Collective benefit: A new principle of ethic

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Reply Thu 9 Jul, 2009 04:14 am
Collective benefit: A new principle of ethic


Morality is a term full of argument. It may be an approving word for somebody but a disapproving word for the other. It refers to the principles concerning right and wrong or good and bad behaviour. Neutrally speaking, no matter you are conservative or liberalist, nobody can deny the importance of having such a principle. So what is its importance (functionary)? And more importantly, why we should obey the morality?

In the past, there are three main answers. Utilitarianism said that morality is for "greatest happiness". Deontology said that obeying morality is our duty. Intuitionism said that we use our "moral intuition" (an innate sense of judging goodness) to judge whether something is "morally" right. But all of them have some defects (that's the theory that conservative Protestant and Catholic based upon). If morality is for the greatest happiness only, if a person get happiness by raping, should raping be morally correct? Absolutely not. Deontological morality doesn't care of the consequence but the doer's intention. But it lacks a rational explanation. Such theory suggests you are wrong just because your intention is wrong. But why the intention is wrong? For example, raping is wrong, but if we said it is wrong only due to the false of intention, then the fundamental original intention-sexual desire is wrong. That's the problem. So do intuitionism.

For me, personally I tend to the first answer. Utilitarianism is a kind of theological answer for morality; it tries to explain the morality on a rational way. But the theory of "happiness" is not good enough. To solve the problem of "selfish happiness" (as shown in paragraph 2), we may use "collective happiness" instead. Raping may provide the doer happiness but the victim pains. Collective happiness would not tolerant raping since it offends somebody happiness. Generally speaking, collective happiness should be share among everybody in a society.

But the theory of happiness still has a problem: in fact we do something morally good is not for happiness directly. If a girl who is a sexual abuser love to abuse her boy friend and her boy friend love to be abused, are they doing something morally good? So this is not a good explanation.

Kant, a famous philosophy studying deeply in ethic, suggests a more complicated reasoning method for morality. Kant said that our actions are based upon our "maxims". Let a person's maxim is "to steal something if I cannot afford it". As a maxim, this can only be right to do is everyone could do it. However, not everybody can. If all of us keep on stealing, the concepts of owning disappear. That's sound reasonable, but complicated. The "doctrines" of morality is uncountable; if every rule must be analysed via reasoning, it would be very complicated. Actually the morality nowadays, for example the conservative view that sexual intercourse outside of marriage is unmoral, might be obtained by those conservatives without valid reasoning (that's common in some Chinese conservative church =,="). Can we have a simpler theological answer?

Based upon the utilitarianism, my new theory has made some change. But I won't use the term "morality", since in fact the morality of our society nowadays doesn't seem to be established by reasoning. Even it is, the obtainers, such as many conservative Protestant and Catholic, don't understand them by reasoning. Instead I would use the term "ethic", since it refers to a more systematic "moral" principle establishing via reasoning.

Instead of happiness, I think the original reason of the establishment of ethic is to protect the "collective benefit". But what is Collective benefit? Collective benefit refers to a common benefit shared by everybody in a society or a group. For example, "Striving for the general election of Chief executive of Hong Kong" is a collective benefit for Hong Kongers. All "morality", I mean ethic, should protect the collective benefit of everyone in a particular group. Before using the Collective benefit, we need to use Kant's reasoning to prove that the ethical theory of the collective benefit is true. Let's take "raping" as an example:

Prove: Raping is wrong
Proof:
(Method of Apagoge) Let raping is right.

1. Let a rapist obtains benefit via raping. (Hypothesis)
2. But his/ her victim's benefit would be offended then.
3. Raping is correct, so it is right for the rapist to rape a victim.
4. Contrarily, the victim, or the others, based upon the principle of equality, they can rape that rapist, too.
5. But then the rapist's benefit would be offended, contrary to his/ her own purpose of obtaining benefit. Contradictory!!
6. Therefore raping is wrong
Q.E.D.

