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Is it possible to do something completely altruistic?

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convince me that its possible to do something completely altruistic.



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  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3702 Pts   -   edited February 16
    Not in the sense of getting absolutely nothing out of your action. No matter what you do, you do because you have something to gain from it. Even in the extreme case of you jumping under a tank with a grenade to save your comrades at the expense of your life, you still do it because you know that you will not be able to live with yourself if you do not. You still choose the better outcome for you as you see it, as in this case you see being dead as preferable to being alive, but regretful.

    People tend to be confused here, as they think of one's gain in purely material term. They think, "If you give away your money to someone, then you end up with less money than you had before, you are voluntarily sacrificing your money - so you are being completely selfless and altruistic". But money is not the only valuable good. Your emotional state is also extremely valuable, even more so than money, I would argue. What would you choose: being a billionaire who is extremely miserable and full of suffering, or being a middle class dude who is happy all the time? Money, other goods, and even your body and life - are just raw resources, if you will, that can be traded for goods that really matter, such as happiness, emotional satisfaction, love, etc.

    I would say that true altruism would be acting in a way that actually contradicts your values. For example, if you believe that your lover is the most valuable thing in your life, and then you take a knife and for no apparent reason kill them - then you are being altruistic. You did something that clearly made your life worse, for no other reason than to make it worse. That would be altruistic. But that would also be incredibly silly. Then again, "altruism" and "silly" go hand-in-hand, in my opinion. Your happiness should be the goal and the focus of your life, and if you give it up for the sake of some abstract ideal, then you are not acting intelligently. Most likely, you are just serving someone else's interest who is using your perverted system of morality against you.
    PlaffelvohfenpiloteerZeusAres42
  • PlaffelvohfenPlaffelvohfen 2318 Pts   -  
    @MayCaesar

    Even if I think "pure altruism" probably does not exists (it's still an unsettled matter...) psychological egoism (what you just described) has a few problems of its own as a descriptive view...

    1. Falsifiability... Anything which cannot be proven false is unscientific and problematic... Your assumption of the soldier's (or anyone's) true intentions or state of mind is an unfalsifiable premise...

    2. Circularity... The statement "If a person willingly performs an act, that means he derives personal enjoyment from it; therefore, people only perform acts that give them personal enjoyment."  This statement is circular because its conclusion is identical to its hypothesis: it assumes an unfalsifiable premise, that people only perform acts that give them personal enjoyment, and concludes that people only perform acts that give them personal enjoyment. There is an inherent infinite regress within psychological egoism in that regard... All men desire only satisfaction --> Satisfaction of what? --> Satisfaction of their desires --> Desires for what? --> Their desires to satisfy their desires to satisfy their desires to..................  

    3. The logic also isn’t quite as sound as it looks. It relies on a particular conception of desire and satisfaction. It is most frequently compared with how we experience the desire to eat as an a priori argument: We desire to eat because of how we feel. We then eat and feel satisfaction at having fulfilled our desire. We do not eat for the sake of eating in this case, but rather to feel satisfaction afterward. 

    However, some desires don’t function this way. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy gives an excellent example of one:
    Suppose, for example, that I want my young children to be prosperous as adults long after I have died, and I take steps that increase to some small degree their chances of achieving that distant goal. What my desire is for is their prosperity far into the future, not my current or future feeling of satisfaction. I don’t know and cannot know whether the steps that I take will actually bring about the goal I seek; what I do know is that I will not be alive when they are adults, and so even if they are prosperous, that will give me no pleasure. (Since, by hypothesis I can only hope, and do not feel confident, that the provisions I make for them will actually produce the good results I seek for them, I get little current satisfaction from my act.) It would make no sense, therefore, to suggest that I do not want them to be prosperous for their sake, but only as a means to the achievement of some goal of my own. My goal is their well-being, not my own. In fact, if I allocate to them resources that I myself need, in the hope that doing so will make their lives better, I am doing something that one form of psychological egoism says is impossible: sacrificing my own good, to some degree, for the sake of others. If the psychological egoist claims that such self-sacrifice is impossible because all desire is like hunger, the reply should be that this model does not fit all cases of desire.

