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Other Discussion Boards => Philosophy, Religion & Society => Topic started by: EnglshGentleman on November 15, 2010, 11:19:56 PM

Title: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 15, 2010, 11:19:56 PM
To start off, we must first assume that morality on some level exists. This is important. If we don't, then we don't have an argument.
So we shall define three terms:

Morally Obligatory - It is morally necessary to do something.
Morally Permissible - It is morally neutral. (A good example is like the act of eating Cheerios)
Morally Forbidden - It is morally wrong to do something. A certain act is "immoral".

Next, you guys will need to know a term that is necessary to this. It is called moral relativity. This entails that a certain act that in one context may be permissible, while in another, is immoral. To bring back the Cheerios reference, it would be morally permissible to refuse to eat Cheerios, and instead eat Frosted Flakes. This choice really has no moral weight on it. However, if a gunman had a gun to your daughter and said that you must eat the Cheerios or he will pull the trigger, refusing to do so is clearly immoral.

The final term you need to know is luxury. A luxury is something that you buy that is morally permissible. This often means that there is nothing morally obligatory or forbidden when you buy that object. So I am driving along, and I see a Dairy Queen. I am just feelin a need for ice cream, and when I buy it, it is indeed delicious. This purchase has no moral relevance, since nothing would have happened if I did not buy it.

Ok, now that we got past that, we can start. Thought-experiment.

Jim is a wall-street broker, he is quite wealthy. He in-fact, is wealthy enough that he has a boat, and he goes down to the Cayman Islands every year to go scuba diving. So he goes down to the islands and he has quite a lot of fun splurging the money he saved for this trip. He parties, he drinks, he sings karaoke. He wakes up that morning and heads out to go scuba diving. There is a underwater cable laying company "Kamo" that is working in the area, and they have O2 kiosks in the area to both provide for their workers, and for selling O2 to people. The kiosks have a bring green button that you press after you have swiped your credit card to fill up your tanks. So, Jim brings over his tanks. He has six of them. He really only needs four at the very most, but he likes bringing along two extra just so he can feel awesome about having extra oxygen tanks. So he swipes his card, then fills up a tank. Then he does it again for the second, third, and fourth tank. Suddenly people are running in a mad panic past him, and he can see the congregating in a large group. He too, follows the crowd, and then he finds out what they are all looking at. There is a live feed depicting that there are multiple submarines just miles off the coast filled with small school children. For whatever reason, the submarines suddenly broke down, and now the children along with the chaperons are trapped under water... and they are running out of air. It is reported that response teams are on their way, but it is likely they will not make it in time. The underwater cable lying company Kamo has announced that it is going to use it's oxygen tubes to transfer oxygen from the kiosks to the submarines. However, the lines do not work very well, only 30% of the oxygen is making it through, and they need everyone's help. If a person swipes their card on the kiosk and presses the yellow button, they can donate their O2 to the submarine to save the children. Jim of course, wishes the children to be saved, as he believes any reasonable person does. So he walks over to his kiosk, and swipes his card he realizes that in his splurging, he only has enough money left on his card for one more transaction. Jim notices his two extra water tanks on the ground, he then thinks of the suffocating children, then presses the green button, filling his O2 tanks. Jim goes to his boat, sets off, and spends many hours scuba diving. He regrets the decision a little bit at first, but his worries are soon washed away by the waves, and in fact he never really thinks about it again. Because of his inaction, three children suffocated.


Now that you hopefully enjoyed that, here is the argument. It is quite straight forward.

Premise one: Jim's actions were immoral. (Obvious Truth)

Premise two: There is no morally relevant difference between Jim’s immoral behavior and my indulging in what I reasonably believe is a luxury instead of trying to prevent the horrific deaths of small innocent children.

Conclusion: Therefore, my indulging in what I reasonably believe is a luxury instead of preventing (or trying to prevent) the deaths of small innocent children is immoral.

The working definition of a morally relevant difference is a difference between my situation and Kent’s situation that clearly illustrates how on earth it could be that my indulging in luxuries is morally permissible, on the one hand, while Jim’s behavior is immoral, on the other hand.

As you can see, this is a tough pill to swallow. If we accept this, it means that we are being immoral several times on a weekly basis. Now, the only way to reject an argument, is to show one of the premises to be false, or to prove an invalid inference. However, to reject the first premise requires an entire argument with premises and inferences and it damn well better be bullet proof, so I suggest we not attempt this. We can't show an inference to be false since the only inference here is Modus ponens, which is always valid. This leaves us with us showing that there is a morally relative difference between the two situations.

Please note that my professor is not going to be unreasonable. He admits that he too, does not like the conclusion. However, only damaging arguments will be suffice, so nitpicking the details of the thought experiment won't work if all that needs to be done is to tweek the thought experiment to render your objection useless.

I honestly have got nothing as of yet, hopefully some of your shall do better.


Title: Re: We need to put our minds together to win for our charity.
Post by: Trekky0623 on November 15, 2010, 11:24:43 PM
Jim's actions directly resulted in the death of children, whereas buying a luxury may have no direct effect at all, and may have to be channeled through several people in order to have the immoral effect.

It's a hypothetical situation that doesn't accurately reflect the real world.
Title: Re: We need to put our minds together to win for our charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 15, 2010, 11:28:08 PM
Jim's actions directly resulted in the death of children, whereas buying a luxury may have no direct effect at all, and may have to be channeled through several people in order to have the immoral effect.

It's a hypothetical situation that doesn't accurately reflect the real world.

You choose to buy a $40 pair of sunglasses instead of donating it to an organism in which that $40 could save several lives. It seems to be very much the same situation.

You are choosing sunglasses over saving people.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on November 16, 2010, 12:27:09 AM
You choose to buy a $40 pair of sunglasses instead of donating it to an organization in which that $40 could save several lives. It seems to be very much the same situation.

You are choosing sunglasses over saving people.

Your professor offered the reward because any answer can't be entirely solid. Quite simply, I agree with the conclusion to a large degree, but don't tell him that. ;) Nonetheless I will post my initial contrary argument:

________________

Morality: A sense of behavioral conduct that differentiates intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good (or right) and bad (or wrong).

Is it immoral to satisfy your own needs? No.
Choosing between the lives of yourself and another person cannot be immoral in both cases, because morality is confined to the scope of possible action. While people are always in need of help, it isn't necessarily moral to abandon sustaining yourself.

Behavioral conduct has limits. If satisfying your own needs is not immoral, then inaction can't always be immoral either because humans do not have the capacity to be perfectly active for others. After all, if someone's money cannot be spent to help others, what of their time? If someone is not always working to raise money (to donate), they too, are playing inactive roles. Every minute you are sleeping, you could be working.

It is unreasonable and ultimately impossible for humans to become perfectly efficient as helpful influences. Preservation of self (and of the self's health) is also moral and easier to keep track of. Self interest is simpler, attainable, and a reasonable goal. Whether it is catching up on sleep, reducing stress, etc. the actions that help one's self could be conceived of as luxury, are taking care of the self. Being responsible for yourself is also moral.

According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs psychological needs are also important to one's well being. Torturing oneself to help others is just an act of shifting benefits from one person to another. If we return to the instance in which two people are close to death, and you may choose who survives, it is always moral to a degree unless you let both die.

__________

My strategy here is not to dispute what he has said, but rather reinforce it to an extreme stance to show how it can break down. This argument contends the submarine scenario was immoral but that not all luxuries are.

Edit: Also, I assumed that people know that stress is biochemically harmful to the mind and body. Come to think of it, I should have included donating your organs away in my argument.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: sherman t tank on November 16, 2010, 12:30:35 AM
Tibetan buddhists eat meat. The point of Buddhism in a way is about becoming part of the environment and the altitude they inhabit prohibits the growth of food crops. So to be a natural part of their environment they eat meat but they employ Indian Butchers so they don't do it themselves. That distance from the act is " moral" to them, even though they are aware that their actions contribute to murder of animals. While people on the submarine may want him to supply them with his air (not oxygen, divers breath air not oxygen) he has no moral responsibility to do so if his own morals put his own need for recreation and cache above the lives of others. Moral behavior is not set in stone or a physical law, it is a system of individual priorities, that are similar enough to co-exist in a version of harmony. Should a gay man live a life of celibacy because a parent disagrees with his biological drive. After all, he is deliberately hurting his family. Is it any different to the other possibility, ie- his parents being forced to accept his choices. How far do you let the expectations of others rule your life, or their needs.      
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 16, 2010, 12:50:39 AM
You choose to buy a $40 pair of sunglasses instead of donating it to an organization in which that $40 could save several lives. It seems to be very much the same situation.

You are choosing sunglasses over saving people.

Your professor offered the reward because any answer can't be entirely solid. Quite simply, I agree with the conclusion to a large degree, but don't tell him that. ;) Nonetheless I will post my initial contrary argument:

He isn't like a lot of people here that will go, "You can't completely convince me, so ha!" He has given the prize in the past. He just wants to see if anyone can create a meaningful objection to see if we have taken anything from the class. The way it goes in our class if he will give us arguments that seem sound, then at the end tear them apart. Undoubtedly he will reveal how this one fails, even if no one can think of it.

Morality: A sense of behavioral conduct that differentiates intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good (or right) and bad (or wrong).

Is it immoral to satisfy your own needs? No.
Choosing between yourself and another person has no wrong answer, albeit also has no right answer. While people are always in need of help, you cannot abandon sustaining yourself.

Behavior conduct has limits. If satisfying your own needs is not immoral, then inaction can't always be immoral either because humans do not have the capacity to be perfectly active for others. After all, if someone's money cannot be better spent on others, what of time? If someone is not always working to raise money (to donate), they too, are playing inactive roles. When you are sleeping, you could be working.

It is unreasonable and ultimately impossible for humans to become perfectly efficient as helpful influences. Preservation of self (and of the self's health) is also moral and easier to keep track of. Self interest is simpler, attainable, and a reasonable goal. Whether it is catching up on sleep, reducing stress, etc. the actions that help one's self could be conceived of as luxury, are taking care of the self. Being responsible for yourself is also moral.

I understand where you are doing here, but you aren't paying attention enough to when something is a luxury. It has no moral relevance if nothing bad would have happened if you had not made the purchase. If the purchase was one step away from you starving, or you losing your sanity, than it wasn't a luxury. If the purchase is the one thing that is keeping you from snapping and jumping off a building, it was not a luxury.

My strategy here is not to dispute what he has said, but rather reinforce it to an extreme stance to show how it can break down. This argument contends the submarine scenario was immoral but that not all luxuries are.

Edit: Also, I assumed that people know that stress is biochemically harmful to the mind and body.

I am obviously going to try and argue against almost anything anyone says, so we can try to and get the most solid argument possible. So I'm not disagreeing because I am wanting a specific answer or something.

Just throwing that out there.

   

If you wish to deny premise one and say that the act was not immoral, please present premises and inferences. If you are arguing that morality does not exist, then you should probably stop posting in this thread, because arguing that is futile and useless. It has already been stated that will not win anything, and since my Professor (from reading his book) seems to be specialized in Free Will and Morality, he will most likely just intellectually demolish me if I try to press this anyways. Sorry, but that is how it works in the class.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on November 16, 2010, 12:54:02 AM
I am obviously going to try and argue against almost anything anyone says, so we can try to and get the most solid argument possible. So I'm not disagreeing because I am wanting a specific answer or something.
I was expecting and hoping for as much.

Last post edited:  :P
You do not necessarily need both your kidneys to survive, so should you donate one to someone who might benefit?
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: sherman t tank on November 16, 2010, 12:58:46 AM
 If my sneakers are made with slave labour why are they so expensive. If I steal them instead and sell them and donate the proceeds to a childrens charity which aids the children of the sneaker slaves, I would be arrested, my actions are beyond immoral to criminal or are they.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Chris Spaghetti on November 16, 2010, 04:07:44 AM
Firstly, the position is considered from a morally relative position then an absolutist doctrine of "Therefore, buying luxuries is immoral. (1,2)" cannot be applied universally.

Secondly, the sale of luxuries supports many more than a single one-time donation. If the sale of luxuries were to end, many people would be out of a job, the tax money collected through VAT wouldn't keep schools open etc etc.

While this obviously isn't true in Jim's case, you asked us to look at it through the lens of moral relativism rather than moral absolutism.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 16, 2010, 07:30:34 AM
The first thing we have to do is define what constitutes a "luxury purchase". I am working on the assumption that it is any purchase not essential to our biological survival, i.e. anything beyond a subsistence existence. I should also point out that the argument I am going to make is an intrinsically consequentialist argument, as your professor will no doubt notice.


Basically, I think Chris is on the right track. In this particular instance, Jim's actions were immoral because his lack of action resulted in a direct and obvious net loss, i.e. the death of those children. Spending the money in the way he did probably benefitted several people (some of his expenditure will go to charities, social welfare etc. through government taxation), but it's unlikely that his purchase will in and of itself save three lives or make an equivalent value contribution. In contrast, purchasing the oxygen tank for the children would (in this scenario) have saved three lives. That is the local scenario.


The serious objection I would raise is that your proffessor's argument assumes that conclusions drawn from this local scenario automatically apply globally, when this is simply not the case. In other words, premise 2 is faulty because there is a morally relative difference between actions at a local level and at a global level. Here are a couple of things which a global view would have to consider which do not really come into his extremely local scenario.


A global view would have to consider the sum or net value produced by certain actions and behaviour. If our aim is to make this the best possible world, then it is likely that to create such a world people would need to live a physically and psychologically stable and sustainable existence. After all, we have certain instincts and desires, and trying to repress them is likely to be counter-productive. How long could most people really sustain a life without any luxury or pleasure? If the answer is "not very long", then we are in dicey waters if we say people are wrong to seek a lifestyle they are biologically and psychologically pre-disposed to seek. What's more, if making such extreme demands is unsustainable and ultimately produces less overall good, then it does not make sense to demand that people behave in that way. On the contrary, it is better to make relatively modest but ultimately sustainable demands, as these will produce more good overall. Here is the key point: if it is morally right to seek a better world, and if a degree of luxury and pleasure are necessary to produce a better world, then luxury and pleasure are obviously not immoral per se.


