What Moral/Ethical Philosophy Do You Follow?

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Reply Thu 27 Dec, 2007 06:25 pm
So, I was just wondering, who here adheres to what moral theories?

Personally, I'm a utilitarian.

Any other utilitarians? Any hedonists? Deontologists? etc.?
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Thu 27 Dec, 2007 07:04 pm
@krazy kaju,
I try my hardest to follow the categorical imperative, in both forms. So I suppose you can call me a deontologist. However, this is hard to do and I cannot say that I adhere to it all the time. (also, it gets me in trouble with my wife a lot!)

Since I do not follow the categorical imperative all the time (although (I think) I do most of the time), I am not sure I can say that I follow it at all. I think that one cannot call themselves a follower of any moral framework if they do not follow it all of the time.

Why utilitarianism? I once thought that utilitarianism was the best framework to follow, but I stumbled off that path when I realized that I cannot accurately measure pleasure and pain. I found that it wasn't until after I committed an act that I could even come close to measuring the pleasures and pains of a consequence. Guilt has its way of bringing to light variables that are not seen until after a decision is made.
 
ogden
 
Reply Thu 27 Dec, 2007 08:58 pm
@krazy kaju,
krazy kaju wrote:


Any other utilitarians? Any hedonists? Deontologists? etc.?



I am an ethical capitalist. I am a deontologist (moral obligation) when i'm in church, a utilitarian (whatever works) when i'm on a date, and a hedonist (whatever feels good) the rest of the time. Just kidding folks:D

My moral actions/decisions happen on a conscious and unconscious level. (Is there a psychologist in the house?) If morality is what I judge to be good or bad/right or wrong then everything I do stems from these values. There is also a scale of importance I place on these values. I view that an "insignifacant" lie would be less wrong than murder (individual subjectivism). so then some of my moral behavior is not much more than knee-jerk reaction, while other moral values/actions are laboriously contemplated. Jurisprudence attempts to evolve the law to fit the circumstances and our ever-changing value systems(moral relativism). Cercumstances are relative because morality shifts in varying cercumstances. Servival situations and other drastic situations can radically shift our "normal" values; rationalizing what would normally be morally irrational.

I side with moral zeitgeists, that morality developed/is developing along with primates to serve them/us with skills that aid our intrapersonal/social/environmental functionality.

Dualistically, there would be no moral without imoral; so we can never abolish imorality. My view is that religious law, common law, pier pressure and whatever we come up with in the future are all attempts to persuade us to shift our values and enable us to function/interact more harmoniously and as a result, more efficiently.
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 27 Dec, 2007 09:31 pm
@ogden,
I am a moralist, but I am not sure I would call moralism a philosophy. I sure wouldn't call moral behavior normative. Morality cannot be equated to a set of rules. Rather, it is a feeling, and if you don't have the feeling the behavior it demands will always seem strange.
 
krazy kaju
 
Reply Sat 29 Dec, 2007 12:08 pm
@de Silentio,
de Silentio wrote:
Why utilitarianism? I once thought that utilitarianism was the best framework to follow, but I stumbled off that path when I realized that I cannot accurately measure pleasure and pain. I found that it wasn't until after I committed an act that I could even come close to measuring the pleasures and pains of a consequence. Guilt has its way of bringing to light variables that are not seen until after a decision is made.


Well, I believe that utilitarianism is the most natural...

You are right that it is hard to measure the outcome of pleasure, pain, and 'utility' beforehand, but I do believe that utilitarianism is the most functional, practical, and natural moral theory, simply because it tries to do good "for the clan," and not just for oneself (hedonism), and it also doesn't try to protect the individual (deontologism) even if it'd be better for society to not protect that individual.

I truly feel that utilitarianism is also the evolutionary answer to morals: throughout history, it was sometimes useful to sacrifice yourself or others to save your clan, and to let their genes (which were partly your genes) pass on.

