Normative Ethics

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Normative Ethics

Postby Gloominary » Tue Mar 28, 2017 5:29 am

We spend a lot of time on this forum discussing whether morals and values are of themselves objective/subjective.
That's not what I want to do here.
I'd like to discuss normative ethics, what're your normative ethics, if you have any, and if not, why not try coming up with some?
And what're your justifications for them?

Keep in mind I'm not asking for you to justify ethics in and of itself, but your particular ethics.
For those that don't know, normative ethics are about our overarching principles that govern, or ought to govern, our behavior.
Your position on a particular issue such as abortion for example, pro choice/life, is not a normative ethic, because it's too specific, but a principle that can be used to determine the rightness/wrongness, or goodness/badness of many situations, such as everyone has a right to dispose of their body and what's in it as they please, would be an example of a normative ethic, or a principle.
Some other examples are, from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs, or the greatest happiness for the greatest number, might makes right, or to the victor belong the spoils.

Myself I"m still working on formulating my normative ethics, and I'd like to present what I've got so far on this thread for discussion very soon.
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Re: Normative Ethics

Postby Gloominary » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:37 am

My thinking tends to be more consequentialist, meaning the ends tend to justify the means for me, thou there's probably a few exceptions to this.
What makes a behavior good/bad for me is its outcome, rather than the nature of the behavior itself, mainly.
For others it's more the behavior itself, the action (duty ethics) or actors character (virtue ethics) that make something good or bad.
So outcomes are most important to me, but what outcomes?
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Re: Normative Ethics

Postby Gloominary » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:40 pm

Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialist ethics, it states that the greatest happiness for the greatest number, is what's best.
It's funny when I think of the word utility, I don't think of happiness, I think of usefulness, functionality.
I don't normally think of happiness as being useful, being useful means x can get you other things which're valuable.
Normally we think of happiness as the or an intrinsic value, not an extrinsic one, but I guess even happiness can be used to attain other things, like the happier we are, the healthier and more attractive we tend to be.
They should've called it happinessism, or whatever the Greek or Roman words are for happiness, eudaimonism... not sure how you pronounce that, maybe it doesn't have a nice ring to it.
Utilitarianism taken literally would be something like extrinsicism, the greatest usefulness for the greatest number... so we should make ourselves and others as capable of producing what others want as possible, but what do they want?

Happiness is almost certainly a value, most people would say it's one of the more important ones, if not the most important one.
The utilitarians reduced all value to happiness, whatever made us happy is good, whatever made us sad was bad, but might there be other things we value for their own sake, not just for the happiness they produce, and isn't happiness rather vague, just about anything could produce some measure of it?
There are a lot of things we value, knowledge, wisdom and understanding, love, food, friendship, family, health, wealth, games, sports, success, survival...
Some people might equate everything with happiness, and some might not, it's tricky, even if happiness is the sole value, happiness is normally conditional, our lives normally have to meet certain standards, some of these standards seem to come naturally to us, like the need for food, to keep warm, to have positive relationships and such, where as others might be more extrinsic, or artificial, like how much money is in your bank account, or is this costume appropriate for a working environment?

Some people just pop a pill to be happy, surgeons can stimulate the pleasure centers of your brain directly with electrodes.
Perhaps in the future scientists will invent a happiness machine you can buy at Walmart, take home with you and hook up to your brain.
Some people say we can just choose to be happy, just by thinking happy thoughts, trying to see everything in a positive light, or just by willing it.
Others say so long as our basic needs are met, like food, warmth, sleep and the like, even if they're not met, that happiness is our natural state, that society has programmed us all to be far more conditional than we naturally are, that just being alive, just being makes us happy.

But most of us, most of the time, feel the need for whatever reasons to impose conditions on reality and set certain standards.
If we didn't have any standards at all, we'd all just curl up in the fetal position and die happy of starvation, and that would be the end of our species and its happiness.
The prospect of your demise probably doesn't make you very happy, or it might, since life can be miserable at times, nor does the prospect of your body being in agony due to starvation, and even if we can just be happy, or pop a pill, happiness is fleeting, all the more so if we have few or no conditions, and so practically all of us choose to have some conditions, at least to give our lives some measure of security so we can survive, and be happy at all for more than a few moments.

