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The Grey Man

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#51
You have to realize that such a statement is disastrously dangerous to society at large because what you are arguing is that the only thing that matters is right now. There is NO hope in that.
If there's no hope in the now, where is it? How do you get outside the now? Isn't now wherever one happens to be?
 

QuickTwist

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#52
You have to realize that such a statement is disastrously dangerous to society at large because what you are arguing is that the only thing that matters is right now. There is NO hope in that.
If there's no hope in the now, where is it? How do you get outside the now? Isn't now wherever one happens to be?
Think of this: what change can happen in the present if you are only concerned with the present indefinitely? Nothing would get done!
 

The Grey Man

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#54
Nobody's advocating instant gratification. Whatsoever you want, you want now; if you don't want it now, you don't want it. You may want it later, you may have wanted it, someone else may want it, but you don't want it.
 
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#56
A person that does not know what they want, has no sense of internal nor external value. (cannot prioritize better or worse)
 

Artsu Tharaz

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#57
@Artsu Tharaz this goes back to what I was saying about 'oughts' being "petrified morality." To say that you 'should' get what you want is just words; actually wanting it is what counts.

A thing is less ethical than something else because it's worse. Suffering is worse than pleasure.
Saying "less ethical" means "worse" is pretty much just a tautology, it doesn't really say anything.

I see no problem with oughts. Are laws of physics petrified physics, and it's the actual physical processes that count? Because laws of physics are still useful.
 

QuickTwist

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#58
Nobody's advocating instant gratification. Whatsoever you want, you want now; if you don't want it now, you don't want it. You may want it later, you may have wanted it, someone else may want it, but you don't want it.
Nope. Because my hope is in Christ who lived in the past and is coming back in the future. Until then, or until death, I look to the past for my hope in the future.

And yes, I am just following your logic as far as it will go. The end result of your opinion - unless obfuscated by something else - is that we should give in to our present carnal nature, which is the definition of instant pleasure and like I said, there is no hope in that because it doesn't go anywhere.
 

The Grey Man

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#59
Saying "less ethical" means "worse" is pretty much just a tautology, it doesn't really say anything.
When you asked me what makes something less ethical than something else, I suspected you were asking what makes it worse, but I wasn't sure. I am now.

What makes something worse than something else? I don't have an answer to this question. It is what Schopenhauer would term an occult quality, something which cannot be explained but from which things are explained. Bad things are worse than good things, full stop.

I see no problem with oughts. Are laws of physics petrified physics, and it's the actual physical processes that count? Because laws of physics are still useful.
Yes, it's the physical processes that count. The laws need to conform to the processes to be useful, but the processes do not by any means need to conform to the laws.

Nope. Because my hope is in Christ who lived in the past and is coming back in the future. Until then, or until death, I look to the past for my hope in the future.

And yes, I am just following your logic as far as it will go. The end result of your opinion - unless obfuscated by something else - is that we should give in to our present carnal nature, which is the definition of instant pleasure and like I said, there is no hope in that because it doesn't go anywhere.
I don't get it. Even your images of what happened in the past and what will happen in the future are in your head right now, right? So isn't your feeling of hope happening right now?

I'm not saying we should give into our carnal natures, I'm saying that stuff happens now.
 

Artsu Tharaz

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#60
Yes, it's the physical processes that count. The laws need to conform to the processes to be useful, but the processes do not by any means need to conform to the laws.
Maybe, but once we've derived the laws through observation, or perhaps even introspection if that's how they came about, or some other means, then we're able to use these laws to create things such as technology that represent a physical process that has not before been present in nature. We are able to do things with the laws. They are valid points of reference.

Likewise, moral laws can guide our actions so that they can become better than before (although moral laws are generally either vague in applicability, or are wrought with exceptions, but nonetheless they are guides).

I don't get it. Even your images of what happened in the past and what will happen in the future are in your head right now, right? So isn't your feeling of hope happening right now?

I'm not saying we should give into our carnal natures, I'm saying that stuff happens now.
So you're saying morality is based on the now - because everything is based on the now.

But if the now is so inescapable, then surely even if we apply a theory such as utilitarianism, then we are applying it based on the factors of now. We could do anything, even if it involves postulating the future, and still be in the now. Because everything is the now. Or something like that?

So if the now is inescapable, how can something be criticised for seemingly postulating the importance of other times? That postulation still happens now.

I don't know if I just said anything, but I think I did.
 

QuickTwist

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#61
Saying "less ethical" means "worse" is pretty much just a tautology, it doesn't really say anything.
When you asked me what makes something less ethical than something else, I suspected you were asking what makes it worse, but I wasn't sure. I am now.

What makes something worse than something else? I don't have an answer to this question. It is what Schopenhauer would term an occult quality, something which cannot be explained but from which things are explained. Bad things are worse than good things, full stop.

I see no problem with oughts. Are laws of physics petrified physics, and it's the actual physical processes that count? Because laws of physics are still useful.
Yes, it's the physical processes that count. The laws need to conform to the processes to be useful, but the processes do not by any means need to conform to the laws.

Nope. Because my hope is in Christ who lived in the past and is coming back in the future. Until then, or until death, I look to the past for my hope in the future.

And yes, I am just following your logic as far as it will go. The end result of your opinion - unless obfuscated by something else - is that we should give in to our present carnal nature, which is the definition of instant pleasure and like I said, there is no hope in that because it doesn't go anywhere.
I don't get it. Even your images of what happened in the past and what will happen in the future are in your head right now, right? So isn't your feeling of hope happening right now?

I'm not saying we should give into our carnal natures, I'm saying that stuff happens now.
For me to say I have a hope in anything contradicts the right now in an absolute sense because something MUST have happened for me to have any sort of hope at all. When you look to the present, when you are being mindful or meditating, your thoughts are on what already happened or what you intend to change. That is why "right now" is so complicated. So obviously the burden is on you to make a case for what is the stuff of "right now". Right now doesn't exist in any physical model that i am aware of because there is always movement. What's more, is that its impossible to predict this movement, which is why you literally cannot focus on the present.
 
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#62
"Now" is the current temporal reference frame we are in, in any given instance.

That is the vantage point from where view time (past, present, future).
 

QuickTwist

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#63
"Now" is the current temporal reference frame we are in, in any given instance.

That is the vantage point from where view time (past, present, future).
That is a location, not what it actually is.
 

The Grey Man

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#64
Maybe, but once we've derived the laws through observation, or perhaps even introspection if that's how they came about, or some other means, then we're able to use these laws to create things such as technology that represent a physical process that has not before been present in nature. We are able to do things with the laws. They are valid points of reference.

Likewise, moral laws can guide our actions so that they can become better than before (although moral laws are generally either vague in applicability, or are wrought with exceptions, but nonetheless they are guides).
You'll just as little find moral character in a book about morality as you'll find the will to invent new forms of technology in a physics textbook. As cheesy as it sounds, the power is in you—or it isn't. Give me a lever and, like Archimedes, I can move the world, but the lever and the world aren't going anywhere if there's no force pushing them.

So you're saying morality is based on the now - because everything is based on the now.

But if the now is so inescapable, then surely even if we apply a theory such as utilitarianism, then we are applying it based on the factors of now. We could do anything, even if it involves postulating the future, and still be in the now. Because everything is the now. Or something like that?

So if the now is inescapable, how can something be criticised for seemingly postulating the importance of other times? That postulation still happens now.

I don't know if I just said anything, but I think I did.
Ought implies can—and can not. By saying that one ought to act in his self-interest, ethical egoism implies that one can act contrary to his self-interest, but this is a palpable contradiction, for how can one want something other than what he wants?

Egoists try to resolve this contradiction by equivocating on whether oneself and one's future self are the same or different. They claim that they're the same insofar as their interests are united as those of one in the same being, but different in that the one can act against the interests of the other. They fail to provide any reason why their interests should be regarded as those of one in the same being to the exclusion of all others, which is why I called it "inconsistent utilitarianism".

QuickTwist seems to have thought that what I meant by this was that forethought was unimportant because only the present matters—but the importance of the present is precisely why forethought matters. The future is the present for your future self. I just don't see why that present is more important than any other, hence my objection to egoism.

For me to say I have a hope in anything contradicts the right now in an absolute sense because something MUST have happened for me to have any sort of hope at all. When you look to the present, when you are being mindful or meditating your thought are on what already happened or what you intend to change. That is why "right now" is so complicated. So obviously the burden is on you to make a case for what is the stuff of "right now". Right now doesn't exist in any physical model that ia am aware of because there is always movement. What's more is that its impossible to predict this movement which is why you literally cannot focus on the present.
Hmm, I guess I would define "right now" as that which is impossible to doubt. There's movement, so it's not a mathematical point in time, but it doesn't extend infinitely in both directions either.
 

Artsu Tharaz

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#65
You'll just as little find moral character in a book about morality as you'll find the will to invent new forms of technology in a physics textbook. As cheesy as it sounds, the power is in you—or it isn't. Give me a lever and, like Archimedes, I can move the world, but the lever and the world aren't going anywhere if there's no force pushing them.
Maybe so, but the physics textbook is far from useless in that case. It is perhaps necessary.

Ought implies can—and can not. By saying that one ought to act in his self-interest, ethical egoism implies that one can act contrary to his self-interest, but this is a palpable contradiction, for how can one want something other than what he wants?
I think the egoist claim does actually say something, like there would be situations where you are confronted with 2 choices, and a particular interpretation of the egoist philosophy could say that one of those choices would fit their framework better than the other. But I'm not familiar enough with that philosophy to say what that sort of case would be.

QuickTwist seems to have thought that what I meant by this was that forethought was unimportant because only the present matters—but the importance of the present is precisely why forethought matters. The future is the present for your future self. I just don't see why that present is more important than any other, hence my objection to egoism.
So... the future is important because it is the present of the future self. Just like other people are important because they're their own subject, right? So doesn't this hint at utilitarianism, especially given that you "don't see why that present is more important than any other"?
 

QuickTwist

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#66
Nope. Because my hope is in Christ who lived in the past and is coming back in the future. Until then, or until death, I look to the past for my hope in the future.

And yes, I am just following your logic as far as it will go. The end result of your opinion - unless obfuscated by something else - is that we should give in to our present carnal nature, which is the definition of instant pleasure and like I said, there is no hope in that because it doesn't go anywhere.
I don't get it. Even your images of what happened in the past and what will happen in the future are in your head right now, right? So isn't your feeling of hope happening right now?

