that your free-will has been taken from you, consequently you no longer have access to you self-interest. Not so fast, look again you still have the option to refuse, thereby maintaining self-interest and while you might pay for this indulgement with your life, the wake of Self-Interested Acts are completely indifferent or insulated from ancillary interpretations.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Tue 18 Nov, 2008 12:18 am
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic;33828 wrote:
Come on, are you willing to assign this complex interaction of physical and cognitive interplay as some mundane mechanism
Not mundane -- it's an extraordinarily ornate and complicated mechanism.

Quote:
The ability for Human Beings to provide dynamic interference within their natural world clearly reflects an inherent multitude of latitudes that can only be available to self-indulging creatures.
But what separates us helping an old lady cross the street from a brain-damaged farm chicken doing the same thing is that we self-consciously choose to do that. Going through the motions is the mechanical part. It's the judgement by which we choose those motions that makes us human -- and that allows us to justify an activity based on (among other things) generosity.

Quote:
My answer to your 2ND part question is yes, yes, and yes. The wake of Self-Interested acts are completely indifferent to YOUR interpretation of the acts, because the pursuit and execution of self-interest can NEVER transcend the self-interested individual, because we are completely self-contained units consisting of self-interested consumption.
Ok. I think we're making progress here. It's clear that you're arguing that self-interest is part of the mechanics of doing anything at all, or of what Boagie has chosen to term 'will'. And I'm arguing something different -- that it doesn't become an act of altruism at that level anyway.

So it's possible that you and I have somewhat similar takes on this in the end. If we decided to restart the conversation, but agreed not to use terms like 'altruism' and 'self-interest', then we might find that it's more terminology than anything that we've been wrangling over.
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Tue 18 Nov, 2008 01:21 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Not mundane -- it's an extraordinarily ornate and complicated mechanism.

But what separates us helping an old lady cross the street from a brain-damaged farm chicken doing the same thing is that we self-consciously choose to do that. Going through the motions is the mechanical part. It's the judgement by which we choose those motions that makes us human -- and that allows us to justify an activity based on (among other things) generosity.

Ok. I think we're making progress here. It's clear that you're arguing that self-interest is part of the mechanics of doing anything at all, or of what Boagie has chosen to term 'will'. And I'm arguing something different -- that it doesn't become an act of altruism at that level anyway.

So it's possible that you and I have somewhat similar takes on this in the end. If we decided to restart the conversation, but agreed not to use terms like 'altruism' and 'self-interest', then we might find that it's more terminology than anything that we've been wrangling over.



Okay, I see where this disconnect is happening. You are seeing the point that self-interest is simply doing anything at all, but just "doing anything" does not rise to the level of an altruistic event. I submit to you that the sequence of self-interest(or doing anything) is simply a linear function that originates in the giver(primary transaction), while the residual potential benefit might end up being potentially consumed by the recipient(secondary transaction). It is this SIMPLE LINEAR FUNCTION that contradicts the strict IDEALISTIC DEFINITION OF ALTRUISM, a definition that says a selfless act is ACTUALLY possible, but in reality it is NOT possible, because an individual MUST ADHERE (natural world constraint) to the linear function of self-interest, no-matter what he or she tries to accomplish, and this has been my point about the Falsity of Altruism.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Tue 18 Nov, 2008 03:08 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic wrote:
Okay, I see where this disconnect is happening. You are seeing the point that self-interest is simply doing anything at all, but just "doing anything" does not rise to the level of an altruistic event. I submit to you that the sequence of self-interest(or doing anything) is simply a linear function that originates in the giver(primary transaction), while the residual potential benefit might end up being potentially consumed by the recipient(secondary transaction). It is this SIMPLE LINEAR FUNCTION that contradicts the strict IDEALISTIC DEFINITION OF ALTRUISM, a definition that says a selfless act is ACTUALLY possible, but in reality it is NOT possible, because an individual MUST ADHERE (natural world constraint) to the linear function of self-interest, no-matter what he or she tries to accomplish, and this has been my point about the Falsity of Altruism.


I think we all saw this a long time ago. I just think self interest can be reconciled with altruism without it being irrational, or insane logic.
 
Albion phil
 
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 06:55 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
I think it was Ayn Rand that observed Altruism is rational selfishness. Or a side effect to egoism. When one lives to serve the interest of others therein exists a hero complex of sorts. The ego seeks to be gratified by those it serves in such a capacity. So it's not actually a selfless act, but is rather selfish in nature.
I would quite agree.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 07:04 pm
@Albion phil,
Albion wrote:
I think it was Ayn Rand that observed Altruism is rational selfishness. Or a side effect to egoism. When one lives to serve the interest of others therein exists a hero complex of sorts. The ego seeks to be gratified by those it serves in such a capacity. So it's not actually a selfless act, but is rather selfish in nature.
I would quite agree.


