Altruism

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Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 6 May, 2008 11:51 am
@Pessimist,
So your criticism of altruism is simply that you think people advancing altruism do so for selfish reasons?
 
Pessimist
 
Reply Tue 6 May, 2008 12:11 pm
@Pessimist,
Quote:

You did read my previous comments, right? The fact that that violence and inequality exists is exactly the value of altruism - those abuses are the result of selfishness. Altruism is not a distraction, it's an attempt to overcome the rampant selfishness that is destroying us. Altruism is the refusal to be distracted from the real problems of the world; altruism is an attempt to address those problems and correct them. We call this ethics.
If man is so seemingly moral, ethical and altruistic one would think that no violence would exist yet clearly it does.

Yet since such things do exist could it be that man is not these things at all?

A paradox.............So much for moral and ethical innateness.

Quote:

altruism is an attempt to address those problems and correct them. We call this ethics.
In a post-modern world everything is natural.

There is no such thing as somthing being unnatural therefore how can somthing need correcting?

Didymos Thomas wrote:
So your criticism of altruism is simply that you think people advancing altruism do so for selfish reasons?


Yes that is my position.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 6 May, 2008 12:32 pm
@Pessimist,
Quote:
If man is so seemingly moral, ethical and altruistic one would think that no violence would exist yet clearly it does.

Yet since such things do exist could it be that man is not these things at all?

A paradox.............So much for moral and ethical innateness.


This is no paradox - Again, you missed the point. Altruism isn't the notion that people are selfless, it's that people should be selfless as selfishness causes all of those terrible problems.

Quote:
In a post-modern world everything is natural.

There is no such thing as somthing being unnatural therefore how can somthing need correcting?


Fly spagetti monsters are, as far as I know, unnatural.

In any event, just because something is natural does not mean that something is morally sound. Humans kill other humans, naturally, but killing other humans is harmful to the species, unnecessary and therefore immoral (for the most part).

Quote:
Yes that is my position.


Then your argument is bunk. sorry to be so blunt.

To criticize altruism by claiming that altruists are in reality selfish is to make assumptions you cannot support. How can you possibly know that all altruists advance altruism for selfish reasons?

Again, unless you can divine the motivations of every single individual, you have no case.
 
Pessimist
 
Reply Tue 6 May, 2008 01:43 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
This is no paradox - Again, you missed the point. Altruism isn't the notion that people are selfless, it's that people should be selfless as selfishness causes all of those terrible problems.



Fly spagetti monsters are, as far as I know, unnatural.

In any event, just because something is natural does not mean that something is morally sound. Humans kill other humans, naturally, but killing other humans is harmful to the species, unnecessary and therefore immoral (for the most part).



Then your argument is bunk. sorry to be so blunt.

To criticize altruism by claiming that altruists are in reality selfish is to make assumptions you cannot support. How can you possibly know that all altruists advance altruism for selfish reasons?

Again, unless you can divine the motivations of every single individual, you have no case.


Quote:
This is no paradox - Again, you missed the point. Altruism isn't the notion that people are selfless, it's that people should be selfless as selfishness causes all of those terrible problems.


People should do nothing they don't want to.

All you have is preference, perspective and aesthetics in your arguement.

There is no universal moral imperative or dilemma.

What you describe is merely figments of the imagination.

I believe your arguement is sinking.

Quote:

Fly spagetti monsters are, as far as I know, unnatural.



And yet unprovable things-in-themselves through actions are not.

Ironic............

Where is your ghost of the machine for moral actions located at?

Quote:

In any event, just because something is natural does not mean that something is morally sound.


And what is morality beyond likes and dislikes?

Why should I even care about other people's likes or dislikes?

Why should it matter?

Is not our existence one of competition?

Quote:

Humans kill other humans, naturally, but killing other humans is harmful to the species, unnecessary and therefore immoral (for the most part).


And yet toleration of individuals within your own species at the expense of your own survival is harmful to the self preservation of your own self.

( Or at the very least can be.)

So what?

Quote:

Unnecessary


You have no support for this line of thinking.

Quote:
to make assumptions you cannot support. How can you possibly know that all altruists advance altruism for selfish reasons?


Whatever.

I have already state that unconditional actions do no exist as every action has conditions which envelops through selfishness.

All actions are also acted out revolving around the self who is the producer of them which only expresses a selfish inclination.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 6 May, 2008 02:36 pm
@Pessimist,
Quote:
People should do nothing they don't want to.


Why? What if I want to slaughter small children for fun?

Quote:
All you have is preference, perspective and aesthetics in your arguement.

There is no universal moral imperative or dilemma.

What you describe is merely figments of the imagination.

I believe your arguement is sinking.


I've not argued for a universal moral imperative. But there is a delima that we face every moment - how are we to act, especially with other humans?

Altruism suggests that we should act selflessly. That other people exist is not a figment of the imagination. That selfish motivation causes great abuse in the course of human interaction is not a figment of the imagination.

