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Is it moral to run a gambling house?

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I disagree that relaxing, which is on the other end of "positive bodily states" than thrills, is the only positive state. One thing that thrills achieve is reminding one that it is great to be alive. Hell, even when I fell off of my bike last year, hard, onto my shoulder, I felt elated! I was in bad pain, but I distinctly remember thinking, "It feels great to be alive!"

A thrill can be all good and well if it as a by-product of something valuable, but if the thrill is the ultimate goal you have when you decide what to do, then that is not rational, nor moral. The thrill i got from going "all in" against my better judgement in online poker did not give me anything valuable. What it gave me, was the loss of my rent money and a deep feeling of shame caused by a stupid decision by me.

If the thrill is the main factor you gamble, you are irrational, and immoral. And i would not count injuring yourself on your bike as rational just so you get to feel how "great it is to be alive"

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DavidO, I don't understand the line you are drawing between long-term happiness derived from rational goals, and, within the context of that same purpose-driven, rational person's life, thrill-seeking joy derived from immediate things that stimulate the senses and "shallow" parts of the mind, like the roller-coasters mentioned.
The main distinction I'm drawing is between between seeing pleasure as the primary goal of one's actions vs. productive actions which serve the end of you living. If you follow the path of pleasure, that leads to all sorts of absurd self-destructive actions in the name of thrill-seeking. It also enables the reality-evasive argument "Doing X thrills me" as a form of cheap prophylaxis against negative moral evaluation. Clearly, the underlying principle has to be made clearer, or even discovered, when someone could think that the principle "don't act purely in order to experience pleasure" means "avoid pleasure". Given that "Because it gives me a thrill" isn't a valid ethical principle for men who have made the primary choice to exist, what I'm trying to find is a rollercoater-consistent and heroin-excluding principle, something with a smaler dose of ipse dixit.
(Leaving gambling aside for a moment, as I understand you are also arguing against that as either of the kinds of values I just mentioned.)
I think it's not a good plan to leave aside gambling (lottery and ilk, specifically), unless we also leave aside rollercoasters. Here's the equation I want to avoid: "if __ causes me to experience pleasure, why shouldn't I __?". I think this is a lousy principle because it isn't a principle, because it encourages disengagement of the mind. The only reasonable answer that I can see is framed in terms of objective gain in value, and applied to the lottery and drugs, the cold hard fact is that those activities are net value-destructive, and thus irrational. Applied to the rollercoaster, the "thrill" factor is a real physical fact (unlike the lottery), and it costs relatively little (actual danger is negligible and the financial burden is minimal); with heroin, the "thrill" is real but the danger is high, and with the lottery the "thrill" is purely a willful act of evasion, and the danger in terms of needing to accept the premise "pointless destruction of value is not a problem" is not trivial. In short, the distinction is between actual gain in value versus actual destruction of value.
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However, i concede, that i do get, as most poker players do, the urge to "just go all in for the fun of it", but the end result of this kind of action is not happiness, but pain. I used to play online poker a couple of years a go, and once spent my one months rent money by doing stupid things and not using my mind.

If you'll pardon my saying so, that's a very irrational way to gamble. Gambling is supposed to be a diversion, not a means of making money. Part of the amusement can come from thrills, yes, but not necessarily all. When I play with friends, the stakes are so low any thrill is highly relative. We play for fun, with just enough money involved to keep the bets meaningful. We talk a great deal, too, between hands and even during hands. We have a good time and good companionship, and we win or loose a little money.

I've never played online or with strangers, so I can't comment on that. Except to say I've never felt a need to play online or with strangers. I've played computer games, though, which are a nice diversion even if there are no stakes involved. Then I don't mind going all in for the hell of it, but there's nothing at stake. Computer poker isn't even good practice, because the program plays the same way at all times; at most different computer players may vary between themselves, but that's it.

The point at least i am making is that if your sole purpose of an action is thrill-seeking, then that is immoral, as the thrill you experience does not enhance your life in any way, but is actually against it.

Maybe. But games like poker or blackjack require skill, and thus engage the mind actively. There's satisfaction in using your mind to win at such games, as much as there would be at playing chess, or Risk, or even Monopoly.

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If you'll pardon my saying so, that's a very irrational way to gamble.

Indeed.

When I play with friends, the stakes are so low any thrill is highly relative. We play for fun, with just enough money involved to keep the bets meaningful.

Thats pretty much what i do, and the little bit of money is there just to add a bit of interest

Gambling is supposed to be a diversion, not a means of making money.

Indeed. Therfore anyone who gambles in "no-skill" or "low-skill" games for the sake of trying to make money, is irrational, and immoral. That is pretty much the distinction i have been trying to make here all thread long.

And, at least the way i have figured it, it is also immoral to base your business on catering to the needs of these irrational people. Obviously, as i have tried to explain before, the business owner cant be expected to try and make distinctions between his rational and irrational customers, as that would be too difficult to do in practice. But if you base your business model on getting people to irrationally spend their money on your products, then you are not moral. Not because you have a duty to prevent others from being irrational, but because you yourself benefit from other people being rational as well.

