eXTReMe Tracker WARNING: The opinions expressed and linked to in this blog are not necessarily mine (anymore).

My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Friday, February 13

Morality - Comments

That's really interesting.
Thanks! :)

But I think you could hold a self-interest based morality system and still be against killing people. Be against most initiations of force, really.

Why? One of the most basic ethical concepts. Ever. Virtually every culture has created it. Something like the 'Golden Rule'.

If you initiated force whenever you could get away with it, so would everyone else. Then things would be very bad for YOU. Thus, it's immoral. Live in a society where no one does that, and you will be better off than in a society where everyone does it.

Actually, it's not true that if you initiated force whenever you could get away with it, everyone else would. People have different ideas about morality and the initiation of force. Few of them would be persuaded to begin routinely initiating force because one person decided to initiate force against them. This is why, although there are criminals, MOST people don't go around knowingly initiating force against others.

I suppose with a small child who hasn't experienced being treated forcefully against his will, it might give the child the idea that force initiating is a good thing to do. Then again, the child's personality might be such that he become fearful of other people and become LESS inclined to initiate force.

It is people's ideas that ultimately affect whether they initiate force or not (or do anything, for that matter).

Granted, it does seem that a society of people who do not generally initiate force is better than a society of people who do routinely initiate force, but that still doesn't adequately explain why an individual shouldn't try to "get away with it". Aside from the risks of defensive uses of force against them, the initiation of force by an individual isn't actually likely to have much impact on society, is it?

Personally, I like to think there's more to it than self-interest, but, that's not relevant to my point here.
Dan | Homepage | 02.12.04 - 6:03 am | #

Thursday, February 12

Morality Part II - Self-Interest Based Morality

A few of the comments anticipated some of what I was going to say. I'll respond to them in time, but I wanted to go on with what I was going to say first.

Just as I had set aside puzzling over the problem and decided to stick with my original Christian based morality, for the time being, I happened to see a flier for an essay contest based on The Fountainhead. The book made it seem to me that it was at least possible that the self-interests of people were mutually compatible such that initiating harm against others was actually harmful to the person initiating the harm (even if no one else found out). The argument wasn't fully given in the book, but I felt optimistic that Ayn Rand's other books would give extra support to this idea. In the meantime, I agreed that the idea of self-sacrifice as an ultimate virtue, as encouraged by many religions, was harmful and wrong.

I didn't see how it could make sense for "good" people to sacrifice themselves - and leave less good people to live on.
I'm probably getting in over my head here, but I don't see any way around it.

For the last several years (until very recently), I've held to a self-interest based morality. It came about at about the same time I rejected religion and began looking for better explanations about morality.

It seemed obvious that it wouldn't be best for people to go around killing each other randomly for survival. Cooperating and trading seemed a much better alternative for most or all people. However, I couldn't really see a reason why a particular individual should refrain from initiating force against others if he could do so without retribution. I didn't like this idea of morality, but I couldn't find a rational or logical problem with it.

Wednesday, February 11

Sunday, February 8

My comments are broken, but I wanted to share this one:

Comment: One good thing about posting views publicly is that it opens you up to a potentially wider range of criticism.
Name: fr0ggE

Thursday, February 5

Rapidly Changing Ideas
One of the reasons I have had trouble getting around to writing much here is that my ideas change quickly as I find and correct mistakes and encounter new ideas. Sometimes, the very act of writing will inspire me to completely change my mind about a subject and disagree with what I've JUST written! That means, many of my posts get deleted before I can even post them. Is there any point in posting such a thing?

As for the ideas that survive me hitting the "post & publish" button, it bothered me that people might be misled by such mistakes and it was frustrating to fix them on the blog.

I've changed my mind about that. I have made no claim to omniscience or infallibility here. Even if Ihad, people should be responsible for their own thoughts.

I am still a little wary of posting some of my views publicly and part of me hopes not too many people ever notice this blog.