Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:44 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:
sam_i_am wrote:But that doesn't imply that external forces have an obligation to keep you alive.

Ignoring the starving beggar does not violate his right to life.


Sounds great for fully functioning adults capable of taking care of themselves.

Where do people lacking capacity fall into this?

put another way does someone leaving an infant to starve violate it's right to life?


Abandoning a baby would probably be considered less overtly evil than punting the baby off a cliff, yes.

That doesn't mean that either option is GOOD.

Additionally, if it's your infant, most people would consider that you have some sort of obligation to take care of it(at least until a reasonable adulthood age). If you're not willing to accept that...you probably shouldn't have an infant.

HungryHobo
Posts: 1708
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:01 am UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby HungryHobo » Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:58 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:That doesn't mean that either option is GOOD.


as with many people who lack capacity, assume parents out of the picture.

philosophically is leaving it to starve any more bad than leaving the beggar to starve? is it bad at all?
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

User avatar
bantler
Posts: 238
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:23 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby bantler » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:04 pm UTC

It is better to behead your python than release it into the Everglades.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:11 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:That doesn't mean that either option is GOOD.


as with many people who lack capacity, assume parents out of the picture.

philosophically is leaving it to starve any more bad than leaving the beggar to starve? is it bad at all?


Well, if it's a baby laying by the side of the road, walking by it and ignoring it would be...not good, at any rate. I think we can all agree that caring for the child is a morally superior action to ignoring it.

Ignoring the child would be morally superior to killing it.

The beggar would generally gain less sympathy than the child, because the beggar is less helpless(or at least, presumably has been at some point in the past). The child is clearly not in any way responsible for his situation, where we are not assured that the same is true for the beggar. Also, being a species that doesn't want to die out, we tend to be hardwired to care about what happens to children.

User avatar
VannA
White
Posts: 1446
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 1:57 am UTC
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby VannA » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:39 pm UTC

chenille wrote:
VannA wrote:I would suggest, in terms of overall social cost, rape and murder are very close, and the overall hurt, IMO, greater with rape.

Doesn't that count for something? When someone is murdered, everything they can bring to the world is lost.



Where does abortion fit into your model?

If you want to start judging cost on potential. Everything gets hectic, quickly. You create the imperative to have more children, and end up skewing humanities responses to be far more animalistic than rationally goal orientated. And our animalistic instincts are massively outdated for healthy functioning in modern society.

Anyway - once you are dead.. You can hardly experience or be aware, or frankly, be. So traum while alive is arguably worse than being dead.
You have to off set it against existential dread, basically.
Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy.

chenille
Posts: 430
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:25 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby chenille » Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:05 pm UTC

I wasn't really thinking of potential, so much as what they are actively bringing to the world as the person they are. I'm not going to pretend I know just how much trauma rape causes, but apparently in the long run it doesn't stop people from being great friends, family, inventors, artists, etc., even enjoying life. Are you really saying rape victims would ultimately be better off dead? Because from what I have seen of them, I can't agree with that.

User avatar
VannA
White
Posts: 1446
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 1:57 am UTC
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby VannA » Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:17 pm UTC

Not at all.

I'm saying their total value of hurt is higher. Nobody is 'better off' dead. It is a non-state of personhood.
Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy.

chenille
Posts: 430
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:25 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby chenille » Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:25 pm UTC

But by that standard any crime would leave you with more total suffering, as well as more total enjoyment, than being murdered. So presumably if you're saying something was worse than eliminating someone entirely, it means it made their existence a net negative. Otherwise, I'm afraid I don't understand what you're saying by that.

User avatar
sam_i_am
Posts: 624
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:38 pm UTC
Location: Urbana, Illinois, USA

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby sam_i_am » Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:42 pm UTC

VannA wrote:
chenille wrote:
VannA wrote:I would suggest, in terms of overall social cost, rape and murder are very close, and the overall hurt, IMO, greater with rape.

Doesn't that count for something? When someone is murdered, everything they can bring to the world is lost.

Where does abortion fit into your model?


EURICA! We've figured out why some people are fervently against Abortion!!!

User avatar
VannA
White
Posts: 1446
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 1:57 am UTC
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby VannA » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:33 pm UTC

chenille wrote:But by that standard any crime would leave you with more total suffering, as well as more total enjoyment, than being murdered. So presumably if you're saying something was worse than eliminating someone entirely, it means it made their existence a net negative. Otherwise, I'm afraid I don't understand what you're saying by that.



