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Is objectivism consequentialist?

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45 minutes ago, gio said:

For example, imagine that I am faced with an alternative. To determine how I should act, I will think, "I must choose my action according to such consequence." (happiness for instance) This is the consequentialist morality in its totality. This is not wrong in itself, but there is no morality yet: it is obviously insufficient to guide the action. Then I have to think and tell myself: "What actions would cause this consequence?" How to know? (In other words, what virtues should I practice?) In short: I need a moral code.

Could you contrast...  how would an Objectivist act versus how would a "consequentialist" act, in some specific and concrete example? 

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12 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

Could you contrast...  how would an Objectivist act versus how would a "consequentialist" act, in some specific and concrete example? 

A consequentialist has nos guidance. We can not really know how he will act. He will act by any means he thinks (how? we don't know) will leads to such consequence.
An Objectivist will act according to the values and principles that he rationally concludes to be good for his own life.

Edited by gio

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1 hour ago, gio said:

Here is why, in short, Objectivist ethics is not consequentialist: Consequentialism confuses the consequences of morality with morality itself. In other words, it confuses the standard with the purpose of morality.

Very good.  I learned what is the point of consequentialism as a category.

edit:  To elaborate, there is the category of intrinsicism, which can be deontological or consequential.

Edited by Grames

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8 minutes ago, Grames said:

edit:  To elaborate, there is the category of intrinsicism, which can be deontological or consequential.

Intrincism is not the same kind of category as deontology or consequentialism.
But deontology seems to me necessarily based on intrincist theory of value.
Consequentialism or deontology must derived from a theory of value. I do not think we can do the opposite. (Derived a theory of value from deontology or consequentialim...this makes no sense to me.)

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10 minutes ago, gio said:

Intrincism is not the same kind of category as deontology or consequentialism.
But deontology seems to me necessarily based on intrincist theory of value.
Consequentialism or deontology must derived from a theory of value. I do not think we can do the opposite. (Derived a theory of value from deontology or consequentialim...this makes no sense to me.)

My understanding is currently that intrinsicism is category of theories of the good.  Deontological ethics assert that the good is achieved or served by right actions regardless of consequences, only the actions have meaning and results don't matter.  Consequentialist ethics assert that the good is achieved or served by the consequences, only the results matter and the actions have no significance.

In other words, we have "means justify the ends" and "the ends justify the means".  Ends vs Means is another false dichotomy.  Which harkens back to another earlier post of yours.

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3 hours ago, gio said:

A consequentialist has nos guidance. We can not really know how he will act. He will act by any means he thinks (how? we don't know) will leads to such consequence.

Are consequentialists mythical beasts? Or are there some people who say they're consequentialists and claim they cannot -- in principle --know how to act?

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7 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

Are consequentialists mythical beasts? Or are there some people who say they're consequentialists and claim they cannot -- in principle --know how to act?

I didn't say consequentialist does not know how to act. They have a goal, but no principles. They act without any moral code or principles or virtues. (They think their goal by itself is moral) Consequentialism is very simple, it's only the famous aphorism: The end justifies the means.

For example, I was arguing with someone some time ago. I said that an ethics of life did not tolerate human sacrifice. And he asked me if, in my opinion, at the time of the Chernobyl disaster, the USSR should not have sent the "liquidators". The USSR sent thousands of men without any protection knowing well that many would die (but without them knowing it at the beginning) in order to avoid a greater misfortune that would have contaminated the capital of the Ukraine and much of Central Europe. In other words, they sacrificed humans to save many more.

I told him that the USSR should not have done this and, for him, I was "out of reality", he wanted to show me that it was not a question of morality but of "efficiency" . He thought that I was a deontologist, that I had a theory of intrinsic value: he did not say it with these words of course, but that's what he meant, obviously. He did not see any other alternative.

He also claimed to be an admirer of Machiavelli.

Here you have a typical example of consequentialist. Machiavelli is quite in this kind of category, as Ludwig von Mises also was at some degree. I'm sure that person I was arguing with was atheist, materialistic, empiricist and probably "pro-science". This is an example of muscle mysticism, or Attila.

The "package-deal" Witch Doctors (Mystics of the spirit) is often:

  • God
  • Metaphysical idealism
  • Transcendence / pure mysticism
  • Rationalist
  • Realistic in the quarrel of universals
  • Intrinsic theory of value
  • Deontology
  • Free will
  • Conservative

While the "package-deal" Attila (Mystics of the muscle) is often:

  • Atheist
  • Metaphysical materialism
  • Positivism and separation between fact and values
  • Empiricism
  • Nominalist in the quarrel of universals
  • Subjective theory of value
  • Consequentialism
  • Determinism
  • Liberal

They both agree to divorce percepts and concepts, one choose the side of floating concepts, the other choose the side percepts without principles. The first are the heirs of Plato, the second are the heirs of the sophists.

