Morality of freethinkers
#1
Can somebody point me to what moral stands are supported by freethinkers and on what rational basis?

In a very specific case I want to understand if there is any consensus amongst freethinkers about moral stands regarding the below scenarios and if yes, again whats the rational justification
1. Choice between "minimization of suffering" and "maximization of happiness"
A special case would be: Distribution of a common resource based on need of the competitors (basically minimization of suffering) or based on value to the competitors (maximization of happiness).
2. Causing direct harm vs harm caused as collateral damage (Trolley problem)

Thanks
Reply
#2
(21-Dec-2011, 04:45 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: Can somebody point me to what moral stands are supported by freethinkers and on what rational basis?

In a very specific case I want to understand if there is any consensus amongst freethinkers about moral stands regarding the below scenarios and if yes, again whats the rational justification
1. Choice between "minimization of suffering" and "maximization of happiness"
A special case would be: Distribution of a common resource based on need of the competitors (basically minimization of suffering) or based on value to the competitors (maximization of happiness).
2. Causing direct harm vs harm caused as collateral damage (Trolley problem)

Thanks

This is an interesting question. There are two important concepts here: one is that we push a lever that diverts the train and kills someone or we voluntarily push a fat man off a bridge into the path of the trolley. In the first scenario, saving the lives of the five men down the line and causing the death of the man down the other line is done indirectly by pushing a lever. But in the second case, you are actually involved in the manslaughter of the fat man by pushing him in front of the tracks. At the end of the day, the end result is the same: you have saved the lives of many by taking the life of one. But the way we perceive those results are what is so interesting. Furthermore, I think that for some thought experiments like these, there are no really simple white and black solutions. Your moral fiber would be called into question any way you look at it. The question also looks at the values of a human life. Would you be prepared to forego one person in order to save five, ten or an entire population? If yes, then isn't the equality of human life called into question?
So sadly I have no rational explanation for this thought experiment. There is a Blog that discusses the experiment in some detail here
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
Reply
#3
(21-Dec-2011, 04:45 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: Can somebody point me to what moral stands are supported by freethinkers and on what rational basis?

Freethinkers rather than declaring and defending certain stands as their creed and sacrosanct at that, instead emphasize criteria for evaluation on all moral standards presented for their consideration. What is said in this earlier post about the morality of Cultural Naturalists holds in most part for freethinkers at large.

Quote:The discourse would be more usefully conducted if instead of asking for 'naturalistic responses' or 'naturalistic policies', we ask what is a 'naturalistic evaluation' of any proposed policy or what are the merits of a given policy by 'naturalistic criteria'. This is because there is no cut-and-dried distinction between a 'naturalistic' and 'non-naturalistic' policy of dealing with challenges facing society; only a set of broadly defined criteria that can help evaluate any proposed approaches..... A naturalist would not dismiss any of these (proposed approaches) on dogmatic grounds, but only insist that the method that Cultural Naturalism provides with an emphasis on connection, compassion and control be brought to bear on the decision-making to the extent possible (for these policy decisions are 'fully caused' as well!).

(21-Dec-2011, 04:45 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: In a very specific case I want to understand if there is any consensus amongst freethinkers about moral stands regarding the below scenarios and if yes, again whats the rational justification
1. Choice between "minimization of suffering" and "maximization of happiness"

In many cases of practical significance, posing the question as this sort of dichotomy has little utility. For instance, for an official in a Health Ministry coping with a cholera epidemic, the following prioritization of tasks seems immediately obvious (i) call in emergency medical/paramedical teams for treating victims(ii) call in a disinfecting crew (iii) undertake repairs of plumbing and waterworks (iv) increase investment in infrastructure development especially in drinking water access. Now (iv) seems mostly to do with 'maximization of happiness' and (i) seems mostly to do with 'minimization of suffering' but for most of the other undeniably important measures listed, such a dichotomy is a false dichotomy and for most practical purposes, the problems are effectively equivalent.

