Codify your system of morality.

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Codify your system of morality.

Postby King Author » Sun Sep 06, 2009 9:35 am UTC

It seems to me that most of us here don't rely on a religious system for our morals; most of us seem to think for ourselves. This is fine, but can be confusing. A member of a given religion has a default to fall back on. With a fellow member, they have a common understanding and common ground, and can simply note where they differ, add to or subtract from the main belief system. For those of us who have an internal source of morality, this cannot be done, since anyone's inner system of morality might be different from everyone else's.

So, right here, right now, codify your personal morals and share the results with us. And by "codify," I mean that Buddhism has the Eightfold Path, Islam has the Five Pillars, Christianity has its Ten Commandments, and so on -- what does your inner sense of morality produce when put down in ink? (Or pixels, I suppose.)

I'll post my own response in a little while, to avoid distracting the topic with my own personal morals.

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby BattleMoose » Sun Sep 06, 2009 10:19 am UTC

I have given this thought, and well I can put something concrete down, it is always subject to change, but pretty happy with where it is at the moment. Also the order is important.

1. Individual human rights* are paramount to all other considerations.
2. Do no harm. (loose definition of harm intended)
3. Do everything you can to be happy. :-)

*Its not the full package of human rights, not entirely sure what else they include but certainly they include, right to life, safety and security and freedom. (Loose definition of freedom intended, movement, political, expression, sexuality et cetra.)

And I know the loose definition of harm is problematic, every action we inherently take harms someone else to some degree or other. To give an example, putting up a new store and putting a nearby family business out of business doesn't sit well with me, its perfectly legal and it should be, but there is still a strong undercurrent of douchebaggery about it. I am just no comfortable with it, unless maybe the family business is completely incompetent and deserve to be put out of business.

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby Sc4Freak » Sun Sep 06, 2009 10:28 am UTC

Code: Select all


   Negatively affects me personally        Doesn't affect me personally       Positively affects me personally
                      |                                  |                                  |
                     BAD                              NEUTRAL                              GOOD
-Moral Scale-

Disclaimer: don't take this post seriously

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby cleverdan » Sun Sep 06, 2009 10:56 am UTC

I like to judge everything on it's merits. Preconceived rules and ideologies will ultimately serve only to hinder me, I think. I try not to set rules. Just guidelines. It all reduces down to three things: will the action/inaction impact others badly? Will the action/inaction impact me badly? Will the action/inaction cause harm to my environment? And it's by these that I generally follow. If it protects human rights, I'll generally be for it. For instance, the right to murder I contend against, but euthanasia is something I believe should be allowed on a case by case basis. And I will never think it is alright to prevent two people to get married solely on gender. Or to prevent a woman from bringing a baby into an unfit world (unless it is being used in place of contraceptives).

Even though I'm an atheist, I try not to judge people too harshly either. For instance, would one feel as harshly about stealing if they had engaged in stealing food to prevent themselves from dying? If I had to 'codify it', it would be with a quote. I always think of this.

Nick Carraway, from the Great Gatsby wrote:In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice I've been turning over in my mind ever since. "Whenever you feel like criticising anyone," he told me, "Just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby Soralin » Sun Sep 06, 2009 1:08 pm UTC

I'd say an action is the most moral if it has the greatest benefit and least detriment for the greatest number of people, where benefit and detriment for every individual affected by the action are determined by that individual (perhaps adding: given perfect knowledge and reasoning). It's probably better, instead of thinking of this in terms of moral and immoral, to think of actions as being more moral or less moral than other actions, or simply better or worse.

Any other moral codes or rules that I may go by are simply heuristics intended to better achieve that goal. Maybe heuristics are what you're asking for here, but it seems like a good idea to point out what I think the goal of them should be, since too many people get caught up in thinking that those codes and laws are themselves what is moral, rather then probable means to an end.