Edited by gio

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4 hours ago, gio said:

I told him that the USSR should not have done this and, for him, I was "out of reality", he wanted to show me that it was not a question of morality but of "efficiency" . He thought that I was a deontologist, that I had a theory of intrinsic value: he did not say it with these words of course, but that's what he meant, obviously. He did not see any other alternative.

If the alternatives are less death versus more death, how is that even a moral question? It seems like an emergency situation in which "morality" becomes a math question and a matter of one's will to make such a decision. We need a non-emergency example to understand consequentialism. Let's say he wants to get to the supermarket (end). How would he do it (means)? Would he drive carefully and obey traffic laws? Or drive recklessly and maybe run over a few pedestrians who got in his way? If the means are inconsequential, why not be reckless?

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10 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

If the alternatives are less death versus more death, how is that even a moral question? It seems like an emergency situation in which "morality" becomes a math question and a matter of one's will to make such a decision. We need a non-emergency example to understand consequentialism. Let's say he wants to get to the supermarket (end). How would he do it (means)? Would he drive carefully and obey traffic laws? Or drive recklessly and maybe run over a few pedestrians who got in his way? If the means are inconsequential, why not be reckless?

Emergency situation are unproper to build morality, but it doesn't mean morality doesn't apply. And in this case, human sacrifice is still immoral. That does not mean that we should not do something. It simply means that in "doing something", sacrificing humans to save others is inappropriate. (In the proper meaning of the word sacrifice.)

Edited by gio

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20 minutes ago, gio said:

And in this case, as in all other cases, human sacrifice is immoral. That does not mean that we should not do something.

Let's boil this down and get real. On one hand you have 1000 people dying. On the other you have a whole city or county dying, many more than a thousand. You have the power to choose which outcome happens. Doing nothing leads to the greater number dying. Doing something leads to the 1000 dying. Will you do nothing because doing something is a sacrifice? A sacrifice means giving up the greater value for the lesser one. How did you decide that the 1000 were of greater value than the whole city?

Edited by MisterSwig

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2 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Let's boil this down and get real. On one hand you have 1000 people dying. On the other you have a whole city or county dying, many more than a thousand. You have the power to choose which outcome happens. Doing nothing leads to the greater number dying. Doing something leads to the 1000 dying. Will you do nothing because it is a sacrifice? A sacrifice means giving up the greater value for the lesser one. How did you decide that the 1000 were of greater value than the whole city?

In the context of the original question, it was a fake alternative. Can you be more specific and describe a real situation where the only thing you can do to prevent an whole city or country from dying is to murder 1000 people?

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5 minutes ago, gio said:

Can you be more specific and describe a real situation where the only thing you can do to prevent an whole city or country from dying is to murder 1000 people?

Yeah, having to send in 1000 workers to stop a nuclear plant meltdown. The details are not the point here. You raised a fundamental moral objection, not a technical one. I'm trying to understand how you arrived at your moral objection. Is it a sacrifice because the 1000 were not told they would die? Because the boss ordered them to go in, while he stayed out of harm's way? Because the city is full of lesser skilled people, and the 1000 are highly trained scientists? 

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34 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Yeah, having to send in 1000 workers to stop a nuclear plant meltdown.

Assuming this is the only thing that anyone (nobody else can't do anything) can do to prevent the other to die, sending 1000 workers to stop a nuclear plant meltdown, without any element of context, does not equate murdering 1000 people by itself. It depends of many elements of the context.

Sending 1000 soldiers (or more) in a war to save the country, for example, is not human sacrifice most of the time, for sure. (And a war is often an emergency.) You are not necessarily murdering 1000 people. For many reasons. It depends of the context.

34 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

The details are not the point here.

It's not an issue of details, but of context. The context is important. You can not properly evaluate the morality of an action without the context.

34 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

I'm trying to understand how you arrived at your moral objection.

My moral objection is Objectivist ethics. You don't have to sacrifice human life when you don't have to do it.

34 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Is it a sacrifice because the 1000 were not told they would die?

In the context of the original question, the liquidators have not all been deadly damaged. But anyway, assuming it was the case, this is, of course, an important point, since you are falsifying their judgment, and thus, their actions. (And this is why force and fraud are wrong.)

34 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Because the boss ordered them to go in, while he stayed out of harm's way? Because the city is full of lesser skilled people, and the 1000 are highly trained scientists? 