You keep treating death like a state, I think. Something you can experience.
Regardless, as I mentioned earlier, murder ideas more immediate impact on others, but no true impact on the victim, the victim ceases to be.

Furthermore, rape is not really the only thing in that bucket, so to speak, there's a variety of unlawful or non-socially contracted actions regarding imprisonment, and other forms of significant restriction of choice/liberty, that I would rate as high.

Which is why, to be on topic, I support the execution of those who refuse, with assistance, rehabilitation (not that any of the mainstream western societies currently practice good rehabilitation at the moment.) and have been found guilty of seperate indictments for the above crimes.
Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy.

chenille
Posts: 430
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2011 7:25 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby chenille » Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:54 pm UTC

VannA wrote:You keep treating death like a state, I think. Something you can experience.
Regardless, as I mentioned earlier, murder ideas more immediate impact on others, but no true impact on the victim, the victim ceases to be.

No, I was just comparing the absence of good and ill in death to what would be present otherwise. If a person stops counting as a victim the moment they die, then quickly executing a happy hermit that nobody else will notice gone would be less of a crime than punching someone who will have hurt feelings about it for a long time. I suppose that's a consistent approach, but it really doesn't work for me.

User avatar
VannA
White
Posts: 1446
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 1:57 am UTC
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby VannA » Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:04 pm UTC

chenille wrote:No, I was just comparing the absence of good and ill in death to what would be present otherwise. If a person stops counting as a victim the moment they die, then quickly executing a happy hermit that nobody else will notice gone would be less of a crime than punching someone who will have hurt feelings about it for a long time. I suppose that's a consistent approach, but it really doesn't work for me.



That's fine. But why? I mean, I have similar issues, but have trouble making them reasonable, especially in light of a hermit, who is not capable of passing along his insights, and who, by his very hermitage, has already removed his insights from the collective knowledge.
Last edited by VannA on Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:10 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy.

Plutarch
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:29 am UTC
Location: London, UK

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby Plutarch » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:34 am UTC

idobox wrote:To me, the strongest argument against capital punishment is that it legitimates homicide.
Capital punishment is the government recognizing that killing people under some circumstances is acceptable, it means some things are more important to my right to live. And whatever the practical aspect, it is ethically difficult to accept.
In a case like self-defence, we're acknowledging that saving a life is worth taking another, and I don't think many would object to that, although we can discuss the specific of the boundaries and controls.
In a case like war, nowadays, it is usually sold as a way to save lives. Going to war for economic reasons (which still often happens) is not accepted by the population in western countries at least, and politics disguise their wars to make them possible, perverting the system.

But when the government decide to kill a criminal, it is very different, it revokes someone's fundamental right, with no direct effect on other people's fundamental rights.
It doesn't protect society more efficiently than putting him behind bars for life, and it is not that much efficient as a deterrent. If you committed a crime that will bring you to the electric chair if you're caught, you have nothing left to loose, and you'll be much more likely to kill witnesses and policemen to hide your crime or run.
The job of justice should be to make sure people follow the rules. Executing someone rather than sentencing him to prison for life is not justice, it's revenge, because it is harsher than what is needed to make sure that person will not break the law again.

And because of this violence of the state against it's population, justice and police becoming punishers rather than protectors, you end up with a more violent country.
Just look at the numbers of capital punishments per country. USA is fifth, behind China, Iran, Irak and Saudi Arabia, above Yemen, North Korea, Sudan, Somalia and Bangladesh.
Death penalty is a staple of authoritative, oppressive countries, countries most westerners prefer not to live in. USA, the only rich western country in the top ten, is also the country of OECD with the highest murder rate (about twice as much as the second on the list, and more than 5 times more than many others), and the highest violent crime rate, while, at the same time, only the 5th highest robbery rate.
http://micpohling.wordpress.com/2007/05/17/oecd-crime-statistic-i/
Pinning violence in the USA to capital punishment only would be wrong, but it contributes to a climate of violence, in conjunction with gun ownership and a general glorification of violence. Which lead American criminals to commit 5 times the murders and 4.5 times the violent crimes, but only 60% of the robberies Spanish ones commit.