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby nitePhyyre » Sun Sep 06, 2009 1:12 pm UTC

Hmm to start:
If something that can appreciate it's own death, dies, this is a very bad thing.
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby mmmcannibalism » Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:19 am UTC

Do what is necessary to move forward human society with the least amount of topically hypocritical actions.(try to improve life, avoid ends justify the means logic when possible)
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby poxic » Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:36 am UTC

Tell the truth.
Have respect for others.
It usually doesn't hurt to ask for what I want. :wink:
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby Heavenlytoaster » Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:54 am UTC

Golden rule/Reciprocation (Of effect not action)

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby GoodRudeFun » Mon Sep 07, 2009 8:52 am UTC

I try to take things on a case by case basis and do what feels right at the time. The best I can do is keep in mind that there are many things I don't know. Each person is different, every situation is different, and it doesn't seem that there are any grand scale/objective rules to follow for every situation.

Since I can't say if there is ever a wrong or a right in a situation, I just go with my general philosophy: I have yet to see if there is any kind of objective meaning in life, and so for all intents and purposes there is none. Because of this, the only meaning that matters is what it means to me. Basically I have to decide what I feel is right and wrong for any and every situation. Its not the most reliable moral system, but it's all I got.
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby Iv » Mon Sep 07, 2009 12:28 pm UTC

- Do what makes you feel good / you think will make you feel good.

In the end everyone acts this way. Feeling good by doing something good to someone and feeling bad by doing something bad is a universal trait shared with many social animal (and dysfunctional in most cases of psychopathy).

Sade during the Enlightenment stated that religion and morals had nothing to do with each other and summarized all the moral system in one sentence : "Do to others what you would like to be done to yourself and don't do them what you wouldn't like to be done to yourself.". Of course, it works better when you also understand the different motivations and wishes of other people but it is a good guide.

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby the_stabbage » Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:27 pm UTC

My system of morality is very vague. There are few circumstances, I think, where I use one. However, the following would be a rough sketch:

-Be aware of your responsibilities: the ones thrust upon you, the ones you have chosen by being free, and all the others. It's correct to manage them, but as long as they remain your responsibilities, you must do your best to, well, be responsible.

-Never treat another human as an alien object. It's wrong to look at someone and dismiss them as a prep, old fart, stupid kid, nerd, etc. Instead, it is an inalienable responsibility to respect your fellow creature - if the opportunity arises for you to erase your bias towards them, you must take it. Do not use people.

-As a result of being free, and in order to be maximally free, you have a duty to discover what responsibilities your freedom gives you. If you are free to think, you must make others free to think.

This makes me seem like a very uptight person, but I just have managed my duties to myself and others so that I can live a comfortable existence for now :P

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby guenther » Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:10 pm UTC

  1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
I know you specifically asked people who follow an internal source of morals, but I thought I'd share mine, partly because you listed the Ten Commandments as the Christian moral code, but in Christianity there are none greater than those two above.

And I do feel this internally. I think people can align their feelings with their beliefs, or they can align their beliefs with their feelings. I aim for the former.

* Edited for clarity.
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby General_Norris » Mon Sep 07, 2009 7:47 pm UTC

Categorical Imperative.

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby Midnight » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:07 am UTC

Individual rights are the key. Respect everyone, give everyone a chance. Don't trip.

now, admittedly, if the chance is blown, the disliking process will begin. It's very hard to traverse that slippery slope up again.

STILL, just cause I dislike someone doesn't mean I try to cause harm or anything. I just avoid them.

I care about others and try to benefit them, but if someone greatly disadvantages me for their benefit I probably won't do it (ie giving someone thousands of dollars--but again that depends on the situation). I'm not a big fan of people that only care about their own personal gain; it strikes me as coldblooded and somewhat sociopathic. Humans are hard wired to desire the company of other humans, to live in societies (of varying complexity), so therefore we're hardwired to care about 'the good of the group'. pushing that away to benefit yourself goes against whatever concepts of 'survival of the fittest/i dont care about other people' you might have.
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby Bright Shadows » Tue Sep 08, 2009 1:35 am UTC

Person to person:
*Don't be a dick.