Another example of the considerations necessary for a global view is the role our expenditure plays in funding the government. Sure, we could donate all our spare money after essentials to charity, but tax revenues would fall and the state would become unsustainable. Pretty soon, we would be no better off than the people we were originally trying to help, even if their situation had since improved as a result of our charity. We would then be dependent on them, and if they acted in the same way we did, a vicious circle would ensue. By supporting our government through the purchase of highly-taxed luxuries (e.g. alcohol), we ensure the state's survival, which is essentially a structure for the creation of wealth. In the long term, small charitable donations and the indulgence of our desires contributes more to world 'good' in the long run than absolute rejection of pleasure or luxury, because such practice is sustainable. Again, if it is morally correct to seek/produce more good/a better world, and some luxury or pleasure purchases are necessary to do so, then luxury purchases are not immoral in and of themselves.


In short, Jim's local luxury purchase was immoral given the local context. He had the power to save three lives, but instead decided to indulge his desire for pleasure. Thus we can conclude that buying certain luxuries is sometmes immoral. However, your proffessor concluded that buying luxuries is always immoral, i.e. that there is no morally relative difference between Jim's local luxury purchase and the purchase of any and all global luxury purchases, as that money could be spent otherwise. I think that the above paragraphs are fairly solid and reasonable arguments that if we did not make any luxury purchases, the world would be worse overall. I won't deny that we could probably spend more on on charitable donations, but the point is that his conclusion is no more sustainable than the lifestyle it entails.


So in summary:


Premise one: We should make moral decisions with the aim of producing the most good (whether agent-relative or agent-neutral).

Premise two: Some degree of luxury and pleasure are necessary to produce the most good.

Conclusion: Some degree of luxury and pleasure is morally permissable.



Your proffessor may take issue with both of those premises, but premise two should be relatively easy to defend, as pretty much all of history constitutes empirical evidence in your favour. To counter the above argument he will have to somehow show that humans are not pyschologically or biologically pre-disposed to seek pleasure/luxury, which will be very difficult to do. Premise one however is bound up with the entire field of debate and discourse surrounding consequentialist moral theory, and is different kettle of fish altogether. My advice would be to inform yourself of the key criticisms of the various kinds of consequentialism, as I would be very surprised if he does not challenge that first premise.


Nevertheless, I certainly consider this to be a serious objection to his argument. If luxury or pleasure are in any way necessary to produce a better world, then a consequence of his conclusion would be that it is immoral to seek a better world.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: spanner34.5 on November 16, 2010, 07:53:21 AM
As pure oxygen is toxic much over a depth of 6 metres. Jim has made the right decision.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 16, 2010, 08:54:37 AM
My professor posted the argument just now, so I am fixing the original post. It is a bit different. As you can see, it is no longer every luxury, it has narrowed down a bit.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 16, 2010, 09:33:25 AM
I think my argument still holds against this slightly narrower definition of 'luxury'. After all, I think my original definition of a 'luxury purchase' was about as wide as it could possibly be, so if it holds against that it will hold against any narrower definition.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 16, 2010, 09:36:54 AM
I think my argument still holds against this slightly narrower definition of 'luxury'. After all, I think my original definition of a 'luxury purchase' was about as wide as it could possibly be, so if it holds against that it will hold against any narrower definition.

Agreed. Your objection is quite strong, I posted it however, because several people here objected on how broad it is.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 16, 2010, 09:50:32 AM
I think the objection is strong in essence, but the argument as presented could do with a little structural/rhetorical tewaking. I'll make a second run at it later tonight.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on November 16, 2010, 10:21:46 AM
I think there are shared components throughout all of our arguments. Namely that standards of living (in addition to living) are moral.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: JamesJamie on November 16, 2010, 02:23:02 PM
Ehhh if you REALLY want to go and make a difference. Fly over there and build a well for them. Sending money is almost the exact same thing as a luxury isn't it? You spend/send the money to feel good about yourself.

You give a man a fish, and he feeds for one day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for life. However, this doesn't apply to the submarine hypothetical (in all honesty, they are truly helpless and deserve rescue.) It applies to poverty foundations. I donate to foundations that seek to actively educate the people on how to do things for themselves.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 16, 2010, 02:28:03 PM
Ehhh if you REALLY want to go and make a difference. Fly over there and build a well for them. Sending money is almost the exact same thing as a luxury isn't it? You spend/send the money to feel good about yourself.

Donating helps multiple people, luxury general helps only yourself.

You give a man a fish, and he feeds for one day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for life. However, this doesn't apply to the submarine hypothetical (in all honesty, they are truly helpless and deserve rescue.) It applies to poverty foundations. I donate to foundations that seek to actively educate the people on how to do things for themselves.

Except if the man is going to die that day, just give him the fish. He can learn later.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Trekky0623 on November 16, 2010, 02:42:20 PM
And if everyone never buys luxuries, you cause the people who make those luxuries to lose their jobs.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 16, 2010, 03:21:57 PM
And if everyone never buys luxuries, you cause the people who make those luxuries to lose their jobs.

This isn't a matter of practicallity, this is a matter of morality.

It may be practical to liquefy all the individuals that are a drain of society, (people in elderly homes, people with extreme mental retardation) but is it morally obligatory, or even permissible?
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 16, 2010, 03:23:34 PM
Premise one: We should make moral decisions with the aim of producing the most good (whether agent-relative or agent-neutral).

I suppose this is the tough point with this argument. Can the atrocities against humanity during a war truly be morally justified in this matter if in the just because in the end there may be a net gain?
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Thork on November 16, 2010, 03:51:27 PM
Its a little bit out there, but is it possible that you have solved the puzzle already, albeit unwittingly?

Is it not ironic that you have been offered a luxury? An iPod? And that on winning the prize, you can either keep it, or donate it to charity as you propose to do. Surely if your answer is I intend to give my prize to charity, you have solved the purpose of this conundrum. Don't look at what is written on the page. Look at the exercise. Is your professor that deep? Would he set a puzzle that the greedy would fixate on with no answer, and the kind hearted look at and think it is a shame, as I would have donated the prize to charity. If the only answer is to truly give every left over (money for luxuries) to charity, anyone who made that claim couldn't then take the iPod and claim they agree with the answer. Only someone who agreed with the premise and said please donate my prize could truly win it. The answer is that it is immoral to live a life of luxury when others have nothing, but this is an example where you can do the right thing, and give the prize away. It might help someone. And you have solved the puzzle's intention set by your professor. You learned something. And whilst he doesn't like the answer, he has now donated to charity thanks to you. He gains as well. Surely when everyone gains from a situation, you, your professor and the charity, that is the answer.

Even if this isn't his answer, he might like that one better.  ;)
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 16, 2010, 04:01:09 PM
Premise one: We should make moral decisions with the aim of producing the most good (whether agent-relative or agent-neutral).

I suppose this is the tough point with this argument. Can the atrocities against humanity during a war truly be morally justified in this matter if in the just because in the end there may be a net gain?


In short, to some extent yes. Allow me to give a more fully fledged answer. Let us imagine that we can choose one of three options:

1) Not go to war.

2) Go to war (version A; lots of atrocities)

3) Go to war (version B; fewer atrocities)


If the result of 1 would be atrocities, death and instability on a greater scale than would be the case with 2 or 3, then in my view going to war is obviously justified. However, if it is possible to prosecute the war in a relatively humane way (version B), and a government instead pursues the war in a way that leads to atrocities, then they are still morally culpable.


However, it's also important to note that our global/local distinction still applies. A singular atrocity (even a large one) is a local event, whereas the outcome of a war is a global consideration. Just because it was 'globally' right to go to war does not mean it was 'locally' right to slaughter a village in the process of fighting that war. That decision can be judged on its own merits and within its local context.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 16, 2010, 04:32:41 PM
Okay, so to make the objection a little more compelling, I have rephrased the two premises for more rhetorical appeal and argumentative strength:


Premise one: It is morally right to improve the condition of as many lives as possible (Obvious Truth).

Premise two: Some degree of luxury and pleasure are necessary to improve the condition of as many lives as possible.

Conclusion: Some degree of luxury and pleasure is morally permissable.



This way we sort of side-step an an enormous and difficult argument in favour of consequentialism, and instead use the same "Obvious Truth" technique your proffessor does.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 16, 2010, 04:46:42 PM
Its a little bit out there, but is it possible that you have solved the puzzle already, albeit unwittingly?

Is it not ironic that you have been offered a luxury? An iPod? And that on winning the prize, you can either keep it, or donate it to charity as you propose to do. Surely if your answer is I intend to give my prize to charity, you have solved the purpose of this conundrum. Don't look at what is written on the page. Look at the exercise. Is your professor that deep? Would he set a puzzle that the greedy would fixate on with no answer, and the kind hearted look at and think it is a shame, as I would have donated the prize to charity. If the only answer is to truly give every left over (money for luxuries) to charity, anyone who made that claim couldn't then take the iPod and claim they agree with the answer. Only someone who agreed with the premise and said please donate my prize could truly win it. The answer is that it is immoral to live a life of luxury when others have nothing, but this is an example where you can do the right thing, and give the prize away. It might help someone. And you have solved the puzzle's intention set by your professor. You learned something. And whilst he doesn't like the answer, he has now donated to charity thanks to you. He gains as well. Surely when everyone gains from a situation, you, your professor and the charity, that is the answer.

Even if this isn't his answer, he might like that one better.  ;)

Haha, if only, but alas, it isn't. First off, my class has over 150 students, so I doubt I'd be the only one to think of donating it. Next, my professor does want us to refute the argument, because he himself does not like the conclusion. If we can't successfully refute his argument, then he reasons we should donate to CARE. SO he wins either way. I don't think it is a puzzle. I wish it were though.  :P


@Wilmore

I like it. Let me see if I can try and write down what I would say to him. (This will be taking place tomorrow.)
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Thork on November 16, 2010, 04:58:08 PM
Damn Wilmore and his big brain. I thought I had been clever. Now I feel all foolish. :(
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 16, 2010, 04:59:23 PM
Damn Wilmore and his big brain. I thought I had been clever. Now I feel all foolish. :(

I feel the same way. I sometimes think I have a good argument going, then he comes in and stomps all over it.  :-[
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 16, 2010, 05:02:09 PM
Okay, so to make the objection a little more compelling, I have rephrased the two premises for more rhetorical appeal and argumentative strength:


Premise one: It is morally right to improve the condition of as many lives as possible (Obvious Truth).

Premise two: Some degree of luxury and pleasure are necessary to improve the condition of as many lives as possible.

Conclusion: Some degree of luxury and pleasure is morally permissable.



This way we sort of side-step an an enormous and difficult argument in favour of consequentialism, and instead use the same "Obvious Truth" technique your proffessor does.

Question, why shouldn't it be:


Premise one: It is morally obligatory to improve the condition of as many lives as possible (Obvious Truth).

Premise two: Some degree of luxury and pleasure are necessary to improve the condition of as many lives as possible.

Conclusion: Some degree of luxury and pleasure is morally obligatory.


I don't know if you agree with this, but saying that it is morally obligatory seems like a much stronger stance.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Thork on November 16, 2010, 05:14:02 PM
If we can't successfully refute his argument, then he reasons we should donate to CARE. SO he wins either way. I don't think it is a puzzle. I wish it were though.  :P
Hang on a second. Something's not right here. If the iPod is going to CARE anyway, why do you want to win it? Who in your class is going to claim an iPod that is otherwise destined for a charity? I feel less silly now. Surely there is a greater issue of morality in those attempting to win the prize. You have said you would give it to charity. Of course. Because your professor has been talking about morality and charity the whole time. Its like what Derren Brown does with his subliminal suggestion techniques. I'll bet as soon as he mentioned the prize, the very first thing you thought was "I'll give it to charity". Not because you are a sensitive student type that worries about morality (in between punching babies), but because you have been manipulated into that stance. The exercise to me, seems far more interesting than the puzzle laid before you. Try to find this out for me if you can. In all the years he has been setting this problem for students, how many have taken the iPod for themselves. I will bet you one internet that no one has ever walked away with a luxury prize.
So now the real question for me is, are you genuinely nice, or are you your professor's dancing puppet?
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 16, 2010, 05:17:48 PM
If we can't successfully refute his argument, then he reasons we should donate to CARE. SO he wins either way. I don't think it is a puzzle. I wish it were though.  :P
Hang on a second. Something's not right here. If the iPod is going to CARE anyway, why do you want to win it? Who in your class is going to claim an iPod that is otherwise destined for a charity?

You mistake what I have said. The winner gets an iPod. If nobody can refute it, then we are obligated to give to CARE. (If we can't refute it, that means we must accept the conclusion as true.)

However, if I win, I intend on selling the iPod, and donate the proceeds to the FES charity.



EDIT: I reread your post. 1 sec writing...

At first the stunning prize was just some chocolate bars, and one person won one because they had the beginnings to a decent answer.

Then he offered the iPod which is when people went into top gear. However, since I am getting help from the FES, I feel it is only right to let the FES benefit from it.

But I am a nice person, so who knows. I may have donated it anyways. Sratch that, na I probably wouldn't of. When he showed it I wanted it.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 16, 2010, 05:25:41 PM
If this is a puzzle then he is truly crafty. He made it look as though he was talking about the charities to negate the response, "Well some people don't know it is within their power to donate and save other people."

But if that was only part of it...
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Thork on November 16, 2010, 05:26:33 PM
You misunderstand me. The iPod is already going to charity. Whoever wins it, will give it to charity. No one will keep it with 150 peers all judging them for denying a charity, especially as he has planted that thought in your heads. Why do you feel more strongly about FES' charity than CARE? Is FES' charity more deserving, or do you just want those 150 peers to know you won?