I read that a lot of people search for happiness, but myself, I don't find myself, at least consciously, ever asking myself, what will make me happy, or what's the shortest route to happiness, rather I ask myself, what do I want, and assume getting what I want will also make me happy, and that's important, but I don't think it's sole reason I want what I want.
I think happiness is a very important value, and we tend to get it when we're attaining all or most of our other values, but I don't think it's the only one.
Last edited by Gloominary on Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Normative Ethics

Postby Ultimate Philosophy 1001 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:43 pm

Happiness machines need to be banned. Society is evil and sheeple. We dont need to give them happiness machines.

The DNA machine isn't just a happiness machine, it actually makes people more noble. The DNA machine isn't some kind of drug of ignorance.

Example of why happiness machines are evil.
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Re: Normative Ethics

Postby Gloominary » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:50 pm

Sorry I can't see the video, I banned myself from youtube with the program cold turkey, because I was watching it too much, and not getting enough stuff done.
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Re: Normative Ethics

Postby Ultimate Philosophy 1001 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:51 pm

Gloominary wrote:Sorry I can't see the video, I banned myself from youtube with the program cold turkey, because I was watching it too much, and not getting enough stuff done.

It is "System of A Down: unthinking majority" song.
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Re: Normative Ethics

Postby Gloominary » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:55 pm

While I wouldn't say happiness machines are totally evil, as I don't think happiness is evil, there'd certainly be potential for overuse, misuse and abuse.
There are other things besides happiness that're valuable, and we need to take care of ourselves and our lives, if we want ourselves as individuals and as a species to survive, and be happy at all.
For these reasons I don't think I'd hook myself up to a happiness machine, anymore than I'd take a drug, nor do I think I'd be totally fulfilled if I were too.
People need substance, or we'd all be drug addicts and zombies.
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Re: Normative Ethics

Postby Gloominary » Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:00 pm

There are a lot of things in life that can be like happiness machines or drugs, porn is one of them, music, if there's no substance to it (not talking about bands like the one you posted but bubblegum pop and the like), is one more.
People have always found ways of stimulating themselves without substance, and we always will, and while I'm not entirely against it, because of modern technology, there is perhaps more potential for mindless self indulgence than ever before, and we need to be mindful of that.
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Re: Normative Ethics

Postby Ultimate Philosophy 1001 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:03 pm

Porn is a result of sexual stratification. We live in a society of slaves who jack off to porn to ignore the fact they live in a garbage world.
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Re: Normative Ethics

Postby Gloominary » Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:04 pm

Ultimate Philosophy 1001 wrote:Porn is a result of sexual stratification. We live in a society of slaves who jack off to porn to ignore the fact they live in a garbage world.

Agreed, and I'm somewhat guilty as charged, *laughs.
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Re: Normative Ethics

Postby AutSider » Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:16 pm

Gloominary wrote:My thinking tends to be more consequentialist, meaning the ends tend to justify the means for me, thou there's probably a few exceptions to this.
What makes a behavior good/bad for me is its outcome, rather than the nature of the behavior itself, mainly.
For others it's more the behavior itself, the action (duty ethics) or actors character (virtue ethics) that make something good or bad.
So outcomes are most important to me, but what outcomes?


Isn't that kind of a true-by-definition thing?

If your ends don't justify the means then what you claim is your "end" isn't really your end because it is obviously subordinate to the means.

Other than that, I dislike the dualisms found in mainstream ethical thinking. For example, that you must care only about behavior/intention, or only about the outcome.

To me, in order to call an act moral that act must have been done intentionally, so moral intention is a condition to moral behavior.

The outcome matters, of course, but if somebody acts with the correct intention but fails to achieve the desirable moral outcome they aren't immoral, they are incompetent.