That's why raping is wrong via a reasoning method similar to Kant's. But it is rather complicated. To simplify the theory, we can use the term of "collective benefit" directly. Notice the process from no. 3 to no. 5. A contradiction appears as the rapist cannot obtain benefit as he or she expected. Nobody wish their benefit to be offended. And this is one of the collective benefits: protecting everyone benefit. Mathematically speaking, it can be expressed as:

Let individual benefit: i, collective benefit: c, common element: k, other element: a
∵c = k (definition)



Notice the formula "". It suggests that to achieve the common benefit, we should control our own benefit. But how far should we control it? Do we need to deny all benefit that is not related to the collective benefit? No. As long as it doesn't against the collective benefit, our individual benefit should not be suppressed. For example, raping is against the collective benefit, so it should be banned. But masturbation doesn't. So it is okay for us to masturbate, based upon the principle of collective benefit.

However, how about some action that is not accepted by the others except the doer and the taker? If a girl is sadism and her boy friend is masochism. Both of them enjoy the process of sexual abuse (obtaining benefit). Is such a sexual abuse morally right? No, as the majority of the society doesn't share the same benefit. It's still possible if that sadism girl do so to the other that is not masochism. Therefore such an action is still wrong.

It is much easy to understand the real meaning of ethic via the theory of collective benefit than reasoning; as we can easily know whether our action is acceptable or not if the others do the same action to us. All we need is only to imagine ourselves to be the other sides. That's should be the unique principle of ethic.

The "morality" in our society nowadays is full of problems. Many of them are based upon several reasons, though, only a few people know the reason behind. It is meaningless to tell a child that lying is wrong as God dislike it. A child may not understand a complicated reasoning, so we should use the theory of collective benefit to explain: once he or she imagines what he or she feels like if the other tells lie to him or her, he or she will understand the problem of lying. A few so-called "morality", especially many "sexual morality", such as "open marriage is unacceptable", "pornography should be banned", "prostitution should be banned", according to the principle of collective benefit, has no problem at all.

As a Protestant, I have to warn those conservative so-called "Christian": God's wills must be based upon reason, as he is rational. We should not just obey a principle of morality without thinking about the reason. Reasoning for every doctrines would be difficult, of course, so we can use the theory of the collective benefit to judge whether an action is acceptable if somebody do it to me. Ethic is important for the humanity but a morality based upon "feeling" is totally meaningless.

Patriarch
9th July, 2009
 
dawoel
 
Reply Thu 9 Jul, 2009 06:51 am
@patriarch,
Interesting,
Stuff I agree with:
- Morality is about behaviour
- The principle is important
- Utilitarianism has the issue of happiness at expense of others
- Deontology forgets the consequences (my jury is out on if that is a bad thing, but no I'm not a deontologist)
- I like your proof it's very clever

Questions:
- Would you really say deontology has no rational foundation?
- What about inaction? For, if an old lady is being attacked in the street what do you do? You have no benefit to gain by wading in their most likely, but your not acting will be more counter beneficial to her, thus you would help...But! At the same time you are masterbating casually thinking that your actions are causing no harm (which is true) you could be using that time to go to the charity places hence your inaction is counter beneficial to all those people who could use 50p of your money to feed themselves. I'm not convinced that "not" spending all your time and money on charity is immoral and I have my reasons why but I'd like to know yours in greater clarity.
- How do you know God is rational? (I'm guessing there is some philosophical reason, what is it?)
- As a protestant, how do you go about finding out what God's collective benefit wishes are? For, as a rational being I assume that as collective benefit seems to be the most rational (at least this is the idea I assume?) that that is the style in which God manages his/her/its ethics...(I hate assigning gender to a god where there are no goddesses and is thus not in need of a gender). Do you find them through biblical study (which can be dodgy due to it being highly likely not all of the book is accurate if any of it [the later is debatable]), do you use intuition? Which you said yourself is dodgy, or rationality? (WHich I think most wise choice for that is what you say god is)?
- Moving away from God & onto the matter at hand, How do you go about separating your approach to the need's of loved one's vs strangers, if at all? So For example given the choice between saving the life of a daughter or 3 strangers whom do you pick? (I save the daughter for a couple of reasons involving Loyalty & Responsiblity & debt but what would you do?)
- Do you, in this collective benefit theory, separate quality of benefit and quantitiy of benefit and if so how do you go about finding a balance between the two?