Also, if you look at modern political ideologies, all of them, at least the realistic ones, are in essence utilitarian. What is best for the majority? Socialists, communists, libertarians, capitalists, anarchists, and fanatics always believe that their way is the best for the majority, even if a minority has to suffer (i.e. in socialism the rich 'suffer' since they no longer can be as rich while in capitalism the poor suffer due to social and economic inequality).
 
Fido
 
Reply Sat 29 Dec, 2007 12:23 pm
@krazy kaju,
krazy kaju wrote:
Well, I believe that utilitarianism is the most natural...

You are right that it is hard to measure the outcome of pleasure, pain, and 'utility' beforehand, but I do believe that utilitarianism is the most functional, practical, and natural moral theory, simply because it tries to do good "for the clan," and not just for oneself (hedonism), and it also doesn't try to protect the individual (deontologism) even if it'd be better for society to not protect that individual.

I truly feel that utilitarianism is also the evolutionary answer to morals: throughout history, it was sometimes useful to sacrifice yourself or others to save your clan, and to let their genes (which were partly your genes) pass on.

Also, if you look at modern political ideologies, all of them, at least the realistic ones, are in essence utilitarian. What is best for the majority? Socialists, communists, libertarians, capitalists, anarchists, and fanatics always believe that their way is the best for the majority, even if a minority has to suffer (i.e. in socialism the rich 'suffer' since they no longer can be as rich while in capitalism the poor suffer due to social and economic inequality).

So the minority should not suffer? Is that because they can afford to have others suffer for them? Everyone should suffer alike and every form of idealism ensures that all should suffer. If it is not equal then it is certain.
 
krazy kaju
 
Reply Sat 29 Dec, 2007 12:28 pm
@Fido,
Fido wrote:
So the minority should not suffer? Is that because they can afford to have others suffer for them? Everyone should suffer alike and every form of idealism ensures that all should suffer. If it is not equal then it is certain.


Quite the contrary, what I was saying is that the majority should not suffer, even if it is at the cost of the minority.

So, for example, socialists argue that the upper classes (the minority) should suffer so that the middle and lower classes (the majority) do not. Of course, they do not want the upper classes to actually 'suffer', but the idea is to not have them be as 'happy' as they would be with all their wealth, but to distribute that wealth among the poor.
 
Fido
 
Reply Sat 29 Dec, 2007 03:52 pm
@krazy kaju,
krazy kaju wrote:
Quite the contrary, what I was saying is that the majority should not suffer, even if it is at the cost of the minority.

So, for example, socialists argue that the upper classes (the minority) should suffer so that the middle and lower classes (the majority) do not. Of course, they do not want the upper classes to actually 'suffer', but the idea is to not have them be as 'happy' as they would be with all their wealth, but to distribute that wealth among the poor.

None sense. Everybody suffers, and there is nothing in ideology to prevent that. The thing is, that societies are all one boat. Each is a closed system, and this is sort of an oxymoron because all systems are closed; but if suffering is not general, then it is more extreme at one end so it can be less on another. It is not that this is not fair that offends me, but that it is destructive of the society. Sooner or later division means weakness that invites defeat from outside or revolution from within.

I don't think you grasp socialism in the least. Honors and wealth will always flow in society. If a society is to function as it should, without an expiration date, then the society should encourage innovation, and invention with rewards, but it should constantly work to achieve justice and make wealth general. Wealth does not have to become hereditary where it will become divisive. Rather, society should tax wealth while the owners are alive and redistribute wealth upon the death of its owner. Socialism is the government of resources and industry. Since these govern us if we do not govern them, we must control them as an essential factor in the quality of our environment.
 
krazy kaju
 
Reply Sun 30 Dec, 2007 11:02 pm
@Fido,
Fido wrote:
None sense. Everybody suffers, and there is nothing in ideology to prevent that. The thing is, that societies are all one boat. Each is a closed system, and this is sort of an oxymoron because all systems are closed; but if suffering is not general, then it is more extreme at one end so it can be less on another. It is not that this is not fair that offends me, but that it is destructive of the society. Sooner or later division means weakness that invites defeat from outside or revolution from within.


