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    Ah you see, smart one that Hume
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    Yep, Hume is smart

    I did that topic for A Level too, though didn't really revise it in time for the exam, so couldn't really do it. But seemed very interesting when I was learning it my A Level philosophy modules (as part of RS, can't do it as a seperate subject in my school as of yet) were miracles as part of science vs religion, the Ontological Argument and religious language. Very interesting stuff

    PS nice to meet you Inspiron
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    You can find lots about Hume and Miracles at the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy
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    (Original post by TCovenant)
    You must be using a peculiar definition of 'impossible to obtain' given that you undoubtedly hold, and act upon preferences yourself.
    You see? You really don't get it. You're saying that I "undoubtedly" hold preferences as if they were real objects. Without decending into a Cartesian fog, can't you see that I don't have to hold preferences in order to act? You can argue that all acts are driven by a conscious selection from my preferences, but that's simply not true. My heart beats whether I choose it to do so or not - it's just what the heart does. Now I could consciously choose to stop my heart, by impeding its ability to act (like shooting it), but it was beating long before I had any preferences at all. In fact, the vast majority of my actions today will be unconscious. My gut will carry food along by peristalis, my body will regulate its temperature etc. etc.

    If I have so many unconscious actions, where do we draw the line where preferences come into play? It's sterile to argue that all these represent some preference for life, since that devalues the concept of preference entirely.

    However, I don't think you've yet grasped my deeper objections.
    Actually it was me who asserted that actions are a guide to preferences. One can speculate as to what another prefers based on observation of their actions and those of others and on scientific speculation. This much is quite readily apparant, and is a basis upon which you surely act daily. Why do you make your wife a drink when it seems she wants one, if not because it will satisfy a preference of hers in some way- sure the action is not purely mercenary?
    How would you establish preferences in any other way?
    'Evil' has been defined perfectly clearly, the only ethical wrong that must be avoided is the suffering of any person (and since a 'person' is defined as any-one who can hold preferences, that means any and all suffering).
    No, that's not an answer. You've simply shuffled the problem of 'evil' on to a definition of 'suffering'. My children visibly suffered when I had them vaccinated. So, was it evil?
    Preference is defined simply as that which is preferred. That which people prefer is immediately obvious, since it is intuitively clear to any preference-holding being that happiness is something intrinsically preferred and suffering intrinsically preferred avoided.
    Oh dear. The words "obvious" and "intuitively clear" (an oxymoron if ever there was one) in the same sentence. Then all neatly wrapped up in a tautology.

    It's clear to me that you are writing without thinking enough about the subject. Let's be clear, there are real difficulties, whether you want to admit to them or not. You seem to be using forceful words and hyperbole to cover up the fact that you don't really understand what anyone could object to.

    As for me, it's obvious that we cannot ever establish what anyone's preferences are, except by the most indirect proxy, their actions. Even if we were to be able to establish a system of recognising preferences, we would then have the task of ranking them. That's relatively simple in singular circumstances (like which tea do I prefer today) but rapidly becomes impossible in any multi-factorial system. The problem with any such calculus, is that it ends up with examples which are counter-intuitive even with simple examples (like sadistic guards). So you end up having to invent artificial constructs (e.g. sadism harms sadists really) in order to deal with these difficult cases. That takes the system out of a pragmatically useful domain and into a realm no different from any other synthetic ethical system.
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    (Original post by Inspiron)
    You can find lots about Hume and Miracles at the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy
    thank you very much for that
    nice quotes!!! :rolleyes:
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    Smart one's that Stamford Bunch...

    I was thinking about Brave New World the other day. I find it such a sad book. Everybody is having a wonderful time, really enjoying themselves and then some muppet comes along and tries to ruin it for everybody. Am I the only one who reads it that way. It just seems to me that, so long as everybody is happy, then it's all good. But as soon as I mention the idea of a world run by robots and drugs in the politics forum I get my head bitten off! Squares!
    Anybody care to convince me that Brave New World is a bad thing?
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Smart one's that Stamford Bunch...