I'm not saying we should give into our carnal natures, I'm saying that stuff happens now.
For me to say I have a hope in anything contradicts the right now in an absolute sense because something MUST have happened for me to have any sort of hope at all. When you look to the present, when you are being mindful or meditating, your thoughts are on what already happened or what you intend to change. That is why "right now" is so complicated. So obviously the burden is on you to make a case for what is the stuff of "right now". Right now doesn't exist in any physical model that i am aware of because there is always movement. What's more, is that its impossible to predict this movement, which is why you literally cannot focus on the present.
For me to say I have a hope in anything contradicts the right now in an absolute sense because something MUST have happened for me to have any sort of hope at all. When you look to the present, when you are being mindful or meditating your thought are on what already happened or what you intend to change. That is why "right now" is so complicated. So obviously the burden is on you to make a case for what is the stuff of "right now". Right now doesn't exist in any physical model that ia am aware of because there is always movement. What's more is that its impossible to predict this movement which is why you literally cannot focus on the present.
Hmm, I guess I would define "right now" as that which is impossible to doubt. There's movement, so it's not a mathematical point in time, but it doesn't extend infinitely in both directions either.
I hate phones sometimes...

I agree.
 

The Grey Man

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#67
Maybe so, but the physics textbook is far from useless in that case. It is perhaps necessary.
Words are certainly necessary in some cases, but not sufficient in any case. They need the will to animate them, much like the corpse of Frankenstein's monster needs the thunderbolt to animate it. Like the corpse, they are dead, lifeless objects on their own.

So... the future is important because it is the present of the future self. Just like other people are important because they're their own subject, right? So doesn't this hint at utilitarianism, especially given that you "don't see why that present is more important than any other"?
I'm hinting at utilitarianism because it solves this particular problem of ethical egoism, the seemingly arbitrary boundary it draws between "me" and "me". But utilitarianism has problems of its own.
 

QuickTwist

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#68
Maybe so, but the physics textbook is far from useless in that case. It is perhaps necessary.
Words are certainly necessary in some cases, but not sufficient in any case. They need the will to animate them, much like the corpse of Frankenstein's monster needs the thunderbolt to animate it. Like the corpse, they are dead, lifeless objects on their own.

So... the future is important because it is the present of the future self. Just like other people are important because they're their own subject, right? So doesn't this hint at utilitarianism, especially given that you "don't see why that present is more important than any other"?
I'm hinting at utilitarianism because it solves this particular problem of ethical egoism, the seemingly arbitrary boundary it draws between "me" and "me". But utilitarianism has problems of its own.
There really is no legit way to categorize the future because it hasn't happened yet. So when I say "I hope" I am tapping into faith because of the knowledge of what happened in the past. You CAN say my hope is illegitimate because the future has never happened, but without hope there is no reason to do anything.
 
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#69
I don't know what you mean when you say that my banquet/dungeon example doesn't explain my initial conclusion. I said that individuals decide what is good without agreeing with each other and then provided an example of individuals doing just that. What more do you want?
I don't understand how it is a critique - what does a descriptive account of what individuals do have anything to do with a normative prescription?
 
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#70
Materialism conceives of the world in terms of matter—a multitude of objects in space which move about with respect to time in determinate ways according to laws of nature. Utilitarianism is a characteristically materialistic ethical doctrine because it defines goodness as utility, which is a quantity attributed to events in time and space.
I don't know any definition of materialism that necessitates that it has to be 'determinate'. Arguably some of the B-theorists who doesn't believe in 'time' are probably also materialists. And I'm sure there should be some immaterialists who believe that events can occur in time and space. Utilitarianism should be able to assign utility to any action whether material or immaterial, natural or supernatural, temporal or atemporal - I am not sure there has to be some form of 'material' restriction.
I am not completely sold on utiliarianism, but I really don't get this critiques.
 

The Grey Man

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#71
I don't understand how it is a critique - what does a descriptive account of what individuals do have anything to do with a normative prescription?
Utilitarianism says that positive and negative utility compensate each other, but the suffering of the prisoners is not the least bit compensated by the pleasure of the revelers, nor vice versa. So what gives?

I don't know any definition of materialism that necessitates that it has to be 'determinate'. Arguably some of the B-theorists who doesn't believe in 'time' are probably also materialists. And I'm sure there should be some immaterialists who believe that events can occur in time and space. Utilitarianism should be able to assign utility to any action whether material or immaterial, natural or supernatural, temporal or atemporal - I am not sure there has to be some form of 'material' restriction.
I am not completely sold on utiliarianism, but I really don't get this critiques.
I'm aware of 'B-theories' of time, so I use the term 'move' in a loose sense. Consider a film of a ball bouncing on the ground. There is no movement in the film reel when it is separated from the projector and laid out on a table, but from the perspective of we humans who are seeing the film being played, the ball is moving. In either case, the location occupied by the ball in each frame is determinate.

I'm sure there are non-materialists who think events happen that involve matter, the difference is that materialists don't think there is anything but matter.
 

Artsu Tharaz

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#72
Utilitarianism says that positive and negative utility compensate each other, but the suffering of the prisoners is not the least bit compensated by the pleasure of the revelers, nor vice versa. So what gives?
Here's a thought, I don't know if there's anything to it, but what if...

What if, if we're being totally honest about it, like judging in line what is absolutely true, that the things which make us feel the best in the moment are precisely those things which are the best for the greater good?

Consider this as an example: if I'm about to do something which will be bad for me in the long-term, I'll feel a sense of terror, so I won't do it. Maybe the reason that I don't do it isn't because of an egoistic-utilitarian calculation that I was screwing myself over, but simply because the terror that I felt was too much to bear, so I moved myself in the opposite direction from the terror. What if that example completely generalises to everything?

I mean, there might be counter-examples that seem to produce short term benefit but long term detriment, but maybe those things only seemed to produce short term benefit due to an error in judgement.

That's probably very bong-hit-philosophical but I thought I'd throw it out there.
 
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#73
Utilitarianism says that positive and negative utility compensate each other, but the suffering of the prisoners is not the least bit compensated by the pleasure of the revelers, nor vice versa. So what gives?
I don't think any utilitarian seriously thinks that they are supposed to compensate in such a manner. Utilitarianism is the doctrine that we ought to maximize utility. Sure, the pleasures of millions will not necessarily alleviate the suffering of a prisoner, but no serious utilitarian would say anything otherwise. What utilitarians can say that the state of the world where all but one is happy (assuming it positively correlates with the type of utility under concern here) is a 'better' state or 'more good' than the state where many more are unhappy comparatively. This doesn't mean that the unhappy one in the state of the whole where all but one are happy is somehow having his\her suffering compensated by the pleasures of everyone else.

Sure, this can create a room for dilemmas with the hypothetical world - a society where people find pleasure from X's suffering - so they put him through intense suffering for the pleasure of everyone else, even when X has done no wrong - well in fact by utilitarianism, X is OUGHT to allow others to torture him and no try to alleviate his sufferings for the sake of others. There are issues with utilitarianism and consequentialism, and people are aware of it, but so are there issues with almost all the rest.

Also, the utility function has many variations. There is negative utilitarianism according to which negative utility far outweighs positive utility ( reduction of suffering is more important that increment in pleasure ). Depending on how much 'weights' one assigns to negative utility, a hypothetical negative utilitarian can argue that X should not be put to suffering; they may argue that simple sensual pleasure is not really a higher form of pleasure anyway and has low +ve values even when multiplied by millions. A hypothetical negative utilitarian can even argue that it is better (than it is now) for the world to be destroyed right now, I have heard Benatar is a negative utilitarian who argues that it is better to never have been born.
 

The Grey Man

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#74
Utilitarianism says that positive and negative utility compensate each other, but the suffering of the prisoners is not the least bit compensated by the pleasure of the revelers, nor vice versa. So what gives?
I don't think any utilitarian seriously thinks that they are supposed to compensate in such a manner. Utilitarianism is the doctrine that we ought to maximize utility. Sure, the pleasures of millions will not necessarily alleviate the suffering of a prisoner, but no serious utilitarian would say anything otherwise. What utilitarians can say that the state of the world where all but one is happy (assuming it positively correlates with the type of utility under concern here) is a 'better' state or 'more good' than the state where many more are unhappy comparatively. This doesn't mean that the unhappy one in the state of the whole where all but one are happy is somehow having his\her suffering compensated by the pleasures of everyone else.
To whom is the first world supposed to be better than the second if not to the people living in them? An unhappy person is unhappy whether he's alone or surrounded by other unhappy people—who are you to tell him that the world is a better place in which to live because he alone is unhappy? It's tantamount to saying that the weight of his suffering is somehow compensated by the counterweight of the rest of the world's pleasure on the cosmic scales of justice, which is absurd.

Happiness and unhappiness, good and bad, positive utility and negative utility are all properties of subjective experience (positive and negative valence); there are as many evaluations of the utility of the world as there are individuals living in it. If you could have them all rate the world on a scale of 1 to 10 and then add, average, manipulate the numbers however you like so that they produce a 'global utility' value, still this number wouldn't tell you anything about the world. Life is not an abstraction.
 
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#75
To whom is the first world supposed to be better than the second if not to the people living in them?
If utilatarianism is supposed to be a normative policy, and if according to a version of it (say Hedonistic Utilitarianism), the first world is better, then it is not better to a particular individual, but it is normatively better. So it's like asking to whom is X and not-X true? It should be better to any 'reasonable' person, even the one who is suffering. Of course, in terms of physical and mental suffering, it is no different for the one who is suffering, but those are not the only 'terms' to evaluate 'better' here. Here better refers to moral goodness. The world being better refers to word as a whole being comparatively better on average. Even someone who is suffering can acknowledge that the 'world is a good place' in general, his mental state being the outlier, though suffering may prohibit him from having such a perspective.

