Lying and ethics (opening shot: my analysis and summary of Sam Harris' new ebook)
#13
Harris does what he does best. Bury his moral premises into his model of ethics and selectively pick the evidence to fit the model. The problem is, when we're speaking of ethics, moral premises and factual propositions are inextricable. Moral premises change as perception of factual propositions change, and perception of factual propositions ALWAYS change for someone truly objective about the evidence.

When one ignores subjective premises, possessing a lot of data can actually be a liability when discussing ethics. A master at self-deception (or just the regular kind of deception) can be very good at cherry picking convenient facts (which usually are popular with a target audience) and ignoring inconvenient ones. This becomes a problem of logical inconsistency when someone claims that the scientific facts have been shown to demonstrate a moral value as objectively true.
1. Science usually deals in degrees of certainty, not in absolutes, especially when it comes to low probability predictions.
2. No such scientific consensus exists (in line with Harris' argument), not even close.
3. Even if it did, the is-ought problem gets in the way.

Science has shown how our intuitive emotional reactions are often in opposition to our informed moral inclinations, provided we are in possession of the facts. Let's say I can apply all current scientific evidence in a real life situation. I can still easily think of a situation where the consequences of saying the truth are so unpredictable and scientifically untestable (current science) that averting an immediate and rather obvious danger to a life by lying is, in that situation, for me, the moral thing to do. That is, even if we can make the best scientific judgement we can in each situation, I submit that it is true (in the subjective moral sense) that in particular situations preventing an imminent and certain (in the scientific sense) danger by lying outweighs a very uncertain (in the scientific sense) one by not.

Moreover, we simply cannot extricate the subjective element here, even if we are in possession of all the objective facts (not just the scientifically knowable ones constrained by uncertainty, but all facts knowable at a hypothetical Laplace's demon level of certainty). There will be cases where the absolutely known consequences of a lie would be found unfavorable by a majority of people (were they in possession of all the absolute facts regarding the consequences). But there can still be exceptions where individuals (or even groups) are in disagreement, even if they had all the facts, simply by virtue of their mental make-up. That is, the subjective element is a wrench in the works when attempting to dictate an absolutist morality.

What's the alternative towards a naturalistic science-based philosophy of ethics? It seems that the argument against lying is rather easily made from a subjective perspective, using the science to explain the facts without burying moral premises. The question to me is why then try and make an ontological claim that lying is always bad?
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
[+] 2 users Like Ajita Kamal's post
Reply
#14
Let me digress a bit to examine the charge that Kant is 'dogmatic' and not adequately 'humanistic' and also examine some of the chief objections to Harris's conception of ethics.

(13-Oct-2011, 01:03 AM)karatalaamalaka Wrote: Adhering to a 'source of law' as Kant suggests, is dogma, much like religion.

Perhaps an engineering analogy might help. Imagine a newbie who has just joined a research lab and has two senior researchers to approach for guidance, Immanuel and Sam. Our newbie has just made some measurements and asks both of them for a way to model the measurement noise in a scatterplot of the data he has obtained. The newbie is not sure how the noise is distributed and asks both Immanuel and Sam.

Immanuel says, "Look...As usual, we don't quite have enough data points to do a full density estimation and say for sure what probability distribution describes best the variation in the data. You might have just enough data points there to estimate the mean and variance. The most principled approach would be to treat those as the mean and variance of a normal distribution, since that is maximum entropy probability distribution after all, pending any other information."

Sam retorts, "Oh come on! We know that in our application in this physical context, the noise follows an exponential distribution. That's an assumption that goes without saying! And let me see that scatterplot again? Oh! The noise is of such low variance that we needn't even bother to consider it! Immanuel's being so dogmatic here!"

