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Is objectivism consequentialist?

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9 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

But I find it interesting that you refer to the "felt quality" of one's life, as opposed to (what I would say is) the quality of one's life.

The person who chooses to laze in bed in instead of going to work might improve the felt quality of his life, but screw his life over by losing his job.  Since pampering doesn't necessarily improve the actual quality of one's life, it was necessary to add the qualifier "felt".
 

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21 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

Among the goals of morality is to make your experience of life actually contribute to an appropriate existence.

 

Don, are you equating experience with truth?

One can eat ice cream without knowing or be wondering about the consequences. There is no conflict, there is pure happiness. No guilt. Then one hears about the science and knows that one could possibly loose a month of life. Emotionally, that has an impact for some and not for other based on their biology, some have the ice cream gene and some don't. So the truth that the experience implies, is relative. There is also the "experience of life" without attention to causal links.

Any experience in life, although self-evident, does not necessarily guide you to the truth. Something feels good does not mean that it is in fact good.

You may be accepting the assessment of a group, or tradition, or a sensation or emotion. Granted, sometimes, they are good and true. But should good be determined deductively or inductively or simply be the experience? Isn't that the fundamental ethical question?

When you are freezing to death, I hear that you experience euphoria and want to sleep which leads to death.

My understanding is that the conceptual hierarchy is what should determine the good.
 

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1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

Truly. If I understand it right, you see these pleasures as taking their value from their relationship to one's survival, or as I have it, longevity. I see them as having value in themselves, albeit not as a hedonist would, but closer to what you'd once described as the "maximization of the area under the curve."

Not quite.  This touches on what I am very interested in.

Pleasures "take their" objective "value" from their relationship to one's survival.  The same pleasures also take or have a "subjective value" in direct relation to the subject... in relation to the one experiencing the pleasure, which I equate with your "value in itself".   

Assuming for the nonce there is no such thing as a universally applicable contextless intrinsic value, "values in themselves" (other than survival), values such as "pleasure", (insofar as they are values only in themselves not in the extent they are instrumental to survival) are subjective and chosen by a free volitional consciousness.

They are still values.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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15 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Knowing that actions shorten our lives do not suffice to make those actions immoral, but presumably an action that does not support (or works against) "the process that is my life" is immoral --? I find this language a bit confusing, and given my understanding (what is perhaps limited or errant) of those who see life (as the standard of value) as "survival," I don't see how we could support a process which would result in actions which shorten one's life.

I intend to respond to this -- it is the heart of the discussion -- but I probably won't get to it today.  It's taking some work to get a coherent explanation of my position.
 

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On 10/4/2017 at 12:01 PM, Invictus2017 said:

Mother nature did this on "purpose", so that early humans, with their poorly trained rational faculties, would have a ready guide to pro-survival action.

Teleological: the attribute of an action or behavior which is purposeful and goal-directed (such as opening a door, baking a cake or manufacturing a car).

Teleonomical: the attribute of a process which appears purposeful, but isn't (such as the movements of single-celled organisms or evolution by natural selection).

 

Very handy for these types of discussions.

 

4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

 

 

Sorry, SL; my phone won't let me delete quotes that I've decided not to address.

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2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Assuming for the nonce there is no such thing as a universally applicable contextless intrinsic value, "values in themselves" (other than survival), values such as "pleasure", (insofar as they are values only in themselves not in the extent they are instrumental to survival) are subjective and chosen by a free volitional consciousness.

They are still values.

I'm not sure how to read this. Do you mean that "subjective values" are a kind of value, but not ones that ethically matter, or are you reconsidering survivalism?

P.S: That's also the name of an excellent song.

 

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
PostScript

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All right. I'd like to try to refocus us a bit. As I do so, I invite and request correction.