*Care about people actively.

Active caring is a pain. Still, worth a shot, right? Especially since so many people need someone to care. So so many people. I usually wind up sticking to the first one, which is a crying shame, really.

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby Duban » Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:59 pm UTC

I'm an Atheist and my morals are based mostly on what we know of as the "Golden Rule". I ask nothing of others that I wouldn't ask of myself. If I were on the street and had a heart attack and collapsed I would expect the people around me to help. Just the same if I were in the crowd and saw someone having a heart attack I would be compelled to help them. Of course I would expect more of my friends but I would do that much more for them as well.

A more personal example would be the time when my friend and his younger brother, whom I would also consider a friend, were stranded in the next town over. They called me asking for a ride. It was just a 15-20 min drive but a looongg walk, especially for someone who had shattered his ankle a few years earlier. I gave them a ride. I didn't get anything for it, didn't expect anything for it, but did it because i know they would do the same for me.
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby guenther » Tue Sep 08, 2009 6:52 pm UTC

Bright Shadows wrote:Active caring is a pain. Still, worth a shot, right? Especially since so many people need someone to care. So so many people. I usually wind up sticking to the first one, which is a crying shame, really.

It is a pain. It's hard work, but when I invest the energy, I find it very rewarding, even more so than a lot of the things we do to actively make ourselves happy. I'm glad you see it as important.

Part of the challenge is that it's just not practical to devote time and energy to everyone. Here's how I think about it in my head to make it more practical. First I divide it into two parts: My ability to empathize with others, and the amount I actively invest.

For the first part, I think empathy gives us a window to see through someone else's eyes. But there's lots of ways we can shutter those windows. If I'm angry, hurt, jealous, etc. it becomes much harder to see past my own issues. I find that negative feelings narrow my perspective. So my goal here is to make sure the window stays open. In computer lingo, it's like leaving the ports open without necessarily establishing a connection. This is something I can do for every person I meet.

However, I can't equally invest in every person, or I'd be doing nothing of consequence to anyone (not to mention neglecting the people with whom I have real responsibilities). I think of my time and energy like money. I have a certain amount that I want to actively spend on others, and I need to use it as effectively as possible. Sometimes I do that by seeking out volunteer opportunities in the community. But other times I just try to be more responsive when someone needs help or wants to connect. Sometimes I try extra hard to do this for people where I feel my empathy has been blocked because of my anger or whatever. This could be as simple as being friendly to someone who cut me off in traffic.
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby saywolf » Tue Sep 08, 2009 7:16 pm UTC

Be polite
Don't be an intellectual snob
Don't pigeon-hole anyone or any group
Help people according to their needs
Think about what you need, not what you want
Actions count more than words
Don't not do something because you're scared

On a daily basis, I'm not even close

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby fungineer » Wed Sep 09, 2009 7:39 am UTC

In no particular order:

1. Avoid any unnecessary violence (necessary violence defined as violence in defence of your or an innocent third partys life, health or freedom (defence defined as application of the minimum required ammount of violence needed to keep an individual or group from infringing on the previously mentioned rights)).
2. Never avoid necessary violence (stand up for yourself and those who need it).
3. (try your best to) Never hate another person.
4. Avoid hurting others through your own negligence.
5. Do your best to tell no unnecessary lies.
6. Do your best to respect other peoples opinions and lifestyle.
7. Always try to see both sides of any issue.
8. No human is worth more than another.
9. Always assume ignorance rather than malice.
10. Always try to make the best of any situation.

The hardest point on this list is definitively point 3. In situations where 3. is hard to avoid, use 9. as a mantra.

