The Virtue Of Self Interest?

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Resha Caner
 
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2010 11:25 am
@apehead,
apehead;174175 wrote:
I don't understand. Why is a person with values set "A" able to imprison or banish person with values set "B"?


Why are they able? That's quite simple. Because they have the physical strength to do it. The group of people who agree to A are stronger than the individual who promotes B. They're method for trying to stop the dissemination of B is to put the individual in jail.

But I don't think that's what you're asking. I think you're asking for the moral justification. I'll note, first of all, that applying your rapier wit to the situation won't accomplish much. One can philosophize all he wants, but the jail door will remain closed. It is only if the jailer chooses to consider philosophy B that this has any hope of success, hence, the stronger still maintains the discretion of deciding what results in a jail sentence and what doesn't.

With respect to the moral justification, I don't think you would allow any. I'm not saying there isn't one, but that you don't seem open to considering it. For example, you didn't directly address my point about absolutes, but its seem you have tacitly done so. I tried to suggest that we are working with a spectrum, not a true/false dichotomy. Yet you seem to maintain that if even a small amount of self-interest is detected, it is the same as a definitive self-interest that completely rejects any possibility of altruism.

If so, I'll refer back to Reconstructo's point:

Reconstructo;173203 wrote:
... the word may have too wide a meaning to be of much use.
 
apehead
 
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 07:16 am
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner;175087 wrote:
Why are they able? That's quite simple. Because they have the physical strength to do it. The group of people who agree to A are stronger than the individual who promotes B. They're method for trying to stop the dissemination of B is to put the individual in jail.


Might makes right? The biggest gun is all the justification needed for imposing personal values upon another?

Resha Caner;175087 wrote:
But I don't think that's what you're asking. I think you're asking for the moral justification. I'll note, first of all, that applying your rapier wit to the situation won't accomplish much. One can philosophize all he wants, but the jail door will remain closed. It is only if the jailer chooses to consider philosophy B that this has any hope of success, hence, the stronger still maintains the discretion of deciding what results in a jail sentence and what doesn't.


It wasn't a loaded question, I just wanted to know why you proposed that


Resha Caner;175087 wrote:
they should not stay, demanding satisfaction while refusing to obey.



Resha Caner;175087 wrote:
With respect to the moral justification, I don't think you would allow any. I'm not saying there isn't one, but that you don't seem open to considering it.

I would have no problem accepting a theory of absolute morality. It would just have to somehow bypass the inherent limitations of the human condition for me to treat it as valid, which is a rather tall order.

Resha Caner;175087 wrote:
For example, you didn't directly address my point about absolutes, but its seem you have tacitly done so. I tried to suggest that we are working with a spectrum, not a true/false dichotomy. Yet you seem to maintain that if even a small amount of self-interest is detected, it is the same as a definitive self-interest that completely rejects any possibility of altruism.


It is my understanding of the terms that by definition, action would have to be either one or the other . If the underlying motive of any action is one of self-interest, than the dichotomy of "altruism" vs. "egoism" is false. It is only egoism that motivates us to act, relegating "altruism" to an abstract hypothetical concept, much like "objectivity".


Resha Caner;175087 wrote:
If so, I'll refer back to Reconstructo's point:


I'm sorry if you feel that way, but I'm not sure how we would remedy this issue. Perhaps create a word for "a selfish action which is intended to benefit others"... oh wait, got it!

"Philanthropy - An activity performed with the goal of promoting the well-being of fellow man. "

Many words have extremely broad meanings. "Life" for example.

 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 12:22 pm
@apehead,
Hmm. Is there an automatic feature for quoting? I cut & pasted for this post, which seems a bit clunky.

apehead wrote:
Might makes right?


I said nothing of whether it was right or not, but simply the mechanics of how it is done. Whether you intended this to be a loaded question or not, your words come across as a moral judgement on your part while rejecting the right of others to make similar judgements. If you intended your position to be value-neutral, it does not come across that way - nor do I think such a thing is possible.

apehead wrote:
I would have no problem accepting a theory of absolute morality. It would just have to somehow bypass the inherent limitations of the human condition for me to treat it as valid, which is a rather tall order.


Yes, it is a very tall order. Absolute morality implies infinite capacity. Anything that is finite can only aspire to the finite - and hence a relative morality that will forever be revealing its flaws. As such, I expect we will forever disagree on the level of authority any one moral system can carry. And authority is what lay at the center of my original point, not morality. So, with regard to what I originally addressed, i.e. your statement:

apehead wrote:
Since it seems that all actions are fundamentally in self interest, why should some individuals' goals take precedence over others?


What other answer would you give other than the ability of some to enforce that precendence?

apehead wrote:
It is my understanding of the terms that by definition, action would have to be either one or the other .


