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    Thread: Ethics: Absolutism and Consequentialism

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      Ethics: Absolutism and Consequentialism

      Disclaimer: I'm not fond of the vocabulary I opened with, so I'm hoping you'll forgive it and try to see the deeper dichotomy (perhaps trichotomy) I wish to discuss rather than attack my specific terminology.

      I distinguish ethics between pursuing the most virtuous action and the most beneficial results. The most virtuous action is based on an absolute rule, while the most beneficial consequence depends on the situation you're dealing with.

      My questions are how do you distinguish ethics and which type of ethical code do you prefer?

      I understand you may have a different way to classify approaches to ethics than I do, so consider your own preference. For instance I inherently would pick consequentialism because I believe rigid ethical codes are often based upon circular logic. Of course I chose utilitarianism because most examples I received of absolutists were very negative: religious zealots, hate-mongers, etc. The more I look at evolutionary ethics, the more my view changes. And furthermore, the more I look at Detachment and Detachment-based traditions, the more my view changes.

      I am at the point where I regard absolutism not to necessarily be based on any sort of objective right and wrong. It seems to be based on statistical advantage. I obviously can't explain the statistical advantage behind every single virtue or principle, but the basic virtues all appear to support a healthier civilization, statistically speaking. This means to be an absolutist, you do not need to think you're actually right, you can be perfectly aware you're gambling and the consequences may not reward your rules. But following thoroughly tested rules, methods and traditions puts you in statistical advantage, increasing your chances of success above 50%, figuratively speaking.

      So someone acting out of virtue would not play Roulette because the odds are against them, and therefore it does not support right action. They may win once but statistically speaking they're making a bad choice. This is a hypothetical example of how I see absolutist ethics from an evolutionary viewpoint, obviously absolutism is still susceptible to backwards rationalization, just not as much as consequentialism. My personal stance on right behavior is that choosing consequentialism itself means you are failing as a consequentialist, because you are regarding proper behavior rather than greater outcome. In general I feel like people tend to think absolutists are attempting to negate responsibility of their actions, taking refuge in the fact that they were following their duty, rules, orders, etc. I disagree with this, I think they are taking complete responsibility of their actions, just not the outcome. The outcome is part of nature and inherently out of our control, anyways, so there's no reason to take responsibility, so long as you're willing to learn and edit your behavior. I don't see anything wrong with taking refuge in right action rather than getting hung up on the results, after all the action is the only thing we control. But this is as far as I tread into absolutism, in reality I seek the action that my perception of the situation leads me to believe will generate the best possible result. After I discover this action, I perform it without regard over what the result actually is. After all nothing is ever 100% as you expect it to be.
      Last edited by Omnis Dei; 06-12-2012 at 07:50 AM.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      You're churning these out left and right, Omnis. While I agree with a lot of what you have to say, I think most of it would also be appropriate as application within other threads!

      As for how I distinguish one ethical code from another; there isn't one particular "set" that I abide by, it's more an amalgamation of ethical principles that have either guided me true in actual life or that, ideally, I agree with on a fundamental level and try to practice myself in any aspect or instance of daily life. It would be an interesting and rewarding exercise to trace the origins of my own ethical standards, but definitely a feat that is outside my undertaking at the moment. Perhaps I'll come back to this thread in a while.

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      Sorry I feel like a lot of these ideas warrant specific conversations and I don't wish to derail other threads. Also jail gave me a lot of time to think so tonight I'm basically busting the dam. But I digress.

      Last edited by Omnis Dei; 06-12-2012 at 08:34 AM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Omnis Dei View Post
      Sorry I feel like a of these ideas warrant specific conversations and I don't wish to derail other threads. Also jail gave me a lot of time to think so tonight I'm basically busting the dam. But I digress.

      not to sound redundant, but jail ain't so bad.

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      I basically spent the whole time reading. It could use better food though.

      It also has nothing to with rehabilitation. Statistically speaking, in 5 years your income will be the average of your 5 best friends. This isn't an exact rule, but think about the implication regarding the consequences of the influences you choose to surround yourself with. Incarceration is basically stating, "You made a mistake so we're going to force you to hang around with a bunch of shitty influences." The law is an obstacle toward rehabilitation, and success in general.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Quote Originally Posted by Omnis Dei View Post
      I basically spent the whole time reading. It could use better food though.

      It also has nothing to with rehabilitation. Statistically speaking, in 5 years your income will be the average of your 5 best friends. This isn't an exact rule, but think about the implication regarding the consequences of the influences you choose to surround yourself with. Incarceration is basically stating, "You made a mistake so we're going to force you to hang around with a bunch of shitty influences." The law is an obstacle toward rehabilitation, and success in general.
      I agree with this 100%. Although, I do believe there are good souls in every walk of life.