Look, I know I am not helping anymore, so even though I would like to grill you on this further, I will wait until you and Wilmore have finished colluding. But rest assured, I will revisit this to see what makes you tick. :p
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 16, 2010, 05:35:25 PM
I think the problem is that once you state that it is morally obligatory, you are no longer just refuting his claim, but making one of your own. As your task was simply to raise a serious objection, I think settling for an objection (rather than a counter-claim) would be the safer bet.


The reason the new counter-claim might be unsafe is that your revised first premiss is essentially consequentialist in nature, and as a result may get you drawn into a defence of consequentialism. Now, I am all for consequentialism (though perhaps not in this form), but such a defence would be complex and open to attack on many levels. There are plenty of well-tested anti-consequentialist arguments out there, and your proffessor may well throw them at you. That's why I revised my original premise; the objection is easier to make if it is more limited in scope.


For example, there are plenty of people who will tell you it is not morally obligatory to improve the lives of as many people as possible, and that such action is supererogatory, not obligatory. The claim that consequentialism is 'too demanding' is a classic objection to consequentialist theories. Now there are plenty of sound defences, but they are lengthy, and I don't know how easy it would be to present them in class. By making premise one 'right' rather than obligatory however, we make it easier to swallow and harder to object to.


Basically, I see this as an argumentative exercise. I doubt your proffessor expects you to put forth an unassailable moral theory; what he wants is for you to analyse his argument and come up with a serious objection to it. For that reason I think a limited, strong objection is better than a larger but more frail objection.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 16, 2010, 05:36:03 PM
You misunderstand me. The iPod is already going to charity. Whoever wins it, will give it to charity. No one will keep it with 150 peers all judging them for denying a charity, especially as he has planted that thought in your heads. Why do you feel more strongly about FES' charity than CARE? Is FES' charity more deserving, or do you just want those 150 peers to know you won?

Look, I know I am not helping anymore, so even though I would like to grill you on this further, I will wait until you and Wilmore have finished colluding. But rest assured, I will revisit this to see what makes you tick. :p

To be fair, he never once suggested giving the iPod to charity, just money. Also, they way everyone was acting towards it, I'm pretty sure many people would keep it for themselves. It is just an intro class, so many of the people are not that invested in it.

I am willing to give it to the FES charity over CARE because it is from the help of the FES, (mostly Wilmore) that the iPod might even be attained, so I think the FES should be able to receive it's reward.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Thork on November 16, 2010, 05:38:17 PM
Good luck. I will pick over your plastic morality tomorrow, after you have won. :)
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 16, 2010, 05:57:59 PM
Remember, you need to have your shit together when it comes to premise two. Put the earlier arguments about human nature, government and sustainability into terms you can express in class. Be ready to do 'out loud' thought experiments about what would happen if humans had no outlet for luxury or pleasure, or how governments would function and what the cost of governments not functioning would be. 'Sustainability' and 'long-term' are the keywords you should focus on when defending that premise.


As it stands premise one is quite strong, so I doubt he'll challenge you on it (ensuring it's hard for him to challenge it is why I'm trying to make it as unobjectionable as possible), because it would again mean a very in-depth and involved debate/discussion. If he does challenge you on it, don't be afraid to make the same demands he did regarding challenges to his first premise! If he resists this, you can then turn his original argument back on him by pointing out that it implies/assumes that not helping people is immoral, and as such that helping people is moral or 'right'. Any objection to your first premise is an objection to his. This again leaves you with just premise two to defend.


Personally I think it's quite a strong objection. Your proffessor will probably spot some potential holes in premise two, but I doubt his objections will be as strong as yours. If you present the argument well enough, I think he'll consider it 'strong enough'.


Also, Daniel's Winter Charity Drive is now over, so you really can do what you want with any prize. For me the argument alone is prize enough!
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 16, 2010, 06:14:45 PM
Ok, so here it goes. Practice session for what I shall say.



Hello, I'm [Name] and I am going to reject premise two. (Premise two: There is no morally relevant difference between Jimís immoral behavior and my indulging in what I reasonably believe is a luxury instead of trying to prevent the horrific deaths of small innocent children.)

The thought-experiment that it is based off of is only a local situation. Premise two fails because it assumes that the conclusion drawn from the local situation (Jim's actions were immoral) can be applied globally. It assumes that conclusion, indulging is immoral, applies to all luxury purchases. It simply does not.

When considering whether or not something is morally right globally, you first need to consider whether or not it will be beneficial to the world as a whole. Will there be a net gain? If we accept your conclusion that buying luxuries in this manner are immoral, then this is the sort of scenario you would be committed to.

Image that we all stop buying luxuries, and begin to send our money to charities, and in many places in the developing world, the quality of life increases a bit.  However, state tax revenues that rely on purchases begin to fall, and the state would not be able to sustain itself. Soon enough, we can't afford schools, we can't afford roads, that lack of demand of luxuries has put many people out of the job. After not too long, we would be no better off than the people we had originally sent our money to, and if they attempted to give back to us, a downward spiral would occur.

Therefore, when buying taxed luxuries, we insure our country's survival. Something that would create wealth for the world. So while there is a short term gain in donating to charities instead of buying luxuries, over the long term, there is a greater gain make small charitable donations, and to have many people indulge on luxuries.

To end, I give you this argument with premises and a conclusion.

Premise one: It is morally right to improve the condition of as many lives as possible (Obvious Truth).

Premise two: Some degree of luxury and pleasure are necessary to improve the condition of as many lives as possible.

Conclusion: Some degree of luxury and pleasure is morally permissible.


                                                                                                                         

What say you? I'm sure that it needs to be fixed up a bit.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Thork on November 16, 2010, 06:36:35 PM
I am supposed to be in bed. Its 2:30 am and I have to be up early, but your 'puzzle' is very interesting and I am thinking about that instead of counting sheep.

A spanner in the works for you ... an acid test.

Your professor has cleverly made you Jim the stockbroker. The parallels seem blinding to me. You cannot win this competition because you couldn't justify keeping the iPod - you want to give it to charity ... I bet you still do even though Daniel's FES drive is over and Wilmore is offering help no strings attached. It is identical to the oxygen bottles. Jim didn't need them. You don't need an iPod. You condemned Jim. If you want to win, how can you keep that iPod for yourself? If you can justify it, then you have your answer. That iPod would pay for a well or something. Its easy to see how it would save 3 children's lives. The question is very real. How can you honestly keep that iPod knowing it could help people, the same as those oxygen bottles. If you genuinely get the right answer, you can keep the iPod. Whatever Wilmore says, bear in mind, if you cannot apply it to keep the iPod for yourself, you have failed. So you really are playing for one now.

And we are not talking about all the luxuries in the world. Other people will still buy luxuries. This question involves you. Why do you not give your things to charity? How is Jim keeping the bottle for himself right? How is you keeping that iPod right? When you know you can stroll down that lecture hall and collect your shiny new iPod, then you will know you have the correct answer. I think you underestimate your professor. ;)

I'd love to be part of the debate some more, but must sleep. I look forward to hearing the outcome.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 16, 2010, 06:38:44 PM
For the section on government, you need to stress (well, mention) that a stable state can create wealth. We are basically saying that removing all luxury is a zero-sum game, so it's important we stress the difference, i.e. that stable government based on partly luxury-based economy/society leads to more wealth and thus more capacity to do good in the long-term.


Also, I wouldn't leave out the point about the psychological sustainability of a world without luxury, as this is stronger than the point about stable government. After all, that argument is really only based on our current form of government - if he throws a theoretical ultra-philanthropic state at you, it kind of collapses. Human nature on the other hand never changes, and history is littered with examples of our pre-disposition towards lives of luxury and pleasure. Limited luxury and some charity not only makes our lives sustainable, but also makes for a better world. That is the argument that will hold up best.


Also, to kind of cover up the consequentialist strain in your argument (I am a conniving devil, me), I would remove the bits about whether it will be "beneficial to the world as a whole" or if there will be a "net gain". Simply say that 'local conclusions can be drawn from local premises, but a wider or global conclusion must be drawn from global premises. For that reason, we must look at the global implications of purchasing or not purchasing luxuries'. This makes your argument sound less consequentialist and more 'common sense', even if it heart your argument is a filthy, deceitful consequentialist in common-sense clothing.


Mostly this is my fault, because my initial agrument was very consequentialist in tone, whereas now I think you should try to keep the essentials but strip back the consequentialist terminology and phrasing. That way premise one remains an 'obvious truth' and not a consequentialist postulation.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 16, 2010, 07:06:09 PM
Oh, one last important thing (and something I forgot to even mention until now): he may try and assert that the 'my' in his conclusion makes it a local premise supporting a local conclusion. This is not the case. We do not live in a walled-off thought experiment like Jim. Our lives and decisions exist in a collective global context, and it is for this reason that premise two is open to the local/global line of attack.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 16, 2010, 07:17:59 PM
I'm writing it, but I'm not sure how to word the part talking about how throughout history human being have shown to want luxuries.

It's hard to make it not come off as, "We want things, so keeping us from getting the things we want is bad."
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 16, 2010, 07:37:02 PM
Just point out that people seem to instinctively seek pleasure and luxury, and that most monastic orders or other such centres of apparent self-deprivation have usually been corrupted at some point or failed in some way. You're not justifying that self-interested action, just recognising it as instincitve and saying that denying people all luxury is clearly not feasible. Most importantly, it would probably lead to a worse world, because people would react quite strongly against it and seek to cheat what they saw as an unfair system. If smaller, more modest contributions make for a better and more sustainable kind of charity, then (given premise 1) luxury is clearly permissable. Then follow up with the argument about government.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 16, 2010, 08:07:05 PM
Ok, let me try and revise it.




Hello, I'm [Name] and I am going to reject premise two. (Premise two: There is no morally relevant difference between Jim’s immoral behavior and my indulging in what I reasonably believe is a luxury instead of trying to prevent the horrific deaths of small innocent children.)

The thought-experiment that it is based off of is only a local situation. Premise two fails because it assumes that the conclusion drawn from the local situation can be applied globally. It cannot. When drawing a global conclusion, you must draw it from a global premise.

Because of this, we need to look at what would happen globally if we do, or do not purchase luxuries.

It is morally good to try and improve the conditions of life for as many people as possible. If we want to try and make this world the best it can be, than it is reasonable that the people living in it will need to live physically and psychologically health lives. Throughout history, it is should be quite obvious that humans instinctively want luxuries, and in many cases, monastic societies that attempt self-deprivation often become corrupt or fail. To deny humans these things is a bit counterproductive. So if a degree of luxury is required for us to attain a better world, then it clearly cannot be immoral.





(I have realized that it could easily stop here if he is convinced. If he is not however, then I move on to the thought experiment.)






There is another way to think about it as well. Consider this thought experiment.

We are living in modern society. It is announced that to buy luxuries when you have the power to be charitable is immoral. Everyone agrees with this, and not wanting to be immoral, people donate their money to charities instead of buying luxuries. Slowly, in the developing countries in the world, the quality of life starts to get better. But because the public is no longer buying luxuries, the state in no longer receiving nearly enough revenue due to the lack of sales tax. People downgrade their homes so that they can give more money to charity, and the state is receiving less money from property tax. As a result, the state can no longer afford schools, it can't afford roads, the state's infrastructure is on the verge of collapse. Due to the lack of demand of luxuries, the a large quantity of people find themselves without a job. The state is without infrastructure, the people do not have income, and soon the U.S. drops down to the quality of life in which it once sought to improve.

Whenever we buy taxed luxuries, we make sure that our country survives, something that is generator of wealth. In the long term, both making charitable donations and indulging in luxuries produces more good in the world, than if we were to only make charitable donations.

To end, I give you this argument with premises and a conclusion.

Premise one: It is morally right to improve the condition of as many lives as possible (Obvious Truth).

Premise two: Some degree of luxury and pleasure are necessary to improve the condition of as many lives as possible.

Conclusion: Some degree of luxury and pleasure is morally permissible.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 17, 2010, 06:04:18 AM
I think that sounds good. Just remember that if he claims his premise local, you have to point out that it isn't. Jim's scenario is walled off both spatially and chronologically. There are a limited set of factors at work, and the consequences of his actions are known However, premise two if your prof's argument is not - it claims there is no morally relative difference between any and all luxuries you buy and the specific luxury Jim bought, and that claim covers past, present and future purhcases, no matter what their wider and long-term impact. What's more, the full moral implications of such a claim would result in a worse world (which you will then demonstrate). That is the morally relative difference.


You may even want to put this in your argument in some way, in order to pre-empt that criticism.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 17, 2010, 09:24:37 AM
I've realized that this will end up being a dialogue, not a monologue, so I am going to change how it flows a bit.



Hello, I'm [Name] and I am going to reject premise two. (Premise two: There is no morally relevant difference between Jim’s immoral behavior and my indulging in what I reasonably believe is a luxury instead of trying to prevent the horrific deaths of small innocent children.)

The thought-experiment that it is based off of is only a local situation. Premise two fails because it assumes that the conclusion drawn from the local situation can be applied globally. It cannot. When drawing a global conclusion, you must draw it from a global premise.

Because of this, we need to look at what would happen globally if we do, or do not purchase luxuries.

I submit that it is morally good to try and improve the conditions of life for as many people as possible. If we want to try and make this world the best it can be, than it is reasonable that the people living in it will need to live physically and psychologically health lives. Throughout history, it is should be quite obvious that humans instinctively want luxuries. To refuse people their instincts is likely to be counterproductive. After all. many cases, monastic societies that attempt self-deprivation often become corrupt or fail. So if a degree of luxury is required for us to attain a better world, then it clearly cannot be immoral.

So,

Premise one: It is morally right to improve the condition of as many lives as possible (Obvious Truth).

Premise two: Some degree of luxury and pleasure are necessary to improve the condition of as many lives as possible.

Conclusion: Some degree of luxury and pleasure is morally permissible.






(I have realized that it could easily stop here if he is convinced. If he is not however, then I move on to the thought experiment.)


There is another way to think about it as well. Consider this thought experiment.