Oh please, give me a break...
 

Edited by gio

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5 minutes ago, gio said:

Oh please, give me a break...

Okay, I really don't want to debate the ethics of emergencies again. Can we go back to my question about driving to the supermarket? Or do consequentialists only apply their morality to emergency situations?

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12 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Okay, I really don't want to debate the ethics of emergencies again. Can we go back to my question about driving to the supermarket? Or do consequentialists only apply their morality to emergency situations?

There is no answer for the supermarket question applying to consequentialist. First, it depends on what consequence he considers to be good. (Since consequentialism is not a moral doctrine itself, but a category of moral doctrine.) And secondly, his action can not be determined: he will choose any means which seems to him leading to the consequence he considers to be good, without any code or principle. And we do not know by what process he will choose that this means are more suitable than others. (It can be reason, instinct, faith, whim...anything.)

Edited by gio

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6 hours ago, gio said:

I didn't say consequentialist does not know how to act. They have a goal, but no principles....

...they sacrificed humans to save many more.

I see a principle there: fewer humans dead, the better. And then, making decisions that lead to those consequences. 
Otherwise, if this person did not have any principles, if it was all arbitrary, why would he be surprised to find someone else give an alternative? If he is arguing, he is arguing for specific consequences. Doesn't this This implies he is something more than you imply with your concept of a consequential.

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2 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

I see a principle there: fewer humans dead, the better. And then, making decisions that lead to those consequences. 
Otherwise, if this person did not have any principles, if it was all arbitrary, why would he be surprised to find someone else give an alternative? If he is arguing, he is arguing for specific consequences. Doesn't this This implies he is something more than you imply with your concept of a consequential.

It only means that the only principle they have is the wish for such consequence, if you prefer. Provided we can call that a principle.

Edited by gio

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11 minutes ago, gio said:

First, it depends on what consequence he considers to be good. (Since consequentialism is not a moral doctrine itself, but a category of moral doctrine.)

It doesn't sound like a category of moral doctrine. It sounds like a type of moral evaluation, which is a much narrower subject. There is much more to Objectivism than its ethics, and there is more to its ethics than evaluation. So if we ask whether Objectivism has a consequentialist type of moral evaluation, the answer is no. Objectivity requires that we consider the subject's intentions as well as the consequences of his actions. Actions and consequences don't magically appear out of nowhere. They were caused. And why they were caused is important to judging another man or yourself. 

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6 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

It doesn't sound like a category of moral doctrine. It sounds like a type of moral evaluation, which is a much narrower subject. There is much more to Objectivism than its ethics, and there is more to its ethics than evaluation.

It is a category in the sense that it can include an infinity of different moral doctrine. A moral doctrine that considers death and destruction as the good can be as much a consequentialist morality as a doctrine that considers happiness to be the good, as long as they both consider that all means are equals.

Edited by gio

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10 minutes ago, gio said:

A moral doctrine that considers death and destruction as the good can be as much a consequentialist morality as a doctrine that considers happiness to be the good, as long as they both consider that all means are equals.

Then, isn't the defining feature of consequentialism this idea that all means to an end are equal? In which case it's simply egalitarianism applied to action.

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2 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Then, isn't the defining feature of consequentialism this idea that all means to an end are equal?

Yes, that's what I said before :

7 hours ago, gio said:

Consequentialism is very simple, it's only the famous aphorism: The end justifies the means.

 

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42 minutes ago, gio said:

You can base a consequentialist morality on the idea that inequality is the good.

Why then would you advocate for all means being equal? Wouldn't equality be bad?

I feel like we're arguing over the deformed child of an anti-concept. Maybe we should go back to the ethics of emergencies, after all.

Rand argued that in an emergency the central concern must be to restore normal living conditions. Thus, we send in the 1000 people to stop the nuclear meltdown, because that's the best way to restore normal conditions for human life. Yes, some will die, but they are dying in the pursuit of restoring an environment suitable for life.

Edited by MisterSwig

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47 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Why then would you advocate for all means being equal? Wouldn't equality be bad?

It's not the same context. Equality (or indifference to be precise) of action is not the same thing as equality between men.

47 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Thus, we send in the 1000 people to stop the nuclear meltdown, because that's the best way to restore normal conditions for human life. Yes, some will die, but they are dying in the pursuit of restoring an environment suitable for life.

Sending people who have made the choice of this kind of risky career is normal. But it is immoral, when it is not necessary, to sacrifice innocent human lives to restore normal conditions. (Provided your own life is not at stake, and even then it depends.)

Edited by gio

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