(21-Dec-2011, 04:45 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: A special case would be: Distribution of a common resource based on need of the competitors (basically minimization of suffering) or based on value to the competitors (maximization of happiness).

The discipline of Economics devoted to these very problems has in recent decades seen increasing interest in remedies to the 'tragedy of the commons' which was also the area recognized by the 2009 Economics Nobel. The Nobel lecture by one of the laureates Elinor Ostrom makes interesting listening.

(21-Dec-2011, 04:45 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: 2. Causing direct harm vs harm caused as collateral damage (Trolley problem)

Studies featuring the Unger Trolley Problem such as the one linked to in this post, can only throw light upon what forms of reasoning people typically rely upon and cannot answer the question what forms of reasoning people ought to rely upon.

That brings us back to the first question...

(21-Dec-2011, 04:45 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: Can somebody point me to what moral stands are supported by freethinkers and on what rational basis?

The demands of moral reasoning necessitate an intersubjective basis of morality for several reasons some of which are:
(i) the need to operationally and consensually agree upon an axiomatic foundation for moral reasoning, having recognized that the is-ought problem precludes any physical description as an inviolate basis of moral reasoning
(ii) an acknowledgment that even the presence of a relevant law in the statute books (or a criterion codified as a 'best practice') does not bind a decision-maker to invoke the said law or follow a said convention to a given situation
(iii) the ill-posed nature of the problem of optimizing human well-being, which can operationally be resolved only by a 'peer-reviewed' process declaring a given solution acceptable

This earlier post has more about the intersubjective nature of morality and about forms of social organization that facilitate such public reasoning about morality.

[+] 1 user Likes arvindiyer's post
Reply
#4
(25-Dec-2011, 05:30 AM)arvindiyer Wrote:
(21-Dec-2011, 04:45 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: Can somebody point me to what moral stands are supported by freethinkers and on what rational basis?

Freethinkers rather than declaring and defending certain stands as their creed and sacrosanct at that, instead emphasize criteria for evaluation on all moral standards presented for their consideration. What is said in this earlier post about the morality of Cultural Naturalists holds in most part for freethinkers at large.

Quote:The discourse would be more usefully conducted if instead of asking for 'naturalistic responses' or 'naturalistic policies', we ask what is a 'naturalistic evaluation' of any proposed policy or what are the merits of a given policy by 'naturalistic criteria'. This is because there is no cut-and-dried distinction between a 'naturalistic' and 'non-naturalistic' policy of dealing with challenges facing society; only a set of broadly defined criteria that can help evaluate any proposed approaches..... A naturalist would not dismiss any of these (proposed approaches) on dogmatic grounds, but only insist that the method that Cultural Naturalism provides with an emphasis on connection, compassion and control be brought to bear on the decision-making to the extent possible (for these policy decisions are 'fully caused' as well!).
I understand your point and want to assert that I am not here for being spoon-fed and neither to blindly follow some "golden rules" but just to seek guidance.

To give more context to why I initiated this post, in one of our Facebook discussions you had stated
Quote:Fundamental human rights are one particular set of ideas which have passed freethinking muster and are now considered effectively, though not dogmatically sacrosanct
and pointed to this link

I wanted to understand if there are other such "effective sacrosanct" ideas adopted by freethinkers and how are they rationally justified. To begin with what are rational justifications for the acceptance of human rights? (Probably this should be discussed in the above thread).