My understanding is different. The fact is, people who only serve themselves behave differently than people who serve a group. The word "altruism" was created to describe one of the nuances of that difference. So it seems to me that those who come along later and claim the difference doesn't exist demonstrate a lack of understanding, not a philosophical prowess. A quick check on the etymology of the word indicates it may have been coined by Comte. Maybe that alone will help your understanding.

I don't think "philanthropy" is a better alternative. It carries all the same difficulties (especially based on the definition you provided). If altruism does not exist, then the goal couldn't be the well-being of fellow man. The goal would be the well-being of the individual.

And your example of the word "life" does not demonstrate the useless nature of your interpretation of the word altruism. The similar argument would be that "death" is the opposite of life. And, if any death is present, no life can exist. Therefore, since the hair on my head is technically dead, I am also dead. Hence, no life exists.

[edit] Maybe the way to help you understand this is to read the entry on physicalism at the Stanford website. There they discuss the logical difficulty of defining physicalism while at the same time trying to deny the existence of its opposite (i.e. spiritualism). It is a common problem to any premise that defines one thing and denies its opposite. So, I'm not trying to divert this discussion to physicalism, but trying to give an example that possible explains it better than I can.
 
Region Philbis
 
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 12:28 pm
@Resha Caner,
Quote:
Hmm. Is there an automatic feature for quoting? I cut & pasted for this post, which seems a bit clunky.
yes.
go to your preferences http://able2know.org/account/preferences/
say yes to "Show quote button"...

welcome to a2k Smile
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 12:31 pm
@Region Philbis,
Region Philbis wrote:
yes.
go to your preferences http://able2know.org/account/preferences/
say yes to "Show quote button"...


Thanks. I just used it for this reply.
 
deepthot
 
Reply Fri 11 Jun, 2010 08:00 pm
@apehead,
apehead;175081 wrote:

Because the meaning of the representative symbols are completely understood and agreed upon by the parties involved. I'm with you so far.
.

Great ! We've found some common ground: let's build on it. However, when you claim that all value judgments are mere preferences, we do not concur. You show thereby an unawareness of Dr. R. S. Hartman's unique contribution to thought. He carried forward the work of G. E. Moore by rigourously defining "x is a good C to judge J at time t." It is a contextual definition of the term "good" that takes most of the ambiguity out of it, and distinguishes that adjective from, for example, the adjectives "yellow" or "hard" by showing that the latter are primary properties, which "good" is a secondary property, It iserves as a quantifier of qualities.

It's all right to be "a bit skeptical" but when a moral-nihilist commit suicide he is liable to take the rest of us with him.

Why is suicide highly probable? Because he may harbor the proposition that all actions are morally equivalent.

Or he may hold the belief:"Avoiding extinction is not necessarily "good" .... It just happens to be a goal ....(and there are no reasons why it is not)... a goal I should hold as well."

Those holding such a view are eligible for a Darwin Society Award.


apehead;175081 wrote:
Let's get rid of a few of the value-laden terms in:"It does not offend my sensibilities to act in self-interest, provided I feel that the act is in accordance with what I consider to be "enlightened self-interest". I consider "enlightened self-interest" to be when the acting party only acts when they are assured that the consequence of said action will advance not only themselves, but myself (or perhaps some unnamed third party) towards our respective goals."..


You did not get rid of value-laden terms. For example, interest, self, action, party, goal. All these words are saturated with values.

apehead;175081 ...If humans are incapable of perfect knowledge, then it is impossible to know what the goals of another are.....[/QUOTE wrote:


Is it possible that this might be fallacious reasoning?

My wife told me of a goal she aims for. She urges me to help her get to that goal. Yet I am incapable of perfect knowledge. And yet I do know what the goal of another is. So it certainly is not impossible.

Hence all that ws stated after such a proposition does not logically follow, and may safely be dismissed.

It so happens that my focus in Ethics is on character, not on action. I am skeptical as to what an "act" is. I don't know its boundaries., its limits. The same applies to a "consequence" incidentally.

Social Ethics is indeed concerned with degrees of caring for one's group or groups. It is concerned with the scope of one's ingroup. That is my "Ethical Radius" concept.

We -- all of us -- have a lot to learn.

Happy reading !
 
Region Philbis
 
Reply Sat 7 Aug, 2010 06:56 am

test...
 
buffalobill90
 
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2011 01:00 pm
@apehead,
apehead wrote:


"Capitalism - an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, esp. as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth."



I think this is a poor definition, because of the condition "exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations"(my emboldening). I would alter this condition as follows: "wealth is made chiefly by private individuals or corporations, and orderly exchange of wealth is maintained by states/public institutions." This alteration is meant to account for the role of governments in acting as the protectors of business contracts, property rights (esp. intellectual property rights) and the financial institutions upon which businesses rely to exchange and generate wealth. Capitalism is made possible by the intervention of states into the private domain, not in spite of it.
 
 

 
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