Saturday, January 29, 2022

Act and rule utilitarianism

Utilitarians have rules, too, not just deontologists. But those rules are chosen in accordance with what will maximize happiness for the greatest number. There is a split amongst utiltiarians between people who think we should do what maximizes utility even if it is against the rules chosen based on utility, and thoso who think we should act based on the rule chosen based on utility, even if the act we perform might not maximize utility. This is the split between act utilitarians and rule utilitarians. 

Errors and slavery

 The case for slavery in America. 


How did people defend positions we now think are obviously morally deficient? How do moral errors take place? 

Rate yourself ethically

 Are people as ethical, or less ethical than they think they are?

If people were to rate themselves on a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 is least ethical and 10 is most ethical, wouldn't most people put themselves in the top 25%? But most of us can't be in the top 25%.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Temptations and moral dilemmas

 Also, there are two types of moral decisions. One is a temptation. With a temptation it's pretty obvious what the morally right thing to do is. The hard part might be doing it. An example would be finding a wallet on the street. it's your duty to turn it in and get it back to its owner. But  you have bills to pay, so you might not do it, but you know you should. The other is a dilemma, where you have moral reasons to do two opposing actions. . An example of a dilemma would be whether to honor a patient's request for assisted suicide. On the one hand, a doctor is trained to keep a patient alive, but is also taught to abide by the wishes of the patient. Coming to an answer as to what is right requires further ethical consideration. 

A transnational federal government??

From Humanist Manifesto II:  (1973) 

TWELFTH: We deplore the division of humankind on nationalistic grounds. We have reached a turning point in human history where the best option is to transcend the limits of national sovereignty and to move toward the building of a world community in which all sectors of the human family can participate. Thus we look to the development of a system of world law and a world order based upon transnational federal government. This would appreciate cultural pluralism and diversity. It would not exclude pride in national origins and accomplishments nor the handling of regional problems on a regional basis. Human progress, however, can no longer be achieved by focusing on one section of the world, Western or Eastern, developed or underdeveloped. For the first time in human history, no part of humankind can be isolated from any other. Each person’s future is in some way linked to all. We thus reaffirm a commitment to the building of world community, at the same time recognizing that this commits us to some hard choices.

So, in addition to paying taxes to the local, state and federal government, we would then have to pay taxes to the transnational federal government? 1040T for Transnational? 

Moral facts

 When it comes to adultery, we have some people who think that God, (who presumably knows what is right or wrong) has told us not to do it in the Seventh Commandment. If there is a God, a take it that it more than just His opinion that adultery is wrong. But if there is not God, or God never said that, then we can still ask whether or not adulterous affairs are good things. One aspect of this has to do with whether marriage necessarily implies a promise to be faithful, which of course would be broken by the adulterous affair. Religious traditions that include the idea behind the Ten Commandments think that there are what philosophers call moral facts: that is, something true about what is right and wrong regardless of what anybody thinks about it. Religious nonbelievers disagree with one another as to whether there are moral facts: J. L. Mackie was a philosopher who thought that moral facts do not exist, Erik Wielenberg is an atheist philosopher who thinks that moral facts do exist.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Why be moral in business?

 I am somewhat conflicted about how much you can make the argument that good ethics in business pays. I think in most cases unethical conduct will bite your company in the rear end eventually. But if decision-makers are not with the company for the long haul, as they often are not, then they can reap the rewards of short-term benefits and then leave before the results of their policies start harming the company. 

So my main argument in response to the question "Why should I be moral ib business" is that you'll sleep better at night. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

My dad's Invictus parody

 Apologies to W. E. Henley. 

It matters not

How crooked the used car salesman

How charged with punishment his scroll

He is the master of his fate

He has a bankroll

Have we heard the last Presidential concession speech in American history?

 Hillary Clinton is famous for being the first woman to run for President as the candidate of one of the major parties, and tried to become the first woman President of the United States. Nevertheless, will she be remembered as the last candidate to do something, namely the last person ever to concede an election to her opponent? It's a chilling thought.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The difference principle

 The value of the first, say 60,000 for a person is much greater than the second 60,000.  From the standpoint of maximizing happiness, it is better for two people to have 60,000 each than it is for one person to have 100,000 and the other have 20,000, since the one 20,000 is going to be close to the poverty line, while the other one will just have a few more luxuries. 

But some inequalities benefit the people on the bottom. Doctors make more money than street sweepers, and when street sweepers need a doctor, they would have to agree that this is a good idea. But are other inequalities morally acceptable? 

According to John Rawls's Difference Principle, the answer is no. 

The difference principle provides that inequalities are unjustified unless they make the least advantaged better off. But in order to apply this principle, we must make predictions about the future economic effects of current economic policies, predictions that are notoriously difficult to make.

See here. 

Sunday, January 09, 2022

A Debate on God's Existence

 Between Richard Swinburne and Peter Millican. 

I met Swinburne at Notre Dame in 1990. I remember him telling me he thought my rebuttal to Mackie on miracles was decisive. 


Thursday, January 06, 2022

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Is God changeless?

 This article explores just this issue. Here's a topic with zero political overtones. Probably, it will get zero comments. 

Monday, January 03, 2022

Arsenic, old lace, and the value of life

 Suppose you were asked by a skeptical person why you value human life. Not happiness, or quality of life, just life itself. Why do you believe that we ought to preserve life even if in doing so we decrease the overall balance of pleasure over pain. 

I once knew a thoroughgoing skeptic about the value of life. He considered the old women who killed their boarders in Arsenic and Old Lace to by public benefactors. When asked "Well, based on your argument, why shouldn't I just kill you now?" He replied "It would be OK so long as you could do it painlessly."

I suppose someone could question this position's sincerity through an exercise of one's Second Amendment rights. But I am not sure this argument works.