The Falsity of Altruism

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Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 01:07 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic wrote:
Way ahead of ya! If you go back to the tread on abortion, I indicated in one of my posts that the ONLY TRUE IMPARTIVE for mankind is reproduction and that morality holds no sway over this ultimate process. The woman is only wrong in the context of our established moral construct.


Am I to assume that this is a categorical imperative?

I don't quite understand this imperative.

Do you deny morality as a whole?

Quote:
Lastly, I indicated that the Human Being will find a way to survive (get ready), BECAUSE SELF-INTEREST WILL SEE TO IT!


I would just like to point out that game theory has shown many examples where rational self-interest results in subprime results for both the individual and the whole.

It is the natural and unconscious altruism that allowed us to be social creatures that allowed us to survive to this day.
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 01:15 pm
@OctoberMist,
OctoberMist wrote:
Khethil said:



I see what you mean. Very valid points, all.



You're quite welcome and I definitely appreciate your insights. Keep up the good work.



Hey, how come you acquiesce the topic with Khethil, yet give me grieve when I present the same arguments on the topic? I know, I know, because I can be abrasive and short, consequently rejectable. Oh well, such is life.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 01:22 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Hey Ruthless, are you holding off on the empirical evidence for dramatic effect or what?
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 02:47 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;33689 wrote:
Hey Ruthless, are you holding off on the empirical evidence for dramatic effect or what?
He's out doing the experiments right now -- conducting in depth pre- and post- disembowelment interviews and functional MRI scans of soldiers who have thrown themselves on grenades to empirically demonstrate that their acts were selfish. He'll get back to us when the data are in.
 
boagie
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 03:07 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic wrote:
Hey, how come you acquiesce the topic with Khethil, yet give me grieve when I present the same arguments on the topic? I know, I know, because I can be abrasive and short, consequently rejectable. Oh well, such is life.


Smile
Good point Ruthless, anyone care to comment? It has been said of this process, of just how action comes about, that it is unconscious, I think meaning rather subconscious, but, it is reaction to, how could it be then subconscious. One would have to be conscious of the circumstances in order to react to those circumstances. This topic is already well into the absurd, perhaps those that deny the process involved in the reaction of our hero, could present their alternative theory, or at least acknowledge we are dealing with two entirely different concepts, one of function the other moral evaluation. By all means spread the hostility around, I am sure Khethil is feeling quiet neglected.:eek:
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 03:46 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic wrote:
Hey, how come you acquiesce the topic with Khethil, yet give me grieve when I present the same arguments on the topic? I know, I know, because I can be abrasive and short, consequently rejectable. Oh well, such is life.


I am pretty sure that Khethil restated the argument that everyone else not named RuthlessLogic had been positing.

At every attempt to reframe your arguments, we were met with the equivalent of "nuh-uh".

Have you ever considered the title "RuthlessGainsayer"?
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 08:31 pm
@boagie,
Aedes wrote:

Which leads to the next point. As an administrator on this internet forum, and one whose charge is both to participate and moderate, you should really reflect on the big "Thank You" that you've attached to many of RL's interpersonal attacks. Are you agreeing with his points and ignoring his style? Or are you tacitly endorsing his attacks without having to do that dirty work yourself? Absent any efforts to moderate, I fear that the latter is what is happening here.


Who here honestly uses the thank-you system logically? I know I don't, and I tend to see that posts get thanked that lack any knowledge or usefulness; but rather, the posts that are short blurbs of wisdom also emotionally appealing that get thanked. I say we ease the tension around here, let the moderator thank as he may.

But yes, I find my posts are lacking criticism and I hate that. Emotional criticism doesn't count.
 
Ruthless Logic
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 09:29 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Ok then, Einstein, since you clearly are the authority on the subject, why don't you show us some EMPIRICAL evidence that all acts of altruism are selfish. We can piss at each other all day about who understands the concept better, but the meat of the matter is that you have made a claim of empirical verifiability that you have yet to support.