I agree with all of this excellent post. I believe that having the death penalty brutalises a society, and makes murder somehow legitimate. When you can imprison someone for the rest of their life, I just can't see any moral reason for killing them. The very idea that the death penalty might ever be re-introduced in Britain would fill me with horror. (Actually, it couldn't be, because not having the death penalty is a condition for membership of the European Union)

I'd also like to point out a practical problem, in that juries have often been reluctant to convict in cases where the defendant faces execution. If I was on such a jury, I'd have to be excused, because I wouldn't vote someone guilty if it meant they were to be executed.

HungryHobo
Posts: 1708
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:01 am UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:57 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Well, if it's a baby laying by the side of the road, walking by it and ignoring it would be...not good, at any rate.


yes but is it actually bad? negative. lower than utterly neural on the scale of bad to good in any way shape or form? has the person who sees it crying on the ground, has the time to pick it up and take it to the hospital or similar, but instead goes "huh" and wanders on to get Starbucks without doing anything done anything less than morally utterly neutral?

not "not good" but actually morally negative in any way?
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

User avatar
idobox
Posts: 1591
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:54 pm UTC
Location: Marseille, France

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby idobox » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:06 am UTC

VannA wrote:
chenille wrote:No, I was just comparing the absence of good and ill in death to what would be present otherwise. If a person stops counting as a victim the moment they die, then quickly executing a happy hermit that nobody else will notice gone would be less of a crime than punching someone who will have hurt feelings about it for a long time. I suppose that's a consistent approach, but it really doesn't work for me.



That's fine. But why? I mean, I have similar issues, but have trouble making them reasonable, especially in light of a hermit, who is not capable of passing along his insights, and who, by his very hermitage, has already removed his insights from the collective knowledge.

It seems simple to me. Ask the hermit, and will probably say he prefers being punched than killed. Counting the consequences of a crime is a way to measure its value, but to me it seems much more legitimate to ask the opinion of the potential victim. In my case, there are very little things I'd like less than getting killed.

Tyndmyr wrote:Well, if it's a baby laying by the side of the road, walking by it and ignoring it would be...not good, at any rate. I think we can all agree that caring for the child is a morally superior action to ignoring it.

Ignoring the child would be morally superior to killing it.

The beggar would generally gain less sympathy than the child, because the beggar is less helpless(or at least, presumably has been at some point in the past). The child is clearly not in any way responsible for his situation, where we are not assured that the same is true for the beggar. Also, being a species that doesn't want to die out, we tend to be hardwired to care about what happens to children.

The kid is in a much higher danger level than the beggar. Not helping a beggar that has been stabbed is much worse than refusing to give a little change.
There is also a question of diffuse responsibility. If you kill someone, you're the only culprit. If you let someone die, you share the guilt with all the others who could have done something. If you let someone die slowly of cold and starvation by refusing to give a little change, the responsibility is even more diffuse, as giving a few dollars wouldn't have saved him anyway. I don't mean it's okay to let beggars starve, but that our own perception of responsibility works like that.

HungryHobo wrote:yes but is it actually bad? negative. lower than utterly neural on the scale of bad to good in any way shape or form? has the person who sees it crying on the ground, has the time to pick it up and take it to the hospital or similar, but instead goes "huh" and wanders on to get Starbucks without doing anything done anything less than morally utterly neutral?

If you choose a set of actions that results in the baby's death when you could equally choose a set of actions that results in its survival, you are effectively killing it.
Accordingly, it is a crime not to help someone in danger in France, Germany and Quebec. The surprising thing is it's not in the law in the rest of the world.
If there is no answer, there is no question. If there is no solution, there is no problem.

Waffles to space = 100% pure WIN.

leady
Posts: 1592
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:28 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby leady » Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:07 am UTC

It can never be "evil" to not act or no one can ever not be evil.

HungryHobo
Posts: 1708
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:01 am UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:09 pm UTC

leady wrote:It can never be "evil" to not act or no one can ever not be evil.

Evil is a loaded word. mildly to significantly immoral.
sure they can. you can try and fail, or lack the resources to try or be trying to help a more serious case.
it's easy to make theoretical statements like that when you strip away the reality.
then brand any less abstract but more accurate version as "emotional" or similar.

do you choose your moral systems on the basis of whether they classify you as good when you do whatever you like doing anyway?

If you watched your friends walk past such a child when they were aware, had the means, the knowledge and the opertunity to help for little cost to themselves: would your opinion of them drop?

