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8:21 AM
1 message moved from The h Bar
9:17 AM
Hi Guys
Can anyone help me with an ethics question
We're not very ethical around here, I'm afraid.
that's a shame
10 mins ago, by John Rennie
@DawoodibnKareem Sam is being mischievous I'm afraid
@Kenshin What's on your mind?
Well I have heard of these ethical dilmenas
like a train is heading towards 10 people
@Kenshin Multitrack drifting
9:19 AM
and you can divert the train to hit just 1 person
should u do it
You mean, you can save 10 lives at the cost of 1 life; and you're wondering why that's different from saving 9 lives?
I have a theory of ethics that can solve this ethical dilemna
and all other ethical dilemas
So my question is
9:21 AM
@Kenshin You might want to ask Doctor Leibniz
are these real dilemnas that philosphers face or just for the layman
because my theory can solve any ethical dilmna I have ever heard
so perhaps philosophers would be keen to hear my idea?
Making a theory to solve ethical dilemma isn't hard, the hard part is convincing people that it is ethical
or have philosophers already solved these ethical dilemas?
Well, people in command of armies face this kind of thing a lot.
spoiler : it never works
9:22 AM
My theory can explain all ethics
Morality is complicated and you can't satisfy everyone
Yes my theory is based on a few postulates
that result in a self consistent theory that matches observations pefectly
like QM I guess
so people may disagree
Like, I can kill someone who's going to murder 1000 people tomorrow; but I'm probably going to kill 30 innocent civilians in the process of doing so. So what do I do? This is REAL stuff.
Yeah my theory can tell u what to do there
@Kenshin how do you make observations in the field of ethics
do u look at a thing
and point your ethics-meter at it
9:23 AM
no my theory explains our perceived notion of ethics
just like QM explains our perceived notion of the point particle with defined position
the point particle doesn't exist, but we can explain why we perceve it
yeah we're not interested
Similarly, ethics doesn't really exist, but can be explained
plz feel free to tell the good people of Philosophy Stack Exchange
well I'm not here to share the theory
I'm just wondering tho, if philosphers really struggle with such ethical dilmenas like the one Dawood just posted
or if only layman struggle with those
OK, Kenshin, let's make it real. Should Theresa May sell arms to Muhammad ibn Salman, that she knows will be used against Yemenese civilians, if she can spend the money that ibn Salman gives her on the British health system, thus saving the lives of many British civilians?
9:25 AM
I can answer that
the answer under my theory would be it depends on the details, but the theory can in principle explain what to do there
@DawoodibnKareem Trick question, Theresa May would not spend it on healthcare!
The theory even can explain why people feel these questions are actually dilemnas
@Slereah I think she claims to, doesn't she? She certainly claims that the money from Saudi Arabia saves British lives.
@Slereah Astonishingly the Conservatives have just committed to a big increase in the NHS budget.
Stunning indeed!
9:27 AM
Does anyone here believe here that there is a fundementally right and wrong thing to do?
@Kenshin Not particularly. Let me give you an example. One of my colleagues donates a lot of money to charities that save animals' lives, such as WSPA and WWF. She never donates any money to charities that work with people, because she feels that animals are more deserving than humans. I on the other hand do the opposite. I give money to charities that save human lives, because I value human life higher than I value animal life. Her charitable spending matches her
values; my charitable spending matches my values. Neither of us is wrong or right - we simply have different values.
@DawoodibnKareem I too don't believe there is a right and wrong, but I think your argument there isn't right
@JohnRennie I wonder how those health workers would feel if they realised that their pay rises were made possible by an arms deal with a war criminal.
Just because people have differences in opinion, doesn't mean there isn't an underlying truth
@Kenshin They're not differences in opinion; they're differences in values.
9:34 AM
So one person could believe in QM and another in classical and thing QM is wrong. This doesn't mean there isn't an underlying physics
@DawoodibnKareem well the implicit assumption your making is that right and wrong is simply a matter of values
but this could be challenged by someone who genunily belives in an objective right and wrong
I believe right and wrong is determined by individual values, but there are people out there who think there is absolute morality
@Kenshin No. But "grass is green and not red" is a fact. "Green is a better colour than red" is not something that can be right or wrong.
@DawoodibnKareem I understand this is an issue that matters to you so I'm not going to make any (ill informed) comments on it, but equating the NHS pay deal to money received from Saudi Arabia is sophistry, as I'm sure you know.
I agree with u, but what if someone was adamant that green really is better than red, objectively
@JohnRennie Yes, sure, but it's Theresa May's argument, not mine.
She has justified selling arms to Saudi Arabia on the basis that she can use the proceeds to save British lives.
