2 of 2
2
Altrusitic Dilemma
Posted: 18 April 2011 07:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  542
Joined  2007-09-29

Hi ExMachina. I’ve condensed your original argument below (I know you presented it as a puzzle, not as a certainty):

[1] “there is little to no noblity in true altruism.
[2] 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 its own reward.
[3] 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,
[4] then that person technically becomes robotically altruistic.
[5] In other words he does the act just to do it.

Note the different subjects: [1] is about altruism (it lacks ‘nobility’), but [2] is about kantian moral obligation in general. I think the discussion so far simply ignores the specific issue of altruism, so let’s be explicit: this thread - so far - is about Kant’s claim about morals - specifically, what about morals obligates us. Your argument should so far apply to *any* morals, even the ‘egoistic’ ones. (Eat right, be honest with yourself, etc.) Many people feel egoistic morals are the ‘easy’ part of moral theory, but why follow *any* moral? Suppose the skeptic replies ‘Well, why ought I eat right?’ and you want to avoid Kant and give a non-moral reason: because that’s how you stay healthy (health is better classed as a good, not a moral). Well, why *ought* I stay healthy? And on to the races. This problem is one reason why Kantian ethics still has legs, as they say.

Statement [4] doesn’t follow from [3]: If I choose to obey a rule simply because it’s the right thing to do, that’s still a choice. Just as written, [4] makes a false move from ‘Mr A has no non-moral reason to obey this moral’ to ‘Mr A is being robotically empty about his obedience.’ Kant’s point is interesting: somehow a moral to be *moral* has to have something irreducibly moral about it - and he decides that it’s as a kind of rules that they are essentially moral - that the reason to obey a rule is *because* it is a rule, that’s moral. And by ‘moral rule’ one must mean a *really* moral rule: you have to do the hard work of figuring that out *before* you can say that you obey that rule *because* it’s a moral rule. Maybe that’s what you’re worried about, blind acceptance of morals?

Note:
There’s three big strands of ethics. Think of doing something: You, a subject, perform some action or operation, and something then results. Let V = you, D = the actions (mental or physical), U = the results or consequences:

V———D———> U

DE: Kantian ethics is a ‘duty’ ethics: it thinks of morals as essentially rules for acting.
UE: The ethical theories of Bentham or JS Mill is utilitarianism or utilitarian ethics: it thinks morals are really tied to results.
VE: Aristotle’s ethics is a ‘virtue’ ethics: it thinks the primary thing is the person, and his ‘flourishing’ as a full human being.

All of the three make important points. To my mind we need the pre-modern approach: all three of these parts, the subject, the action and the result, are necessary and not really derivable from just one of the three, although virtue ethics was the major way of thinking before 1600. Towards the end of that period there was lots of debate on moral rules and obligation, and this gained steam when the success of mathematics in science persuaded people like Kant that moral theory could be exactly patterned on mathematical systems like euclidean geometry, with a single fundamental axiom and logically impervious rules.

The ethical theorist and historian Stephen Darwall claims the change occurred because people no longer believed in the ‘metaphysical guarantee’ as he puts it, that in reality, all real goods harmonize. In the Modern Age, the assumption is that your goods and mine - even our real goods - can conflict. Think of *Les Miserables*, where the goods of the gendarme (punish wrongdoers) and the starving bread-thief (sustain life) tragically conflict.

Does this help?

Lastly, you asked “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 you?”

Well, i don’t think those two reasons are like neighboring kingdoms with a difficult border to negotiate. They are just different categories, and you can have both reasons or only one motivating you. (I help people because I like to *and* because it’s the right thing to do - one in fact helps get the deed done when the other is at a low-point, no?)

btw: No-one’s really proven that millions of people are wrong every day when they claim to decide to act for no other reason than that it’s right to do. That’s what every decent good samaritan says. Frankly, if that’s robotic, call me a robosexual.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 April 2011 02:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2671
Joined  2011-04-24

Im not sure if there is a line;or at least one that everybody sees.It seems a bit pompous to want to do good stuff to look like a good person.Whenever Ive helped a stranger out it was either because I felt bad for the person or it just needed to be done.Like if a car is broke down in the street and causing a traffic jam,you might call a tow truck before anyone else does just to get the vehicle out of the way,its kind of selfish because the traffic jam is irritating you,you just want to get away from it,but the person who owns the broke down car would probably appreaciate it even though you did it for yourself.A mechanical act of altruism is still helpful, mechanical or not.I suppose the concept of free will matters alot in these situations,if there is no free will then we cant choose to be altruistic.I wonder about that sometimes because there’s been other times Ive ignored people I could have helped;dont know if its because I didnt want to or because i couldn’t,and then Ive been helpful to people I knew and didnt like mad Nobility is subjective.

 Signature 

Raise your glass if you’re wrong…. in all the right ways.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 April 2011 03:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1332
Joined  2010-06-07

The antithesis I suppose is ethical egoism.

Altruism is the concept of having a moral obligation to help those in need.

With ethical egoism you act according to your own self interest.

However here is how I see it. I help people so they are more able to contribute to the group as a whole. As each member of the group prospers the group as a whole prospers which includes me as part of the group.

There’s a fair exchange of value. There is an expectation of mutual contribution. Smart business will ensure the prosperity of it’s employees the prosperity of it’s community and nation. Where this does not occur that is not ethical egoism.

Everyone contributes. Everyone is encouraged to excel because individual who excel benefit the group as a whole. Everyone has to be provided equal opportunity however this does not mean we will all be equal. Those who choose to work hard should receive a fair exchange for their work. No one should be penalized who prospers in a fair ethical manner.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 April 2011 06:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2671
Joined  2011-04-24
Gnostikosis - 27 April 2011 03:08 PM

The antithesis I suppose is ethical egoism.

