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wanderer
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#861
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#861
(Original post by Calvin)
Can I start up about Wittgenstein, rule following, and how we can only understand God's prescripts by observing interpretation through his actions? Can I? Can I? huh? huh?
Well, I was thinking about bringing in the problem of actually defining categories of action without reference to the situation, and situationalism/consequentialism merely being a different degree of absolutism, which could go along similar lines ...
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grumballcake
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#862
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#862
(Original post by wanderer)
Christians have to make decisions about the morality of actions based on the situation, as most moral dilemmas arise from 'which is the lesser of two evils' type situations.
My point is somewhat different. The Christian does not have to make those decisions alone as God is on hand to help resolve the situation. Of course, God's response is not guaranteed, but it is a Christian tenet that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. We can also draw on 2,000 years of Christian thinking, prayer and tradition to help inform our decision making. It's far from a prescribed calculus.
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jmj
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#863
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#863
(Original post by Calvin)
Can I start up about Wittgenstein, rule following, and how we can only understand God's prescripts by observing interpretation through his actions? Can I? Can I? huh? huh?
Are you talking about religious language, coz I have to do that for A2 Philosphy in religion and I think it's very interesting discusssing whether talking about God is meaningful or not.
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grumballcake
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#864
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#864
(Original post by TCovenant)
That is undeniably incorrect.
Well, I deny that it's incorrect, so it's not 'undeniable'. As an aside, if you try to make your words carry weight by adding forceful adjectives, it usually has the opposite effect. When you use 'undeniable' it had better be about something which really cannot be sensibly denied, like 2+2 = 4. (Yes, I know that it doesn't in base 4 arithmetic)

It is not correct however, to argue that the fact that one cannot establish an objective, ‘independent scale’ of what persons value, renders utilitarianism possible.
Uh? Did you mean 'impossible'?
All one need be able to do for utilitarianism is to be able to posit what others value and the relative strength of these preferences. We know intuitively that we would prefer to lose a glove relative to losing a hand, the absence of an objective scale of experience does not render it any less significant.
Well, we're back to whether these preferences are commensurable and transitive. If A > B and B > C then is A > C?
The point philosophically, is that understood correctly, in Mill’s hierarchy pleasure/pain and preferences accord exactly, hence why it is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied.
Well, it becomes incumbent on the utilitartian to exactly delimit this scale, doesn't it? Such a hierarchy must be axiomatic, since it cannot be derived from pure utility. So what criteria will we use to formulate this hierarchy 'correctly'? Who will draw up the scale and what if some people prefer a different scale?
by nature all persons prefer pleasure over suffering.
I don't think that's true unless you make 'pleasure' malleable to the extent where a sado-masochist's pleasure is somehow different from a philanthropist's.
he simply demonstrates that an enjoyment of opera is more desirable than an enjoyment of one’s alcoholism.
He can assert it, but he can't demonstrate it, since it's entirely a matter of personal opinion. De gustibus non disputandum est, as the Latin saying goes.
I’ve already demonstrated how it will work in practise.
No, you really haven't. You've just repeated yourself at length. You've refused to work through any examples, not given any guidelines about how it deals with any real-world systems.
If we accept the premise of the utilitarian goal;
What is that goal? A system of ethics without God? I certainly don't accept that.