No, his weights of suffering won't be alleviated or counter-weighted by other's pleasures. The world being a better place doesn't mean it becomes better for EVERYONE. Note that as long as there are suffering, it's still not the ideal land for a hypothetical utilitarian. So the utilitarian is supposed to strive towards alleviating the suffering of everyone if 'possible'.

there are as many evaluations of the utility of the world as there are individuals living in it.
And thus different variations of utilitarianism (for eg. preference utilitarianism, hedonistic utilitarianism and so on)

If you could have them all rate the world on a scale of 1 to 10 and then add, average, manipulate the numbers however you like so that they produce a 'global utility' value, still this number wouldn't tell you anything about the world.
It will tell you how the world is according to your arbitrary conventions for rating, utility and stuff.
 

Artsu Tharaz

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#76
Utilitarianism says that positive and negative utility compensate each other, but the suffering of the prisoners is not the least bit compensated by the pleasure of the revelers, nor vice versa. So what gives?
Apologies if I'm not understanding you, because your rejection of Utilitarianism sounds to me to be an advocating of instant gratification, but you explicitly claimed not to be advocating that, but anyway...

We can understand the situation you described by transforming the situation to one of an individual. Say one is advised to give up pleasure now, for greater pleasure later, to be disciplined. One could say that the reason for doing this is to be compensated more greatly, but you could say "in what sense does this compensation apply? How does feeling good tomorrow help me right now?", and the answer that I give would be... it doesn't have to, it requires a kind of faith in the future, however there is compensation right now in the form of hope. If sacrificing something now for more of that something later makes sense, then so does the suffering of one for the happiness of many make sense...

...but you also have to consider the bigger picture. These people in prison - did they deserve to be put there, is being in prison doing them any good? These people having the banquet - is there a good reason for them doing it? Or was the imprisonment unjust, and the banquet pure indulgence? One cannot apply utilitarianism without also considering justice, because if you're not getting the pleasure at the right time, and for the right reasons, and similarly of the pain, then things aren't going to work out in the long run. Doing things at the wrong time is going to lead to bad outcomes. Rewarding bad behaviour just because it feels good to get a reward is going to lead to more bad behaviour, and bad behaviour leads to pain. So that has to be taken into account.
 

The Grey Man

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#77
@DoIMustHaveAnUsername? Just because a 'reasonable' person judges the world to be good or bad according to the standards of some variation of utilitarianism doesn't make it so. A person who is suffering can claim the world to be a good place in which to live, but his own private suffering says more about the world than any words he might say or write. I reject utilitarianism because its 'utility' is an abstract quantity in an abstract world that nobody lives in.

@Artsu Tharaz Human law is very much concerned with deterring harm done by individuals to each other and for this reason 'the greatest good of the greatest number of human individuals' may be an appropriate supreme criterion of justice, so Bentham was sort of half-right. I just think that justice and morality are not the same thing. The principles of justice govern one's 'outer' relations with fellow human beings and their property, whereas the principles of morality have more to do with their inner characters.
 
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#78
@DoIMustHaveAnUsername? Just because a 'reasonable' person judges the world to be good or bad according to the standards of some variation of utilitarianism doesn't make it so. A person who is suffering can claim the world to be a good place in which to live, but his own private suffering says more about the world than any words he might say or write. I reject utilitarianism because its 'utility' is an abstract quantity in an abstract world that nobody lives in.

@Artsu Tharaz Human law is very much concerned with deterring harm done by individuals to each other and for this reason 'the greatest good of the greatest number of human individuals' may be an appropriate supreme criterion of justice, so Bentham was sort of half-right. I just think that justice and morality are not the same thing. The principles of justice govern one's 'outer' relations with fellow human beings and their property, whereas the principles of morality have more to do with their inner characters.
If utilitarianism is true, it's a normative policy which means to be more reasonable one has to judge the world by the particular utilitarian standard (which itself would be analogous to a standard of reasoning). If utilitarianism IS a normative standard, is of course, highly debatable, but if one accepts it as one, then one has to accept that following it should be one criterion for being reasonable. If a 'reasonable' person judges the world to be good or bad by an irrational standard then he isn't reasonable.

A person who is suffering can claim the world to be a good place in which to live, but his own private suffering says more about the world than any words he might say or write.

Says to whom? Only to that person? Wouldn't his private suffering just as abstract to rest of us, especially those with less empathy and in perhaps distant lands as would be the private happiness of majority to the one who suffers? Sure, an abstract quantity of utility won't be as real as raw private suffering in the present in one's own personal/pseudo-personal consciousness. But that is no critique. That doesn't tell us why we ought not concern ourselves with utility; neither does it tackles the arguments presented in favor of following the principle of maximizing utility.

It is another story if you say the abstract quantity of utility has no basis on reality whatsoever. It is what you seem to be saying, but I don't understand what your basis for believing this is?

The utility is still abstracted from real life qualitative experiences (like suffering and pleasure or preference and such) that correspond to real life people and where abstraction is filtering out details. We use abstractions in a lot of things. We use no.s and formulas to determine statistical trends, for examples, and based on them we can make prediction or prepare products etc. How is utility any different? Is it fundamentally more unreal?

I can see how subjectivity and differences in opinions of what the utlity should be about is problematic. But there still seems to be some general consensus. And morality is, for that reason, still an active subject with people trying to discover the ideal norms and principles of moral reasoning. So pointing out the subjectivity and difference in opinions isn't very interesting.
 

The Grey Man

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#79
It is another story if you say the abstract quantity of utility has no basis on reality whatsoever. It is what you seem to be saying, but I don't understand what your basis for believing this is?

The utility is still abstracted from real life qualitative experiences (like suffering and pleasure or preference and such) that correspond to real life people and where abstraction is filtering out details. We use abstractions in a lot of things. We use no.s and formulas to determine statistical trends, for examples, and based on them we can make prediction or prepare products etc. How is utility any different? Is it fundamentally more unreal?
Both utility and statistical trends are concepts that can be represented by symbols, but unlike statistical trends, utility has no corresponding empirical observation. One can see statistical trends unfolding in real time, but one cannot see utility. I can understand what you mean by maximixing the height of a pile of sandbags because I can imagine a pile higher than the one in front of me, but I can't understand what you mean by maximixing utility for all conscious beings, because I can only feel my own suffering and my own pleasure—they don't add to, subtract from, or interact in any way with the experiences of anyone else. Qualitative experiences aren't sandbags that can be piled on top of or weighed against each other. Utility, like all abstractions, is based in reality, but it bears no resemblance to it.
 
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#80
It is another story if you say the abstract quantity of utility has no basis on reality whatsoever. It is what you seem to be saying, but I don't understand what your basis for believing this is?

The utility is still abstracted from real life qualitative experiences (like suffering and pleasure or preference and such) that correspond to real life people and where abstraction is filtering out details. We use abstractions in a lot of things. We use no.s and formulas to determine statistical trends, for examples, and based on them we can make prediction or prepare products etc. How is utility any different? Is it fundamentally more unreal?
Both utility and statistical trends are concepts that can be represented by symbols, but unlike statistical trends, utility has no corresponding empirical observation. One can see statistical trends unfolding in real time, but one cannot see utility. I can understand what you mean by maximixing the height of a pile of sandbags because I can imagine a pile higher than the one in front of me, but I can't understand what you mean by maximixing utility for all conscious beings, because I can only feel my own suffering and my own pleasure—they don't add to, subtract from, or interact in any way with the experiences of anyone else. Qualitative experiences aren't sandbags that can be piled on top of or weighed against each other. Utility, like all abstractions, is based in reality, but it bears no resemblance to it.
Let's say in a hypothetical world, there had been 2 car accidents this year. One accident had been at planet X at time Z, and the other at planet Y time K. They didn't interacted with each other. They happened at different time and place. They don't in reality merge or separate. So is '2 car accidents' merely an abstract quantity with no real resemblence? From the perspective of the one in accident 1, his accident didn't appear to add to, or subtract to some other accident. Basing on that should we consider statistical rates like these to be irrelevant?


Note in arithmatic addition doesn't mean literal combination, otherwise one could say 1+1=1 when two water drops combine to one. It is considering things of a similar class together. From that perspective, I don't see why can't there be addition or subtraction of suffering.

The problem is quantification of qualitative intensity. If for simplicity's sake if we assume utility to not care about intensity, then 2 suffering can simply mean 2 people suffering.

But the problem is 2 people may not be suffering equally, should we consider the weights? One could argue for constraining utility to simply calculating its no of instances as opposed to the value it posses in each instance. Nevertheless, quantifying the intensity of suffering is tricky - but that's not an in principle issue of utilitarianism, I would say, it seems more like a practical issue - the issue of applying utilitarianism in a real world.

However, if neural correlates can give insight to the intensity of suffering and pleasure, then we can even create a standard of quantification. While one may be unable to directly compare one's own suffering with others to see if the quantification is valid (problem of other minds), one can use clues external behaviors, expressions etc., to see if neural correlates of suffering usually correlates to other indicators of intensity of suffering, and if our quantification works roughly.

Yes, that will be still imperfect. But this problem is epistemic, and if we wanna go that route, perfect epistemic access to things are problematic in a lot of cases. So one can argue easily for a more pragmatic approach (as in On Certainty by Wittgenstein).
 

Artsu Tharaz

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#81
@Artsu Tharaz Human law is very much concerned with deterring harm done by individuals to each other and for this reason 'the greatest good of the greatest number of human individuals' may be an appropriate supreme criterion of justice, so Bentham was sort of half-right. I just think that justice and morality are not the same thing. The principles of justice govern one's 'outer' relations with fellow human beings and their property, whereas the principles of morality have more to do with their inner characters.
Ok, so it's not that you think Utilitarianism is entirely wrong per se, it's that you think it's not morality. So, we can discuss its merits as a system of justice, but not as an explanation of morality. Indeed, you mentioned that morality is an occult quality, so that nothing much can be said about it other than "good things are better than bad things".

Surely more can be said about it than that though, even if perhaps rather indirectly? And certainly implicitly - if it can be used to explain other things, then those explanations would hint at what the occult quality behind it is, correct?

So, what can you say about morality so that I may more clearly grasp what the term means?

edit: I suspect it relates to what I said yesterday about free will potentially lacking any kind of statistical distribution beyond the circumstances it is embedded in, so in that respect I am probably familiar with the notion
 

The Grey Man

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#82
Let's say in a hypothetical world, there had been 2 car accidents this year. One accident had been at planet X at time Z, and the other at planet Y time K. They didn't interacted with each other. They happened at different time and place. They don't in reality merge or separate. So is '2 car accidents' merely an abstract quantity with no real resemblence? From the perspective of the one in accident 1, his accident didn't appear to add to, or subtract to some other accident. Basing on that should we consider statistical rates like these to be irrelevant?
From the perspective of a third person who can see all events that transpire on both planets, that there had been two accidents this year is a fact. That the private experiences of the two people involved in the accidents somehow add together or average out to some overall utility value is not a fact. It is a mixture of speculation, conjecture, and dubious manipulation of abstract concepts.