    The two premises used by the armchair psychological egoist: (i) What motivates us to act is always a desire; (ii) all desires are to be understood on the model of hunger. The second premise is implausible, as we have just seen; and, since both premises must be true for the argument to reach its conclusion, the argument can be rejected.
    This example shows us that the idea of desire working like hunger is not always true, which derails the argument. From a logical standpoint, psychological egoism is refutable. Most philosophers hold that altruism is at least possible as there doesn’t seem to be a valid reason why we couldn’t act altruistically, even if we don’t...
    piloteerZeusAres42
    " Adversus absurdum, contumaciter ac ridens! "




  • piloteerpiloteer 1222 Pts   -   edited February 17
    @Plaffelvohfen

    I cannot deny that yours is a valid retort, but it's missing one major key component, which is a demonstration as to if and when a truly altruistic act can be facilitated. Can you think of a valid circumstance that is truly altruistic, or can the framers of said retort think of one? If they cannot, doesn't that stain that retort with the very same stigma of the psychological ethos argument because there are no logical instances when altruism is truly demonstrable. So then the premise of your retort is also rendered as something "which cannot be proven false [and] is unscientific and problematic".

     Given that altruism is only possible, it doesn't make it automatically objectively possible for it to be facilitated. It's certainly "possible" for other life forms to exist on other planets, but it remains to be seen that that is actually the case, even when all instances of the possibility of other life forms existing on other planets points squarely at YES. This retort just kicks the can down the road without that key component of a demonstration. It makes it even more difficult to be able to demonstrate the facilitation of altruism when people like me argue that it could be an individualistic motivation to act in an altruistic manner which would then render the altruistic act invalid because it is still done for an individualistic intention.

    Your argument points out the flaws in psychological ethos, but it makes no effort at filling the major hole it has itself. In this case, the lack of a demonstrable outcome. Perhaps it can be argued that an altruistic act "may" be possible, but it wouldn't be able to be done willingly, it can only be forced on to someone. If someone is forced to something that benefits someone or others, other than themself, then it could be considered an altruistic act. But even then, it is still that person's choosing (even grudgingly) to capitulate to an oppressive entity. Because willingness is still present, it murks the clarity of the altruistic intention.     

    The example you cited argues that wanting your children to be prosperous in the future long after you are gone (I hope you never go Plaff) cannot be considered individualistic because it doesn't satisfy "your current or future feeling of satisfaction". I'm not sure why it has to be a current or future satisfaction for it to be individualistic. It's simply just a matter of wanting those who make you feel happy to be happy themselves no matter if you're there to enjoy that happiness with them or not. It's not an individualistic attitude to not care if those who you love are not happy when you're not around. It's an extreme and illogical attitude based on solipsism to have that attitude. That example seems to be merely a retort to the very illogical extreme of individualism which is solipsism. Individualism does not border on nihilism or extreme skepticism, so it's an unfair example because it conflates individualism and solipsism. Not cool brah. Even at that, it does give us some pleasure, if not, at least some satisfaction knowing that we are doing all we can to try and make our loved ones happier in the future.       
    ZeusAres42
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3702 Pts   -  
    @Plaffelvohfen

    All these infinite loops do not contradict the obvious truth: that people only take actions when they believe that the results of their actions will achieve something that they hold dear and thus satisfy their certain needs. Without needs there can be no action. You will never do anything if you do not believe that it fulfils some need in you, pretty much by definition. It does not matter if the need is purely instinctual, psychological or intellectual. At the end of the day, every action you take aims to maximize certain highly complicated function measuring how satisfied (or whatever other similar word best describes it) you are with your life.