    I was thinking about Brave New World the other day. I find it such a sad book. Everybody is having a wonderful time, really enjoying themselves and then some muppet comes along and tries to ruin it for everybody. Am I the only one who reads it that way. It just seems to me that, so long as everybody is happy, then it's all good. But as soon as I mention the idea of a world run by robots and drugs in the politics forum I get my head bitten off! Squares!
    Anybody care to convince me that Brave New World is a bad thing?
    Umm, I keep meaning to read it ...
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    Lots of people bred to have just the right level of intelligence for the tasks they will be assigned. They are brainwashed using sleep therapy etc to enjoy doing what they do, be it cleaning, lifting heavy things, or filling beuracratic roles etc. They are provided with a drug called Soma which is side affect free and acts as a stimulant, allowing them to take 'Soma holidays' regularly. There's not money or trade, everybody is provided with whatever they need which essentially amounts to no more than basic living + free soma.
    Society doesn't advance, but everybody is in a permanent state of drug + brainwashed induced happiness. Then the book is about the attitude of an outsider and how he (and presumably we) are supposed to see the world as so terrrible being as it is devoid of free thought and culture.
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    I find it such a sad book. Everybody is having a wonderful time, really enjoying themselves and then some muppet comes along and tries to ruin it for everybody. Am I the only one who reads it that way. It just seems to me that, so long as everybody is happy, then it's all good. But as soon as I mention the idea of a world run by robots and drugs in the politics forum I get my head bitten off! Squares!
    Anybody care to convince me that Brave New World is a bad thing?
    Well, speaking as the resident utilitarian... every-one being as happy as they could be, does indeed sound perfectly fine. Nevertheless it is surely clear from BNW that every-one is not happy, or more precisely, that happiness is not maximised in the soma-society compared to that which could be achieved otherwise. The soma-induced 'happiness' is not in fact a state of happiness but rather an evasion of reality, rather than an appreciation thereof. Obviously the only two valid questions are whether the maximisation of happiness is a desirable norm, and whether BNW style society would fulfil that criterion. Clearly my view as to the former is clear, but soma and the other 'happiness' creating factors seem very clearly to fail to create a desirable society, evidently the removal of art and deep social relations is clearly detrimental to all those concerned- if not it seems unreasonable not to simply spend the rest of one's life on heroin. BNW and to an extent 1984 represent the ultimate society-for-swine, by reducing men to the level of potential appreciation of severely limited animals, and fulfilling those base needs.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Lots of people bred to have just the right level of intelligence for the tasks they will be assigned. They are brainwashed using sleep therapy etc to enjoy doing what they do, be it cleaning, lifting heavy things, or filling beuracratic roles etc. They are provided with a drug called Soma which is side affect free and acts as a stimulant, allowing them to take 'Soma holidays' regularly. There's not money or trade, everybody is provided with whatever they need which essentially amounts to no more than basic living + free soma.
    Society doesn't advance, but everybody is in a permanent state of drug + brainwashed induced happiness. Then the book is about the attitude of an outsider and how he (and presumably we) are supposed to see the world as so terrrible being as it is devoid of free thought and culture.
    Haven't you answered your own question? Society where you can't think for yourself. Most people at least claim to want to think for themselves and make their own choices, even if in practice they're open to suggestion. Does drug-induced, brainwashed happiness really appeal to you? Would you actively choose it?
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Then the book is about the attitude of an outsider and how he (and presumably we) are supposed to see the world as so terrrible being as it is devoid of free thought and culture.
    I agree that Huxley's intent is to involve us in condemning such a society. So the question is what it is that we're condemning. Is it the idea of universal satisfaction, or is it the idea that we should engineer people into becoming domestic animals? To be honest, I think it's a bit of both, plus a warning against pragmatism/utilitarianism. What Huxley raises is the issue of what constitutes happiness.

