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The Morality of Alcohol

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nimble
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This is what I mean about Objectivists holding a Christian value system.

Wait, you are formulating your opinion on each and every Objectivist based on just ONE poster (no offense to JMeganSnow and no implication whether she is or not an Objectivist).

And I can't understand how what JMeganSnow said is equivalent to a Christian value system.

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Sorry, I meant that davidmsc is an example of an Objectivist with a Christian value system.

Obviously I have no idea exactly what davidmsc had in mind when he wrote his statement. But I don't have any particular problem with it. He did not say "drinking is immoral." He said being drunk is immoral. There is a big difference between the two.

Being drunk is having so many drinks that one's judgment and rational faculty are significantly impaired - and putting one's self in such a state for no good reason is immoral. And, even if it is necessary to be in such a state (for example, one has to take a certain medicine and one is warned in advance that it can impair one's judgment), then, to the degree one is aware of it and has at least some level of control over one's faculties, it is absolutely immoral to make important decisions about things which can have long-term consequences which can easily be put off until one's mental state has returned to normal.

Being moral presupposes a consciousness which is rational and in control - something which is most definitely NOT the case when a person is drunk.

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Objectivists holding a Christian value system.

It's the other way around: Christians (especially American Christians) have adopted some objective values, and thus their value system has elements of the Objectivist value system in it.

Anyone who wants to survive for longer than a day must have some objective values. Even Muslims have some objective values; for example, they value food. But it would be unreasonable to say that Objectivists hold partly Muslim values just because we eat too, wouldn't it?

-------

getting drunk

Let's define "drunk" please.

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Getting drunk is not immoral, just so long as you aren't doing so in a situation where you're likely to harm yourself or others. If I want to sit at my apartment with a few friends and drink just for the rush of the alcohol, I see no reason to call it immoral.

What you say is correct only to the degree that the person doing the drinking remains in control over his consciousness and circumstances. If the person does not have to drive himself home and merely has a couple of drinks to the point that his response time to certain stimuli is slow - no, that would not necessarily be immoral. It would, of course, be profoundly immoral if he allowed himself to get to that point if he was out by himself or in the company of others who were equally impaired and knew that he would need to drive home.

I would suggest, however, that there is a certain point beyond being mildly tipsy where choosing to have additional drinks is immoral. A person at that point is still in control enough to recognize that his mental agility is starting to be impacted and that additional alcohol is NOT a good thing. A person going beyond that point is not someone who is merely trying to "relax" - it is a sign of a person who lacks self control and good judgment. A person who is drunk is a person who by definition is, at least so long as he is in that condition, irrational. There is no moral reason (again, outside of certain medical contexts) for a person to volitionally allow himself to become irrational.

The fact that the person may be safely locked up in your apartment and under supervision of somebody more sober does not alter this fact. The desire to lose control over one's consciousness is a desire to escape reality. The very fact that a person has such a desire to begin with is a normal psychological warning sign that something may not be going well in one's life. Giving in to such a desire is almost always immoral. (I can think of a few extreme circumstances after something extremely traumatic has happened where it is understandable why a person might morally wish for and even temporarily pursue such a mental escape - so long as he does it in a safe manner, of course. But such circumstances are outside the context of this thread.)

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I have been drunk several times, and I have never done so in an attempt to evade reality. I have also not become irrational. When drunk, I know not to drive, I still know right from wrong, I still know that 1+1=2.

It's just fun, in certain social contexts, because you're in more of a hyper, playful mood and you're more likely to tell people what you really think. If you want to know what someone really thinks of you, just get them drunk.

When I'm drunk, everything becomes funny. I laugh at everything...and I love laughing. So I see no reason to call it immoral to get drunk, just for the sake of feeling that way.

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When I'm drunk, everything becomes funny. I laugh at everything...and I love laughing. So I see no reason to call it immoral to get drunk, just for the sake of feeling that way.

Feelings are not, in and of themselves, a justification for anything. Just because something feels good, it doesn't necessarily follow that it is rational, proper or moral.

I have been drunk several times, and I have never done so in an attempt to evade reality. I have also not become irrational. When drunk, I know not to drive, I still know right from wrong, I still know that 1+1=2.
There is more to being rational than knowing 1+1=2. And how would you know that you were rational when you were drunk? After all, you were drunk. One of the hallmarks of a drunk is everything he says makes perfect sense - to him.

I have yet to encounter a single instance of being around someone who is drunk and at all rational - and I have, unfortunately, a certain amount of experience being around people who are drunk.

It's just fun, in certain social contexts, because you're in more of a hyper, playful mood and you're more likely to tell people what you really think.

I am afraid that this statement only goes to prove my point. In other words, when a person is drunk, he is more likely to say and do things which he otherwise would not had he been fully rational and in control of himself.

If you want to know what someone really thinks of you, just get them drunk.

I think drunks are obnoxious and cannot stand being in the company of someone who is drunk. And if I have to resort to such a measure to find out what a particular person really thinks about me, the answer is probably not worth caring about in the first place.

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Being less inhibited does not require being less rational.

There is nothing wrong with a person wanting to be less inhibited in certain circumstances. And I know people who claim that having a drink or two makes them feel a bit less inhibited. Alcohol has never had that effect on me so I wouldn't know first hand. The only effect alcohol has ever had on me is to make me feel spaced out and sleepy - and since the past couple of years or so, I get a splitting and persistent headache if I have even one drink. But if having a drink or two will make a person feel less inhibited in a certain social situation where that is deemed to be desirable, then that is perfectly proper and moral if the person does it in a responsible manner. That is not what I am talking about. One or two drinks is not enough to make most people drunk. Being drunk does not mean being "less inhibited" - it means being out of control.