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby Incomitatus » Wed Sep 09, 2009 9:07 am UTC

1. Cultivate the ancient virtues - Courage, Temperance, Patience, Justice, etc etc.
2. Never view other human beings as objects, but always as ends-in-themselves.
3. Forgive oneself when one (inevitably) screws up from time to time.

Really, I think that's as far as you can go. You can make a lot of rules about "Don't do this or that" but unless you are a strict Utilitarian, it's pretty common to face situations where there is no 'good' choice and then the lesser of two evils is highly contextual. That's when cultivating a sense of Justice is so important: what's most fair, given the options? And sometimes hindsight can be really good at letting us know we were wrong.

EDITED TO ADD: And I am a Christian, but I think the sum of Christian morality is fundamentally the same as I've outlined above. #2 is functionally the same as "Love thy neighbour". #3 is supposed to be the endstate of asking God for forgiveness. #1 is the unrecognised key to any system of morality, I think. It's what let's us say that someone is 'good' rather than just saying they did a good thing. Morality and religion interface in interesting ways, but they are fundamentally separate and non-dependant things.

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby nsmjohn » Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:40 pm UTC

1~Do not intentionally/through negligence, to the best of your abilities, adversely impact another human being: physically, emotionally, financially, or in any other conceivable way.

2~Do all that you can, to the best of your abilities, to help other human beings: physically, emotionally, financially, and in any other conceivable way.

The first makes you a good person, the second makes you a great person. In the first "adversely impact" is what they would consider a detriment to themselves not what you think is best for them (gets around the whole: this is good for you so stop whining problem). One thing people might consider a flaw: I think people should be allowed to do whatever they want to themselves.

I make exceptions for rule 1 when punishing people for breaking rule 1. In my opinion, anything not covered by those two is fair game.
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby kingofdreams » Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:04 am UTC

regardless of pain or inconvenience to yourself, never stop searching for meaning or cease attempting to create your own,
before all other things be true to yourself,
the only true sin is hypocrisy.
never delude yourself, delusion is worse than despair, peace of mind will return in time
When you find something worthy of devotion, burn yourself out for it, and be glad for the sacrifice
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby shotgunpriest » Thu Sep 10, 2009 10:11 pm UTC

Simply this:

Do what feels right.

That is what I do each and every day. It hasn't failed me yet.

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby Briareos » Thu Sep 10, 2009 10:25 pm UTC

I've been big into stoicism lately. In his writings, Epictetus often laments that all his students are totally stupid, and are more interested in reading books for the sake of reading rather than improving their lives. He presents some quotes from the kind of student he wishes he had, and I've come to take them not quite as affirmations, but at least as inspirations.

1. "It's enough if one day I can live without sorrow and frustration, if I can lift up my head like a free person in the face of circumstance and look to heaven as a friend of God, without fear of anything that might happen."

2. "I want to be free from fear and emotion, but at the same time I want to be a concerned citizen and philosopher, and attentive to my other duties, toward God, my parents, my siblings, my country, and my guests."

3. "I want to be faultless and unshakeable, not just when I'm awake, but even when I'm sleeping, even when I'm drunk or delirious."

As a moral code, though, I present my stoicism redux:
1. Don't worry about anything that's not under your control.
2. The only thing that's under your control is the way you think.
3. Therefore, cultivate integrity, honor, dignity, patience, calmness, and poise.

I'm always proud when I manage, as something unfortunate happens to me, to think: "This is just an impression. My job is the right use of impressions. So what does being upset get me? Better to remain calm, and figure out what to do next."
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby BlueNight » Sat Sep 12, 2009 5:35 am UTC

The three parts of reality are the Physical (P), the Logical (L), and the Emotional (E), which interact to form the Scientific (P+L=S), the Philosophical/Wisdom (L+E=S), and the Animal (E+P=A). The combination of them all is the Moral (P+L+E=M).

Each has a primary positive and its opposing negative. Those are (in the same order as above) change/stasis, true/false, good/bad, accurate/broken, wise/foolish, growth/harm, and right/wrong.

