Discussion in 'Community' started by poor yorick, Jan 20, 2014.
I wanted to make a Matthew Broderick dilemma post but I decided against it.
Interesting question! I'd say that you are an observer of your own actions, so the question of "nobody watching" doesn't really come up. However, when you bring up "objective moral standards" many people are going to think of a religious belief system, in which there is an unseen supernatural entity (or entities) observing your actions at all times, judging whether they are good or not.
So either way, yes, you are capable of good when you're alone.
I didn't get it until I Googled "Phil Collins" and "lake." I'm a little slow on the uptake.
Maybe everyone was just visualising Chapaquiddick.
You are capable of subjective good while alone, certainly - because you are a rational agent and can form judgments of your own behaviour. What I was really more musing over was whether it's conceptually possible to hold to an objective good - one said to exist outside your own behaviour and that of another person - when there is no external observer to judge it. While alone, a moral standard you hold to collapses back into subjective good; the only person available to judge your behaviour is yourself at that point.
I appreciate I might well be disappearing up my own ass at this point
Ah, gotcha. Well, there's the religious option I posted above, and there's the universalizability option. That's where something is considered an objective good if it would make the world a better place if everyone did it. If everyone stopped to save drowning people, then the world would be a better and safer place, although I don't really know how you'd to get enough drowning people to go around. So I guess you could put "saving drowning people" in the universal good column, even if no one is watching. Including the drowning guy. He had his hands over his eyes or something.
Here's another thought bubble: would the drowning person be doing a moral good by throwing himself into the water, if it is agreed objectively that to save a drowning person is a moral good? Is an act that contributes to or causes a moral good itself moral?
I think will should be freed.
Indeed; poor old Mr Shakespeare is pretty tired of being locked up ... wait, what were we talking about?
Hmm. Well, if everybody threw themselves into a lake to drown, then we'd have 7.5 billion drowned people. No, not a good idea. I'm going to say that one is not a moral good.
No, we're nowhere near up our asses yet. We have to go deeper.
Ergo: what's "alone," anyway? We seem to be throwing around the ordinary language conception of the term, wherein there's a kind of spacial isolation being experienced by the individual - but that's a purely relative metric. And furthermore, there's no guarantee that any position in which you are currently experiencing this relative distance metric is never going to be occupied by another conscious observer again. So I think it would be extraordinarily difficult, if not axiomatically impossible, to really be completely alone and be the sole judge of any possible action you could take.
But ignoring that for a moment, let's say, like, Bill is out in the middle of the desert, there's no other high functioning intellect around for hundreds of miles, and whatever Bill does is going to get covered up by erosion with enough time. I'd wager now that Bill is as alone as possible, or at least alone enough. The more I think about Bill, the more I think he might be wholly removed from moral systems. Sure, he might do something to himself that he'll regret in some fashion, or be pleased about, or whatever. But Bill is totally isolated from all contact - literally anything he does to himself cannot impact anyone else by assumption of Bill's position. And we've removed the possibility of any external body judging Bill. Can Bill do evil? I don't know.
I dislike Bill and I'm glad I'm pretty sure he's a meaningless hypothetical construction.
Edit: Also you should check out Immanuel Kant, as you may or may not dig the Categorical Imperative.
Did you know that if William Shakespeare was alive today, he'd be clawing at his coffin lid screaming for help?
You've tagged some random guy
I found he was a real pissant who was very rarely stable, myself.
Yes, but then, Socrates himself was permanently pissed.
And let's not start about Rene Descartes.
Plato was kind of an ass too.
Yeah, but they say he could stick it away.
as long as someone appreciated it
Saint, your post deserves more than a terse mobile response but suffice it to say that yes, the notion of good -- to me -- carries with it some sort of shared value system. Whether that requires a sort of civil society is perhaps debatable, but I do think a shared system is necessary.
Generally when I mean a person of good character, I mean in the Aristotlean sense. I'm sure that's no surprise. Thus, while an act can be courageous or not depending on the situation, the good person is one who behaves correctly with respect to the situation and the bad person is one who does not. Thus the virtue of courage has its associated vices and whether a thing is one or the other does depend on the situation.
Virtue ethics is a little old school compared to some of the other fancy-smancy schools of thought that puts everything in question (like the term alone, lol) but I think it can still be pretty robust, if requiring common sense concessions sometimes. I feel that virtue ethics is macro as opposed to micro.
But I'm just making stuff up so it's likely I have no idea what I'm talking about.
Misa ab iPhono meo est.
"Terse Mobile Response"
Three paragraphs long.
If it had a pulse, he was there.
Ok, first off, the choices to the OP's question, and the results herein are kept just between all of us, right? 'Cause if word spread beyond the hundred or so people that post in these forums, I might not be able to show my face in public. That said, if we are being honest, I have highlighted my views, and am leaving my name off of the following content so as to remain anonymous.
1) These conclusions are flawed. I myself am both a determinist and deeply moral. Plus believing in free will makes you a vindictive ****head.
2) The conclusions are valid. Believing in free will obviously makes you a morally superior person. And don't call me a vindictive ****head!
3) Believing in free will might make you nicer, but it's more important to acknowledge the truth of determinism than to be a nice guy.
4) Believing in free will clearly has practical benefits for society, so it's a good idea to believe in it.
5) I believe in free will and enjoy being a vindictive ****head.
6) I am a determinist and enjoy your extra Fire sauce. Ha ha ha ha.
7) I am @Quixotic-Sith and Compatibilism blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.
8) I am an attention whore and need to be unique. I think something else.
@I Are The Internets - We were referencing this.
I just think it's important to carefully lay out the precise meaning of terms being utilized in any philosophical question, or you risk debating impossible non-issues - linguistic phantoms, if you will. I'm not quite as jackboot about it as, say, Wittgenstein circa Tractatus, but the fact that one can even call into question the precise meaning of an assumption should raise red flags, IMO.
Ah my bad. I was basing this off of my limited knowledge of his life and my readings of Republic.
You are bad and should feel bad for this post.