I've already said that I don't accept that people's preferences have binding force at all. I believe we can subordinate individual preferences in order to pursue a higher goal. Because I believe that people are sinful, I don't consider their preferences to be an inerrant guide to what's good and noble. Rather the contrary.
Mill is entirely correct, and in any case doesn’t draw on the Golden Rule, he states that logically followed it is identical to utilitarianism.
He's talking nonsense though. For a start it's not what Jesus taught. Jesus did not teach "Love your neighbour as yourself" in abstraction. It was always subordinate to "Love the Lord your God with all your strength, soul and mind".
If you’re asserting that sacrifice has intrinsic value, then you’re clearly asserting a different thesis altogether
Of course it does. The whole thesis if Christianity is that Jesus gave up Godhood in order to rescue mankind. He gave up the greater pleasure for a lesser one. Surely no-one can believe that human beings are more valuable than God? That's the mystery of the Incarnation.
Further situation ethics isn’t an example of moral relativism, it offers the agape principle as an absolute ethical standard
Yes, but agape is a sacrificial love.
as with the utilitarian rule.
No, not at all. Utilitarianism is about pleasure. It tries to appropriate other terms in order to cover up its cold, calculating heart. It always has to borrow from other philosophies in order to shore up its own flaws.
What ‘underpins’ the Golden Rule is irrelevant,
I don't think so. I simply think utilitarians want to dress up a shallow philosophy by equating it to a better (if still incomplete) one.
Claiming that utilitarianism is “materialistic” is potentially misleading. Utilitarianism is based on the totality of human experience, and the resulting preferences thereof, within its scope lies any preference of a person for any conceivable object (material or non), the point is that it is preferable.
Then you've made it so woolly that it will baa soon. So, what of God's preferences? By what fiat did utilitarianism suddenly constrain God?
I know that you don’t agree with the utilitarian principle, but you criticised utilitarianism on the basis that you thought it was a ‘platitude with no practical applications’.
I thought I criticised utilitarianism on the basis that it relies on a calculus which can embrace atrocities. I criticised your version on the basis that I think that it's just platitudes and that you've refused to say how it might work in a specific example.

If you're now arguing that you only ever meant Golden Rule ethics, not classic utilitarianism, with its essential calculus, then I'll move on to address that.
For ethics to be based on maximising pleasure only one thing is required- the acceptance that pleasure is ethically superior to suffering. For it to be practically possible to base ethical behaviour on maximising pleasure all one need is the possibility, however slight, of being able to speculate as to whether an action is more or less likely to bring more or less pleasure. This is a binary opposition, if it is possible in some circumstances to do so, then one can act ethically according to the principle of maximising pleasure/minimising harm, whether or not one finds the world so complex that one only feels capable of making such a decision very rarely to a very small extent, if one believe that it is impossible to ever speculate as to whether action will bring harm or suffering, then it is clearly impossible to ever take account of the suffering of others.
I'm trying hard to be polite here, so bear with me. Very few real-world actions have a simple yes/no answer. The example I gave earlier has dozens of different benefits and costs. Even sitting and typing this message has a whole realm of possible outcomes, some of which would be of benefit and some not. It might help you understand if I type some more, but that means that I'll spend less time with my family. So it's hard to envisage that I can reduce each action to a simple benefit/cost. There will always be a spectrum, not black/white. This is a multi-factorial world and any attempt to reduce it to pleasure/pain is not only flawed, but stupid.
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grumballcake
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#865
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#865
(Original post by TCovenant)
if I offer ‘concrete workings’ of an imaginary scenario, there is no reason why you can not simply state that you disagree based on your own view on the original premise of what actually is ethical.
It wasn't so that we could agree on what was good at all. I don't believe there's a single 'right' answer to it. It was to show you that your system will involve a calculus and that you'll have to establish a scale. Once that becomes apparent to you, it will be much easier to show you why that calculus will support atrocities, if we take it to its logical conclusion.

If you deny that an atrocity can exist at all, then that would be a fruitful line of discussion. I believe that there are values outside hedonism which factor in our decision making. When trying to deal with earlier examples, you've used such principles while simultaneously denying them.
You must agree that the actual validity of an ethical theory is whether it is accurate in itself, working through an example is demonstrably of no benefit,
Au contraire. Working through examples is exactly how one can demonstrate incoherence. Bentham starts with a principle which claims to deal with all cases based upon its axioms alone and then shows how it works in practice. We can then demostrate that it does not disallow unethical scenarios like the "sadistic guards". So we show by example that the ethics presented are incomplete and/or incoherent.
Such a system of ‘ethics’ would functionally be the same as any form of system for calculating the greatest good
I don't agree that it would be ethics at all.
Nevertheless it raises the problem of endeavouring to know the “say so” of God. Functionally, unless the will of God is known directly, in the situations in which we have to act, morality would practically have to be derived from a system of ethical assertions which constitute morality, which are assumed to be derived directly from God.
Theism is not without its weaknesses as an ethical system, not least the problem of knowing what God said. I'm not claiming that all systems of ethics must be theistic underneath, even if I believe that all ethics which ignore the role of God are fatally flawed.
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grumballcake
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#866
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#866
(Original post by Calvin)
Can I start up about Wittgenstein, rule following, and how we can only understand God's prescripts by observing interpretation through his actions? Can I? Can I? huh? huh?
Sure, go ahead. I'm not getting very far in showing TCovenant that his belief system isn't an ethical panacaea.
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jmj
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#867
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#867
What are your thoughts on religious language and Witgenstein grumballcake? (I'm assuming that's what Calvin is referring to)
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grumballcake
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#868
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#868
I don't know which way Calvin's going to jump here. If he's referring to Wittgenstein's later work, then Wittgenstein would argue that religious language can only be understood within that religious community. It is part of the "language game" of that community, so it cannot be translated outside that grouping. So phrases like "God is good" could not be broken down as by the Euthyphro dilemma since the community is prefectly free to deny that good exists as anything outside God.

