• Samuel Lacrampe
    650
    Person A thinks the drug addict does not deserve to go to prison via Golden rule. Person B thinks the drug addict does deserve to go to prison via Golden rule. This is not a disagreement about facts about the event, or about the purpose of a punishment. It is a disagreement about what is just via Golden rule.SonJnana
    If there is no disagreement about facts, then there cannot be a disagreement via the golden rule either. What are the specific facts in your example? Did the drug addict become addicted through his own will? Did he harm anyone? Does he intend to do it again if no punishment is inflicted? If yes to all, then jail sounds just, and nobody could say it is undeserved; not even him with regards to justice. If no to all, then jail sounds unjust, and in which case, nobody would want that punishment.

    That said, remember that the source of the golden rule is justice. As such, if we can judge straight from justice, then we don't need to rely on the golden rule; although they would not contradict. And a just punishment is one that restores justice and prevents injustice from occurring again. So if the judges agree about the facts, then they will necessarily agree on the just punishment.

    I still don't understand how you can determine something to be not unjust yet immoral. If you are saying it is not unjust, what criteria are you using to determine that it is immoral?SonJnana
    Religious claims. E.g., if Christianity is true, then its claim that fornication is immoral is true, even if not unjust. But don't misunderstand; I am not here claiming that Christianity is true (that would far exceed the scope of this discussion); I am merely giving you a candidate criteria that goes beyond justice.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    650
    I think that addiction doesn't work so cleanly as all that, or akrasia in general for that matter. Suppose both conditions are met the first time. What if he does it again? And so on? Or perhaps this is the first time he has done it to you, but he's done this elsewhere before.
    We are prone to repeat mistakes. We can be sincerely penitent and yet fail.
    Moliere
    I don't know much about this akrasia condition, but if he relapses, it is either out of his own free will or it is not. If the former, then he was not sincere in the first place and is not to be trusted. If the latter, then his act is not immoral, but harmful nonetheless, and at which point the "punishment" would not be out of retribution but to "save him from himself" so to speak, like an intervention.

    Mercy is to forgo punishment. You have a right to punish (a concept associated with justice), but you do not exercise said right. It may be morally correct to enact justice in some scenarios, and morally correct to enact mercy in others. Mercy is a value which flows from love -- the kind of general love for humankind. While you may have the right to punish, to enact just consequences, you forgo them out of compassion.Moliere
    I think that the case where mercy fails to meet justice and is yet morally good does not add up. Recall that justice is defined as equality in treatment among all men. As such, we can define injustice as mistreatment for some men. If justice is not met, even out of mercy, then it follows that somebody gets mistreated.

    E.g. You are a judge. Person A is unjust to person B. You could give a just punishment to A but decide not to, out of mercy, which comes from love for A. The logical consequence is that justice is not restored for B. This unjust decision from love for A entails a lack of love for B.
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    I don't know much about this akrasia condition, but if he relapses, it is either out of his own free will or it is not. If the former, then he was not sincere in the first place and is not to be trusted. If the latter, then his act is not immoral, but harmful nonetheless, and at which point the "punishment" would not be out of retribution but to "save him from himself" so to speak, like an intervention.Samuel Lacrampe

    Akrasia is just a fancy term for failure in spite of our intent. We may correctly judge what is good for us, and yet act against said judgment. Addiction is a good example of this because it is easy to see how one is harming themself, but yet the bad behavior continues. You can even get caught in a kind of cycle of guilt because you are actually sorry, but you still continue to behave badly. Usually this is attributed to a weakness of will.

    I think that the case where mercy fails to meet justice and is yet morally good does not add up.Samuel Lacrampe

    Do you think someone else might disagree with you on this?


    Recall that justice is defined as equality in treatment among all men. As such, we can define injustice as mistreatment for some men. If justice is not met, even out of mercy, then it follows that somebody gets mistreated.


    E.g. You are a judge. Person A is unjust to person B. You could give a just punishment to A but decide not to, out of mercy, which comes from love for A. The logical consequence is that justice is not restored for B. This unjust decision from love for A entails a lack of love for B.