    I can eat food for many different reasons: because I am hungry and want to satisfy hunger, because I want to enjoy the taste of food, because I am in a low psychological state and want to distract myself, etc. I can value either the act of eating itself, or the consequences of this act - or both. But if I value neither, then I will never pick up any food and eat it. There must be some reason, however minor, for me to do so, and this reason has to do with some value that eating food provides me, now or later.

    What would it mean then for the act to be completely altruistic? It would mean that I would do something in which I would see no point. Which would not do anything positive from my perspective. Which would not improve anything in the world, and which in itself would not be worth doing. Humans do not act this way: we are conscious creatures, and every action we take is caused by something. If it is caused by nothing, if it accomplishes nothing that we value, then we will never even consider taking it.

    When I jump with a grenade under the tank, I do it because I believe that it will accomplish something that I value, whatever it is. You do not need to dig in my brain to figure it out: it is just logically the only possibility. The reason can be anything. It can even be something as bizarre as, "I am bored. Why not jump under the tank with a grenade in my hand? Let us go!" It still serves some function in my eyes, it still is aimed towards some values that I hold dear, in this particular case - not being bored.
    ZeusAres42
  • PlaffelvohfenPlaffelvohfen 2318 Pts   -  
    @MayCaesar

    It's only as obvious as God can be... Your claim is a descriptive claim, you argue and assume how things are, yet the claim you're making is unfalsifiable...
    Most people see the "obviousness" of God everywhere too, just saying...

    "Without needs there can be no action"... Meh, "without needs, plus a belief about the means of satisfying those needs" there can be no "willful" action, probably... But I could argue that you actually jumped on the grenade out of an altruistic reflex, there was no need involved as there was no will involved... Sure you could empty the word "need" of all useful meaning by withdrawing all notions of will and intention in some theory of action but then we'd get into the same type of problems that Free will has with causality...  

    Also, needs are not only individual, collective needs that justify collective actions, which are neither individual needs nor actions, also exists and it does not matter if this need is purely instinctual, psychological, economical or intellectual... 

    Bottom line is, one doesn't negate the other... Egoism and Altruism are both sides of a single coin, human nature in a social context... 
    ZeusAres42
    " Adversus absurdum, contumaciter ac ridens! "
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3702 Pts   -  
    @Plaffelvohfen

    I do not think it unfalsifiable; quite the opposite, it directly follows from the concept of a choice. Having made a choice means, by definition, having preferred one option to other options. Existence of that preference prevents this choice from being altruistic. And lack of that preference makes making a choice impossible in the first place (and no, randomly choosing between multiple options does not disqualify this statement, as even when choosing randomly, the individual ends up choosing one particular option, indicating preference, however unconscious and arbitrary).
    It is impossible for a sentient being to act altruistically, because the very act of acting necessitates existence of preference. Whatever choice the individual makes, they make it based on their own preference, and so they pursue their own values (or whatever the best term to use here is - but you understand what I mean).

    A reflex still implies a need. It is not necessarily a need of your conscious mind; it could be a need of your body, or of chemicals in your body.
    From another perspective, classifying an action as altruistic or non-altruistic constitutes moral judgement, and it is only possible to talk about morals when some degree of deliberation is involved. It is neither altruistic nor non-altruistic to die of old age, for example. So, in this sense, reflexive actions cannot be altruistic in principle.

    If such a thing as "collective needs" exists, then these needs are either a subset or individual needs, or not. In the former case, we still only need to talk about the individual. In the latter case, the question of the individual's altruism is completely independent of the question of the collective's altruism.