Anyway, let's see what he says. At least it probably won't be 2,000+ words.
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wanderer
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#869
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#869
(Original post by grumballcake)
My point is somewhat different. The Christian does not have to make those decisions alone as God is on hand to help resolve the situation. Of course, God's response is not guaranteed, but it is a Christian tenet that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. We can also draw on 2,000 years of Christian thinking, prayer and tradition to help inform our decision making. It's far from a prescribed calculus.
I'm not saying it is, I'm simply saying that the morality of most Christians is situational rather than absolutist - there are situations in which lying/cheating/stealing can be right, and it is these situations in which Christians turn to God/scripture/church for guidance.
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jmj
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#870
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#870
(Original post by wanderer)
I'm not saying it is, I'm simply saying that the morality of most Christians is situational rather than absolutist - there are situations in which lying/cheating/stealing can be right, and it is these situations in which Christians turn to God/scripture/church for guidance.
Well, as a Christian myself I can totally back you up on that, because as hard as I might try to follow the 10 Commandments, there may be situations which arise where it isn't as simple as that. An example is of a Christian friend of mine who really made me think when she thought of this:

You're in a room with a person that has a device that could wipe out human life on the entire planet, with the single push of a button, and you have a gun with a single bullet in your hand. There is no way to talk him/her out of it, and there are no other options.

Obviously, shooting the person would be breaking the Sixth Commandment, and at the time I remember solemly replying with the 'well, that's too hypothetical, I'm not going to dignify that with an answer' type approach, but it did make me think about it a lot, and I probably would shoot the person to save the human race but still see it as a sin and ask forgiveness from God afterwards.
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Calvin
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#871
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#871
Nah I won't, I was only kidding because I talk about it so often. And to be honest when it comes to religion and ethics I don't have the inclination. I find ethical discussion sinfully dull. Sorry to disappoint!
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TCovenant
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#872
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#872
(Original post by grumballcake)
“Well, I deny that it's incorrect, so it's not 'undeniable'. As an aside, if you try to make your words carry weight by adding forceful adjectives, it usually has the opposite effect. When you use 'undeniable' it had better be about something which really cannot be sensibly denied, like 2+2 = 4.”
You have (again) solely quoted an assertion of mine, in this case without even referring to what I believe is incorrect, without referring to any of the actual argument presented.
That the inability to possess an ‘independent scale’ of what other people value does not render the utilitarian formulation impossible, is undeniable, insofar as you have conceded that it is possible to reasonably speculate as to relative preferences, and this is all that is required for the utilitarian principle to be applied.
“Uh? Did you mean 'impossible'?”
Yes, as the rest of the paragraph makes clear.
“Well, we're back to whether these preferences are commensurable and transitive. If A > B and B > C then is A > C?”
You have already asserted that you do take account of relative preferences of others, simply not as the sole factor. Any demonstration you make of possible uncertainty in practical ethics doesn’t render the utilitarian principle problematic, unless you are maintaining the total impossibility of comparison of preferences, which you have already denied.
As I stated the first time you asked the question, preferences are comparable, further the relative preferentiality of things is transitive, so long as that representation accurately represents the relative preferentiality: i.e. providing that the model you’ve presented refers to a single scenario. For example, choosing between preserving the preferences of Socrates, a fool, a pig: Socrates’ preferences more significant than those of a fool, fool’s than pig’s, Socrates’ better than pig’s.

