• spirit-salamander
    147
    What do you think might happen if you regularly violate your taken-for-granted moral principles?

    Is it reasonable to think that under certain circumstances, evil actions within the framework of moral realism could have no negative consequences whatsoever?

    The history of ideas is teeming with suggestions of what might happen.

    After death: eternal torture; temporary torment; annihilationism, eternal or time-limited Hades or limbo, in which it is neither very unpleasant nor pleasant; rebirth into a "lower" creature; and more.

    During life: Bad luck, unhappiness, bad karma, despair, grief, loss of continuous consciousness and thus loss of one's identity, and much more.

    As far as I know, even Kant believed that it would be somewhat (conceptually?) inconsistent if there were no kind of reward for doing good deeds.

    So what do you think, moral realists?
  • Anthony Minickiello
    17

    I think I would get in trouble during life plenty if I regularly violated my moral principles. I tend to obey popular behavioral norms like those in school and around my family to save my skin, and I only break the rules when I think I can get away with it and I feel as if I'm not doing something wrong by my standards. I don't know what would happen to me after death if I broke my rules, but I'd like to avoid the bad side of karma on Earth, at least. I like being happy and unpunished.
  • javra
    1.2k
    What do you think might happen if you regularly violate your taken-for-granted moral principles?

    [...]

    So what do you think, moral realists?
    spirit-salamander

    Thinking of Buddhists whose ultimate aim is the emancipation from samsara, which is a predetermined and non-created state of being that awaits as Nirvana; or of Neoplatonists whose ultimate aim is union with “the One”, which is again a predetermined and non-created state of being that awaits; or any number of similar examples (with a potential secular example being the obtainment of a true, or absolute/complete, objectivity of awareness) wherein the ultimate end pursued is considered an uncreated absolute good, one that is universally applicable, that then establishes what ought and ought not be done so as to be attained (we are, after all, addressing moral realism):

    What would necessarily happen - be it in this life, if not in the next, and so forth (here granting that nonbeing is not a predetermined ultimate end of awareness) - is that one would be furthered from that which one intends to ultimately actualize in the long term by one’s own hand, this via the actualization of short-term goals that, again, frustrate one’s pivotal intent. This furtherance from what one ultimately wants, then, would be unpleasant, this in varying degrees that are relative to one’s degree of deviation from what one ultimately desires and thereby seeks. Whereas increased proximity to what one ultimately wants results in happiness; and actualization of what one ultimately wants would be, well, bliss.

    By the same token - regardless of hardships encountered - if one maintains alignment to those oughts which facilitate closer proximity to, and eventually actualization of, one’s ultimate end/aim of the absolute good, one will be closer to it than if one were not to so maintain.

    I grant that this is simplistic, quite possibly to a fault. But I’ll leave it as-is for now. As a reminder, this presupposes that moral realism is.
  • 180 Proof
    4k
    As a moral naturalist (subset of moral realism), I reason that one humanizes another insofar as one helps to reduce another's harm and/or misery, which thereby humanizes oneself. Likewise, one dehumanizes oneself by dehumanizing another (i.e. inflicting, neglecting or exacerbating another's harm or misery).

    Is it possible in this naturalistic empathy-feedback (action-reaction) scheme to do "evil" completely without consequences? No. But with very minimal consequences? Yeah, remotely through distancing (i.e. "banality" e.g. (complacent) bureaucratic policy/regulation, (hired) proxy agents, (political) plausible deniability, etc). An all too common occupational hazard in modern mass societies.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.9k

    I think that one of the results we might experience if we violate our deepest moral principles is that if anything goes wrong we may begin to see it as a form of 'punishment'. This is connected to any underlying gnawing sense of guilt, and an angry nagging conscience. There is also the possibility that we may subconsciously act in such a way to bring negative events towards ourselves as a form of retribution.

    It may be that the violation of the principles may be pushed out of consciousness, more or less completely. During that the basis of personal principles may have been reconsidered. If the violation is great and pushed aside totally, the question is whether it would be cast aside from the mind permanently, or whether the guilt would burst through at some point in the future, possibly in some unexpected way.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    881
    What do you think might happen if you regularly violate your taken-for-granted moral principles?