Mar 20 at 8:46, by John Rennie
We should probably be cautious about overtly political discussions, but she won't be getting a Christmas card from me this year.
9:36 AM
And she undoubtedly can.
(use the proceeds to save British lives that is, not receive a Christmas card from your good self)
I will now share one of the postulates of my theory
@Kenshin Then they are wrong.
@DawoodibnKareem do you have a citation for May's statement? I'm not doubting you, but I'm curious to know what was said and when.
@JohnRennie I can probably find one, with a little digging.
1. A rational individual will act in their own best interests
9:39 AM
@DawoodibnKareem if it's going to be a hassle don't bother
@JohnRennie If you would like me to, I will. Not today though. Maybe in a day or two, if that's OK.
Does anyone wish to challenge the first postulate of my theory
@DawoodibnKareem Anyway, where did we leave you on physics and mathematical models? Still unconvinced?
@Kenshin Yes. It applies to people who don't have children. A rational mother will sacrifice her life for the lives of her children.
@DawoodibnKareem, yes but here the individual's own best interest is to look after the child
I allow the individual to define their interests
for which they act in
So best interest doesn't equal personal survival
but rather one will act in the way they feel is most right
9:41 AM
A rational being might not have all the information they require, in order to act in their own best interests.
Super unethical example: Suppose I have a machine that can erase the universe and everything within it and keep it erased, will I push the button?
what is "a rational individual"
@DawoodibnKareem, yes good critque there. I should adjust to say a rational individual will attempt to act in their best interest
If you don't define this, it's not a rule, it's a definition
It sounds to me as though your first postulate is 1. A rational individual will act in a way I can post-rationalise as being in their best interests
9:42 AM
@Slereah, well the postulate in a sense is defining rationality here
So it's not a postulate
much like Newton's second law defines force
@Secret PUSH IT
It's just a definition of what a rational individual is
Well think of it as Newton's second law, is that a postulate?
9:43 AM
Depends if you define forces otherwise!
@Slereah yes we can think of it as a definition then
Well, honestly, I wish I had that machine, but I don't bleh...
So by defining rationality according to my postulate, it allows me to then talk about the implications of interacting rational humans
I can then compare this to the real world and see if my theory matches reality
what if there are irrational humans, god forbid
of course
that's plausible
but you're getting ahead of yourself
I've only at this stage defined rationality
for all you know the second postulate covers irrational humans
9:44 AM
how can we deal with irrationality, we cannot even measure it?
@Secret under my definition, would could argue that no human is irrational
if one argues that even "crazy" people act according to their own drives and interests
@JohnRennie No, I'm not unconvinced. I'm a little vague on exactly where to draw the line between what's real and what isn't. But that's OK. Anyway, do you want me to drag up the quote from Mrs May? If so, I might prefer to get it to you by some mechanism other than posting it here, if you can suggest one.
well that sounds reasonable, you can argue that even crazy people have their own notions of goals and ideals
exactly @Secret
@Kenshin I thought Newton's second law defined mass?
9:47 AM
Newton's three laws forms a self consistent system of mechanisms and definitions
@DawoodibnKareem are you on Facebook?
My theory of ethics is very similar
So a kid could argue that force isn't ma, but he woudl then need to construct his own self consistent theory that explains physics, using his own definition of the word force.
Similarly, one could argue that rationality isn't how I defined it, but my definition works well for my theory and predicts the real world well
@JohnRennie Actually no. I think I'm the only person in the world who is not.
@DawoodibnKareem I'm happy to post my e-mail address here for 60 seconds if you can grab it before I delete it again ...
OK, if you're sure.
9:51 AM
won't it remain in the trash tho?
Got it.
got it
Cool :-)
I've subscribed you to my blog on new physics and ethics ideas
@Kenshin my gmail address isn't secret and I'm not fussed about chat room members having it, but I see no reason to leave it here in perpetuity for any Tom, Dick or Harry to read :-)
9:58 AM
Well that seems to have been a conversation killer.
I will outline my theory of ethics for you guys in laymans terms
My theory is that ethics is merely a way of minimising conflict between relatively equally powerful beings who can cause harm to one another. Animals are rarely considered in our traditional ethical systems because they do little harm to us.
What is right and wrong then is merely a matter of the repercussions of the action (where the repercussions is the retaliation of other powerful beings who find out about it)
So is killing wrong? It is, if other powerful beings will be angry if u do it
Is killing an ant wrong?