    I do not disagree that humans are social creatures, and we all have to take certain deliberate actions to make sure that we are, to some degree, accepted by the collective. What I disagree with is that these actions are not fully explained by the individual's selfish needs. I do not wear clothes on the streets when I would rather not in the ideal world because of some intrinsic regard for other people; ultimately, I do it to be accepted by the society, because being accepted by the society is highly beneficial to me. If it was not, then there would be no reason for me to put on clothes when going outside, and I would not do it.
    Same goes for any similar act, including the act of saving someone at the expense of your own life. You are still doing it for some benefit, that benefit at the moment you simply happen to value more highly than your survival.
  • PlaffelvohfenPlaffelvohfen 2318 Pts   -  
    @piloteer

    I'm not arguing for "pure" or "true" altruism at all, as it is as unfalsifiable as the "pure" form of egoism (the position that all motivations are rooted in an ultimately self-serving psyche)...

    But I'd argue that altruism, just like egoism, doesn't require to be "pure" at all... That both are in fact, sides of a single coin, human nature in a social context...
    The example you cited argues that wanting your children to be prosperous in the future long after you are gone (I hope you never go Plaff) cannot be considered individualistic
    (I hope I won't stay!!) ;)

    The argument argues that it cannot be egoistic (the term is not interchangeable with individualistic as individuals can be altruists or egoists (I think individuals are naturally both to varying degrees))... But if you can (as in the example) allocate resources that you need, in the hope (you can never know / fulfill the desire) that doing so will make someone else's live better, you are doing something that the strong form of psychological egoism says is impossible: sacrificing your own good, to any degree, for the sake of others... It allows us to reject the "desire as hunger model" of the strong or "pure" version of egoism... 

    Should we try to go about the weak versions of both egoism and altruism?

    " Adversus absurdum, contumaciter ac ridens! "
  • PlaffelvohfenPlaffelvohfen 2318 Pts   -  
    @Plaffelvohfen

    1: Having made a choice means having preferred one option to other options.
    2: Existence of that preference prevents this choice from being altruistic. 

    Sorry, but 2 doesn't not follow from 1...  From the fact that preference exist, it does not follow that altruism is impossible... Which is what you're saying... 
    " Adversus absurdum, contumaciter ac ridens! "
  • PlaffelvohfenPlaffelvohfen 2318 Pts   -   edited February 17
    @MayCaesar
    A reflex still implies a need. It is not necessarily a need of your conscious mind; it could be a need of your body, or of chemicals in your body.

    So that would be biological egoism but you really want to go the biological way? I can go there too with biological altruism if you want...

    Also Need and Preference are not interchangeable notions... When you claim that what motivates us to act is always a preference and then either change the word or say you're not using the word “preference” as it is sometimes used and its usage is much broader. That among preferences, in this broad sense, you include the belief that one ought to do something and that in fact, it includes any internal state that causes someone to act. Then clearly, your thesis that : What moves us is always a "preference", when so understood, is empty...

    What I disagree with is that these actions are not fully explained by the individual's selfish needs.

    Even if it could all be explained fully by individual selfish needs, it does in no way negate altruism...

     you simply happen to value more highly than your survival.

    So effectively, more than yourself, thank you for being altruistic...

    " Adversus absurdum, contumaciter ac ridens! "
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3702 Pts   -   edited February 17
    @Plaffelvohfen

    1. If option A is preferable to option B, then, by definition, option A gives you a better outcome than option B (that is what "preferable" means, and that is what "better" means; these are just different phrasings of the same statement).
    2. If option A gives you a better outcome than option B, then choosing it is not altruistic, since you get a benefit for yourself out of it.
    3. Since the option you choose is preferable by nature of you choosing it, you are always going to choose option A.
    4. Since you are always going to choose option A and choosing it is not altruistic, it follows that you are always going to take actions that are not altruistic.

    This is pretty much the reasoning.
    Plaffelvohfen
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3702 Pts   -   edited February 17
    @Plaffelvohfen

    Perhaps my ideology is not ideal. "Preference" is a better term than "need", I agree.
    As for biological altruism, every decision we make is fundamentally dictated by our biology, so there is no need to add the word "biological" here. ;)

    But altruism and selfishness are mutually exclusive. If an action is selfish, then it is not altruistic, and vice-versa.

