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Morality is based on reducing harm/suffering.
in General

I hold morality to be based on a principle of minimizing harm/unnecessary suffering. Does anyone disagree with this definition? If so, how do you define morality and why is this applicable to humanity?
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  • NopeNope 324 Pts
    edited January 2
    SkepticalOne If two people attack you I think it is morally exceptable to defend yourself even if it means harming both of them. This would cause more harm then originally but I consider it fair.
  • someone234someone234 542 Pts
    edited January 3
    I am ~92% sure you got that from Sam Harris as he's a prominent pseudo-philosopher who is nothing more than an anti-Arab propaganda machine who supports whoever serves his sponsorss agenda(s) at the time.

    The issue with his premise is that he states that a universe of pain is undeniably better than a universe of pleasure.

    He has forgotten two things here:

    1) If you can't experience absence of pleasure (which in its extreme is 'pain') then you'll never have any suffering to compare your current sensation to be PLEASED by it hence no pleasure. In other words, we only feel 'good' when we are happy or 'good' when we orgasm because we know what it is to be without joy and orgasm.

    2) In reverse of point 1, there actually HAS TO BE PAIN and HAS TO BE SUFFERING if there is pleasure. Even if you are in the most communistic universe imaginable, maybe for them pain becomes not having a million dollars as $999,999 is very poor since there's only one-dollar variance in people's income brackets...  No matter how tiny a difference there is, the lower end is always suffering and pain. It's actually why people born into harsh childhoods end up much more resilient and why spoilt brats are so easy to anger or make upset; it's not their fault, their threshold of what suffering even is is preset during their upbringing so by adulthood it can't be altered as their brain has formed its subconscious around their scale of experienced pleasure and lack of it.
    Vaulk
    Be tomorrow's hero, not today's idol.
  • @Nope

    If someone aims to inflict harm they demonstrate they have no regard for reducing harm/suffering (at that time) and deserve no such consideration from others.
  • NopeNope 324 Pts
    SkepticalOne I believe morality has something to do with being fair. You claim that morality is about minimizing harm and unnecessary suffering. You never said that you could ignore these rules and it would be morally exceptable. Let me introduce a new situation. Say you had to inflect a little pain on 49 people or 50 people. You say you should inflect pain on the 49 people to minimize suffering. Now what if you had to do this 100 times. You would say in order to minimize pain you would inflect a little pain in the 49 people 100 times. I disagree. I believe you should inflect a little pain on the 50 people every once in a while because I see that as being fair. The difference is in one person and some people getting pain 100 times and other never is not fair in my mind. 
  • @Nope Also, a good parent and/or teacher is just as good at punishing as they are at rewarding.
    Be tomorrow's hero, not today's idol.
  • No it wasnt.
  • I will be posting in your persuade me later today, but I would also like to extend morality to ideas and thoughts being immoral as well. While they may bring up harm along the way, it is not what they cause, we are questioning about the nature of the idea because of the harm it causes when judging an idea for morality. Again, I'll post later today, but this will kind of resemble my backbone.
    A good debate is not judged by bias, but in the context of the debate, where objectivity is key and rationale prevalent. 


  • @Nope

    Inflicting harm on 49 or 50 persons without good reason would be unnecessary.  I thought I was clear that I would prefer to avoid unnecessary harm.
  • @Nope Also, a good parent and/or teacher is just as good at punishing as they are at rewarding.

    Assuming it is appropriate punishment would be necessary harm. There is no contradiction in inflicting harm to achieve a net positive outcome.
  • I am ~92% sure you got that from Sam Harris as he's a prominent pseudo-philosopher who is nothing more than an anti-Arab propaganda machine who supports whoever serves his sponsorss agenda(s) at the time.

    The issue with his premise is that he states that a universe of pain is undeniably better than a universe of pleasure.

    He has forgotten two things here:

    1) If you can't experience absence of pleasure (which in its extreme is 'pain') then you'll never have any suffering to compare your current sensation to be PLEASED by it hence no pleasure. In other words, we only feel 'good' when we are happy or 'good' when we orgasm because we know what it is to be without joy and orgasm.

