1. Standard memberark13
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    24 Mar '06 21:282 edits
    Why is murder wrong?

    Under Kan's system of morality, which is based upon rules that come down to the statement "do unto others as you want them to do unto you," this question is simple to answer. I don't want to be killed, therefore I can't kill others.

    However, I believe there are some situations I favor the utilitarian philosophy. The action which is moral engenders the greatest total happiness. Of course, this is based upon idealism, as such a calculation would be impossible. Pragmatically, this is a poor system; it is much easier to give people a set of rules than to tell them to make an impossible calculation and trust in the goodness of people. But thinking idealistically, this system does lead to the most happiness, by definition. However, when thinking about this system, I wonder what the value put on life is. Since a dead person doesn't feel happiness, it's difficult to say why murder is wrong. Is it because of the potential happiness you rob them of for the rest of their lives? Is it because of the grief suffered by those who knew him or her? Does this question invalidate utilitarianism?
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    24 Mar '06 21:48
    Originally posted by ark13
    Why is murder wrong?

    In Kan's system of morality, which is based upon rules that come down to the statement "do unto others as you want them to do unto you," this question is simple to answer. I don't want to be killed, therefore I can't kill others.

    However, I believe there are some situations I favor the utilitarian philosophy. The action which is ...[text shortened]... ef suffered by those who knew him or her? Does this question invalidate utilitarianism?
    no. first of all, there would have to be some happiness derived from commiting the murder in order for it to be worth anything. then this happiness would have to be so great that it would outweigh all of the suffering that would result from the murder. this is why a typical counter example to utilitarianism is harvesting the organs of homeless people - because presumably no one would miss the homeless person and the organs could save many lives. in practice though, mill's utilitarianism is a rule-utilitarian system. he claims that we have had all of human history to figure out which general rules tend to promote the greatest possible happiness. as societies change over time, the general rules are amended. no calculations necessary, and even if in one situation it may create more overall happiness to commit a murder, we have found that overall the policy of murdering does not increase the total happiness. in fact it greatly reduces it, which is why murder remains one of the most serious crimes.
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    24 Mar '06 22:27
    Originally posted by ark13
    Why is murder wrong?

    Under Kan's system of morality, which is based upon rules that come down to the statement "do unto others as you want them to do unto you," this question is simple to answer. I don't want to be killed, therefore I can't kill others.

    However, I believe there are some situations I favor the utilitarian philosophy. The action which ...[text shortened]... ief suffered by those who knew him or her? Does this question invalidate utilitarianism?
    Firstly, it must be understood that the value of the life, according to this "utilitarian" logic would vary. Secondly, politics and democracy especially depend on utilitarianism.

    My creed is "do what thou wilt" (meaning I'm an anarchist, hence, no rules at all).
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    24 Mar '06 22:29
    Originally posted by Conrau K
    Firstly, it must be understood that the value of the life, according to this "utilitarian" logic would vary. Secondly, politics and democracy especially depend on utilitarianism.

    My creed is "do what thou wilt" (meaning I'm an anarchist, hence, no rules at all).
    "do what thou wilt" sounds like a rule.
  5. Standard memberscottishinnz
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    24 Mar '06 22:36
    Originally posted by ark13
    Why is murder wrong?

    Under Kan's system of morality, which is based upon rules that come down to the statement "do unto others as you want them to do unto you," this question is simple to answer. I don't want to be killed, therefore I can't kill others.

    However, I believe there are some situations I favor the utilitarian philosophy. The action which ...[text shortened]... ief suffered by those who knew him or her? Does this question invalidate utilitarianism?
    nomind is essentially right.

    To put it in evolutionary terms, during most of the development of man he has lived in small groups. Because of this, a social structure has evolved. Favours and crimes are remembered by the group, because past history of favours and crimes indicate how useful you'll be in the future. If you've always done good things, chances are, when I need a favour, you'll help me. If you've always done bad things, chances are you'll screw me over. Murder is reprehensible in small communities because (a) you are effectively saying you'd kill any other member of the group if it suited you, and (b) any benefits the individuals in the group were deriving from the murdered individual are gone.

    Since the advent of agriculture, group size has went up, but our brains are still programmed to retain the same values. Over time we have encapsulated those values into religion, and given them devine precidence, but they remain the same values we've had for millions of years - ever since we've lived in groups. The same way I'm trying to teach you now, because educted members of the group are more useful for me to exploit (derive benefit from, either directly or indirectly) than stupid ones. I just can't (evoutionarily) help myself!
  6. Standard memberark13
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    24 Mar '06 23:27
    Originally posted by nomind
    no. first of all, there would have to be some happiness derived from commiting the murder in order for it to be worth anything. then this happiness would have to be so great that it would outweigh all of the suffering that would result from the murder. this is why a typical counter example to utilitarianism is harvesting the organs of homeless people - bec ...[text shortened]... ss. in fact it greatly reduces it, which is why murder remains one of the most serious crimes.
    This doesn't sound much like utilitarianism anymore. The way I think about it, utilitarianism supports some murders if they bring about an increase in total happiness. How does rule-utilitarianism differ from Kan's philosophy?

    You say that people decided that murder in general doesn't increase the total happiness. How was this decided? Also, your counter-argument just sounds like a good example of how utilitarianism works. I believe that it is right to do that.
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    24 Mar '06 23:40
    Originally posted by ark13
    This doesn't sound much like utilitarianism anymore. The way I think about it, utilitarianism supports some murders if they bring about an increase in total happiness. How does rule-utilitarianism differ from Kan's philosophy?

