• Lucid Dreaming - Dream Views




    Results 1 to 9 of 9
    1. #1
      Xei
      UnitedKingdom Xei is offline
      Banned
      Join Date
      Aug 2005
      Posts
      9,984
      Likes
      3082

      Is Experience the Stuff of Moral Value?

      I always thought that enjoyable experience was the most sensible axiom for a life philosophy, but there is an interesting problem:

      If there were a device which somehow simulated perfect pleasure for you, or even just a large amount of constant pleasure, would you choose that device, or this life?

      Note that consequences of using the device (such as inconveniencing people having to support you, or grief due to your absence) are not part of this thought experiment; this scenario is concerned with establishing a coherent life philosophy.

    2. #2
      DuB
      DuB is offline
      Distinct among snowflakes DuB's Avatar
      Join Date
      Sep 2005
      Gender
      Posts
      2,399
      Likes
      358
      I think some clarifications should be made before the discussion advances too far.

      First, we need to distinguish prescriptive from descriptive moral statements. I understood the title of the thread (specifically the reference to "the stuff of moral value") and the first sentence as referring to prescriptive statements about what ought to motivate action. But then your question or "problem" seems to be a purely descriptive one: would one actually choose to use the device?

      If this is the case and the question is meant to be descriptive, then regardless of how one answers the question, I don't see how this creates a problem for the prescriptive statement, because people often fall short of living up to moral values. That is, people can and do endorse certain prescriptive moral philosophies yet occasionally violate them. Prescription and description are certainly related but are fundamentally distinct. The only way in which the answer to this question would pose a problem for the prescriptive statement is if we believe that prescriptive philosophies should also accurately describe actual, real-world moral behavior, and that if they don't do so adequately, they should not be endorsed as prescriptive statements in the first place. This may in fact be your view, but if it is you haven't made this clear.

      The other way to approach the question is as a prescriptive one: ought one to use the device? I'm not sure that this is how you intended the question, but given the introduction to the thread I don't think I can rule out that interpretation.

      Second, I think it should be clarified whether you are referring to one's own enjoyable experience as the stuff of moral value, or the totality of enjoyable experience as the stuff of moral value. That is, ought I to be motivated to increase your enjoyable experience, or only my own? This is an important distinction.

    3. #3
      knows
      Join Date
      Mar 2007
      LD Count
      1billion+5
      Posts
      546
      Likes
      31
      Definitely the device.
      I stomp on your ideas.

    4. #4
      Member Achievements:
      1 year registered Veteran First Class 5000 Hall Points

      Join Date
      Sep 2004
      Gender
      Location
      Seattle, WA
      Posts
      2,503
      Likes
      217
      Pleasure is just one facet of happiness. There are other facets, like satisfaction and contentment, that "constant plesure" can't provide.

    5. #5
      Banned
      Join Date
      Nov 2007
      Gender
      Posts
      1,674
      Likes
      200
      That is a very interesting idea. I asked it myself in regard to lucid dreaming. I was made aware that the experience in Lucid Dreaming could be perfect--however it is often degraded, and the degradation was on purpose. Why?

      The only thing I could conclude is this: Every environemntal acquisition system functions so that we might have life and have it more abundantly, in this respect the human mind becomes a danger, for if we had perfect recall at our desire, we would often choose to live a life in memory than to do our real job.

      When you loose everything you have ever desired, and there is no real hope left in life of acquiring that which you most desire, then one would willingly commit mental suicide simply because we have not mastered emotion.

      And the stronger your desire, the greater the danger. I never desired pleasure or pain, I desired to accomplish something simple and fundamental, to hell with pleasure or pain. I want.

      Moral behavior is doing our job as a mind. Plato called it Virtue.

      That environmental acquisition system of the human body which must acquire experience of the environment and from those experiences abstract and construct human behavior such that that behavior maintains and promotes our life.

      Thus, there is no employment of the human mind that is moral by which one actually promotes one's own death. Be it how we behave towards each other or towards our own body.

      The root question is, which should determine human behavior, emotion or reason.
      Last edited by Philosopher8659; 10-18-2010 at 04:37 PM.

    6. #6
      Xei
      UnitedKingdom Xei is offline
      Banned
      Join Date
      Aug 2005
      Posts
      9,984
      Likes
      3082
      Quote Originally Posted by DuB View Post
      The other way to approach the question is as a prescriptive one: ought one to use the device? I'm not sure that this is how you intended the question, but given the introduction to the thread I don't think I can rule out that interpretation.
      This is how I meant it. We're assuming the 'stuff of moral value' exists, and we're investigating if one should use the device, with reference to the idea that experience is the thing that morals are chiefly concerned with.

      Second, I think it should be clarified whether you are referring to one's own enjoyable experience as the stuff of moral value, or the totality of enjoyable experience as the stuff of moral value. That is, ought I to be motivated to increase your enjoyable experience, or only my own? This is an important distinction.
      I think the golden rule falls out as a corollary from the axiom. If experience is the stuff of moral value, then giving people bad experiences is negatively affecting moral value.