    2) In reverse of point 1, there actually HAS TO BE PAIN and HAS TO BE SUFFERING if there is pleasure. Even if you are in the most communistic universe imaginable, maybe for them pain becomes not having a million dollars as $999,999 is very poor since there's only one-dollar variance in people's income brackets...  No matter how tiny a difference there is, the lower end is always suffering and pain. It's actually why people born into harsh childhoods end up much more resilient and why spoilt brats are so easy to anger or make upset; it's not their fault, their threshold of what suffering even is is preset during their upbringing so by adulthood it can't be altered as their brain has formed its subconscious around their scale of experienced pleasure and lack of it.

    This may come as a shock..but I'm not Sam Harris and his arguments are not mine :D. (plus, I have a hard time believing you're representing his arguments correctly). I've stated avoiding unnecessary harm is 'good', but avoiding necessary harm would be ...harmful. As you've pointed out, suffering can generate a net positive outcome, so there can be times when harm or suffering are desirable - vaccinations would be a good example of this. 
  • I will be posting in your persuade me later today, but I would also like to extend morality to ideas and thoughts being immoral as well. While they may bring up harm along the way, it is not what they cause, we are questioning about the nature of the idea because of the harm it causes when judging an idea for morality. Again, I'll post later today, but this will kind of resemble my backbone.

    As I stated in one of your earlier replies (in the other thread), Defining morality by what is 'immoral' is incoherent. You need to understand what morality is before you can label something as not that. I don't understand what you are trying to say in the bolded.
  • MikeMike 86 Pts
    The evolution of a moral code of conduct is a function of the “Golden Rule” driven by a “universal morality,” through the interaction of life’s “unalienable Rights,” which is an outgrowth of the physical constructal law.
  • Mike said:
    The evolution of a moral code of conduct is a function of the “Golden Rule” driven by a “universal morality,” through the interaction of life’s “unalienable Rights,” which is an outgrowth of the physical constructal law.

    You've copied this line a few times in a few different threads, but it's not clear to me what you actually mean to say. Would you expound on this?
  • MikeMike 86 Pts
    @SkepticalOne

    Good question. I’ll try to answer your question in steps concerning the evolution of a moral code of conduct. Before getting into the weeds, let’s see if we agree on some foundational concepts and their traceability to thermodynamics.    

    In the pursuit of happiness (bio-positive feedback for life in general), the audible dynamics of life’s unalienable rights (life’s bio-primitives, traceable to the physical constructal law a law in thermodynamics) begin at birth. When a distressed infant cries (a non-verbal form of inter-specie communication), the symmetry of that sound is recognizable to many species whether the cry comes from nest, den or cradle, etc.

    In contrast, any method used to soothe that cry results in the perception of happiness (positive feedback). The difference between happiness and distress are the tenets of right (positive feedback) and wrong (negative feedback): the primitives of a universal morality

  • NopeNope 324 Pts

    SkepticalOne
    said:
    @Nope

    Inflicting harm on 49 or 50 persons without good reason would be unnecessary.  I thought I was clear that I would prefer to avoid unnecessary harm.
    I may not have said why you had to inflect pain on one group but I did say you had to do it which makes it necessary. The reason does not matter only that it is necessary. The point was that I believe in many situations being fair is the right thing to do even through in some of thous situations being fairs ends up causing more suffering.
    SkepticalOne
    said:
    @Nope

    If someone aims to inflict harm they demonstrate they have no regard for reducing harm/suffering (at that time) and deserve no such consideration from others.
    In this comment you admitted that being fair is some time morally excaptable even if it causes more suffering. Your first comment does not allow this.
    SkepticalOne said:I hold morality to be based on a principle of minimizing harm/unnecessary suffering. Does anyone disagree with this definition? If so, how do you define morality and why is this applicable to humanity?
  • @Nope

    Ok, why is it necessary to inflict pain on the 50th person? If it is not necessary, then it's malicious. 
    In this comment you admitted that being fair is some time morally excaptable even if it causes more suffering. Your first comment does not allow this.
    No, at worst, I might have shown I am not always morally correct in my actions. Besides, defending myself against two attackers does not mean I introduce more harm into the world.  Death is the most possible harm that can be inflicted, and in your scenario I am at a much greater risk of it than my two attackers especially if I make myself more vulnerable.
  • @Mike