I do not understand why you are unable to recognize the empirical evidence of self-interest that is clearly contained within my soldier scenario. Alright then (taking a deep breath), I will be congenial and considerate in describing another view for you.

You are going to be a third party viewing this unfolding event. Since you used the scenario of helping an elderly lady across an intersection, let's use that descriptive analogy.

As you were sipping your Latte from under the umbrella at the outdoor court of your favorite coffeehouse, you noticed an elderly lady and a middle-aged gentlemen standing near the northwest corner of the major intersection( the coffeehouse is on the southeast corner). As soon as the "WALK" sign illuminated, the elderly lady stepped off the curb, but immediately stumbled as she tried to plant her right foot on the asphalt. Our middle-aged gentlemen quickly evaluated the situation and wanted to help, by stabilizing the wobbly lady with a quick grasp of her left arm. He then continued to help support the elderly lady as she walked across the entire intersection, and up onto the sidewalk.

Now, the sequence of self-interest indicates that the giver(primary transaction) of the potential benefit to another individual, must make a decided decision to engage OR IT SIMPLY WILL NOT HAPPEN, and this is the empirical face(evidence) of satisfying SELF-INTEREST, BEFORE the recipient of the benefit(secondary transaction) could possibly receive this empirically based and measurable benefit. So, as the elderly lady stumbled, our gentleman thrusted out this arm (empirical evidence of self-interest) to grasp and steady the elderly lady as they continued to walk across the intersection. The gentleman satisfied his self-interest, because he decided to intervene, and we know he wanted to intervene, because of the MOUNTAIN OF EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE that was available for you to view and measure as you finished your morning Latte.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 09:44 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
When did thought experiments become empirical evidence?
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 10:03 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic wrote:
So, as the elderly lady stumbled, our gentleman thrusted out this arm (empirical evidence of self-interest) to grasp and steady the elderly lady as they continued to walk across the intersection.


... hmmmmm - it seems to me that the self-interest move here would be to jump out of the way of the stupid old lady before she dirtied your slacks or, worse yet, bruised your toe ... thrusting out one's arm to steady a fat old broad is taking way to much of a chance of injury to oneself, let alone the physical exertion required (horrors! - I might break a sweat!!!) ...
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 10:10 pm
@Ruthless Logic,
Ruthless Logic;33770 wrote:
Alright then (taking a deep breath), I will be congenial and considerate in describing another view for you.
Much appreciated -- seriously.

Quote:
the sequence of self-interest indicates that the giver(primary transaction) of the potential benefit to another individual, must make a decided decision to engage OR IT SIMPLY WILL NOT HAPPEN
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?
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 10:17 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
When did thought experiments become empirical evidence?


... having been in the Army myself, I can sympathize with the poor souls overseas in Iraq ... I can feel their loneliness, their homesickness ... I despise the fact that they've been commanded to fight a war that is compromising the safety of America - not improving it ... so I send money to the USO and hope that it helps ease them through a bad situation ... despite the fact that the hard drive on my ancient computer is making funny noises and has been doing so for awhile - I really should spend the money on a new one before the damn thing gives out completely! ...
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 10:20 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Ruthless,
I don't think we can refute self interest being the cause of the action. But what is the nature of this self interest. Can if be viewed as reciprocity when social interaction comes into the picture. So the gentleman here can simply alter the intent of the elderly lady to satisfy his self interest in a way that doesn't have to be satisfied directly through the action, but indirectly through oscillating the reactions back and forth.

Here's a rule for you that is derived from us wanting to be superior. When somebody decides to hit you, that is an action(reaction, whatever) being placed upon you. And a human being is going to react by having a superior potential propagated via the reaction to the other person. So you'd hit back a little harder than you were hit (if and only if emotion trumps logic in the scenario which you fail to illustrate appropriately). So the reactions in the scenario can be represented by a wave with an ever increasing amplitude as the wave propagates through time.