Rand's argument is the old argument for psychological egoism - an argument which fails due to nonfalsifiability. All Rand does is prove that an observer can imagine some selfish motive for any action; she does not manage to show that all motives are selfish. Big difference.
 
NeitherExtreme
 
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 07:20 pm
@Albion phil,
Albion wrote:
I think it was Ayn Rand that observed Altruism is rational selfishness. Or a side effect to egoism. When one lives to serve the interest of others therein exists a hero complex of sorts. The ego seeks to be gratified by those it serves in such a capacity. So it's not actually a selfless act, but is rather selfish in nature.
I would quite agree.

Even if that were entirely true, I would still rather be surrounded by those selfish people than the other selfish people who don't want to serve others. Oh, and I would probably want to make up a word or two to describe those different kinds of selfish behavior, because it makes quite a bit of difference in the way they act. :shifty:

Anyway, present issue aside... welcome to the forum. :a-ok:
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Wed 19 Nov, 2008 07:32 pm
@Albion phil,
Albion wrote:
I think it was Ayn Rand that observed Altruism is rational selfishness. Or a side effect to egoism. When one lives to serve the interest of others therein exists a hero complex of sorts. The ego seeks to be gratified by those it serves in such a capacity. So it's not actually a selfless act, but is rather selfish in nature.
I would quite agree.



I would agree along with you!
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 06:55 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
The sequence of self-interest (linear function) is such a pervasive Human Axiom that the subsequent adherence created the greatest economic powerhouse(U.S.) in the history of Mankind. Unlike other economic models, Capitalism offers the closest model of measurable latitudes (currently) that are contained within the realm of self-interest, consequently offering the greatest "natural" success.

The inherent problem with other economic constructs (Communism, Socialism), besides being pathetically mundane, is the concept of centralizing the efforts of individuals. The pursuit of self-interest is inherently an individual journey that MAXIMIZES the productivity of a Human Being, because the interests of the individual and the endeavor are COMPLETELY aligned. The pursuit of self-interest CANNOT be centralized, or it will simply be inefficient and ineffective.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 06:59 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic;35102 wrote:
Unlike other economic models, Capitalism offers the closest model of measurable latitudes (currently) that are contained within the realm of self-interest, consequently offering the greatest "natural" success.
We were a lot more purely capitalistic in the early 20th century, before anti-trust laws, before labor unions, before safety standards, before child labor prohibitions.

Was it better then?
 
NeitherExtreme
 
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 07:01 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless...

None of that empirically or logically demonstrates that all actions must motivated by self-interest. It would only sugest that self-interest is normal.
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 07:29 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
We were a lot more purely capitalistic in the early 20th century, before anti-trust laws, before labor unions, before safety standards, before child labor prohibitions.

Was it better then?



Capitalism has certainly evolved into a more productive economic model with the interjections of increasing competition. Capitalism and Regulation are mutually inclusive and are complimentary, because the judicious application of regulation can serve to INCREASE competition, by defining the rules and the playing field. Competition is the driver that makes Capitalism the efficient economic powerhouse that it is, but TOO much regulation can destroy the playing field with over-zealous rules.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 08:47 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
That's fair.

But it certainly argues that there isn't a black or white Capitalism vs Socialism dichotomy in the real world. As you know all successful modern economies have some elements of both capitalism and socialism. I mean labor unions are a truly socialist idea, perhaps even communist. But they're the driving force behind advocacy for worker's interests, which in the end creates a better workforce. Having Social Security and Medicare (acknowledging their flaws) means that there is less pressure on the workforce to support elderly parents, so that they're better able to generate capital.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 10:16 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic wrote:
The sequence of self-interest (linear function) individual and the endeavor are COMPLETELY aligned.


My view is that the linear function is basically lost when social interaction as a complex society is involved. In order to satisfy self interest there requires reciprocity.

The linearity if you want to stick with the concept is an illusion to the sort of way dualities exist; but we cannot adhere a function of our interconnectedness with right angles.

Dualities, how more intrinsic and deductive can you get in describing human actions?
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Mon 24 Nov, 2008 03:20 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
That's fair.

But it certainly argues that there isn't a black or white Capitalism vs Socialism dichotomy in the real world. As you know all successful modern economies have some elements of both capitalism and socialism. I mean labor unions are a truly socialist idea, perhaps even communist. But they're the driving force behind advocacy for worker's interests, which in the end creates a better workforce. Having Social Security and Medicare (acknowledging their flaws) means that there is less pressure on the workforce to support elderly parents, so that they're better able to generate capital.



Good Point, but your advocacy for Unionism frames the inherent deficiency of the socialistic concept. The concept of collective labor contradicts the sequence of self-interest, because it cannot provide personalized latitudes for maximum productivity to the self-interested individual, because of the inherent constraint of the collective group. The empirical evidence reflects this, because Union Membership in the United States represents less then 12% of the entire labor force. As early as 1983, Union Membership represented about 20% of the workforce, and has been steadily declining for the last 50yrs.
 
 

 
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