Note in arithmatic addition doesn't mean literal combination, otherwise one could say 1+1=1 when two water drops combine to one. It is considering things of a similar class together. From that perspective, I don't see why can't there be addition or subtraction of suffering.
There can be 1+1 water drops because we can see two water drops side-by-side. We can't see two experiences of suffering side-by-side. They can't be added together because they don't share space.

The problem is quantification of qualitative intensity. If for simplicity's sake if we assume utility to not care about intensity, then 2 suffering can simply mean 2 people suffering.

But the problem is 2 people may not be suffering equally, should we consider the weights? One could argue for constraining utility to simply calculating its no of instances as opposed to the value it posses in each instance. Nevertheless, quantifying the intensity of suffering is tricky - but that's not an in principle issue of utilitarianism, I would say, it seems more like a practical issue - the issue of applying utilitarianism in a real world.
If a normative doctrine can't be mapped onto the real world, if it has no meaning in our lives, then it's just words. There is no more important issue facing utilitarianism.

However, if neural correlates can give insight to the intensity of suffering and pleasure, then we can even create a standard of quantification. While one may be unable to directly compare one's own suffering with others to see if the quantification is valid (problem of other minds), one can use clues external behaviors, expressions etc., to see if neural correlates of suffering usually correlates to other indicators of intensity of suffering, and if our quantification works roughly.

Yes, that will be still imperfect. But this problem is epistemic, and if we wanna go that route, perfect epistemic access to things are problematic in a lot of cases. So one can argue easily for a more pragmatic approach (as in On Certainty by Wittgenstein).
Even if we could measure exactly the intensity of suffering and pleasure in each individual human, we would still have no procedure for combining their experience into a global utility value. Bob experiences 10 hedons, Alice experiences -3, and Charlie 5.3289...so what?
 
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#83
From the perspective of a third person who can see all events that transpire on both planets, that there had been two accidents this year is a fact. That the private experiences of the two people involved in the accidents somehow add together or average out to some overall utility value is not a fact. It is a mixture of speculation, conjecture, and dubious manipulation of abstract concepts.
Ok, let's make it more interesting then. Let's say the hypothetical world only has 2 people and 2 planets. Would then the statistics of accidents this year hold no resemblance to reality?

There can be 1+1 water drops because we can see two water drops side-by-side. We can't see two experiences of suffering side-by-side. They can't be added together because they don't share space.
My point was exactly otherwise. I don't think that's what the concept of arithmatic is at all about. Addition is not about combining, it's not about adding things that are necessarily side by side or in the same physical space and/or time. Taking addition as literal combination would lead to misunderstandings like in case of two water droplets combining into one it's 1+1=1 - a contradiction to the rules of arithmetic. Addition is simply conceiving together instances from the same class. The car accidents can be at different dimensions, or can be solely at distinct subjective realms without any common independent noumenal world where they happen, and we can still say there have been 'two' car accidents in total in 2 particular realms.

If a normative doctrine can't be mapped onto the real world, if it has no meaning in our lives, then it's just words. There is no more important issue facing utilitarianism.
Ok.

Even if we could measure exactly the intensity of suffering and pleasure in each individual human, we would still have no procedure for combining their experience into a global utility value. Bob experiences 10 hedons, Alice experiences -3, and Charlie 5.3289...so what?
Then you can use expected value theorem to estimate the expected value of suffering. Summation i to n: P(Person i)*Hedon(Person i); this can indicate the prior expected intensity of suffering for anyone. It can help a Utilitarian optimize his\her decisions to strive towards minimization of the expected suffering. The expected value is still a result contributed by individual suffering; so trying to minimize it can have tangible effect on real life and real life suffering.
 
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#84
oh is this thread still going?

"the needs of the many do not outweigh the needs of the few"?

well they do
 

The Grey Man

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#85
From the perspective of a third person who can see all events that transpire on both planets, that there had been two accidents this year is a fact. That the private experiences of the two people involved in the accidents somehow add together or average out to some overall utility value is not a fact. It is a mixture of speculation, conjecture, and dubious manipulation of abstract concepts.
Ok, let's make it more interesting then. Let's say the hypothetical world only has 2 people and 2 planets. Would then the statistics of accidents this year hold no resemblance to reality?
I said that utility bears no resemblance to reality, whereas statistics are based on empirical observation. A car accident that happens right in front of you is a fact, an objective feature of the world; the pain of its victims is a subjective feeling. Utility is neither an objective feature of the world nor a subjective feeling. It is a grotesque chimerical hybrid of the two that is only possible in the fantastic, lawless world of concepts.

There can be 1+1 water drops because we can see two water drops side-by-side. We can't see two experiences of suffering side-by-side. They can't be added together because they don't share space.
My point was exactly otherwise. I don't think that's what the concept of arithmatic is at all about. Addition is not about combining, it's not about adding things that are necessarily side by side or in the same physical space and/or time. Taking addition as literal combination would lead to misunderstandings like in case of two water droplets combining into one it's 1+1=1 - a contradiction to the rules of arithmetic.
Before the droplets are merged together, there are 1+1=2 water droplets; after they are merged, there is only 1 droplet. There is no contradiction, you just get a different result if you count the droplets after they merge than if you do so before they merge because the number of discrete droplets actually does change, though, presumably, you would get the same result if you weighed them either before or after because the amount of water doesn't change.

Addition is simply conceiving together instances from the same class. The car accidents can be at different dimensions, or can be solely at distinct subjective realms without any common independent noumenal world where they happen, and we can still say there have been 'two' car accidents in total in 2 particular realms.
I can say that angels sit on pinheads, but I can't count the angels on the head of a particular pin. I can count pins, sandbags, car accidents, and water droplets, but I can't count utility because nowhere in the world is there anything you can point to and say, "There! That is a portion of utility. And there! Another that we can add to the first." Qualitative experiences are "in here", not "out there" to be counted like coins or produce.

Even if we could measure exactly the intensity of suffering and pleasure in each individual human, we would still have no procedure for combining their experience into a global utility value. Bob experiences 10 hedons, Alice experiences -3, and Charlie 5.3289...so what?
Then you can use expected value theorem to estimate the expected value of suffering. Summation i to n: P(Person i)*Hedon(Person i); this can indicate the prior expected intensity of suffering for anyone. It can help a Utilitarian optimize his\her decisions to strive towards minimization of the expected suffering. The expected value is still a result contributed by individual suffering; so trying to minimize it can have tangible effect on real life and real life suffering.
The expected hedonic value of my ABC example is a little over 4, but again, so what? Nobody experiences 4. The actual experiences are 10, -3, and 5.3289. That's it. 4 is nothing more than an empty abstraction. Making a decision that brings Alice up to 0 is good...for Alice. It makes no difference at all to Bob or Charlie.
 
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#86
Before the droplets are merged together, there are 1+1=2 water droplets; after they are merged, there is only 1 droplet. There is no contradiction, you just get a different result if you count the droplets after they merge than if you do so before they merge because the number of discrete droplets actually does change, though, presumably, you would get the same result if you weighed them either before or after because the amount of water doesn't change.


That's what I meant. There is no actual contradictions, of course, but you will be led to it if you understand the nature of addition (for example, if you confuse addition with the merging of droplets, then it isn't too far to conclude that the result of merging (1 droplet) is also the result of addition. This is an example from some real life internet people who honestly seem to think 1+1 can be 1 in such cases in the traditional decimal no. system)



I can say that angels sit on pinheads, but I can't count the angels on the head of a particular pin. I can count pins, sandbags, car accidents, and water droplets, but I can't count utility because nowhere in the world is there anything you can point to and say, "There! That is a portion of utility. And there! Another that we can add to the first." Qualitative experiences are "in here", not "out there" to be counted like coins or produce.



The expected hedonic value of my ABC example is a little over 4, but again, so what? Nobody experiences 4. The actual experiences are 10, -3, and 5.3289. That's it. 4 is nothing more than an empty abstraction. Making a decision that brings Alice up to 0 is good...for Alice. It makes no difference at all to Bob or Charlie.


I can sort of see where you are coming from. While it makes some sense, but still it isn't all totally clear to me. It seems that we have different intuitive starting points altogether.



First, since there are different variations of utility, let us consider a specific instantiation of utility - let's say expected hedonistic value - calculated with the formula:



summation i to n: P(person i)*hedon(person i)



Where P(person i) is the probability to have similar hedonistic experience as person i.



Sure, we can't exactly find this 'utility' anywhere in the word as anything concrete or even as any qualitative experience.



But now, let us compare it with some other statistics - like expected-death-by-cows-per-year (EDBCPY).



Where exactly is any EDBCPY? Can you find EDBCPY in your shoes? In a mall?



Now, you can say, but EDBCPY is a measure of (roughly average) deaths by cows - i.e concrete physical deaths that are caused by actual cows all of which are empirically observable.



But isn't an analogous case also true for expected hedonistic value (EHV)?

Doesn't EHV correspond to actual real life sufferings of people?



Now you can argue that EHV doesn't really correspond to any specific suffering of a particular person. It doesn't say how bad a person A is suffering or even how many people are suffering (though 'how many' can be answered by using a different utility formula). You can say that suffering of different people doesn't interact with each other and stuff.



But 'deaths-by-cows' don't need to interact with each either. They can be personal experiences too; and one person's death by cow doesn't have to do anything or say anything about another's. So what is the fundamental difference here?



Next you can argue as you are doing that deaths-by-cows are empirically observable features, that we can count; but sufferings are qualitative subjective experience.



But note that suffering is still a real experience; a real 'thing'. And it's not clear why it can't have any quantitative representation. We can use discrete quantification (counting 1 for each person suffering). We can use continuous real number representations corresponding to the intensity of suffering; in principle. But how do we measure qualitatively experienced intensity? That's more of a practical problem; I would distinguish it from the in-principle concerns of utilitarianism. But nevertheless, if our neural makeup can be found to be approximate indicators of hedonistic tones experienced by people - if it is found to correlated and consistent with other external indicators (expression, speech, body-language) and the experiencer's own testimony; then it can be used as a fair measurement.