It seems to me that between myself, Invictus and SL, there are three distinct understandings of "life as the standard of value" on display (though it also seems as though all three of us are still in the process of formulating our understanding with precision; or perhaps I should only speak for myself on that score):

StrictlyLogical sees "life" as survival, or longevity (akin to David Kelley, who termed survival as "the literal alternative of life versus death, existence versus nonexistence") -- and not flourishing. He believes that such an ethical system is objective, and that values which contribute to survival are objective. But there are also values outside of this ethical system -- subjective or optional values -- such that one may pursue pleasure or happiness, as he sees fit, so long as this does not conflict with his survival. Thus not all choices are moral.

Invictus2017 sees "life" as survival, but survival appropriate to man -- not longevity (contra Kelley) and not flourishing. He believes that we do not appeal to the specific end of continuing to survive, but to processes which promote survival -- and are thus appropriate to man. He believes that all choices are moral and either promote or detract from these processes.

DonAthos sees "life" as inclusive of survival, pleasure and happiness -- and thus something like flourishing. He believes that an individual should act so as to maximize his positive experience of life, which may entail enjoying certain pleasures, even at the cost of longevity. He believes that all choices are moral and either promote or detract from one's ability to enjoy life.

I'm certain I've mucked this up (not least in trying to nutshell my own view), but how close am I?

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In psychological terms, the issue of man’s survival does not confront his consciousness as an issue of “life or death,” but as an issue of “happiness or suffering.” Happiness is the successful state of life, suffering is the warning signal of failure, of death. Just as the pleasure-pain mechanism of man’s body is an automatic indicator of his body’s welfare or injury, a barometer of its basic alternative, life or death—so the emotional mechanism of man’s consciousness is geared to perform the same function, as a barometer that registers the same alternative by means of two basic emotions: joy or suffering. Emotions are the automatic results of man’s value judgments integrated by his subconscious; emotions are estimates of that which furthers man’s values or threatens them, that which is for him or against him—lightning calculators giving him the sum of his profit or loss.

But while the standard of value operating the physical pleasure-pain mechanism of man’s body is automatic and innate, determined by the nature of his body—the standard of value operating his emotional mechanism, is not. Since man has no automatic knowledge, he can have no automatic values; since he has no innate ideas, he can have no innate value judgments.

The Virtue of Selfishness

“The Objectivist Ethics,”
The Virtue of Selfishness, 27

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11 hours ago, DonAthos said:

StrictlyLogical sees "life" as survival, or longevity (akin to David Kelley, who termed survival as "the literal alternative of life versus death, existence versus nonexistence") -- and not flourishing. He believes that such an ethical system is objective, and that values which contribute to survival are objective. But there are also values outside of this ethical system -- subjective or optional values -- such that one may pursue pleasure or happiness, as he sees fit, so long as this does not conflict with his survival. Thus not all choices are moral.

Very close.  What I actually see is more complicated.  First off, life is not survival, life is everything about living and happiness and pleasure are part of life.

That said, the ultimate and fundamental choice to "live": yes it is existence versus non-existence.  The HOW for achieving that choice (maximizing the likelihood of existence versus nonexistence) necessitates both flourishing and pleasures, etc. and the WHY of the choice (we ARE volitional, nothing impels us to choose to live) include such things as pleasure and happiness which are the reward of living.  But the ULTIMATE end of ethics and its foundation, are found in that single choice of existence versus nonexistence, and as such ethics is objective. 

Not all choices are moral in that some choices are arbitrary and do not affect the likelihood of existence versus nonexistence, so picking one of three apples to eat, insofar as the information available indicates they are equally tasty and nutritious, the choice between them is not a moral choice, and in fact not even a culinary or a health based choice (one may even ask whether the choice is material in any way at all... which makes it difficult to see any subjective value in one apple over another).