(25-Dec-2011, 05:30 AM)arvindiyer Wrote:
(21-Dec-2011, 04:45 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: In a very specific case I want to understand if there is any consensus amongst freethinkers about moral stands regarding the below scenarios and if yes, again whats the rational justification
1. Choice between "minimization of suffering" and "maximization of happiness"

In many cases of practical significance, posing the question as this sort of dichotomy has little utility. For instance, for an official in a Health Ministry coping with a cholera epidemic, the following prioritization of tasks seems immediately obvious (i) call in emergency medical/paramedical teams for treating victims(ii) call in a disinfecting crew (iii) undertake repairs of plumbing and waterworks (iv) increase investment in infrastructure development especially in drinking water access. Now (iv) seems mostly to do with 'maximization of happiness' and (i) seems mostly to do with 'minimization of suffering' but for most of the other undeniably important measures listed, such a dichotomy is a false dichotomy and for most practical purposes, the problems are effectively equivalent.
I wasn't trying to imply any dichotomy. I understand that venn diagram of these two choices can have an overlap area.
But what I am interested in are scenarios in which there is a A and ~A relationship to these two statements. The reason why I am interested in this is: To design a set of moral premises that should govern anybody's morality, the only way to start seemed to be to address this question. Infact the fundamental question, in my opinion, would be the purpose of "moral framework" and these two are one of the many possible answers.

(25-Dec-2011, 05:30 AM)arvindiyer Wrote:
(21-Dec-2011, 04:45 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: A special case would be: Distribution of a common resource based on need of the competitors (basically minimization of suffering) or based on value to the competitors (maximization of happiness).

The discipline of Economics devoted to these very problems has in recent decades seen increasing interest in remedies to the 'tragedy of the commons' which was also the area recognized by the 2009 Economics Nobel. The Nobel lecture by one of the laureates Elinor Ostrom makes interesting listening.
That was an interesting talk, but I think, probably, it really didn't answer my question. The question is basically need vs value. The tragedy of commons is more on resource sharing amongst agents who all have equal need and value for the common resource.
But suppose that a common resource is "basic need" for one agent, while it is of immense value e.g. associated with some passion, for the second agent. Traditionally/intuitively I have always got the response in favor of agent one, but I want to challenge it on rational grounds. I want to understand why basic need supersedes passion. Basically all this is pretty much similar to "minimization of suffering" vs "maximization of happiness" or pretty much boils down to why "human rights" are important.

(25-Dec-2011, 05:30 AM)arvindiyer Wrote:
(21-Dec-2011, 04:45 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: 2. Causing direct harm vs harm caused as collateral damage (Trolley problem)

Studies featuring the Unger Trolley Problem such as the one linked to in this post, can only throw light upon what forms of reasoning people typically rely upon and cannot answer the question what forms of reasoning people ought to rely upon.

That brings us back to the first question...

(21-Dec-2011, 04:45 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: Can somebody point me to what moral stands are supported by freethinkers and on what rational basis?

The demands of moral reasoning necessitate an intersubjective basis of morality for several reasons some of which are:
(i) the need to operationally and consensually agree upon an axiomatic foundation for moral reasoning, having recognized that the is-ought problem precludes any physical description as an inviolate basis of moral reasoning
(ii) an acknowledgment that even the presence of a relevant law in the statute books (or a criterion codified as a 'best practice') does not bind a decision-maker to invoke the said law or follow a said convention to a given situation
(iii) the ill-posed nature of the problem of optimizing human well-being, which can operationally be resolved only by a 'peer-reviewed' process declaring a given solution acceptable

This earlier post has more about the intersubjective nature of morality and about forms of social organization that facilitate such public reasoning about morality.
I totally like the process that you have stated for moral reasoning. My concern is that on some moral issues I seem to be pretty much out of sync with other freethinkers and would like to understand if I am missing something basic.
I will give an example based on human rights.
System1 is such that all humans have equal rights.
System2 is such that some specific humans have special human rights, while the rest have none.

Its a no brainer for me to prefer System1 over System2.
But the only way I can reason this preference is that in System1 I am statistically better-off.

Additionally, as an external agent, I might want to convert System2 to System1. Now lets assume some person X in System2, who has the special human rights, needs to be convinced of this conversion. He would definitely not want it. Is he immoral then? Is he exploiting his privilege?
As soon as "privilege" word pictures in, it looks immoral. But I can't find any rational way to really claim X to be immoral. Its the system's problem and not X's. So basically my take would be to goad all those people of System2, who do not have human rights, to participate in conversion to System1. But I don't think I would be justified in labeling X to be immoral.