There is always some judgment to be exercised to choose when to rely on a 'principled theoretical' approach like our fictitious Immanuel's and when to use an 'ad hoc custom' approach exploiting our domain-knowledge of the particular problem that supplies 'magic numbers' to us like the fictitious Sam suggests. Likewise, there is room for both the categorical/deontological and the consequentialist/utilitarian approach as illustrated aptly in the essay linked to by Lije here.

The illustrations Sam Harris chooses to argue for his frameworks, for argument's sake assume that the information available for the decision is accurate and certain as are the outcomes of the decision. Furthermore, a voluble claim is made of having dispensed with a 'dogmatic' moral law while in fact treating an unspoken societal consensus (whose universality is far from demonstrated) as something that 'goes without saying'. Finally, with a flourish, the simplification made for argument's sake is generalized with little sound justification as a standard for all moral decision-making!

In the Harris approach, assumptions are hidden and 'moral laws' are considered derived from observation of human behavior, which itself strictly amounts to a naturalistic family. If the standard for rejecting any framework is that it relies on assumption, then neither Kant's nor Harris's framework would survive. Acknowledging that there is no ethical framework without premises, a more practicable standard to judge ethical frameworks would be to examine the economy, applicability and universalizability of the assumptions. By these standards, Kant's framework is economical in that the only major premise is the Categorical Imperative as well as applicable and admissible widely in that it gives satisfactory results in more diverse situations more so even than that other supposed moral universal, the Golden Rule. Also, since it does not rely on particulars and peculiarities of a given situation, it can serve as a standard for situations where information maybe inadequate or unavailable and this is a merit since as Ajita says in this post, some amount of uncertainty is ineliminable in most realistic situations.

(13-Oct-2011, 01:03 AM)karatalaamalaka Wrote: Only, now I am convinced Kant was not a humanist.

We stand the risk of committing a presentist fallacy of sorts if we expect Kant to conform to contemporary conceptions of humanism. However speaking of humanistic principles, Kant acquits himself admirably. In the particular instance of the 'murderer at the door' problem too, he does counsel uttering a 'misleading truth' by all means to save a human life. In general, the second formulation of his categorical imperative reads:

"Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means to an end."

With this principle as its core, Kantian ethics is essentially a secular enterprise devoid of any divinely mandated morals, and is also an acknowledged influence on modern-day canons like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Therefore Kant's contribution to the humanistic project is estimable.

(13-Oct-2011, 01:03 AM)karatalaamalaka Wrote: Harris, as I see, is founding his views on lying in humanism and science....While Kant and his contemporaries ruminated on human behavior, Harris, c. 21st century has science and credible empirical evidence to draw up on.

There are objections to Harris's framework on both of the above counts: one that it isn't as grounded in the empirical evidence as it claims to be and that its utilitarian focus excludes several other important humanistic considerations.

This excellent essay linked by Lije earlier summarizes empirical results with Peter Unger's trolley problem, of how human beings resort to both deontological and utilitarian considerations while faced with moral dilemmas. To wholly ignore and dismiss one major form of moral reasoning seems a disservice to the cause of humanism, besides being an unsubstantiated conclusion on a body of psychological data.

The more serious problem with Harris's worldview, the claim that all moral debates can be reduced to fact propositions alone rejecting all other premises as 'dogmatic', is elaborated with a rather dramatic illustration in this post.








[+] 4 users Like arvindiyer's post
Reply
#15
Let me return to the actual topic of lying now following the digression on the merits of consequential and categorical approaches to moral reasoning.

(11-Oct-2011, 06:50 AM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: After introspection, the typical circumstances under which I lie would be
1. In most cases it is withholding information to skip tortuous explanations/discussions. For e.g. A person sitting next to me in a train starts getting philosophical and wants to discuss something that I am least interested in. At such times I answer him such that the conversation gets terminated as soon as possible.
2. Delaying truth-telling if I think that it is not the right time to divulge truth because it might create conflicts far difficult to resolve than if the truth is told sometime later.