    I don't think that's true. Do I not love myself because I forgo pressing for my friend to pay me back?
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    650
    Hello everyone,
    I am going out of town and will be unresponsive for a couple of days. Back mid-next week.
    Stay ethical!
  • SonJnana
    243
    If there is no disagreement about facts, then there cannot be a disagreement via the golden rule either. What are the specific facts in your example? Did the drug addict become addicted through his own will? Did he harm anyone? Does he intend to do it again if no punishment is inflicted? If yes to all, then jail sounds just, and nobody could say it is undeserved; not even him with regards to justice. If no to all, then jail sounds unjust, and in which case, nobody would want that punishment.Samuel Lacrampe

    I’ve attempted to make my example clear and I’m willing to clear it up more. Unless I change something about it, the example is still the same, which I would still like you to address. Yes he did it through his own will and no he didn’t harm anyone. And to answer your last question, yes he intends to do it again if no punishment is inflicted. Do you think jail time is deserved in this case?


    That said, remember that the source of the golden rule is justice. As such, if we can judge straight from justice, then we don't need to rely on the golden rule; although they would not contradict. And a just punishment is one that restores justice and prevents injustice from occurring again. So if the judges agree about the facts, then they will necessarily agree on the just punishment.Samuel Lacrampe

    And I claim that the judges wont necessarily agree on what punishment should be deserved via Golden rule becuase they can differ on what they think is a deserved punishment via Golden rule.

    Religious claims. E.g., if Christianity is true, then its claim that fornication is immoral is true, even if not unjust. But don't misunderstand; I am not here claiming that Christianity is true (that would far exceed the scope of this discussion); I am merely giving you a candidate criteria that goes beyond justice.Samuel Lacrampe

    In the hypothetical scenario that all religion is proven to be made up: One person does think premarital sex is okay via Golden rule. Another person is conditioned by parents and culture to believe premarital sex is wrong and unjust via Golden rule. Both of them are atheist. Is premarital sex immoral or not in this case? And what criteria are are you using to determine that?

    Also another point - If some sect Christianity were to be true, all of its claims of morality would be right. This wouldn't make its moral claims an extra criteria for determining morality, this would make it the only criteria. Justice via Golden rule would be completely irrelevant. It wouldn't matter if everything thought that killing homosexuals is too cruel. If the sect of Christianity claimed that is the moral thing to do, it would be the moral thing to do. Or else the sect of Christianity wouldn't be true.

    And I'll throw in another example. A collectivist thinks that if the father tells the son to become something, the son should do that. They think it is immoral to go against parents' word, and that the son has an obligation to his family that raised him. A more independent culture on the other hand thinks parents shouldn't impose on their kids to tell them what to become. They think that would be immoral. So which culture do you think is immoral and what criteria are you using to determine that?
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    650
    Humans are basically sheep, and we like the comfort of conformity (conscience).bloodninja
    Conscience is not the inclination towards comfort nor conformity. It gives info on what we ought to do, even if it goes against comfort or conformity. During the Nazi regime, conscience may tell you to protect Jews, despite the risks it entails and the fact that it does not conform to the political regime of the time.

    If you think ethics is grounded in our "nature" then you need to show how slavery was or was not grounded by or in our nature. I think you have the burden of proof here.bloodninja
    Conscience informs us on what we ought to do, which is not necessarily what we can do or what is easiest to do. People may choose against their conscience like choosing to own slaves, because they can (through power) and it makes their lives easier. But conscience tells us we ought to seek justice and avoid injustice; and no one can say that slavery is just, as justice is defined in the OP. Neither the slaves, nor even the masters.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    650
    Do you think someone else might disagree with you on this?Moliere
    The disagreement is of no value if it is not backed up by an objective reason. :wink:

    Do I not love myself because I forgo pressing for my friend to pay me back?Moliere
    Let's expand your example to the extreme for the sake of clarity. You forgo pressing your friends to pay you back for money they stole; all your friends, all the time. Would you agree that your act is not judged to be virtuous, but instead, either foolish or lacking self-respect?