“it becomes incumbent on the utilitarian to exactly delimit this scale, doesn't it? Such a hierarchy must be axiomatic, since it cannot be derived from pure utility. So what criteria will we use to formulate this hierarchy 'correctly'? Who will draw up the scale and what if some people prefer a different scale?”
This objection is the same as the previous objections relating to the necessity of a ‘calculus’ in comparing preferentiality. That a hierarchy can be observed does not imply that it “must be axiomatic… it cannot be derived from pure utility.” The point, as demonstrated so adroitly by the passage you quoted to make the opposite point, is that the only hierarchy is of pure utility, and any hierarchy thereafter demonstrated is purely an expression of pure utility.

Hence it is more preferable to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied, because Socrates’ preferences are more preferable than those of the pig. Note that such a judgement of relative preferentiality can only be made through speculation. This relative preferentiality can be expressed through any number of hierarchies or axioms: Socrates will likely benefit from significant preferences for reflection etc, more than the pig; similarly the preferentiality can be suggested insofar as Socrates is higher in the “Socially productive->less so” hierarchy, and the “Brings happiness to peers->less” hierarchy”. None of these demonstrate anything except a series of generalisations based upon the original speculation.

The question of ‘what if persons prefer a different scale?’ is not a question of whether the utilitarian formulation is correct, but whether knowledge of the utilitarian formulation would maximise its ends, were it disseminated. Such a question is dealt with by Singer in ‘Is Act-Utilitarianism Self-Defeating?’ but such a consideration is beyond the scope of our discussion, because as I stated above, one’s conclusions as to the two questions can be determined distinctly.

“I don't think that's true unless you make 'pleasure' malleable to the extent where a sado-masochist's pleasure is somehow different from a philanthropist's.”
There is no reason to make a distinction between the two except insofar as one or the other differs in terms of their actual utility. ‘Pleasure’ is consequently in no sense malleable except insofar as the experiences of sado-masochism and a philanthropist’s are actually different; a possibility delineated in the prior ‘what if some-one prefers to torture people?’ situation.

“He can assert it, but he can't demonstrate it, since it's entirely a matter of personal opinion. De gustibus non disputandum est, as the Latin saying goes.”
We have agreed that no-one has access to an objective measure of a person’s personal experiences. It is therefore an opinion that persons suffer more from brutal rape than they enjoy it, nevertheless based upon observation of persons etc such a speculation is valid.

“No, you really haven't. You've just repeated yourself at length. You've refused to work through any examples, not given any guidelines about how it deals with any real-world systems.”
You have stated previously that you take account of suffering and pleasure when making ethical choices, consequently you’ve already acceded the possibility of this principle being practically applicable.
I have stated that suffering is intrinsically bad, that one can reasonably speculate about what persons will actually prefer, and as to which acts will best satisfy this goal. Unless you are refuting the possibility of speculation as to these ends, then on what basis are you objecting to utilitarianism’s practical applicability?
“What is that goal? A system of ethics without God? I certainly don't accept that.”
Were that a goal, it would be the goal of a utilitarian, not the utilitarian goal, which is solely the utilitarian principle: greatest satisfaction of preferences.

“I've already said that I don't accept that people's preferences have binding force at all. I believe we can subordinate individual preferences in order to pursue a higher goal. Because I believe that people are sinful, I don't consider their preferences to be an inerrant guide to what's good and noble. Rather the contrary.”
Whether you believe that preferences can be subordinated to a separate higher goal is a separate question. The question is whether you believe that ceteris paribus, satisfaction of preference is preferable to frustration of preference. If you also believe that higher goods exist, and you believe that God has given superseding ethical significance to contrary ethical goods, then this is a distinct matter, and the question is one of judging these goods.

