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Altrusitic Dilemma
Posted: 25 January 2011 03:51 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m beginning to think that there is little to no noblity in true altruism. As I understand it, philosophers like Kant believed that a person should do a good deed strictly based on the fact that it is morally correct to do so. That no good act should be required have it’s own reward. (Paraphrased from some philosophy class I took 13 years ago). The part that I find hard to believe is that if a person does the right thing with no personal reward such as feeling good to do the right thing. Then that person techinchally becomes robotically altruistic. He just does the act to do the act. I’m still trying to figure this out in my head, but I thought’d it be interesting to get peoples input on the subject. Where is the line between doing something right because it’s the right thing to do and doing the right thing because it makes you feel good about yourself?

Edit

I don’t want to come off as trying to sound like I know more than I really do. This is actually how Kant was explained in the class. I’ve been trying to read up more on him to get a bigger picture, but I’m getting more and more confused as I read him about him. Just ignore the Kant part if it gets in the way of the point I’m making. smile

[ Edited: 25 January 2011 04:33 AM by ExMachina ]
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Posted: 25 January 2011 10:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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ExMachina - 25 January 2011 03:51 AM

I’m beginning to think that there is little to no noblity in true altruism. As I understand it, philosophers like Kant believed that a person should do a good deed strictly based on the fact that it is morally correct to do so. That no good act should be required have it’s own reward. (Paraphrased from some philosophy class I took 13 years ago). The part that I find hard to believe is that if a person does the right thing with no personal reward such as feeling good to do the right thing. Then that person techinchally becomes robotically altruistic. He just does the act to do the act. I’m still trying to figure this out in my head, but I thought’d it be interesting to get peoples input on the subject. Where is the line between doing something right because it’s the right thing to do and doing the right thing because it makes you feel good about yourself?

Edit

I don’t want to come off as trying to sound like I know more than I really do. This is actually how Kant was explained in the class. I’ve been trying to read up more on him to get a bigger picture, but I’m getting more and more confused as I read him about him. Just ignore the Kant part if it gets in the way of the point I’m making. smile

I’ll do something because I believe it to be the right thing to do without any expectation of acknowledgment or reward from the individual I am doing it for. I guess I feel good in doing what I believe is good. Why else do good. However this I take this feeling good at doing good excluded from concept of no personal reward. I think perhaps what is meant is no external reward.

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Posted: 25 January 2011 11:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yeah, Kant raised some very good questions and had many logical (but in my opinion, often screwed up) answers.  I think Gnos’s last sentence covers what you’re talking about, E-M.  However, there do seem to be different motivations.  The person who picks up a nail in a store parking lot prevents some unknown person from getting a flat.  S/he may have done so to demonstrate to him/herself that s/he’s a good person.  The soldier who throws him/herself on a live grenade to protect his/her companions probably doesn’t even think about that but is acting within his/her moral framework.

Occam

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Posted: 25 January 2011 08:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I guess it really comes down to how you want to define yourself as a person. When I was about 12 years old, I made the concious decision that I wanted to always do what I thought was right. I don’t see there being any problem with a person who feels better about themselves for doing the right thing. I only think that a person shouldn’t live to do the right thing just for that positive feedback .

[ Edited: 25 January 2011 08:55 PM by ExMachina ]
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Posted: 25 January 2011 08:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I think it comes down to your ‘moral compass’ thingy…

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Posted: 25 January 2011 11:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Quoting E-M:

When I was about 12 years old, I made the concious decision that I wanted to always do what I thought was right.

  That’s a good ethical philosophy for a well or even fairly well adjusted person, but even the crackpots don’t do anything that they think is wrong.  To them, in their warped minds, shooting people, etc. is completely justified and right. 

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Posted: 25 January 2011 11:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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asanta - 25 January 2011 08:51 PM

I think it comes down to your ‘moral compass’ thingy…

There you go again with that succinctness thingy   wink

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Posted: 25 January 2011 11:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Occam. - 25 January 2011 11:23 PM

Quoting E-M:

When I was about 12 years old, I made the concious decision that I wanted to always do what I thought was right.

  That’s a good ethical philosophy for a well or even fairly well adjusted person, but even the crackpots don’t do anything that they think is wrong.  To them, in their warped minds, shooting people, etc. is completely justified and right. 

Occam

Yes, it’s fruitless to try and convince Jared Lee Loughner that he was wrong.

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Posted: 25 January 2011 11:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 25 January 2011 11:25 PM
asanta - 25 January 2011 08:51 PM

I think it comes down to your ‘moral compass’ thingy…

There you go again with that succinctness thingy   wink

Not on purpose, believe me!!

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Posted: 26 January 2011 12:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Occam. - 25 January 2011 11:23 PM

That’s a good ethical philosophy for a well or even fairly well adjusted person, but even the crackpots don’t do anything that they think is wrong.  To them, in their warped minds, shooting people, etc. is completely justified and right. 

