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Eamon Arasbard

The Golden Rule as a basis for rights

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... On this matter, it would have been a contextual issue. From our knowledge since added, that we now have today,, it is easier to look back at then and say they were wrong, than to delimit the context to the knowledge available of the time being evaluated...

 

I believe we are copacetic on this aspect of reviewing history with the benefit of hindsight.  Given the historical context, I particularily appreciate those before us who aided and abetted those marked for slavery.  Were they properly doing unto others?  They did so at great personal risk by stealing the property of others.

 

It wasn't until very recently that man, as a whole, came to understand the inherent contradiction between other lives, as property to be acquired, and the lives of others, as property in themselves.  And in terms of man qua man, the issue continues to be argued to our discredit as a rational species.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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I particularily appreciate those before us who aided and abetted those marked for slavery. Were they properly doing unto others?  They did so at great personal risk by stealing the property of others.

Were they properly (in the right) doing unto others?  

This would be an example of importing an ethical consideration into TGR.

 

One aspect of Objectivism that inspires me is the notation that "[t]he power of morality is the greatest of all intellectual powers - and mankind's tragedy lies in the fact that the vicious moral code men have accepted destroys them by means of the best within them." - Philosophy: Who Needs It

 

As you point out, they did so at great personal risk to themselves - they held the moral high ground and the courage of their convictions gave them strength to persist in the face of the adversarial conditions they faced.

Edited by dream_weaver
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Were they properly (in the right) doing unto others?  

This would be an example of importing an ethical consideration into 'The Golden Rule 'TGR'.

...

 

And a good example of the kind of ambiguous results one gets for doing so.

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Virtue without choice equates to morality without choice.  I thought we were looking for a starting point for a proper premise about morality.

 

Yes; exactly.

 

I offered choice as a better starting point than happiness.  Do you disagree?

Yes.  You said that life essentially becomes good when we choose for it to be good.  That would mean that "good" and "evil" depend exclusively on what we want them to be, which would directly lead to moral subjectivism.

 

"Choice" refers to the deliberate selection of the best conceived possibility, according to a certain standard of value.  The fact that we choose to do whatever we do is axiomatic, as is the fact that we do so according to our own values.  "Value" itself is also axiomatic, but not the selection of any particular thing as being of value.

 

One should grasp this, and have a firm grasp of epistemology, before discussing morality; in that sense you're right.  I was assuming that you were already familiar with that.

 

Have you read the Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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OK, so morality presupposes choice.  I can live with that.  But choice referring to the "deliberate selection of the best conceived possibility" being axiomatic?  How does that square with free-will, as in choosing to think or not??

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"Choice" refers to the deliberate selection of the best conceived possibility, according to a certain standard of value.  The fact that we choose to do whatever we do is axiomatic, as is the fact that we do so according to our own values.  "Value" itself is also axiomatic, but not the selection of any particular thing as being of value.

The need for values stems from the fact that man has no automatic course of behavior. A code of values is needed to guide his actions. Value is the object desired one acts to gain or keep, while virtue is the action one takes to gain or keep the object. These are not the hallmark of an axiomatic concept. Answers to the questions: of value to whom? and for what?, can guide the discovery of the best conceived possibilities, i.e., the selection of particulars from among the alternatives.

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...

Yes.  You said that life essentially becomes good when we choose for it to be good.  That would mean that "good" and "evil" depend exclusively on what we want them to be, which would directly lead to moral subjectivism.

...

 

For clarity, my meaning is not that life is universally (absolutely) good by choice.  Life, at least the mortal form we know as existent, isn't immortal, i.e., isn't absolute.  Which means there's no existent form of absolute life to refer to as being good; unless you count angels, which isn't likely to fly in this forum.

 

One has a choice to live or not to, similar to "to think, or not to".  That represents, to me, the only real choice from which all subsequent observations about the goodness, or badness of ones following choices can be objectively posited.

 

The choice to live only expresses the intent to postpone the inevitable; death.  It may be presumed that choosing to hang around is done for a good reason, but not because it's good to live forever.

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The need for values stems from the fact that man has no automatic course of behavior. A code of values is needed to guide his actions.