    The protagonist is not happy, is he? So how does society deal with his unhappiness? From a utilitarian standpoint, his unhappiness is unimportant, since it is outweighed by the satisfaction of everyone else. So, as a reasonable person, he should suppress his disquiet and simply become one of the herd.

    There's certainly a question of free will in this. If you're docile because of Soma, is that real happiness, or is it an artificial state? From a pragmatic point of view, the drug-induced happiness is no less worthy than any other sort. Happiness is happiness, after all. It's only when we use words like 'real happiness' that we struggle to express what we mean. We can appeal to a common perception that drug-induced torpor is morally bad, but what grounds can we cite in our defence?

    I haven't read BNW in 30 years, but I think I'll have to go re-read it now.
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    Is there a difference between artificial happiness and real happiness?

    I would be inclined to the view that we are engineered by nature to find certain things attractive, in which case, is it any less legitimate if rather than nature doing the engineering it is rather done by some human breeding programme?
    That seems to apply both to the question of happiness and to free will.
    Yes the world of BNW is unattractive if the human condition is based on ourselves, if we look at it from a point of view where we value literature, free thought etc. But we bias towards that being the human condition just because it's the condition we are in. If we were a member of the BNW society the human condition (if we actually managed to think about it) would be one in which literature and free thought are worthless.
    I'd challenge anyone to show that these things are intrinsically valuable and thus that the BNW human condition is simply wrong.

    So essentially, although most wouldn't choose to be a BNW citizen if given the choice, wouldn't they be better off if we forced them? Essentially the fact that people wouldn't choose a BNW society seems more a sign of their inability to consider other moral standpoints. Even myself, I'm not sure if I'd choose it or not, but if I didn't choose it, I can't help but think that it would only be because I was too close minded.
    I mean, in a sense I guess that's what morality is, it's just about being close minded, not accepting other views. But when you hold a relativist position, I don't see how you can easily avoid a slide towards BNW.

    But it seems to me even the most cursory study of free will and aethetics seems to build a very very strong case for a BNW society
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    human breading programme?
    I guess that depends what we knead.

    I agree - if there's a 'natural' endorphin whose effects can be replicated by injecting heroin, why should one chemical be preferred over another?
    If we were a member of the BNW society the human condition (if we actually managed to think about it) would be one in which literature and free thought are worthless.
    True. It's why (for me at least) moral relativism is worthless. One other parallel is with the hindu caste system, where people are born to a role. I don't know if a Brahmin would see BNW as quite as intrinsicly wrong as our Judeo-Christian worldview does.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    I'd challenge anyone to show that these things are intrinsically valuable and thus that the BNW human condition is simply wrong.
    Oh come on, you know we can't do that! :p: Morality is simply a matter of viewpoint. All I can say about the BNW society is that I find it morally wrong, for such-and-such a reason.

    So essentially, although most wouldn't choose to be a BNW citizen if given the choice, wouldn't they be better off if we forced them?
    If who forced them? Who are you positing as better qualified to chose how people should live than the people themselves? Philosopher-kings, perhaps?

    Essentially the fact that people wouldn't choose a BNW society seems more a sign of their inability to consider other moral standpoints. Even myself, I'm not sure if I'd choose it or not, but if I didn't choose it, I can't help but think that it would only be because I was too close minded.
    I wouldn't choose it because it doesn't seem remotely desirable to me. Its a value judgement, useless to ask whether I'm being rational. Of course I'm not. Its not a question of rationality.