    Some of that might be applicable to the dawning of proto-morality in our evolutionary past, but it cannot explain certain aspects of our modern moral understanding: Moral actions aren't necessarily those which make us happy. So, I'm struggling to understand the relevance of your post to this thread.
  • MikeMike 86 Pts
    @Mike

    Some of that might be applicable to the dawning of proto-morality in our evolutionary past, but it cannot explain certain aspects of our modern moral understanding: Moral actions aren't necessarily those which make us happy. So, I'm struggling to understand the relevance of your post to this thread.

    “Moral actions aren’t necessarily those which make us happy.” Good point!

    When two or more humans form a group, the group comes alive as a separate civil social entity having its own unalienable rights resulting from the aggregate of its members. The objective of a universal morality is the genesis as well as the evolution of a subjective moral code of conduct, while following a code of conduct becomes a moral event preserving the life and norms of the group. The conservative evolution of these norms flows from one generation to the next, establishing society’s culture. A moral order guides individuals in the prudent exercise of judgment relative to those norms. An individual in a civil society strives, albeit imperfectly, to be virtuous, restrained, ethical, and honorable, respecting and embracing the unalienable rights of others relative to those tested norms (the moral code of conduct) in the attempt to keep the society alive and civil.

    Since an individual strives, albeit imperfectly, to be virtuous implies, not all “moral actions aren’t necessarily those which makes us happy,” because it is the struggle to keep a civil society alive. 

  • Mike said:

     The objective of a universal morality is the genesis as well as the evolution of a subjective moral code of conduct, while following a code of conduct becomes a moral event preserving the life and norms of the group.
    I think you'e getting the horse before the cart. The objective of morality is the preservation of life. Where harm and suffering can yield no net-benefit they are unnecessary and an indication of damage to life. Therefore, moral actions must avoid inflicting unnecessary harm or suffering.

    If the objective of morality were to create a subjective moral code, then preservation of life in general is not mandated - only the preservation of the individual life. I think if this were true, things like altruism and being concerned with other species would be difficult to explain.
  • MikeMike 86 Pts
    @SkepticalOne

    “The objective of morality is the preservation of life.” Bingo! That there my friend is the objective of a universal morality found throughout all species of life in group formation (genetic and/or social). For humans in group formation, the life of a civil society is dependent on the evolution of a moral code of conduct that is a function of a universal morality.

    No “horse before the cart” here! And on that note, I think we beat this “horse” of a subject to death; I must move on. 

  • @Mike

    I believe what I stated is distinct from what you originally posted. (It seemed you were claiming morality came about for subjective reasons). Nonetheless, I am glad we could find common ground.
  • NopeNope 324 Pts
    @Nope

    Ok, why is it necessary to inflict pain on the 50th person? If it is not necessary, then it's malicious. 
    In this comment you admitted that being fair is some time morally excaptable even if it causes more suffering. Your first comment does not allow this.
    No, at worst, I might have shown I am not always morally correct in my actions. Besides, defending myself against two attackers does not mean I introduce more harm into the world.  Death is the most possible harm that can be inflicted, and in your scenario I am at a much greater risk of it than my two attackers especially if I make myself more vulnerable.
    Say you drive a bus and every day you stop for a snack for the same people who ride the bus. Their are only to places to get a snack on the bus route, the pizza place and tree nut shop. 50 people on your bus are lactose intolerance and cannot eat the pizza. The other 49 are allergic to tree nuts and cannot eat the snacks thier which all have tree nuts. You have tried to make other arrangements but the bus company policy will not allow you to. You can only go to one. The group that cannot eat the snacks will be hungry for the rest of the bus ride. You do this bus ride 100 times. You say do the pizza place all 100 time and I will disagree. More commonly their might be a situation where a group is split on a good treat to get because they don't like the same thing. This can happen often and if it is a rutearn only on group will get the treat if we fallow your moral code. It does not seem very fair to me.
    Both the situations Say two attackers are trying to shoot you. They chase you into a massive room with no other exits and no where to hide. But in the middle of the room is a gun with two shots. You know if you shoot the attackers in the leg or arms that that would be you only shots and they could still shoot you. Say Jimmy is in this situation and he decide to, in a panic, shoots both of them around the body before they can shoot him. They both die. By your definition this is an unmoral diction. I would disagree and say he made a morally exeptable diction.
  • SkepticalOneSkepticalOne 54 Pts
    edited January 5
    @Nope