    That said, if this act of mercy is a means to the end of inciting your friend to penitence (e.g. see Les Miserables), then it may be morally good. But then it is also just, because in penitence, the friend would be willing to restore justice and avoid further acts of injustice.
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    Let's expand your example to the extreme for the sake of clarity. You forgo pressing your friends to pay you back for money they stole; all your friends, all the time. Would you agree that your act is not judged to be virtuous, but instead, either foolish or lacking self-respect?Samuel Lacrampe

    I think it just depends on what a person cares about -- which value they hold to be the most dear.

    I love myself, and I care about mercy -- so I act on my conception of mercy regardless of what others may think of me, foolish or not foolish.

    or

    I love myself, and I care about justice -- so I act on my conception of justice and demand recompense.

    The disagreement is of no value if it is not backed up by an objective reason. :wink:Samuel Lacrampe

    While a joke, I did want to note that people can believe their moral grounds are objective. Religion is often given as the sort of thing which gives an objective ground to moral commitments, and different religions emphasize different values.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    650
    Yes he did it through his own will and no he didn’t harm anyone. And to answer your last question, yes he intends to do it again if no punishment is inflicted. Do you think jail time is deserved in this case?SonJnana
    I will also assume that anything lower than jail time would not be sufficient to deter him. Then yes, jail time is deserved (plus rehab afterwards). Laws and their enforcements are installed for the end of not only justice but also safety for the citizens. Yes, the addict did not commit injustice, but he nevertheless acted unsafely for himself and potentially others (e.g. he could be driving under the influence). Note that such punishment, while not for the end of justice, is also not unjust, for it can be applied to everyone.

    And I claim that the judges wont necessarily agree on what punishment should be deserved via Golden rule becuase they can differ on what they think is a deserved punishment via Golden rule.SonJnana
    It seems that the golden rule is not the only criteria for determining a deserved punishment, because safety seems to be another criteria, as described above. Once again however, the deserved punishment cannot be unjust, and therefore the golden rule remains a necessary criteria, even if insufficient.


    In the hypothetical scenario that all religion is proven to be made up[...]SonJnana
    "If God does not exist everything is permitted" - Dostoevsky :wink: The reason being that a true objective law is necessarily above the law abiding subjects; and this being would be what we call God. But this is entering metaphysics and goes beyond the scope of this discussion, so let's just ignore that.

    One person does think premarital sex is okay via Golden rule. Another person is conditioned by parents and culture to believe premarital sex is wrong and unjust via Golden rule. [...] A collectivist thinks that if the father tells the son to become something, the son should do that. They think it is immoral to go against parents' word, and that the son has an obligation to his family that raised him. A more independent culture on the other hand thinks parents shouldn't impose on their kids to tell them what to become. They think that would be immoral. So which culture do you think is immoral and what criteria are you using to determine that?SonJnana
    For both cases, the criteria to determine morality is justice, and by extension, the golden rule. The person that breaks the golden rule is immoral, and the person that does not, is not. Even though the act and outcome are the same for both persons, the intention is not, because the first person is insincere where as the second person is not. This is the same rationale as the difference between intentional and accidental homicide. The act and outcome are the same, but the intent is not. This makes justice relative, but not subjective.

    If some sect Christianity were to be true, all of its claims of morality would be right. This wouldn't make its moral claims an extra criteria for determining morality, this would make it the only criteria. Justice via Golden rule would be completely irrelevant. It wouldn't matter if everything thought that killing homosexuals is too cruel. [...]SonJnana
    In theory yes. But in reality, Christianity does not command to kill homosexuals; and in fact, makes the golden rule one of the two Greatest Commandments: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    650
    I love myself, and I care about mercy -- so I act on my conception of mercy regardless of what others may think of me, foolish or not foolish.Moliere
    Let's define the term 'love'. The Christian love, agape, means "willing the good to the object loved".
    Thus loving love yourself means willing the good to yourself. But to will injustice towards yourself (out of mercy) means you will less good to yourself than to others, which means you love yourself less than you love others. As such, the statement "I love myself, and I care about mercy, even when unjust to me" leads to a contradiction.