The above examples are ones in which people might choose to be 'economical with the truth', and may choose to either withhold information or resort to indirectness aided either by euphemism or ambiguity. Prof. Sandel uses as an illustration, a situation where we are called upon to give our opinion to the presenter of a gift which we don't quite like. The resort to indirectness often can save the day and many a social relationship, and Steven Pinker explains this aspect of inter-personal communication using the concept of 'Mutual Knowledge'. In this excerpt of an RSA lecture, Prof. Pinker uses the example of a dialogue between Harry and Sally, to show why innuendo is often preferable to direct speech in the interest of sustaining cordiality in a relationship. Evasion is our way of censoring the entry of potentially destabilizing facts into mutual knowledge. This formalizes the already obvious fact that there is an incentive for evasion over blunt truth-telling or outright lying, but does not supply any imperative for the same. As Prof. Sandel explains, Kant (excuse my harking back to him) offers 'partial credit' as it were and acknowledges a certain merit in picking evasion or prevarication over outright lying, while he does reserve full credit for the truth. But then, the full credit is reserved for the ideal case, and in practical considerations where we may avoid falsehood but at the cost of being 'economical with the truth', Kant withholds reproach.


[+] 1 user Likes arvindiyer's post
Reply
#16
Arming myself for this 'debate'... if there is one Laugh here. I have queued Sam Harris' 'The Moral Landscape' on my reading list. For now, I found this discussion between Harris and Dawkins to be quite interesting:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mm2Jrr0tR...ideo_title
Reply
#17
(19-Oct-2011, 12:28 AM)karatalaamalaka Wrote: Arming myself for this 'debate'... if there is one Laugh here.

Bring it on! Thumbup
On a more serious note, there aren't that sharp battlelines really. Even Russell Blackford, arguably the most trenchant critic of The Moral Landscape (TML), insists in his review that all he is doing is expressing specific reservations about an otherwise enthusiastically recommended book. Nobody here is saying that 'Science has nothing to say about morality' and the actual contention of critics like Blackford is that 'The discourse on ethics is not wholly reducible to falsifiable, scientific propositions'. That TML is a useful book is acknowledged by many leading voices in the freethinking community. For example, philosopher Tom Clark approvingly cites excerpts from TML pertaining to the debunking of the idea of contra-causal free will and based on this recognition, a repudiation of retributive justice. Tom Clark however hastens to add a caveat in the conclusion of the same talk that moral dilemmas typically involve tradeoffs whose resolution is based on grounds besides simply the scientifically verifiable facts of the situation.

If we steer clear of an 'ontological claim that lying is always bad' but nevertheless treat lying as something to be reduced to the extent possible, then the practical questions are : How do we check our own tendency to lie? When should a person be held accountable and eventually punishable for participating in a lie? How can we create mechanisms and institutions to dis-incentivize lying and keep ourselves honest?

Tom Clark's talk on Worldview Naturalism also provides a promising framework to address these practical questions. Let us start with under what conditions a person should be held accountable for a lie, or for that matter, any transgression. Enforcing strictly individual accountability is untenable when we recognize that individual actions maybe the products of conditions the individual did not choose. This circumscription of individual accountability does not at all detract from our collective responsibility to alter the conditions that determine our individual behaviors. We can alter these conditions using what Clark calls 'behavioral technology', processes designed by consensus with an end towards, say, reducing crime or inequality.

Perhaps a concrete example related to lying is in order here. Consider the issue of selective and sensationalized media reporting which departs often seriously from the facts and borders on lying. Reporter P Sainath, in a talk evocatively entitled 'A structural compulsion to lie', recognizes, like Clark, that this is not the moral failing of any one individual but the result of prevailing conditions like paid news and TRP pressues. He also recognizes, that it is our collective responsibility to alter this structure. The solution, or the 'behavioral technology' he recommends is similar to what in the scientific world is a 'structural compulsion to tell the truth', namely, repeatability and peer-review.