A few other caveats: values can be values by virtue of their being means to other values, a concrete and its value are to be distinguished, values are contextual, and hierarchical, a single concrete can have many values, a particular value can be obtained via different concretes.  Nutrition for example might be an objective value, but broccoli (AS against an equally nutritious vegetable) will have a lower value to a person who hates (gains only displeasure) from the flavor of broccoli.  Pleasure is an objective value (by virtue of its supporting life).  Tied to a concrete which also kills like cocaine does not make pleasure a disvalue, the cocaine is the disvalue by virtue of its deleterious effects.  The concrete and the value are not one in the same.  One can argue pleasure is a universal objective value, and that in no way restricts which pleasures "should" be valuable  i.e. the choice to pursue pleasure is moral but the value of movies or knitting or flying kites are not as such objective values to all persons because not all of these bring pleasure to all people. So one can say at the same time the person who watches movies, the person who knits, and the person who flies a kite are all pursuing the same objective value...pleasure, but each is pursuing a different value, movies, knitting, flying kites which are in a sense contextual (one also could label this as subjective or optional).

Finally, there may be a subtle difference between a working standard versus the end upon which a standard is based/formulated.  In the abstract, a standard against which to measure conduct to achieve the end can simply be the end.  This is absolutely true in the abstract to an omniscient being.  But what is a standard in reality?  Something against which to actively and realistically gauge action against, on a day to day basis by a fallible finite consciousness.  Such a standard can take into account all the known factors of the nature of reality and summarize principles, goals, virtues etc.  As such as a barometer of the state of a living person, flourishing IS an appropriate standard.. it is a state of being which is maximal for the continuing state of existence as against nonexistence.  So... do I claim flourishing is not the standard? not necessarily so... the ultimate end of the standard, to which it is directed, certainly is existence, but this does not rule out flourishing as part of a workable standard.

 

Anyway you kind of get what I see.

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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22 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

What I actually see is more complicated.

No doubt. This is a complicated subject matter.

22 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

First off, life is not survival, life is everything about living and happiness and pleasure are part of life.

Yes, exactly.

22 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

That said, the ultimate and fundamental choice to "live": yes it is existence versus non-existence.  The HOW for achieving that choice (maximizing the likelihood of existence versus nonexistence) necessitates both flourishing and pleasures, etc. and the WHY of the choice (we ARE volitional, nothing impels us to choose to live) include such things as pleasure and happiness which are the reward of living.  But the ULTIMATE end of ethics and its foundation, are found in that single choice of existence versus nonexistence, and as such ethics is objective.

I know you'd like to discuss the concept of "objective" further with me, and I look forward to that discussion.

For now, my central objection here is that I do not regard existence, as such, as inherently valuable. And perhaps this does not seem to be any challenge to your position -- or even appears to be consonant with your position; I expect you would hold that life itself, where "life" is delimited to existence, has no value -- it is only when one first "chooses" to exist that one may value. But it seems bizarre to me (at the very least) that an ultimate end of ethics should have no value, in and of itself.

Existence in full context (life in its fullest sense) does have great value, accounting to what you term "the reward of living." But this fact means that, in order for me to have something worth calling an "ultimate end" -- or worth being a value at all in any sense -- it is not alone "existence" which is required: it must be a particular kind of existence. I can conceive of, and in fact have borne witness to, existences which I would not consider valuable (but even disvaluable).

I don't think this is particular to me. I think this is true, in fact, of every human being; it is not alone "existence" which allows for the conception of value -- but it is the reward of living, or the pleasures and happiness that an individual finds within existence, which allows for (or demands) "value," and which provides both the motivation and meaning for proclaiming "life" to be one's "ultimate value" (where "life" is no longer "existence" alone, but again, a very particular kind of existence).

In short, I do not agree that I make a "single choice of existence versus nonexistence" or that anyone else makes that sort of choice, either. To the extent that it is sensible to speak of "choosing" in this sense, what I choose is a life of pleasure and happiness... and no other kind of life, no other kind of existence.