My ideas:
I like your theory, it covers most of what one ought to do I think. Of course, ought is a funny word, I usually define it as "what will make x most likely", and I define ethics as an inescapable result of our being a social species, the purpose of them being to recognise the fact that others exist and have needs and to assign or accept rules to act accordingly. It's all about teamwork in other words, you see it right across the animal kingdom. So for anyone to prosper in a social environment there are rules that they must obey, collective benefit seems like a plausible and workable set of rules I think. I personally use Virtue ethics artistole style, in that its we utilise character traits to achieve this group benefit, and for ourselves and our loved ones to floorish in this social environment. Stuff like compassion and courage and loyalty and patience go down well in the environment and such behaviour yields good results whereas bad behaviour (things that have too much or too little of these virtues) yields bad results, namely, being despised by people. Yes I said too much, the idea is to find a balance of your virtues for too much can go horribly wrong, too much courage is foolhardy, too much generosity is suffocation, too much compassion is patronising & too much patience wastes time. If you can find a balance though, you end up an "all-round-decent-human-being", naturally this is difficult, but the key is looking at things rationally and without bias, to see things as they really are and deceide how much of which virtues are most appropriate in this situation to yield the best results...

Those are my ideas, take them or leave them...
 
patriarch
 
Reply Thu 9 Jul, 2009 09:14 am
@patriarch,
Quote:
Would you really say deontology has no rational foundation?

They may have rational foundation, but not a completed ratiocination, as they ignore the consequence.

Quote:
What about inaction? For, if an old lady is being attacked in the street what do you do? You have no benefit to gain by wading in their most likely, but your not acting will be more counter beneficial to her, thus you would help...But! At the same time you are masterbating casually thinking that your actions are causing no harm (which is true) you could be using that time to go to the charity places hence your inaction is counter beneficial to all those people who could use 50p of your money to feed themselves. I'm not convinced that "not" spending all your time and money on charity is immoral and I have my reasons why but I'd like to know yours in greater clarity.

Mo tzu, an opposite philosopher against Confucius in ancient China (BC 4th century), knwon as the first (and maybe the unique one in the ancient China) utilitarianist and empiricist, can answer your question. He would think that even inaction offends your own benefit directly. You cannot obtain direct benefit by helping that old woman, but you can obtain many indirect benefits, such as good fame, good image in that old woman's eyes, applaud or feeling of pleasure.

More importantly, mo tzu tells us to care of other's benefit at the same time. As the theory of the collective benefit had said, "being attack" offend the collective benefit. If you were that old woman, what would you feel when you see a young man/ woman going by without even seeing you? So we still need to help her first. "Using the time to go to a charity place" can be done next time but you may only have one chance to help that woman.

Such a situation is similar to Jesus' analogy of a good Samarian. A priest and a levites pass through but none of them help the injury Jew man lying by the path as they are "going to the holy temple to work". Are they right?

Quote:
How do you know God is rational?

God is defined as the creator of the universe in Christianity, Jew and Islam. As the universe is arranged rationally (laws and great design exist in nature). So, if God exists, he must be rational so he can create the universe.

Quote:
As a protestant, how do you go about finding out what God's collective benefit wishes are? For, as a rational being I assume that as collective benefit seems to be the most rational (at least this is the idea I assume?) that that is the style in which God manages his/her/its ethics...(I hate assigning gender to a god where there are no goddesses and is thus not in need of a gender). Do you find them through biblical study (which can be dodgy due to it being highly likely not all of the book is accurate if any of it [the later is debatable]), do you use intuition? Which you said yourself is dodgy, or rationality? (WHich I think most wise choice for that is what you say god is)?

I'm rationality. Actually such theory has no biblical foundation at all, at least I have no intention in finding biblical or religious evidence. But I still believe in which bible is the truth, as bible has to be absolutely true if the Lord I believing in is absolutely onimpotent and rational. That's a cosequence based upon the hypothesis of the existence of God.(see my thesis in the philosophy of religion: "Hypothesis of religion")

p.s. Personally I would prefer calling God as "she" rather than "he", as it would be more appropriate in describing her "personality" of love. But I dare no to call "her" as "she" in my thesis, as I scare that those conservative so-called christian may take it as an evidence proving I'm heteorodox....

---------- Post added 07-09-2009 at 11:42 PM ----------

Quote:
- Moving away from God & onto the matter at hand, How do you go about separating your approach to the need's of loved one's vs strangers, if at all? So For example given the choice between saving the life of a daughter or 3 strangers whom do you pick? (I save the daughter for a couple of reasons involving Loyalty & Responsiblity & debt but what would you do?)