    On the other hand, if you love others as much as yourself, it follows that your acts of mercy will always remain just.

    While a joke, I did want to note that people can believe their moral grounds are objective. Religion is often given as the sort of thing which gives an objective ground to moral commitments, and different religions emphasize different values.Moliere
    If morality is objective, and different religions teach contradicting moral systems, then it follows that some moral systems taught by religions are wrong, as truth does not contradict truth.

    Note however that nearly every religion uses the golden rule in their morality. Source
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    Let's define the term 'love'. The Christian love, agape, means "willing the good to the object loved".
    Thus loving love yourself means willing the good to yourself. But to will injustice towards yourself (out of mercy) means you will less good to yourself than to others, which means you love yourself less than you love others. As such, the statement "I love myself, and I care about mercy, even when unjust to me" leads to a contradiction.

    On the other hand, if you love others as much as yourself, it follows that your acts of mercy will always remain just.
    Samuel Lacrampe

    I think this is just to place the value of justice above the value of mercy. "Good" is a placeholder for "just", but I would say that one could just as easily say that "Good" should be a placeholder for "Mercy" or any other core value.

    So if we define love as you say...

    Loving yourself means willing the good to yourself. But to will mercilessness towards yourself (out of justice) means you will less good to yourself. You should be merciful to yourself just as you are merciful to others, and forgive them out of compassion regardless of what may or may not be just. This is what it means to love.

    If morality is objective, and different religions teach contradicting moral systems, then it follows that some moral systems taught by religions are wrong, as truth does not contradict truth.

    Note however that nearly every religion uses the golden rule in their morality.
    Samuel Lacrampe

    If morality is objective, might it be possible that all the religions are wrong about the golden rule? Or is it just what all religions happen to agree to the basis of objective morality, in your view?

    If I read you right you believe that moral propositions are the sorts of things which are true. I am willing to grant to you that moral propositions are truth-apt. But I'd submit to you that it is possible for them to all be false -- that there is nothing which makes them true. We may believe them to be true. But the astrologist also believes that astrology is true. There is a huge and varied system of justification for astrology that lends it conceptual coherence and makes the person who studies it think they are learning something of the truth.

    Since it is possible to build elaborate systems of justification that appear to be true it is possible that morality is one such system.

    I think we've covered the argument from difference pretty thoroughly. Here it seems to me that you're staking your claim on the similarities between religions.

    But this is what I was trying to get at by saying there is a point where we can reach what appears to be agreement -- something akin to the golden rule, or even more abstractly we can also say that all moral systems believe we should "Do good". The differences only appear in particular cases, where we must make a decision -- and disagreement abounds on actual decisions even if the abstract principles might be agreed to.

    I'd suggest that this agreement is superficial -- that the only reason people agree at abstract levels of moral thinking is that such propositions don't say anything at all. Or, to the extent that they do, they may be disagreed with. There is some element of choice involved.

    If that be the case, then it seems reasonable to infer that there is nothing which makes moral statements true -- unlike statements about the temperature today or capitals and dates and heights, there is nothing to refer to which we can thereby say we are assured that this moral statement is true. The only thing we have is conviction, which is neither true or false. Rather, it is a psychological maneuver by which we reinforce beliefs in spite of their truth.

    Might that be possible, in your view?
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    650
    Loving yourself means willing the good to yourself. But to will mercilessness towards yourself (out of justice) means you will less good to yourself. You should be merciful to yourself just as you are merciful to others, and forgive them out of compassion regardless of what may or may not be just. This is what it means to love.Moliere
    To recap, we have defined mercy as "Don't over-respond so as to prevent injustice the other way (and also sometimes not fully restore justice)". By extension, mercilessness means "Over-respond so as to produce injustice the other way". Do you agree with these definitions?

    As such, mercilessness can never be willed out of justice, by definition of mercilessness. Additionally, being as merciful to yourself as you are to others can never be unjust, by definition of justice.