22 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

One can argue pleasure is a universal objective value, and that in no way restricts which pleasures "should" be valuable  i.e. the choice to pursue pleasure is moral but the value of movies or knitting or flying kites are not as such objective values to all persons because not all of these bring pleasure to all people. So one can say at the same time the person who watches movies, the person who knits, and the person who flies a kite are all pursuing the same objective value...pleasure, but each is pursuing a different value, movies, knitting, flying kites which are in a sense contextual (one also could label this as subjective or optional).

This comes very near my meaning and approach to "pleasure."

Absolutely I hold that pleasure (in the broadest sense, inclusive of emotional pleasures such as happiness) is a universal objective value, according to the nature of man; and you're right that no particular manifestation (such as flying kites) will be of value to all individuals, because these are contextual.

Perhaps this, more than anything else, hinges on our understanding of objectivity (and subjectivity).

22 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Finally, there may be a subtle difference between a working standard versus the end upon which a standard is based/formulated.  In the abstract, a standard against which to measure conduct to achieve the end can simply be the end.  This is absolutely true in the abstract to an omniscient being.

Right. This is why I was confused that Invictus should both proclaim "survival" as the standard, and yet (with absolute knowledge of the consequences) be willing to choose a shorter life, filled with greater pleasure, over a longer one with less pleasure. Whether it is ice cream or something else -- and even if the difference is but a minute more or less of survival in either direction -- I think this is a good test as to what it is about life, about existence, that we truly value.

And while such hypotheticals are highly contrived, I think that it speaks to many real life situations, many real choices, and many real debates within the Objectivist community.

22 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

But what is a standard in reality?  Something against which to actively and realistically gauge action against, on a day to day basis by a fallible finite consciousness.

Absolutely agreed.

22 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Such a standard can take into account all the known factors of the nature of reality and summarize principles, goals, virtues etc.  As such as a barometer of the state of a living person, flourishing IS an appropriate standard.. it is a state of being which is maximal for the continuing state of existence as against nonexistence.

Again agreed, only with the continuing objection that a flat "existence versus non-existence" (i.e. survival) is insufficient (we do not want merely a state of being which is "maximal for the continuing state of existence as against nonexistence," but maximal for the continuing state of a very particular kind of existence: an existence characterized by pleasure and happiness; that is really what we're after). For existence, in itself, holds no value, offers no value, would create no concept of value in the mind of any man, and so forth. If, then, it is some particular "aspect or aspects of existence" which bring value into being (which must be the case), then it is that aspect or those aspects which truly constitute our ultimate value.

22 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Anyway you kind of get what I see.

I don't know. I hope so. Years of discussing philosophy, here and elsewhere, have convinced me of how difficult it is for any two individuals to understand each other clearly -- especially in the heat of apparent disagreement. But I also hope you believe me when I say that I am trying.

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Really good work from you guys. As for 'objective value' in the minor things like taste preferences which are sometimes considered "subjective", I think of it exactly as in the manner in which one gains knowledge of facts from the senses, to the percepts, to identifications, integrations, to evaluations of facts - and so on. All the senses contribute to knowledge, bottom up, in one's cognition - equally, all the senses contribute to enjoyment, from top down, in one's value/evaluation. A hierarchy of value then, is congruent with one's hierarchy of knowledge. Hierarchical clarity answers most uncertainties attached to this, in my view. I think my opinion is consistent with Objectivism.

"Survival" ~ for an individual choosing a life proper to man qua man ~ is identical to "flourishing", in my simple take on that matter. And happiness is to be found, taken and/or sought here and now - as well as in one's short and long future - especially not forgetting the "simple" pleasures.

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Life (as a concept) is potentially a value. A value to some and not a value to others. 
It is like telling a farmer, I don't see any "inherent value" in fertile soil. Fertile soil can be dust in the house that has to be swept out. Fertile soil is not inherently valuable. Objectively it is. Some farmers see the truth and others don't.
 
But what does a living organism do every moment of its life? It lives. It wants to flourish, but it has to live, it needed rather than wanted to live when it was alive.


You may not find existence valuable, but something in you does.