It won't be perfect. We can have epistemic concerns related to knowing 'other minds'...but if we go that route, we never really have much epistemic certainty over anything.



If we can measure the intensity, we can easily add up the intensities to represent an expected hedonistic value - and that too from approximately empirical features (neural makeups) not too different from other statistical measures. Expected value measures can easily be used with subjective values anyway. There never was a theoretical restriction to begin with.



Now, you can argue that even if that's true EHV doesn't tell us anything about the world. But it does seem to clearly tell us something that is the expectation measure over a particular real life (from the 'world') samples of intensities of hedonistic tones.

That's what we directly measure.



But you can say, that it doesn't really measure anything particularly useful.

It doesn't tell us anything about any particular person's suffering or degree of suffering.

But it isn't supposed to. And just because it doesn't tell particularly about anything about any single instance of personal suffering, doesn't have to mean it is useless or totally abstract.



We can use it to measure the 'expected' value of suffering. An anti-natalist finding expected value of hedonestic pleasure is negative can argue why it's not a good idea to breed if we want to reduce suffering. Furthermore, suffering is tied to the world and its causes and conditions. If a statistical measure like EDBCPY is very high in city X compared to other cities, one can reasonably assume that there are some causes and conditions behind it - that there may be something abnormal. Perhaps it's the only city with cows, perhaps it has too many cows compared to men; perhaps it has a particularly aggressive breed of cows, perhaps it's about something in the food they feed to the cows; perhaps the issue lies in the cow education system - which may need some reinnovation - you get the idea. This can encourage us to look deeper into the issues. A tourist can then for example, learn to be extra careful around cows when visiting city X if he\she knows about EDBCPY value of city X.



Similarly, if EHV value is very low in city X, perhaps even in the negative, then again we can assume there are some causes and conditions. If from experiments with some samples and some city-wide surveys, the EHV values come up to be especially low, it should encourage us and people in power to do something, find the issues, causes and whatever to improve overall happiness. Widespread unhappiness may often be caused by more impersonal causes - perhaps related to political infrastructures, some environmental issue; perhaps the widespread death and destruction brought by the evil cows, or whatever. This can help a space alien immigrant to choose a better city to settle in. Similarly one can do surveys and stuffs, and do deeper investigations to find out if there are general causes for suffering; which it is likely to be. Furthermore, we can take ideas from places where EHV values are high. It does, then, seem to me to be having a number of potential uses and not too fundamentally different than EDBCPY. And of course, EHV would be central to the hedonistic utilitarian.





In general, you are posing several points related to utility as critiques but it's far from clear why those points, although accurate, are supposed to be exactly negative in the first place. Which is my point that we are starting from different intuitive framework here. And following your own admission to how there are so many utilitarians, I assume there are many others who don't share your intuitive framework.





Also, the way in which EHV varies with the dynamics of suffering among different people seems to correlate with our general intuitions about morality to at least some extent.



For example, in case of A, B, and C, if there experiences are 10, -3, and 5.3, then EHV will be 1/3 * 10 + 1/3*(-3) + 1/3*(5.3) = 4.1. It immediately tells us overall more people are likely to be happy, or if more people aren't happy, the happy people are quite a bit more happy than the sad people are sad. Of course how good of a value 4 is depends on the type of scale you use. Overall it does seem to say something quite relevant about the world, and something real about it (if the measurements are done through some reliable means).



Next intuitively, it would be in general a good action to reduce the suffering and/or increase the happiness of a person.

Let's say we reduce the suffering of B to 0. Then EHV also increases to 5.1. A net increase and thus according to hedonistic utilitarianism our action was good which correlates with the general intuition.



We may think it's best to improve the happiness of everyone - make everyone happy - that would increase EHV even more.



We may think it's bad to increase the suffering of someone. If we increase the suffering let's say turn A from 10 to 7, that will obviously decrease the EHV.



So a utilitarian can point out EHV can often 'vary' (the keyword here) in a way such that seemingly ethical actions tend to increase it, and seemingly unethical ones tend to decrease it. So one can still further argue that even if EHV in itself doesn't say anything specific enough, it's variance with respect to our actions does tell something important about the scale and the nature of the consequences of our actions.



The tricky part comes of course in cases of something like trolley problems. What if the dynamics between A, B, and C is such, that A's happiness depends on B's suffering. A will become twice as happy as B suffers. That is, increasing the suffering of B will increase the happiness of A even more.



This is the part where one's suffering can be 'counter-balanced' by another's pleasure. You may find this absurd, but again while that may be your intuition it's not clear to me why that is somehow obviously absurd. No one of course think that 'counter-balance' here is anything literal, that B's suffering is alleviated in any way by A's pleasure (there would be no dilemma if this was the case), nor do anyone think that there's some literal cosmic scale which gets balanced and satisfied if suffering counters pleasure or anything like that. People are aware of what is at stake. And no one is happy with actions like that even if some of them considers the action to be good.



Even going by some crude hedonistic utilitarian standard, sacrificing B for A's happiness is not the best course of action - a better course would be to maximize everyone's happiness of course, but it's relatively better than needlessly causing suffering to everyone. Again to this end, the variance EHV measure w.r.t our actions still seems to correlate with our intuition.



It seems then that sacrificing B is only an optimal choice when any better course of action is impossible or highly improbable to pull off.



This is similar to the mindset of "lesser evil for greater good". If suffering of a few can bring greater happiness to a lot of people, it's not immediately clear if that's a good thing to do or not. If happiness is supposed to be good, and the more the better, then it should be a good thing. Sure, this is where it can also get controversial and there can be intuitive clashes. But in that case, it would be too rash to jump to any side without any strong justification beyond intuitions of absurdity.



Still this particular scenario of increase the happiness of something already quite happy at the cost of further suffering of someone else, may seem especially revolting. But. to better fit our intuitions, we can always further refine the formula by highly weighing any negative values (or making a hard rule to prioritize reducing suffering always over increasing happiness of someone happy) i.e using some variation of negative utilitarianism, decreasing the rate of increment for someone already happy (can be justified by psychological principles) and so on. Let's not get into too much details about the engineering of the utility function right now; I am more interested in the in-principle issues.



You said, if we increase A's happiness it is 'only good' for A. But you are then personalizing good too much. You haven't yet given any arguments for or against moral relativism or moral anti-realism in general. Let's for the sake of argument consider that there are normative moral principles (moral realism is true). The question is if utilitarianism fits to be a normative moral principle - does it lead to some kind of absurdity? does it generally fit our intuitions well? Granted, they don't exactly tell if it fits to be normative principles, but intuitive plausibility still gets used as criteria for plausibility often times. Anyway, I am not here to argue for or against the normativeness of morality, and utilitarianism in particular; but my point is, if we are discussing about normative morality, let's focus on that. So if we are thinking about normative morality, morality should constitute universal principles, like principles of logic and maths. Something shouldn't be logical just for A, if something is logical, it is logical period. And so on. (let's also just assume there are universal epistemic norms related to maths, and logic - principles of non-contradiction and such - of course not necessarily existing in any ontologically extravagant sense). So from this perspective, if the action is good, it is just that good...not just for someone. What is the criteria for goodness of an action in this case, - if it maximizes utility. If A's happiness is increased without any cost by an action; the action is simply good by utilitarianistic definition; it's in the hedonistic sense good only to A (only A experiences positive increment) - but so what? The point is overall happiness in the world increases a bit, even if it is due to the increment of happiness of only one person - A it can still be considered as something good to be done. I didn't know morality is supposed to be about increasing the hedonistic value for everyone with every action. So what's the point in stating the obvious that only A gets the benefit here?



If both As and Bs states are improved, then there would likely be even higher EHV, it will be even better - so the higher utility - the higher goodness would correspond to higher number of people being happy or more no. of people being more happy than other people being sad (if we want to priortize reducing suffering over increasing happiness of the already happy, we can do that with negative utilitarianism). So EHV and its variance of values corresponds to the real life states of real life people.



So I don't really get your point here. Your points are correct, but obvious. We all know if we do good to A only, only A will experience the benefit, but utiitarianism doesn't say otherwise. If only A gets the benefit,



("Making a decision that brings Alice up to 0 is good...for Alice. It makes no difference at all to Bob or Charlie.")



so what exactly? It is still SOMEONE experiencing the benefit - the greater happiness increasing the net EHV - which tells us that our action does more good than harm. If A gets a bit happier everyone else remaining the same, it still seems intuitively plausible to say, that slightly a bit of good is done (even if the good is experienced by one person). And since the good is done only to one person the net increase should be also relatively little compared to if the same good was done to many people. So it still fits our intuition that if we help just one person, it's just helping only one person, only one person experiences the benefit of goodness, so as a result not a lot of variance is observed in net EHV.
 

The Grey Man

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#87
Before the droplets are merged together, there are 1+1=2 water droplets; after they are merged, there is only 1 droplet. There is no contradiction, you just get a different result if you count the droplets after they merge than if you do so before they merge because the number of discrete droplets actually does change, though, presumably, you would get the same result if you weighed them either before or after because the amount of water doesn't change.


That's what I meant. There is no actual contradictions, of course, but you will be led to it if you understand the nature of addition (for example, if you confuse addition with the merging of droplets, then it isn't too far to conclude that the result of merging (1 droplet) is also the result of addition. This is an example from some real life internet people who honestly seem to think 1+1 can be 1 in such cases in the traditional decimal no. system)



I can say that angels sit on pinheads, but I can't count the angels on the head of a particular pin. I can count pins, sandbags, car accidents, and water droplets, but I can't count utility because nowhere in the world is there anything you can point to and say, "There! That is a portion of utility. And there! Another that we can add to the first." Qualitative experiences are "in here", not "out there" to be counted like coins or produce.



The expected hedonic value of my ABC example is a little over 4, but again, so what? Nobody experiences 4. The actual experiences are 10, -3, and 5.3289. That's it. 4 is nothing more than an empty abstraction. Making a decision that brings Alice up to 0 is good...for Alice. It makes no difference at all to Bob or Charlie.


