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The fact that a young man or woman can be so mentally anguished that they take their own lives or the lives of others is a damning judgement on America's lack of real interest in the welfare of its citizens.
Compare the suicide rate of the US to Japan. Now compare social programs. Why does Japan lack interest in the welfare of its citizens?
Rather than spending money on dubious programs, why not just take away cell phones in public school? The rise in social media is likely a major variable in the rise of youth depression and anxiety.
My issue is that I see not how you would describe the fact that an effect on consciousness has significant consequence.
How can it be significant if it doesn't affect consciousness? As far as I can see, things only can be significant if they have an effect on consciousness. How/why does a star's implosion have significance?
This is why I made the distinction between significant and important. A star’s implosion is significant insofar as it has great effect (a relative term). Once observed, we can discuss the significant effect the star had on the surrounding bodies without any knowledge of consciousness within those bodies. Thus, a physical event can have significance without affecting consciousness. A physical event that affects someone’s consciousness becomes important. Objectively important, even if only to said consciousness.
I have no reason not to kill you if it increases my chances of survival.
You strike me as the kind of person who would see no moral impropriety with killing a person posing a threat to your survival. In most cases, killing to increase the chances of one’s survival is (correctly) not opposed on moral grounds. It’s the reason that most laws distinguish murder from modes of taking a human life. Murder, on the other hand, cannot increase one’s chances of survival due to the social nature of human beings and the response the murder elicits from other humans.
How would you describe the fact that the suffering of conscious entities has significant consequence?
Using my distinction of terms, suffering not only has significant consequence, but it is important as well.
Our hands only hold second-order significance as a result of their relationship to our conscious experience.
My point is that your conscious experience, like your hand, holds importance to you, but not to everyone else. To restate your sentence using “hands”, it says “Hands themselves are significant, as we are aware because of our own hands. As such, any effect on hands would also be significant.” This is incorrect. Any effect on your hands is important to you. Just as any effect on your conscious experience is important to you. (Note that I am utilizing my distinction between significant and important. All important things are significant, not all significant things are important.)
There is something more fundamental than your conscious experience, your metabolism. All living things must have a metabolism. There would be no consciousness without it. Does this mean your conscious experience holds second-order significance?
answer would appear to be "yes, you should do whatever is necessary for you to survive and thrive". This means that as long as what you do is best for you, it is moral (sounds very much like Randian objectivism). As such, as long as I can get away with it, it's perfectly moral for me to disarm the U.S. citizenry and install myself as dictator for life.
Yes, you should do whatever is necessary for you to survive and thrive. You should do whatever is best for your survival, and since we are social animals, you should also do whatever will best help you thrive. Being social means we require other people in order to thrive. A hermit surviving very well all alone is likely suffering from a disorder and is not thriving the way he would be in a healthy family unit.
Now take your supposition, that “as long as I can get away with it” I should be a tyrant. People actually thought this for most of human history, and humanity did not survive and thrive the way we do today. That means that getting away with it isn’t sufficient to be moral. You can objectively know the value of a moral code by how well it allows people to survive and to thrive. Doing whatever you can get away with is very short term thinking, and it does not follow from what I have suggested.
Yet wouldn't such a choice be against your moral code?
No. If I have to kill my friend in order to live, then I will no longer be the person I was before I killed my friend. That person died with the killing. Nor would my existence be valuable to me knowing that my friend is not here because I am. Thus, it would be more reasonable to end my existence thriving in the knowledge that my friend can go on, rather than continuing my existence in misery as a person I no longer recognize.
I would have thought, under your definition, that whatever helped you most to survive and thrive would be most moral.
No. Morality evolved, not through unique one in a million situations, but through eons of daily life. Daily life consisting of concerns for personal, family, and community well-being. Moral dilemmas are simply situations where individual moral considerations are pitted against social moral considerations, and the answers are often not clear cut.
My moral code can make clear cut judgements if it has complete information (which of course we never have).
If complete information included historical and future information, my code could make these judgements as well.
Does your moral code consider all individual human consciousness’s to be equally valuable as any other individual moral consciousness’s? If so, then your moral code would demand you kill your kid to save two homeless strangers. An act my code would object to.
"Was it truly necessary in order to stay alive? It doesn’t seem likely."
Why is that?
Because of the many numerous people who got through without actively hunting innocent people. Nonetheless, there is a moral virtue known as courage. It is essential to the species and is often associated with the social aspect of morality. If Soros’s individual survival meant hunting down innocent people, then he is a coward. Furthermore, he is the kind of person who seems unfazed by continuing his existence as this kind of person. So I would judge him harshly. Though, as I said, it is not clear that we can make clear cut moral judgments concerning unique and desperate situations.
Personally, I think that these are the most important moral situations. If people in Nazi Germany stood up for what was right, rather than doing what was expedient, things could have been very different.
A fair point. I will back peddle just a little here. While life boat scenarios are not common, war is. Most of human existence evolved with people at war with their neighbors. This is why a number of virtues are directly related to desperate situations, which were not unique. The reason you have notions of “right” vs “expedient” is because the long term survival of the social concern sometimes rests on the short run sacrifices of individual concerns. If it is your family/community and you care (or should care) about them, then failing to act on their behalf in the face of personal hazard is cowardly.
Perhaps if I said it was important to reality itself then we would agree?
No. I am not willing to speculate about what is important to reality itself. The universe brought about consciousness. But the universe also seemingly takes away each consciousness as well. Thus, I could just as easily argue that it is important to the reality itself that your experience be snuffed out.