Something in you "willed" to live if you are alive. It caused you to live. It acted to "keep" your life (as in it was a value). That would be far more proof that it is "inherently valuable" even though you don't see the abstraction.

Most people "experience" altruism as being "inherently valuable". Isn't there a difference between something feeling valuable and something is a value?
 

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1 hour ago, DonAthos said:

Again agreed, only with the continuing objection that a flat "existence versus non-existence" (i.e. survival) is insufficient (we do not want merely a state of being which is "maximal for the continuing state of existence as against nonexistence," but maximal for the continuing state of a very particular kind of existence: an existence characterized by pleasure and happiness; that is really what we're after). For existence, in itself, holds no value, offers no value, would create no concept of value in the mind of any man, and so forth. If, then, it is some particular "aspect or aspects of existence" which bring value into being (which must be the case), then it is that aspect or those aspects which truly constitute our ultimate value.

This baffles me...

Consider an avid computer person, he loves making simulations with his computer, he loves making fractal art with his computer, he loves making 3d rendering and animations with his computer, he loves coding cellular automata with his computer... he loves all the things he can do with his computer and he can do only with his computer.

One day the computer has a problem, he fixes the computer with use of the Manual, one which describes how to care for and maintain the computer, to keep it operational.  Being interested only in his love for what he could do with his computer, he never learned about nor even cared about the computer itself.  The things he did with the computer were values in themselves, whereas the computer itself ... well in and of itself, was wholly uninteresting and useless to him.

Now, however, realizing that the computer makes all he loves to do with it possible, specifically its being operational, he realizes that fundamentally ALL the things he loves doing with the computer depend fundamentally upon its being operational.

As a rational person, he decides to read and learn everything from the Manual about caring for and maintaining the computer's operation.  He realizes he cannot overclock it too much (this could cause it to fail permanently) so he has to give up some speed for his simulations, but he decides this is OK because there is so much more he does not want to lose at the cost of a little simulation speed.

He adopts the Manual as a guide, and follows it religiously because everything he values about the computer depends upon it being operational.  He does not stop doing all the wondrous things with the computer which he loves, he does so now with the understanding that he has the power to help guarantee he can continue to do those wondrous things.

 

You speak of choosing particular states of existence, and those particular states of existence as having value, while at the same time stating that existence "in itself" has no value.  But those particular states of existence presuppose existence, they are species of existence, they wholly and utterly depend upon existence.  Existence "in itself" has no value???   It makes ALL values possible, NO values are possible without it.  It therefore has fundamental and ultimate value.

Your adopted guide to action whose standard is life, helps you objectively to stay alive.  It does not and cannot tell you what to live for, or what to love about your computer.  You still have to choose and do that for yourself.  Morality is a guide you adopt for your use, not your master or your teacher or your parent...you are not a servant of Morality it serves you.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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27 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

This baffles me...

Well, that's what conversation (ideally) is for, so... lemme try to help explain myself better...

27 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Consider an avid computer person, he loves making simulations with his computer, he loves making fractal art with his computer, he loves making 3d rendering and animations with his computer, he loves coding cellular automata with his computer... he loves all the things he can do with his computer and he can do only with his computer.

One day the computer has a problem, he fixes the computer with use of the Manual, one which describes how to care for and maintain the computer, to keep it operational.  Being interested only in his love for what he could do with his computer, he never learned about nor even cared about the computer itself.  The things he did with the computer were values in themselves, whereas the computer itself ... well in and of itself, was wholly uninteresting and useless to him.

Now, however, realizing that the computer makes all he loves to do with it possible, specifically its being operational, he realizes that fundamentally ALL the things he loves doing with the computer depend fundamentally upon its being operational.

As a rational person, he decides to read and learn everything from the Manual about caring for and maintaining the computer's operation.  He realizes he cannot overclock it too much (this could cause it to fail permanently) so he has to give up some speed for his simulations, but he decides this is OK because there is so much more he does not want to loose at the cost of a little simulation speed.