    A person with lactose intolerance can expect gas, bloating, diarhea, etc., from eating dairy products.  By all accounts, this is not generally a fatal experience.  On the other hand, nut allergies can be and often are fatal.  So, assuming I am somehow able to circumvent the volition of other beings and make them a slave to my choices (not very likely) I would choose the pizza shop and keep a large stock of lactaid available. Win/win :-D 

    As for your self defense scenario, I have successfully addressed it and you have now modified the circumstances.  This is moving the goal posts.

    https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/129/Moving_the_Goalposts

    FWIW, Jimmy did not commit an immoral act 'by my definition'.  Feel free to ask questions. 






  • NopeNope 324 Pts
    SkepticalOne 
    My second example is originally hypothetical. Weather we can make good examples or not the point is to apply morals to this situation to try show many times it is not better to minimize pain but be fair. Non the less morals depend on the person and as such it is perfectly fine if one thinks you should strive to minimizing suffering in that situation.
    How did Jimmy not commit an immoral act if he caused two people to die instead of one causing more suffering. That is not minimizing harm or pain.
  • NopeNope 324 Pts
    SkepticalOne If you could pleas one of two people and pick one many time then the moral code of minimizing suffering would mean it would not matter who is choicen. But personally my moral code would try please them each an equally amount of time. I think I have explain my moral code well and how it is not all about minimizing suffering. : )
  • I must disagree with your proposed set of moral rules. While I also think that an important part of improving our existence is reducing the amount of harm done, when you claim that doing so is some objective moral law, you're claiming that these moral rules definitively exist. We have no logical or empirical reason to believe that any set of moral rules are "true" or that there exists an objective moral set of rules. When we claim there is, we are in effect creating an (ultimately) arbitrary standard for behavior, which causes a litany of problems.

    For instance, consider the following situation. Abel is a mean old man with a lot of money. His sons, Ben and Cole, are very poor and have large families of extremely gifted children. Abel is loved by no one and is too old to contribute in any meaningful way to society. The converse is true for his sons. They decide to murder him, knowing that they will inherit his large estate. Upon being confronted by his sons, Abel (who has a gun) has the choice to either a) kill them both to save himself or b) allow them to kill him. By your theory of minimizing harm, Abel is morally obligated to choose (b). In scenario (b), only one person dies and the benefits of the two sons having that money is substantial. Their gifted children will get to eat and to go to college. 

    For obvious reasons, this interpretation is problematic. It undermines the idea that one has the right to protect oneself. It also implies that murder in the name of getting money is sometimes justified. One can twiddle with this scenario such that one can justify all manner of acts which people might normally consider bad. Even more, this isn't just a "classroom" scenario that won't ever happen in the real world. Scenarios like the one above happen often enough to be considered relevant.

    If your aim is to make the world a better place, you can't adopt objective standards like these. You have to judge everything on a case-by-case basis and use the skills of logic and reason to determine whether a particular action was appropriate or inappropriate. It is generally not in the best interest of humanity to have these objective standards, but rather to adopt a system of rules, admit that they are not objective, and allow for these rules to be changed whenever wisdom suggests it. 

    Note that any set of rules has problems such as these. I post all of this because your error is in trying to take all possible human behavior and limit it according to a simple rule. It's important to talk about the subjective moral system that "wisdom suggests" is good for us, like mentioned above, but it is not particularly constructive to suggest that a rule that can be contained within a sentence is the answer to all (or even most) of our ethical dilemmas. 
  • @SkepticalOne

    I agree generally, but if someone is like the Nazis, your only defense is to cause them extreme amounts of harm and suffering.
  • @SkepticalOne ;
    Then, would there be anything wrong about kidnapping people and giving them pills to make them happy and not notice that they have been kidnapped? Assuming no injury was done.
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