    7. #7
      DuB
      DuB is offline
      Distinct among snowflakes DuB's Avatar
      Join Date
      Sep 2005
      Gender
      Posts
      2,399
      Likes
      358
      I see. That still leaves the "problem" as pretty trivial, though. If enjoyable experience is the stuff of moral value, as we are tentatively assuming, then of course the "right" thing to do in this scenario is to use the pleasure device. The fact that many people would hesitate to choose this option in actual practice simply tells us that consequentialist ethical theories can sometimes suggest moral actions that seem wrong on an intuitive level--which of course we know already (as previous threads in this forum on the Trolley and Footbridge dilemmas can attest). This clash with intuition does not discredit consequentialism because there is no special reason why intuitive appraisals must be accorded privileged status in determining matters of morality. In fact, I would advance the counter-argument that moral intuitions should be regarded with caution. All formal ethical theories recommend counter-intuitive moral decisions in certain situations, but most of these formal theories are still preferable to purely intuitionist theories because moral intuitions are fickle and subjective.

      In short: the measure of an ethical theory is not in how well it accords with intuition.

    8. #8
      Xei
      UnitedKingdom Xei is offline
      Banned
      Join Date
      Aug 2005
      Posts
      9,984
      Likes
      3082
      I rather meant this is a potential reductio ad absurdum to my axiom to be analysed. The axiom only comes from intuition anyway, so if its consequences seem intuitively disturbing then it needs looking into.

      The device would mean never communicating with another person again, for instance. Would you pay this price for an eternal high? And by definition the lack of such people would not make you sad; indeed it could simulate fake people so there would be no consequence at all to your knowledge. That's why this question is interesting.

    9. #9
      DuB
      DuB is offline
      Distinct among snowflakes DuB's Avatar
      Join Date
      Sep 2005
      Gender
      Posts
      2,399
      Likes
      358
      On my evaluation, the thought experiment does not succeed as a reductio ad absurdum. If we accepted it as a successful refutation, then it would follow that all ethical theories could be refuted by similar arguments; that is, by showing that in some hypothetical situations they can lead to intuitively disturbing consequences. With enough creativity, this can be shown for any ethical theory. But this would be problematic because we must retain some form of ethical theory--we can't allow them all to be refuted, because we must make moral decisions. So we must instead accept that the possibility of an ethical theory's consequences clashing with intuition is an insufficient criterion on which to reject that theory. Therefore, the fact that the consequentialist theory you've proposed would urge us to use the pleasure device, defying many people's intuitions about the "right" decision, is not sufficient to discredit the theory.

      (And although it is not really relevant for the present argument, it may be worth mentioning that, personally, I probably would choose to use the device. Hypothetically of course )

      I think that a potentially more compelling way that we can question this theory is by analyzing the feasibility, or even the coherence, of quantifying and ranking all pleasurable/unpleasurable experiences. One issue is that the theory assumes that all alternatives can be reduced to a single common quantity which we might call 'pleasure.' But is this really a tenable assumption? Let's say you're a school administrator who is forced to reduce the budget and must choose which programs to withhold funding from. Is it really possible to choose between allocating funds to, say, the music program vs. the sports program by reducing each alternative to how much total pleasure they will bring about if they maintain full funding? Perhaps, but this is far from clear. Or let's say that you're an instructor in the music department and must choose between teaching the kids to play classical music or the pop singles that most of them would probably prefer to listen to. Is it really possible, or even desirable, to reduce Schubert vs. Brittany Spears to the total quantity of pleasure each alternative would lead to? Perhaps there are different varieties of pleasure? Another issue is that the theory assumes that people's preferences with respect to all possible alternatives form what economists would call a stable and complete set (economists are utilitarians ). But there is a wealth of psychological evidence showing that people's preferences are sensitive to a host of framing and context effects (e.g., whether I prefer A over B or vice versa can depend on normatively irrelevant details such as whether I evaluate the two alternatives separately or jointly), and even that they violate transitivity (i.e., I can prefer A over B and B over C, but also prefer C over A). These preference anomalies suggest that the strict arrangement of alternatives on the basis of quantities of pleasure is not psychologically plausible even in principle, which casts doubt on the adequacy of hedonic consequentialism as a satisfactory ethical theory.

      For the record, I don't think that these latter arguments fully discredit all varieties of consequentialism either, but I think they go a longer way than arguments which demonstrate that consequentialist decisions sometimes seem intuitively wrong.
      Last edited by DuB; 12-24-2010 at 07:24 AM.

    Similar Threads

    1. My first experience with this stuff
      By DMK741 in forum General Lucid Discussion
      Replies: 1
      Last Post: 09-04-2010, 05:00 AM
    2. any moral support? =[
      By drmrgrl in forum The Lounge
      Replies: 28
      Last Post: 03-14-2008, 06:10 AM
    3. Psychology: Moral Development
      By O'nus in forum Extended Discussion
      Replies: 2
      Last Post: 12-13-2007, 11:14 PM
    4. Moral Uncertainty..
      By Dashival in forum General Lucid Discussion
      Replies: 22
      Last Post: 07-20-2007, 07:53 AM
    5. Hacking: Is it moral?
      By dreamscape in forum Senseless Banter
      Replies: 15
      Last Post: 07-07-2004, 01:57 AM

    Bookmarks

    Posting Permissions

    • You may not post new threads
    • You may not post replies
    • You may not post attachments
    • You may not edit your posts
    •