He adopts the Manual as a guide, and follows it religiously because everything he values about the computer depends upon it being operational.  He does not stop doing all the wondrous things with the computer which he loves, he does so now with the understanding that he has the power all to help guarantee he can continue to do those wondrous things.

Yes, absolutely, everything you've said here makes perfect sense to me.

But suppose that there is a program which this avid computer person wants to run, more than anything else (more than the rest of his programs combined), and this program (Program Bliss) will overclock his computer (whatever that means; I'm just trying to roll with what you've provided), which could cause it to fail permanently. Moreover, suppose that all computers eventually fail and must be replaced... but use of Program Bliss will certainly cause his computer to fail more quickly than otherwise.

Perhaps he decides that the value of running Program Bliss is worth risking permanent failure, or a faster failure rate, even though it would render him thereafter unable to run both Program Bliss and others. (Maybe he can't afford a replacement computer.)

In another thread, I'd recently mentioned a book I'd read called The Console Wars (primarily concerning the 90s competition between Nintendo and Sega) where the point is repeatedly made that consoles do not sell themselves; it is games which sell consoles. And my understanding of the PC boom in the 1980s is that the market largely waited on software to drive hardware sales -- even the vast potential, which early computers perhaps represented, were unable to convince most people that a purchase was warranted. They needed actual applications first.

Your example above demonstrates this, too: the value the computer has -- even for this "avid computer person" -- is derivative from the software which he truly values. He doesn't love the computer for itself -- he loves the computer for what it can do for him, in terms of its software (or more broadly the experiences which that software provides). And this leads him to both need and want to maintain the computer, to the best of his ability, so that he may continue to use that software; but in those cases where there is a conflict between (some sort of idealized) maintenance of the computer itself, and being able to use the computer for the software which he truly wants to run, well -- at the very least a choice must be made.

If we conceive of maintenance of the computer, as such, as the standard of value, we may come to very different results (perhaps he cannot run Program Bliss at all; perhaps he is restricted to tax software and Zork*, and the joy he used to find in using his computer slowly slips away)... but if we look at the maintenance of the computer from the perspective of "maintaining the computer is good for the sake of the software that the computer allows me to run," then we may reach different conclusions, with respect to Program Bliss or anything else. Maybe we run Program Bliss and account it the right thing to do.

____________________________________________________

* Not that there's anything wrong with Zork.

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37 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

Well, that's what conversation (ideally) is for, so... lemme try to help explain myself better...

Yes, absolutely, everything you've said here makes perfect sense to me.

But suppose that there is a program which this avid computer person wants to run, more than anything else (more than the rest of his programs combined), and this program (Program Bliss) will overclock his computer (whatever that means; I'm just trying to roll with what you've provided), which could cause it to fail permanently. Moreover, suppose that all computers eventually fail and must be replaced... but use of Program Bliss will certainly cause his computer to fail more quickly than otherwise.

Perhaps he decides that the value of running Program Bliss is worth risking permanent failure, or a faster failure rate, even though it would render him thereafter unable to run both Program Bliss and others. (Maybe he can't afford a replacement computer.)

In another thread, I'd recently mentioned a book I'd read called The Console Wars (primarily concerning the 90s competition between Nintendo and Sega) where the point is repeatedly made that consoles do not sell themselves; it is games which sell consoles. And my understanding of the PC boom in the 1980s is that the market largely waited on software to drive hardware sales -- even the vast potential, which early computers perhaps represented, were unable to convince most people that a purchase was warranted. They needed actual applications first.

Your example above demonstrates this, too: the value the computer has -- even for this "avid computer person" -- is derivative from the software which he truly values. He doesn't love the computer for itself -- he loves the computer for what it can do for him, in terms of its software (or more broadly the experiences which that software provides). And this leads him to both need and want to maintain the computer, to the best of his ability, so that he may continue to use that software; but in those cases where there is a conflict between (some sort of idealized) maintenance of the computer itself, and being able to use the computer for the software which he truly wants to run, well -- at the very least a choice must be made.