*sighs*

Do you even know anything about ethics?

Utilitarianism is the ethical theory any action which increases the utility/happiness/pleasure of the majority of society is an ethical action. An action which reduces the utility/happiness/pleasure of the majority is unethical.

Almost all political systems claim to fight for the majority. As already stated, socialists want to increase the utility of the poor and lower middle class by giving higher wages to workers, providing better housing, etc. Libertarians want to increase the utility of the middle and upper classes, as well as "the individual," by increasing the economic and social rights of the individual. I could provide an example for almost every political ideology that is not based on fanatical religion.

Quote:
I don't think you grasp socialism in the least. Honors and wealth will always flow in society. If a society is to function as it should, without an expiration date, then the society should encourage innovation, and invention with rewards, but it should constantly work to achieve justice and make wealth general. Wealth does not have to become hereditary where it will become divisive. Rather, society should tax wealth while the owners are alive and redistribute wealth upon the death of its owner. Socialism is the government of resources and industry. Since these govern us if we do not govern them, we must control them as an essential factor in the quality of our environment.


I honestly don't care what "you think" about my knowledge of socialism or of how society should be organized.

And considering that my family lived in a socialistic nation, I do believe I 'grasp' what it is. I've studied socialist, communist, and anarchist thought quite extensively for "the average Joe." I'm more than well acquainted with left wing theories.

I was simply using socialism as an example of a utilitarian ideology.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 30 Dec, 2007 11:56 pm
@krazy kaju,
Just to add some clarification: libertarianism has absolutely no interest in the well being of one class of people as compared to another. They do not seek "to increase the utility of the middle and upper classes". Libertarianism is concerned with the individual's rights, utilitarianism is concerned with the greatest happiness of all.

Under utilitarianism, it would be justified to ignore the rights of one individual, to make happier two individuals. Completely contrary to libertarianism.
 
Fido
 
Reply Mon 31 Dec, 2007 05:56 am
@krazy kaju,
krazy kaju wrote:
*sighs*

Do you even know anything about ethics?


Sure, I know the difference between Ethics and Morals. It is kind of like the difference between pagans and heathens. How about you? Do they got any ethics there in da mitten.
Quote:

Utilitarianism is the ethical theory any action which increases the utility/happiness/pleasure of the majority of society is an ethical action. An action which reduces the utility/happiness/pleasure of the majority is unethical.

So what? Am I supposed to deny our common humanity for the sake of a majority? Majorities are what is wrong with our society. When people think they can run others on the basis of a simple majority the society can go to hell by halves. Right now, over fifty percent are secure, happy, educated, meditated, and medicated. What about the rest? The majority can feed on the misery of the minority, and even when that minority is effectively erased, there will be another minority, and the process will continue. If you are looking for an everybody solution then include me in.
Quote:

Almost all political systems claim to fight for the majority. As already stated, socialists want to increase the utility of the poor and lower middle class by giving higher wages to workers, providing better housing, etc. Libertarians want to increase the utility of the middle and upper classes, as well as "the individual," by increasing the economic and social rights of the individual. I could provide an example for almost every political ideology that is not based on fanatical religion.

Sir, I grew up on socialism. SLP socialism, and I would suggest you have your facts wrong. Socialist look for a democracy governing industry. Since industry rules our lives we must rule it. What does economic anarchy gain for any society but poverty, misery, waste, and war?
Quote:



I honestly don't care what "you think" about my knowledge of socialism or of how society should be organized.

Well, if you are honest there is hope. Have you read das Capital?
Quote:

And considering that my family lived in a socialistic nation, I do believe I 'grasp' what it is. I've studied socialist, communist, and anarchist thought quite extensively for "the average Joe." I'm more than well acquainted with left wing theories.
There are no socialist nations. There are socialistic nations. It is like calling us a democracy. We are not. We are democratic. We lean toward democracy. Some countries lean toward socialism.

