The Atheist Agora
What matters – actions or consequences?
January 16, 2022 at 10:26 pm #40770
Good consequences must be the end-goal.
As defined by who and for who, Simon? Long-term or short-term consequences, since they are often at odds? How good are people at knowing what the consequences will be? There are 5 million plus C19 dead so far, every one of them killed as a consequence of what someone else did. Maybe apply your system to all of that.January 17, 2022 at 3:23 am #40772
@simon I’m not at all sure you are actually talking about ethics, which takes as its subject matter moral behavior, and moral behavior is all about intention, not actions or consequences.
King Ludwig of Bavaria was a man who abused his subjects and indulged himself through their taxes. He loved to build palaces and castles strictly for his own enjoyment, one of which is the fabulously beautiful Neuschwanstein. The world wasn’t a better place because Ludwig became king, but the world is a better place for containing Neuschwanstein. Should we tear Neuschwanstein down because of who built it. Is he to be praised rather than condemned because Neuschwanstein turned out so well?January 17, 2022 at 6:34 am #40778
Good consequences must be the end-goal. As defined by who and for who, Simon? Long-term or short-term consequences, since they are often at odds? How good are people at knowing what the consequences will be?
Good points. Consequences must be the end goal, because actions take place in the moment, while consequences play out both in the short and long terms. We may have to live with consequences on an extended basis.
A good example of short and long term consequences is taking drugs. People feel good in the short term, but suffer in the long term; they want what they want right now, but pay for it later. So I would say that long term consequences matter especially, simply because they last for a long time.
We don’t know what the consequences of our actions will be. But we act according to values, principles and virtues precisely because these are already known to reliably lead to optimal consequences.January 17, 2022 at 6:41 am #40779
moral behavior is all about intention, not actions or consequences.
But moral behaviour, as behaviour, covers both intentions and actions.
King Ludwig of Bavaria was a man who abused his subjects and indulged himself through their taxes. He loved to build palaces and castles strictly for his own enjoyment, one of which is the fabulously beautiful Neuschwanstein. The world wasn’t a better place because Ludwig became king, but the world is a better place for containing Neuschwanstein. Should we tear Neuschwanstein down because of who built it. Is he to be praised rather than condemned because Neuschwanstein turned out so well?
Interesting dilemma. Neuschwanstein Castle is a beautiful thing. But Ludwig’s subjects suffered during his lifetime. After they all died, all that was left was the castle. We can enjoy its beauty because it doesn’t affect us personally, while regretting that it was built on the suffering of long-dead others.
So, I’d say that my hypothesis holds, at least for the lifetimes of those affected.January 17, 2022 at 4:56 pm #40781
Unseen, Simon, and Fellow Unbelievers,
As I have repeatedly alluded to regarding certain trick laws, intention is the hardest, most problematic thing to establish with anyone or their actions. Intentions, thus, cannot be the basis of any ethics or morality based upon Reason.
And while there is no Supernatural Hell, there are many roads to death and destruction and those roads that really are Hell on Earth and often are “paved with good intentions.”
Actions and consequences, however, are easy to establish and over time, we can observe a pattern of certain actions resulting in certain consequences and we can evaluate those actions and consequences for whether they further or work against human life and flourishing.
Now, regarding a Neuschwanstein, the most just thing to do–with the past knowledge of Absolute Monarchies, Democracies, and now Communism and Cronyism firmly in mind–is depose any present Mad King Ludwig II, close any existing office of Monarchy, keep any Democratic majority from acting like an Absolute Monarchy, and sell Neuschwanstein to the highest bidder on the condition that all Citizens forced to pay for it have a pro rata portion of the sales, that any Neuschwanstein thereafter be a publicly held Corporation, and that all Citizens forced to pay for any Neuschwanstein have stock shares of any venture that any Neuschwanstein becomes thereafter.
Might I add, Neuschwanstein might make a wonderful complex of historically-themed shoppes, rathskellers, tailors, haberdashers, printers, horse stables, balloon rides over the palatial estate, even bed and breakfasts in the high-rise portions, with shares benefitting everyone and their heirs if shares are exchanged or passed on by inheritance. The possibilities are limitless!
Pop-Up Video Factoid: Neuschwanstein was the movie setting for the fictional kingdom of Vulgaria in the movie Chitty-Chitty! Bang-Bang!