That's not the question about the collective benefit, as both of them need to be saved and they match the collective benefit, and they are equally urgent. That's the problem of personal choice. I, as many people, would save my daughter, due to love.

By the way love, family etc. can also be explained by "benefit". I love my daughter, thus saving her make me feel pleasure. Happiness is inclued in benefit. So it still match the theory of the collective benefit.

Quote:
Do you, in this collective benefit theory, separate quality of benefit and quantitiy of benefit and if so how do you go about finding a balance between the two?

Differcult question... the quality of benefit should be more important to the quantity of benefit, both for the individual one and the collective one, as a theological veiw. What we assert is not how many benefit we obtain but what benefit we obtain and how we obtain it. We need a brief calculation to predict whether it is "economical" to achieve a benefit by paying some cost. Of course too much calculation leads to no advance. Sometimes we still need to take a risk.

Quote:
I like your theory, it covers most of what one ought to do I think. Of course, ought is a funny word, I usually define it as "what will make x most likely", and I define ethics as an inescapable result of our being a social species, the purpose of them being to recognise the fact that others exist and have needs and to assign or accept rules to act accordingly. It's all about teamwork in other words, you see it right across the animal kingdom. So for anyone to prosper in a social environment there are rules that they must obey, collective benefit seems like a plausible and workable set of rules I think. I personally use Virtue ethics artistole style, in that its we utilise character traits to achieve this group benefit, and for ourselves and our loved ones to floorish in this social environment. Stuff like compassion and courage and loyalty and patience go down well in the environment and such behaviour yields good results whereas bad behaviour (things that have too much or too little of these virtues) yields bad results, namely, being despised by people. Yes I said too much, the idea is to find a balance of your virtues for too much can go horribly wrong, too much courage is foolhardy, too much generosity is suffocation, too much compassion is patronising & too much patience wastes time. If you can find a balance though, you end up an "all-round-decent-human-being", naturally this is difficult, but the key is looking at things rationally and without bias, to see things as they really are and deceide how much of which virtues are most appropriate in this situation to yield the best results...

Yes, to balance is very important. In many Chinese society, such as Hong Kong, are mainly seperated into two extreme views for moral standing points: extreme conservative (usually led by many so-called christian clergies, which make me feel shame! I think God may have the same feeling when she hear their repeating irrational nonsense... debate is meaningless for them as they repeat the same things all the time) and extreme liberalist (usually led by many atheist).

Both Confucius and Lao-tzu taught Chinese to take the middle course, but obviously we cannot when we met moral arguement......
 
SpaceChimp007
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 05:46 pm
@patriarch,
patriarch;76043 wrote:
Collective benefit: A new principle of ethic
So what is its importance (functionary)? And more importantly, why we should obey the morality?


Morality is important because it tells you how you should live your life if you want to live a long, happy life.

You should obey morality because a long, happy life is open to you, assuming your a fully functional human.

In other words, it is the all important bridge between is and ought.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 05:55 pm
@SpaceChimp007,
JS Mill specifically addresses the objection you bring against Utilitarianism in his famous tract on ethics. In doing so, he set himself apart from utilitarian hedonists (selfish happiness).

Besides, I cannot see much difference between Mill's morality and "collective benefit". 'Actions are right in proportion as they promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness' - Mill essentially argues that happiness is the ultimate benefit, thus his utilitarianism is interested in the collective benefit.
 
SpaceChimp007
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 07:02 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Utilitarianism is a union of hedonism and Christianity. The first teaches man to love pleasure; the second, to love his neighbor. The union consists in teaching man to love his neighbor's pleasure. To be exact, the Utilitarians teach that an action is moral if its result is to maximize pleasure among men in general. This theory holds that man's duty is to serve-according to a purely quantitative standard of value. He is to serve not the well-being of the nation or of the economic class, but "the greatest happiness of the greatest number," regardless of who comprise it in any given issue. As to one's own happiness, says [John Stuart] Mill, the individual must be "disinterested" and "strictly impartial"; he must remember that he is only one unit out of the dozens, or millions, of men affected by his actions. "All honor to those who can abnegate for themselves the personal enjoyment of life," says Mill, "when by such renunciation they contribute worthily to increase the amount of happiness in the world."