And if somebody accidentally achieves a moral outcome they might be competent, but not moral.
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Re: Normative Ethics

Postby Gloominary » Tue Mar 28, 2017 8:04 pm

AutSider wrote:
Gloominary wrote:My thinking tends to be more consequentialist, meaning the ends tend to justify the means for me, thou there's probably a few exceptions to this.
What makes a behavior good/bad for me is its outcome, rather than the nature of the behavior itself, mainly.
For others it's more the behavior itself, the action (duty ethics) or actors character (virtue ethics) that make something good or bad.
So outcomes are most important to me, but what outcomes?


Isn't that kind of a true-by-definition thing?

If your ends don't justify the means then what you claim is your "end" isn't really your end because it is obviously subordinate to the means.

Other than that, I dislike the dualisms found in mainstream ethical thinking. For example, that you must care only about behavior/intention, or only about the outcome.

To me, in order to call an act moral that act must have been done intentionally, so moral intention is a condition to moral behavior.

The outcome matters, of course, but if somebody acts with the correct intention but fails to achieve the desirable moral outcome they aren't immoral, they are incompetent.

And if somebody accidentally achieves a moral outcome they might be competent, but not moral.

I agree, we should assess everything, outcome, behavior and intent, althou I myself tend to emphasize outcome, that may be due to the way my mind works, or it may be objectively what's most important, after all, people who emphasize behavior might not be around to emphasize it at all, where as people who emphasize outcomes, especially survival, and health, but also happiness, will.

It reminds me of a story I read on the net that took place in Saudi Arabia.
There was a woman home alone.
I guess her family were out working or something.
In Saudi Arabia women aren't permitted to leave the house unless accompanied by a man, their husband or a family member.
The house caught fire somehow and some of her neighbors urged her to vacate but she refused, and was burnt alive.
This is an example of how duty ethics, or at least Saudi Arabian duty ethics, when taken to an extreme, can be insane, not only from the western point of view, but I think objectively insane, or as close to being objective as one could get.

There was another case I remember that took place in Saudi Arabia, a woman was drowning, and her father didn't allow the life guard to perform CPR on her, consequently she died.
This is a case where sexual purity was taken to ridiculous lengths, and if I had've been on that beach, I would've been tempted to strangle the father for his extreme level of negligence, retardation, callousness and cruelty. I mean what's the lesser of two evils here, really?

Perhaps the middle east tends to emphasize duty ethics a lot more because of their Koran, as well as their laws and customs, where as the west tends to emphasize consequentialism.
Different cultures emphasize different values, for us, happiness and pleasure are very important, as well as status, success, fame, fortune, and while these things are probably important for them too, they tend to emphasize other things, like chastity, purity and patriarchy, obedience to mosque and state.
The west tends to be more flexible, at least in some regards, the middle east rigid, absolute.
No wonder we've been having so many problems with them, we tend to operate according to very different standards, standards which in many cases are incompatible.

In any case, I'm more of a consequentialist, partly because it's just how my mind and personality work, but also because I think it's more objective, consequentialism when taken to an extreme, can at least still exist, where as the others when taken to an extreme, can't, because when you put things like purity, patriarchy, obedience and so on way, far ahead of other values like survival, health and happiness, in that order, you're liable to endanger your life, you might not be around much longer to be morally upright, you'll be dead.
But it's interesting to compare different ethics, the ethics of individuals and cultures, I think we can all learn something from one another.

My consequentialism is broad, I wouldn't reduce everything to happiness, but happiness is certainly important, survival is perhaps the most objective value, but constantly evaluating everything in terms of how maximizing your survival, or the survival of your friends and family, would not only next to impossible, but would probably make one miserable.

I think it's best to have a hierarchy of values, acknowledge that survival and health are the most objective values, but not necessarily the be all and end all, happiness and pleasure are important also, as well as knowledge, success, tranquility and so on.
I'm going to work on my own hierarchy of values, both according to what's most to least objective, and according to my preferences, as well as a system, an axiological typology of sorts, should be interesting.
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Re: Normative Ethics

Postby Gloominary » Tue Mar 28, 2017 8:54 pm

Is happiness the same as contentment, and rest?
Can one be happy and still be very active?
What is happiness exactly?
When one is happy, what does that do to them physiologically and psychologically?
It feels pleasurable.
Is pleasure just a sensation we like, or is there more to it?