“He's talking nonsense though. For a start it's not what Jesus taught. Jesus did not teach "Love your neighbour as yourself" in abstraction. It was always subordinate to "Love the Lord your God with all your strength, soul and mind".”
Mill isn’t talking nonsense, it’s a reasonable assertion. Whether or not “love your neighbour as yourself” leads logically to utilitarianism is a reasonable assertion; which you can disagree with as you wish. Whether “Love your God…” is an ethical prescription which is contra utilitarian is another question altogether, which requires the assertion that Loving God leads necessarily to a goal other than acting in the best interests of all preferring beings. If one accepts that “Love your God” supersedes “Love your neighbour” such an assertion is only pertinent if one can demonstrate the conflict between the prescriptions of Loving God and best satisfying preferences.

“Of course it does. The whole thesis if Christianity is that Jesus gave up Godhood in order to rescue mankind. He gave up the greater pleasure for a lesser one. Surely no-one can believe that human beings are more valuable than God? That's the mystery of the Incarnation.”
Even within the context of that assertion giving up Godhood, being a chosen course of action clearly demonstrated a preference. I fail to see that your example offers any critique of utilitarianism since it is an example of some-one sacrificing their personal preferences for the preferences of all mankind. In any case, asserting your beliefs about higher, goods entirely separate from their impact upon people, is clearly a separate question to the validity of utilitarianism. One can still discuss the ethical preferentiality of preferences, even if one still intends to assert after the conclusion of the argument that human suffering can be superseded by Divine prescription.

“Yes, but agape is a sacrificial love.”
Yes, but this doesn’t suggest that it is morally relativist.

“No, not at all. Utilitarianism is about pleasure. It tries to appropriate other terms in order to cover up its cold, calculating heart. It always has to borrow from other philosophies in order to shore up its own flaws.”
That you think utilitarianism “tries to appropriate other terms in order to cover up its cold, calculating heart. It always has to borrow from other philosophies in order to shore up its own flaws” is obviously irrelevant. The point was that both situation ethics and utilitarianism offer absolute ethical prescriptions.
“I don't think so. I simply think utilitarians want to dress up a shallow philosophy by equating it to a better (if still incomplete) one.”
You may think that, but the argument was about whether GR logically led to utilitarianism, both that question and whether utilitarianism is comparatively shallow, require a demonstration of a logical difference between GR’s conclusions and utilitarianism’s.

“Then you've made it so woolly that it will baa soon. So, what of God's preferences? By what fiat did utilitarianism suddenly constrain God? “
Stating that it is woolly isn’t an objection. If there’s an actual flaw in the assertion then feel free to state it overtly. Utilitarianism has in no sense ‘constrained God.’ In order to judge the utilitarian thesis you have to critique it based on its actual assertions, deciding whether or not ceteris paribus, one ought to act in order to satisfy preferences. If one then wants to posit the existence of God, then we’re having a different discussion, whether the existence renders utilitarianism false, but such an assertion is yours to make- demonstrating that God exists, holds personal preferences, holds preferences which outweigh all others, and which conflict with these other preferences.

“I thought I criticised utilitarianism on the basis that it relies on a calculus which can embrace atrocities. I criticised your version on the basis that I think that it's just platitudes and that you've refused to say how it might work in a specific example.

If you're now arguing that you only ever meant Golden Rule ethics, not classic utilitarianism, with its essential calculus, then I'll move on to address that.”
As I’ve stated there isn’t a distinction between the conclusions of classical utilitarianism, my formulation and Golden Rule ethics (providing one applies the Golden Rule without bias). If such a distinction exists then one would have to demonstrate it; you’ve consistently asserted that Mill and Bentham had a “calculus” which render their versions distinct from my formulation, and yet you’ve not responded to my assertions that this calculus is by nature identical to the utilitarian principle. Similarly not only have I stated that how the principle would work is irrelevant to the validity of the ethical principle- to which you haven’t responded, I have also offered a number of specific examples for how this works. Further I’ve also stated that one acts in practise, by judging what persons will prefer based on their observation of what persons seem likely to prefer, and what actions seem likely to bring this about. Of course not only is this irrelevant to the validity of the ethical assertion, but you’ve already asserted that you do consider the preferences of others in practise; either you’re disputing this on reflection, or you’re suggesting that there is a distinction between this process and utilitarianism per se. Whether you believe that you must follow other ‘goods’ is irrelevant to the question of whether you believe considering the suffering/pleasure of others, is possible.