Altruism is the concept of having a moral obligation to help those in need.

With ethical egoism you act according to your own self interest.

However here is how I see it. I help people so they are more able to contribute to the group as a whole. As each member of the group prospers the group as a whole prospers which includes me as part of the group.

There’s a fair exchange of value. There is an expectation of mutual contribution. Smart business will ensure the prosperity of it’s employees the prosperity of it’s community and nation. Where this does not occur that is not ethical egoism.

Everyone contributes. Everyone is encouraged to excel because individual who excel benefit the group as a whole. Everyone has to be provided equal opportunity however this does not mean we will all be equal. Those who choose to work hard should receive a fair exchange for their work. No one should be penalized who prospers in a fair ethical manner.

I hear you Gnostikosis,but it seems like what your talking about exists whether people want it to or not.What I mean is that when you do something that benefits the group,it works no matter if your for it or against it.You dont have to try to make it happen,it just does.There are no completly unselfish acts and I dont think its important to care.

 Signature 

Raise your glass if you’re wrong…. in all the right ways.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 April 2011 08:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5551
Joined  2010-06-16

LOL  Quoting Inthegobi: 

I’ve condensed your original argument

  Condensed????  Condensed????  LOL  865 words is condensation??? LOL

Occam

edited to correct typo.

[ Edited: 27 April 2011 09:28 PM by Occam. ]
 Signature 

Succinctness, clarity’s core.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 April 2011 09:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  23
Joined  2011-04-27

I’m wondering why doing a good act can be a good feeling and if you don’t “consider” the act then you are a robot??  If one does these good acts without a thought then they are probably good people on auto pilot.  Kind of like martial arts.  People wonder why they do the same thing over and over and over.  Because it becomes natural.  I have never read on this subject.  I do stuff to help…then I feel better.  So maybe it can actually become an addiction to do good things.  I pick up screws and nails just because everyone should. Not sure I got your question but I tried.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 April 2011 10:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1332
Joined  2010-06-07
mid atlantic - 27 April 2011 06:59 PM

I hear you Gnostikosis,but it seems like what your talking about exists whether people want it to or not.What I mean is that when you do something that benefits the group,it works no matter if your for it or against it.You dont have to try to make it happen,it just does.There are no completly unselfish acts and I dont think its important to care.

Can we even choose to care? Perhaps it’s that either one cares about the individual they are dealing with or they don’t.
Certainly it is not necessary to care to act/conduct oneself in a manner that happens to be beneficial to others.

The concern is the use of moral ideas of altruism to manipulate people or make them feel obligated to act in what would otherwise be an irrational manner. To act against their own self-interest.

Obviously the intent of many is to do “good”. However our actions should be rational shouldn’t they? Not just because we feel an obligation to act according to moral code that we can’t exactly rationalize.

Here is the thing. People are actually pretty easy to manipulate. Their thinking, their actions. Someone’s moral idealism is a convenient tool by which to manipulate someone. It is really to a person’s detriment that this is true IMO. Ideals of loyalty, ideals of patriotism… All a means to manipulate the masses.

I try to encourage my kids to act from rational reasoning for rational goals. My wife’s nature is to use guilt. It’s how her parents worked. This idea that one ought to care, ought to feel an obligation to help others also has a component of guilt doesn’t it?

Whereas we can rationally show cause to work towards a mutually beneficial goal.

[ Edited: 28 April 2011 09:03 AM by Gnostikosis ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 April 2011 11:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2671
Joined  2011-04-24
Gnostikosis - 27 April 2011 10:52 PM
mid atlantic - 27 April 2011 06:59 PM

I hear you Gnostikosis,but it seems like what your talking about exists whether people want it to or not.What I mean is that when you do something that benefits the group,it works no matter if your for it or against it.You dont have to try to make it happen,it just does.There are no completly unselfish acts and I dont think its important to care.

Can we even choose to care? Perhaps it’s that either one cares about the individual they are dealing with or they don’t.
Certainly it is not necessary to care to act/conduct oneself in a manner that happens to be beneficial to others.

The concern is the use of moral ideas of altruism to manipulate people or make them feel obligated to act in what would otherwise be an irrational manner. To act against their own self-interest.

Obviously the intent of many is to do “good”. However our actions should be rational shouldn’t they? Not just because we feel an obligation to act according to moral code that we can’t exactly rationalize.

Here is the thing. People are actually pretty easy to manipulate. Their thinking, their actions. Someone’s moral idealism is a convenient tool by which to manipulate someone. It is really to a person’s detriment that this is true IMO. Ideals of loyalty, ideals of patriotism… All a means to manipulate the masses.

I try to encourage my kids to act from rational reasoning for rational goals. My wife’s nature is to use guilt. It’s how her parents worked. This idea that one ought to care, ought to feel and obligation to help others also has a component of guilt doesn’t it.

Whereas we can rationally show cause to work towards a mutually beneficial goal.

Agree 100% that idealism can easily be manipulated,happens all the time doesnt it?Maybe sometimes its neccesery to manipulate people to care just because the situation is so bad that we need all the helpful behavior we can get.I dont think we can choose to care about anything,we do or we dont.And then some people might never care about anyone because of their biochemistry or whatever it is makes them lack empathy.I think its true that we can use rationality to work towards a benificial goal like you said,maybe when the crap hits the fan we should just concentrate on getting the job done.

 Signature 

Raise your glass if you’re wrong…. in all the right ways.

Profile
 
 
   
2 of 2
2