kajarainbow: (Moon card)
If you had a method of making people nice, or at least making them not do the really terrible things that happen everyday (carnage and suffering around the world), is it morally acceptable to preemptively use it on everyone and sundry? Is it okay to use it only on proven offenders?

Does the inviolability of their psyches outweigh making the human race far better off?


Apr. 21st, 2006 06:53 pm
kajarainbow: (Yuri from Alien Nine)
I really don't like killing them. I don't like making them go squish. But if no one does something about them, they'll overrun the house and carry germs into our food and so on. My mom has set out traps to kill them.

The problem is, if I accept the ant traps but not squishing them, I'm essentially saying it's okay to kill as long as you're distanced from the act. On the other hand, squishing them is very, very yucky (more so than the ants themselves). I'm saying this as someone who can handle earthworms with my bare hands without being grossed out.

What would be the most ethical way to deal with this? Does ethics even apply to ants?
kajarainbow: (Sarah)
An utilitarian argument not to use pure utilitarianism as the basis for ones decision:

Pure utilitarianism has a tendency of high error rate due to the standard problems with using the ends to justify the means (such as the cases where one is mistaken about the end result of the means), leading to lower net happiness or other criteria of good. Thus, it is more utilitarian to temper ones utilitarianism with other moral philosophies than to employ pure utilitarianism.

I enjoyed writing that little paradoxical bit. And writing this has made it evident that I'm not an utilitarian, at least not precisely.

Why do I sometimes feel like I do moral calculus where many others use moral basic arithmetics or at best moral algebra?
kajarainbow: (Default)
I'm going to state the corollary to my earlier post: if you believe in more than one right way, you are not also required to believe there are no wrong ways. I have actually seen some people worrying about this, so I say it to them (or at least I will say it from now on when I see this): you can consider things wrong. It does make for more complicated decisions about morality but is considerably more robust and does not require you to roll over for things you secretly believe are wrong or practice outright hypocrisy.

Of course, all this makes for more work when determining morality. Rather than simply rejecting deviation from the One Right Way or not bothering with the issue at all (except in an informal manner), one has to evaluate those things on their own merits. And that just now was an oversimplification, of course, for sheer ease of comprehension.
kajarainbow: (Default)
Many people mistake people who think there are many right ways for people who think there are no wrong ways.
kajarainbow: (Default)
I have this friend. Now, the thing is, one thing that often annoys me about him? How whenever science finds something that's already obvious to him, he belittles this and wonders why they bothered. They bother because obviousness (or lack of it) is a poor guide to truth. Seriously, I can't even begin to count the numbers of times common sense have been proven absolutely wrong (but to confound things, it's sometimes right, too, heh). I like cold empiricism because looking at things without assumptions, or attempting to, and prodding at them and attempting to record the results as precisely as possible has historically proven a very useful guide to truth.

I've been taking somewhat of an interest in what is often called the "dismal science": economics. It's clock-full with this sort of things, all sorts of things that only make sense if one drops the preconceptions of ones upbringing and look at how the numbers tend to work out. Lots of very complicated issues. And, now, this is the sort of case I'm talking about. Ripple effects, unexpected consequences to even benevolent actions. A non-economics example: giving energy food bars to highly starved people and ending up hurting them because they can't handle the sheer amount of calories in their states. Yet another: everyone lending lots of something to a charity, burdening them with the costs of managing particular supplies way in excess of what they need. Like too much X and not enough Y.

I no longer trust good intentions as enough in themselves. I've increasingly come to see careful examination of action-and-consequence as an important, even crucial part of morality. Not that I would consider people evil for simply being mistaken, heh. It takes willful wrongness to earn that,, and I wouldn't toss the word out lightly. But this is why people who stick to rigid closed-mindedness bother and even alarm me: in my eyes, they lack an important part of morality. Evaluation, consideration, then decision.

I'm still trying to work out what I think about this whole economics thing. I've also learned some things from psychology and from anthropology, though I'm still a dabbler at best in all those fields. In many ways, I live to learn.


kajarainbow: (Default)

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