Morality is the prime human endeavor. Each person approaches it from their own area of focus. Most men are physically focused, and most women are emotionally focused. I have Asperger's Syndrome, so I am logically focused; information is intuitive to me in ways other people can only dream of; I make up for this gift with a deficit in all things social.

There exists a sentient entity with infinite ability to change anything, infinite intelligence, and who wants everyone to be forever growing, learning, experiencing. Let's call Him God.

Assume the narratives of the canonical Bible are true and historical. An entire vast universe of uncountable stars called out of nothing; sentient biological AIs constructed from the light elements to experience a wonderful universe. True free will contained in three pounds of wet meat, burning with internal combustion. All this with only a single string attached: don't eat of this one tree out of all the trees I have given you.

We broke the universe. Yet He still loved us, wanted us to have eternity to grow and learn and experience. So He gave us the cheat code.

He made a one-sided contract with the man from Ur, Abram: your descendants will be more than the grains of sand on a beach; as many as the stars in the sky. All you have to do is believe that I will do this for you. Abram believed, and God renamed him Abraham.

And He made a second contract, sealed in His own blood: I will make you a descendant of Abraham, inheritor of My promises to him, if you believe My death on a Roman cross counts as substitution for you, the one true Passover of which all before were only shadows, symbols.

To harm another is sin. To refuse to help someone when God says to help is sin.
To lie, to steal, to mock your parents, this is sin. Sin is a moral equivalent to entropy - the more sin, the worse the world. Only by absorbing the moral guilt of the world and taking it to Hell personally could God have prevented our just punishment for hurting others.

Video games are not a sin, nor are webcomics or most art. Computers are morally neutral, having no emotions (yet).

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby EdgarJPublius » Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:29 am UTC

I've been doing a significant amount of introspection on this subject over the last few months. So far all I've come up with unequivocally is Asimov's Zeroth law 'Do not harm Humanity, nor through inaction allow Humanity to come to harm' With all sorts of attendant corollaries (interestingly, I've found that the first and third Laws of Robotics arise naturally from considering the zeroth)
Right now though, I've been concerned with thinking about why I think preserving Humanity should inherently be the highest moral cause.
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby ClockworkDream13 » Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:09 am UTC

First of all before I make my arguement I need to preface it with some background material in order to clarify my position.

The way I see it morality can be one of two things.

Objective Morality - This is what every theist must believe in by default. Morality has set limits, as placed by god. Every single action can be defined morally by God as s/he sees fit. This doesn't necessarily means that everything is either moral or immoral as God can also define an action as amoral, or decide its somewhere in between. But every action as defined morality based on that action, although we may not know where exactly it stands because we do not understand the position of God.

Subjective morality - Just like objective morality this is exactly what it sounds like. Every single action is interpreted morally by every observer. No action can be definitively "bad" or definitively "good", but rather morality is subjective. I think that a lot of people who consider themselves non-theist would support this position, however any set cosmic truth necessitate an objective morality therefore, a religion such Buddhism (I understand this is largely non-theistic religion, if there are any buddhist with a more intimate understanding of the religion who say otherwise please correct me) necessitates objective morality, because there is set truth on whats right, IE non-violence.

Now then, personally I am agnostic/atheistic depending on my largely on my whim that day, and as such I think that morality is subjective. Therefore I think its impossible to lay out any set rules such similiar in function to that of the ten commandments, or the five pillars. Subjective morality relies largely on the whim of the person. Morality can't be codified in a significant way, because codification is done in order to relate it to other people, who have their own values. Furthermore since my morality doesn't depend on objectivity it impossible to have set rules, because these rules, by definition, in a subjective view of morality would have no purpose. I think that guidelines are more appropriate, although they still aren't anywhere near perfect, because every person will interpret these guidelines in different ways. I think that my guidelines would loose meaning when related to another person.