We are living in modern society. It is announced that to buy luxuries when you have the power to otherwise be charitable is immoral. Everyone agrees with this, and not wanting to be immoral, people donate their money to charities instead of buying luxuries. Some people even go as far as downgrading their homes so they can be even more charitable. Slowly, in the developing countries in the world, the quality of life starts to get better. But because the public is no longer a demand for luxuries, many people go out of the job. Because now the state no longer has a sustainable income, sales, or property tax, the state can't afford schools. It can't afford roads. The state's infrastructure is on the verge of collapse. Now we are left with no money, no infrastructure, and soon enough the standard of life in the US is no better off than the countries that we once sought to help.

Whenever we buy taxed luxuries, we make sure that our country survives, something that is generator of wealth. In the long term, both making charitable donations and indulging in luxuries produces more good in the world, than if we were to only make charitable donations.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 17, 2010, 11:01:37 AM
I have butterflies. Two hours left.  :P
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 17, 2010, 12:05:39 PM
I hope my argument doesn't suck or get torn apart. Good luck!
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 17, 2010, 02:50:23 PM
We got thrashed.  :(

@Thork

He offered the iPod because he felt confident that his argument succeeds, that he was willing to back it. He was right.

That is why he allowed everyone to get help as much as they could, because he was confident that regardless of what we do, we won't be able to reject it.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Thork on November 17, 2010, 03:04:59 PM
We got thrashed.  :(
Ahh you douche. lol!

Nevermind. So did anyone else win the iPod? And if so, did they keep it or give it to charity?

I have lots of questions about the challenge as the exercise seems far more interesting to me. Was there a deliberate connection between the exercise and the example you were furnished with? Was the striking similarity between Jim's options and yours a strange coincidence or was there deep plotting?

And as I'm sure Wilmore will also want to know, what then was the answer to this? If the answer revolves around resentment towards those who are in need, as they then make you suffer I will be sorry I didn't suggest that, but Wilmore had already given a very good answer to challenge. My alternative theory was already enough other distraction.

PS - Congrates on not getting lynched. I guess you evaded the bandwagon somehow. Your time will come. :)
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 17, 2010, 03:17:57 PM
We got thrashed.  :(
Ahh you douche. lol!

Mean.

Nevermind. So did anyone else win the iPod? And if so, did they keep it or give it to charity?

Nobody won it. The purpose of the iPod was to draw to light that this is an important issue, and second, that he is so confident that his claim is true that he was willing to back it.

I have lots of questions about the challenge as the exercise seems far more interesting to me. Was there a deliberate connection between the exercise and the example you were furnished with? Was the striking similarity between Jim's options and yours a strange coincidence or was there deep plotting?

And as I'm sure Wilmore will also want to know, what then was the answer to this? If the answer revolves around resentment towards those who are in need, as they then make you suffer I will be sorry I didn't suggest that, but Wilmore had already given a very good answer to challenge. My alternative theory was already enough other distraction.

It really isn't as deep as you thought. I pmed Wilmore some material to read on the argument. But ya, we got shut down.

PS - Congrates on not getting lynched. I guess you evaded the bandwagon somehow. Your time will come. :)

 ;)
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 17, 2010, 03:30:48 PM
Damn! This is why I can't wait to study philosophy formally next year - studying it in isolation just isn't the same.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Horatio on November 17, 2010, 03:34:18 PM
Seems to me that if he actually believed his argument, he would not have the iPod.

Like many things in the academic world, the premise is sound, but unworkable in the real world.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Thork on November 17, 2010, 03:36:05 PM
This is going to sound silly but you should have asked ClockTower for help. He'd have tried his best to shut you down, and may have highlighted some of the holes. He might have been useless and screamed prove it for 3 hours, but I figure if ever there was a use for him, this was probably it.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 17, 2010, 04:16:04 PM
Seems to me that if he actually believed his argument, he would not have the iPod.

Like many things in the academic world, the premise is sound, but unworkable in the real world.

That is just the think. It is a tough pill to swallow. It seems to be a sound argument, but he cannot find way to refute it, and as of yet, nobody else has either.  Nobody has ever won the iPod.

As it turns out, it is very workable, it wouldn't destroy the world as we thought. People may be opposed to it, but it isn't unworkable.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Thork on November 17, 2010, 05:11:07 PM
It is too little too late, but I think I know how you might have claimed that iPod.

Consider this. Anyone who has less than you, is in more need than you. You should of course only donate to those who have less. You don't need to give Bill Gates money as a charitable donation to make sure he is ok. Now even if someone is only slightly poorer than you, they still do not have as much. By definition they are more needy than you.

The world's total household wealth is 125 trillion dollars. There are 6881800000 people on the planet. Therefore, if everyone donated to people until all the world's wealth was equalled and no one was any more needy than anyone else, everyone on the planet would have $18,163 dollars worth of assets.

Now you are a student. Do you have assets of less than $18,163? If the answer is yes, then you are not someone who should give to charity. You are actually someone who should be receiving. You are the needy. You are the very sort of person who should receive donations, as you do not yet have your fair share of the world's wealth. You are not expected to contribute. Only to receive.

How do you think that would have played out? Its cold hard reasoning, but it is indisputable, don't you think?
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 17, 2010, 05:29:30 PM
It is too little too late, but I think I know how you might have claimed that iPod.

Consider this. Anyone who has less than you, is in more need than you. You should of course only donate to those who have less. You don't need to give Bill Gates money as a charitable donation to make sure he is ok. Now even if someone is only slightly poorer than you, they still do not have as much. By definition they are more needy than you.

The world's total household wealth is 125 trillion dollars. There are 6881800000 people on the planet. Therefore, if everyone donated to people until all the world's wealth was equalled and no one was any more needy than anyone else, everyone on the planet would have $18,163 dollars worth of assets.

Now you are a student. Do you have assets of less than $18,163? If the answer is yes, then you are not someone who should give to charity. You are actually someone who should be receiving. You are the needy. You are the very sort of person who should receive donations, as you do not yet have your fair share of the world's wealth. You are not expected to contribute. Only to receive.

How do you think that would have played out? Its cold hard reasoning, but it is indisputable, don't you think?

His response would be. "Which premise are you rejecting?"
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 17, 2010, 05:33:00 PM
As it turns out, it is very workable, it wouldn't destroy the world as we thought. People may be opposed to it, but it isn't unworkable.


I have to say, I've read the article/essay you sent me, and I don't really see where he deals with the point that a world without luxury is not psychologically sustainable. If it isn't, then some degree of luxury is necessary to make the world better. Thus it cannot be immoral.


The objection we made to premise two was that there is a morally relative difference between Jim's singular purchase and any or all of our luxury purchases. By the above, we know that some luxury purchases are necessary. Therefore, some of my luxury purchases must be morally justifiable. Jim's specific purchase is immoral, and any one of my purchases by itself might be viewed as immoral. However, if some luxury is necessary, then we know that not all luxury my purchases are immoral. There is a morally relative distinction between a local luxury purchase and the sum impact of our global purchases.


I'm also not sure his economic argument about 'market forces' really holds water. 'Market forces' only function when profit is involved, and if all luxury is being given up then no real profit exists. Our capital must leave here in its totality to be invested in saving lives elsewhere. That is not economically sustainable, but again the fact that is not economically sustainable is not the point. The point is if luxury is necessary for the economic stability required to make the world better, then it cannot be immoral. I'd love to see someone knowledgable in ecomonics have a look at that section, because I believe it would collapse under scrutiny.


That said, I am personally of the view that we do lead largely immoral lives - there is an unjustifiable amount of luxury in our lives given the state of the world. I just think that a life without any luxury (even as defined) is not sustainable.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 17, 2010, 05:47:08 PM
As it turns out, it is very workable, it wouldn't destroy the world as we thought. People may be opposed to it, but it isn't unworkable.


I have to say, I've read the article/essay you sent me, and I don't really see where he deals with the point that a world without luxury is not psychologically sustainable. If it isn't, then some degree of luxury is necessary to make the world better. Thus it cannot be immoral.

The argument has no problem with luxury being good for the world. The argument has a problem with a person indulging in what they reasonably believe is a luxury instead of trying to prevent the horrific deaths of small innocent children. My professor actually accepted the premises and conclusion that we gave him.

The objection we made to premise two was that there is a morally relative difference between Jim's singular purchase and any or all of our luxury purchases. By the above, we know that some luxury purchases are necessary. Therefore, some of my luxury purchases must be morally justifiable. Jim's specific purchase is immoral, and any one of my purchases by itself might be viewed as immoral. However, if some luxury is necessary, then we know that not all luxury my purchases are immoral. There is a morally relative distinction between a local luxury purchase and the sum impact of our global purchases.

Again, the argument has no issue with some luxury purchases.

I'm also not sure his economic argument about 'market forces' really holds water. 'Market forces' only function when profit is involved, and if all luxury is being given up then no real profit exists. Our capital must leave here in its totality to be invested in saving lives elsewhere. That is not economically sustainable, but again the fact that is not economically sustainable is not the point. The point is if luxury is necessary for the economic stability required to make the world better, then it cannot be immoral. I'd love to see someone knowledgeable in economics have a look at that section, because I believe it would collapse under scrutiny.

The main point was that even if we said that all people started donating because they didn't want to be immoral, there would be a point in which the people can no longer have the power to indulging in what they reasonably believe is a luxury instead of trying to prevent the horrific deaths of small innocent children. At a certain point they can no longer easily prevent these deaths, so the argument no longer applies, and buying luxuries ceases to be immoral. Note the argument also allows for a person to buy luxuries if they simply did not have a choice when it comes to buying luxuries or helping people.

When we formulated our argument, we failed to pay close attention to the wording of the premises. We assumed that it was towards the purchase of all luxuries, when it actually is not.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 17, 2010, 05:55:44 PM
It is too little too late, but I think I know how you might have claimed that iPod.

Consider this. Anyone who has less than you, is in more need than you. You should of course only donate to those who have less. You don't need to give Bill Gates money as a charitable donation to make sure he is ok. Now even if someone is only slightly poorer than you, they still do not have as much. By definition they are more needy than you.

The world's total household wealth is 125 trillion dollars. There are 6881800000 people on the planet. Therefore, if everyone donated to people until all the world's wealth was equalled and no one was any more needy than anyone else, everyone on the planet would have $18,163 dollars worth of assets.

Now you are a student. Do you have assets of less than $18,163? If the answer is yes, then you are not someone who should give to charity. You are actually someone who should be receiving. You are the needy. You are the very sort of person who should receive donations, as you do not yet have your fair share of the world's wealth. You are not expected to contribute. Only to receive.

How do you think that would have played out? Its cold hard reasoning, but it is indisputable, don't you think?

His response would be. "Which premise are you rejecting?"
Premise one. If Jim is up to his eyeballs in debt after splashing out on scuba holidays and maxing his credit card on oxygen, he may well have a net worth of less than $18000. He could be well within his rights not to donate. He is the needy.

So Jim is allowed to let the children die because, "Well, I don't have a whole lot of money, so if I am going to spend it, I am going to spend it on myself!"
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Thork on November 17, 2010, 05:57:04 PM
It is too little too late, but I think I know how you might have claimed that iPod.

Consider this. Anyone who has less than you, is in more need than you. You should of course only donate to those who have less. You don't need to give Bill Gates money as a charitable donation to make sure he is ok. Now even if someone is only slightly poorer than you, they still do not have as much. By definition they are more needy than you.

The world's total household wealth is 125 trillion dollars. There are 6881800000 people on the planet. Therefore, if everyone donated to people until all the world's wealth was equalled and no one was any more needy than anyone else, everyone on the planet would have $18,163 dollars worth of assets.

Now you are a student. Do you have assets of less than $18,163? If the answer is yes, then you are not someone who should give to charity. You are actually someone who should be receiving. You are the needy. You are the very sort of person who should receive donations, as you do not yet have your fair share of the world's wealth. You are not expected to contribute. Only to receive.

How do you think that would have played out? Its cold hard reasoning, but it is indisputable, don't you think?

His response would be. "Which premise are you rejecting?"

Sorry made a mistake ... new angle.
Premise two. There is a difference. Jim is a wealthy stock broker who goes on scuba holidays. His net worth is more than $18000. Yours is not.

Bam, enjoy your ice-cream.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 17, 2010, 06:07:17 PM
It is too little too late, but I think I know how you might have claimed that iPod.

Consider this. Anyone who has less than you, is in more need than you. You should of course only donate to those who have less. You don't need to give Bill Gates money as a charitable donation to make sure he is ok. Now even if someone is only slightly poorer than you, they still do not have as much. By definition they are more needy than you.

The world's total household wealth is 125 trillion dollars. There are 6881800000 people on the planet. Therefore, if everyone donated to people until all the world's wealth was equalled and no one was any more needy than anyone else, everyone on the planet would have $18,163 dollars worth of assets.

Now you are a student. Do you have assets of less than $18,163? If the answer is yes, then you are not someone who should give to charity. You are actually someone who should be receiving. You are the needy. You are the very sort of person who should receive donations, as you do not yet have your fair share of the world's wealth. You are not expected to contribute. Only to receive.

How do you think that would have played out? Its cold hard reasoning, but it is indisputable, don't you think?

His response would be. "Which premise are you rejecting?"

Sorry made a mistake ... new angle.
Premise two. There is a difference. Jim is a wealthy stock broker who goes on scuba holidays. His net worth is more than $18000. Yours is not.

Bam, enjoy your ice-cream.

So let's tweek the thought experiment. Jim makes minimal wage. He is treating himself and wants to go scuba diving. Then the same situation occurs.

Is buying oxygen tanks that he will never intend to use over saving children justifiable now?
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Thork on November 17, 2010, 06:22:12 PM
It is too little too late, but I think I know how you might have claimed that iPod.

Consider this. Anyone who has less than you, is in more need than you. You should of course only donate to those who have less. You don't need to give Bill Gates money as a charitable donation to make sure he is ok. Now even if someone is only slightly poorer than you, they still do not have as much. By definition they are more needy than you.