    Sacrificing your body and life does not negate receiving benefits from it. Typically, it is one of the two kinds of benefits: either the benefit of not having a miserable existence due to not doing it, or the benefit of having influenced the world (many people believe that they do not truly die with their mortal shells, and their deeds continue affecting the world after their death, in essence keeping their "spirit" or some other abstract entity alive).

    Same applies when you commit suicide. It is not that you just lose everything. You do it because you believe that not doing so will cause you immense suffering. The "value" of your existence may be zero when you are dead, but it can be negative when you are not (at least, from your perspective), so you are still making a choice that benefits you, you are still receiving something from it.

    An altruistic act would require you to do something that on all levels you believe, you feel, you know, you instinctually think, you should not do. That appears impossible to me in pricinple.
    Plaffelvohfen
  • PlaffelvohfenPlaffelvohfen 2318 Pts   -   edited February 17
    @MayCaesar
    1. If option A is preferable to option B, then, by definition, option A gives you a better outcome than option B (that is what "preferable" means, and that is what "better" means; these are just different phrasings of the same statement).
    2. If option A gives you a better outcome than option B, then choosing it is not altruistic, since you get a benefit for yourself out of it.
    3. Since the option you choose is preferable by nature of you choosing it, you are always going to choose option A.
    4. Since you are always going to choose option A and choosing it is not altruistic, it follows that you are always going to take actions that are not altruistic.

    This is pretty much the reasoning.
    What could ever prevent me from choosing B even if it gives me a less "better" / "preferable" outcome? It's all very subjective imo... 
    " Adversus absurdum, contumaciter ac ridens! "




  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3702 Pts   -  
    @Plaffelvohfen

    Well, that is what defines "choice". You cannot choose something that you believe to be the wrong choice. You can choose something that you a moment ago believed to be the wrong choice just for the sake of making the wrong choice and defying my claims, but that, in turn, will make that choice the "right" choice, as you are making the choice that is preferable to you in light of your desire to demonstrate that you can make the "wrong" choice.

    There is no way to escape this predicament.
    Plaffelvohfen
  • PlaffelvohfenPlaffelvohfen 2318 Pts   -  
    @MayCaesar

    When did altruism and egoism came to be about right and wrong? Is there such a thing as a "wrong" preference now?
    If whatever I chose is always "right" and cannot be otherwise, then the very notions of right and wrong and outcomes are useless empty husks...

    Biological altruism/egoism is different from psychological altruism-egoism because of the absence of the notions of Will and Intention... In biology, an organism is said to behave altruistically when its behaviour benefits other organisms, at a cost to itself, measured in terms of reproductive fitness, or expected number of offspring. So by behaving altruistically, an organism reduces the number of offspring it is likely to produce itself, but boosts the number that other organisms are likely to produce. This biological notion of altruism is not identical to the everyday concept. In everyday parlance, an action would only be called ‘altruistic’ if it was done with the conscious intention of helping another. But in the biological sense there is no such requirement.

    I understand you really don't like the notion of altruism, you dislike it so much you can't accept that something as "unpure" altruism could exists, if it's not "absolute" it doesn't and can't exist...

    Maybe you're just not at peace with your own egoism and you think that if somehow, altruism existed, being the rational man I suppose you are, you'd have some kind of a heavier moral burden to carry and you'd "prefer" not to? So instead of owning your egoism (like I own my absurdism, antinatalism and yes, egoism), you will simply outright deny the existence of altruism (in any way, shape or form)...

    Quite a copout in my opinion...   :/ 
    " Adversus absurdum, contumaciter ac ridens! "
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3702 Pts   -  
    @Plaffelvohfen

    "Wrong" in this context obviously means a non-preferable choice.