Quote:

I was simply using socialism as an example of a utilitarian ideology.

Socialism as a theory may seem like an ideology. Since all peoples every where came out of some form of socialism as the first organization of society, what every socialist wants to do is to recreate the past in the future. Part of the problem with this plan is that when socialism was the only form of social organization it was very much forced upon people. The level of technology was low, and enemies everywhere required of each a great deal of social control. Those who believe mankind in his so called natural state was more free are wrong. Primitives are and were much more constrained in their behavior. This did not stop them from being happy or being human. But the facts were that no one had any choice in the matter. Increased technology and wide spread law has reduced the need for socialism and all forms of cooperative efforts. The survival that once depended upon every person working together for a common goal has been assured withthe concentrated labor of only a portion of the people. So, where is the need for socialism? Think about getting any part of the people to endure socialism without their recognizing the need for it. Shall we do it for justice? If I have mine then your justice is your lookout. Shall we have it to curb waste. As long as we cannot walk accross the ocean on waste, why the worry? We will have socialism; when we have no choice. When the waste becomes too great. When the energy runs out. When to keep the economy every right is destroyed. When there becomes only masters and slaves. That is when we will have socialism; when the people consent. It cannot be forced.
 
krazy kaju
 
Reply Mon 31 Dec, 2007 12:37 pm
@Fido,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Just to add some clarification: libertarianism has absolutely no interest in the well being of one class of people as compared to another. They do not seek "to increase the utility of the middle and upper classes". Libertarianism is concerned with the individual's rights, utilitarianism is concerned with the greatest happiness of all.

Under utilitarianism, it would be justified to ignore the rights of one individual, to make happier two individuals. Completely contrary to libertarianism.


Not quite true.

Libertarians recognize that there would still be a 'lower class' which would necessarily suffer more than the rest of society.

You are right, there is a strong emphasis on individual rights, and in libertarianism you cannot simply ignore the rights of one person, but there still are economic/social 'losers' and 'winners'.

Fido wrote:
Sure, I know the difference between Ethics and Morals. It is kind of like the difference between pagans and heathens. How about you? Do they got any ethics there in da mitten.


Do you know the difference between Kant's Categorical Imperative, Hedonism, Utilitarianism, Moral Subjectivism, Nihilism, and Existentialism?

That's what this thread is about.

Quote:
So what? Am I supposed to deny our common humanity for the sake of a majority? Majorities are what is wrong with our society. When people think they can run others on the basis of a simple majority the society can go to hell by halves. Right now, over fifty percent are secure, happy, educated, meditated, and medicated. What about the rest? The majority can feed on the misery of the minority, and even when that minority is effectively erased, there will be another minority, and the process will continue. If you are looking for an everybody solution then include me in.


There is no economic system which has shown to effectively eliminate all misery and to increase pleasure for all.

No non-religious ideology claims to be fighting for the good of all - there will always be the losers who won't get as much 'pleasure' as they would in a different economic system. These losers might be the bourgeoisie in far-left economic systems or they may be the lower classes in liberal (in the traditional sense) societies.

Quote:
Sir, I grew up on socialism. SLP socialism, and I would suggest you have your facts wrong. Socialist look for a democracy governing industry. Since industry rules our lives we must rule it. What does economic anarchy gain for any society but poverty, misery, waste, and war?


Socialism, in its traditional sense, is a transitional form from either feudalism or primitive capitalism to communism. Of course, this is the view of only communists, whether they be Marxists, Leninists, Stalinists, or others. Other far-left wingers who are "socialist" do not believe in the "transitional state," but believe that socialism should be a permanent economic state.

Either way, both groups view socialism as an economic theory where capital is owned collectively "by the people," which usually means via a government (whether it be elected fairly or not).