I think what I am trying to say is that each person will interpret situations as they see fit, and each person will interpret different truths of morality differently, thus making our personal moral codes either incredibly obvious (Every person wants to do more good than harm morally - this doesn't make this an objective truth, it just means that as humans this is something the vast majority of us support), or they loose meaning entirely when specifics are dealt with.

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby Mr Jack » Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:52 am UTC

Well, there's a difference between what I aspire to and what I actually achieve, but I could say something like:

"Have the balls to do what is right."

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby The Utilitarian » Sun Sep 13, 2009 11:44 pm UTC

Unsuprisingly, Utilitarianism

The ethical course of action is the one which produces the most happiness and prevents the most suffering for all sentient beings affected by that action.
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby Poochy » Mon Sep 14, 2009 2:46 am UTC

I basically attempt to follow superrationality, but with the addition that I multiply each involved party's outcomes by a coefficient that depends on how much I care about them, respect them, trust them, etc., with myself as the baseline at 1.00. For a rough idea, random strangers get a small positive number, like, say, 0.20, my closest friends and family might approach 1.00 or even exceed it. Those who have established themselves to be a waste of oxygen, say, child molesters, muggers, many TV and radio pundits, corrupt politicians and executives, hate groups, etc. get a negative number (i.e. when schadenfreude kicks in) - no sense helping someone else so they can hurt a bunch of other people, after all.

(No, I don't have a chart written up anywhere, but this is a rough idea of what goes on in my head.)

This is by no means written in stone, but I find it works fairly well as an approximate guideline. Some exceptions do obviously apply; for example, in a friendly competition, I will never hold back even if the above algorithm gives my rival a coefficient of greater than 1.00. This also does not mean I won't give money or gifts to anybody with less than 1.00; if I think they could use it better than I could (with money, the law of diminishing returns applies, for example), I'll happily give it to them. On the other hand, if it's a charity which I think will just blow the money on more commercials trying to guilt trip people into donating (and one particularly frequent offender probably comes to mind for most people), or a homeless guy who reeks of alcohol and thus will probably blow any donations on booze, for examples, I won't donate.

Also, I tend to go by Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby BrainMagMo » Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:13 am UTC

Ideal system:
Always minimize both actual and potential suffering; always maximize both potential and actual happiness. In that order.
Source: (part 4)

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby ian » Fri Sep 18, 2009 12:52 pm UTC

BrainMagMo wrote:Ideal system:
Always minimize both actual and potential suffering; always maximize both potential and actual happiness. In that order.
Source: (part 4)

Was about to write pretty much the same thing (with a major emphisis on the first part, so whs.

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby arcane » Sat Sep 19, 2009 1:22 am UTC

Try not to increase entropy in a system.
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby zug » Sat Sep 19, 2009 2:11 am UTC

Do that which makes you happiest as long as it's not at the expense of another's feelings, within reason.

Obey laws when an enforcer is watching. Don't get caught.

Do not bitch about that which you're unable or unwilling to try to change.
Velifer wrote:Go to the top of a tower, drop a heavy weight and a photon, observe when they hit the ground.

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby scarecrovv » Sat Sep 19, 2009 3:46 pm UTC

I once tried to define moral behavior rigorously, but I couldn't ever come up with a definition that consistently agreed with my gut. Then I realized that if I wanted a system that always agreed with my gut feelings, the obvious solution was do define moral behavior by my gut feeling. Therefore, my system is very simple. I judge each possible action with one question: "will I feel good or bad after doing this?". I would feel bad about stealing candy from a child, so stealing candy from a child is wrong. I would feel good about giving candy to a child, so giving candy to a child is right. However, if I don't give candy to the child, I will not feel good or bad about it (because I didn't do anything, but no harm came of my inaction), so simply ignoring the child is also acceptable.