    Well, when we are talking about pure biological uncontrollable instinct, then, of course, things are different. But, again, "altruism" in the moral context (which, I assume, is the one we are discussing) can only arise in conditions where the individual has a choice in how to act (morals make no sense when the behavior is uncontrollable). Biological altruism is like gravity: it is just a natural condition one has to accept.

    No, it is not that I dislike the notion of altruism (I do, but it is irrelevant to the discussion). It is that everyone acts (when they have any choice at all) in ways that facilitate certain outcome they prefer, and "altruistic action" is contradiction of terms. And it is not just a wordplay, but a very profound point that has serious implications on questions of morality. And if people understood those implications, then the predominant moral system in the world would be very-very different. As it is, people condition themselves into constantly shooting themselves in the foot by holding contradictions in their minds and being constantly confused.
    It is especially obvious in mainstream monotheistic religions, but all collectivist ideologies cultivate this confusion. On one hand, the individual knows that there are certain things that make them feel awesome, that make them feel happy, that brighten their lives. On the other, they believe that these things, on some level, are sinful and wrong, and that they must be tempered by things that make them feel awful, that make them give up something important. They do not know to what ultimate end they do so, they just believe that they should. They can never explain why it is important to sacrifice something they treasure in order to help someone they do not care about; they just automatically accept it.
    Understanding the inherent contradictions in the concept of "altruism" would allow them to resolve these issues immediately, significantly improving their lives. As always, a logical approach is the most beneficial one, while a dogmatic approach leads to inferior outcomes.

    I do not know about "egoism", but I own my individuality all right and am proud of it! My happiness absolutely goes before anything else. Other people are only important for as long as they contribute to it - and they almost always do, as I offer a lot of value to them and they tend to respond accordingly. The trade principle does not just apply to economics; it applies to everything. You offer value in exchange for value, and you are bound to be respected and loved by those around you. There is no need to "sacrifice" anything.
    Plaffelvohfen
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3702 Pts   -  
    @Plaffelvohfen

    "Wrong" in this context obviously means a non-preferable choice.

    Well, when we are talking about pure biological uncontrollable instinct, then, of course, things are different. But, again, "altruism" in the moral context (which, I assume, is the one we are discussing) can only arise in conditions where the individual has a choice in how to act (morals make no sense when the behavior is uncontrollable). Biological altruism is like gravity: it is just a natural condition one has to accept.

    No, it is not that I dislike the notion of altruism (I do, but it is irrelevant to the discussion). It is that everyone acts (when they have any choice at all) in ways that facilitate certain outcome they prefer, and "altruistic action" is contradiction of terms. And it is not just a wordplay, but a very profound point that has serious implications on questions of morality. And if people understood those implications, then the predominant moral system in the world would be very-very different. As it is, people condition themselves into constantly shooting themselves in the foot by holding contradictions in their minds and being constantly confused.
    It is especially obvious in mainstream monotheistic religions, but all collectivist ideologies cultivate this confusion. On one hand, the individual knows that there are certain things that make them feel awesome, that make them feel happy, that brighten their lives. On the other, they believe that these things, on some level, are sinful and wrong, and that they must be tempered by things that make them feel awful, that make them give up something important. They do not know to what ultimate end they do so, they just believe that they should. They can never explain why it is important to sacrifice something they treasure in order to help someone they do not care about; they just automatically accept it.
    Understanding the inherent contradictions in the concept of "altruism" would allow them to resolve these issues immediately, significantly improving their lives. As always, a logical approach is the most beneficial one, while a dogmatic approach leads to inferior outcomes.

    I do not know about "egoism", but I own my individuality all right and am proud of it! My happiness absolutely goes before anything else. Other people are only important for as long as they contribute to it - and they almost always do, as I offer a lot of value to them and they tend to respond accordingly. The trade principle does not just apply to economics; it applies to everything. You offer value in exchange for value, and you are bound to be respected and loved by those around you. There is no need to "sacrifice" anything.
  • PlaffelvohfenPlaffelvohfen 2318 Pts   -   edited February 17
    @MayCaesar

    "Everyone acts (when they have any choice at all) in ways that facilitate certain outcome they prefer"... 