If you watched a doctor sit back and have a cup of tea because he couldn't be bothered while someone bled out on the floor beside them: would your opinion of that doctor change?
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

leady
Posts: 1592
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:28 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby leady » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:26 pm UTC

I choose my morality based on consistency of application and its achievability rather than any immediate emotional impact.

Of course in both your examples the people are arseholes, but they are not evil (or immoral etc). Proximity and visual impact cannot be a sane basis for morality

User avatar
idobox
Posts: 1591
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:54 pm UTC
Location: Marseille, France

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby idobox » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:29 pm UTC

So you choose your morality on a logical basis*? What is the point of being moral, in this case?

And if leaving someone die when you can help is not immoral, what is?
If there is no answer, there is no question. If there is no solution, there is no problem.

Waffles to space = 100% pure WIN.

leady
Posts: 1592
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:28 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby leady » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:33 pm UTC

Any time you spend on this planet not dedicated to charity you are leaving people to die. Any morality based on a precept of "you must help" is broken therefore by design

My morality is simply "do no harm" in effect - which in of itself is overtly beneficial.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:08 pm UTC

VannA wrote:Regardless, as I mentioned earlier, murder ideas more immediate impact on others, but no true impact on the victim, the victim ceases to be.


Those phrases do not go together. Ceasing to be IS an impact.

leady wrote:Any time you spend on this planet not dedicated to charity you are leaving people to die. Any morality based on a precept of "you must help" is broken therefore by design

My morality is simply "do no harm" in effect - which in of itself is overtly beneficial.


This is enough to acheive some kind of neutrality, yes. If you never help and never harm, then by definition, your effects on humanity have been neutral.

Choosing to help, though, would be overtly good, and thus usually seen as a morally better option, if you can. Not donating every cent to charity doesn't make you evil...but donating some does make you better to at least some degree.

User avatar
idobox
Posts: 1591
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:54 pm UTC
Location: Marseille, France

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby idobox » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:12 pm UTC

leady wrote:Any time you spend on this planet not dedicated to charity you are leaving people to die. Any morality based on a precept of "you must help" is broken therefore by design

My morality is simply "do no harm" in effect - which in of itself is overtly beneficial.


All the time I'm not doing charity, I'm letting people die. I'm doing that for my own comfort, and that is immoral, I am not a perfectly moral person. But I manage to live with that because I feel my responsibility is limited. Letting a man die at my feet because I wouldn't bother called rescue is much more immoral.
There is no black and white in morality, only shades of gray, and I try to move toward lighter shades despite my inherent selfishness.

You're saying that because you can't be bothered to spend all your time and energy helping others, you don't have to help anybody, and that, in my opinion, is seriously flawed. And once again, the distinction between harming, and not avoid people being harmed is thin and blurred. "I didn't run them over, I just didn't bother to turn the wheel and avoid them. I didn't kill that man, I just refused to give him the medicine he needed. I didn't kill these people, I just didn't call rescue services when I saw the crashed car"

You say your morality is "do not harm", well inaction can harm.
If there is no answer, there is no question. If there is no solution, there is no problem.

Waffles to space = 100% pure WIN.

HungryHobo
Posts: 1708
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:01 am UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:15 pm UTC

leady wrote:I choose my morality based on consistency of application and its achievability rather than any immediate emotional impact.

When a moral system justifies something clearly and obviously horrific it doesn't mean that the horrific thing isn't immoral, it's a demonstration of a flaw in the moral system.

Similarly if a moral system implies that there's a lot of somewhat immoral people that doesn't mean that the moral system is wrong.

other examples include someone who knows his neighbour is raping his infant daughter and doesn't care enough to pick up the phone to report it.

If that failure to act moves him less towards bad on your moral specrum than feeding hungry pidgeons moves him towards good then something is broken.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

User avatar
Suzaku
Posts: 279
Joined: Thu May 31, 2012 10:20 am UTC
Location: Tokyo, Japan

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby Suzaku » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:26 pm UTC

Harm caused through inaction is still harm.

If one has a choice between acting to help and doing nothing leading to harm, then one is obliged to act if the moral compass is 'Do no harm'.
This is why it's a lot harder to really live up to 'Do no harm' than people tend to think.

And even then there are moral dilemmas (I can jump in to the river to save this drowning person, but that puts my life at risk also, which would cause harm to my family and friends).