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby jijinjohn » Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:44 pm UTC

I believe that all my actions should cause the least amount of harm to everyone, including myself, when all the harm done is summed up. I should refrain from judging others as much as possible because, in all probability, there is no way I can empathise with them a 100%. I believe that there is always the possibility that I may be wrong, so all arguments against any portion of my life/beliefs should be given proper respect, until I'm convinced that the arguments are crap. And then if I feel they are "much better" than mine, then I shouldn't hesitate to accept that fact.

So basically I use my judgement and try not to repeat mistakes and learn from them.

And yeah, I'm an atheist.

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby King Author » Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:35 am UTC

I tend to view morality the same way that tabletop RPGs do; as a set of restrictions on behavior (a character flaw, heh heh). Morality is restrictive, not imperitive; without morality you can do anything, but operating under a system of morality, your behavior is restricted. As such, my system of morality is arranged not unlike Asimov's Laws -- as a hierarchical list of behavioral restrictions, in descending order of importance.

Don't harm the planet as a whole.
Don't harm the species as a whole.
Don't harm any living thing or destroy the environment.
Don't kill allies.
Don't kill enemies.
Don't harm allies.
Don't be disloyal.
Don't waste resources.
Don't steal from allies.
Don't lie to allies.
Don't shirk responsibility.
Don't waste time.
Don't be content in ignorance.
Don't blame things on fate.
Don't lie to enemies.
Don't steal from enemies.

However, as someone else mentioned, a list of "don't's" isn't much of a moral system, and of course it's hard to memorize such a list, so I have a condensed version that I typically think of when I'm questioning the morality of anything I'm about to do.


It's moral do anything in the name of ones loved ones. Lie, cheat, steal, maim, kill. Conversely, it's immoral to do anything to hurt ones loved ones.

It's moral to do anything in the name of honor, so long as it doesn't harm a loved one. Conversely, it's immoral to act dishonorably.

It's moral to do anything in the persuit of art (and intellectual life in general, including the sciences and the futherance of knowledge) so long as it doesn't hurt loved ones and is not dishonorable. Conversely, it's immoral to neglect the persuit of art and intellectual matters.

So, basically, the mantra of "Love, Honor, Art" is my pillars/commandments/etc. and the list is my Quoran/Bible/etc.

@ClockworkDream13: Objective morality is the doctrine that there is one set of morals that are objectively right, no matter the individual person or context. Subjective morality is the doctrine that everyone can/should/does make up their own idea of what's right and wrong and follow that; there is no one right and wrong, as one man's right might be another's wrong. Religious morality can be objective or subjective, as can secular morality.

@various people: Nice. So I say, "for those of us not bound by religion, post the morals you've come up with," and what does everyone do? Post, "Um, well, I know you said this was about non-religious people, but as a religious person, I feel compelled to announce my morals to the world at every given opportunity, so I'm going to completely ignore everything you've said and just go ahead and post my religious morals here. God is awesome and He with a capital-H is the source of all goodness in the universe."

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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby Dark567 » Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:16 pm UTC

King Author wrote:@ClockworkDream13: Objective morality is the doctrine that there is one set of morals that are objectively right, no matter the individual person or context.

Although objective morality is a set of rules(interpret "rules" somewhat loosely), many of the rules can and do take account of the person or context. For example the rule "live up to your potential". This clearly can have different implications for different people. So although like King Author stated the rules apply no matter the individual person or context, the rules can have different implications for different people. This is very important to understanding objective morality.
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Re: Codify your system of morality.

Postby guenther » Thu Sep 24, 2009 5:03 pm UTC

King Author wrote:@various people: Nice. So I say, "for those of us not bound by religion, post the morals you've come up with," and what does everyone do? Post, "Um, well, I know you said this was about non-religious people, but as a religious person, I feel compelled to announce my morals to the world at every given opportunity, so I'm going to completely ignore everything you've said and just go ahead and post my religious morals here. God is awesome and He with a capital-H is the source of all goodness in the universe."

My apologies.
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