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      I certainly met several inside, but pragmatically speaking people stuck in jail are not very successful human beings, and so while I met nice people and had good conversations, for my own advantage I'd prefer to surround myself with more successful influences. I have chosen my friends carefully based on the knowledge that's its not merely about getting along, it's about the reflective nature of learning. You learn more from example than cognitively ingesting information. If I wish to increase my chances at prospering, I must increase the prosperous models I observe.
      DreiHundert likes this.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      The nature of an incarceration affects a person's success more so than the incarceration itself, I think, and at the very least gives people a reason to never, ever do that thing again.

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      That's certainly the way society thinks about it, but I'd say that's because they don't know much about neuroscience. People are affected by the impression society has on them, the moment someone gets in trouble with the law they become surrounded by influences that regard them as a repeat offender, or possible repeat offender, in need of baby-sitting based in negative reinforcement. They may learn to grovel, wipe their chin and say thank you, but they do not learn to be successful. They may learn to hold a job and stay out of trouble, but they do not learn to pursue their desires. Their attitude becomes all about running from what they're don't want rather than obtaining what they do want and society would get no where if every one carried that attitude. Sweat of the risk takers fuels evolution.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Quote Originally Posted by Omnis Dei View Post
      Sweat of the risk takers fuels evolution.
      I like that.

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      Ethics/Morality is completely subjective unless you define an objective goal/purpose. If the goal/purpose of humanity is subjective (which this forum adamantly seems to think) or simply non-existent, then so are ethics and morality.

      Therefore the entire debate over whether something is "right" or "wrong" is completely arbitrary and pointless. Subjective judgements cannot be held to the "right or wrong" objective boolean value check.
      Which is why I find it amusing when people talk about ethics or morality at all, its pointless. Literally, at the end of the conversation all you will have is a bunch of different opinions to an inherently erroneous concept.
      greenhavoc likes this.

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      That's like saying Science is pointless just because objectivity is out of reach of the subjective mind. Simply because there is no objective meaning to life that does not mean the subjective meaning has no value. For instance just because humanity has no end goal, that doesn't mean it's not valuable to work toward the evolution of humanity.

      I think evolutionary ethics is my favorite way of studying the field because I don't really care about an objective right and wrong, and that's not why I made this thread, nor do I believe that ethics inherently implies objectivity. We evolve to consider certain things right and wrong because they promote the health of the society. There is great value in understanding how they promote the health of the society. You don't have to argue things like right and wrong and true and false because you can instead predict function vs dysfunction. Of course the outcome is uncertain, and you never know what will really be functional or dysfunctional until the dust settles, but that doesn't mean it's not worth it to study ethics in order to figure out which decision is best.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      What is your evolutionary imperative?

      Is success and survivability really the answer here? Before developing codes of conduct, perhaps we should find our place in nature.

      We always push the limits. There are no boundaries and we all have the urge to express that truth. Even the absolutist fundamentalist will call to their limitless god.
      If we are driven only by consequence, where is our freedom? Both of these choices seem driven by fear. One to control and the other to avoid obstacles.

      The regimes of mankind which have resided supremely upon control have always been the shortest lived. They spread like wildfire and die just the same.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Omnis Dei View Post
      I basically spent the whole time reading. It could use better food though.
      Where the hell did you get a book? Unless you were in there for a long enough period of time to acquire commissary?

      I went to jail for two days and all I did was talk to nazis about drugs. And watch american idol because our cell's "top dog" character was coincidentally a huge fan of American Idol

      ^ Mhm, heard 'dat.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Chimpertainment View Post
      What is your evolutionary imperative?

      Is success and survivability really the answer here? Before developing codes of conduct, perhaps we should find our place in nature.

      We always push the limits. There are no boundaries and we all have the urge to express that truth. Even the absolutist fundamentalist will call to their limitless god.
      If we are driven only by consequence, where is our freedom? Both of these choices seem driven by fear. One to control and the other to avoid obstacles.

      The regimes of mankind which have resided supremely upon control have always been the shortest lived. They spread like wildfire and die just the same.
      Evolutions is about variation, there's your freedom.

      Quote Originally Posted by DreiHundert View Post
      Where the hell did you get a book? Unless you were in there for a long enough period of time to acquire commissary?

      I went to jail for two days and all I did was talk to nazis about drugs. And watch american idol because our cell's "top dog" character was coincidentally a huge fan of American Idol
      Different jail, different rules I guess. There were plenty of books. They were in shitty condition with pages missing but they got the job done. Considering in this state you have to spend like 72 hours in O&A I would have gone crazy without books. You spend 22 hours a day in your cell in O&A.
      Last edited by Omnis Dei; 07-11-2012 at 06:49 PM.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Quote Originally Posted by Omnis Dei View Post
      I certainly met several inside, but pragmatically speaking people stuck in jail are not very successful human beings, and so while I met nice people and had good conversations, for my own advantage I'd prefer to surround myself with more successful influences. I have chosen my friends carefully based on the knowledge that's its not merely about getting along, it's about the reflective nature of learning. You learn more from example than cognitively ingesting information. If I wish to increase my chances at prospering, I must increase the prosperous models I observe.
      A selfish notion, but fuck everyone else. This isn't a charity.

      ^ Mhm, heard 'dat.

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