No, because ants are weak and there will be no repercussion
@Kenshin is advocating killing animals
well if too many people start caring about animals
There will then be repercussions for doing so, and it will become wrong
For instance, people might find animlals to look "cute" and thus have an evolutionary urge to protect them as they woudl babies
Then harming animals may bring repercussion from those people who have such an emotional affection to the animals
Harming animals then becomes ethically "wrong" over time
This is why killing a dog is deemed to be worse than killing an ant
More humans care about dogs as companions than ants
It is kinda why when people hate some bad person in their office so much they won't just easily outright murder them, because the repercussion will be them going to jail or worse (depending on where you are on the planet)
laws may be partly based on this
Indeed, first there was social agreements, and then laws were introduced to give these agreements more power
My theory also explains the illusion of the utilitarianism principle
The utiltarianims principle is that the "right" action is the action that brings the greatest good to the greatest number
The reason for this fundementally hwoever, is that if you do the action that is most favourable to many equally powerful beings, there will be minimal negative repercussion
but the utilitarianism principle wouldn't count to ants, even if there are more ants than humans
However in an ant colony, the ants will have their own ethics, because ants are equally powerful relative to other ants
So ethical systems only really apply where the invididuals within the system have a similar level of power
You might for instance have a King lording over 1000 slaves. Most likely one would then observe the slaves forming their own ethical system among themsleves, but the King would likely fall outside their ethical system
10:11 AM
So that means, as soon the individual or group managed to find a way to circumvent the negative repercussions (e.g. hacking, anonymity etc.) they will become significantly more powerful and they will start to ignore the ethics of their once equal power adversories?
indeed, and this is frequently observed
But such an individual should be cautious, becuase it is unlikely they will hold their advantagous power forever
Sorry, Kenshin, I'm not buying a word of it.
and when they lose it, they will face enourmous repercussion
You also mentioned that your theory will allow some objective notion of good and evil. So does your theory admit some notion of universal good and universal evil?
@DawoodibnKareem, because it is illogical, or because you have an emotional aversion to it?
10:13 AM
Which part of your theory do you find illogical?
@Secret, no the theory gives rise to perceived actions of "good" and "evil" among individuals of similar power levels. But there is no universal good and evil in this system.
makes sense
@DawoodibnKareem, I don't know it seems logical to me. I was just wondering why you don't buy it
@Secret, but if one were to try and create laws based on my system, the "good" laws would be the ones that minimize conflict between beings of equal power, because under my theory that is the purpose of laws
Because most people, when faced with the choice of doing the right thing or doing the wrong thing, will prefer the right thing even when there are no repercussions from either choice.
@DawoodibnKareem, indeed, but the "right" thing, is usually the choice that would bring the least repercussion if all other beings knew what was done
and most choices come to light eventually, and people know this
10:16 AM
One tangential question, because recently I am investigating politics with political parties and non political groups. We knew that legislations and enactment of laws are often the result of politics and laws are often a means to strengthen some notion of ethics, what is the role of politics in ethics (assuming politics does not have significant corruption and can function more or less like its idealistic counterpart)?
@DawoodibnKareem interesting, killing ants is wrong in Islam. I do believe my argument only applies to atheists. I think one could argue for absolute morality if one is religious.
Please be aware that the person who posted that answer doesn't speak for every Muslim; and not every Muslim has exactly the same set of beliefs. I shared it almost tongue-in-cheek.
@Secret well politics is intimately connected with ethics. Under my theory, ethics is about minimising conflict between powerful beings, and politics is a way of enforcing the rules that minimize this conflict.
Politics is the connection between ethics and law
Actually your argument extends very well to people who believe in some kind of god, or more specifically, some kind of divine system of reward and punishment such as heaven and hell.
Communities establish functional ethical principles, which they then wish to have codified into law. The politicians here are the middle men.
10:20 AM
However, I still don't buy the theory. Sorry.
@DawoodibnKareem, no problem don't apoligize, I'm not trying to convert anyone. I just formed this theory for my own understanding. I would appreciate to know why you dont' buy it tho
poop philosophy intensifies
My logic is undeniable
I'm sorry that the historical philosophers whom you worship hadn't thought of it
I am denying it just fine
I called it poop
yes but you're not denying it on a logical basis
10:23 AM
Sure I am
Your definition of logic varies from the usual
My definition of logic is calling poop as poop :p
@BalarkaSen a tip
John, I see that your decision depends on a mass outcry
Your actions indicate that you subscribe to my theory of ethics, whereby right and wrong depends on repercussions of other powerful beings
That said, I would support you deleting the discussion as I wouldn't want someone to come here, read my idea, and publish the work
10:27 AM
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@Balarka Sen
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@Balarka Sen
I invited u to where u belong ;)
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