    I mean, in a sense I guess that's what morality is, it's just about being close minded, not accepting other views. But when you hold a relativist position, I don't see how you can easily avoid a slide towards BNW.
    Depends on what you mean by a relativist position. I'm a moral relativist, but that doesn't necessarily equate to saying "all opinions on morality should be treated equally" - that's a moral statement itself. I have views on morality, and I will act in accordance with mine and in opposition to those of others regardless of the fact that there isn't any objective way pf distinguishing between them.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    “You see? You really don't get it. You're saying that I "undoubtedly" hold preferences as if they were real objects.”
    That rather depends what you mean by ‘real objects.’ I’m certainly not arguing that preferences are reducible to exclusively physical phenomenon (as though I could hold a preference in my hand, like a physical object); I am however noting that preferences clearly exist and that you clearly hold them. This is not solely because of my own reasonable speculation, extrapolating from self-awareness to hypothetically comparable others (like yourself) but rather because you have, throughout this given the impression that you hold preferences. A mere few posts ago you stated that you were terminating this conversation in order to waste less time that could be spent with your family- an evident expression of the fact that you expect to prefer one to the other.

    Indeed, you could maintain that this expression of preference was not a real expression of preference, but an action that was misleadingly not “driven by a conscious selection from preferences” but entirely arbitrary. This clearly is no more pertinent an observation than the fact that your “heart beats whether I choose it to do so or not,” because the observation that some actions occur for reasons other than conscious choice clearly is of no relevance to the discussion of whether conscious suffering/appreciative agents hold preferences.
    “Without decending into a Cartesian fog, can't you see that I don't have to hold preferences in order to act?”
    There’s no necessity, or indeed any real possibility, of descending into a Cartesian fog in answering this question. You have already accepted that humans can suffer and be happy, and that these mental states ought to be minimised and maximised respectively. Unless you are to claim that happiness ought to be maximised over suffering for some reason other than the fact that the experience of happiness is, ceteris paribus, preferable to the person experiencing it, then there exists no basis for disagreement. Obviously ascribing any value to happiness or suffering other than in the sense that persons prefer not to suffer, is reliant on delving into a metaphysical fog, conversely acknowledging that persons hold preferences (that is, prefer some things to others), which you’ve already acknowledged, requires nothing more than any self-reflection which results in an experience of suffering or positive appreciation.

    “If I have so many unconscious actions, where do we draw the line where preferences come into play? It's sterile to argue that all these represent some preference for life, since that devalues the concept of preference entirely.”
    There is no real question of a line to be drawn “where preferences come into play.” Biology and psychology offer a basis upon which it can be speculated as to the extent to which person’s prefer certain things. It is clear even from your own example that the beating of the heart does not suggest a conscious preference for the continuance of the heartbeat in and of itself, whereas a person making a cup of tea and sitting down to read a book suggests that they at present, believe that their preferences will be served by such action, as the latter behaviour is one that requires an understanding of complex rules of behaviour, and which cannot be wholly explained by reference to unconscious or purely instinctual determination. Conversely, the heartbeat can be explained without reference to conscious selection of action likely to maximise one’s interests, it would be different in the case of a sentient being capable of suffering or happiness, who is aware of their heart beat and of how to stop it, and yet who chooses not to.

    Even this conscious action does not denote preferences directly. As has been noted extensively before, it is possible for one to consciously choose actions which will in actuality not serve one’s preferences. For example, where a sentient being undertakes to dance drunkenly on a slippery rooftop, it is evident from their action that they, at that time, prefer to act thusly, it is however very clear, despite their action, that their preferences overall will likely not be served by such action. This doesn’t require any unreasonable speculation, outside of that which was defined earlier, observation of other persons and the trends in their behaviour and actions, knowledge of the biological factors that have determined the person and the society within which they exist; there is ample reason to speculate that they will actually suffer a great deal from death or maiming, as opposed to the loss of happiness from their risky behaviour.
    “How would you establish preferences in any other way?”
    As I said in the first sentences of the very paragraph which you’ve quoted I have “asserted that actions are a guide to preference,” and that “One can speculate as to what another prefers based on observation of their actions and those of others and on scientific speculation.” What do you mean therefore by asking what other ways I would speculate as to preferences?

    No, that's not an answer. You've simply shuffled the problem of 'evil' on to a definition of 'suffering'. My children visibly suffered when I had them vaccinated. So, was it evil?
    It is an answer: if “evil” is “an ethical wrong”, then the statement that “the only ethical wrong that must be avoided is suffering” is a conclusive reply.