I hope I haven't rambled on or digressed.
Reply
#5
(26-Dec-2011, 07:11 AM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: The tragedy of commons is more on resource sharing amongst agents who all have equal need and value for the common resource.
But suppose that a common resource is "basic need" for one agent, while it is of immense value e.g. associated with some passion, for the second agent.

(26-Dec-2011, 07:11 AM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: System1 is such that all humans have equal rights.
System2 is such that some specific humans have special human rights, while the rest have none.

Its a no brainer for me to prefer System1 over System2.
But the only way I can reason this preference is that in System1 I am statistically better-off.

There are two intuitive notions of fairness which seem to be in mutual conflict here : fairness as uniformity (i.e. a thoroughly impartial standard applying in all situations) and fairness as fit (i.e. matching to a situation acknowledging its peculiarities). Michael Sandel's 'Justice Harvard' course offers a historical review of philosophical treatments of this question. A thoroughly impartial standard based on a hypothetical social contract underlies the moral frameworks of Kant and John Rawls, as explained in this lecture. The dilemma of resolving freedom and fit and the Aristotlean prescription for the same is the topic of this lecture.

In more contemporary terms, this is analogous to the question of what benefits consumers most : a one-size-fits-all design or an ultra-customized, ultra-personalized range of tailored products. Since practical considerations render both extremes infeasible, the problem in practice is to search the intervening design space that maximize attainment of collectively endorsed goals. Isaac Asimov offers an illustration of a similarly wicked problem considering the question of a fair tax policy in his novel 'Forward the Foundation': If we opt for a 'poll tax' i.e. a flat tax applicable to every citizen, then we are faced with the problem of finding just the right amount of tax that will yield adequate revenue and yet be fair to the poorest taxpayer. If we opt for a complex customized taxation system then we must face the potentially unsustainable overhead of an elaborate bureaucracy need to administer such a system, which may not even be able to pay for itself!

It is true that the 'Rational agent' assumptions in the context of which many of these design problems are posed may not be adequate for predicting behavioral outcomes. According to this RSA talk excerpt listing several examples of how individuals work voluntarily without expecting what would be considered a reasonable or fair remuneration, we are 'not just profit-maximizers but purpose maximizers'. Prof. Barry Schwartz in this TED talk on 'Practical wisdom' explains how operating within a framework of rules and incentives (that would make sense under a strict rational-agent assumption) can come in the way of producing genuinely fair outcomes via policy-making.

This view of humans as 'purpose maximizers' makes it incumbent upon humanists to create and maintain conditions where every individual has the liberty to define and realize their purpose in a manner that is compatible with this liberty of other individuals. Indeed that is the aim stated in the Minimum Statement of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. Therefore, a freethinking humanist's morality would preclude any codes that privilege the purpose sought by one group over an other, on grounds of heredity or power. It is on these grounds that we reject the caste-ordained moral code hailed as fair in this depiction in the Mahabharata teleseries (clip) or the Herrenmoral of Nietzsche (Unsurprisingly, Nietzsche counseled the West to close the Bible and open the Manu Smriti!). The stance first explicitly stated by Kant that the criteria for endowing an individual with rights is that they possess 'autonomy and reason', rather than nobility or power as in feudal societies, is compatible with humanistic considerations. Contemporary philosophers like Peter Singer suggest that the grounds for according rights be 'sentience' even pending 'autonomy' or 'reason'.