To bring this back to capital punishment, you can certainly argue that it does less harm to allow an unrepentant murderer to live than it does to execute him, although the argument becomes harder when indefinite imprisonment is an option.
Pronouns: he/him/his > they/them/their >> it/it/its
Time Zone: JST (UTC+9)
─────────────────────────
Some guy on the Internet wrote:The thing about the inevitable, it has a bad habit of actually happening.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:48 pm UTC

Suzaku wrote:Harm caused through inaction is still harm.

If one has a choice between acting to help and doing nothing leading to harm, then one is obliged to act if the moral compass is 'Do no harm'.
This is why it's a lot harder to really live up to 'Do no harm' than people tend to think.


You have some conflicting statements there. "do no harm" means quite literally that. Do none. Not "allow no harm to be done".

It's clear that helping the baby is morally superior to not. It's not clear that opting to not help makes you evil.

I believe that neither helping nor harming is strictly neutral. The person is no better or worse off than if you did not exist. If you're making him better off, those actions are good. If worse...those actions are bad.

User avatar
Suzaku
Posts: 279
Joined: Thu May 31, 2012 10:20 am UTC
Location: Tokyo, Japan

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby Suzaku » Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:11 pm UTC

I would argue that the harm done was in making the conscious choice not to act. That is, making a choice is an action (doing something) and if the result of that action(choice) is that harm is done, then the chooser has done harm.
Thus, by this moral compass, a person who walks past an accident victim choosing not to help when they could, is both morally inferior to a person who does stop to help (i.e. is good), and 'objectively' bad (i.e. worse than neutral).

That said, I haven't ever really considered 'The person is no better or worse off than if you did not exist.' as a position to judge morality from. I need to give this some thought.
Can you suggest any reading about this specific idea?
Pronouns: he/him/his > they/them/their >> it/it/its
Time Zone: JST (UTC+9)
─────────────────────────
Some guy on the Internet wrote:The thing about the inevitable, it has a bad habit of actually happening.

HungryHobo
Posts: 1708
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:01 am UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:25 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:The person is no better or worse off than if you did not exist. If you're making him better off, those actions are good. If worse...those actions are bad.


if on the other hand you didn't exist and the universe rolled the dice again and someone else was where you would have been, living in the house next door hearing the screams: would they likely have been better or worse chances if you'd never been born?

if you'd never been born and someone who cared even a little, just enough to pick up the phone was living in the house next door instead then they'd be much better off. but they're not there because you moved in.

it's totally possible through inaction to make someone worse off than if you hadn't existed.

unless your actions are at least slightly better than the average you'd expect of a random sample of humanity then it's likely that the world would be better without you, had a different sperm won the race or a different person filled your place.

it's not even a very high standard: to be better than the average, above the 50% mark.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:57 pm UTC

Suzaku wrote:That said, I haven't ever really considered 'The person is no better or worse off than if you did not exist.' as a position to judge morality from. I need to give this some thought.
Can you suggest any reading about this specific idea?


I don't have any direct links for this idea...it's something I've mostly come up with independently. That said, I'm sure it's been unconsciously influenced by stuff I've read, and may well have historical precedent that I'm unaware of.

Certainly, many philosophies have shared portions of this, like "first, do no harm", at any rate. You may also find a degree of similarity to Utilitarianism, though it's not quite the same. It's probably fairly unique in that the idea of neutrality is one that's...not really addressed in many works on good and evil, most of which tend to focus on the more extreme acts. However, much of actual, realistic day to day stuff that we do is pretty benign from a morality standpoint. So...I think that a bit of attention to the concept of moral neutrality may be warranted.

HungryHobo wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:The person is no better or worse off than if you did not exist. If you're making him better off, those actions are good. If worse...those actions are bad.


if on the other hand you didn't exist and the universe rolled the dice again and someone else was where you would have been, living in the house next door hearing the screams: would they likely have been better or worse chances if you'd never been born?


So, instead of measuring against the null case(not here at all), we're measuring against the average of humanity. This is possible, but it does mean a great deal more subjectivity(ie, most people rate themselves above average, even in cases where we can expect that actually isn't the case.) and it does mean that if you're moral or not can change wildly depending on how good other people are.

A similar line of reasoning has been pulled up in the abortion debate...some pointing out that the aborted fetus could have gone on to be the next Eistein...while others retort that it could be the next Hitler. Logically...future prediction for an unborn baby(let alone a hypothetical unborn baby that might have been born instead of you) is something we can't reasonably do with any accuracy. So, it makes a poor basis for decision-making.