The world's total household wealth is 125 trillion dollars. There are 6881800000 people on the planet. Therefore, if everyone donated to people until all the world's wealth was equalled and no one was any more needy than anyone else, everyone on the planet would have $18,163 dollars worth of assets.

Now you are a student. Do you have assets of less than $18,163? If the answer is yes, then you are not someone who should give to charity. You are actually someone who should be receiving. You are the needy. You are the very sort of person who should receive donations, as you do not yet have your fair share of the world's wealth. You are not expected to contribute. Only to receive.

How do you think that would have played out? Its cold hard reasoning, but it is indisputable, don't you think?

His response would be. "Which premise are you rejecting?"

Sorry made a mistake ... new angle.
Premise two. There is a difference. Jim is a wealthy stock broker who goes on scuba holidays. His net worth is more than $18000. Yours is not.

Bam, enjoy your ice-cream.

So let's tweek the thought experiment. Jim makes minimal wage. He is treating himself and wants to go scuba diving. Then the same situation occurs.

Is buying oxygen tanks that he will never intend to use over saving children justifiable now?
The supposition has to assume logic. If Jim earns minimum wage you can bet your ass he won't be wasting money on oxygen he doesn't need. Quiet simply he can't afford to. Only people with more money than they need can do that. No one who has a total net worth of less than $18000 wastes money when they don't have to. Should he spend the money on the children? Actually in a round about sort of a way no. He should pay if he is the only one there, but then be reimbursed by the rich to re-level his wealth, so net cost to him is zero. It is not his job under these rules to give anyone else money. That is the burden of those with over $18000.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 17, 2010, 06:27:06 PM
It is too little too late, but I think I know how you might have claimed that iPod.

Consider this. Anyone who has less than you, is in more need than you. You should of course only donate to those who have less. You don't need to give Bill Gates money as a charitable donation to make sure he is ok. Now even if someone is only slightly poorer than you, they still do not have as much. By definition they are more needy than you.

The world's total household wealth is 125 trillion dollars. There are 6881800000 people on the planet. Therefore, if everyone donated to people until all the world's wealth was equalled and no one was any more needy than anyone else, everyone on the planet would have $18,163 dollars worth of assets.

Now you are a student. Do you have assets of less than $18,163? If the answer is yes, then you are not someone who should give to charity. You are actually someone who should be receiving. You are the needy. You are the very sort of person who should receive donations, as you do not yet have your fair share of the world's wealth. You are not expected to contribute. Only to receive.

How do you think that would have played out? Its cold hard reasoning, but it is indisputable, don't you think?

His response would be. "Which premise are you rejecting?"

Sorry made a mistake ... new angle.
Premise two. There is a difference. Jim is a wealthy stock broker who goes on scuba holidays. His net worth is more than $18000. Yours is not.

Bam, enjoy your ice-cream.

So let's tweek the thought experiment. Jim makes minimal wage. He is treating himself and wants to go scuba diving. Then the same situation occurs.

Is buying oxygen tanks that he will never intend to use over saving children justifiable now?
The supposition has to assume logic. If Jim earns minimum wage you can bet your ass he won't be wasting money on oxygen he doesn't need. Quiet simply he can't afford to. Only people with more money than they need can do that. No one who has a total net worth of less than $18000 wastes money when they don't have to. Should he spend the money on the children? Actually in a round about sort of a way no. He should pay if he is the only one there, but then be reimbursed by the rich to re-level his wealth, so net cost to him is zero. It is not his job under these rules to give anyone else money. That is the burden of those with over $18000.

It is absolutely logical. It is a thought experiment. I could change that one submarine to an entire armada of submarines that are trapped underwater if I wanted to. It is a thought experiment, so if that is how it went down, that is how it went down.

Also, if Jim did not make the luxurious purchase, than the argument doesn't apply to him, so this objection doesn't really do anything.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Thork on November 17, 2010, 06:32:48 PM
Where is the problem? If Jim must be reimbursed, he has no problem. Whatever a person spends they always get put back to $18163. Nothing costs anyone. As soon as you lose out, someone richer must help the needy. Which is now Jim, out of pocket to the tune of some oxygen.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 17, 2010, 06:39:40 PM
Where is the problem? If Jim must be reimbursed, he has no problem.

When did I say this?

Whatever a person spends they always get put back to $18163. Nothing costs anyone. As soon as you lose out, someone richer must help the needy. Which is now Jim, out of pocket to the tune of some oxygen.

Jim was going to pay out of pocket anyways. Remember the oxygen tanks?

Once again, you are reverting to, "I don't have a lot of money, so if I am going to spend it on myself and let those children suffocate."
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Thork on November 17, 2010, 06:45:54 PM
Where is the problem? If Jim must be reimbursed, he has no problem.

When did I say this?

Whatever a person spends they always get put back to $18163. Nothing costs anyone. As soon as you lose out, someone richer must help the needy. Which is now Jim, out of pocket to the tune of some oxygen.

Jim was going to pay out of pocket anyways. Remember the oxygen tanks?

Once again, you are reverting to, "I don't have a lot of money, so if I am going to spend it on myself and let those children suffocate."
No, the premise is that you can't enjoy an ice-cream. You can, you are the needy. Only once you acquire more than $18163 is it wrong. You must then give away your excess wealth until you are back to this number. Then you can buy whatever you like.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 17, 2010, 07:00:08 PM
Where is the problem? If Jim must be reimbursed, he has no problem.

When did I say this?

Whatever a person spends they always get put back to $18163. Nothing costs anyone. As soon as you lose out, someone richer must help the needy. Which is now Jim, out of pocket to the tune of some oxygen.

Jim was going to pay out of pocket anyways. Remember the oxygen tanks?

Once again, you are reverting to, "I don't have a lot of money, so if I am going to spend it on myself and let those children suffocate."
No, the premise is that you can't enjoy an ice-cream. You can, you are the needy. Only once you acquire more than $18163 is it wrong. You must then give away your excess wealth until you are back to this number. Then you can buy whatever you like.

It says that nowhere in the premise.

Indulging in what I reasonably believe is a luxury instead of trying to prevent the horrific deaths of small innocent children.

There is no price tag on when someone is capable of doing this, and when they are not. Jim is indulging on something he knows is a luxury while he could easily prevent these deaths. It is easily within his power. It applies to him.

Are you saying that Jim's actions are immoral if he makes $18163.01 but if he makes $18163.00 he is perfectly fine?

This objection is ridiculous. Lets say I make only $2,000 a year. I am in school. I am in the public library and studying. There is only one other person in the library, the librarian. The librarian eats a Snickers bar, and suddenly has an extreme allergic reaction to it. There is an epee-pen dispenser on the wall, that for $5, I can get one to save her. Then I notice an ice-cream stand across the street, and I am awfully hungry. I then decide to buy ice-cream instead of saving her life. But it is ok. I make $,2000 a year.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Thork on November 17, 2010, 07:13:17 PM
You are blurring the lines between a charitable donation and a must be solved right now problem. Jim has to act as he is the only one capable of doing so. But he is not the only one capable of donating to charity. Everyone who has more than $18163 can do that.

He is responsible for saving the children as it is directly up to him whether they live or die. It is not directly down to him is some African children need water to live. He cannot be expected to accept this burden if he earns less than the stated amount. He is the needy. He should receive not give. It is the rich in this case who should help the poor. Not Jim. The rich must give their money. You/Jim whoever can enjoy an ice-cream. Its one of the few meagre assets you have.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 17, 2010, 07:16:51 PM
I edited for your ridiculous (sorry) needy argument.

You have given no reason why people under a certain amount can get away with letting people die. You have given no reason why people under that amount cannot give to people that are less fortunate then themselves. Are you seriously equating the situation of a person that makes $18,000 with one that makes $40? You are essentially saying, "He isn't as wealthy, so it isn't his problem."

It doesn't matter how wealthy you are. If you let someone die when it was well within your power to save them because you would rather have a luxury, you let them die.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: spanner34.5 on November 18, 2010, 03:45:21 AM
The whole initial statement is faulty. A submarine with life support failure will not normally kill through oxygen lack, but co2 poisoning. Introducing oxygen into the sub is unlikely to save anyone. If it is introduced under pressure much above atmospheric the oxygen becomes toxic it's self

If Jim is an experienced diver, he is likely to know this and not waste his money on an almost certain fools errand.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 18, 2010, 04:32:49 AM
As it turns out, it is very workable, it wouldn't destroy the world as we thought. People may be opposed to it, but it isn't unworkable.


I have to say, I've read the article/essay you sent me, and I don't really see where he deals with the point that a world without luxury is not psychologically sustainable. If it isn't, then some degree of luxury is necessary to make the world better. Thus it cannot be immoral.

The argument has no problem with luxury being good for the world. The argument has a problem with a person indulging in what they reasonably believe is a luxury instead of trying to prevent the horrific deaths of small innocent children. My professor actually accepted the premises and conclusion that we gave him.


But the conclusion does not refer to "indulging in what they reasonably believe is a luxury instead of trying to prevent the horrific deaths of small innocent children" as a whole. Instead it simply says "indulging in such a luxury [i.e. what I reasonably believe is a luxury] is immoral" (the "such a luxury" refers to the description in premise two, "what I reasonably believe is a luxury"). This is only valid if we accept the hidden/absent premise that we always possess the power to save the lives of small innocent children (through organisations like CARE etc). If we always possess the power to save the lives of small innocent children, then the conlusion is stating that any and all luxury purchases we make are immoral.


This is what I meant when I said his claim is actually a global claim rather than a local claim. It has been well disguised by hiding a necessary premise, but ultimately that conclusion applies to all purchases we make if you examine the implications of the argument.


I'm also not sure his economic argument about 'market forces' really holds water. 'Market forces' only function when profit is involved, and if all luxury is being given up then no real profit exists. Our capital must leave here in its totality to be invested in saving lives elsewhere. That is not economically sustainable, but again the fact that is not economically sustainable is not the point. The point is if luxury is necessary for the economic stability required to make the world better, then it cannot be immoral. I'd love to see someone knowledgeable in economics have a look at that section, because I believe it would collapse under scrutiny.

The main point was that even if we said that all people started donating because they didn't want to be immoral, there would be a point in which the people can no longer have the power to indulging in what they reasonably believe is a luxury instead of trying to prevent the horrific deaths of small innocent children. At a certain point they can no longer easily prevent these deaths, so the argument no longer applies, and buying luxuries ceases to be immoral. Note the argument also allows for a person to buy luxuries if they simply did not have a choice when it comes to buying luxuries or helping people.

When we formulated our argument, we failed to pay close attention to the wording of the premises. We assumed that it was towards the purchase of all luxuries, when it actually is not.


As I said above, I think the argument does cover all luxuries. Either we can always save the lives of small innocent children, and it applies to all luxuries, or we cannot always save the lives of small innocent children and the conclusion does not follow. The argument cannot have it both ways; it is only the hidden premise which allows it to appear as though it can.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 18, 2010, 07:50:21 AM
Again, you are misunderstanding the argument. Yes, it doesn't apply towards every moment that you buy stuff? Why?

"For purposes of the Affluence Argument, I take ďluxuryĒ to refer to something I purchase that has very little or no positive moral value.  Moreover, the argument applies to me only if I indulge in what I reasonably believe is something that has very little or no positive moral value.  A house, car, career, modest wardrobe, and many other possessions have more positive moral value than just a little bit."

When you no longer reasonably believe that such an object is merely a luxury, the argument no longer applies. When you can no longer easily prevent the deaths of children, the argument no longer applies.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 18, 2010, 09:27:20 AM
I really don't think I am. This isn't about how he defines luxury, or more accurately how he excludes certain things from the label 'luxury'. According to his argument, all luxury (however that may be defined) is immoral, because we can always save the lives of small innocent children. If some luxury (however that may be defined) is necessary, then that cannot be true.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 18, 2010, 09:33:38 AM
I really don't think I am. This isn't about how he defines luxury, or more accurately how he excludes certain things from the label 'luxury'. According to his argument, all luxury (however that may be defined) is immoral, because we can always save the lives of small innocent children. If some luxury (however that may be defined) is necessary, then that cannot be true.

If a certain luxury is necessary, then that means that it would have some amount of positive moral value, which means that it would cease to be a luxury at that point.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 18, 2010, 10:09:42 AM
If a certain luxury is necessary, then that means that it would have some amount of positive moral value, which means that it would cease to be a luxury at that point.


Such a line of thinking renders the main point absurd, and justifies most of the luxuries we use on a day to day basis rather than making them immoral. If it is okay to spend money on things which have no moral value other than that derived their status as purchases which have no moral value, we have reduced the argument to absurdity. Suddenly, things have positive moral value because they have no positive moral value. Their only value is derived from their status as luxuries. Things aren't luxuries because they are luxuries. The definition is thus implausible.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 18, 2010, 10:29:40 AM
Such a line of thinking renders the main point absurd, and justifies most of the luxuries we use on a day to day basis rather than making them immoral. If it is okay to spend money on things which have no moral value other than that derived their status as purchases which have no moral value, we have reduced the argument to absurdity.

Could you rephrase this? I don't quite understand what you are stating.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Thork on November 18, 2010, 10:31:08 AM
I edited for your ridiculous (sorry) needy argument.

You have given no reason why people under a certain amount can get away with letting people die. You have given no reason why people under that amount cannot give to people that are less fortunate then themselves. Are you seriously equating the situation of a person that makes $18,000 with one that makes $40? You are essentially saying, "He isn't as wealthy, so it isn't his problem."

It doesn't matter how wealthy you are. If you let someone die when it was well within your power to save them because you would rather have a luxury, you let them die.
Well being as my argument has now been mentally filed on your ridiculous pile, I'll think I will leave it there. The only thing ridiculous are the initial premises. It boils down to owning luxuries is immoral. Well some people work hard for their money. They deserve to spend a bit on themselves and not be guilt tripped about it.

Do not bother to reply. I am sulking.  :'(
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 18, 2010, 10:37:30 AM
Well being as my argument has now been mentally filed on your ridiculous pile, I'll think I will leave it there.