An example of this kind of irrational business ventures is all these sunday morning TV-preachers that i have understood are quite common in the US. They make their living by lying to people, and urging them to be irrational. His product is lies, and his customers are gullible idiots with no self-esteem. But, it is also important to notice, that the preacher, even though he wouldnt even himself believe in the bs he's preaching about, is immoral, as he is undermining his own interests, by keeping people irrational and immoral, as he is playing a part in preventing himself of enjoying new improvements to his life these irrational people could create if they were rational.

Maybe. But games like poker or blackjack require skill, and thus engage the mind actively. There's satisfaction in using your mind to win at such games, as much as there would be at playing chess, or Risk, or even Monopoly.

Yes, and thats what i have been talking about here. I dont condemn gambling in itself, or the casino owner as such. I just make a distinction between rational gambling and irrational gambling. Just like i make between rational alcohol-consumption and irrational alcohol-consumption.

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Yes, and thats what i have been talking about here. I dont condemn gambling in itself, or the casino owner as such. I just make a distinction between rational gambling and irrational gambling. Just like i make between rational alcohol-consumption and irrational alcohol-consumption.

I think this is "the answer" when it comes to this thread. Things aren't necassarilly immoral because you can get a thrill or a feeling of "pleasure" of some sort from them, it comes down to how much you are engaging your mind while doing such activities, and not involving any evasion of reality when you do such things.

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Given that "Because it gives me a thrill" isn't a valid ethical principle for men who have made the primary choice to exist, what I'm trying to find is a rollercoater-consistent and heroin-excluding principle, something with a smaler dose of ipse dixit.

[...]

I think it's not a good plan to leave aside gambling (lottery and ilk, specifically), unless we also leave aside rollercoasters. Here's the equation I want to avoid: "if __ causes me to experience pleasure, why shouldn't I __?". I think this is a lousy principle because it isn't a principle, because it encourages disengagement of the mind.

[...]

In short, the distinction is between actual gain in value versus actual destruction of value.

I understand you completely now, but I do not know of a better principle than your last sentence. I'm not sure I'm in a great need of one, either. When I decide to do some "thrilling" activity, it doesn't take much time to do the rundown: will it even be that fun? What else am I doing that week, month, year with my time, energy, and money? Essentially, does it fit easily into the rest of my life? For me, it's not a lot different than buying things and considering price.

If the thrill is the main factor you gamble, you are irrational, and immoral. And i would not count injuring yourself on your bike as rational just so you get to feel how "great it is to be alive"
Of course, I wouldn't throw myself off my bike just to remember that I could have done it in the first place. I used that "iffy" example because even with net bad thrills, part of the experience can be positive: the thrilling part. That was all I was trying to point out, but perhaps you weren't arguing against it in the first place.
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It is in your self interest that others are rational too.

And nothing I can do will make them be more rational. People get just as wasted on vicodin and diet pills as they do on heroin, and people take drugs like prozac to alter their mental state so that they can function. Cocaine, even now, can be obtained with a prescription. There's nothing inherently irrational about using any of these medications as long as you do so in a reasonable manner. Since the laws that prohibit the sales of these medications *are* immoral, I don't see what the problem is with the thought of pharmacies dispensing them along with many other life-saving or life-enhancing medications.

The proper attitude of someone in these lines of business is to assume that someone is rational enough just as *you* assume that your corner grocer is rational enough when you go to buy a carton of milk. The extent of the relationship is the same.

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And nothing I can do will make them be more rational. People get just as wasted on vicodin and diet pills as they do on heroin, and people take drugs like prozac to alter their mental state so that they can function.

Thats like saying that a christian preacher is moral, because his customers would turn to some other religion if he stopped preaching christianity as truth. And for the sake of argument we can even imagine that the christian preacher would himself not believe in god, and would be a rational human being. Do you feel that him teaching lies to irrational losers is moral and rational on his part?

And im generous that i did not stretch my analogy to initiation of force. I could have as easily said that its okay to kill an irrational person, as not killing him would not have made him any more rational.

Cocaine, even now, can be obtained with a prescription.

Prescription being the key word. Yes, a pharmacist should be legally allowed to sell whatever he wants even without a prescription, but certainly the prescription part is key to his actions being moral or immoral in the case of selling cocaine.

There's nothing inherently irrational about using any of these medications as long as you do so in a reasonable manner.

Reasonable being the key word. However, you are arguing that it does not matter to the pharmacist if the customer is reasonable or not, in the case of the pharmacists actions being moral or immoral.

Since the laws that prohibit the sales of these medications *are* immoral, I don't see what the problem is with the thought of pharmacies dispensing them along with many other life-saving or life-enhancing medications.

As i said before, i agree on the legal part, but as you know, legal and moral is not the same thing. According to your logic, it would be moral for a history professor to teach "the words of Jesus" as truth to his irrational religious students, if he spent the majority of his time teaching religious history in a scientific way to his rational students.

Christianity has a place in our classrooms, if its done in a rational way, i.o.w teaching the students about the history of religion and the irrationality and immorality of it. This is comparable to selling cocaine to a person that actually achieves a value from it. However, teaching christian dogma as truth is comparable to selling cocaine to a junkie.

And once again, i am not promoting altruism or "good of the many"-type things here, so if it is clearly impossible for a business to make distinctions effectively between their rational and irrational customers without it harming their business, then they absolutely have no duty to do so.

But, if the business actually has a possibility to easily diagnose who is irrational, then they should in their own self interest refrain from doing business with such a person. And obviously, the same goes without saying to people who actively seek to make business with irrational people.

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