 

And yet nobody; not even people who are virulently opposed to, or cannot truly engage in abstract thought, seem to have any difficulty in acting.  We may question the soundness their particular actions (and I do) but they have no problem with action as such.  Even those people who consciously declare life to be evil will usually eat when they're hungry.  And not only will they eat; they'll get a job, buy groceries and engage in a long line of actions for the exact purpose of eating, simply because hunger pangs hurt.  Even children who have yet to form their very first concept will seek pleasure and avoid pain. 

 

So while it's true that man has no automatic set of values, it seems to me that certain individual things, such as pleasure and pain, are of perceptually self-evident value.  The purpose of an abstract code of values, then, would be to organize those into a single coherent system.

 

Answers to the questions: of value to whom? and for what?, can guide the discovery of the best conceived possibilities, i.e., the selection of particulars from among the alternatives.

 

Isn't a code of value is "required to guide action" and isn't value "what one acts to gain and keep"?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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But choice referring to the "deliberate selection of the best conceived possibility" being axiomatic?  How does that square with free-will, as in choosing to think or not??

 

In order to choose to think, you must value thinking; you must enjoy being conscious.  If you choose not to think then you do not like to think.

 

One has a choice to live or not to, similar to "to think, or not to".  That represents, to me, the only real choice from which all subsequent observations about the goodness, or badness of ones following choices can be objectively posited.

 

Yes; that's what I was driving at.  But since life is the ultimate (and conceptually grasped) value, I think it's important to understand what we're referring to and why it must be the ultimate value.

 

And when I say that it "must" be the ultimate value, this isn't to say that it's impossible to choose anything else; only that it must be the ultimate value, in order to consciously value anything worthwhile.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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In order to choose to think, you must value thinking; you must enjoy being conscious.  If you choose not to think then you do not like to think.

...

 

To think or not only means to assume or cede the role of thinking for oneself.  It remains to be seen if actions resulting from either case are good or bad.

 

...

 

Yes; that's what I was driving at.  But since life is the ultimate (and conceptually grasped) value, I think it's important to understand what we're referring to and why it must be the ultimate value.

 

And when I say that it "must" be the ultimate value, this isn't to say that it's impossible to choose anything else; only that it must be the ultimate value, in order to consciously value anything worthwhile.

 

Life is conditional, which means it cannot be unconditionally good (or bad) per se.  A moral actor is presumed to be living and volitional, but it remains to be seen if their actions are good or bad.  Morality requires judgement which is a particular form of thinking and choosing.

 

Life + volition = choice;  choice + judgement = morality;

 

<edit> morality + reciprocity = justice

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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And yet nobody; not even people who are virulently opposed to, or cannot truly engage in abstract thought, seem to have any difficulty in acting.  We may question the soundness their particular actions (and I do) but they have no problem with action as such.  Even those people who consciously declare life to be evil will usually eat when they're hungry.  And not only will they eat; they'll get a job, buy groceries and engage in a long line of actions for the exact purpose of eating, simply because hunger pangs hurt.  Even children who have yet to form their very first concept will seek pleasure and avoid pain. 

Even as altruism cannot be practiced where every action must benefit another, evil people need to keep their strength up to perform their dastardly deeds. 

 

So while it's true that man has no automatic set of values, it seems to me that certain individual things, such as pleasure and pain, are of perceptually self-evident value.  The purpose of an abstract code of values, then, would be to organize those into a single coherent system.

The pleasure/pain mechanism is described as a barometer of welfare or injury which give rise to the concepts of good and evil.

 

Isn't a code of value is "required to guide action" and isn't value "what one acts to gain and keep"?

Value (what one acts to gain and/or keep) presupposes two questions: Of value to whom? and Of value for what? These two questions can help to guide in the identification and selection of particulars from the alternatives.

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To think or not only means to assume or cede the role of thinking for oneself.  It remains to be seen if actions resulting from either case are good or bad.

 

I wasn't referring to the resulting consequences, as a matter of fact.  I only said that the choice to think stems from one's disposition towards it.

 

Life + volition = choice;  choice + judgement = morality;

 

<edit> morality + reciprocity = justice

 

What?????

