• RolandTyme
    47
    Hello everyone,

    Another thing I've been wondering about on the back of my thinking about nuclear weapons.

    I've been concerned about the prospect of nuclear war as it would basically wipe out our current civilisation. We would have some enclaves left, but they would have to rebuild.

    However, from a strict consequentialist perspective, is this worth worrying about?

    Consequentialism, I think, only makes sense if we are concerned with what will be the actual consequences of our actions (or systems of rules or whatever), rather than what we believe to be the consequences. If the whole point is to have a unitary item which is "The Good" and to try to maximise it (I think these are both key - if you have inconmensurable goods, there is no rational way to chose between them. And as Rawls said "everyone is concerned with consequences" - if you don't maximise, you're just some other theory).

    I also think it makes no sense for consequentialism to be anthropocentric - why should only humans be capable of having good lives, etc.?

    The Earth has existed for billions of years, and will exist for billions more. Who can say what is going to happen in the future? What if the nuclear catastrophe leads, in the long run, to more of the good on planet Earth.

    My whole point is - we can't know. I don't think we can even make an educated guess. We could if nuclear would wipe life of the earth, but those in the know reckon it wouldn't.

    If this is all true, it means consequentialism has no practical important (it may closer to the end of life on earth, as the solar system changes, but not now). This would lead us with no moral guidence.

    I don't think consequentialism is true anyway, as I don't think that the good is unitary, or should be maximised. But it is natural to fall into consequentialist - or what seems like consequentialist thinking when faced with the prospect of something like nuclear armageddon.

    I think something else is up with me. I simply think it's a collossal waste and folly to nuke ourselves, when we all have our lives to live, and so many interesting things may yet happen with humanity. This is leaving aside even the obvious point that such indescriminate weapons are morally inexusable - but as they exist and our cursing them and their owners won't get us very far, we may as well move onto more practical considerations.

    What do people think? Is anyone here a consequentialist who would care to argue?
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    I agree "the good" is not definite, of definitive, enough to function as a coherent object (goal ~ value) in ethics. I am a negative consequentialist because, I think, "the bad" (suffering), however, does function as a coherent object (avoidable hazard ~ disvalue). The link here is to a wiki article which summarizes the thesis.
  • Agent Smith
    8k
    I agree "the good" is not definite, of definitive, enough to function as a coherent object (goal ~ value) in ethics. I am a negative consequentialist because, I think, "the bad" (suffering), however, does function as a coherent object (avoidable hazard ~ disvalue). The link here is to a wiki article which summarizes the thesis.180 Proof

    Keep it coming, keep it coming! :up:
  • Agent Smith
    8k
    Consequentialism is the mathematization of ethics (vide Bentham's felicific calculus). It isn't a bad idea and could've made a difference; unluckily, joy and suffering are as of yet poorly quantified i.e. they remain subjective enough to gum up the works as it were. Perhaps it's an idea that's premature - it must lie dormant/kept in suspended animation until advances in science make it implementable. We had ideas of flying yanas (vehicles) thousands of years before the Wright brothers made their first heavier-than-air flight.
  • Tate
    1.4k
    Is anyone here a consequentialist who would care to argue?RolandTyme

    Consequentialism hasn't failed in this case. It doesn't provide moral guidance here because there is no moral way forward in the realm of war. The actions that take place in war are for the sake of survival.
  • Hillary
    1.9k
    because suffering, in contrast to "happiness", is objective in so far as it is factual what deprivations & harms, fears & losses render (almost) every individual of a / our species dysfunctional or dead, that is, whatever is not good for a / our kind, and, therefore, that it can be known whether or not "gratuitous suffering" is foreseen and, if so, prevented or mitigated or reduced.180 Proof

    Likewise:

    because happiness, in contrast to "suffering", is objective in so far as it is factual what opiates, sex, dance, ecstasy, love, food, touch, render (almost) every individual of a / our species functional or alive, that is, whatever is good for a / our kind, and, therefore, that it can be known whether or not "gratuitous happiness" is foreseen and, if so, stimulated, or intensified, or increased"
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    Parody whatever you can't understand, lil troll-stain.
  • Agent Smith
    8k


    Negative utilitarianism is, it seems, less confusing than, what?, positive utilitarianism since we're more familiar with, we have a comparatively better handle on, suffering than happiness.

    This :point:

    Better Socrates dissatisfied thsn a fool/pig statisfied. — J. S. Mill

    gives an inkling of what I mean.

    Merci beacucoup.
  • RolandTyme
    47


    I'm not sure a consistant consequentialist - whether negative or positive - would agree with you here. The whole point of this perspective is it gives us one principle ("Maximise the good" - I guess the negative alternative would be "minimise the bad"), which technically always gives us a single result.