If you value your life and your right to pursue happiness, condemn Mill and every other utilitarian you come across.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 07:09 pm
@SpaceChimp007,
Mill distinguishes between sorts of happiness, and says that pleasure is a lesser sort as compared to, for example, appreciating fine literature. JS Mill also goes out of his way to distance his utilitarianism from that of Bentham, which, on a personal level, was hedonistic.

While I share your distaste for utilitarianism generally, I'm not the above assessment is quite fair to JS Mill's work.

You are very much correct about the Christian influence, though. Mill essentially argues that God is a utilitarian!
 
SpaceChimp007
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 07:24 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;76507 wrote:

While I share your distaste for utilitarianism generally, I'm not the above assessment is quite fair to JS Mill's work.


Briefly, are you a fan of Mill? If so, why?

I think he was a bad philosopher.
 
salima
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 07:37 pm
@SpaceChimp007,
SpaceChimp007;76505 wrote:
If you value your life and your right to pursue happiness, condemn Mill and every other utilitarian you come across.


and if we value other individual or group's lives as much as our own, some moreso, and we find happiness by acting within those parameters?

the 'right to happiness' has to have some qualifications. it cannot be considered unconditional. and to value one's own life above all others is an animal instinct which can be overcome by human beings. and it does not necessarily follow that one who does so believes his own life to be worthless.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 07:40 pm
@SpaceChimp007,
Sure, I appreciate his subtlety and ability to deliver rather complex arguments succinctly, though I disagree with him.

I'm not sure how he was a bad philosopher.
 
SpaceChimp007
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 07:52 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;76513 wrote:
Sure, I appreciate his subtlety and ability to deliver rather complex arguments succinctly, though I disagree with him.

I'm not sure how he was a bad philosopher.


I would say he was a bad philosopher because I think part of a philosopher's job is to provide people with the standard by which they are to choose their goals and values. According to Mill, I'm worthy of high moral praise if I'm self-sacrificial, and I am only able to live because I produce things for everyone, which, in the aggregate, makes everyone better off.

I agree he was an eloquent writer, but that's not how I judge someone as a philosopher. I don't like the philosophy of people when I disagree with them.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 07:59 pm
@SpaceChimp007,
SpaceChimp007;76517 wrote:
I would say he was a bad philosopher because I think part of a philosopher's job is to provide people with the standard by which they are to choose their goals and values.


Isn't this precisely what Mill set out to accomplish? A clear, universal standard of ethics? Whether or not one believes Mill succeeded in this goal is another matter: the man seems to have given it a go.

SpaceChimp007;76517 wrote:
According to Mill, I'm worthy of high moral praise if I'm self-sacrificial, and I am only able to live because I produce things for everyone, which, in the aggregate, makes everyone better off.


I do not see how this alone sets Mill as a failure (in the sense that a philosopher should provide people with the standard you mention).

SpaceChimp007;76517 wrote:
I agree he was an eloquent writer, but that's not how I judge someone as a philosopher.


Nor do I judge a philosopher solely on his or her literary flair; however, Mill also manages to provide a rather sophisticated moral philosophy.

SpaceChimp007;76517 wrote:
I don't like the philosophy of people when I disagree with them.


I may not like a philosophy with which I disagree, but I can still appreciate the philosophy's ingenuity, insight, ect while maintaining a disagreement. And I certainly enjoy even philosophy with which I disagree. Otherwise, I would not make a study out of the subject at all.
 
SpaceChimp007
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 08:04 pm
@salima,
salima;76512 wrote:
and if we value other individual or group's lives as much as our own, some moreso, and we find happiness by acting within those parameters?

the 'right to happiness' has to have some qualifications. it cannot be considered unconditional. and to value one's own life above all others is an animal instinct which can be overcome by human beings. and it does not necessarily follow that one who does so believes his own life to be worthless.


I agree that others should be taken into the equation of calculating happiness and the ordering of values. There are some people whose lives I value a great deal, just like you. I should addI consider helping people I value to be done selfishly, not out of obligation or pity.

I never said 'right to happiness', I said right to pursue happiness. I don't think I have the right to marry you if it makes me happy, but I do have the right to pursue your hand in marriage, don't I? :flowers: This isn't Pakistan, though. You can refuse and pursue your happiness by telling me to get lost.