Towards the end of the recent TED Talk, How to Spot a Liar, author Pamela Meyer offers an optimistic view that Web 2.0 has made such peer-review a 24-7 process and hence may in fact help keep us more honest. To use the terms as Pinker uses them, the near-immediate sharing of all experience on Web 2.0 blurs completely the distinction between 'individual knowledge' and 'mutual knowledge' and thus greatly reduces the scope and incentives for ambiguity and concealment. However, there is nothing binding us to use these tools which can potentially be used to keep us honest to actually keep us honest, and nothing guaranteeing against their subversion and therefore we are not going to run out of ethical debates anytime soon. So as I said in the beginning...Bring it on!

*******
PS: It's high-time I disclosed that I am yet to read both The Moral Landscape and the Lying e-book. I am assiduously following the sage advice of Pierre Bayard and Umberto Eco in this light-hearted yet insightful talk "How to talk about books you haven't read"


[+] 1 user Likes arvindiyer's post
Reply
#18
Quote:Coming now to normative ethics, the White Lie is a classic conundrum that puts severely to the test any ethical standard like Kant's categorical imperative. ..........
The short answer acceptable to Kant is that lying even to the murderer at the door is unacceptable, but a misleading truth used as an evasion is acceptable. An involved Kantian explanation defending this position is explained by Prof. Sandel here.

So how about this,nazis come knocking at your door, asking if there is a little kid hiding in your house, do you tell the truth , do you lie ? do say a misleading truth at your nervous state with your reasoning impaired ,brutal guns staring at your face risking a horrible death of your own and the little kid ?

Are we that good at predictions of actions of our outcomes so as to decide what is moral at that time based on what will be maxim? can any such procedure of moral reasoning be universal considering that in this highly chaotic world a lie in one case could be disastrous but in a slightly changed environment can prevent a disaster?

Would killing all chrisitans be moral?

Reply
#19
(10-Jun-2012, 12:48 PM)LMC Wrote: Would killing all chrisitans be moral?

No. Period.

The answer is "No!" according to every school of moral thought surveyed here, and more often than not, the answer has little to do with atheism or Christianity or what the ideological affiliation of a person threatened with the prospect of murder is.

The answer is "No!" even according to the 'holy warrior' and 'defender of the faith' Saladin, who to his credit, refrained from what in his age would have been treated as just retribution for the genocide perpetrated by the first crusaders and the murderous provocation by Richard the Lionheart, and facilitated the resettlement of non-Muslims in the city after his conquest of Jerusalem in 1187.

The answer should be "No!" and "Never again!" to any apologia about 'cleansing' a society of members of a particular group either historically viewed as oppressors or viewed by majoritarians as a threat to the 'greater common good', the sort of apologia which underlay, among other historical humanitarian tragedies, the Reign of Terror as well as today's terrestrial North Korea, any semblance or prospect of which freethinkers are obliged to resist, perhaps with even more vigour than the imagined celestial North Korea.

In the reference to the folk-play featuring Brahma and Jambavanta in this interview, Dr. Kancha Ilaiah emphasizes the importance of 'defeating the enemy on the moral ground' irrespective of what sort of prolonged oppression which the opponent maybe viewed as guilty of, and denounces subjugation by brute force, leave alone physical elimination.

The answer is "No!" and unequivocally so from mainstream secular humanists, not just for the question of 'all Christians' but even for 'a Christian' whose life is threatened just on grounds of belief. To their credit, some leading spokespersons from the secular humanist blogosphere have lent their voice in human solidarity with the largely Christian victims of blasphemy laws in de jure and de facto Islamic theocracies. Ed Brayton of Freethought Blogs makes a compelling case here for how, in cases like that of Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, the principles of secular humanists enable them to make a stronger argument for the right to life of a Christian pastor than fundamentalist Christians can ever hope to.