Vulgaria was a tyrannical land that outlawed children and kept them in dungeons, patrolled by The Child Catcher, and headed by Baron Bomburst and his freaky-deaky, kinky Baronness Bomburst, who commissioned the Kingdom’s Toymaker to make toys for their Court’s amusement. Kind of a G-Rated/PG-Rated Romania under Nicolai Ceauçescu. Shown here:January 17, 2022 at 6:04 pm #40784
Actions and consequences, however, are easy to establish and over time…
Not so fast. Hindsight through your shade of lenses is not even 20/20, let alone predicting results. Now you may well have a fairly accurate probability in some cases and that is all. Will Russia invade? Will omicron be the last C19 wave? Will the US end up as some sort of dictatorship. Should I sell or hold my Boeing stock?
What are the consequences if Russia occupies Ukraine? What should the US do?
Even though climate change seems unstoppable…we don’t really know how bad the social consequences will be or the timeline. So no, I disagree consequences are easy to establish, and I doubt that we even measure them 100% correctly after the fact.January 17, 2022 at 6:55 pm #40785
So, I’d say that my hypothesis holds, at least for the lifetimes of those affected.
So, morality varies over time. There is, then, no firm everlasting basis for time. It changes with perceptions. Seems to be a consequent of what you are saying.January 17, 2022 at 7:05 pm #40786
@Enco Was Mad King Ludwig II actually “mad”? He could have been eccentric, spoiled, even mentally ill in some form, but not all forms of mental illness amount to being “mad” (by which I mean crazy, bonkers, off his rocker, and nuts).
The thing is, though, that if he isn’t mad, that makes him all the more responsible for his actions.
BTW, thought of a somewhat parallel case to the King and his castle: Too bad about Anne Frank, but at least we have her diary.
January 17, 2022 at 9:46 pm #40788
- This reply was modified 4 months ago by Unseen.
But moral behaviour
What is moral behaviour?
Huh? Let me read that again.
But moral behaviour, as behaviour
Huh?January 17, 2022 at 11:04 pm #40790
@simon BTW, Schloss Neuschwanstein comes in behind the Taj Mahal as a contribution to world architecture, but he was known to be the cruelest of the Mogul emperors. When his beloved wife died, for whom he built the Taj, he basically turned to one of the daughters for nookie because the two looked so much alike and, as he also argued, “It is the privilege of a planter to taste the fruit of the tree he had planted.” Not a nice guy. Gorgeous building surrounded by immoral intent.
January 18, 2022 at 2:46 am #40792
- This reply was modified 4 months ago by Unseen.
Come to think of it, most of the great architecture has been made or sponsored by narcissists, despots, madmen, or psychopaths. And that includes Frank Lloyd Wright, who left his wife under lurid circumstances.
We nice sane people have relatively little to show for ourselves, architecturally speaking. LOLJanuary 18, 2022 at 6:43 am #40793
If we only examine results without assessing intention then it is the same crime to have been bullied and tormented, finally fight back and unintentionally kill the bully with a left cross that causes an aneurysm as it is to hire a hitman to murder your business adversary.
This would seem to be a very reasonable position. If this is correct, then morality can’t be all about consequences only – but also about reasons for acting a certain way.
Let us assume that I intend to hurt somebody. If my reason is (1) self-defense, this is judged differently from reasons of (2) cruelty or bullying. I think the reason for this is that (1) is a necessary action performed by a person who would otherwise have been well meaning, in order to save myself from attack; and (2) is unnecessary and selfish.
In fact, these are two sides of the same coin: the bully and the victim.January 18, 2022 at 6:50 am #40794
So, morality varies over time. There is, then, no firm everlasting basis for time. It changes with perceptions. Seems to be a consequent of what you are saying.
I wouldn’t say so in this case. If someone came along today, and acted like a cruel despot, it would still be seen as just as wrong.
Rightness and wrongness is not a property of consequences, while good and bad (positive and negative) can be properties of consequences or events. I think that rightness and wrongness are properties of actions.
I think that to judge intentions as right or wrong is an intrusion into someone else’s private min; however, we have the right to judge our own intentions as right and wrong. In someone else, we have the right to say whether their intentions are prosocial or antisocial.
Fighting off a bully, although violent, is prosocial in intention because it is defending one’s life in a way that we have the right to do.January 18, 2022 at 6:52 am #40795
Come to think of it, most of the great architecture has been made or sponsored by narcissists, despots, madmen, or psychopaths.
Apparently, European cathedrals were invented by a 12th century bishop who wanted a fitting tribute for his awesome personality.
Now that the people who were exploited to build these palaces are all long dead, the most we can say is that these beautiful buildings can have unfortunate histories.January 18, 2022 at 10:47 am #40796
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