Assuming you meant right to pursue happiness, I think we're more or less in agreement. I would just add that I think people should consider the value they get out of helping when deciding on whether they call an act selfish or not, that's all. Dying to defend people you love is selfish. Dying to defend people you hate because you're told it's the moral thing to do is unselfish (and wrong).
 
patriarch
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 08:09 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;76470 wrote:
JS Mill specifically addresses the objection you bring against Utilitarianism in his famous tract on ethics. In doing so, he set himself apart from utilitarian hedonists (selfish happiness).

Besides, I cannot see much difference between Mill's morality and "collective benefit". 'Actions are right in proportion as they promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness' - Mill essentially argues that happiness is the ultimate benefit, thus his utilitarianism is interested in the collective benefit.

No, the Collective benefit is totally different from the happiness suggested by JS Mill. Happiness includes into collective benefit but collective benefit is not happiness. For example, if a girl is sadism and her boy friend is masochism, is it morally right for her to abuse her boy friend? According to the happiness, yes, as both of them share happiness. But according to the collective benefit, no! "Benefit" is not only related to what you want (desire). It also refers to what is good for you, for example your health. Both sadism and masochism are sickness, thus they are not good for people. More importantly, if they used to sexual abuse for a long time, once they meet other people who are not sadism or masochism, they may do the same thing and hurt the other's benefit, for example hurting their body.

Of course both of the theory are similar to each other, I admit. But I haven't copy anything from J.S. Mill directly; what my theory based upon is the Mo Tzu's philosophy, who is the first utilitarianist and empiricist and the most powerful Chinese philosopher in BC 3 century in objecting Confucius' ridiculous ethics. More importantly I combine the reasoning method from Kant but simplize it as a common law.
 
SpaceChimp007
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 08:21 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;76519 wrote:
Isn't this precisely what Mill set out to accomplish? A clear, universal standard of ethics? Whether or not one believes Mill succeeded in this goal is another matter: the man seems to have given it a go.

Nor do I judge a philosopher solely on his or her literary flair; however, Mill also manages to provide a rather sophisticated moral philosophy.

I may not like a philosophy with which I disagree, but I can still appreciate the philosophy's ingenuity, insight, ect while maintaining a disagreement. And I certainly enjoy even philosophy with which I disagree. Otherwise, I would not make a study out of the subject at all.


I can make my peace with this. I don't necessarily agree, but I think I respect and understand your argument. Fair enough, Thomas.

Regarding my standard by which I judge philosophers, and Mill's comments about such, I thought it made sense. Let me try to clarify it.

A philosopher should give people a proper ethical system by which to live by. Mill failed at this.

I want to feel proud of everything I accomplish in my life, not guilt for refusing to sacrifice more of my life to others.

I also want other people to have a principled moral defense of individual rights, rather than be subject to the whims of whoever happens to have the mythical "happiness calculator". Incidentally, I think On Liberty has been a horrible influence on a great many people.

Since Mill said feel no pride in producing for yourself, and individual rights are not moral absolutes but are contingent upon individuals producing wealth, he has failed to live up to giving people a proper ethical system by which to live by. Moreover, as opposed to whoever the hell he met when he was eleven who passed into history unnoticed, in my opinion Mill gave the world a grotesque philosophy.
 
patriarch
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 08:24 pm
@patriarch,
And by the way the theory of collective benefit doesn't pursuade people to self-sacrifice themselves necessarily. As I have asserted, to achieve the collective benefit is not to deny all individual benefits different from the collective benefit but only suppress those individual benefits against the collective benefit directly. What you need to sacritice is only some obviously selfish and unreasonable benefit, for example "rob the bank so as to get money". We are not Jesus Christ. Not everyone can sacrifice their lives for the others. Not only did many people had no intention for sacrification, but also many people actually have no "chance" to sacrifice their lieves for the others. Only a few people can do so.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 08:29 pm
@patriarch,
While I'm not sure I entirely agree with your assessment of those sexual predilections, even if we grant that they are "sicknesses", I have to disagree with your interpretation of JS Mill. Again, Mill's philosophy is not hedonism.

According to Mill, if those sexual predilections are disadvantageous to one's health, they would tend to produce the reverse of happiness, and are therefore not condoned by his version of utilitarianism, by his greatest happiness principle.

I'm vaguely familiar with Mohism, and there is clearly a strong strain of that in what you describe. It is a very interesting school of thought.