    You're doing it again...  :/   That is not exactly what you're arguing, you are arguing that everyone acts only in such a way and no other... 

    This strong version of psychological egoism is an unfalsifiable claim, and you are making it unfalsifiable by denying the possibility of altruism altogether...
    Just saying it's not unfalsifiable, is not an argument demonstrating its falsifiability... The burden is on you to show the falsifiability of your claim and you have not been able to discharge that burden so far...

    It's an attempt on your part to shift the question away from outward appearances, to ultimate motives of acting benevolently towards others and on this point, psychological egoism’s validity turns on examining and analyzing moral motivation as you did...

    But since motivation is inherently private and inaccessible to others (an agent could be lying to herself or to others about the original motive), the theory thus shifts from a theoretical description of human nature (one that can be put to observational testing) to an assumption about the inner workings of human nature: psychological egoism then moves beyond the possibility of empirical verification and the possibility of empirical negation (since motives are private), and therefore it becomes a “closed theory.”

    A closed theory is a theory that rejects competing theories on its own terms and is non-verifiable and non-falsifiable. If psychological egoism is reduced to an assumption concerning human nature and its hidden motives, then it follows that it is just as valid to hold a competing theory of human motivation such as psychological altruism.

    There are careful and sophisticated arguments for the falsity for the weak version of psychological egoism/altruism directly from considerations in evolutionary biology, but there are none for the strong versions... 
    " Adversus absurdum, contumaciter ac ridens! "
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3702 Pts   -  
    @Plaffelvohfen

    I am arguing that this is the ultimate source of people's choices and actions. People may act not only in such a way from a superficial perspective, but the ultimate, the fundamental motivation is the desire for certain outcomes. Even the biological altruism which, as you pointed out, is involuntary still serves some end: preservation of species. This end does not necessarily benefit the individual "objectively", but it does benefit the individual in that it is their need that they need satisfied, whether rational or not.
    Our morals, too, serve certain ends. Even if your morals compel you to act like mother Theresa, giving up all material goods and convenience and going out and helping people 24/7, you are doing it because it benefits you psychologically, emotionally or otherwise. Material goods and convenience are less valuable in your eyes than helping others, and so you are pursuing your values and, thus, are not being altruistic.

    The claim that altruism cannot exist is quite falsifiable and can be derived purely logically, which is what I did. It can be found to be false by finding an error in my reasoning, and I do not see one.
    It does not matter whether motivations and goals of people are private or not. We can still derive certain properties of them based on pure logical reasoning. I do not need to know all the intricacies of the decision-making process someone goes through in their head to be able to say that this process aims at a certain outcome that is beneficial to them.

    People are free to believe that they are altruists and act in a way that they believe to be altruistic: that is fine, it is their choice. But, in my eyes, they are making a logical mistake, and logical mistakes always have negative implications to one's life.
    Plaffelvohfen
  • PlaffelvohfenPlaffelvohfen 2318 Pts   -   edited February 18
    @MayCaesar
    The claim that altruism cannot exist is quite falsifiable and can be derived purely logically, which is what I did.
    You demonstrably did not...
     
     "Altruism cannot exist"... This claim is not falsifiable because "no conceivable example of an altruistic action can refute the view that there was a conceivably egotistic motive hidden behind it."... Whatever example of altruism I could conceive of, can be disregarded by the claimer (you) as being "conceivably" egotistic... 

    To falsify your claim, you must provide an example of a conceivable truly altruistic action, which the claim itself precludes... 

    We can therefore unequivocally conclude that Altruism can exist...