    [...] Might that be possible, in your view?Moliere
    One way to determine a necessary truth is to use "The Test of the Imagination", as Chesterton calls it. If we cannot imagine a subject x without the predicate y, then y is a necessary property of x, and by extension, y is a necessary criteria to determine if the object of enquiry is x. E.g., we cannot imagine a triangle without 3 sides, therefore "having 3 sides" is a necessary property of triangles; therefore "having 3 sides" is a necessary criteria to determine if the object of enquiry is a triangle.

    I claim we cannot imagine an act to be morally good without the will of justice. Therefore "willing justice" is a necessary property of moral goodness; therefore "willing justice" is a necessary criteria to determine if an act is morally good.
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    Do you agree with these definitions?Samuel Lacrampe

    I just mean mercy in a mundane sense -- so Meriam Webster states:

    compassion or forbearance (see forbearance 1) shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power; also : lenient or compassionate treatment

    And that's what I mean.

    So to be merciless is to punish offenders within your power, to not be lenient but rather to exercise a right or a power over someone due to some offense. At least in the context of this conversation -- since the word merciless has other shades of meaning as well which don't quite fit into a pure sort of opposite.

    There are acts that are neither just nor merciful. There are acts that are both just and merciful. But there are also acts that are just and not merciful and acts which are unjust and merciful. To forgo punishing your friend would be merciful. It may not be wise, in the eyes of someone who believes in justice -- but so would justice appear unwise to someone who believes in mercy.

    One way to determine a necessary truth is to use "The Test of the Imagination", as Chesterton calls it. If we cannot imagine a subject x without the predicate y, then y is a necessary property of x, and by extension, y is a necessary criteria to determine if the object of enquiry is x. E.g., we cannot imagine a triangle without 3 sides, therefore "having 3 sides" is a necessary property of triangles; therefore "having 3 sides" is a necessary criteria to determine if the object of enquiry is a triangle.

    I claim we cannot imagine an act to be morally good without the will of justice. Therefore "willing justice" is a necessary property of moral goodness; therefore "willing justice" is a necessary criteria to determine if an act is morally good.
    Samuel Lacrampe

    I'd say that the problem with this test is that those with a lack of imagination will come to different conclusions than those with an expansive imagination. I would say that "having three sides" is a necessary property of triangles because it follows tautologically from triangles, not because we can't imagine it otherwise. Were a triangle given another side then, by definition, it would be a quadrilateral. It just follows from how we set things up at the beginning.

    The imagination shifts its boundaries with desire. So if we want moral statements to be true then the imagination will shift to make it appear so, and vice-versa. Rather than seeing what is necessary -- that which is true in all possible worlds -- we see what is plausible to us. It's a plausibility test rather than a test for necessity.

    It seems strange to me to stake the objectivity of morals on the imagination. A moral statement is either true or false. That much we agree upon, since some statements made by religions are in conflict, and so one or the other must be true, or they must both be false. But if our test for truth by way of necessity is in our imagination then I would claim I can't think of one moral statement which is true in all possible worlds.

    Lastly I'd highlight here that you are prioritizing justice as something which must hold in order for something to be good. I think that is a viable option, but I also think that one could prioritize mercy in the exact same way that you are.

    "I claim we cannot imagine an act to be morally good without the will of mercy. Therefore "willing mercy" is a necessary property of moral goodness; therefore "willing mercy" is a necessary criteria to determine if an act is morally good"

    It's largely bound to what seems important to the speaker, since we are dealing with the imagination, which doesn't exactly seem objective. It seems the result of choice based upon moral desire.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    650
    merciless is to punish offenders within your powerMoliere
    So by extension, mercy simply means "not to punish offenders within your power". Let's roll with it.

    I claim we cannot imagine an act to be morally good without the will of mercy. Therefore "willing mercy" is a necessary property of moral goodness; therefore "willing mercy" is a necessary criteria to determine if an act is morally goodMoliere
    This claim can be refuted if we find a case where the act is not merciful, and yet we judge it to be morally good: Hitler starts killing Jews, and we have the power to stop this. We therefore capture him and put him in jail, which effectively prevents further victims.

    Our act is merciless, as defined above, and I judge it to be morally good. Do you? If so, then mercy is not a necessary criteria for moral goodness.