Leave alone physical elimination or physical violence; some spokespersons within the larger secular humanist movement, such as Dr. Thomas W Clark counsel refraining even from gratuitous ridicule, out of recognition of the fact that the beliefs fundamentalists hold maybe for reasons related to accidents of birth and upbringing way beyond their own control. While such sensitivity will be accorded to people, unremitting criticism of ideas that are affronts to Reason and Compassion must continue with undiminished vigour, in keeping with Nirmukta's stated position here.
[+] 1 user Likes arvindiyer's post
Reply
#20
I should have read lije's link earlier.
http://lesswrong.com/lw/74f/are_deontolo...lizations/

So let me clarify the reason of asking the question, my problem with utilitarianism was that we are very bad at calculating and predicting, and so it may easily lead even a rationalist to do something as horrible as killing all christians or killing entire race.

Ok so what is your own response to the crying baby dilemma?
And though it was not tried or was it? but do you think responses would change whether or not the question was asked privately or publicly.

Also how do you 'verify' if something is moral? or do you think moral truism exist ?

I did not like the word emotional throughout the article, I would have preferred to replace it with instinct based.
I think we can go on as we always have, deontologically but favoring discussions , when we try to present reasons for our judgements in a discussion and fail we refine them, and so go from finding abortion horrible and wife beating fine to other way round.
Reply
#21
(01-Sep-2012, 01:35 AM)LMC Wrote: ...my problem with utilitarianism was that we are very bad at calculating and predicting, and so it may easily lead even a rationalist to do something as horrible as killing all christians or killing entire race.

It is only a very straw-man utilitarianism that would lead to such a ghastly conclusion. It is possible to construct utilitarian arguments against genocide as discussed here. By the time the philosophy reaches maturity under John Stuart Mill, all utilitarian considerations are made subordinate to individual rights considered sacrosanct, most importantly, the right to life. To assume that the early utilitarian thinkers would endorse atrocities like what is now sometimes called utilitarian genocide is about as tenable as the slurring of Darwin himself for the consequences of social Darwinism. Early utilitarians are seldom given credit for how they stood up to tradition in favour of human-wellbeing, like William Bentinck's abolition of Suttee on utilitarian grounds. The flipside which receives almost as much emphasis is that Bentinck was also willing to auction the marble of the Taj Mahal on utilitarian grounds. A sort of philistinism and indifference to other facets of human nature besides proneness to suffering, does bedevil doctrinaire utilitarianism, but indifference to suffering is not one of its faults. Indifference to human suffering and survival, and considering the bulk of humanity to be an acceptable cost for attaining 'balance' according to some calculation, maybe the philosophy of Ra'as al Ghul, but neither of Bentham nor Mill nor Bentinck.

(01-Sep-2012, 01:35 AM)LMC Wrote: Ok so what is your own response to the crying baby dilemma?
And though it was not tried or was it? but do you think responses would change whether or not the question was asked privately or publicly.

Experiments such as the one you propose are becoming the mainstay of an upcoming discipline called Experimental Philosophy. A video illustrating this approach can be viewed here. An experiment involving the crying baby dilemma, may reasonably be expected to in large part yield similar responses to tests like Peter Unger's trolley problem.

(01-Sep-2012, 01:35 AM)LMC Wrote: Also how do you 'verify' if something is moral? or do you think moral truism exist ?

There's no 'verification' of something that is not a factual claim; only a 'ratification' of sorts when a halting rule is found in an intersubjective 'parliament' of sorts.

(01-Sep-2012, 01:35 AM)LMC Wrote: I did not like the word emotional throughout the article, I would have preferred to replace it with instinct based.
I think we can go on as we always have, deontologically but favoring discussions...