The question of whether humanity must opt for either 'universal equal rights' or 'exclusive special rights' if posed in this way ignores the following possibility, which is actually a lived reality : Some rights are universal (such as the right to life, which is intuitively universal if we consider sentience to be the criterion) and others are special (such as say, immunity from arrest for Parliamentarians, or the benefits afforded by affirmative action). The special rights and exemptions can be justified on grounds of 'creating and maintaining conditions where every individual has the liberty to define and realize their purpose in a manner that is compatible with this liberty of other individuals'. This requires an acknowledgment that certain individuals are disadvantaged and deserving of redress via special rights, and standards for assessing such disadvantage are discussed in this lecture. Which rights should be regarded universal and which ones exceptional, and what should be the grounds for invoking exceptions, are questions which constitute the core content of public reasoning about morality.
[+] 1 user Likes arvindiyer's post
Reply
#6
Want to clarify a confusion that I might have created.
I had intended the following two statements in two completely different contexts.
Quote:The tragedy of commons is more on resource sharing amongst agents who all have equal need and value for the common resource.
But suppose that a common resource is "basic need" for one agent, while it is of immense value e.g. associated with some passion, for the second agent.

Quote:System1 is such that all humans have equal rights.
System2 is such that some specific humans have special human rights, while the rest have none.

Its a no brainer for me to prefer System1 over System2.
But the only way I can reason this preference is that in System1 I am statistically better-off.

The first quote was intended to understand a philosophical dilemma which has several implications.
The second quote was to discuss about fairness as a fundamental right.

I will, from my side, suspend the discussion on quote one for the time being and take forward the discussion on fairness.

Arvind, thanks for the very interesting links on the topic. But all these are discussing various aspects of fairness, with the assumption that fairness is desired. I want to start from the very basics and analyze as to why fairness is desired at all and associated moral implications. Also I will use only hypothetical/theoretical scenarios because real life scenarios are too complicated and have too many variables. Lastly I will keep Kant's moral framework out of the discussion for the time being because objections to it are very very subjective, the framework otherwise seems to be pretty self consistent.

The example of System1 and System2 is meant to show us that "fairness" is not a universal or fundamental virtue, something that has absolute moral worth. Fairness is just like reciprocity, its a system level requirement. If there is just one rational agent, these concepts are meaningless. Its only in a collection of agents that these concepts have any meaning. Reciprocity arises from the need of stabilizing the system, kind of a social contract to reach middle grounds. Fairness is slightly more complicated. Firstly I want to emphasize that "not wanting to be fair" is not an absolute immoral action, unless and until purpose of the moral framework is decided. Basically it is as arbitrary as Kant's attachment of premium to autonomy. By typical human nature fairness is desired in case of
1. When an agent is going to get added to a system.
2. When an agent is a part of system and is being discriminated against.
The key points here are that the need doesn't have any absolute worth. To rephrase this blatantly there is no absolute way of claiming that System1 is better than System2.

This then raises the very fundamental question of why should we strive for fairness?
Reply
#7
(05-Jan-2012, 08:18 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: But all these are discussing various aspects of fairness, with the assumption that fairness is desired. I want to start from the very basics and analyze as to why fairness is desired at all and associated moral implications.

(05-Jan-2012, 08:18 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: This then raises the very fundamental question of why should we strive for fairness?

To step clear of the naturalistic fallacy, it is advisable to treat the question in three parts:
Does fairness matter to people?
Why does fairness matter to people?
Should fairness matter to people?

The third question demands a prescriptive solution rather than the more descriptive character of the earlier two questions. 'Fairness' if seen as a process besides as a product, presupposes imperfection in the world that needs to be 'set right'. Different schools of philosophy in antiquity differ on whether this ought to be a priority. Some argue that a fairness inscrutable to us already prevails, that all is well and wisely put and we shouldn't in our ignorance meddle with the world under the pretext of improving it. Others argue that the world and society exist in an unfinished form or as a testing ground for human judgment and therefore refining the world and striving for righteousness is a priority for humanity.