HungryHobo
Posts: 1708
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:01 am UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:10 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:A similar line of reasoning has been pulled up in the abortion debate...some pointing out that the aborted fetus could have gone on to be the next Eistein...while others retort that it could be the next Hitler. Logically...future prediction for an unborn baby(let alone a hypothetical unborn baby that might have been born instead of you) is something we can't reasonably do with any accuracy. So, it makes a poor basis for decision-making.


Do you think that there would be a void left if you weren't here? that sounds you would have heard wouldn't fall on anyone elses ears?

If were were predicting anything other than an utterly random human then it would be wrong. but we're not.

We're not saying "if a saint was there" or "if a psycho was there" just roll the dice and assume that it's just a normal average human being in your house. neutral.the odds of saints or psychos cancel out. if you make the lives of those around you worse than the average person does through your actions or inactions then they'd all have better odds if the dice were rolled again.

Is it really such a bad goal: when you make a choice thinking : "is this better or worse than an average person would do?"

Even if you have a distorted sense of yourself it's still a good question to ask.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:20 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:A similar line of reasoning has been pulled up in the abortion debate...some pointing out that the aborted fetus could have gone on to be the next Eistein...while others retort that it could be the next Hitler. Logically...future prediction for an unborn baby(let alone a hypothetical unborn baby that might have been born instead of you) is something we can't reasonably do with any accuracy. So, it makes a poor basis for decision-making.


If were were predicting anything other than an utterly random human then it would be wrong. but we're not.

We're not saying "if a saint was there" or "if a psycho was there" just roll the dice and assume that it's just a normal average human being in your house. neutral.the odds of saints or psychos cancel out. if you make the lives of those around you worse than the average person does through your actions or inactions then they'd all have better odds if the dice were rolled again.

Is it really such a bad goal: when you make a choice thinking : "is this better or worse than an average person would do?"

Even if you have a distorted sense of yourself it's still a good question to ask.


We can't predict what an utterly random human being would do. Note that utterly random is entirely different from average. Note additionally that in your calculation of average, you are assuming that saints and psychos cancel. In short...something approximating a normal distribution between these extremes. This *may* be the case...but it also might not be. Furthermore, even if it is a normal distribution, if the average of this falls in the neutral area of "doesn't get involved", then this system of morality is indistinguishable in practice from comparing to not there at all.

Worse, this system directly references popularity for determining morality. If the average person believes it appropriate to take slaves, then your morality would not condemn keeping slaves. Mine would, on the basis that putting people into chains would reasonably be considered to be making them worse off.

User avatar
Suzaku
Posts: 279
Joined: Thu May 31, 2012 10:20 am UTC
Location: Tokyo, Japan

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby Suzaku » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:26 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Certainly, many philosophies have shared portions of this, like "first, do no harm"
True, which often leads to the "inaction is not 'Doing' " vs. "A choice not to act is 'Doing'," thing. You have my position on that particular semantic debate.
It's probably fairly unique in that the idea of neutrality is one that's...not really addressed in many works on good and evil, most of which tend to focus on the more extreme acts.
This matches my experience also. This is one reason I find it interesting and would like to look at it further.
Oh, BTW, <Usage Nazi>fairly unique? Shame on you!</Usage Nazi> :)

HungryHobo wrote:unless your actions are at least slightly better than the average you'd expect of a random sample of humanity then it's likely that the world would be better without you, had a different sperm won the race or a different person filled your place.

it's not even a very high standard: to be better than the average, above the 50% mark.

What population are you taking your random sample from? The world population now? Everyone who has ever lived, ever? Your local community? Your 'culture'? The 'average' moral value of these populations is going to by wildly different.

This seems like relativism to me, and I don't think that relativism is a valid moral framework.

Ninja'd by both of you, but no edits to the above.
Pronouns: he/him/his > they/them/their >> it/it/its
Time Zone: JST (UTC+9)
─────────────────────────
Some guy on the Internet wrote:The thing about the inevitable, it has a bad habit of actually happening.

HungryHobo
Posts: 1708
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:01 am UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:29 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Worse, this system directly references popularity for determining morality. If the average person believes it appropriate to take slaves, then your morality would not condemn keeping slaves. Mine would, on the basis that putting people into chains would reasonably be considered to be making them worse off.