Why can't the opposite exist, because it would still fulfill self interest, just not purely directly. Its like saying when social interaction comes into the picture, we evolved a more complex nature of acting; from a circular logic which only works in solitude to a wave. Laughing

In this example, the altruism initiates the theme for the wave, so the reactions will be increasingly altruistic, or in other words, indirectly self beneficial in respect to the initial act.

Yes, we react out of self interest. But please show me empirical evidence as to why this has to be direct. It seems more efficient to me when the imprinted logic in our actions when social interaction comes into the picture is more efficient. Please... criticize this!!
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 10:20 pm
@paulhanke,
So you were deployed to Iraq?

The ability to empathize with someone is not the same as being in that person's shoes.

Thought experiments are useful for fleshing out the logic of an argument, but they do not constitute empirical evidence.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 10:50 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;33792 wrote:
Thought experiments are useful for fleshing out the logic of an argument, but they do not constitute empirical evidence.
Descartes' cogito is a perfect example. There is nothing at all empirical about the conclusion "I think, therefore I am", which Descartes himself places in a Meditation. Yet that is a very close idea to the one RL discusses here.

Fundamentally, the proposition that any action results from self-interest is metaphysical. And metaphysics is mutually exclusive with empiric demonstrability. Once it's empirically demonstrable, it's no longer metaphysical.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 10:52 pm
@Aedes,
Is there empirical evidence for the animal instinct for survival in us? Why can't self interest root from that?
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 11:00 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401;33801 wrote:
Is there empirical evidence for the animal instinct for survival in us? Why can't self interest root from that?
There isn't such an instinct even in animals!!!

That is a teleologic interpretation of much simpler instincts and reflexes (remember that instinct describes behavior, reflexes are completely unconscious).

We ALL, humans and animals, flinch when we detect something flying at our face. There is an increase in sympathetic tone (activity of the sympathetic nervous system) with lots of physiologic downstream effects and the reflex to duck out of the way. That's an example of a reflex.

We seek mates and reproduce, we eat, we sleep, etc. Those are instinctual behaviors.

The end effects facilitate survival and reproduction. But that's only because given behaviors and reflexes are selected for by survival, not because survival in and of itself is the end point of any instinct!!!!
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 11:07 pm
@Aedes,
And is that not relevant to proving my point? It doesn't have to be the end point. Survival implies precisely how reactions are therefore biased. If we value nothing else, then we survive for ourselves, so all reactions are going to reflect that self interest. When social interaction comes into the picture where values can be attained, its not like survival diminishes. The self is still the priority value consciously, is it not?

Edit: There doesn't have to be anything "empirical" to establish the concept of self interest. It's simply a description for a fact that is insofar as objective to human beings.
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 11:10 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
So you were deployed to Iraq?

The ability to empathize with someone is not the same as being in that person's shoes.

Thought experiments are useful for fleshing out the logic of an argument, but they do not constitute empirical evidence.


... no - I'm way too old for that Smile ... I spent my lonely, homesick (peace)time overseas in Germany ... anyhoo, I was just offering one of my own personal impulses as something more concrete than mere thought experiment ... I'm sure someone with a will could pick my experience apart and from among the separated-out pieces point and say "Look! That one's Self-Interest!" ... just like you could point and say "Look! That one's Rage!" ... or "Look! That one's Sentimentalism!" ... but I know better Wink - I know exactly what the overwhelming impulse is every time.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Mon 17 Nov, 2008 11:16 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401;33804 wrote:
And is that not relevant to proving my point?
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.

So you can't conclude that something unconscious is beneficial just because it can be under different circumstances. Our inflammatory response is very beneficial when it fights off an infection, and certainly not when it kills us from septic shock.

Quote:
Survival implies precisely how reactions are therefore biased.
But those reactions are not always triggered under circumstances in which they're beneficial.

Quote:
There doesn't have to be anything "empirical" to establish the concept of self interest.
Ruthless Logic has claimed numerous times that it is, though.

Quote:
It's simply a description for a fact that is insofar as objective to human beings.
I'm not sure what you mean here. We are not in agreement that it's either objective or a fact.
 
 

 
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