Examples of this dichotomy regarding the need for striving for fairness can be found both in Occidental and Oriental cultures.
(i) The Taoists suggest that acceptance and adaptation to the situation, both environmental and social is the only wise way; whereas the Confucians insist that a just and harmonious society must be cultivated consciously by education and governance.
(ii) Diogenes the Cynic preached a return to a lifestyle as unpretentious as that of a dog, while Plato and his school envisioned a utopian Republic.
The clash of worldviews above is really about whether human effort to better or conquer the forces of nature and natural impulses is wise at all, and fairness is just one of the ways this effort can be exercised, along with creativity, culture and so forth. Specifically talking about justice, religious thinkers, notably Gandhi advocate radical pacifism 'leaving punishment to God', which seems incompatible with contemporary notions of fairness that definitely include a punitive aspect. Freethinkers, who find no evidence for 'Cosmic Justice' or 'Providential Harmony' therefore have no reason to assume that it is not for humans to seek fairness. The notion that we live in the best of all possible worlds can readily be recognized by freethinkers as the result of cherrypicking and the naturalistic fallacy, and recognizing some undesirable aspects in the human condition as it prevails do not feel obliged to accept it as it as part of a 'Plan'.

The naturalistic fallacy is what any attempts to answer the question "Why does fairness matter to people?" are most prone to. Subject to this caveat, a speculative evolutionary narrative in the context of kin selection can be attempted as follows. We have evolved biochemical reward pathways that kick in when we recognize patterns and regularities in the world. Also, we employ heuristics of minimal complexity to save time and computational overheads. Vivid examples of the action of our reward pathways leading us to prefer both regularity and minimalism in interpretations from a noisy world, are presented by V S Ramachandran in this lecture. In a manner of speaking, as regularity-preferring organisms we abhor arbitrariness and nasty surprises which exceed its practiced repertoire of experience and behaviors. Notions of fairness such as reciprocity seem to meet these criteria of ensuring a kind of regularity in group behaviors and minimizing arbitrariness. What we call 'fair practices' today involve both minimalism (reduced lists of rules) and regularity ('rules are rules'). Our preference for regularity, wired into us due to survival demands, may therefore be compatible with a 'wired for fairness' narrative, which is also compatible with a 'wired for deceit' narrative. Prof. Dawkins suggests in the 1980s video 'Nice Guys Finish Last' that an evolutionary tradeoff between these pulls of fairness and deceit is accomplished by settling for the strategy of a 'grudger'.

The question 'Does fairness matter to people in the first place?' can be addressed empirically psychological paradigms, with other side questions being whether there are interesting differences across individuals, groups and conditions in the preference for fairness. For instance, the abstract of this study from 2000 suggests that reminders of mortality makes fairness matter more to people. An interesting hypothesis to test would be whether freethinkers who have rejected claims of the 'afterlife', 'Eternal Life' and reincarnation and are thus more acutely aware of mortality, tend to value fairness and due process in the one life that we have, more than believers do.
Reply
#8
(21-Dec-2011, 04:45 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: Can somebody point me to what moral stands are supported by freethinkers and on what rational basis?

In a very specific case I want to understand if there is any consensus amongst freethinkers about moral stands regarding the below scenarios and if yes, again whats the rational justification
1. Choice between "minimization of suffering" and "maximization of happiness"
A special case would be: Distribution of a common resource based on need of the competitors (basically minimization of suffering) or based on value to the competitors (maximization of happiness).
2. Causing direct harm vs harm caused as collateral damage (Trolley problem)

Thanks

Morality of a free thinker is the same as a conscience of a free thinker. His morality is the same as his conscious permits. (Madhukar Kulkarni.)

Reply
#9
(08-Jan-2012, 02:35 AM)arvindiyer Wrote: The third question demands a prescriptive solution rather than the more descriptive character of the earlier two questions. 'Fairness' if seen as a process besides as a product, presupposes imperfection in the world that needs to be 'set right'. Different schools of philosophy in antiquity differ on whether this ought to be a priority. Some argue that a fairness inscrutable to us already prevails, that all is well and wisely put and we shouldn't in our ignorance meddle with the world under the pretext of improving it. Others argue that the world and society exist in an unfinished form or as a testing ground for human judgment and therefore refining the world and striving for righteousness is a priority for humanity.