    Whether the vaccination “was evil” depends on what you mean. It was ethically bad that suffering occurred, in itself, as any suffering is always bad in itself. It was however, possible that the choice to allow a vaccination was the most ethical available, in that vaccination led to some suffering but overall minimised suffering and maximised by preventing your children suffering illness.
    “Oh dear. The words "obvious" and "intuitively clear" (an oxymoron if ever there was one) in the same sentence. Then all neatly wrapped up in a tautology.”
    On what basis are you criticising the statement for being a tautology? That “’preference’ is that which is preferred” has to be a tautology, since it is a definition. That suffering is by nature that which is preferred to be avoided and that happiness is preferred, are facts which are, I would posit, if not tautologies then “intuitively clear,” the defining feature of suffering is insofar that it is painful or injurious, a negative experience in some way. That suffering is preferably avoided in itself, and happiness desirable, is indeed obvious, if not from self-analysis then from looking in a dictionary. You could, if you hadn’t already conceded that one should maximised happiness and minimise suffering, fake scepticism and simply dispute the existence of suffering, but you couldn’t conceivably claim that you prefer to avoid happiness and prefer the experience of suffering, other positive mental states notwithstanding, without clearly breaching the normal usage of those terms.

    “It's clear to me that you are writing without thinking enough about the subject. Let's be clear, there are real difficulties, whether you want to admit to them or not. You seem to be using forceful words and hyperbole to cover up the fact that you don't really understand what anyone could object to.”
    I fail to see how these dictionary definition assertions that a preference is that which is preferred and suffering is a mental state persons prefer the avoidance of ceteris paribus, can be called hyperbole. They may be forceful, but only because, as you noted, my statements were predominantly tautologies.

    “As for me, it's obvious that we cannot ever establish what anyone's preferences are, except by the most indirect proxy, their actions. Even if we were to be able to establish a system of recognising preferences, we would then have the task of ranking them. That's relatively simple in singular circumstances (like which tea do I prefer today) but rapidly becomes impossible in any multi-factorial system.”
    It is a misleading statement to claim that we cannot speculate as to preferences except through the “most indirect proxy, their actions.” Clearly one can speculate as to that which will serve preferences without having to observe a particular person’s action in a certain situation, a significant level of our judgement of how our actions will affect other preference-holding beings is based on our wider speculation as to the preferences people hold. Theorisation as to biological, sociological and wider anthropological factors allows speculation as to the effects of our actions upon others even when we have no knowledge of the patterns of action of the specific person. Obviously our society itself contains any number of institutions and practises which also offer a generalised guide as to the results of certain types of actions, but these are of course only generalisations provisionally, which can be overturned when more information leads to the conclusion that behaviour ought to be moderated differently.

    Similarly it is implausible to claim that establishing a ranking of preferences is impossible in a complex system. One cannot establish a precise rank of course, because such a series of ranks would be infinitely long, and could only ever, be a series of approximations anyway, given that our judgement of how intense two experiences of suffering or happiness are relative to each our, is inevitably merely an estimation. This does not render judging the likely extent of happiness or suffering impossible, by any means. Clearly your own behaviour throughout your life, in almost all instances, is mediated by an awareness of the interests of yourself and those close to you. The vaccination of your children seems a perfect example of this, since protecting them from potentially debilitating disease seems very likely to serve their interests to a greater extent than does the evasion of a few minutes of mild discomfort. Clearly this speculation cannot be placed into a precise system of numeric ranking, but the proposition that they would suffer more from some awful disease than from a couple of jabs, seems highly probable. To establish this you don’t need to observe your children suffering both a vaccination and an illness and compare how they act; or give them a choice and observe which they choose, but rather you can speculate as to which will maximise happiness and minimise suffering based on a host of observation: personal experience, observation of trends in others, medical consultation, scientific theory etc.