Your conscious experience is objectively important to you and to those you affect. It is not objectively important to those you do not affect. Food is objectively important to people. Your food is not objectively important to me.
If we were to choose between allowing consciousness to continue to exist and removing consciousness entirely from reality, does the correct judgement rely on context?
Yes. Am I allowing the consciousness of a murderer to continue as he kicks down my door? Or am I allowing random guy’s consciousness on the street to continue by not drinking and driving?
I assume you mean only objectively significant to humans?
No. I would agree that human consciousness disappearing would be objectively significant to a number of living and non-living things that humans have an impact on.
The objective truth of the matter would be that it's important for the person with cancer to have chemo and important that the person who doesn't need chemo doesn't have it. The reason for this importance is because of the effect it has on consciousness.
The reason for this importance varies with the consciousness in question.
Conscious experience has consequences that are of significance, as we know from our own experience. It's like how we assume other people are conscious because we are conscious, we can tell that suffering is of significant consequence because we have felt those consequences ourselves. This is the most important thing to understand and where I think we are talking past each other.
Conscious experience has consequences that are significant to the conscious being having the experience. We know from our own experience that our own conscious experience is important to ourselves. You must value your own conscious experience. You cannot possibly value the conscious experience of a being completely unknown and unaffecting you.
Why must the organizers be sadists? They can be operating from the idea that doing so will benefit humanity.
“The ends justify the means” is most often completely false and is often used by the more powerful of humanities villains to carry out the kinds of programs you suggest. But if our leaders are of the sort to carry out massive sadistic programs, and we allow it, what else might they attempt?
I'm asking why there should be any restrictions on animal testing if the results might help humans.
If it’s going to cure cancer, then that is the kind of aid to humans I am willing to accept. If it is going to help women look slightly prettier for slightly longer, than its not worth the poor animals suffering. Just like most things in life, there are degrees. (I further clarify in the next response below)
Your moral code should, in my perspective, desire to lift all restrictions on animal testing that would provide any benefit to humanity.
If animal cruelty is indicative of a type of person that is detrimental for humanity, then human benefit stemming from cruelty must be sufficiently beneficial to outweigh the detriment posed by a cruel type of person.
It's not a decision based on emotion, it's based on an understanding of what it is like to suffer; the significant consequences.
Why is suffering bad?
Does your reaction to a cat torturing a mouse really have nothing to do with your understanding of the mouse's suffering?
Of course it does. I’m empathetic. I understand that the mouse is suffering and I feel bad. This feeling is the result of an evolutionary process which occurred for the benefit of my own species. Empathy is an important evolutionary trait. How I feel will often guide my responses. But emotions are not sufficient for morality. Empathizing with the suffering of others is not a sufficient foundation for morality because empathy itself is only one aspect of morality and is derived from the same evolutionary process that created other aspects of morality.
just because we can use our understanding of how someone else is feeling in a negative way does not mean that we should, or that it's why it developed.
Traits develop for the advantage they provide, whether the advantage is pleasant or otherwise.
Most people explain their moral behavior in the way I am alluding to "I would not like it if it were done to me".
This is a perfectly reasonable guiding principle when we live in a social world where others will respond to how we act toward them. Acting in a manner that others approve of is of paramount importance to your long term survival and well-being. Just because it doesn’t feel self serving doesn’t mean it isn’t.
Yeah, it will be great. It’s basically the reason why no one has ever left a state of nature and Somalia is a paradise.
Or we could think for about a second and see that when one person gets the idea to work with only one other person, and the concept of “strength in numbers” is realized, and your fantasy crumbles rather quickly.
Godwin’s Law states “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1.” This is a bit of a joke that is funny for its truth. With the recognition of the joke, comparisons to Hitler were often recognized as a childish, simplistic ad hominem.
Despite the joke, it became a favorite tactic to call people to be disagreed with on no substantial grounds “racist”. This was suggested as a standard tactic for journalists affiliated with the now exposed lefty cabal known as JournoList which was shut down in 2010 due to exposure to the light of day.
Though that specific secret group was shut down, journalists nonetheless found wisdom in the ideas that sprang from it. Media props have been calling people racist ever since.
Enter Trump. This guy is so repulsive that he was expected to loose even to the worst candidate in US history. Since he won, and showed his presidential persona to be almost as repulsive as his TV reality show persona, media personalities have turned everything to 11 no matter what it is in a fight against Trump. That means turning Godwin’s Law to 11 as well. To do that, people have to publicly pretend to take it seriously, as the media is happy to do. Thus, Hitler seems to be a popular topic. But he remains a childish, simplistic ad hominem.
Of course I trust myself more, but if I’m going to be free then I don’t have time for policing and governing. It would take up the whole of my time. It’s a lot of trouble going through all the rigor of drafting, voting on, and passing legislation. Not to mention the problem of enforcement. And trust is always required if people are to get along. Maybe you haven’t thought this through.
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Approximately achievable. While opportunity and outcome are difficult to measure, treatment can be codified by law and policy in the form of due process. It cannot be fully achieved as it is a human system. While variation in treatment will occur between legal actors and within the same actor naturally, laws and standards can minimize the problem without oppressing anyone. In other words, we have laws to help insure judges (for example) treat people equally with regards to the law. This is not oppressive, but liberating. It is desirable. It isn’t perfect, but we can get much closer than other ideas of equality.