Examples of this dichotomy regarding the need for striving for fairness can be found both in Occidental and Oriental cultures.
(i) The Taoists suggest that acceptance and adaptation to the situation, both environmental and social is the only wise way; whereas the Confucians insist that a just and harmonious society must be cultivated consciously by education and governance.
(ii) Diogenes the Cynic preached a return to a lifestyle as unpretentious as that of a dog, while Plato and his school envisioned a utopian Republic.
The clash of worldviews above is really about whether human effort to better or conquer the forces of nature and natural impulses is wise at all, and fairness is just one of the ways this effort can be exercised, along with creativity, culture and so forth. Specifically talking about justice, religious thinkers, notably Gandhi advocate radical pacifism 'leaving punishment to God', which seems incompatible with contemporary notions of fairness that definitely include a punitive aspect. Freethinkers, who find no evidence for 'Cosmic Justice' or 'Providential Harmony' therefore have no reason to assume that it is not for humans to seek fairness. The notion that we live in the best of all possible worlds can readily be recognized by freethinkers as the result of cherrypicking and the naturalistic fallacy, and recognizing some undesirable aspects in the human condition as it prevails do not feel obliged to accept it as it as part of a 'Plan'.

The notion that fairness sets things "right" needs a more detailed analysis because "right" might differ in different circumstances. A basic example can come from the game of cricket. One of the concerns of traditionalists is that too much of technology is being used. The argument is that some human elements (e.g. unintentional incorrect decision by an umpire) are what makes the game interesting. By being "very fair" the game loses its flavor. There are a lot of arguments for/against this line of reasoning, but it is non-trivial concern. Fairness at times may not be setting things "right".

The above argument can be rephrased as "Fairness at what cost?". This again I think is important concern. Most people who vouch for fairness miss this aspect. Fairness doesn't stand moral worth in isolation. There are other things that humans value. Would someone want fairness at the cost of no-happiness? One of the easiest ways to achieve wealth redistribution would be evaluation of all the resources personal/public and equal distribution of the same. But I seriously doubt if most would think this as a moral approach.

(08-Jan-2012, 02:35 AM)arvindiyer Wrote: [quote='arvindiyer' pid='6104' dateline='1325970303']
To step clear of the naturalistic fallacy, it is advisable to treat the question in three parts:
Does fairness matter to people?
Why does fairness matter to people?
Should fairness matter to people?

If I understand correctly, you are invoking the concept of intersubjectivity here. In that case I want certain caveats associated with intersubjectivity to be clearly stated, viz.
1. There is always a temporal attribute to it. Something is intersubjective truth at present.
2. It also depends on the nature of rational agents. An addition of completely new agents can change it altogether.
Because of the above two reasons, a moral framework should never be rigid with intersubjective truths.

Lastly I want to discuss fairness of opportunities. Although this might be desired, I want to argue against the amount of weightage that this is typically given. Fairness of opportunity is argued typically to ensure "right entitlement to the right people". This reasoning totally depends on the fact that happiness depends on the results and not on the process of achieving it. Winning a race is overrated, participating and giving your best effort is what gives happiness.
Reply
#10
(09-Jan-2012, 10:13 PM)Madhukar Kulkarni Wrote: Morality of a free thinker is the same as a conscience of a free thinker. His morality is the same as his conscious permits. (Madhukar Kulkarni.)

That statement is devoid of any useful information. Reminds me of deepities uttered by some guru who is profoundly spiritual.

Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Morality: Neither objective nor arbitrary, but intersubjective arvindiyer 19 24,799 13-Jul-2013, 02:32 AM
Last Post: Kanad Kanhere
  Morality, liberty and happiness Kanad Kanhere 9 5,795 08-Sep-2012, 10:29 PM
Last Post: arvindiyer



Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)