    One can use all the purest logic he wants to arrive to the claim, but it will still be unfalsifiable, and much like supernatural beliefs, mostly unscientific and ultimately Faith based... And it is not just a wordplay, but a very profound point that has serious implications... 
    " Adversus absurdum, contumaciter ac ridens! "
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3702 Pts   -  
    @Plaffelvohfen

    You should not have to come up with any examples of altruism if the reasoning I have provided is correct, as it outlaws the possibility of their existence. And if the reasoning is not correct, then I would like to hear a rebuttal. It is not about falsifiability or non-falsifiability, as to even get to the stage where the question of falsifiability can be posed, we should first establish that the concept itself does not have inherent contradictions. In this case, it does.

    It is much like you do not need to come up with examples of ordinary numbers that solve the equation x+1=x. You can easily mathematically prove that the equation cannot be solved in ordinary numbers, devoiding you of the need to look for any counter-examples.
  • PlaffelvohfenPlaffelvohfen 2318 Pts   -   edited February 18
    @MayCaesar

    The impossibility of disproving egoism may sound like a virtue of the theory, but it’s really a fatal drawback.

    Any theory that purports to tell us something about the world, as egoism does, should be falsifiable. Not false, of course, but at least capable of being tested and thus proven false. If every state of affairs is compatible with egoism, then egoism doesn’t tell us anything of substance about how things are and is just a useless, empty husk, like God...
    " Adversus absurdum, contumaciter ac ridens! "
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 3702 Pts   -  
    @Plaffelvohfen

    I would not call it a theory: it is just a logical identity. It might be a redundant one as such, which makes it very surprising how so many people still act as if it did not hold. In this sense, it is not a useless identity, but one that needs to be emphasized, understood and internalized, and it has serious implications on ethics, morals, economics and everything else.

    I also would not call the set of corresponding moral systems "egoism". "Self-awareness" is the term I like better. To properly operate in this world, you need to know what drives you, so to speak, and focus on nurturing those aspects of you and attracting them from the world around you. And not be apologetic in the process, preferably.




  • @Plaffelvohfen

    1: Having made a choice means having preferred one option to other options.
    2: Existence of that preference prevents this choice from being altruistic. 

    Sorry, but 2 doesn't not follow from 1...  From the fact that preference exist, it does not follow that altruism is impossible... Which is what you're saying... 

    @Plaffelvohfen I didn't know you have a split personality where one part of you argues with the other. hehe.
    Plaffelvohfen



  • Anyway, I've read some good arguments here from several parties. And that reminds me that I've still yet to read "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins.
    Plaffelvohfen



  • PlaffelvohfenPlaffelvohfen 2318 Pts   -   edited February 19
    @ZeusAres42
    I didn't know you have a split personality where one part of you argues with the other. hehe.

    We are surprised you hadn't notice...  ;)

    ZeusAres42
    " Adversus absurdum, contumaciter ac ridens! "
  • PlaffelvohfenPlaffelvohfen 2318 Pts   -  
    @ZeusAres42

    You know, I do genuinely agree with @MayCaesar that this debate is a fundamental one, with serious implications on ethics, morals, economics and everything else that may concern the Human Experience... And because the issue is not a trivial one in its consequences, I affirm that both Egoism and Altruism are lacking and inadequate, and consequently are weak candidates for a legitimate, comprehensive normative logical identity of human nature... 

    PS: For the Selfish Gene, take a newer edition, he addresses the post-publication "controversies" about the title and the possible ambiguous terminology used at times, just to clarify context in his own word... ;)

    I should read Daniel Batson's Altruism in Humans (the latest major stick in Egoism's wheel apparently) to get a better understanding of his research and the data supporting it, which would purportedly negate psychological egoism... Which is quite a claim... The bits and pieces available freely online are mostly limited to quotes or someone else's comments and wiki entries (for what they're worth)... Even if correct, I think it would still be insufficient for the purpose of Identity...
    ZeusAres42
    " Adversus absurdum, contumaciter ac ridens! "
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