I can sort of see where you are coming from. While it makes some sense, but still it isn't all totally clear to me. It seems that we have different intuitive starting points altogether.



First, since there are different variations of utility, let us consider a specific instantiation of utility - let's say expected hedonistic value - calculated with the formula:



summation i to n: P(person i)*hedon(person i)



Where P(person i) is the probability to have similar hedonistic experience as person i.



Sure, we can't exactly find this 'utility' anywhere in the word as anything concrete or even as any qualitative experience.



But now, let us compare it with some other statistics - like expected-death-by-cows-per-year (EDBCPY).



Where exactly is any EDBCPY? Can you find EDBCPY in your shoes? In a mall?



Now, you can say, but EDBCPY is a measure of (roughly average) deaths by cows - i.e concrete physical deaths that are caused by actual cows all of which are empirically observable.



But isn't an analogous case also true for expected hedonistic value (EHV)?

Doesn't EHV correspond to actual real life sufferings of people?
I believe you've answered your own question. EHV is analogous to EDBCPY in that both suffering and deaths by cow are real; however, EHV is not analogous to EDBCPY in that the suffering of other people is not empirically observable as their deaths by cow are.

Now you can argue that EHV doesn't really correspond to any specific suffering of a particular person. It doesn't say how bad a person A is suffering or even how many people are suffering (though 'how many' can be answered by using a different utility formula). You can say that suffering of different people doesn't interact with each other and stuff.



But 'deaths-by-cows' don't need to interact with each either. They can be personal experiences too; and one person's death by cow doesn't have to do anything or say anything about another's. So what is the fundamental difference here?
The non-interactivity of different subjective experiences is totally different from the non-interactivity of objects that are remote from each other in time and/or space. Even deaths by cow that take place on different continents and 100 years apart are mutually related merely because they occupy positions within a common spacetime manifold and it is precisely this relation, this reciprocal individuation, that allows us to count them and thereby produce a statistic which based on objective facts. Subjective experiences do not share time and space with each other; they are simple whereas objects form an individuated complex. I refer to Kant's phenomenon-noumenon distinction as well as Leibniz's conception of the soul as a 'simple substance' that combines a multitude. The simplicity of the subject is —for me as for both of these philosophers —axiomatic. "I" is a unity that comprehends a multiplicity.

Next you can argue as you are doing that deaths-by-cows are empirically observable features, that we can count; but sufferings are qualitative subjective experience.



But note that suffering is still a real experience; a real 'thing'. And it's not clear why it can't have any quantitative representation. We can use discrete quantification (counting 1 for each person suffering). We can use continuous real number representations corresponding to the intensity of suffering; in principle. But how do we measure qualitatively experienced intensity? That's more of a practical problem; I would distinguish it from the in-principle concerns of utilitarianism. But nevertheless, if our neural makeup can be found to be approximate indicators of hedonistic tones experienced by people - if it is found to correlated and consistent with other external indicators (expression, speech, body-language) and the experiencer's own testimony; then it can be used as a fair measurement.



It won't be perfect. We can have epistemic concerns related to knowing 'other minds'...but if we go that route, we never really have much epistemic certainty over anything.
We can never be certain that there are minds other than our own, but lex parsimoniae impels us to ascribe corresponding minds to brains other than our own. To do otherwise invites the justified incredulity of reasonable people who are sure to ask, 'What makes you so special that you alone exist as a conscious being?' Assuming that you are alone in the universe is ludicrously childish logic ("I can't see them, so they aren't there!"). On this at least I don't imagine we'll encounter any controversy, even here.

I think the real question is not whether other subjective experiences corresponding to objects exist, but which objects do not have corresponding subjective experiences and why. One of the biggest problems I see with utilitarianism, besides its chimerical hybridization of object and subject, is that it fails to furnish a procedure whereby we can decide whether to ascribe subjectivity to any given object or not. If the brains of humans and similar animals can have experiences corresponding to them, including pleasure and suffering, then why can't objects of a lower order of organizational complexity have them as well, however rudimentarily? Most utilitarians are silent on this issue. But this is a discussion for another thread.

If we can measure the intensity, we can easily add up the intensities to represent an expected hedonistic value - and that too from approximately empirical features (neural makeups) not too different from other statistical measures. Expected value measures can easily be used with subjective values anyway. There never was a theoretical restriction to begin with.



Now, you can argue that even if that's true EHV doesn't tell us anything about the world. But it does seem to clearly tell us something that is the expectation measure over a particular real life (from the 'world') samples of intensities of hedonistic tones.

That's what we directly measure.



But you can say, that it doesn't really measure anything particularly useful.

It doesn't tell us anything about any particular person's suffering or degree of suffering.

But it isn't supposed to. And just because it doesn't tell particularly about anything about any single instance of personal suffering, doesn't have to mean it is useless or totally abstract.



We can use it to measure the 'expected' value of suffering. An anti-natalist finding expected value of hedonestic pleasure is negative can argue why it's not a good idea to breed if we want to reduce suffering. Furthermore, suffering is tied to the world and its causes and conditions. If a statistical measure like EDBCPY is very high in city X compared to other cities, one can reasonably assume that there are some causes and conditions behind it - that there may be something abnormal. Perhaps it's the only city with cows, perhaps it has too many cows compared to men; perhaps it has a particularly aggressive breed of cows, perhaps it's about something in the food they feed to the cows; perhaps the issue lies in the cow education system - which may need some reinnovation - you get the idea. This can encourage us to look deeper into the issues. A tourist can then for example, learn to be extra careful around cows when visiting city X if he\she knows about EDBCPY value of city X.



Similarly, if EHV value is very low in city X, perhaps even in the negative, then again we can assume there are some causes and conditions. If from experiments with some samples and some city-wide surveys, the EHV values come up to be especially low, it should encourage us and people in power to do something, find the issues, causes and whatever to improve overall happiness. Widespread unhappiness may often be caused by more impersonal causes - perhaps related to political infrastructures, some environmental issue; perhaps the widespread death and destruction brought by the evil cows, or whatever. This can help a space alien immigrant to choose a better city to settle in. Similarly one can do surveys and stuffs, and do deeper investigations to find out if there are general causes for suffering; which it is likely to be. Furthermore, we can take ideas from places where EHV values are high. It does, then, seem to me to be having a number of potential uses and not too fundamentally different than EDBCPY. And of course, EHV would be central to the hedonistic utilitarian.
Is it good to bring about a world empty of unhappy people or a city full of happy people? Maybe, but one has to actually want to do these things. Hedonic calculations may be a 'useful fiction' instrumental to achieving this or that end, but high numbers in themselves are no end. The end is provided by the values of the individual. Morality is found within oneself, not in any shuffling of objects without.

In general, you are posing several points related to utility as critiques but it's far from clear why those points, although accurate, are supposed to be exactly negative in the first place. Which is my point that we are starting from different intuitive framework here. And following your own admission to how there are so many utilitarians, I assume there are many others who don't share your intuitive framework.





Also, the way in which EHV varies with the dynamics of suffering among different people seems to correlate with our general intuitions about morality to at least some extent.



For example, in case of A, B, and C, if there experiences are 10, -3, and 5.3, then EHV will be 1/3 * 10 + 1/3*(-3) + 1/3*(5.3) = 4.1. It immediately tells us overall more people are likely to be happy, or if more people aren't happy, the happy people are quite a bit more happy than the sad people are sad. Of course how good of a value 4 is depends on the type of scale you use. Overall it does seem to say something quite relevant about the world, and something real about it (if the measurements are done through some reliable means).
Probability terms like 'expected' and 'likely' are utterly superfluous to describing my example. Nobody is rolling dice to determine how high the hedonic value will be. There are three hedonic values, each with 100% probability. The hedonic value is not as good as 4, it is as bad as -3, as good as 10, and as good as 5.3 all at the same time. There are multiple equations to consider, no matter how many times you try to collapse the system into one.

Next intuitively, it would be in general a good action to reduce the suffering and/or increase the happiness of a person.

Let's say we reduce the suffering of B to 0. Then EHV also increases to 5.1. A net increase and thus according to hedonistic utilitarianism our action was good which correlates with the general intuition.



We may think it's best to improve the happiness of everyone - make everyone happy - that would increase EHV even more.



We may think it's bad to increase the suffering of someone. If we increase the suffering let's say turn A from 10 to 7, that will obviously decrease the EHV.



So a utilitarian can point out EHV can often 'vary' (the keyword here) in a way such that seemingly ethical actions tend to increase it, and seemingly unethical ones tend to decrease it. So one can still further argue that even if EHV in itself doesn't say anything specific enough, it's variance with respect to our actions does tell something important about the scale and the nature of the consequences of our actions.
Intuitively...we may think...

Again, angels and pinheads. Intuition can be wrong. I'm not interested in an ethical doctrine that satisfies my ethical intuitions, but one that's structurally sound, supported by empirical observations, and parsimonious in its assumptions. Reason can do no better.

The tricky part comes of course in cases of something like trolley problems. What if the dynamics between A, B, and C is such, that A's happiness depends on B's suffering. A will become twice as happy as B suffers. That is, increasing the suffering of B will increase the happiness of A even more.



This is the part where one's suffering can be 'counter-balanced' by another's pleasure. You may find this absurd, but again while that may be your intuition it's not clear to me why that is somehow obviously absurd. No one of course think that 'counter-balance' here is anything literal, that B's suffering is alleviated in any way by A's pleasure (there would be no dilemma if this was the case), nor do anyone think that there's some literal cosmic scale which gets balanced and satisfied if suffering counters pleasure or anything like that. People are aware of what is at stake. And no one is happy with actions like that even if some of them considers the action to be good.
Utilitarians may not think that suffering and pleasure 'literally' counter-balance each other, but they may as well. Merely by conceiving of suffering and pleasure as a multiplicity of objective quantities in the world, they notionally open the door to the comparison of their magnitudes, which is very much like the comparison of the magnitudes of good and evil on the scales of Justice.

Even going by some crude hedonistic utilitarian standard, sacrificing B for A's happiness is not the best course of action - a better course would be to maximize everyone's happiness of course, but it's relatively better than needlessly causing suffering to everyone. Again to this end, the variance EHV measure w.r.t our actions still seems to correlate with our intuition.



It seems then that sacrificing B is only an optimal choice when any better course of action is impossible or highly improbable to pull off.