This doesn't dictate how you judge good and bad. it just introduced a more sane assumption than assuming that you are gods gift to the world and that things could only be worse without you.

You still keep all other aspects of how you judge good and bad intact. Don't like slavery when the vast majority do? no different to your current approach.
the only difference it makes is in the choice between action and inaction when the vast majority of people would act better, be "more good" by your very own standards of morality.

What population are you taking your random sample from? The world population now? Everyone who has ever lived, ever? Your local community? Your 'culture'? The 'average' moral value of these populations is going to by wildly different.

pick your favorite. Who's most likely to be in your place? who do you want to be comparable with? it only makes any difference when more than half the people in your reference group would act better under your own moral system.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:55 pm UTC

Suzaku wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Certainly, many philosophies have shared portions of this, like "first, do no harm"
True, which often leads to the "inaction is not 'Doing' " vs. "A choice not to act is 'Doing'," thing. You have my position on that particular semantic debate.


Yup. I try to avoid getting trapped into semantics too much. Going directly to what effect we can expect without focusing on the process mostly skips this, and the introduction of neutrality makes the classification problem a lot easier.

Suzaku wrote:
il, most of which tend to focus on the more extreme acts.
This matches my experience also. This is one reason I find it interesting and would like to look at it further.
Oh, BTW, <Usage Nazi>fairly unique? Shame on you!</Usage Nazi> :)


Lol, fair, I was hedging a bit in case there was some philosophy out there I was forgetting.

HungryHobo wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Worse, this system directly references popularity for determining morality. If the average person believes it appropriate to take slaves, then your morality would not condemn keeping slaves. Mine would, on the basis that putting people into chains would reasonably be considered to be making them worse off.


This doesn't dictate how you judge good and bad. it just introduced a more sane assumption than assuming that you are gods gift to the world and that things could only be worse without you.


Oh, I don't think that's a necessary assumption. If, for instance, I'm not paying attention, and bump into someone else's car, I have made that guy's life worse...and if I want to be a good person, I want to try to remedy this and/or make up for it in other ways. Comparing against the state of "I'm not here, are people better off" need not always lead to the conclusion that you are good.

You still keep all other aspects of how you judge good and bad intact. Don't like slavery when the vast majority do? no different to your current approach.
the only difference it makes is in the choice between action and inaction when the vast majority of people would act better, be "more good" by your very own standards of morality.


Well, it judges goodness differently. According to your system, if everyone else took slaves...and you did too, but treated them better than average, you would be a good person.

That's...problematic for many. It does end up looking rather a lot like relativism, so it's going to share it's flaws.

What population are you taking your random sample from? The world population now? Everyone who has ever lived, ever? Your local community? Your 'culture'? The 'average' moral value of these populations is going to by wildly different.

pick your favorite. Who's most likely to be in your place? who do you want to be comparable with? it only makes any difference when more than half the people in your reference group would act better under your own moral system.


Strictly speaking, I can't guarantee that anyone would be in my place at all. A few of the things I've done in my life are sufficiently unique that I can't assume that someone else would have been there to do them if I wasn't. Certainly, had the sperm and egg that created me not existed...I can't even guarantee that my parents would have had the same number of children.

I can make a fairly educated guess at what would happen in a given situation if I were not in it. It's much more challenging to hypothesize what some other non-existent human being were there instead of me. Human beings vary wildly, so their reactions will as well. Not having a distinct person to pin it down to is basically going to make any such projection undefined, because the variation between human action is pretty great.

User avatar
Suzaku
Posts: 279
Joined: Thu May 31, 2012 10:20 am UTC
Location: Tokyo, Japan

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby Suzaku » Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:22 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:This doesn't dictate how you judge good and bad.
Umm, we're discussing how we should judge good and bad.
it just introduced a more sane assumption than assuming that you are gods gift to the world and that things could only be worse without you.
Tyndmyr never assumed anything of the sort. His argument (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) is that taking no action at all is neither good nor bad because it is equivalent to not existing.
That is:
I help the person == I'm good.
I neither help nor harm the person (I do nothing) == I'm neutral.
I harm the person == I'm bad.
I disagree with this argument, but it is consistent and offers a stable moral compass.