What you're talking about sounds more like syndicalism (democratic control of industries) than socialism.

Either way, both systems are utilitarian. Both seek the increased pleasure of the majority.

Quote:
Well, if you are honest there is hope. Have you read das Capital?


I've read most of it, but never all of it.

Quote:
There are no socialist nations. There are socialistic nations. It is like calling us a democracy. We are not. We are democratic. We lean toward democracy. Some countries lean toward socialism.


Semantics. :rolleyes:

Quote:
Socialism as a theory may seem like an ideology. Since all peoples every where came out of some form of socialism as the first organization of society, what every socialist wants to do is to recreate the past in the future. Part of the problem with this plan is that when socialism was the only form of social organization it was very much forced upon people. The level of technology was low, and enemies everywhere required of each a great deal of social control. Those who believe mankind in his so called natural state was more free are wrong. Primitives are and were much more constrained in their behavior. This did not stop them from being happy or being human. But the facts were that no one had any choice in the matter. Increased technology and wide spread law has reduced the need for socialism and all forms of cooperative efforts. The survival that once depended upon every person working together for a common goal has been assured withthe concentrated labor of only a portion of the people. So, where is the need for socialism? Think about getting any part of the people to endure socialism without their recognizing the need for it. Shall we do it for justice? If I have mine then your justice is your lookout. Shall we have it to curb waste. As long as we cannot walk accross the ocean on waste, why the worry? We will have socialism; when we have no choice. When the waste becomes too great. When the energy runs out. When to keep the economy every right is destroyed. When there becomes only masters and slaves. That is when we will have socialism; when the people consent. It cannot be forced.


For the person asking me if I read Das Kapital, you don't show very much knowledge of economic/social history, as written by Marx.

Tribal societies/primitive 'communism' -> slave societies -> feudal societies -> capitalism -> communism

As for your economic banter... I never argued for or against socialism.

I was simply using it as an example of a utilitarian ideology, which is definitely is.
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Mon 31 Dec, 2007 12:40 pm
@krazy kaju,
Quote:

Originally Posted by Fido http://www.philosophyforum.com/forum/images/buttons/viewpost.gif
Sure, I know the difference between Ethics and Morals.
[/I]

Can someone explain the difference to me please.
 
Fido
 
Reply Mon 31 Dec, 2007 02:08 pm
@de Silentio,
de Silentio wrote:
[/i]

Can someone explain the difference to me please.

It is a difference of language, from Greek to Latin, with Morals being a coined word, and, if you insist, I can tell you who coined it, to mean Ethics. The difference between pagan and Heathen is the same, with one word from Italy and the other from England. It seems the country folk in both lands were the last to convert to Christianity as their old gods answered their prayers better that the new God. As in our land, the country folks are the most conservative, and their God is most bountiful and giving.
 
krazy kaju
 
Reply Mon 31 Dec, 2007 04:05 pm
@krazy kaju,
In other words, they mean the same thing.
 
Fido
 
Reply Mon 31 Dec, 2007 05:19 pm
@krazy kaju,
krazy kaju wrote:
In other words, they mean the same thing.

Ya, not much difference. Kind of like what separates a wise man from a fool, as Charlemange asked of one of his Scots.

It could be that Ethics has more implications than the common use of morality. Then again, what is not physical is moral, which is to say spiritual. To arrive at moral truth is like weighing twigs in a flood, while physical truth is what it is and is never moral. People are moral in a physical world.
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Mon 31 Dec, 2007 07:19 pm
@krazy kaju,
Oh, I actually thought there might be a difference, so I tried to reason out what that difference would be, and this is what I came up with:

Ethics are an objective statement of beliefs about the right thing to do.

Morals are a subjective statement of beliefs about the right thing to do.

The difference being that Morals, more or less, are the way one person interprets Ethics. The word 'morals' itself seems to to have a possesive conotation, I don't know why.

But, if you all say they are the same, it sounds good to me.