This is similar to the mindset of "lesser evil for greater good". If suffering of a few can bring greater happiness to a lot of people, it's not immediately clear if that's a good thing to do or not. If happiness is supposed to be good, and the more the better, then it should be a good thing. Sure, this is where it can also get controversial and there can be intuitive clashes. But in that case, it would be too rash to jump to any side without any strong justification beyond intuitions of absurdity.



Still this particular scenario of increase the happiness of something already quite happy at the cost of further suffering of someone else, may seem especially revolting. But. to better fit our intuitions, we can always further refine the formula by highly weighing any negative values (or making a hard rule to prioritize reducing suffering always over increasing happiness of someone happy) i.e using some variation of negative utilitarianism, decreasing the rate of increment for someone already happy (can be justified by psychological principles) and so on. Let's not get into too much details about the engineering of the utility function right now; I am more interested in the in-principle issues.



You said, if we increase A's happiness it is 'only good' for A. But you are then personalizing good too much. You haven't yet given any arguments for or against moral relativism or moral anti-realism in general. Let's for the sake of argument consider that there are normative moral principles (moral realism is true)...
No. I won't assume such a thing for the sake of argument or for any other reason. There is no 'ought' in any real, concrete sense. It is a word, a term with no referent that is bandied about by academic pedants who can't tell the difference between life and theories about life, between thinking about action and actually acting.

If only A gets the benefit,



("Making a decision that brings Alice up to 0 is good...for Alice. It makes no difference at all to Bob or Charlie.")



so what exactly? It is still SOMEONE experiencing the benefit - the greater happiness increasing the net EHV - which tells us that our action does more good than harm. If A gets a bit happier everyone else remaining the same, it still seems intuitively plausible to say, that slightly a bit of good is done (even if the good is experienced by one person). And since the good is done only to one person the net increase should be also relatively little compared to if the same good was done to many people. So it still fits our intuition that if we help just one person, it's just helping only one person, only one person experiences the benefit of goodness, so as a result not a lot of variance is observed in net EHV.
Like probability, this 'someone' is superfluous to my example. There is no 'someone'. There is Alice, Bob, and Charlie. I know exactly who benefits from this decision and who doesn't. This abstract 'someone' doesn't add to my understanding of the situation at all, and neither does the abstraction that is EHV.
 

QuickTwist

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#88
oh is this thread still going?

"the needs of the many do not outweigh the needs of the few"?

well they do
Your argument is weak.
 
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#89
I believe you've answered your own question. EHV is analogous to EDBCPY in that both suffering and deaths by cow are real; however, EHV is not analogous to EDBCPY in that the suffering of other people is not empirically observable as their deaths by cow are.
So if 'suffering' was empirically observable and/or 'quantifiable' would the needs of many outweigh the needs of one?
If not, then empirical observability is irrelevant. The issue exists only in the practical side of things, not at the level of developing\discovering foundational principles.

The non-interactivity of different subjective experiences is totally different from the non-interactivity of objects that are remote from each other in time and/or space. Even deaths by cow that take place on different continents and 100 years apart are mutually related merely because they occupy positions within a common spacetime manifold and it is precisely this relation, this reciprocal individuation, that allows us to count them and thereby produce a statistic which based on objective facts. Subjective experiences do not share time and space with each other; they are simple whereas objects form an individuated complex. I refer to Kant's phenomenon-noumenon distinction as well as Leibniz's conception of the soul as a 'simple substance' that combines a multitude. The simplicity of the subject is —for me as for both of these philosophers —axiomatic. "I" is a unity that comprehends a multiplicity.
They still seem to share some 'dimension' if not literal physical space making communication and interaction possible through indirect means, unless you are an epiphenomenalist or solipsist.

Some Buddhist schools may even say that conscious beings aren't so distinct from each other, and difference between one's self and one's future self is as wide or little as the difference between one's self and other. Some more mystical oriented schools may even say that there is only one same simple with various instantiations of experiences.

Also just because I appears to be the simple subject behind the unity of consciousness, phenomenologically, it's not entirely clear to what extent phenomenology can be extrapolated to the metaphysics behind the I.

We can never be certain that there are minds other than our own, but lex parsimoniaeimpels us to ascribe corresponding minds to brains other than our own. To do otherwise invites the justified incredulity of reasonable people who are sure to ask, 'What makes you so special that you alone exist as a conscious being?' Assuming that you are alone in the universe is ludicrously childish logic ("I can't see them, so they aren't there!"). On this at least I don't imagine we'll encounter any controversy, even here.
Being 'alone' doesn't necessary means you have to be special in some ways or that there has to be even any special reason. No one sane assumes that because of its implausibility especially considering private language arguments and stuff. But it is usually posed as an epistemic concern. You can use Occam's razor as much as you want, but Occam's Razor isn't really justified epistemically. It's a practical 'heuristics' at best. And even if you use it, certain aspects of Solipsism is actually favored by Solipsism - it has very few metaphycal types and tokens of entities. One may say Solipsism requires a much of complex and contrived explanation so Occam's razor doesn't ultimately favor it, but I can see that too some extent which one is more 'contrived' can be put into controversy. While it's highly implausible (or as implausible as it gets), it is questionable if solipsism is logically impossible altogether.

I think the real question is not whether other subjective experiences corresponding to objects exist, but which objects do not have corresponding subjective experiences and why. One of the biggest problems I see with utilitarianism, besides its chimerical hybridization of object and subject, is that it fails to furnish a procedure whereby we can decide whether to ascribe subjectivity to any given object or not. If the brains of humans and similar animals can have experiences corresponding to them, including pleasure and suffering, then why can't objects of a lower order of organizational complexity have them as well, however rudimentarily? Most utilitarians are silent on this issue. But this is a discussion for another thread.
I don't see why utilitarianists at the metaethical level needs to be concerned with the metaphysics of consciousness. If 'objects' exprience suffering, an ideal hedonistic utilitarianist ought to take that into consideration. I don't see anything more to be said here. We can think of other wild possibilities too, like what if torturing every humans for a prolonged period of time with make the evil God happy who will in exchange allow us to experience much higher happiness for an arbitrarily many no. of years - therefore we ought to torture each other continously for a prolonged period of time to maximize hedonistic utility. Since we aren't omnipotent the utilitarian has to use epistemic tricks and tools to consider likely beliefs. It is the same for non-utlittarians too. Solipsism, non-living objects feeling non-trivial suffering, and so on so forth, all although metaphysically possible, doesn't seem very likely. So utlittarians don't concern themselves with it. Furthermore, this is metaphysics and epistemologists, the big names utilitarians are more invested in ethics most probably. Furthermore the particular metaphysics of the actual world is mostly only relevant at the practical-level after some metaethical foundations has been laid out.

Intuitively...we may think...

Again, angels and pinheads. Intuition can be wrong. I'm not interested in an ethical doctrine that satisfies my ethical intuitions, but one that's structurally sound, supported by empirical observations, and parsimonious in its assumptions. Reason can do no better.
Sure intuitions can be wrong. But one may still think that ethics at least should correlate to some level if not exactly to our intuitions. The task is to formalize, make it consistent, refine, and find more normative basis for the intuitions. Due to general epistemic uncertainty, we often still have to rely on intuitions for things like 'plausibility' and such. One could say even induction is ultimately intuitive - and has to be taken for granted to some level (can't be non-circularly justified). But no one can deny the importance of induction.

No. I won't assume such a thing for the sake of argument or for any other reason. There is no 'ought' in any real, concrete sense. It is a word, a term with no referent that is bandied about by academic pedants who can't tell the difference between life and theories about life, between thinking about action and actually acting.
What is a 'real' 'concrete' sense supposed to mean here?
If you think that that makes you a moral anti-realist most possibly.

I myself can be a moral anti-realist or even further moral error theorist, but you have to justify it otherwise these are just 'assertions'.



Like probability, this 'someone' is superfluous to my example. There is no 'someone'. There is Alice, Bob, and Charlie. I know exactly who benefits from this decision and who doesn't. This abstract 'someone' doesn't add to my understanding of the situation at all, and neither does the abstraction that is EHV.
In the example, 'someone' referes to a concrete being 'Alice'. You are just playing around semantics here.
 

The Grey Man

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#90
So if 'suffering' was empirically observable and/or 'quantifiable' would the needs of many outweigh the needs of one?
If not, then empirical observability is irrelevant. The issue exists only in the practical side of things, not at the level of developing\discovering foundational principles.
Why is empirical observability irrelevant? Why would you establish foundational principles for your ethical theory without first seeing if they conform to reality? What is an appropriate foundation for your ethical theory if not observations concerning the real world?

They still seem to share some 'dimension' if not literal physical space making communication and interaction possible through indirect means, unless you are an epiphenomenalist or solipsist.
Epistemological solipsism is tautological. I can't know more than what I experience because what I experience and what I know are one in the same. Phenomenally speaking, my body inhabits the world and shares this common space with everything else in it, but my experience of this world does not share space with anything. Your experience cannot be beside mine, which is why I can't count experiences like I can apples which are beside each other on a table. The best I can do is make symbols for them and count those. You might think that counting symbols is as good as counting what they stand for, but when I write a sentence like, There are five apples, I can actually point to a concrete example of five apples and thereby assure myself that my words are about the real world. I can't do the same with utility. This whole business of adding together or averaging subjective experiences is a fantasy with no connection to reality.

Some Buddhist schools may even say that conscious beings aren't so distinct from each other, and difference between one's self and one's future self is as wide or little as the difference between one's self and other. Some more mystical oriented schools may even say that there is only one same simple with various instantiations of experiences.
I agree. We are all the same "I" experiencing different things. I no more end at the limits of my experience than the surface of the Earth ends at the horizon. Nevertheless, like the surface of the Earth beyond the horizon, I can't see any experience beyond my own.

Also just because I appears to be the simple subject behind the unity of consciousness, phenomenologically, it's not entirely clear to what extent phenomenology can be extrapolated to the metaphysics behind the I.
What's beyond the I is a complete mystery, but we at least know that it doesn't share space with anything. You might say that it 'only appears' to be simple and unconnected to anything, but what is experience if not what appears to be the case?