    I'd say that the problem with this test is that those with a lack of imagination will come to different conclusions than those with an expansive imagination.Moliere
    Yes but this is a non-issue. As a parallel, think of math. For problems solvable with math, math is an infallible method in theory, even though some people may make errors. To prevent human error, the math reasoning can be checked by different people, as it is unlikely for everyone to repeat the same error; and once discovered and shared, the error is easily seen by everyone. As is the case with math, so it is with the test of imagination. Some people may erroneously believe that "blue" is a necessary criteria for triangles, because they lack the imagination to imagine a triangle that is another colour. But another person can easily show them the error.

    Were a triangle given another side then, by definition, it would be a quadrilateral. It just follows from how we set things up at the beginning.Moliere
    You are mixing the word 'triangle' with the concept of a triangle. The word may change but the concept may not. We can arbitrarily change the word 'three' to 'two', but we cannot modify the concept III to II. Similarly, we cannot modify the concept Δ to have four sides.

    But if our test for truth by way of necessity is in our imagination then I would claim I can't think of one moral statement which is true in all possible worlds.Moliere
    "An act cannot be morally good if unjust". We have yet to find an example where this is false. I know the examples with mercy were an attempt at this, but I think we can both come to the conclusion that they are incorrect if we agree on the definition of mercy.
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    So by extension, mercy simply means "not to punish offenders within your power". Let's roll with it.Samuel Lacrampe

    Okie doke.

    This claim can be refuted if we find a case where the act is not merciful, and yet we judge it to be morally good: Hitler starts killing Jews, and we have the power to stop this. We therefore capture him and put him in jail, which effectively prevents further victims.

    Our act is merciless, as defined above, and I judge it to be morally good. Do you? If so, then mercy is not a necessary criteria for moral goodness.
    Samuel Lacrampe

    I do.

    But that's not my point here. I don't believe mercy is the foundational value by which I can judge something to be good or not.

    However, if someone did believe this to be so then they would say that punishing Hitler is immoral. (though could agree to stopping him). Said hypothetical person would say there wouldn't be a point after having stopped him from doing evil, that evil is prevented and that bringing more evil to the world, by way of not observing the value of mercy, only brings more evil and does not bring balance.

    What is the difference, in your set up, between justice and goodness? Aren't they basically the same thing?

    And if that be the case then what prevents someone else from holding to another value as having priority to the claim of goodness?

    If you think the mercy example is far-fetched, consider the pacifists during World War 2 for some actual people who differed in opinion on the appropriate course of action. It would depend on how a given pacifist frames their commitment, but if you believe WW2 to be just -- I'm guessing you do from your example -- then here's a clear example of people who believed abstaining from war was morally good.

    This would certainly pass the imagination check. In fact the pacifists would just say that they cannot imagine an act which is both violent and good. Hence, regardless of the evil it may prevent -- even the evil of violence! -- to indulge in violence would be an evil. It is outside the scope of the imagination.

    Yes but this is a non-issue. As a parallel, think of math. For problems solvable with math, math is an infallible method in theory, even though some people may make errors. To prevent human error, the math reasoning can be checked by different people, as it is unlikely for everyone to repeat the same error; and once discovered and shared, the error is easily seen by everyone. As is the case with math, so it is with the test of imagination. Some people may erroneously believe that "blue" is a necessary criteria for triangles, because they lack the imagination to imagine a triangle that is another colour. But another person can easily show them the error.Samuel Lacrampe

    How exactly would you show them that this is so?


    You are mixing the word 'triangle' with the concept of a triangle. The word may change but the concept may not. We can arbitrarily change the word 'three' to 'two', but we cannot modify the concept III to II. Similarly, we cannot modify the concept Δ to have four sidesSamuel Lacrampe

    I wrote some stuff here about math and concepts, but then upon reading it again I thought we were getting side tracked. So I'm just noting that here.