    So what do you think, moral realists?
    spirit-salamander

    I'm no moral realist, but I suppose regardless of you meta-ethical stance, one thing that might happen if you violate moral principles regularly, is social exclusion... which for a social being is bad enough.
  • spirit-salamander
    147
    I think that one of the results we might experience if we violate our deepest moral principles is that if anything goes wrong we may begin to see it as a form of 'punishment'. This is connected to any underlying gnawing sense of guilt, and an angry nagging conscience.Jack Cummins

    That's a good important point that I hadn't considered in my original post. The punishing own conscience, whereby the conscience turns out differently with each person and varies depending upon situation regarding importance. Certain lies that could do, I or my conscience would never forgive and it would torment me for the rest of my life. Whereas with other lies, more banal, everyday lies, I would probably completely forget after a few weeks that I had told them. Even these little lies, once uttered, are unpleasant.

    Regarding the different consciences, I found this quote, which I have had translated into English:

    "A Jew is pricked by conscience when he smokes on "Shabbos", a Christian is not; a Catholic is pricked by conscience when he does not confess, a Protestant is not; an orthodox Englishman is pricked by conscience when he works on Sunday, a liberal German Protestant is not; a Hindu is pricked by conscience when he kills an animal, a German hunter is not, and so on."

    Perhaps to add to your point, even if one is not a moral realist, that is, one does not believe in moral principles or values in some sort of Platonic realm, one can still be tormented by one's conscience.
  • spirit-salamander
    147
    I'm no moral realist, but I suppose regardless of you meta-ethical stance, one thing that might happen if you violate moral principles, is social exclusion... which for a social being is bad enough.ChatteringMonkey

    Yes, you probably don't escape any form of punitive threat, whether you believe in morality or not. If in the future there was something like the Ring of Gyges, which can make you invisible, then maybe things would be different.
  • spirit-salamander
    147


    The question is then also why one maintains moral principles whose possible or even probable violation seems threatening and troubling.
  • Jack Cummins
    2.9k

    I think that it is true that Catholics often feel relieved of guilt by going to confession. But, having been brought up as a Catholic I am aware of the way many Catholics experience guilt so easily, which is why I thought of that in response to your thread. Also, the problem with confession, is that it is easy to think one has committed some 'major violation, but when trying to say it, with a screen between oneself and the priest, is not easy. The major sin often just ends up sounding rather silly. But, I really don't know what legal obligations a priest would be under if someone confessed some major crime.
  • Michael
    9.6k
    I'm no moral realist, but I suppose regardless of you meta-ethical stance, one thing that might happen if you violate moral principles regularly, is social exclusion... which for a social being is bad enough.ChatteringMonkey

    Violating principles which are believed by society to be moral principles could lead to social exclusion, but simply violating moral principles wouldn't.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    881
    I'm no moral realist, but I suppose regardless of you meta-ethical stance, one thing that might happen if you violate moral principles regularly, is social exclusion... which for a social being is bad enough.
    — ChatteringMonkey

    Violating principles which are believed by society to be moral principles could lead to social exclusion, but simply violating moral principles wouldn't.
    Michael

    Right, as a moral realist one would make that distinction.
  • unenlightened
    5.7k
    As far as I know, even Kant believed that it would be somewhat (conceptually?) inconsistent if there were no kind of reward for doing good deeds.spirit-salamander

    I am diametrically opposed to this view. I believe it would be conceptually inconsistent if there were a reward for doing good deeds, because it would be a matter of common sense prudence to do the deed and gain the reward rather than a virtuous act. If giving to charity resulted in a profit, every greedy bastard would be at it.
  • spirit-salamander
    147


    I agree with you, but on the other hand, there is something futile about good actions without rewards. You can't help feeling this way. One could even say not only futile, but also sad in a very general sense.
  • Anthony Minickiello
    17


    The question is then also why one maintains moral principles whose possible or even probable violation seems threatening and troubling.spirit-salamander

    The alternative, not maintaining those moral principles, is an even worse choice, to me, as that gets you in trouble. So given the choice to obey those obligations or not, I think I obey dominant moral principles because doing so keeps you safe in a lot of cases, practically speaking. But even if I could get away with violating my principles, I still wouldn't necessarily go about breaking my moral obligations. I have an internal sense of what is right and wrong by my own desires and standards, and I notice many others share these feelings, so I am also a sucker for empathy in other cases, which is another reason why I stay true to my values. There is something about doing something wrong to someone whom I think doesn't deserve it that hurts me too, in a way. Overall, violating my moral standards regularly enough would be too much of a burden of guilt or shame or just feeling like I'm lying or failing myself. It would be unnatural and exhausting to perform. There are many reasons why a moral realist would obey a given set of moral principles, often intertwined but nevertheless real.
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