I am not trying to argue that your philosophy here is exactly Mill's utilitariaism, only that I think you have misinterpreted Mill by taking selfish happiness to be a problem - Mill's ethic is strongly in favor of self sacrifice for the greater good, or benefit, even.
 
salima
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 11:57 pm
@SpaceChimp007,
SpaceChimp007;76522 wrote:
I agree that others should be taken into the equation of calculating happiness and the ordering of values. There are some people whose lives I value a great deal, just like you. I should addI consider helping people I value to be done selfishly, not out of obligation or pity.

I never said 'right to happiness', I said right to pursue happiness. I don't think I have the right to marry you if it makes me happy, but I do have the right to pursue your hand in marriage, don't I? :flowers: This isn't Pakistan, though. You can refuse and pursue your happiness by telling me to get lost.

Assuming you meant right to pursue happiness, I think we're more or less in agreement. I would just add that I think people should consider the value they get out of helping when deciding on whether they call an act selfish or not, that's all. Dying to defend people you love is selfish. Dying to defend people you hate because you're told it's the moral thing to do is unselfish (and wrong).


you are correct in your assumption-i did indeed mean 'right to pursue happiness'. but my point was that also has to have qualifications. you may pursue someone with the idea of marriage or any other intention, good or bad, but if they refuse you do not have the right to try to force them in order to satisfy your pursuing your happiness. you didnt mean that, right?

and i too do believe it is often selfishness that inspires people to think of others. nor do i find asceticism to be admirable or ethical. the same with helping others whom you dislike, disdain, despise-it is more admirable to help them as well, assuming you can ascertain that the reason for your feeling towards them is only a matter of personal opinion rather than some ethical judgment. are there actually people who would not sacrifice their own happiness for someone they love? i mean sometimes, once in awhile, in certain instances, not all the time to the point of death...

it becomes another silly 'what if' question to try and portray. example: what if you saw someone drowning and you could throw them a rope and save their life without endangering yourself and if you didnt they were going to be eaten by sharks, but they happened to be an escaped serial killer or a convicted paedophile-what is the ethical thing to do? for some people, so many issues arise in the contemplation of the scenario that there couldnt be enough time to reason it out, so most likely gut feelings would take over and decide the course of action.

i dont see why we have to subscribe to someone's philosophy plan-that we must rigidly follow only what narrowly fits into the definition of one philosophy. otherwise we are no better off than someone believing in dogma. why would it not be possible to sometimes go for the greater good, sometimes not? is it supposed to be some kind of a copout not to stick to a plan, but to do what you feel is right for you at the time no matter what branch of philosophy it is derived from?
 
patriarch
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 12:01 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;76528 wrote:
While I'm not sure I entirely agree with your assessment of those sexual predilections, even if we grant that they are "sicknesses", I have to disagree with your interpretation of JS Mill. Again, Mill's philosophy is not hedonism.

According to Mill, if those sexual predilections are disadvantageous to one's health, they would tend to produce the reverse of happiness, and are therefore not condoned by his version of utilitarianism, by his greatest happiness principle.

I'm vaguely familiar with Mohism, and there is clearly a strong strain of that in what you describe. It is a very interesting school of thought.

I am not trying to argue that your philosophy here is exactly Mill's utilitariaism, only that I think you have misinterpreted Mill by taking selfish happiness to be a problem - Mill's ethic is strongly in favor of self sacrifice for the greater good, or benefit, even.

Maybe I'm not clear enough. I have no intention to criticize Mill's utilitariaism (by the way utilitariaism is one of the founcdation for such theory... as Mo tzu is said to be the first utilitariaist in Chinese history). I just want to explain the differences between happiness and benefit. The term "happiness" is not so exact. Happiness and benefit, which is more important? Benefit, as it includes happiness (the benefit here is generalised, not only refers to money). In fact ethic doesn't bring us happiness sometimes.

For example, if a student cheats during the Chinese examination, what "happiness" has he or she broken? But obviously we can see that he or she has broken the "Collective benefit". Most of the students are working hard for the examination expect him or her. This is unfair to those who hasn't cheated. But it doesn't mean they should cheat as the meaning of examination would be destoried. So such an action offends the Collective Benefit but not any happiness.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2009 02:09 pm
@patriarch,
But how does your term 'benefit' compare with JS Mill's rather precise explanation of what he means by 'happiness'? Mill goes to a good deal of trouble explaining the term.
 
 

 
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