Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Wrong way of determining good/evil?

Rate this topic


JJJJ
 Share

Recommended Posts

First post, and apologies for my possibly inadequate english!

I've found that human beings(myself included) have a difficulty of understanding very large quantities, and the amount of different individuals in societies is one example of this. Just like it is difficult for a person to imagine what 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 cars in a huge parking lot looks like, they still can, by using their logic, understand that it is just 1 car+1 car+ 1 car....etc. The same goes with individuals in a society. It seems to be impossible for many people to understand what a society consisting of 28 million(totally arbitrary number) individuals is, as it is really hard to instinctively notice what effects different actions have. If a person steals money from one of the 28 million, it isnt really that noticable for the rest of the population, and therefore people have these false morals as they refuse to use their brains when making conclusions about their morality and they start spouting shit like "there are no universal morals" and "its just a cultural thing" etc.

Therefore, i usually try and give them examples like this, so they can better understand it:

a ) If every person in the world, held the view that killing people for fun(initiating force) is morally acceptable, then by everybody doing this morally acceptable thing, everyone would die as everyone would kill eachother. Because morals can only be held by living beings and morals are valuable only because they "tell you" how to live a good a life, the DIRECT result of everyone doing morally good acts, cannot be everyone dying. To say that dying is good for life, is at least as i understand it, a contradiction/paradox. Therefore, killing people for fun IS universally evil, no matter what anyones feelings on the subject is, as the direct result of this action, if everyone were to do it, would be everyone dying. Why would it then be any more justifiable if just some people were to do it?

b ) If every person in the world, held the view that living on welfare(not sustaining your own life) is morally acceptable, then by everybody doing this morally acceptable thing, everyone would die of starvation and human life would be impossible. Because morals can only be held by living beings and morals are valuable only because they "tell you" how to live a good a life, the DIRECT result of everyone doing morally good acts, cannot be everyone dying. To say that dying is good for life, is at least as i understand it, a contradiction/paradox. Therefore, living on welfare IS universally evil, no matter what anyones feelings on the subject is, as the direct result of this action, if everyone were to do it, would be everyone dying. Why would it then be any more justifiable if just some people were to do it?

c) Imagine if the world consisted of only 6 people. 4 people would sit on their asses and do nothing, 1 person would hunt for food and 1 person would chop down trees and build a hut for shelter and be responsible for providing the necessary "warmth" that is required to survive.

Who have the rights to the food and who has the rights to the hut? Why should the guys sitting on their asses have any right to these things? Lets say the hunter and the builder were to make a deal, that they could enjoy the fruits of eachothers labour, so that the hunter would get to sleep in the hut, and the builder would get to eat the food. Let's say that 2 of the slackers were really agressive, and the third and fourth slackers would offer the hunter&builder that they could guard the hut and the stock of food so that the 2 slackers wouldnt steal them, in exchange for getting to eat some of the food, and sleep in the hut while the other guard was guarding the hut. The hunter&builder would agree. Then lets say one of the agressive slackers would get tired of starving and would offer the hunter&builder in exchange for food/shelter that he could just dig a hole in the ground, and after he had dug it, he would just fill it up. He would then repeat this over and over again for 14 hours/day. The hunter&builder would not agree with this, and would not offer him food or shelter as the digging of the pothole and then filling it up, would be of no value to them, despite the guy "working" tirelessly for 14 hours/day.

Why would it be wrong that the hunter would own the food, the builder own the shelter, the guards would not own either of them but be eligible for eating/shelter, and that the slacker digging/filling the hole in the ground would not get anything, despite doing the "most work"? If you do not see anything wrong with this, then why would it be wrong if instead of 6 people we had 6 million?

These arguments are very effective in at least to get the listener listening, and in some cases i have actually seen the person make big leaps in their thinking afterwards. I was just wondering, whether my simplifications have any weak points, so that i do not mistakenly teach people the wrong things. I have really found that going to the roots of things, and making simplifications(without changing the facts) is really effective, even in cases where the one youre talking to is a subjectivist weirdo that has never said a smart thing in their life. So, is there something wrong with these simplifications?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think your examples are very good, and I agree with them. One thing you need to be prepared for is the following: "You say, if everyone lived on welfare, we would all die, but let's say everyone wanted to be an auto mechanic. Then we'd all die, too. But there's nothing wrong with someone wanting to be an auto mechanic." (I'm not saying I agree with this objection, but you should be prepared to encounter it.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think your examples are very good, and I agree with them. One thing you need to be prepared for is the following: "You say, if everyone lived on welfare, we would all die, but let's say everyone wanted to be an auto mechanic. Then we'd all die, too. But there's nothing wrong with someone wanting to be an auto mechanic." (I'm not saying I agree with this objection, but you should be prepared to encounter it.)

I've encountered it, every time.

Here's where youre wrong:

The fact that everyone would be an automechanic does not kill anyone. The fact that you do not sustain your own life, does. Everyone can be an automechanic AND sustain their life besides that. Noone will die because of everyone being a mechanic, everyone will die of stealing othere peoples wealth(as there is none).