I'm rarely happy, but most of the time I'd describe myself alright, okay, fine.
I think happiness might be like the condition of having few-no physiological/psychological stresses.
There is this tenseness we carry around with us all the time, and depending on how heavy this tenseness is in our hearts, and in our heads, we'll feel sad, anxious or happy.
When we act, it's always because we're lacking something, and think we can or might be able to attain what we lack, and then we ought to attain it.

Unsophisticated animals like fish and reptiles have few lacks, few conditions, a few tasty morsels will suffice, where as mammals and birds, especially the more sentient among them, are a little-a lot more complicated, and some people are more complicated than others.
Because we can think so far into the past/future, we can always think of things we might be lacking, if only I had a few dollars more, and we can be very discriminating, if only I had a few less wrinkles, I could invent a machine to do away with them, or use an existing one.

Human beings have a lot of different kinds of desires, and we can think far into the distant future, we speculate about a life after death in heaven or hell, we're disturbed by what mainline science tells us about how the cosmos will likely come to an end someday billions of years from now in some big freeze, opposite a big bang, and certainly our home world at least will be incinerated by the sun.
There's potentially no end to the things that're wrong with ourselves and our world we can come up with both real and imagined, things could always be infinitely better, or worse, we could always do more to make them better, and prevent them from getting worse.

We can drive ourselves insane with our standards, overwhelm ourselves, to the point of catatonia, or go to the other extreme, of having no standards at all, and just sit there like a vegetable, a potted plant.
The idea of course is to have the right balance, to strive for what's important and within our grasp, to relax sometimes, and be happy, content, but few of us really end up putting that into practice, most of us are perpetually stressed about something or things.

This constant worry about the past/future can lead to all sorts of illnesses in the body, not to mention it is very painful, we can end up doing more harm trying to fix things that're hardly broken than letting them be as is, and so we really need to regulate this tendency in ourselves.
It may be somewhat natural for some races and individuals to be more easily stressed and fearful for the future than others, but it's also more or less ingrained into us by our culture.
There are many standards we have today, that we set for ourselves and others, that may do more harm than good, as well as standards which we may scarcely contemplate, but which're nonetheless very important.

It's important from time to time reevaluate the standards we set for ourselves as individuals and as a society.
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Re: Normative Ethics

Postby Ultimate Philosophy 1001 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:53 pm

Gloominary wrote:The west tends to be more flexible, at least in some regards, the middle east rigid, absolute.
No wonder we've been having so many problems with them, we tend to operate according to very different standards, standards which in many cases are incompatible.
.


First of all, America made the towelheads into sandpeople. If it wasn't for America they would be peaceful, using the towels on their heads to simply relax on the beach. Actually in the 1950's they were becoming more sane and reasonable, until America came in with their tanks and blew them to smithereens. M1 "Abrams". Actually, in the 1950's, what happened is America installed a fundamentalist Islamic dictatorship in several sectors.
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Re: Normative Ethics

Postby Gloominary » Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:59 am

Ultimate Philosophy 1001 wrote:
Gloominary wrote:The west tends to be more flexible, at least in some regards, the middle east rigid, absolute.
No wonder we've been having so many problems with them, we tend to operate according to very different standards, standards which in many cases are incompatible.
.


First of all, America made the towelheads into sandpeople. If it wasn't for America they would be peaceful, using the towels on their heads to simply relax on the beach. Actually in the 1950's they were becoming more sane and reasonable, until America came in with their tanks and blew them to smithereens. M1 "Abrams". Actually, in the 1950's, what happened is America installed a fundamentalist Islamic dictatorship in several sectors.

While I haven't looked into these matters in depth, I've heard Chomsky and others talking about them, I'm sure there's a lot of truth to them.
That being said, I still think their values would be somewhat different and more religiously based, just perhaps not as extreme as many of them are today, had we not intervened, mostly for imperialistic and not humanitarian purposes.
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