Quote:
And yet unprovable things-in-themselves through actions are not.


Depends on the context. It is not unnatural for humans to devise them, but it is obviously unnatural for them to be shown to exist.

Which is the point. Arguing that something is natural and therefore justified is incoherent if we define natural as anything event in reality.

Quote:
Where is your ghost of the machine for moral actions located at?


There isn't one that I'm aware of.

Quote:
And what is morality beyond likes and dislikes?


An endeavor to be a decent human being. The most basic idea being to promote human happiness. There are many different approaches to promoting human happiness, but none of them rely on likes and dislikes. Generally, they try to determine the best way for humans to inform their actions as to best promote human happiness.

Quote:
Why should I even care about other people's likes or dislikes?


Depends on the person, I suppose. But if you mean something like 'why should I care about being moral?' then the answer is happiness. We might disagree about the pursuit of happiness, but if we agree that we should pursue happiness then we agree that morality should be a concern.

Quote:
Why should it matter?

Is not our existence one of competition?


Often times our existence is competition. Some of that competition is healthy, some of that competition (the sort I think you mean) becomes mired by selfinterest and leads to the abuse of human kind.

Quote:
And yet toleration of individuals within your own species at the expense of your own survival is harmful to the self preservation of your own self.

( Or at the very least can be.)

So what?


The initial point was that something being natural does not equate to that something being okay. That natural events can be harmful.

Quote:
You have no support for this line of thinking.


What line of thinking? That killing other humans is unnecessary? In the original context, it doesn't matter so long as there are at least some cases where killing another human would be unnecessary.
However, aside from 'man has a gun to your head' scenario's I would argue that killing other humans is unnecessary. Even if the result is that you might perish. After all, you are quick to proclaim the meaninglessness of life - why then do you value your life so much?

Quote:
Whatever.

I have already state that unconditional actions do no exist as every action has conditions which envelops through selfishness.


Unconditional actions do not exist, you are right about that.

That the conditions surrounding an action are influenced by selfishness does not mean that the action is selfish. I may have found myself in a terrible mess because of my selfishness, and still be capable of sacrifice for the sake of another.

Selfish/selfless refers to the agent's motivation. Only boldface arrogance can honestly maintain that no one can act for the sake of another. You may not think they should, but that such a thing is impossible is impossible to prove.

Quote:
All actions are also acted out revolving around the self who is the producer of them which only expresses a selfish inclination.


Depends on how you define "self". The term is used in different ways by different people. If you don't mind, could you give us a definition of how you use the term here so as to avoid confusion?
 
Aedes
 
Reply Tue 6 May, 2008 02:55 pm
@Pessimist,
Altruism isn't a belief system -- it's a behavior that is based on empathy, and empathy is largely an emotion.

But Pessimist, if you really want to explore this, you have to read Genealogy of Morals by Nietzsche. He specifically attacks altruism for about 1/3 of the text.

He is attacking it not so much in its own right, but because altruism is seen as a universal good by a Christian culture, whereas his project was to reject inherited moral dogma.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Wed 7 May, 2008 01:21 am
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Altruism isn't a belief system -- it's a behavior that is based on empathy, and empathy is largely an emotion.

But Pessimist, if you really want to explore this, you have to read Genealogy of Morals by Nietzsche. He specifically attacks altruism for about 1/3 of the text.

He is attacking it not so much in its own right, but because altruism is seen as a universal good by a Christian culture, whereas his project was to reject inherited moral dogma.
 
de budding
 
Reply Wed 7 May, 2008 11:11 am
@Pessimist,
Pessimist, you make me feel like a scientist at a creationism convention Razz.
You seem too eager to engage in a pointless back and forth for me to want to answer all your cherry picks. Let's not talk past each other.

Is the brunt of your critique based on a differentiating perspective of how 'benefit' should be defined? I assumed; yes, social status, affection, respect, satisfaction etc. Could be the motives for many actions, but do most people consciously have enough foresight and self awareness to be able to comprehend- in the way you suggest, the benefits of visiting a relative with Alzheimer's whom has no money to leave you in their will and whom will completely forget you exists once you leave? I think there are other factors here on display, like the aforementioned moral obligations.

I can give an example of my moral obligations as a fan of existentialism; I have fun living for the situation, only erecting my moral structure on which to base a decision until the very last minute. If my moral structure is what makes my decisions and not 'me' and my moral structure is always based on previous convictions (so evolving but not dynamic) then you'd have to appeal to my moral structures to find motives.
And then you would be delving into complex territory that I would struggle to articulate words of let alone explain.

So I guess this could be likened to a subconscious or automatic decision, like that of jumping on a plane and flying to visit a parent who has suffered a sudden heart attack or something, without even considering ringing work to let them know your out of town.

My question to you is; how would you judge the 'automatic' actions described above, especially if the reflex seems taught towards selflessness? Without out any premeditation and such dedication is there not any way that some one could be qualified as altruistic?

Dan.

 
 

 
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