If we conceive of maintenance of the computer, as such, as the standard of value, we may come to very different results (perhaps he cannot run Program Bliss at all; perhaps he is restricted to tax software and Zork*, and the joy he used to find in using his computer slowly slips away)... but if we look at the maintenance of the computer from the perspective of "maintaining the computer is good for the sake of the software that the computer allows me to run," then we may reach different conclusions, with respect to Program Bliss or anything else. Maybe we run Program Bliss and account it the right thing to do.

____________________________________________________

* Not that there's anything wrong with Zork.

You constantly assume a zero sum game between staying alive and the values that life makes possible.  There is no ONE bliss.  Every man who has discovered a past error, a wrong career pursued, a failed but assumed "the one" marriage only to be replaced with a much greater career a much much greater love, can attest to the errors and fallibility of man and what he values as his desires and pleasures at any one time, no matter how much he believes he knows himself or all of reality or that he will not or cannot change.  No man knows for certain what he will encounter or discover next.  Every recovering gambler or alcoholic or former smoker or now paraplegic thrill seeker, can attest to knowing, previously, what values they would sell their families, money, their very lives to.... only to realize later that they were wrong.  That there was so much more to life, so many more pleasures and happinesses for the taking and they just had to keep living and pursuing them in order to realize it.

The pursuit of happiness requires no single irreplaceable computer game, food, career or hobby... it is just that, a life long pursuit of happiness which is found in many places, takes on multitude of forms and which is made possible only by being alive.

 

Whatever vice you believe you have to cling to at the cost of just one second of your life, I say give it up, live fully, flourish, choose from among all the multitudinous life transfusing values and live more many more seconds! (in all seriousness)

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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1 minute ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Whatever vice you believe you have to cling to at the cost of just one second of your life, I say give it up, live fully, flourish, choose from among all the multitudinous life transfusing values and live more many more seconds! (in all seriousness)

If we relabel "vice" as "activity" (so as to avoid question begging) and reconsider this as, "whatever activities you enjoy at the cost of just one second of your life...give them up" then, taken seriously, I no longer believe it would be possible for me to "live fully." It's not a question of "clinging" to anything, except trying to live life to the fullest (not necessarily longest).

That being said, over the course of this thread, I've had cause to revisit numerous threads where I've tried to present my ideas on this subject, including here, here, here, here and here. (And, of course, here. ;)) I think that I've explained myself as well as I can, at present, though I will continue to work on this and continue to think it through.

Thank you (and everyone else) for your assistance.

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15 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

I no longer believe it would be possible for me to "live fully." It's not a question of "clinging" to anything, except trying to live life to the fullest (not necessarily longest)

This is the belief I have issue with.  There are at least a million things you will never do... you do not have the time.  You could literally live life to the fullest in millions of different ways.  It's not a zero sum between staying alive and the values life makes possible... there are too many possible values, pleasures, and sources of happiness out there for you to even hope to experience in even 100 life times!  To say changing an activity for an alternative which is more life supporting prevents you from living life to the fullest is not tenable IMHO.

Thank you for the discussion, it has been liberating for me (I get stuck in conceptual ruts which lack rigor until I've been pushed to examine them more properly). 

Good luck in pursuing the good life!

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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16 hours ago, DonAthos said:

Invictus2017 sees "life" as survival, but survival appropriate to man -- not longevity (contra Kelley) and not flourishing. He believes that we do not appeal to the specific end of continuing to survive, but to processes which promote survival -- and are thus appropriate to man. He believes that all choices are moral and either promote or detract from these processes.

Actually, I would say that "survival appropriate to man" entails "flourishing", as opposed to "flourishing" being something added to "survival appropriate to man".  That also appears to be Kelley's position in TLSO, though I'd have to reread to be sure.  Anyway....