Rush Limbaugh, Al Franken, etc. say exactly what they think without sugar-coating it. While they may not be rational individuals, their irrationality does not stem from their tendency to be blunt.

Well, it is way off topic but I consider Rush Limbaugh to be a rational individual. He has mixed premises and occasionally is very incorrect on certain matters - but that does not make a person irrational. Now Al Franken - well, that's a different story altogether. That man might as well be drunk for the amount of sense he makes.

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Having enough alcohol such that you feel elated and walk funny.

That's what I would call "tipsy." It is clear that getting tipsy is not in itself immoral.

Sometimes the phrase "getting drunk" is used to refer to this or something similar, but I think that's an incorrect usage, or an exaggeration at best. A drunk person is one who has had too much alcohol, enough to lose his volition. People who have experienced this describe it as "something snapping in your mind"--so, if their accounts are correct, it is not a matter of degree, but a clear-cut binary condition: either you did get to the point of being drunk, or you stopped short of it.

Drunkenness is accompanied by symptoms like vomiting, being unable to walk (as opposed to "walking funny"), losing one's consciousness (as opposed to being drowsy and falling asleep more readily than usual), and acting irresponsibly.

I believe I needn't argue much about the moral status of pursuing this condition.

Edited by Capitalism Forever
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Being drunk is immoral, and any actions that result from such drunkenness are likely immoral, too.
What immoral actions are you talking about? I drink alcohol with friends and don't drive afterwards, I walk home. I drink a few beers while shooting a few games of pool and talking to other people at the bar. What exactly do you find immoral about that?

All you've done is take a stance without providing any reasons for this. Why do you think being drunk is immoral?

Do you consider alcohol to be immoral or is it ok to drink some alcohol, as long as you don't get drunk?

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What immoral actions are you talking about? I drink alcohol with friends and don't drive afterwards, I walk home. I drink a few beers while shooting a few games of pool and talking to other people at the bar. What exactly do you find immoral about that?

This is why definitions are useful. :confused:

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Are we just talking about social drinking? Or college/binge drinking. I might say that if one, accidently, gets drunk in social setting (i.e. is having a good time, has lost track of the amount of drinks..), I wouldn't call that immoral. On the other hand, if one's sole purpose is to be puking one's mind out in a toliet all night due to large doses of alcohol PURPOSELY ingested, that would be immoral.

I've only been truly drunk once in my life. It was an accident (sort of). I had been holding my liquor quite well all night, and through the "deviousness" of a friend, mixed one too many liquors with one another. This, of course, was at college, and I did not have to drive (since I would walk home). I knew ahead of time that if the possibility arose, that I would be in a safe position. Likewise, I have been buzzed or slightly tipsy on a couple different occasions, and those have been on complete accident by either drinking too much to fast, or too much without enough food in the stomach. Usually after such point, I stop drinking until I regain full control of my faculties.

As a side note, I've never been truly drunk since that first time, as I have no interest in having that feeling again. I tend to like FULL control of my body and mind.

Edited by Styles2112
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Well, I had no idea that my brief comment in a different thread would take on a life of its own here!

Please notice (as some of you did) that I did claim that alcohol is immoral...nor did I say that enjoying a beer is immoral. I clearly stated that GETTING DRUNK is immoral.

Someone who drinks alcohol with the intention of getting tipsy/drunk/blotto is deliberately choosing to obliterate their ability to reason and function -- truly, what could be less moral than that?

And please don't compare getting drunk with the effects of some medicines -- in the case of, say, NyQuil, the intent is to relieve overwhelming cold/flu symptoms, NOT to obliterate one's consciousness.

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I would say that drinking excessively is immoral (Drinking to the point that you are out of control, throwing up etc.), or drinking so regularly that you are causing your body harm is immoral.

On the other hand, it is crazy to say that having dinner with some friends and staying up chatting over a few bottles of wine is immoral.

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And please don't compare getting drunk with the effects of some medicines -- in the case of, say, NyQuil, the intent is to relieve overwhelming cold/flu symptoms, NOT to obliterate one's consciousness.

I personally only take NyQuil when my desire is to be blitzed out of my mind and hopefully fall asleep. If I only want relief from the cold symptoms, I take Advil Cold & Sinus. I personally know at least two people that have drunk an entire bottle of cough medicine in an effort to find out what it feels like. Ascribing a particular intent to an action without any context is still ludicrous. Even more so to a state without even as much context as an action.

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No you didn't. Please read your post, and don't try to change history. Do you now retract your original statement?

I am afraid that I, for one, do not understand.

Below is davismsc's original statement in its entirety.

Being drunk is immoral, and any actions that result from such drunkenness are likely immoral, too.

So exactly how are the two postings substantially different and how is davidmsc "changing history?"

True enough, in his first posting he said "being drunk" is immoral while in the second statement he said that "getting drunk" is what is immoral. But, as far as I am concerned, the two mean one and the same. In order to be drunk, one must first get drunk.

Unless I am missing something, perhaps you might be the one who needs to reread the original posting and give consideration to a possible retraction.

p.s. I just noticed that davidmsc posted a somewhat similar response about a minute before I posted mine.

Edited by Dismuke
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Getting drunk is not immoral, just so long as you aren't doing so in a situation where you're likely to harm yourself or others.

Not only is getting drunk immoral, drinking ethanol at all is immoral (in the absence of necessity). Ethanol is a poison; and its lethal dose (0.40) is just eight times its "effective" dose (0.05). It damages the liver, the brain, and other organs.

Of course, one can imagine situations where consuming ethanol is necessary. For example, if the only food available contains some ethanol, so the choice is starvation or mild intoxication. Or if the ethanol is part of a medication, e.g. Listerine mouth wash; but even in this case one should spit out as much of it as possible after cleaning one's mouth.

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