 :( Sorry.

Well some people work hard for their money. They deserve to spend a bit on themselves

But does this explain a morally relevant difference between my case and Kentís?  No.  In fact, Kent makes the same assertions to justify his behavior.  But he still behaves immorally.  Since itís not even a difference between my situation and Kentís, it canít be a morally relevant difference.  Finally, maybe I should work hard to prevent such horrific things from happening.

and not be guilt tripped about it.

And that is why this is a hard pill to swallow.

Do not bother to reply. I am sulking.  :'(

Too late.
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: Lord Wilmore on November 18, 2010, 10:51:31 AM
Such a line of thinking renders the main point absurd, and justifies most of the luxuries we use on a day to day basis rather than making them immoral. If it is okay to spend money on things which have no moral value other than that derived their status as purchases which have no moral value, we have reduced the argument to absurdity.

Could you rephrase this? I don't quite understand what you are stating.



We need some luxuries, agreed? Then those luxuries thus become a necessities because they are luxuries. They are luxuries (i.e. have no moral value), but we need luxuries, which makes them necessities, so they have moral value (because they are luxuries). Their only moral value comes from the fact that they are luxuries (and have no other moral value).
Title: Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
Post by: EnglshGentleman on November 19, 2010, 11:13:16 AM
Such a line of thinking renders the main point absurd, and justifies most of the luxuries we use on a day to day basis rather than making them immoral. If it is okay to spend money on things which have no moral value other than that derived their status as purchases which have no moral value, we have reduced the argument to absurdity.

Could you rephrase this? I don't quite understand what you are stating.



We need some luxuries, agreed? Then those luxuries thus become a necessities because they are luxuries. They are luxuries (i.e. have no moral value), but we need luxuries, which makes them necessities, so they have moral value (because they are luxuries). Their only moral value comes from the fact that they are luxuries (and have no other moral value).

Yes, we need some luxuries. However, their moral value isn't derived from them merely being a luxury. They come from why people feel they are necessary. People don't think, "I need something!!" then run around and grab something random. For example, having large quantities of money can be a luxury. However, when you are putting that money into a saving's account for your child's college fund to try and ensure he has a successful future, then it gains some moral positive value. At that point, it is no longer a luxury.  Why? Because that object no longer has no or little moral value to you. Wanting to buy an ice-cream just because you saw it, and decided it looked tasty, in reality has little actual moral value, so it is still a luxury. Why considering whether or not a purchase or transaction is a luxury, think to yourself, "Can I reasonably say that this has moral value to me?". If the answer is no, then it is a luxury. If the answer is yes, then you need not to worry.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 07, 2011, 07:16:49 PM
I think we should reopen this thread now that more philosophy people are back.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: Benocrates on January 07, 2011, 07:35:04 PM
can you summarize where we're at? I don't necessarily want to read the whole thread.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 07, 2011, 08:10:46 PM
can you summarize where we're at? I don't necessarily want to read the whole thread.

Just read the OP. Not much ground has been made on it.

Pretty much you have to find a situation where there is a morally relevant difference between the thought example, and your own actions.

This was an example as a person's objection to it in class, and his answer.

It’s MY money.  I worked hard for it.  I don’t work hard so that I have to give it to others.

 Reply:  But does this explain a morally relevant difference between my case and Jim’s?  No.  In fact, Jim makes the same assertions to justify his behavior.  But he still behaves immorally.  Since it’s not even a difference between my situation and Jim’s, it can’t be a morally relevant difference.  Finally, maybe I should work hard to prevent such horrific things from happening.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on January 07, 2011, 09:59:37 PM
I'm back for more devil's advocate:

Morality is an instinctual social construct that is limited to reasonable socially constructive behavior.
If the governing dynamics of morality were absolute laws, they might be able to be extended to non-local scenarios.

If the vast majority of the population didn't care about people they don't personally meet or know how could we say that morals apply that way?
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 07, 2011, 10:04:31 PM
I'm back for more devil's advocate:

Morality is an instinctual social construct that is limited to reasonable socially constructive behavior.
If the governing dynamics of morality were absolute laws, they might be able to be extended to non-local scenarios.

If the vast majority of the population didn't care about people they don't personally meet or know how could we say that morals apply that way?

How would that make any morally relevant difference between the situations? Or are you denying the first premise and are trying to argue that it wasn't an immoral act?

Are we to believe it is ok to brutally murder someone if you don't care about the person?
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on January 07, 2011, 10:26:23 PM
Or are you denying the first premise and are trying to argue that it wasn't an immoral act?
Yes. I am highlighting the fact that morals are vague subjective principles. The more a collective of people is benefited by a moral principle, the more moral agreement there, and thus more moral clarity. It is perceived that murder is 'bad' based on the collective's need for their own security.

By examining the roots/origins of morality we can try to establish limits. Regrettably, extremely few people feel insecure or effected when they hear that children are starving in Africa. If they did feel the same level of care for them as their immediate peers, nobody could function. Every person on Earth would be dragged into hell. Convention tells us the morals apply universally like math, but how can that be completely accurate when virtually everyone doesn't feel the as morally offended as soon as the problem is distant and non-intrusive?

This argument is simply that morals are too vague and subjective to impose an absolute structure, which was implied in the premise.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 08, 2011, 08:06:15 AM
Or are you denying the first premise and are trying to argue that it wasn't an immoral act?
Yes. I am highlighting the fact that morals are vague subjective principles. The more a collective of people is benefited by a moral principle, the more moral agreement there, and thus more moral clarity. It is perceived that murder is 'bad' based on the collective's need for their own security.

By examining the roots/origins of morality we can try to establish limits. Regrettably, extremely few people feel insecure or effected when they hear that children are starving in Africa. If they did feel the same level of care for them as their immediate peers, nobody could function. Every person on Earth would be dragged into hell. Convention tells us the morals apply universally like math, but how can that be completely accurate when virtually everyone doesn't feel the as morally offended as soon as the problem is distant and non-intrusive?

This argument is simply that morals are too vague and subjective to impose an absolute structure, which was implied in the premise.

You misunderstand the argument when you say, "Everyone would be dragged to hell". The argument only applies when you buy what you believe to be a luxury, while you could have prevented easily preventable deaths. When you are not doing, or are capable of one of these, it doesn't apply.

So it isn't an immoral act because of the proximity? That because the starving children are thousands of miles away, we become disconnected with them morally?

Alright, so lets say in the thought experiment, the pipe lines are traveling hundreds, even thousands of miles away to the suffocating children in the submarines. Knowing this, Jim thinks to himself, “Even though those of us here on the Cayman Islands filling our air tanks at O2 Inc. are in an especially good position to help the suffocating children, the children are so very far away.  I can’t even see them.  So, I’m not obligated to try to prevent their easily preventable deaths. So, I’ll fill up my spare air tanks and enjoy having them around on my yacht’s deck.

Verdict: Jim’s choosing to fill his extra tanks instead of directing the compressed air toward the suffocating children is still immoral, and since there is now no proximity difference between our scenarios, proximity cannot be a factor.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: General Disarray on January 08, 2011, 08:10:42 AM
For practical purposes, people don't consider luxury immoral because they do not know about a specific situation they could (and should) help with. Most people, when personally confronted with a situation in which only they can save a life will do it, however people who are just vaguely aware of suffering and death elsewhere in the world (and are not personally confronted about it) are much less likely to do something about it.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 08, 2011, 08:13:57 AM
For practical purposes, people don't consider luxury immoral because they do not know about a specific situation they could (and should) help with. Most people, when personally confronted with a situation in which only they can save a life will do it, however people who are just vaguely aware of suffering and death elsewhere in the world (and are not personally confronted about it) are much less likely to do something about it.

If a person does not know how to help the people, than the argument simply no longer applies to them. They do not satisfy the second premise of being capable of preventing the horrific deaths.

There may be an argument that addresses this objection to say they are still immoral, but that is not this one.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: General Disarray on January 08, 2011, 08:25:42 AM
I think they are capable of it, they could voluntarily go out and do something about it. Everyone knows (to some extent) that there is suffering in the world, and that money could do something to help stop it, but if not confronted with a specific situation, they are more likely to help.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 08, 2011, 08:29:14 AM
I think they are capable of it, they could voluntarily go out and do something about it. Everyone knows (to some extent) that there is suffering in the world, and that money could do something to help stop it, but if not confronted with a specific situation, they are more likely to help.

You just said before though that they are not aware of how to do it. If a person does not know of any organizations, or relief groups, then they are not able to do anything. Now you are saying they can go do something about it, as if they know a means to help. Which is it?  ???
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: General Disarray on January 08, 2011, 08:47:59 AM
You could actively seek out a relief organization and give them the money.

Taking a lesson from The Guide: at most times, things are 'somebody else's problem', it is only that we are presented with a specific situation and personally asked to help with it that it becomes 'my problem'.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 08, 2011, 09:39:08 AM
You could actively seek out a relief organization and give them the money.

If this is the situation, and you do know how you can save the children, do explain the morally relevant difference between the thought experiment and the person you are describing. Again, it only immoral to do so when you DO have the ability.

How is Jim's situation any different than if you were to watch a commercial for "Save the Children" or see a advertisement for CARE.org?

Both are presenting you with the situation.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: General Disarray on January 08, 2011, 10:04:48 AM
Not sure there is a difference, all things considered.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 08, 2011, 10:39:35 AM
Not sure there is a difference, all things considered.

Ya. So I guess that person's actions would still be immoral.  :P
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: General Disarray on January 08, 2011, 01:11:37 PM
In my mind at least, there's a difference between some douchebag on tv showing you pictures of starving kids and begging for money, and the situation you presented.

In that case by doing something almost exactly identical to his regular activities, Jim could directly save lives. In the case of normal charitable donations, he would have to go out of his way and jump through hoops.

Also, the urgency of the situation as presented might play a role.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 08, 2011, 01:26:25 PM
In my mind at least, there's a difference between some douchebag on tv showing you pictures of starving kids and begging for money, and the situation you presented.

In that case by doing something almost exactly identical to his regular activities, Jim could directly save lives. In the case of normal charitable donations, he would have to go out of his way and jump through hoops.

How exactly is it jumping through hoops? At care.org it literally takes like 2 minutes to make a donation, and for many of the call in ones it is the same. Manyorganizations try to make it as easy as possible just for this purpose.

Also, the urgency of the situation as presented might play a role.

How is there not a sense of urgency with the children in real life?

Besides, say in the thought experiment that the children will end up suffocating over a long period of time.

Is Jim free to pump the air to his tanks now?
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: doyh on January 08, 2011, 07:26:05 PM
My opinion: there is a difference between morality and social permissibility. Due to something called Dunbar's Number, a primate can only see about 150 people at a time as being real. Therefore, while the people in Darfur and the people on the submarine are both equally real, we only care about the kids on the submarine because they have sustenance in our minds. We know more about them, so they are more real. Not giving air to the kids is worse simply because air is more important than food or whatever it is our money gives to the poor folk in Darfur, but not giving money to charities is really just as bad, but culture in general permits it due to the fact that the people the charities help don't exist in our minds. It is socially permissible, but that doesn't make it okay.

On a lighter note: why the hell would you need six scuba tanks to go diving? Or even four? Two is too many! The amount of time he'll need to spend decompressing...

Also, a flaw I see in the question: if the dive shop cares enough to install a new button, why can't they just donate oxygen?
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 08, 2011, 07:38:36 PM
My opinion: there is a difference between morality and social permissibility. Due to something called Dunbar's Number, a primate can only see about 150 people at a time as being real. Therefore, while the people in Darfur and the people on the submarine are both equally real, we only care about the kids on the submarine because they have sustenance in our minds. We know more about them, so they are more real. Not giving air to the kids is worse simply because air is more important than food or whatever it is our money gives to the poor folk in Darfur, but not giving money to charities is really just as bad, but culture in general permits it due to the fact that the people the charities help don't exist in our minds. It is socially permissible, but that doesn't make it okay.

So lets say that there is an entire fleet of submarines. There are thousands of school children suffocating!

Then Jim thinks to himself, "Since there is so many of them, and I know almost nothing about them, I might as well fill up my are tanks."

Is his act no longer immoral now?

Also, food is a requirement to survival, so how is denying children food any different to denying them air. In both situations the children will die.


On a lighter note: why the hell would you need six scuba tanks to go diving? Or even four? Two is too many! The amount of time he'll need to spend decompressing...

Exactly. They are luxuries, things he knows he does not need, and have little moral value.

Also, a flaw I see in the question: if the dive shop cares enough to install a new button, why can't they just donate oxygen?

This is completely irrelevant to the question. The pipelines are in place, but they have to have funds in order to be able to send oxygen over them.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: doyh on January 08, 2011, 07:52:21 PM
My opinion: there is a difference between morality and social permissibility. Due to something called Dunbar's Number, a primate can only see about 150 people at a time as being real. Therefore, while the people in Darfur and the people on the submarine are both equally real, we only care about the kids on the submarine because they have sustenance in our minds. We know more about them, so they are more real. Not giving air to the kids is worse simply because air is more important than food or whatever it is our money gives to the poor folk in Darfur, but not giving money to charities is really just as bad, but culture in general permits it due to the fact that the people the charities help don't exist in our minds. It is socially permissible, but that doesn't make it okay.

So lets say that there is an entire fleet of submarines. There are thousands of school children suffocating!

Then Jim thinks to himself, "Since there is so many of them, and I know almost nothing about them, I might as well fill up my are tanks."

Is his act no longer immoral now?

I wasn't saying that it's okay, I was just saying why we think the way we do, and why allowing an anonymous Darfurian to die is socially permissible while letting the kids on the submarine die is not. Notice how I said that it doesn't make it okay.

Quote
Also, food is a requirement to survival, so how is denying children food any different to denying them air. In both situations the children will die.

Because you can live for nearly a month without food, while you can only live a few minutes without air. If you look at it from an existential point of view, as I do, it is far worse.