    You skipped my argument here against the imagination test from desire (which relates to the point about pacifism above):

    The imagination shifts its boundaries with desire. So if we want moral statements to be true then the imagination will shift to make it appear so, and vice-versa. Rather than seeing what is necessary -- that which is true in all possible worlds -- we see what is plausible to us. It's a plausibility test rather than a test for necessity.



    We have yet to find an example where this is false. I know the examples with mercy were an attempt at this, but I think we can both come to the conclusion that they are incorrect if we agree on the definition of mercy.Samuel Lacrampe

    I have yet to find an example which persuades you, I agree. But if goodness and justice mean the same thing, for you, then I couldn't possibly do so. Any such action would fall outside of your imagination as something which could be considered good.

    I don't think that's a bad thing, mind. I just think it would follow from what I've set out -- that whatever is good is what is chosen to be the best value.

    You would err on the side of justice. Someone who prioritized differently would err on the side of (pacifism, mercy, whatever might be in conflict). You may care about what someone else sets as the supreme value, but you would attempt to reconcile said values with the core value of justice.

    Does it really fall outside of your imagination that someone would believe differently from yourself and earnestly believe it to be good?

    You may say they are wrong. But on what basis other than your own belief that justice and goodness are one and the same, or that you are unable to imagine an act which is both good and unjust? What is objective about that?
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    650
    However, if someone did believe this to be so then they would say that punishing Hitler is immoral. (though could agree to stopping him). Said hypothetical person would say there wouldn't be a point after having stopped him from doing evil, that evil is prevented and that bringing more evil to the world, by way of not observing the value of mercy, only brings more evil and does not bring balance.Moliere
    We are not really in disagreement here, because the end of putting Hitler in jail is to prevent further harm. If the end can be accomplished by another less extreme means, then that is acceptable too. In addition, if the harm done could be repaid, to restore justice, then that should be done too; but this may not be possible when it comes to killing people.

    What is the difference, in your set up, between justice and goodness? Aren't they basically the same thing?Moliere
    In this case, I think justice is a necessary and sufficient criteria to determine goodness.

    what prevents someone else from holding to another value as having priority to the claim of goodness?Moliere
    P1: If one truly believes an act to be morally good, then they may willingly accept it, despite the harm it may cause them, because moral goodness is believed to be the ultimate end for a lot of people. E.g., one may willingly accept to tell a truth that is damaging to them, if they believe it to be the morally right thing to do.
    P2: Nobody willingly accepts injustice to happen to them (unless it is to prevent an even greater injustice); not the saints, not Hitler, nor anyone else in between. This is a posteriori knowledge, but we all know this to be true.
    C: Therefore nobody believes a unjust act to be morally good.

    The pacifists you speak of may have thought that Hitler could be stopped in a more peaceful way than violence, but I don't believe they sincerely thought it was morally good to not stop him.


    You brought up other objections, but if that's okay, let's put them aside to focus on the main ones above.
  • SherlockH
    73
    Right or wrong is based is based on what you prioritizing. Everyone has different priorities so its going to mean different things to different people.
  • Moliere
    1.2k
    We are not really in disagreement here...Samuel Lacrampe

    I disagree. :D

    I think you believe in both justice and mercy, and so you attempt to reconcile the two. You also seem like a very sociable person, so you're trying to find a solution which is beneficial to different points of view -- all to what is usually the better, I'd say.

    One person who is merciful wants to stop a person committing great evil. You agree that if there is some way less harsh that this is fine because as long as he is stopped, then that's good enough.

    But suppose you're in a conversation with three people. And now the third and so far silent conversation partner pipes up and says, "In order for justice to be served, for there to be a balance for what he has done. Having killed millions he also must die -- only by forfeiting his life, after having orchestrated the death of so many innocents, will there be any kind of equality; he would deserve worse if there was something worse to give him"

    Two courses of action. Neither of which can both be acted upon. So there is a choice involved -- resolved by what you or I or we or they care most about.