“I'm trying hard to be polite here, so bear with me. Very few real-world actions have a simple yes/no answer. The example I gave earlier has dozens of different benefits and costs. Even sitting and typing this message has a whole realm of possible outcomes, some of which would be of benefit and some not. It might help you understand if I type some more, but that means that I'll spend less time with my family. So it's hard to envisage that I can reduce each action to a simple benefit/cost. There will always be a spectrum, not black/white. This is a multi-factorial world and any attempt to reduce it to pleasure/pain is not only flawed, but stupid.”
Whether an action is “yes/no” is irrelevant. Either different course of action are relatively preferable, or there is no difference in preferentiality.

As I stated and you quoted “For it to be practically possible to base ethical behaviour on maximising pleasure all one need is the possibility, however slight, of being able to speculate as to whether an action is more or less likely to bring more or less pleasure.” Thus judgements may not be simple but they are possible: even if your decision is based on the judgement that “discussing online and family are good; lying motionless on the floor is less likely to be good,” you’ve made a judgement as to preference- it may not be black:white, but all we need establish is that it is not exclusively the same shade of grey.

It is not “stupid” to reduce it to pleasure/pain. Even if you posit that your preferences contain elements which are distinct from pleasure/pain, you demonstrably still prefer some things over others.

“It was to show you that your system will involve a calculus and that you'll have to establish a scale. Once that becomes apparent to you, it will be much easier to show you why that calculus will support atrocities, if we take it to its logical conclusion.

If you deny that an atrocity can exist at all, then that would be a fruitful line of discussion. I believe that there are values outside hedonism which factor in our decision making. When trying to deal with earlier examples, you've used such principles while simultaneously denying them.”
I’ve asserted before, ethical decisions do not necessitate a calculus in this sense.
It is taken as the utilitarian principle that one ought to act as to best fulfil preferences.
Thus faced with any situation one tries to lead to as much total fulfilment as possible: fulfilment of positive preferences – fulfilment of negative preferences.
One can judge this solely based upon one’s suppositions about firstly, what persons will prefer and also what actions will bring about the fulfilment of these preferences. Both of these judgements are of course speculation based on imperfect knowledge.

In a situation there are therefore total preferences, and total possible causes and consequences. There is also a possible scenario wherein preferences would be best fulfilled and a course of action that would lead to this.

Any person without omniscience knows neither what every-one prefers, nor every consequence of every course. They must therefore speculate about what actions are possible, what their effects would be, and what persons would prefer in each of these situations. Clearly a person has no access to objective, paradoxically self-justifying rules, which demonstrate the answer. Rather all one has is the totality of their supposition, from fire hurts me, and hurt I dislike, fire probably hurts persons also, which they also probably will not like, to speculation about the likely result of a system of free speech upon a community of preference-holding persons. The totality of their presuppositions are, clearly, all that a person has, unless one argues that one cannot make such observations, or that there exist other facts about ethics which can be accessed from a direct, absolute source- obviously an assertion that you might want to make.

Based upon one’s speculation, one of course notes a host of general rules. Nevertheless there is no difference between the making a judgement of probably preferences based on one’s speculation’ and making a judgement based upon a calculus that is exclusively the result of generalised rules drawn from one’s supposition, obviously such a “calculus” can only ever be a generalised form of one’s speculation, or else a statement of the totality of one’s speculation in an infinite series of generalised rules.

I have asserted that utilitarianism can never lead to an atrocity. Obviously a person acting without total knowledge can cause an atrocity, even if their sole intention is to avoid such a thing. The point is that utilitarianism always necessitates a person acting so as to fulfil preferences to the best of their ability, thus always endeavouring to result in the best consequences. I have not simultaneously used/denied principles outside of hedonism; an atrocity would be impossible based upon the best fulfilment of preferences, because the best fulfilment of preferences would always bring the results that bring the least amount of relative suffering- were this end to be considered an “atrocity”, the only alternative would be an atrocity to a greater extent as it would necessarily be a result that was worse for all those concerned.