    Clearly in such a scenario there is a basis for judgement as to that which will likely bring the greatest utilitarian ends. The scenario can clearly be imagined on a continuum as well. In one extreme, where a patient will certainly suffer the pain of a million vaccinations unless they have a single jab the course of action to minimise suffering would be clear, as would the inverse where a vaccination guarantees suffering far in excess of that caused by a disease that has no symptoms whatsoever. Clearly on this continuum the extreme are very clear, but there exists a potential for a scenario to occur where the best information leads to the conclusion that there is very little basis for making a distinction as to the action that will most probably maximise the utilitarian ends. Within such a scenario however utilitarianism does not by any means ‘fail,’ it merely denotes accurately that which can best fulfil ethical ends given the imperfect information one has at one’s disposal. Noting that this is very difficult clearly in no sense touches upon the theory of utilitarianism, the only criticism that could be made would be regarding whether the utilitarian formulation was itself valid.

    This question is already resolved as we have each stated that happiness ought to be maximised and suffering minimised. The only valid areas for disagreement in this area therefore lie in the extent to which one believes that this can be applied in practise, and what one ought to do where it can be applied. Beyond these questions the only non-utilitarian arguments to be advanced would be one’s proposing contrary bases for ethical action, whereby one ought to act for reasons other than maximising happiness and minimising suffering or one ought to cause more suffering and less happiness than necessary; such a position would clearly be outside of the utilitarian system so all that remains is for you to advance whatever arguments you wish in these areas, I fail to see how there is any other basis for disagreement within the scope of utilitarianism.
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    Thanks for the web link Inspiron very interesting stuff
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    It [Relativism of the human condition] is why (for me at least) moral relativism is worthless. One other parallel is with the hindu caste system, where people are born to a role. I don't know if a Brahmin would see BNW as quite as intrinsicly wrong as our Judeo-Christian worldview does.
    There's a difference with being born to a role and being happy with a role.
    I'm of the opnion that there are certain roles in society people are naturally suited to more than others, but I'd never push them into those roles unless they were happy with them. The good of society, ends justify the means types of debates are beside the point here. The question is more specifically (and I'm not suggesting you deny this, I'm just remaking the point) so long as people are happy, what else could matter?
    The people in a BNW are happy. What should we have against them?


    (Original post by Wanderer)
    If who forced them? Who are you positing as better qualified to chose how people should live than the people themselves? Philosopher-kings, perhaps?

    I wouldn't choose it because it doesn't seem remotely desirable to me. Its a value judgement, useless to ask whether I'm being rational. Of course I'm not. Its not a question of rationality.
    Forced by the argument, X is clearly valuable, therefore we should do our best to maximise X unless in doing so we lose out on Y. Everybody in a BNW society is happy, what loses out is free thought, but who cares?

    You do. Well yes, but now in comes i what seems like an ends justify the means argument. All the people in a BNW will think a BNW society is great, so in the end everybody will be happy. Why should there temporary qualms about it now put us off? They'll all realise I was right in the end.
    So end's justify the means right?
    But actually you can make the argument more solid I think. Not only to ends justify the means, but, if you get the brain washing right, you can make the means an attractive to Brave New Worlders too. All the people of our BNW will not only think that the BNW is great, but they'll also think that the way we achieved it was great too. And not just because ends justify the means, but we could even make them think the means were good.

    So the only people against it is you Wanderer, and actually less than that, you're against it now, you won't be in a bit. Why should the current Wanderer's preferences be more important than those of "Brave New World Citizen Delta Wanderer in charge of Food packing"?
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    =calvinSo the only people against it is you Wanderer, and actually less than that, you're against it now, you won't be in a bit. Why should the current Wanderer's preferences be more important than those of "Brave New World Citizen Delta Wanderer in charge of Food packing"?
    That Delta-Wanderer wouldn't actively be against his BNW state, in the same manner that he doubtless wouldn't object if we were to lobotomise him, doesn't necessitate that he would be better off in that state than were he allowed the full range of his potential intellectual faculties. His state of 'happiness' in BNW would be achieved through removing his ability for the innumerable higher intellectual and social pleasures that he could otherwise experience them, he might not miss them, but he would lose out by being deprived of them.