Being 'alone' doesn't necessary means you have to be special in some ways or that there has to be even any special reason. No one sane assumes that because of its implausibility especially considering private language arguments and stuff. But it is usually posed as an epistemic concern. You can use Occam's razor as much as you want, but Occam's Razor isn't really justified epistemically. It's a practical 'heuristics' at best. And even if you use it, certain aspects of Solipsism is actually favored by Solipsism - it has very few metaphycal types and tokens of entities. One may say Solipsism requires a much of complex and contrived explanation so Occam's razor doesn't ultimately favor it, but I can see that too some extent which one is more 'contrived' can be put into controversy. While it's highly implausible (or as implausible as it gets), it is questionable if solipsism is logically impossible altogether.
Metaphysical solipsism is logically possible, sure. It's possible that everybody but me is a 'philosophical zombie' with no corresponding subjective experience. It's possible that there is no land beyond the horizon. It's just a lot neater to assume that I'm not the center of the world when it comes to describing it. The Sun revolves around me, yes, but the Earth and me also revolve around the Sun. Mars also revolves around the Sun. So does Venus. And Mercury...

I don't see why utilitarianists at the metaethical level needs to be concerned with the metaphysics of consciousness. If 'objects' exprience suffering, an ideal hedonistic utilitarianist ought to take that into consideration. I don't see anything more to be said here.
The hedonistic utilitarian can't take the suffering of objects into account if he doesn't know which ones suffer and which ones do not, hence the need for a procedure whereby he can decide whether to ascribe subjectivity—and, more to the point, experiences of pleasure and/or suffering—to any given object or not.

We can think of other wild possibilities too, like what if torturing every humans for a prolonged period of time with make the evil God happy who will in exchange allow us to experience much higher happiness for an arbitrarily many no. of years - therefore we ought to torture each other continously for a prolonged period of time to maximize hedonistic utility. Since we aren't omnipotent the utilitarian has to use epistemic tricks and tools to consider likely beliefs. It is the same for non-utlittarians too. Solipsism, non-living objects feeling non-trivial suffering, and so on so forth, all although metaphysically possible, doesn't seem very likely. So utlittarians don't concern themselves with it. Furthermore, this is metaphysics and epistemologists, the big names utilitarians are more invested in ethics most probably. Furthermore the particular metaphysics of the actual world is mostly only relevant at the practical-level after some metaethical foundations has been laid out.
The particular metaphysics of the actual world? What other metaphysics are there? If the actual world as disclosed by empirical observation is irrelevant to meta-ethics (though I have a very different understanding of what is meta-ethics), how can meta-ethics possibly be applicable to the real world? Again, where do these meta-ethical foundations come from if not empirical observation?

Also, why do you think that the suffering of inorganic objects is likely to be trivial?

Sure intuitions can be wrong. But one may still think that ethics at least should correlate to some level if not exactly to our intuitions. The task is to formalize, make it consistent, refine, and find more normative basis for the intuitions. Due to general epistemic uncertainty, we often still have to rely on intuitions for things like 'plausibility' and such. One could say even induction is ultimately intuitive - and has to be taken for granted to some level (can't be non-circularly justified). But no one can deny the importance of induction.
Induction is very important; it is the essence of technology. But inventors don't make new tools by looking for empirical evidence that conforms to their inductive judgments; they make inductive judgments that conform to the evidence that they've already collected. How, then, can we expect our ethical theory to be applicable to the world if we make it conform to our intuitions instead of reality?

What is a 'real' 'concrete' sense supposed to mean here?
If you think that that makes you a moral anti-realist most possibly.

I myself can be a moral anti-realist or even further moral error theorist, but you have to justify it otherwise these are just 'assertions'.
Justify? Bah! Let those tedious pedants justify themselves. They're the ones who have been endlessly pontificating about this meaningless word 'ought', not I.

In the example, 'someone' referes to a concrete being 'Alice'. You are just playing around semantics here.
I said that Alice's feeling better is good for Alice, and that it makes no difference at all to Bob or Charlie.

You said that it is still someone experiencing the benefit.

I didn't understand what you meant by 'still'. I thought something like, I know someone is experiencing the benefit—it's Alice!—so what's does this talk of 'someone' change?

You seem to have meant that although Bob and Charlie experience no benefit, there is a sort of 'overall' benefit because at least one of the three people experience a benefit. I disagree; Alice experience's Alice benefit, Bob experience's Bob's non-benefit, Charlie experiences Charlie's non-benefit, but nobody experiences any overall benefit. The hedonic calculation makes no difference to anyone involved. It's words on a page.
 

Artsu Tharaz

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#91
So...

Decisions can only be based on what is experienced/known - the subjective.

The impetus to action is a quality which cannot be objectified.

Goodness is within us, not without us.

-or-

Anything which can be factored into a decision could be relevant.

Subjects are connected in reality just as objects are.

Goodness is manifested at the source of an action, and realised through its effects.

...

That's a vague summary of what I see your view versus my view as being,
though I've probably mischaracerised your view.

@The Grey Man
 

The Grey Man

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#92
@Artsu Tharaz Our knowledge is limited to our experience of things.

The will can be objectified. The entire natural world consists of objectifications of the will; matter is merely that which acts.

The manner in which the objective features of the natural world are presented to us in experience—as one among a multiplicity of interconnected things—cannot be good. Goodness is a property of the unity of experience, which is identical to an act of will.

So I guess my chief point of disagreement with you is that I believe goodness is a property of acts whereas you believe that an act needs to have certain effects to be good.
 

Pizzabeak

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#93
I don't see your million dollars existing out of thin air at the press of a button. Read a book then review it or discuss it with other people to earn your letters and pieces of paper to call yourself, properly enough, a "philosopher".

It's largely a circle jerk to be the smartest person in the room, then earn a cookie. Your wife or girlfriend is mad because you aren't applying yourself enough, for your job, to make yourself clear and understood by others or to "get good grades" on things you do.

"All I see are men yearning for attention there's no real proof that they deserve".

Slowly, and in depthly think about what you are trying to do or claim, plus what it means. You are a sad man person who can't figure something out and have to rely on teamwork because you regret what you chose to do with your life up until a certain point. "Where did all the time go?" "In Search of Lost Time". What have you been doing up 'til now? It sounds like everything you have been taught has failed, and to be fair, if you don't "speed read" some books can take a long time or be hard to get through - to be fair.

Freud said everything is connected to ego, id, or sub/unconscious feelings and desires, which can be traced to any science behind it - okay. This has largely turned into theft, someone "noticing" something as if they were Sherlock Holmes or trying to improve upon it, subtly presenting ideas as novel or new creations. It's not as mindblowing as you think.

I know mindblowing. I am in the duty of it. You are merely late comers to the fad and craze. You are a failure who regrets his whole life choice career path and education. I don't regret any general philosophy class I didn't take in school. Now stop complaining.

It's OVER. You can't win. And now, do whatever you please from hereon. Will you go to Heaven or Hell, or both, when you die? Spend the rest of your life waxing and waning on these armchair topics under the guise of providing aid and solace to people. It's not that simple.

It's your own struggle trying to understand why the world works the way it does. Whatever it is that I'm not saying, or posting, or explaining in depth enough, you're not, because I actually know and have been there which makes you look like a mere fan, not even a man, and that I just can't go with. It isn't "worth it".

The point I am at is helping people with their homework. Just because I said I haven't read Wittgenstein yet doesn't mean I can't or it's too hard, and that I can't understand it. Whatever science it's referring to that I know because it's what I went to school for, I'm not going to bother explaining here because you can't comprehend it. It isn't exciting. Plus, it's been known since the twelfth century, and before.

It's more a battle of wits than anything else. It is a jungle. And whatever connection my ancestors have to it, I've witnessed various powerful love spells and potions put into effect potently. Why would it be that exposing someone to more pain is only good and solves anything? I'd think avoiding it would be the smart thing to do.

What about Godel's Incompleteness Theorem? Einstein said he wished he became a musician instead of studying physics.

After the Illuminati was disbanded in Germany circa 1776, some rumors suggest they infiltrated France and caused the French Revolution. Whatever forces control the airwaves and media influence perception through it - don't believe the hype - causing mass frenzies over symbols. Their goal is/was to "eliminate religion".

There really are only a few more things that have to be done as far as reality goes, and "evolution" to trigger whatever it was created for to occur. "All paths lead to the same 1".

There are no needs of many. Be like a Buddhist. It was the very Erev Rav who always complained about lack of food or this and that that is proof of a mixed majority. Just because you read and studied philosophy and know some of its history, doesn't mean you understand it at all - clearly.
 

QuickTwist

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Artsu Tharaz

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So I guess my chief point of disagreement with you is that I believe goodness is a property of acts whereas you believe that an act needs to have certain effects to be good.
Well, I believe that a good act does have goodness as a property, and that good effects necessarily result from it.

I also believe that an act that has the benefit of the many as a motive is quite likely to be a good one.

I also believe that it is important first and foremost to have the love of God as a motive for the act, and that would extend to a love for others. To act for the benefit of the many but to the detriment of God would I believe not be a beneficial act because God transcends humanity.
 

The Grey Man

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@Artsu Tharaz Our knowledge is limited to our experience of things.
Just out of curiosity, what about shared experiences?
We can never share each other's experiences entirely because the differences in our experiences are precisely what it means for us to be 'other' from each other. I invoke the principle of the identity of indiscernibles: if we experience the same things, than we are the same being. Physiognomy or empathy can get us some of the way towards perfect understanding of another conscious being, but never all of the way, else we'd lose our own identity in the process.
 

The Grey Man

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@Pizzabeak My understanding of what you have written is fragmentary, but the general impression I'm getting is that I'm a rank amateur talking in circles about philosophy on an internet forum, with which I agree. This forum is a huge waste of time and I would be better served conducting actual research.
 

Pizzabeak

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That's only if you want to make more money.
 

onesteptwostep

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lol

Are you reading anything worth while these days Grey Man? I'm finally getting into Heidegger, hence the signature amendment. And you are right I don't think there are many people here who are read on philosophy that much.
 

The Grey Man

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lol

Are you reading anything worth while these days Grey Man? I'm finally getting into Heidegger, hence the signature amendment. And you are right I don't think there are many people here who are read on philosophy that much.
Mostly Christian mystics. I find that they make up for in sincerity and catholicity what they lack in scientific acuity. At the moment, Theologia Germanica.
 
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