“Au contraire. Working through examples is exactly how one can demonstrate incoherence. Bentham starts with a principle which claims to deal with all cases based upon its axioms alone and then shows how it works in practice. We can then demostrate that it does not disallow unethical scenarios like the "sadistic guards". So we show by example that the ethics presented are incomplete and/or incoherent.”
As I stated that would only be the case if there were agreement about that which would constitute good. If we agree that sadistic guards are the only ethical wrong a priori, then we can determine that the best scenario is that with fewer sadistic guards. If we concur that the best scenario is that which brings least overall suffering and most benefit to persons, then we can agree or disagree about a worked example, on the basis of whether or not more suffering results. Since we’re disagreeing about what actually constitutes a good working through an example shows nothing, as I will simply assert that less suffering overall occurs and you will assert that this is an atrocity nevertheless.

“I don't agree that it would be ethics at all.”
That’s why I said it was ‘ethics,’ the point is that it is a mere approximation of rules which will on the whole be better ethically, which is all the “calculus” that you demand, could be, unless it is tautologically identical to the original utilitarian principle in itself.

“I'm not getting very far in showing TCovenant that his belief system isn't an ethical panacaea.”
Whether or not utilitarianism offers a universal panacea isn’t within the scope of the discussion, what is important is whether or one concurs with the assertion that the preferences and suffering of all persons are ethically significant, without bias. Whether you also believe that there exist Godly commands for higher goods, which supersede human suffering, is another question entirely for you to defend.
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jmj
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#873
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#873
What do you want to talk about re: Witgenstein then Calvin? I have rather limited knowledge about him, I only know a bit about him in terms of religious language, but we could talk about religious language in general if you like
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johnrambo
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#874
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#874
Man... thats some long posting. I really hope you don't have an exam any time soon.
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TCovenant
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#875
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#875
(Original post by johnrambo)
Man... thats some long posting. I really hope you don't have an exam any time soon.
No, no exams luckily; engaging in this sort of argument represents quite a break from more strenuous philosophy.
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grumballcake
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#876
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#876
(Original post by jmj)
Obviously, shooting the person would be breaking the Sixth Commandment
No it wouldn't. The commandement is "Do not murder". Yet, this isn't murder but self defence. If they push the button, I die, so I'm entitled to use force to defend myself.

It's more interesting if you take it as an assassination, like killing Hitler as a young man.
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wanderer
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#877
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#877
(Original post by grumballcake)
No it wouldn't. The commandement is "Do not murder". Yet, this isn't murder but self defence. If they push the button, I die, so I'm entitled to use force to defend myself.
Interesting. How do you deal with linguistic difficulties? The definition of 'murder' will vary between different people. You can't exactly turn to a dictionary - they all come long after the bible and there's no guarantee they'd give an accurate interpretation. What if the original Hebrew word has somewhat different connotations?
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jmj
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#878
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#878
I totally agree with what Wanderer says, you can definately come across difficulties with linguistic interpretations. My friend had used the counter argument breaking the Sixth Commandment in shooting the person so I kinda did it automatically. Also, although I think it's absolutely right to say it's self defence of myself and the rest of humanity, through the act of deliberately pulling the trigger I think I would still see shooting the person as murder in a sense.
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grumballcake
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#879
Report 12 years ago
#879
(Original post by wanderer)
Interesting. How do you deal with linguistic difficulties?
What linguistic difficulties? The only problem is with the KJV translation to 'kill', which is ambiguous in English. The Hebrew word used is 'ratsakh' which means killing without cause. Modern translations all use 'murder' as the English equivalent, since that's the closest translation. Hebrew has other words for accidental killing, or killing in war.

You can invent difficulties, of course, but only if you want to mistranslate.
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Calvin
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#880
Report 12 years ago
#880
(Original post by jmj)
What do you want to talk about re: Witgenstein then Calvin? I have rather limited knowledge about him, I only know a bit about him in terms of religious language, but we could talk about religious language in general if you like
Well then it would seem we complement each other nicely. I know nothingof Religious language, have a fair knowledge of the Tractatus, and know a little of his radical conventionalism and rule following from his later stuff. But that's it. I have a course on him next year though so I'm hoping to fill in the blanks.
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