 

The pleasure/pain mechanism is described as a barometer of welfare or injury which give rise to the concepts of good and evil.

 

Exactly; a perceptually self-evident barometer.

 

Are you primarily disputing whether morality itself is self-evident?  If so then you're absolutely right; there should be a distinction between a pleasurable/painful "good" and a moral "good" and I should have made that difference explicit, earlier.

 

Value (what one acts to gain and/or keep) presupposes two questions: Of value to whom? and Of value for what? These two questions can help to guide in the identification and selection of particulars from the alternatives.

 

Yes, for moral values.  Personally, though, when I'm hungry or thirsty, et cetera, I don't generally ask myself "to whom" or "for what purpose" those things are wanted; I take them as irreducibly primary values.  And yes, that's a tendency that's probably led to immeasurable suffering when it's been applied to morality.

However, while we are mortal beings, the knowledge of our own mortality isn't automatic; it takes a lot of work and no small amount of bravery to grasp that truth (and I think every religion in the world is a testament to that).  So while it makes sense to ask "to whom and for what" about conceptual values, I don't see what it could even mean for perceptual ones.

 

What comes to my mind would be, when my son declares that he's hungry, for me to ask him why.  So if you're referring to that sort of "value" then I really don't understand what you're trying to express.

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Are you primarily disputing whether morality itself is self-evident?  If so then you're absolutely right; there should be a distinction between a pleasurable/painful "good" and a moral "good" and I should have made that difference explicit, earlier.

No, I think this just evolved out of the consideration of "value" as axiomatic.  

 

Yes, for moral values.  Personally, though, when I'm hungry or thirsty, et cetera, I don't generally ask myself "to whom" or "for what purpose" those things are wanted; I take them as irreducibly primary values.  And yes, that's a tendency that's probably led to immeasurable suffering when it's been applied to morality.

However, while we are mortal beings, the knowledge of our own mortality isn't automatic; it takes a lot of work and no small amount of bravery to grasp that truth (and I think every religion in the world is a testament to that).  So while it makes sense to ask "to whom and for what" about conceptual values, I don't see what it could even mean for perceptual ones.

 

What comes to my mind would be, when my son declares that he's hungry, for me to ask him why.  So if you're referring to that sort of "value" then I really don't understand what you're trying to express.

Even hungry and thirsty are learned, although probably at a pre-verbal stage. As a child cries, we learn what they are crying about as they learn to articulate it. By the time they are two or three (I'm guessing), I'm hungry (food please) or I'm thirsty (water please) is pretty well automatized. The question of "to whom" (I'm) and "for what" (hungry/thirsty) have, at that point, already been answered in this regard as well as the value that satisfies it.

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Even hungry and thirsty are learned, although probably at a pre-verbal stage. As a child cries, we learn what they are crying about as they learn to articulate it.

 

No; they learn the words FOR hunger and thirst as they grow, but they know literally from birth how they feel about them.

 

The question of "to whom" (I'm) and "for what" (hungry/thirsty) have, at that point, already been answered in this regard as well as the value that satisfies it.

 

 So what is the purpose of sex?

 

I mean, biologically speaking, sex is for the proliferation of the species.  Is that how you think of it when weighing that sort of value?

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No; they learn the words FOR hunger and thirst as they grow, but they know literally from birth how they feel about them.

I would concur. You've stated more clearly. 

 

So what is the purpose of sex?

 

I mean, biologically speaking, sex is for the proliferation of the species.  Is that how you think of it when weighing that sort of value?

As I've matured in life, and pondered Rand's take on the subject - I find merit in sex as a celebration of life.

 

I consider sex for the proliferation of the species as a narrow biological view. I'm not actively seeking to have more children at this stage of the game. To pick a word that would capture my considerations on that sort of value, I seek intimacy.

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I wasn't referring to the resulting consequences, as a matter of fact.  I only said that the choice to think stems from one's disposition towards it.

...

 

If you mean that choosing to think isn't moral per se, then I agree.

 

...

What?????

...

 

1) Life + volition = choice, meaning having the ability to choose is just that; an ability that isn't moral per se.

2) Choice + judgment =  morality, meaning choices based on judgment initiate a moral context. 

3) Morality + reciprocity = justice, meaning justice depends on a moral consensus.

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I consider sex for the proliferation of the species as a narrow biological view. I'm not actively seeking to have more children at this stage of the game.

 

Which was exactly my point; thank you.  I'm sorry for the confusion.

 

If you mean that choosing to think isn't moral per se, then I agree.

 

I didn't say anything about it one way or the other.  If I were to comment on the choice to think then I'd say that it depends on the level of precision we're discussing it with.

 

I don't believe that the choice to think may always be moral, in every single situation; it depends on what you're thinking about.  Case in point: the kids at Columbine, who were bullied by their classmates until they eventually decided to just shoot everyone, probably would've fared better if they'd figured out how to shrug it off.  *Which is not to excuse the bullying; only to say they could've handled it better by refusing to dwell on it.

However, in general, the choice to think is the source of every good thing that anyone has ever done and will ever do, period.  So while it may not always be good to focus on every little thing, I would be hard-pressed to describe how important it is to think about the big things.  In a way that's the only thing that really matters.

 

I'm not sure we're anywhere even remotely close to ready for that discussion yet, though.

 

1) Life + volition = choice, meaning having the ability to choose is just that; an ability that isn't moral per se.

Right.  "Life" is part of the concept of "volition" already, but otherwise I would agree.

 

2) Choice + judgment =  morality, meaning choices based on judgment initiate a moral context. 

Sort of, except that would mean that it's possible to make choices without reference to anything at all.  I would agree with that if it specified "conscious judgment" as opposed to a kneejerk sort of reaction, because both are ultimately types of judgement.

 

3) Morality + reciprocity = justice, meaning justice depends on a moral consensus.

 

Do you mean that literally?

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...

I didn't say anything about it one way or the other.  If I were to comment on the choice to think then I'd say that it depends on the level of precision we're discussing it with.

...

However, in general, the choice to think is the source of every good thing that anyone has ever done and will ever do, period.  So while it may not always be good to focus on every little thing, I would be hard-pressed to describe how important it is to think about the big things.  In a way that's the only thing that really matters.

...

 

Thinking is an attribute of consciousness, and as such is neither good nor bad, it just is.  It's "the source of every good thing that anyone has ever done and will ever do, period" semicolon and also the bad.  Legs are an attribute too, and one may choose to use them or not, but legs are neither good nor bad per se.  One can as easily assert that legs are the source of every good thing that anyone has ever done and will ever do; and also the bad.  What initiates a moral context is the choice to do something good or bad with ones attributes, and that requires judgement.  Judgement is a particular use of thinking, as kicking is a particular use of legs.  And judgement presumes conscious judgement, so we are in agreement to this point.

 

...

Do you mean that literally?

 

Yes.  Justice implies that each member of the community gets an equitable share of it, which involves reciprocity.  But justice cannot be voluntarily enacted without a moral concensus of agreeable actors.  That is not to say that every aspect of ones morality must be compatible with every aspect of all others morality; only that actionable justice is delimited to having a concensus on those aspects that are mutually beneficial or detrimental to the community at large.  Securing a right to live non-aggressively goes a long way towards avoiding a hostile environment, and reciprocity allows each member an equitable share of that environment.

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Thinking is an attribute of consciousness, and as such is neither good nor bad, it just is.

 

Thinking is not an attribute which is; it's an action which happens.  Furthermore, it's not just any sort of action (like the changing of the seasons or the motion of rivers); it's a purposeful action, undertaken for the sake of certain goals.

You're saying that thinking happens automatically and as much as I wish that were true, it simply isn't.  You have to want to think.

 

What initiates a moral context is the choice to do something good or bad with ones attributes, and that requires judgement.  Judgement is a particular use of thinking, as kicking is a particular use of legs.  And judgement presumes conscious judgement, so we are in agreement to this point.

No, we absolutely are not.

"Judgement" as you're using it- moral judgement- presumes a standard of morality to judge something against.  To say that moral judgement is the basis of morality boils down to another implication of "choice without reason" with the resulting "morality" that you're referring to- if practiced on Earth and in reality- consisting of outright intrinsicism.