-----

Fido, if you don't mind, I would like to know who coined the term. Also, as a Michigander myself, 'da' is typically meant to infer that someone is from the UP, which is the not the mitten part of Michigan. Smile (That was typed in Jest!)
 
Fido
 
Reply Mon 31 Dec, 2007 09:25 pm
@de Silentio,
de Silentio wrote:
Oh, I actually thought there might be a difference, so I tried to reason out what that difference would be, and this is what I came up with:

Ethics are an objective statement of beliefs about the right thing to do.

Morals are a subjective statement of beliefs about the right thing to do.

The difference being that Morals, more or less, are the way one person interprets Ethics. The word 'morals' itself seems to to have a possesive conotation, I don't know why.

But, if you all say they are the same, it sounds good to me.

-----

Fido, if you don't mind, I would like to know who coined the term. Also, as a Michigander myself, 'da' is typically meant to infer that someone is from the UP, which is the not the mitten part of Michigan. Smile (That was typed in Jest!)

According to Wayne A. Meeks in The Origins of Christian Morality; the first two centuries, says that Cicero coined the term to translate ethics from the Greek. He goes on to say: "But in common speech there is often a nuance of difference on which I want to capitalize in order to make a particular point. Some moral philosophers also distinguish between the two, but not always in the same way, not usually for the purpose I have in view. I take ethics in the sense of reflexive, second level activity: it is morality rendered self-conscious; it asks about the logic of social discourse, and actions, about the grounds for judgement, about the anatomy of duty, or the roots and structure of virtue. It is thus as the Oxford English dictionary has it, "the science of morality." Morality on the other hand, names a dimension of life. a pervasive and, often, only partly conscious set of value laden dispositions, inclinations, attitudes, and habits."

Now, I hate to hand you this in defense of your position, as it does have some validity. There is no science of morality, unless one considers philosophy as a whole as that. To try to rationalize about anything that cannot be objectively measured is a heroic sort of task since, perhaps, our lives and futures may depend upon them. While I could agree with much of Meeks' conclusion regarding ethics, you might consider that ethics in its natural state was all that morality is, and that is: a subconscious, ingrained, standard of behavior based upon relationships. The difficulty we have with both ethics and morality is, that try as we might, they cannot be reduced to a formulation of behavior, normative, prescriptive, or proscriptive. If the feeling is not there, if one does not feel a relationship with that other one -actions are acted upon, then there is neither ethical nor moral considerations. How is the weather there?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 1 Jan, 2008 11:13 am
@Fido,
Quote:
Not quite true.

Libertarians recognize that there would still be a 'lower class' which would necessarily suffer more than the rest of society.

You are right, there is a strong emphasis on individual rights, and in libertarianism you cannot simply ignore the rights of one person, but there still are economic/social 'losers' and 'winners'.


Quite true, actually. A libertarian might mention that they think their system will produce the greatest amount of happiness, but even if the opposite were true, none of the libertarian's arguments are done any damage. Libertarianism simply has no basis in utilitarianism. I'm not sure what libertarian literature you have read. Of everything I've read, nowhere are utilitarian arguments used.

At best, it seems, you might try to argue that Bentham's influence on prison reform and utilitarianism represents some sort of connection. Even then; however, Bentham is, at best, an historical note. Again, the libertarian does not use utilitarian arguments. At least not in anything I have ever encountered. If you have some literature that suggests otherwise, I'm most interested.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 1 Jan, 2008 11:20 am
@Didymos Thomas,
As for ethics and morals, we could introduce a number of differences. David Hume opens his Enquiry with "Moral philosophy, or the science of human nature". This use of "moral" is much broader than what we generally use "Ethics" to mean.

With respect to the topic of this thread, I would suggest we take them to mean the same thing. I recall talking to a Danish student. He said that the varied uses of "moral" and "ethical" confuse him - in Danish, both words are translated to one Danish term.
 
 

 
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