So yes, if someone thinks that "being an automechanic" is in itself somehow morally good then it is another thing, as in "i should get paid for being an automechanic regardless of the fact whether im producing or not". By sustaining your life by producing automechanical services to people who value your services enough to pay you, is morally good. But the morally good thing is not the automechanic part, but the sustaining your life.

Being an automechanic has nothing to do with morals, as you can be an automechanic and do either good or bad things. But you cannot do good, by leeching off other people. Because a person can be an automechanic, and 1) make his living from that, 2) make his living on some other thing, 3) make his living off others. But a person cannot live off the productivity off others while at the same time living off the productivity of himself. That is once again a paradox.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, is there something wrong with these simplifications?

Yes.

A & B are merely restatements of Kant's Categorical Imperative, which you can find objections to within most Objectivist literature. The fact that you think morals "tell you" (as in a command) how to live a good life is the problem here.

I don't really follow C so I won't comment on it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've encountered it, every time.

Here's where youre wrong:

The fact that everyone would be an automechanic does not kill anyone. The fact that you do not sustain your own life, does. Everyone can be an automechanic AND sustain their life besides that. Noone will die because of everyone being a mechanic, everyone will die of stealing othere peoples wealth(as there is none).

So yes, if someone thinks that "being an automechanic" is in itself somehow morally good then it is another thing, as in "i should get paid for being an automechanic regardless of the fact whether im producing or not". By sustaining your life by producing automechanical services to people who value your services enough to pay you, is morally good. But the morally good thing is not the automechanic part, but the sustaining your life.

Being an automechanic has nothing to do with morals, as you can be an automechanic and do either good or bad things. But you cannot do good, by leeching off other people. Because a person can be an automechanic, and 1) make his living from that, 2) make his living on some other thing, 3) make his living off others. But a person cannot live off the productivity off others while at the same time living off the productivity of himself. That is once again a paradox.

I think his point was that if the only professionals were auto mechanics, there would be no food, no shelter, no materials with which to build automobiles, or even people to manufacture them. One of the things that drew me to the objectivist philosophy is that it is totally based around reality. Your statement regarding auto mechanics indicates that you do not consider reality when making your simplification.

Edited by WarIs4Profit
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes.

A & B are merely restatements of Kant's Categorical Imperative, which you can find objections to within most Objectivist literature. The fact that you think morals "tell you" (as in a command) how to live a good life is the problem here.

Im from Finland, and the synonym for tell(kertoa), in this context also means "shows" or even "reveals" so maybe something was lost in translation. I did not mean "command" when i used the word "tells", so its just my poor english that is to blame here.

I think his point was that if the only professionals were auto mechanics, there would be no food, no shelter, no materials with which to build automobiles, or even people to manufacture them.

But the moral act an automechanic in the free market is doing is not "being an automechanic" but "producing automechanical services to people who consentually pay for his services enough for him to sustain his life". Just like you understand that a farmer can either be moral or immoral, based on whether he steals(subsidies) or produces(free market). Just like shooting a gun is not in itself either moral or immoral, as defending your or someone elses life, liberty and property with the help of the gun is moral, while murdering someone on a whim with this same gun is immoral.

If you compare the examples i gave you:

a ) the immoral act: killing for fun(initiating force)

the irrelevant act: pulling the trigger of an AK-47, swinging a shovel etc.

b ) the immoral act: stealing other people's property

the irrelevant act: using a truck where to fit the furniture you steal from someones home.

Just like in the automechanic part:

the moral act: sustaining your life by producing services that people consentually pay for

the irrelevant act: being an automechanic, being a bagboy, being a lawyer

Your statement regarding auto mechanics indicates that you do not consider reality when making your simplification.

I do not see how, so you are going to have to show me.....

Edited by JJJJ
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Im from Finland, and the synonym for tell(kertoa), in this context also means "shows" or even "reveals" so maybe something was lost in translation. I did not mean "command" when i used the word "tells", so its just my poor english that is to blame here.

Fair enough. But my criticism still stands. Your characterization of an action as wrong because if it is universally done, it would be impossible to do, is incorrect. This is not what characterizes an action as right or wrong.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fair enough. But my criticism still stands. Your characterization of an action as wrong because if it is universally done, it would be impossible to do, is incorrect. This is not what characterizes an action as right or wrong.

What i meant (and wrote) was that if these actions were made, the result would be death to everyone. I added in the second example the line "and human life would be impossible" just as a curiosity. The main point was, that the direct result of everyone doing action A is death to everyone. I do not see where i went wrong here.

And remember, that the point of my simplification was that because it is difficult for some people to grasp the EVIL in an act 1 person makes in a society of 300 million, and therefore to get my point across, i have to show them what happens when everybody does this EVILl act. I have to show, what happens when the moral people, that nowadays are enslaved by parasites, are removed from the picture, and what happens in a society of only immoral people.

Edited by JJJJ
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...