pick your favorite
OK; everyone who's ever lived. This basically gives me moral license to do anything, on the grounds that it's not worse than what half of everyone who's ever lived would have done.
Who's most likely to be in your place?
Literally anybody, or more likely nobody.
who do you want to be comparable with?
This is not really relevant to a discussion of moral codes. Of course, I would like to be compared to my peers, and to great moral individuals in history. And I would like to come out well in these comparisons. But that doesn't mean that if my peers think that slavery is OK, my belief that slavery is OK is morally good. It's still bad, just more understandable.
it only makes any difference when more than half the people in your reference group would act better under your own moral system.
Under my moral system, keeping slaves is morally wrong. Not calling CPS or the police if I sincerely believe my neighbour is abusing his daughter is morally wrong. Whether the majority of people in some reference group believe the same is irrelevant. If everyone but me captures and sells slaves and I only buy slaves, then I may be morally superior to them, but I'm still morally bad. But, if 'better than average' is the standard for judgement, only owning slaves while everyone else trades in them would be morally good. Not just better than my peers, but actually good.
I will not accept this as my moral compass.

On the other hand, if you mean to say that you should try to be better than the current average on some fixed scale, then I completely agree and the only remaining discussion is what scale should be used.
Pronouns: he/him/his > they/them/their >> it/it/its
Time Zone: JST (UTC+9)
─────────────────────────
Some guy on the Internet wrote:The thing about the inevitable, it has a bad habit of actually happening.

leady
Posts: 1592
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:28 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby leady » Wed Sep 26, 2012 6:44 pm UTC

Not calling CPS or the police if I sincerely believe my neighbour is abusing his daughter is morally wrong


out of curiosity and to nudge the thread slightly back towards capital punishment - under that moral perspective where do you draw the line? phoning the police is fairly effortless - are you obligated to intervene? if so to what extent? i.e. how do you draw the obligation line? Hell is there a line? (I could also see society being a very good place or very bad place if everyone attacked immorality with everything they had - subject to definitions )

User avatar
sam_i_am
Posts: 624
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:38 pm UTC
Location: Urbana, Illinois, USA

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby sam_i_am » Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:56 pm UTC

leady wrote:
Not calling CPS or the police if I sincerely believe my neighbour is abusing his daughter is morally wrong


out of curiosity and to nudge the thread slightly back towards capital punishment - under that moral perspective where do you draw the line? phoning the police is fairly effortless - are you obligated to intervene? if so to what extent? i.e. how do you draw the obligation line? Hell is there a line? (I could also see society being a very good place or very bad place if everyone attacked immorality with everything they had - subject to definitions )


It depends what you mean by intervening. If you get too confrontational in your approach, it becomes vigilante justice, which is very antithetical to the concept of "due process"

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:09 pm UTC

I, personally, would intervene if I were an eyewitness to abuse. I don't demand that everyone adhere to such a standard. If everyone merely refrained from being an abuser, there'd be no problem.

Intervention(when you're absolutely certain of what's going on) can definitely be morally justified, but I can't know that everyone is capable of doing so effectively or appropriately. Perhaps you're half the size of the abuser, and only risk becoming an additional victim of violence. So, there's no need for me to judge others for their intervention or lack thereof. If you help people out, kudos...if you can't, well, that's life.

leady
Posts: 1592
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:28 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby leady » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:53 pm UTC

sam_i_am wrote:It depends what you mean by intervening. If you get too confrontational in your approach, it becomes vigilante justice, which is very antithetical to the concept of "due process"


due process has no basis in morality, it is as implies a process for establishing facts upon which to apply a moral and or practical judgement

User avatar
idobox
Posts: 1591
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:54 pm UTC
Location: Marseille, France

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby idobox » Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:32 am UTC

Am I the only one who thinks morality has little to do with the effects, and more with the intention.

In short, it doesn't matter if your actions actually help or harm people, what matters is if you try to help or harm. Of course it's better to actually help, but that's not what makes it moral. And being moral means choosing the option you believe to be the highest on the good/bad spectrum.
If there is no answer, there is no question. If there is no solution, there is no problem.

Waffles to space = 100% pure WIN.

leady
Posts: 1592
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:28 pm UTC

Re: Capital Punishment/Death Penalty [Philosophy]

Postby leady » Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:05 am UTC

Yes intent is critical (animals aren't moral entities for example), but for the cp discussion you can be responsible without intent.

Personally I don't think good and evil are a single axis - I think thats D&Ds contribution to society :).


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests