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Objectivism, Preferences, and Happiness

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On ‎7‎/‎24‎/‎2014 at 1:57 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

Substantially in agreement with what has been said above.


I think the key is to simplify the complexity of:  standard of value being life, the quality of life, and over the long range, by this simple procedure which is a bit mathematical.


[Preliminarily: The long range is contextual.  It will differ for a 15 year old versus an 80 year old.  So long range really means for the rest of your reasonably foreseeable lifetime.]


Imagine a graph - a curve, projecting into the future a number of years until your reasonably predicted death, not just of your status as living or dead, but of the quality of life you lead.  It will have happiness as a major factor but whatever factors actually go into it, imagine it varying over the years directly with your quality of life.


Now (this is where the math comes in) image the area under that graph.  If you extend your end point where it stops (extend your life) the area increases, if you shorten the end point (cut your life short) the area decreases.  If you increase the quality of your life at any point, with a spike or a nice peak, it will contribute to the area under the curve.  Conversely if you decrease the quality of your life at any point, the area under the curve will decrease.


The area under the curve is what you are trying to maximize when you are taking Objectivist ethics into account. Particular actions can and will cause peaks and/or valleys at various points in the curve and can influence the end point of the curve.  The key is to measure the quality of life based on objective standards and to realize that actions affect it and also the end point of your life.


So for ice-cream, you can have some every week, and the end point will likely not move, but the entire graph will raise a little.  This is good.  If you go cold turkey... well the graph would drop and your end point might extend somewhat, but I would guess not much (unless your have weight problems or sever life threatening lactose intolerance or whatever).  If you ate it 3 times a day I think your graph would increase upward by a little more than it would if you had ice cream once a week, but I think your end point would move much closer...i.e. it would shave years off your life. 


So there is a sweet spot where your graph area can be maximized, and I think it includes a case of eating some amount of ice cream!!



On ‎7‎/‎25‎/‎2014 at 12:36 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

Perhaps my answer was too complicated.



Life has quality and quantity.  One must take into account the effect on both when determining "what values to pursue".


On ‎7‎/‎25‎/‎2014 at 9:45 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

That's not the point.  The point is length of life only... i.e. literally the "time before you die" is not equivalent to "life as the standard".  THIS is not meant to provide an answer but to point to the fact that more than one variable must be taken into consideration.  Addressing the question of Ice cream and its affect on the quality of life and potentially life span was merely an illustration.  This is not an example of question begging. 


I think the proper question is not so simple as "what value to pursue".  Really ...is the question "IS ice cream as such a value"?  No It is what actions give the most values... single actions can affect multiple values, some related to health, others pleasure, others happiness, achievement etc... One cannot assume that everything under the sun one can do or obtain must be categorized in and of itself "a value" or "a disvalue".  That would be absurd.  Things and actions have value, you evaluate those things and actions by the balance sheet of values they provide or erode.  As such "fresh water" when drowning is not valuable, "fresh water" when you are dehydrated is.  IS fresh water as such a "value to pursue"?


Really now.


I have come to the conclusion that what I have said previously on this thread, is in error.

It suffers from imprecision of thought and a simplistic view of the nature of man, the relationship between man, his happiness, his life, and the tool by which he guides his actions, an objective morality.

When and if I am predisposed to presenting a full explanation of why this is wrong and full explanation of what I now deem correct, will depend on when and if I deem it a value *to me* for others to see it and a value (or at least not too much a disvalue) *to me*, to see it subjected to the inevitable "commentary" *criticism* and its content *misconstrued* knowingly or not.

Such is the nature of such a forum, and such considerations are always there when deciding to post anything... ever.


My main purpose now is simply to retract my "under the graph theory" AS it is written.

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Well said, Strictly. 

I suggest as another approach (or perhaps a re-wording) to this well-discussed subject, that consequentialism is completely tied up with the retrospective, while the objective morality is largely pro-active. (Not to say - of course -  that one doesn't compare the outcomes to actions taken - and vice-versa - after the fact). C. has a strong element of unguided hit- and- miss, trial and error, and experimentation - in disregard of the fact that reality is not very forgiving on one's life of excessive errors, mis-steps and misjudgments. It's not as though one has unlimited time and (physical, spiritual) resources to "get it right".

Which feeds back to the over-riding questions: What is morality - why does man need a code of values? Rand has it that the second query is the prerequisite to determining the first. I'll roughly put it that one needs objectively-moral guidance - in advance - of choosing one's values and goals, and of selecting the essential steps to those ends. Having justified for oneself the 'rightness' of the ethics, by the identity of nature and man, it's all up to the individual to discover his own 'goodness'.

Edit: Apologies, I've tacked this onto the wrong thread. Mixing up two interesting topics I guess ;(



Edited by whYNOT

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