 

You're essentially saying that 'moral things are moral because they're moral' and to that I emphatically do not agree, in any sense whatsoever.

 

Justice implies that each member of the community gets an equitable share of it, which involves reciprocity.  But justice cannot be voluntarily enacted without a moral concensus of agreeable actors.

And here your moral intrinsicism leads directly to political subjectivism.

 

I don't agree with any of this, at all, but I no longer believe that progress is possible here.

 

Live long and prosper.

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Thinking is not an attribute which is; it's an action which happens.  Furthermore, it's not just any sort of action (like the changing of the seasons or the motion of rivers); it's a purposeful action, undertaken for the sake of certain goals.

You're saying that thinking happens automatically and as much as I wish that were true, it simply isn't.  You have to want to think.

...

 

And when your mind wanders, is that a purposeful action, undertaken for the sake of certain goals?

 

Thinking is a attribute of consciousness (as stated) by definition:

"a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something" ~ Google, attribute

Consciousness is something

Thinking is a characteristic of that something

 

Are you thinking now?  Can you will yourself to stop??

 

LOL, what's not thinking like?  Any description you offer will betray you...

 

...

No, we absolutely are not.

"Judgement" as you're using it- moral judgement- presumes a standard of morality to judge something against.  To say that moral judgement is the basis of morality boils down to another implication of "choice without reason" with the resulting "morality" that you're referring to- if practiced on Earth and in reality- consisting of outright intrinsicism.

 

You're essentially saying that 'moral things are moral because they're moral' and to that I emphatically do not agree, in any sense whatsoever.

...

 

Judgement, as I'm using it means:

"the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions" ~ Google, judgement

 

What I'm actually saying is, that which is moral to man is delimited to accurately identifying (judging) what is beneficial (good) from what is detrimental (bad) according to being man.  In that respect, the individual cannot be morally separated from the pack, and I sense that is the major stumbling block here.

 

...

Live long and prosper.

 

Luq ~ http://www.movies-dictionary.org/Klingon-to-English-Dictionary/luq

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And when your mind wanders, is that a purposeful action, undertaken for the sake of certain goals?

 

Yes.  They aren't my consciously and explicitly chosen goals, but when my mind wanders it makes its own goals (and here "it" means all of that subconscious stuff that can only ever be seen out of the corner of your mental eye); I think about many interesting and exciting things that I enjoy to think about, in and of themselves, but don't serve any further purpose.

When your mind wanders it's the same action as deliberate thought, but with your subconscious holding the reigns.

 

Are you thinking now?

Yes.

 

Can you will yourself to stop?

No, because I enjoy thinking; no matter what I choose to focus on, I will actively think about it.  I believe I've said thrice now that the act of thinking stems from whether you enjoy thinking.

 

That you chose mental wandering as distinctive of "thought" admits far more than you realize.

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I chose mental wandering to make the point that choosing to think or not is essentially a false choice.  You attempt to avoid this conclusion by handing over the reins to your subconscious, and when pressed to stop thinking, you declare you can't because you enjoy thinking so much.  Again, I believe we essentially agree on this point, with some argument remaining as to whether you can actually stop your compulsive thinking as an act of will.  I hope you cannot because the medical term for a thoughtless brain is brain death, and I enjoy arguing with you.

 

I think a more honest answer is that you cannot not think without producing a zero, which is why when someone claims to be not thinking, what they mean is they are thinking poorly, or allowing someone else to think for them.  That is why I prefer to combine choice with judgment to qualify morality,  Judgment implies considering alternative (real)choices to arrive at an intentional action that one can hang their hat on, or get hanged by as the case might be.

 

Judge and prepare to be judged.

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In objectivism, morality (principles for action) have an OBJECTIVE basis (life as the standard of value) and would never be based on either the whims of others, or the whims of ones' self projected onto others.... which is what the Golden Rule would have us make the basis for moral determinations.    

I think the contradiction between that and the Golden Rule is pretty plain to see.  

Edited by Spencer W. Morgan

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