    The problem is our situation doesn't give us enough information to make an informed choice. This in itself doesn't make the principle wrong. It simply means we can't follow it. If I lock the code for my safe in a car then lose the keys, it doesn't mean there isn't a way to open my safe with the keypad. It means, in practical terms, I don't have access to that method for opening the safe.

    Consequentialism must apply in times of war, or any other extreme situations, basically. The whole point of siding with it against "common-sense" morality is to decide an outcome when common sense leads to contradictions, or gives us no clear and consistent advice.

    A consequentalist, faced with a war causing 10,000 deaths, or 1 million deaths, wouldn't go "Oh no - no moral choices in war!" They would - assuming more death means less of the good, choose to wage the first war.

    We may not agree with the theory - I don't - but that's what it is.
  • Tate
    1.4k
    The problem is our situation doesn't give us enough information to make an informed choice.RolandTyme

    Isn't that true in every case?
  • RolandTyme
    47


    Not necessarily. In a more limited scenario, you can make an informed choice. I can make informed choices about what to have out of my fridge, as I know what's in the fridge just now. I can make an informed choice about the (professed) values of candidates in a general election, as I can read their manifestos. It's a further stretch to say I can make an informed choice about either

    [a] the actual values of the candidates (as politicians can lie, after all - the answer would be whether overall we can trust enough of what they say to say that voting on a manifesto tracks sufficiently how governments then go onto act. I'd estimate it probably does - governments (in the UK at least) can be forced into a general election if it is seen they are departing overall from manifesto promises, as may be the case in the current Tory leadership race depending on who is the winning candidate.

    whether voting for candidates who have certain values will actually lead to the promotion of those values, or whether it may actually lead to ironic outcomes with regards to those values. For instance, certain far left wingers think that right wing governments actually make left wing values winning out in the long run, as they increase disatisfaction in the long run with the status quo (which for the far left is by necessity right wing), where as voting left forstalls the change in the status quo away from the right to the left.
  • Tate
    1.4k

    Honestly, I think of voting as a ritual in the religion of democracy (that's roughly how I see it, anyway).

    Democracy is cumbersome, inefficient, and prone to corruption. The voting ritual creates an expectation of control, though. This expectation gets people out protesting.

    Although this may all be wrong as Chinese people do a lot of protesting.
  • javi2541997
    2.4k
    For instance, certain far left wingers think that right wing governments actually make left wing values winning out in the long run, as they increase disatisfaction in the long run with the status quo (which for the far left is by necessity right wing), where as voting left forstalls the change in the status quo away from the right to the left.RolandTyme

    This is how modern politics works. We don't see candidates with good rhetoric or ambitious plans to the citizens. They just plan some strategies to get benefits from our disappointment and angry. When years pass by it is understandable that the government still losing popularity. But instead of making a national plan, the opposition take some advantage of this issue to "steal" old voters from the government.
    Then, I can't see if there still "ideologies" like in the past. I guess we just have some public representatives doing weird stuff without challenges
  • Bylaw
    301
    While I find nothing to disagree with in your post, negative consequentialism seems iike a breeding ground for anti-natalists which is a negative consequence and leads to suffering at least in some philosophy forums.
  • Agent Smith
    8k
    Most interesting. — Ms. Marple
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    a breeding ground for anti-natalistsBylaw
    :smirk:
  • Fooloso4
    3.7k
    Consequentialism is related to phronesis, practical wisdom. Deliberation regarding ends and practical means to achieve them. It is opposed to Kant's notion of "good will" which, for which, according to Kant, consequences play no role.

    Unintended consequences do not vitiate the concern with consequences.

    "The good" is not a Platonic Form. It is not independent of particular needs and interests. The lack of unity, like the inability to predict the future, is not a failure but a condition for moral deliberation.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    Consequentialism is related to phronesis, practical wisdom.Fooloso4
    :up:
  • Cuthbert
    1k
    My whole point is - we can't know. I don't think we can even make an educated guess.RolandTyme

    True - about some things. But not true about others. Some consequences we can reasonably predict. We can't predict the consequences of all-out nuclear war. We can predict the consequence of putting a hand in boiling water. So far we can say that consequentialism is limited to the extent that we can make good predictions. We can't yet say that -

    consequentialism has no practical importantRolandTyme

    Consequentialism may well not be true. But the OP does not do enough to establish that.
  • Agent Smith
    8k
    I'm thinking Thanos! In one story Thanos saves a young girl from being run over by a bus. Everyone is jubilant at this and so is the girl who, in Star Wars terms, now owes a life debt to Thanos. It turns out that Thanos' saved the girl because she would grow up to be the one who destroys the world, no scratch that, the whole friggin' universe! So much for consequentialism, eh?
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