    You say that people decided that murder in general doesn't increase the total happiness. How was this decided? Also, your counte ...[text shortened]... unds like a good example of how utilitarianism works. I believe that it is right to do that.
    the homeless person counter-example is a good one because it is how utilitarianism works, but many people find the consequences distasteful. it seems to point out some flaw in the system, unless you have no problem with it. a strict utilitarian would respond to that counter-example by saying, "yes, take the organs. if it produces more happiness than it is the right thing to do." in any case, utilitarianism does seem like it should support murder in some cases. i think that this is why mill makes his system a rule-utilitarian system. even if in some cases murder is good, overall it is not, so you should not do it. it was decided that overall murder does not increase happiness by the whole of human history so far - we can look back and see what had favorable results and what didn't. this certainly is mill's utilitarianism, though. and most other kinds of utlitarianism are just variations on mill's. i am not a big believer in utilitarianism, though i find much of it compelling, as i do with any philosophy that i read. rest assured though, i am not misinforming you on utilitarianism - i have read mill several times and had the book open for my last post.

    i am not familiar with kan. do you mean emmanuel kant?
  8. Standard memberscottishinnz
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    25 Mar '06 00:45
    Originally posted by nomind
    the homeless person counter-example is a good one because it is how utilitarianism works, but many people find the consequences distasteful. it seems to point out some flaw in the system, unless you have no problem with it. a strict utilitarian would respond to that counter-example by saying, "yes, take the organs. if it produces more happiness than it is ...[text shortened]... the book open for my last post.

    i am not familiar with kan. do you mean emmanuel kant?
    Perhaps "kan" is just "kant" with a more positive outlook on life!
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    25 Mar '06 00:57
    Originally posted by scottishinnz
    Perhaps "kan" is just "kant" with a more positive outlook on life!
    i like it! kant always was a little dreary.
  10. Standard memberark13
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    25 Mar '06 23:32
    Originally posted by nomind
    the homeless person counter-example is a good one because it is how utilitarianism works, but many people find the consequences distasteful. it seems to point out some flaw in the system, unless you have no problem with it. a strict utilitarian would respond to that counter-example by saying, "yes, take the organs. if it produces more happiness than it is ...[text shortened]... the book open for my last post.

    i am not familiar with kan. do you mean emmanuel kant?
    Yes, Kant, sorry. I just had a brain block.
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    26 Mar '06 01:24
    Originally posted by scottishinnz
    nomind is essentially right.

    To put it in evolutionary terms, during most of the development of man he has lived in small groups. Because of this, a social structure has evolved. Favours and crimes are remembered by the group, because past history of favours and crimes indicate how useful you'll be in the future. If you've always done good things, ...[text shortened]... r directly or indirectly) than stupid ones. I just can't (evoutionarily) help myself!
    Gosh, Scott, if I didn't know any better, it almost sounds as though you are saying it was evolutionarily expedient to develop morals (for the survival of the group, and therefore the species) via religion. Now that we have 'figured out' the true source of our success as a species, we should jettison ourselves from the shackles of morals and religion, and get back to the whole survival of the fittest thing.

    Expedient to develop what atheists claim has been such a blot on man's otherwise spotless resume? I know there's a word for that bizarre scenario...
  12. Standard memberscottishinnz
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    26 Mar '06 02:52
    Originally posted by FreakyKBH
    Gosh, Scott, if I didn't know any better, it almost sounds as though you are saying it was evolutionarily expedient to develop morals (for the survival of the group, and therefore the species) via religion. Now that we have 'figured out' the true source of our success as a species, we should jettison ourselves from the shackles of morals and religi ...[text shortened]... lot on man's otherwise spotless resume? I know there's a word for that bizarre scenario...
    It's got nothing to do with the "survival of the group". It's all to do with the survival of the individual. Individuals only work in groups if it increases their evolutionary fitness. Groups need rules to prevent 'cheats' because they lower the fitness of every individual in the group (except themselves, of course!). Religion makes for a fine manner to impose those rules on others, especially if you are the one who controls those rules and therefore has the power.

    Survival of the fittest doesn't preclude rules or anything else. If it increases your fitness (for example having rules against murder benefits me, more than it hinders me) then it will be selected for.

    I really feel you should read Dawkins selfish gene - you're a clever guy - you'd learn a huge amount. (do remeber though, it's a 30 year old book, and shows its age in places)
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    26 Mar '06 02:57
    Originally posted by scottishinnz
    It's got nothing to do with the "survival of the group". It's all to do with the survival of the individual. Individuals only work in groups if it increases their evolutionary fitness. Groups need rules to prevent 'cheats' because they lower the fitness of every individual in the group (except themselves, of course!). Religion makes for a fine manne ...[text shortened]... huge amount. (do remeber though, it's a 30 year old book, and shows its age in places)
    Actually I think evolution was a device developed to conceal the fact that society was compromising some people reproductive fitness at the expense of others. Consider, mining. This industry is highly pernicious to one's health and reproductive future, so humans invent religion so that they feel that in the end they will be compensated.
  14. Standard memberc99ux
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    26 Mar '06 02:58
    Originally posted by nomind
    "do what thou wilt" sounds like a rule.
    Or, as Tom Sharpe wrote:

    "WILT!!!!! What do thou??"
  15. Standard memberscottishinnz
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    26 Mar '06 04:09
    Originally posted by Conrau K
    Actually I think evolution was a device developed to conceal the fact that society was compromising some people reproductive fitness at the expense of others. Consider, mining. This industry is highly pernicious to one's health and reproductive future, so humans invent religion so that they feel that in the end they will be compensated.
    you mean "religion was a device..." rather than evolution that you put down.

    I see you're point; religion would have been a useful tool to motivate people to go to war (for example), it still is.
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