Occam

Well if “God” gave me a warped brain what are you gonna do? (God = random circumstances generator of the universe)

I mean how do you know whether you can trust your own brain? People think to trust their sense of right and wrong, but then again it seems you can’t.

I read some where that “right” is by agreement. In other words we chose as a group which actions are right and agree to live by that agreement, like the US constitution. There is no other right or wrong except what we agree to.

Christian live by their agreement their creed or assumption of morals derived from the Bible. You and I can reach an agreement on the right way to treat each other. I don’t think right has any authority beyond that agreement.

We agree as a group to judge the actions of some “crackpot” as wrong. While some other group of people may find their actions perfectly righteous.

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Posted: 26 January 2011 04:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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It seems to me that people always do what they think will get them what they want.  Even if one claims they did something solely because it was the right thing to do, they were still satisfying a preference, namely “wanting to do what they believe is right”.  I’d imagine (and personally hope) that most people desire universal peace and happiness, but some of them believe they can achieve that goal by following superstitious/religious dogma, and often end up accomplishing the opposite.

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Posted: 26 January 2011 05:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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ExMachina - 25 January 2011 03:51 AM

Where is the line between doing something right because it’s the right thing to do and doing the right thing because it makes you feel good about yourself?

The “feeling good about yourself” could be looked at as form of internal communication to let you know that what you have just done was a good thing.  It could also be looked at as a positive reinforcement to motivate you to act morally in the future.  That’s not to say that the good feeling was the whole reason for doing the moral action.  It was the emotional component of the motivation.  The cold, logic, duty based morality that Kant talked about, while an important component of moral action, is going to have a hard time keeping going if there is never any emotional reinforcement.

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Posted: 27 January 2011 10:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Mingy Jongo - 26 January 2011 04:32 PM

It seems to me that people always do what they think will get them what they want.  Even if one claims they did something solely because it was the right thing to do, they were still satisfying a preference, namely “wanting to do what they believe is right”.  I’d imagine (and personally hope) that most people desire universal peace and happiness, but some of them believe they can achieve that goal by following superstitious/religious dogma, and often end up accomplishing the opposite.

What is meant by universal peace and happiness is not universal. Maybe for some being surrounded by 70 virgins is ideal. For me, 70 young women all wanting attention? No thanks.

People sometimes think the oddest thing will make them happy. I think rather someone convinced them that it would make them happy.

Part of the reason I suppose I came to question the concept of heaven. It just didn’t seem like a place I’d be happy to be at for all eternity.

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Posted: 27 January 2011 11:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Gnostikosis - 27 January 2011 10:32 AM
Mingy Jongo - 26 January 2011 04:32 PM

It seems to me that people always do what they think will get them what they want.  Even if one claims they did something solely because it was the right thing to do, they were still satisfying a preference, namely “wanting to do what they believe is right”.  I’d imagine (and personally hope) that most people desire universal peace and happiness, but some of them believe they can achieve that goal by following superstitious/religious dogma, and often end up accomplishing the opposite.

What is meant by universal peace and happiness is not universal. Maybe for some being surrounded by 70 virgins is ideal. For me, 70 young women all wanting attention? No thanks.

People sometimes think the oddest thing will make them happy. I think rather someone convinced them that it would make them happy.

Part of the reason I suppose I came to question the concept of heaven. It just didn’t seem like a place I’d be happy to be at for all eternity.

Exactly; not only are beings often incorrect about how they can get what they want, but they can also be wrong about what they really desire in the first place!

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Posted: 30 January 2011 06:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Occam. - 25 January 2011 11:23 PM

Quoting E-M:

When I was about 12 years old, I made the concious decision that I wanted to always do what I thought was right.

  That’s a good ethical philosophy for a well or even fairly well adjusted person, but even the crackpots don’t do anything that they think is wrong.  To them, in their warped minds, shooting people, etc. is completely justified and right. 

Occam

It’s the only thing that could make sense. He looks too self absorbed to think of anything other than his little moments in life.

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Posted: 18 April 2011 12:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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brightfut - 26 January 2011 05:54 PM
ExMachina - 25 January 2011 03:51 AM

Where is the line between doing something right because it’s the right thing to do and doing the right thing because it makes you feel good about yourself?

The “feeling good about yourself” could be looked at as form of internal communication to let you know that what you have just done was a good thing.  It could also be looked at as a positive reinforcement to motivate you to act morally in the future.  That’s not to say that the good feeling was the whole reason for doing the moral action.  It was the emotional component of the motivation.  The cold, logic, duty based morality that Kant talked about, while an important component of moral action, is going to have a hard time keeping going if there is never any emotional reinforcement.

i agree.  I’d also say that most of our motivation is unconscious, with neither emotion nor logic appearing in our “mind’s eye.”

And unconscious motives can certainly be altruistic… as much so as for an ant defending its nest. Altruism is always relative: you sacrifice for your tribe to better promote your genes or your form in the world… or your community sacrifices to help whales, who are a variation on the same ‘theme’ as ourselves, and keeping such variations in existence may tend to correlate with the survival of our general form.

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