Affluence Argument

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EnglshGentleman

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Affluence Argument
« 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.


« Last Edit: March 30, 2011, 10:15:55 PM by EnglshGentleman »

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Trekky0623

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Re: We need to put our minds together to win for our charity.
« Reply #1 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.

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EnglshGentleman

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Re: We need to put our minds together to win for our charity.
« Reply #2 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.

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ﮎingulaЯiτy

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #3 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.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 12:51:36 AM by ﮎingulaЯiτy »
If I was asked to imagine a perfect deity, I would never invent one that suffers from a multiple personality disorder. Christians get points for originality there.

Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #4 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.      

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EnglshGentleman

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #5 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.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 12:57:40 AM by EnglshGentleman »

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ﮎingulaЯiτy

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #6 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?
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 12:56:42 AM by ﮎingulaЯiτy »
If I was asked to imagine a perfect deity, I would never invent one that suffers from a multiple personality disorder. Christians get points for originality there.

Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #7 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.

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Chris Spaghetti

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #8 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.

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #9 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.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 09:48:11 AM by Lord Wilmore »
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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spanner34.5

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #10 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.
My I.Q. is 85. Or was it 58?

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EnglshGentleman

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #11 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.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 08:56:12 AM by EnglshGentleman »

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #12 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.
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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EnglshGentleman

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #13 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.

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #14 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.
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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ﮎingulaЯiτy

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #15 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.
If I was asked to imagine a perfect deity, I would never invent one that suffers from a multiple personality disorder. Christians get points for originality there.

Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #16 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.

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EnglshGentleman

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #17 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.

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Trekky0623

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #18 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.

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EnglshGentleman

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #19 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?
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 03:26:03 PM by EnglshGentleman »

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EnglshGentleman

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #20 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?

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Thork

Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #21 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.  ;)
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 04:21:24 PM by Thork »

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #22 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.
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #23 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.
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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EnglshGentleman

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #24 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.)
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 04:48:34 PM by EnglshGentleman »

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Thork

Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #25 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. :(

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EnglshGentleman

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #26 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.  :-[

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EnglshGentleman

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #27 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.

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Thork

Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #28 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?

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EnglshGentleman

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Re: Opportunity To Earn Money For Our Charity.
« Reply #29 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.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2010, 05:22:46 PM by EnglshGentleman »