What are called 'emotions' undeniably are part of the evolutionary 'first draft of morality'. The role of emotion has been discussed earlier here. For instance, disgust has been called the 'emotion of civilization' and there is a 'purity/sanctity' channel of morality that features in Moral Foundations Theory. Contemporary moral philosophy, as well as social psychology (notably in the case of Moral Foundations Theory), does not exactly begin with a deontological premise put up for discussion, but by recognizing the multifarious influences our moral judgment is subject to, not ruling out utilitarian-seeming or deontological-seeming influences.
Reply
#22
For context, where these questions are coming from:
Quote:What should we expect from creatures who exhibit social and moral behavior that is driven largely by intuitive emotional responses and who are prone to rationalization of their behaviors? The answer, I believe, is deontological moral philosophy...

Whether or not we can ultimately justify pushing the man off the footbridge, it will always feel wrong. And what better way to express that feeling of non-negotiable absolute wrongness than via the most central of deontological concepts, the concept of a right: You can’t push him to his death because that would be a violation of his rights.

Deontology, then, is a kind of moral confabulation. We have strong feelings that tell us in clear and uncertain terms that some things simply cannot be done and that other things simply must be done. But it is not obvious how to make sense of these feelings, and so we, with the help of some especially creative philosophers, make up a rationally appealing story: There are these things called 'rights' which people have, and when someone has a right you can’t do anything that would take it away. It doesn’t matter if the guy on the footbridge is toward the end of his natural life, or if there are seven people on the tracks below instead of five. If the man has a right, then the man has a right. As John Rawls... famously said, "Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override"... These are applause lines because they make emotional sense.


(01-Sep-2012, 02:20 AM)arvindiyer Wrote: By the time the philosophy reaches maturity under John Stuart Mill, all utilitarian considerations are made subordinate to individual rights considered sacrosanct, most importantly, the right to life.

Yes, this is what I meant, it will be a strawman argument that leads to genocide like conclusion (Ra'as al Ghul? ) but I meant such mistakes are easy to make, since we are so bad at predicting ,so we should always verify or as you say ratify it to some extent.
Glad to know about early utilitarians taking it 'safe'.
The difference with darwin-slurring is that darwin never made any assertions about what ought to be done and it was about what/how things happen/happened while utilitarianism is explicitly about what we should do?

Anyway but still what is your own personal response to crying baby dilemma and reasoning.
Actually I want to see anyone defend the utilitarian moral option even when it does not 'feel' right.
(And I want to talk to that person Wink otherwise I could have just watched those videos online )
Actually sorry for pushing it and it's fine if you don't feel like, just that I can't see something like this happening at any other forum so here Sweatdrop
If we are unable to do that I think utilitarianism will reach maturity very slow, or it may even reach early saturation.
Reply
#23
Recently got introduced to "indirect utilitarianism by Hume" in the book "Ethics: A very short introduction by Simon Blackburn". It tries to resolve concerns like that of Lalit about the perils of on the fly decision making of what is moral. Borrowing Simon Blackburn's example for explaining it, indirect utilitarianism can be considered as follows:
  • We want to play a game e.g. chess
  • Want to maximize our happiness received from playing the game
  • Then the plain utilitarianism angle would be to start playing the game and decide the rules on the fly based on the board position. This obviously would not probably end up maximizing the happiness factor because, as Lalit pointed out, we might not be good at figuring out what is optimal route.
  • Hence in indirect utilitarianism, we decide the rules of the game beforehand such that they make it interesting (optimize the happiness factor as much as possible). We then adhere/follow the rules while palying the game and not decide them as per the board position.

Indirect utilitarianism thus has place for human rights. Sam Harris here is trying to involve in such an exercise to show how trolley problem doesn't really destroy utilitarianism.
Reply
#24
(01-Sep-2012, 03:55 AM)LMC Wrote: Yes, this is what I meant, it will be a strawman argument that leads to genocide like conclusion (Ra'as al Ghul? ) but I meant such mistakes are easy to make, since we are so bad at predicting ,so we should always verify or as you say ratify it to some extent.
Glad to know about early utilitarians taking it 'safe'.
The difference with darwin-slurring is that darwin never made any assertions about what ought to be done and it was about what/how things happen/happened while utilitarianism is explicitly about what we should do?