Quote
On a lighter note: why the hell would you need six scuba tanks to go diving? Or even four? Two is too many! The amount of time he'll need to spend decompressing...

Exactly. They are luxuries, things he knows he does not need, and have little moral value.

That was just me thinking out loud. I'm not saying what he did wasn't bad here, just explaining how we think and giving you more ammunition when speaking with your professor.


Quote
Also, a flaw I see in the question: if the dive shop cares enough to install a new button, why can't they just donate oxygen?

This is completely irrelevant to the question. The pipelines are in place, but they have to have funds in order to be able to send oxygen over them.

Again, just me thinking out loud. I do that IRL too.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 08, 2011, 07:56:01 PM
Alright.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: Benocrates on January 08, 2011, 08:05:31 PM
I want to know what the existential difference is between denial of food and denial of air.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: doyh on January 08, 2011, 08:08:03 PM
You live longer, so the difference is the same, technically speaking, as if you saved the three kids and they all died in a car accident a few weeks later.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: Benocrates on January 08, 2011, 08:10:30 PM
I do not understand
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: doyh on January 08, 2011, 08:15:28 PM
According to existentialism, you can't save a life. You can only prolong it.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: Benocrates on January 08, 2011, 08:20:03 PM
lol...I suppose that's true. But to make some kind of moral calculation of life saved based on time seems quite absurd (if you'll forgive the pun).
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: doyh on January 08, 2011, 08:24:21 PM
Does it? Would you rather live for one more day, or one more week?
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: Benocrates on January 08, 2011, 08:31:51 PM
one day if the week involved torture, e.g. starvation
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: doyh on January 08, 2011, 08:35:40 PM
one day if the week involved torture, e.g. starvation

Is suffocation any better? I think that there are few cases in which life is worse than death.

Note: I'm also an atheist.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: Benocrates on January 08, 2011, 08:36:51 PM
so am I, but I think your view of existentialism needs some fleshing out. Try reading some of the heavyweights, Sartre is my personal fav.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 08, 2011, 09:11:26 PM
You live longer, so the difference is the same, technically speaking, as if you saved the three kids and they all died in a car accident a few weeks later.

This is completely irrelevant since this does not show the moral difference.

Even if it did, we could just change the thought experiment so that the children all suffocated slowly.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 08, 2011, 09:13:10 PM
Does Benocrates have anything to say on the Affluence Argument?
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: doyh on January 08, 2011, 09:18:29 PM
You live longer, so the difference is the same, technically speaking, as if you saved the three kids and they all died in a car accident a few weeks later.

This is completely irrelevant since this does not show the moral difference.

That is a matter of opinion.

Quote
Even if it did, we could just change the thought experiment so that the children all suffocated slowly.

Then it would be morally the same. But it's still criminally negligent manslaughter, either way. I was just stating that it was slightly better.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 08, 2011, 09:22:45 PM
You live longer, so the difference is the same, technically speaking, as if you saved the three kids and they all died in a car accident a few weeks later.

This is completely irrelevant since this does not show the moral difference.

That is a matter of opinion.

Quote
Even if it did, we could just change the thought experiment so that the children all suffocated slowly.

Then it would be morally the same. But it's still criminally negligent manslaughter, either way. I was just stating that it was slightly better.


It is not merely a matter of opinion. It is a matter of fact. If you failed to show the morally relevant difference, than you didn't do it. You said it yourself that you failed to do so.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: doyh on January 08, 2011, 09:30:27 PM
You live longer, so the difference is the same, technically speaking, as if you saved the three kids and they all died in a car accident a few weeks later.

This is completely irrelevant since this does not show the moral difference.

That is a matter of opinion.

Quote
Even if it did, we could just change the thought experiment so that the children all suffocated slowly.

Then it would be morally the same. But it's still criminally negligent manslaughter, either way. I was just stating that it was slightly better.


It is not merely a matter of opinion. It is a matter of fact. If you failed to show the morally relevant difference, than you didn't do it. You said it yourself that you failed to do so.

Morals are subjective.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 08, 2011, 09:34:33 PM
Morals are subjective.

Even if this were true, you have yet to explain the morally significant difference between the situations. This does not negate my statement. Regardless of what morality a person stands by, whether it was the morally right thing to let them die or not, you still did not prove a relevant difference between the scenarios, and that is fact.

If you want to debate morality's subjectivity, please do not bog up this thread with it. Make another thread, or post in another one that is already active.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: doyh on January 08, 2011, 09:38:58 PM
Maybe I wasn't as clear as I thought I was. I believe that it is better to starve to death than to suffocate, as you are given more time on Earth. Therefore, I believe that it is morally better to allow someone to starve to death than to allow someone to suffocate, therefore, I believe that it is slightly better to give oxygen to the dying kids than to give food to the dying Darfurian.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: Benocrates on January 08, 2011, 09:46:46 PM
I What makes life more intrinsically worthwhile than otherwise? Suffering has no part of it?

And I'll give a comprehensive argument on the subject in a bit. To be honest I just haven't wanted to read and process this one yet.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: doyh on January 08, 2011, 09:50:55 PM
I think that suffering would need to be on the level of actual torture to life not to be worthwhile. And when I say torture, I mean Unit 731-esque torture.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 08, 2011, 10:02:10 PM
Maybe I wasn't as clear as I thought I was. I believe that it is better to starve to death than to suffocate, as you are given more time on Earth. Therefore, I believe that it is morally better to allow someone to starve to death than to allow someone to suffocate, therefore, I believe that it is slightly better to give oxygen to the dying kids than to give food to the dying Darfurian.

Again, we can just change the thought experiment so that the children have plenty of food, but they will suffocate over a longer duration. The duration of death is the same now, and there is still no difference. I have said this plenty of times before.

And I'll give a comprehensive argument on the subject in a bit. To be honest I just haven't wanted to read and process this one yet.

 :P come on! I need some strong philosophical minds here!
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: Trekky0623 on January 08, 2011, 10:22:29 PM
You have to take pain into account. It is quite likely that you will lose consciousness through suffocation before you die.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 08, 2011, 11:37:36 PM
You have to take pain into account. It is quite likely that you will lose consciousness through suffocation before you die.

This would make the case for preventing the starving children from dying even stronger since they would be having a painful death.

This doesn't show a morally relevant difference, and even if it did based on pain as you suggest, that would mean it is even more immoral to let the children starve.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: Trekky0623 on January 09, 2011, 12:05:45 AM
You have to take pain into account. It is quite likely that you will lose consciousness through suffocation before you die.

This would make the case for preventing the starving children from dying even stronger since they would be having a painful death.

This doesn't show a morally relevant difference, and even if it did based on pain as you suggest, that would mean it is even more immoral to let the children starve.

Alternatively, neither starve the children or suffocate them.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 09, 2011, 07:51:23 AM
You have to take pain into account. It is quite likely that you will lose consciousness through suffocation before you die.

This would make the case for preventing the starving children from dying even stronger since they would be having a painful death.

This doesn't show a morally relevant difference, and even if it did based on pain as you suggest, that would mean it is even more immoral to let the children starve.

Alternatively, neither starve the children or suffocate them.

Is that a serious answer?
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: doyh on January 09, 2011, 08:07:29 AM
Maybe I wasn't as clear as I thought I was. I believe that it is better to starve to death than to suffocate, as you are given more time on Earth. Therefore, I believe that it is morally better to allow someone to starve to death than to allow someone to suffocate, therefore, I believe that it is slightly better to give oxygen to the dying kids than to give food to the dying Darfurian.

Again, we can just change the thought experiment so that the children have plenty of food, but they will suffocate over a longer duration. The duration of death is the same now, and there is still no difference. I have said this plenty of times before.

And I'll give a comprehensive argument on the subject in a bit. To be honest I just haven't wanted to read and process this one yet.

 :P come on! I need some strong philosophical minds here!

Like I said, if you change the thought experiment, moral relativity becomes equal.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 09, 2011, 09:13:52 AM
Eh, changing it I suppose is bad wording. Just tweaking details to make a point.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: General Disarray on January 09, 2011, 10:26:27 AM
If the goal is to win the prize, I would think technicalities in the wording would be just fine to exploit. That is your strong suit after all  ::)
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 09, 2011, 11:57:43 AM
If the goal is to win the prize, I would think technicalities in the wording would be just fine to exploit. That is your strong suit after all  ::)

It isn't really up for the prize anymore. Just more of, "Every argument for which there is no counterexample, is true." I feel that if I can't find a reason why there is a morally relative difference, then I must accept the Affluence Argument to be true.

Besides, there is no rule you cannot tweek a thought-experiment. It is done all the time in philosophy.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on January 14, 2011, 06:56:57 AM
Perhaps you could argue that spending money on luxuries (as opposed to burning the money or indefinitely holding it) is moral, and donating it is simply more moral.

It wouldn't be viable to deem any moral action as immoral, because of a greater moral alternative.

There is always a better way to spend your money. There is always a better way to dedicate your time. There is always a more efficient cause, and a more effective methodology. We are simply not omniscient, and cannot know the best way to utilize resources. In local specific examples, the moral options are much clearer than vague mindsets of global issues.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 14, 2011, 10:05:46 AM
Perhaps you could argue that spending money on luxuries (as opposed to burning the money or indefinitely holding it) is moral, and donating it is simply more moral.

It wouldn't be viable to deem any moral action as immoral, because of a greater moral alternative.

There is always a better way to spend your money. There is always a better way to dedicate your time. There is always a more efficient cause, and a more effective methodology. We are simply not omniscient, and cannot know the best way to utilize resources.

Sounds like a plan. So, could you explain to me how we would go about doing this?

That is a bold move, saying that's Jim's decision was actually a moral one, and I doubt we will possibly be able to back it up.

Also, this argument has nothing to say about burning your money, or indefinitely holding it. An action can still be immoral, even if it is not as immoral as something else. (e.g. thievery to manslaughter)

Quote
In local specific examples, the moral options are much clearer than vague mindsets of global issues.

This sounds like what Wilmore tried to argue, but the problem is that it simply isn't as broad as you are making it out to be. It isn't saying that every time you buy something it is immoral. It is a very specific circumstance. When you are buying a luxury (something with little to no moral value to you) when you otherwise could have stopped easily preventable deaths with it.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: doyh on January 15, 2011, 06:56:22 PM
I would argue that not spending the money on the children is criminally negligent manslaughter and compare it  to standing next to a man about to jump off a roof, and not stopping him because you would ruin your day talking to the police.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on January 15, 2011, 07:10:39 PM
I would argue that not spending the money on the children is criminally negligent manslaughter and compare it  to standing next to a man about to jump off a roof, and not stopping him because you would ruin your day talking to the police.

And you are free to create an argument and thought experiment that addresses the issue of not spending money if you wish. To this one, however, it is unrelated.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: Benocrates on January 17, 2011, 07:22:46 PM
standing next to a man about to jump off a roof, and not stopping him because you would ruin your day talking to the police.

This is not criminally negligent homicide.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: Tausami on January 25, 2011, 01:45:26 PM
standing next to a man about to jump off a roof, and not stopping him because you would ruin your day talking to the police.

This is not criminally negligent homicide.

I understand what he's saying, though. If you know a guy just overdosed, and you go out and get a hooker instead of calling an ambulance, u can go to jail for a long time (thanks to James Patterson for that example)
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on April 14, 2011, 07:54:53 PM
 :'(
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on April 18, 2011, 12:00:14 AM
It seems I missed my cue to respond.

Perhaps you could argue that spending money on luxuries (as opposed to burning the money or indefinitely holding it) is moral, and donating it is simply more moral.

It wouldn't be viable to deem any moral action as immoral, because of a greater moral alternative.

There is always a better way to spend your money. There is always a better way to dedicate your time. There is always a more efficient cause, and a more effective methodology. We are simply not omniscient, and cannot know the best way to utilize resources.

Sounds like a plan. So, could you explain to me how we would go about doing this?

That is a bold move, saying that's Jim's decision was actually a moral one, and I doubt we will possibly be able to back it up.

It seems self evident to me that spending money to better your life is moral. If you were the only person in existence, it would be wasteful to not better your life with it. As long as morals are instinctual guidelines created by evolutionary survivalistic drives, self-serving actions can be said to have a claim over the morality construct. It's true that communitive instincts generally place importance on lending help to our peers, but it also places a stronger priority on working for ourselves. Somehow that get's lost when morals are applied to become general rules.

Also, a morally superior alternative is just that, more moral. Something moral can only be seen as immoral by adopting a relativistic moral view.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on April 18, 2011, 12:38:03 AM
So you are suggesting that each and every time that you spend money, what you are buying has moral value?

Are you now stating that Jim's actions in the thought experiment were in fact, moral? After all, now he can just say to himself, "Well every time you spend money, the purchase has positive moral value, therefore my actions could not possibly be immoral!"

If you support this position, that means that it was moral for Jim to choose to buy air tanks in which he knew he would never need and knew they would never serve a purpose, over saving the lives of countless children.

Or do you think that letting someone die is not immoral?
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on April 18, 2011, 07:17:12 AM
So you are suggesting that each and every time that you spend money, what you are buying has moral value?
Moreso that the act of buying something is moral, but also that conceptions about morality are created by applying our instincts. Essentially, my argument is that self interest is virtually a universal instinct (just like helping your peers). Therefore, it is a natural component of morality that goes unnoticed and unrecognized. The general rules society creates to depict morality fail to account for self interest.

If empathy, guilt, remorse, kinship, and other societal emotions didn't exist, society's definition of morality would be reduced to self interest.

Quote
Are you now stating that Jim's actions in the thought experiment were in fact, moral? After all, now he can just say to himself, "Well every time you spend money, the purchase has positive moral value, therefore my actions could not possibly be immoral!"

They are immoral only under the perspective that he could have accomplished much more with minimal effort. Relative to saving children, I deem it immoral.

Quote
Or do you think that letting someone die is not immoral?
My argument is one derived from exploring a reversed perspective of the subject and not my personal feelings.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on April 18, 2011, 07:21:05 AM
They are immoral only under the perspective that he could have accomplished much more with minimal effort. Relative to saving children, I deem it immoral.