I haven't been getting enough sleep the last few days, so I haven't been able to properly organize my thoughts for writing on this topic. However, there is one point I think I should bring up, because it identifies a central error in this and similar discussions.

A living entity enacts a goal-directed process, with its goal the continuance of itself. It's important to keep in mind that this goal isn't "to live forever" or even "to live a long time", it is "to keep on living". An action that supports the goal, supports the goal, even if there is an alternative action that would result in a longer life. (This is consistent with the fact that living beings evolved; in evolution, organisms are selected, not for longevity, but for reproductive effectiveness.)

All entities have the future possibility of not existing, and this is what gives rise to the concept of value in relation to living entities, as Rand pointed out. But indefinite life is not the goal of life, rather the goal is merely life's continuation. So, in forming one's value hierarchy, the top is not indefinite survival, it is continuing one's life. This is a seemingly hair-splitting difference, but it is a real and important one.

Were living as long as possible the proper ultimate goal of one's actions, mere survival -- survival regardless of one's circumstances -- would be one's target. On that view, a cheerless, pointless existence as a comatose vegetable tended by hordes of well paid medical experts could be better than a life full of happiness -- and risk. I don't think any of us accept that conclusion. I don't think any even semi-rational person, except maybe a drug addict, would accept that conclusion. I'd go further: If that's all that ethics had to offer as its view of the proper life, I (and I expect you) would say, be damned to ethics.

But that isn't the proper ultimate goal. It also isn't merely continuing one's life. Were that the proper ultimate goal, a life of "just getting by" would be moral....

And that's where I leave off, too sleepy to do a proper job of expressing my thoughts. I will say that this is where Rand's "man qua man" enters the picture.
 

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4 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Looks like a contradiction to me.

Look harder....

 

If an entity invariably succeeded in achieving the goal of continuing to live, it would live forever.  But that does not make "living forever" its goal.  It makes living forever a consequence of success at its goal.

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26 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

If an entity invariably succeeded in achieving the goal of continuing to live, it would live forever.

When you say "invariably"  it is like saying "if you are immortal, you would live forever". 

But nevertheless, it is interesting, this sounds like an argument for Virtue Ethics. As in ... practice the virtue of "continuing to live". Don't worry about the results but hopefully, you will live forever.

The living forever becomes more of a direction, rather than a goal.

In fact, I wonder if the core difference between virtue ethics and consequentialism is in fact that virtue is about direction rather the results that consequentialism requires. Although, one can argue that life as the direction is the result that one "should" achieve. 

 

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On 10/3/2017 at 12:27 AM, Easy Truth said:

Then why don't we do them? (If they are in our nature)

Some do, some don't. The important idea is that at least in the Objectivist view, nature isn't only what you can't help. By our nature as humans, only certain types of actions lead to flourishing - whether this is a diet, work ethic, or even sex. We also need to use free will so that we -can- act in the best way possible. So when I say "acting in our nature", I mean choosing to act in all the ways that are necessary for our survival (note that anything less than flourishing really should be called dying slowly, not survival).

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58 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Some do, some don't. The important idea is that at least in the Objectivist view, nature isn't only what you can't help. By our nature as humans, only certain types of actions lead to flourishing - whether this is a diet, work ethic, or even sex. We also need to use free will so that we -can- act in the best way possible. So when I say "acting in our nature", I mean choosing to act in all the ways that are necessary for our survival (note that anything less than flourishing really should be called dying slowly, not survival).

Then, flourishing is something that you know it when you see it. Everyone has examples of it but they all seem to relate to pleasure or to prevent pain. The pleasure-pain mechanism seems to be the standard of what is good. After all, they are geared to correspond to thriving or dying. So the means to achieving minimum pain and maximum pleasure is Virtue, in the long run with "return on investment" calculations?

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Maybe you'll notice it, maybe you won't - so you need epistemology to say how to discover it. Pleasure and pain are only relevant to the extent they tell you something about the world and a good starting point to learn what is good or bad. Ultimately, your nature dictates good or bad. 

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