    In BNW he has physical pleasures and security aplenty, but as in our own society that doesn't suggest that he will be happy. Even the sexual relationships which are so profuse in BNW clearly exclude any possibility of deep social relations- one of the factors most strongly linked to the overall level of happiness a person enjoys. It is only possible to suggest that BNW presents a utilitarian picture of the world if these pleasures constitute the highest fulfillment of pleasure that would be possible, which would only be true were these pleasures were the greatest that could conceivably be enjoyed. This surely is not the case. As Mill observed humans are typically capable of appreciation of higher pleasures than beasts, or the inhabitants of BNW. That we choose to pursue higher pleasures rather than the lowest but most easily achieved pleasures, such as being constantly trashed on booze or heroin is not, I would posit simply because our society has given us an irrational bias against alcoholism and towards intellectual activity, which actually runs counter to our interests, but because it seems most plausible that the higher pleasures will reward us better in the long run. That the Epsilons are considered to be more happy than the comparative Socrateses of our society is perhaps just a reflection of our distorted associations concerning our conception of happiness; the 'swine' of BNW might be practically giggling with joy at every moment, but it seems implausible that they are in fact more happy than they could be were they permitted access to higher pleasures. Huxley's worlds clearly aren't utilitarian but futilitarian.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    So the only people against it is you Wanderer, and actually less than that, you're against it now, you won't be in a bit. Why should the current Wanderer's preferences be more important than those of "Brave New World Citizen Delta Wanderer in charge of Food packing"?
    Because I don't accept someone who has been brainwashed as a moral agent.

    This is a good example of why I generally consider trying to rationalise ethics completely pointless. No argument will convince me that the brainwashing society isn't repulsive. I don't have a a real argument to offer as to why a BNW society is wrong (although if I play devil's advocate I'm pretty sure I can get round TCovenant's one without much trouble :p:). I simply consider it to be so, in my unbrainwashed state, and would always resist anyone who tried to bring it about.
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    “Because I don't accept someone who has been brainwashed as a moral agent.”
    How? A moral objectivist could point to the fact that the brainwashed person has clearly been conditioned to think in a way contrary to a normal understanding of morality, which is thus self-defeating. Given that you’re a relativist how can you even define a person as being brainwashed morally, given that you presumably don’t believe in the existence of an objective morality that they could be conditioned away from?

    “No argument will convince me that the brainwashing society isn't repulsive. I don't have a a real argument to offer as to why a BNW society is wrong”
    Presumably because you don’t believe that BNW is wrong, surely by stating that it is “wrong” you’re just saying that it makes you a bit queasy, irrationally?

    “although if I play devil's advocate I'm pretty sure I can get round TCovenant's one without much trouble”
    If you’re really going to argue that you’d live the most happy, fulfilled life that you could in BNW, as a brainwashed food-packager, but that you would prefer to be the comparatively unhappy real-world-Wanderer for some unrelated reason (presumably from behind a veil of ignorance), then you could certainly object. Personally I’d be highly dubious of this claim, and doubt that it would be borne out by investigation of any other sample of people. Obviously, from your moral-nihilist position a discussion of whether you’d actually be happier in either situation is irrelevant, because there’s no basis upon which anything could have any significance.

    “I simply consider it to be [wrong], in my unbrainwashed state, and would always resist anyone who tried to bring it about.”
    Maybe so, but since you’d simply be doing that on the basis of a host of unquestioned unconscious prejudices rather than any sort of conscious or rational reason, it would still be worthwhile for the moral objectivist to simply hurl moral ideas at you in the hope that they filter in. With the ultimate hope being that you’d eventually be repulsed simply by human suffering and selfishness, even if you don’t hold to an objective good.
 
 
 
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The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

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