Than what is the morally relevant difference between this and donating to a charitable organization instead of buying a coffee at your Starbucks? Donating to organizations such as CARE does not take much effort. Heck, you could even just put your Starbucks money in one of the donation tins at the Starbucks.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: Tausami on April 18, 2011, 07:31:01 AM
They are immoral only under the perspective that he could have accomplished much more with minimal effort. Relative to saving children, I deem it immoral.

Than what is the morally relevant difference between this and donating to a charitable organization instead of buying a coffee at your Starbucks? Donating to organizations such as CARE does not take much effort. Heck, you could even just put your Starbucks money in one of the donation tins at the Starbucks.

Is there one? As far as I can tell, the only real difference here is that in this case, the people you're helping are distant and, due to Dunbar's Number, not as real in your mind.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on April 18, 2011, 07:36:27 AM
Is there one?

According to the Affluence argument, there isn't. Meaning every time you purchase a luxury when you otherwise could have easily saved lives, you are acting immorally.

As far as I can tell, the only real difference here is that in this case, the people you're helping are distant and, due to Dunbar's Number, not as real in your mind.

How is that a morally relevant difference? How many miles must the submarines be offshore until Jim is allowed to happily fill up his air tanks without it being immoral?
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: Tausami on April 18, 2011, 07:44:27 AM
Is there one?

According to the Affluence argument, there isn't. Meaning every time you purchase a luxury when you otherwise could have easily saved lives, you are acting immorally.

As far as I can tell, the only real difference here is that in this case, the people you're helping are distant and, due to Dunbar's Number, not as real in your mind.

How is that a morally relevant difference? How many miles must the submarines be offshore until Jim is allowed to happily fill up his air tanks without it being immoral?

Without it being immoral? There is none. When I say distant, I don't literally mean far away. I mean more along the lines of how African refugees from Darfur don't seem to exist as much as, say, your best friend does. I suppose I must agree with the Affluence Argument.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on April 18, 2011, 08:36:30 AM
They are immoral only under the perspective that he could have accomplished much more with minimal effort. Relative to saving children, I deem it immoral.

Than what is the morally relevant difference between this and donating to a charitable organization instead of buying a coffee at your Starbucks? Donating to organizations such as CARE does not take much effort. Heck, you could even just put your Starbucks money in one of the donation tins at the Starbucks.

I'm saying that what is apparently immoral is not immoral from an absolute standpoint.
It doesn't make it less moral to still save 4 children, if say a more moral option to save 20 children reveals itself. Saving 20 children is more moral, but it is not established that saving 4 children becomes immoral.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on April 18, 2011, 08:53:15 AM
They are immoral only under the perspective that he could have accomplished much more with minimal effort. Relative to saving children, I deem it immoral.

Than what is the morally relevant difference between this and donating to a charitable organization instead of buying a coffee at your Starbucks? Donating to organizations such as CARE does not take much effort. Heck, you could even just put your Starbucks money in one of the donation tins at the Starbucks.

I'm saying that what is apparently immoral is not immoral from an absolute standpoint.
It doesn't make it less moral to still save 4 children, if say a more moral option to save 20 children reveals itself. Saving 20 children is more moral, but it is not established that saving 4 children becomes immoral.

To make this argument relevant though, you would have to prove how Jim's spending, and your spending, is a least moral.

I do understand what you are saying, that just because one thing is more moral than the other, does not mean that one choice suddenly becomes immoral. However, in this situation you are speaking of, both choices would have to be moral in the first place. The choice made in the thought experiment is not.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on April 18, 2011, 09:01:06 AM
However, in this situation you are speaking of, both choices would have to be moral in the first place. The choice made in the thought experiment is not.

It's true that he doesn't use it, but he still emotionally benefits from it.

And even if he wasn't using it to benefit himself, then the example only extends to other scenarios in which the money would otherwise not be used for one's own interests.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on April 18, 2011, 09:12:05 AM
It's true that he doesn't use it, but he still emotionally benefits from it.

The moral value of his choice can still be negligible though. Just because you bought something because you felt like it, does not mean that what you bought has any real moral value to you.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on April 18, 2011, 09:40:56 AM
It's true that he doesn't use it, but he still emotionally benefits from it.

Just because you bought something because you felt like it, does not mean that what you bought has any real moral value to you.

Buying something to make yourself feel good counts as self benefit. I should think that self benefit of any kind, and in any amount is still a moral positive, regardless of its magnitude.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on April 18, 2011, 09:43:23 AM
I should think that self benefit of any kind, and in any amount is still a moral positive, regardless of its magnitude.

Sure it does. By this argument there is no such thing as something being morally permissible since everything is going to have some sort of moral value even if it is negligible.

Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on April 18, 2011, 02:15:23 PM
Sure it does. By this argument there is no such thing as something being morally permissible since everything is going to have some sort of moral value even if it is negligible.
How so?
Are we using morally permissible to mean morally neutral?
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on April 18, 2011, 03:18:43 PM
Sure it does. By this argument there is no such thing as something being morally permissible since everything is going to have some sort of moral value even if it is negligible.
How so?
Are we using morally permissible to mean morally neutral?

Yes. But as you described above, if you believe every action you take has some sort of morality attached to it no matter how miniscule, how is one suppose to make a morally neutral decision?

I support that if the morality of a decision is negligible in either direction, then the decision should not be considered immoral or moral.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on April 19, 2011, 07:04:31 AM
Sure it does. By this argument there is no such thing as something being morally permissible since everything is going to have some sort of moral value even if it is negligible.
How so?
Are we using morally permissible to mean morally neutral?

Yes. But as you described above, if you believe every action you take has some sort of morality attached to it no matter how miniscule, how is one suppose to make a morally neutral decision?

I support that if the morality of a decision is negligible in either direction, then the decision should not be considered immoral or moral.

Alright, for the sake of seeing where this goes, what happens when we round down close fractions to the zero?

And even if he wasn't using it to benefit himself [his actions are considered neutral; not moral nor immoral], then the example only extends to other scenarios in which the money would otherwise not be used for one's own interests.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on April 19, 2011, 11:35:02 AM
And even if he wasn't using it to benefit himself [his actions are considered neutral; not moral nor immoral], then the example only extends to other scenarios in which the money would otherwise not be used for one's own interests.

Alright. Just for clarification (I don't want to go off on something and have you respond "Er... that isn't what I meant") could you give an example of such a situation?
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on April 20, 2011, 09:54:01 AM
And even if he wasn't using it to benefit himself [his actions are considered neutral; not moral nor immoral], then the example only extends to other scenarios in which the money would otherwise not be used for one's own interests.

Alright. Just for clarification (I don't want to go off on something and have you respond "Er... that isn't what I meant") could you give an example of such a situation?

A situation in which your professor's argument doesn't apply? Well if the man wasn't using the oxygen tanks for anything, the equivalent might be burying cash in your backyard until you die. It is unused.

Therefore, a scenario that differs from the thought experiment on this point (and therefore isn't bound to it's conclusions) would be any circumstance in which the cash was used for self benefit... or perhaps the benefit of a yet another party. If he decides to buy food or a car for himself instead of donating it, it is not 'wasted' like the oxygen tanks were.

One could argue that the OP only establishes that it is moral to donate it when the money would otherwise be thrown away.  ;)
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on April 20, 2011, 10:08:13 AM
A situation in which your professor's argument doesn't apply? Well if the man wasn't using the oxygen tanks for anything, the equivalent might be burying cash in your backyard until you die. It is unused.

If the person isn't buying a luxury when they otherwise could have been saving lives, then the argument does not apply. There could be an argument out there about not spending your money at all, but that one is not this one.

Quote
Therefore, a scenario that differs from the thought experiment on this point (and therefore isn't bound to it's conclusions) would be any circumstance in which the cash was used for self benefit... or perhaps the benefit of a yet another party.

If he decides to buy food or a car for himself instead of donating it, it is not 'wasted' like the oxygen tanks were.

Buying food so that you can eat, or a car so you may have a job are most likely do not have zero or negligible moral value to a person.

Quote
One could argue that the OP only establishes that it is moral to donate it when the money would otherwise be thrown away.  ;)

The OP establishes that that it is immoral to spend your money in such a way that is morally equivalent to throwing it away.

It doesn't at any point saying anything about storing your money, or saving your money. It is very specific on purpose.

Quote
Premise one: Jim's actions were immoral. (Obvious Truth)

Premise two: There is no morally relevant difference between Jimís immoral behavior and my indulging in what I reasonably believe is a luxury instead of trying to prevent the horrific deaths of small innocent children.

Conclusion: Therefore, my indulging in what I reasonably believe is a luxury instead of preventing (or trying to prevent) the deaths of small innocent children is immoral.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on April 20, 2011, 10:28:40 AM
A situation in which your professor's argument doesn't apply? Well if the man wasn't using the oxygen tanks for anything, the equivalent might be burying cash in your backyard until you die. It is unused.

If the person isn't buying a luxury when they otherwise could have been saving lives, then the argument does not apply.

I was under the impression that you rounded the purchase of the oxygen tanks down to a permissible zero since the self benefit was negligible. This essentially makes the oxygen tanks a waste instead of a luxury.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on April 20, 2011, 10:41:33 AM
A situation in which your professor's argument doesn't apply? Well if the man wasn't using the oxygen tanks for anything, the equivalent might be burying cash in your backyard until you die. It is unused.

If the person isn't buying a luxury when they otherwise could have been saving lives, then the argument does not apply.

I was under the impression that you rounded the purchase of the oxygen tanks down to a permissible zero since the self benefit was negligible. This essentially makes the oxygen tanks a waste instead of a luxury.

It is not about the self-benefit that makes something a luxury. It is whether or not you reasonably believe it has moral value to you. If you can rationalize moral value to everything you purchase, than more power to you. But most likely, you do not do this.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on April 20, 2011, 10:51:55 AM
It is not about the self-benefit that makes something a luxury. It is whether or not you reasonably believe it has moral value to you. If you can rationalize moral value to everything you purchase, than more power to you. But most likely, you do not do this.
Not everything I purchase, but if a luxury is what is morally permissible, I think fewer things qualify for the example. I believe you mentioned that a new car does have moral value. Does that mean if he had spent his money on a car instead of saving children you would no longer object?  ???
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on April 20, 2011, 11:01:30 AM
It is not about the self-benefit that makes something a luxury. It is whether or not you reasonably believe it has moral value to you. If you can rationalize moral value to everything you purchase, than more power to you. But most likely, you do not do this.
Not everything I purchase, but if a luxury is what is morally permissible, I think fewer things qualify for the example. I believe you mentioned that a new car does have moral value. Does that mean if he had spent his money on a car instead of saving children you would no longer object?  ???

If the car was the means of him being able to have a job, or his only means of transportation, nope. But if he was driving past a car lot and was like, "Eh, I guess I'll buy one of those for funsies." then I would by the Affluence Argument. (Assuming he was aware he could save lives instead)

I am going to FB you something so you can better understand the argument.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on April 20, 2011, 11:32:38 AM
It is not about the self-benefit that makes something a luxury. It is whether or not you reasonably believe it has moral value to you. If you can rationalize moral value to everything you purchase, than more power to you. But most likely, you do not do this.
Not everything I purchase, but if a luxury is what is morally permissible, I think fewer things qualify for the example. I believe you mentioned that a new car does have moral value. Does that mean if he had spent his money on a car instead of saving children you would no longer object?  ???

If the car was the means of him being able to have a job, or his only means of transportation, nope.

So his opportunity to get a certain job can take priority over the lives of the children?
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on April 20, 2011, 12:56:02 PM
It is not about the self-benefit that makes something a luxury. It is whether or not you reasonably believe it has moral value to you. If you can rationalize moral value to everything you purchase, than more power to you. But most likely, you do not do this.
Not everything I purchase, but if a luxury is what is morally permissible, I think fewer things qualify for the example. I believe you mentioned that a new car does have moral value. Does that mean if he had spent his money on a car instead of saving children you would no longer object?  ???

If the car was the means of him being able to have a job, or his only means of transportation, nope.

So his opportunity to get a certain job can take priority over the lives of the children?

If that job has reasonable moral value to him, yes.

If you want to formulate an argument where any spending is immoral, that is fine. That argument however, is irrelevant to this one.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on April 20, 2011, 01:02:56 PM
It is not about the self-benefit that makes something a luxury. It is whether or not you reasonably believe it has moral value to you. If you can rationalize moral value to everything you purchase, than more power to you. But most likely, you do not do this.
Not everything I purchase, but if a luxury is what is morally permissible, I think fewer things qualify for the example. I believe you mentioned that a new car does have moral value. Does that mean if he had spent his money on a car instead of saving children you would no longer object?  ???

If the car was the means of him being able to have a job, or his only means of transportation, nope.

So his opportunity to get a certain job can take priority over the lives of the children?

If that job has reasonable moral value to him, yes.

If you want to formulate an argument where any spending is immoral, that is fine. That argument however, is irrelevant to this one.
On the contrary. I am trying to establish that self-serving acts can fall under purview of morality.  ;)
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on April 20, 2011, 01:03:57 PM
On the contrary. I am trying to establish that self-serving acts can fall under purview of morality.  ;)

I never stated otherwise. I stated that not all self-serving acts fall under having moral value.

"I don’t need a perfect definition that specifies what does and what does not count as a luxury.  The argument applies to me only if I indulge in what I reasonably believe is a luxury.  If I can convince myself that I indulge in no luxuries, then the argument no longer applies to me.  But I cannot convince myself of this.  Many things I purchase have virtually no moral value at all."
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: ﮎingulaЯiτy on April 20, 2011, 01:13:23 PM
Interesting. In that case, I would say that I have indulged in purchased 3 luxuries since I was 16.
Title: Re: Affluence Argument
Post by: EnglshGentleman on April 20, 2011, 01:22:00 PM
Interesting. In that case, I would say that I have indulged in 3 luxuries since I was 16.

You evil immoral person!  >:(