The proneness of such systematizing approaches to ethics to result in conclusions against which our 'being rebels', is one of the motivations to hear out the objections and suggestions of more empathizing approaches. This is discussed at some length here.

While it is true that Darwinism is descriptive and it is wrong to lay at its door the evils of prescriptive social Darwinism, it also remains to be recognized that the prescriptions of utilitarians are based on an implicit description of human beings as 'slaves to pleasure and pain' (as if no other influences matter as much.). The often inextricable mutual influences of descriptive beliefs and prescriptive stances is recognized as one of the major challenges in any ethical discussion, early in this post.

To view all ethical endeavour as an exercise in making the most optimal attainable prediction of desirable outcomes for the species (or some collective), would itself be a premature ceding of the entire discipline of ethics to the consequentialists. To their credit, the very early utilitarians themselves recognized that these calculations involving collectives should be overriden by considering some individual rights as worth defending irrespective of consequences, if at all the results should intuitively seem moral to us. This categorical defence of rights is a more fundamental objection (and a caveat added in a historically timely fashion most notably by Mill) to the very principle of consequentialism, besides the objection of 'implementation difficulties' citing our lack our lack of omniscience to predict in an uncertain world. The presence of 'implementation difficulties' though, is not grounds enough to cede the ground to doctrinaire deontology or to rule out the contribution of utilitarian premises in devising workable ethics.

(01-Sep-2012, 03:55 AM)LMC Wrote: Actually I want to see anyone defend the utilitarian moral option even when it does not 'feel' right.

This is like saying, "Straw-utilitarians, please stand up wherever you are!". Also, the working definition of morality needs to be clarified beforehand, for otherwise there would be no clarity on whether something that doesn't 'feel right' (eg. unfavourably activating the harm/care channel in Moral Foundations Theory) can still be considered a moral option.

A favourite image quote in the freethought blogosphere is "Morality is doing the right thing irrespective of what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told irrespective of what is the right thing". So, there is no reason to actively seek the contribution of someone doing what they are told by the Utilitarian Supercomputer irrespective of what is the 'right thing' (which we recognize as based on the 'evolutionary first-draft' of morality). In other words, those who swear by the Utilitarian Supercomputer and reject the falsifiability of its predictions by lived experience, are as relevant to the discourse on secular humanism as those who swear by other supposedly infallible scriptures. Therefore, there's no need for a painstaking hunt for them.

(01-Sep-2012, 03:55 AM)LMC Wrote: Anyway but still what is your own personal response to crying baby dilemma and reasoning.

Someone's personal response to such a question is worth devoting time to for public discussion if...
(a)...it is an instance of a universalizable human response to the question (in which case more comprehensive survey data such as those mentioned here (last para) or here are more useful)
or
(b)...the respondent is an important public intellectual originating a moral framework distinct from those already discussed (which is a different exercise from the survey of earlier thought that is being undertaken here for the large part)
or
(c.)...it is part of a psychopathological examination (precluded here due to both lack of expertise and the proneness of remarks gathered this way to casual value judgments)
So, I'll reserve comment on this. Sweatdrop

PS: Perhaps post #18 onwards in this thread would be more appropriately archived in a separate thread "Use and abuse of Utilitarianism", since the discussion has digressed somewhat from the question of lying.
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Sam Harris, Glenn Greenwald, and the recent animus against 'New Atheism' karatalaamalaka 21 19,357 11-Nov-2016, 04:51 PM
Last Post: TTCUSM
  The Ethics of Capital Punishment in Modern Society Ajita Kamal 18 11,958 21-Nov-2012, 11:09 PM
Last Post: arvindiyer
  do you think lying to kids is justified? LMC 2 2,217 04-Feb-2011, 11:03 PM
Last Post: LMC



Users browsing this thread: 2 Guest(s)