    The pacifists you speak of may have thought that Hitler could be stopped in a more peaceful way than violence, but I don't believe they sincerely thought it was morally good to not stop him.Samuel Lacrampe

    I'd say that you're framing the issue differently from what pacifists framed it as. A quick google search brought up this: http://www.ppu.org.uk/pacifism/pacww2.html

    To give an idea. It's really more an opposition to war itself than anything else. Hitler was evil, but he was only able to do what he did because others went along with it. If everyone were committed to pacifism, then the horrors of war -- including the systematic slaughter of innocent people -- would not exist on our world.

    So, sure it's morally good to stop him. But the notion is more along the lines of converting him and everyone under him to pacifism.

    Which, if you were me, I'd say is a bit of a far fetched dream -- but it's at least consistent with itself.

    P1: If one truly believes an act to be morally good, then they may willingly accept it, despite the harm it may cause them, because moral goodness is believed to be the ultimate end for a lot of people. E.g., one may willingly accept to tell a truth that is damaging to them, if they believe it to be the morally right thing to do.
    P2: Nobody willingly accepts injustice to happen to them (unless it is to prevent an even greater injustice); not the saints, not Hitler, nor anyone else in between. This is a posteriori knowledge, but we all know this to be true.
    C: Therefore nobody believes a unjust act to be morally good.
    Samuel Lacrampe

    I don't think this establishes the objectivity that you're after. Nobody wants to be treated unfairly -- sure, maybe some odd ball here or there, but that's an attitude common enough that I'm not willing to raise a fuss over it.

    But what counts as unfair? What counts as unjust? I think the story I started with highlights this nicely.

    Also, I don't think I need to establish an act that is both good and unjust. The act and its motivation merely has to prioritize something besides justice first. Surely other people try to reconcile multiple conflicting values, as you do. But the values have differences, and caring about one or the other more results in different courses of action.

    That's why I said earlier that this "in the weeds" approach is more appropriate for looking at moral nihilism. "Be good", "Do not accept injustice", "Do unto others as you would have done unto you" -- all very general maxims that covers over the very real fact that people act differently to the same circumstances.

    And if it is the motivation and the act which are good or evil, and the circumstances are the same (kill or not kill the ex-fascist leader) -- then there must be some reason for our different acts. We have different values upon which we come to different conclusions on what is good or evil.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    650
    Hello.
    So right only means what you choose, and wrong only means what you don't choose, is that correct? So if I chose to be unjust to you, you likely would not choose this, and so the event would be wrong for you, but right for me. Would there be any reason why I should stop being unjust to you?
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    650
    I think you believe in both justice and mercy, and so you attempt to reconcile the two.Moliere
    Not the way we have defined 'mercy', meaning "never punish". I value mercy only when it is just, which simply translates to justice.

    But suppose you're in a conversation with three people. And now the third and so far silent conversation partner pipes up and says, "In order for justice to be served, for there to be a balance for what he has done. Having killed millions he also must die -- only by forfeiting his life, after having orchestrated the death of so many innocents, will there be any kind of equality; he would deserve worse if there was something worse to give him"Moliere
    If the third person is sincere, then his error is not a moral but rational one. We appeal to the principle of a just punishment: A punishment is just if (1) it restores justice when possible, and (2) prevents further injustice. Also, if numerous punishments accomplish these ends, then we ought to choose the one that is the least harmful.

    Killing a criminal does not restore justice to the victims. It does prevent further injustice from the criminal, but then jail time accomplishes this too and is less harmful.

    If everyone were committed to pacifism, then the horrors of war -- including the systematic slaughter of innocent people -- would not exist on our world.Moliere
    And if there were no sinners, then we would all be saints. Can't disagree with that logic, but it says nothing about how to deal with current warriors and sinners. I am not sure how extreme pacifism or 'mercy' as we have defined it, can stop current wars or injustice. As such, I claim rational error again, because the means does not meet the end.

    What counts as unjust?Moliere
    Unequal treatment among men for a given situation. And this is evaluated objectively.

    And if it is the motivation and the act which are good or evil, and the circumstances are the same (kill or not kill the ex-fascist leader) -- then there must be some reason for our different acts.Moliere
    Indeed there are. I will exclude rational errors here. We all know what is morally good and bad, but free will entails we have the choice to be morally good or bad. Why decline the moral good if we know it to be good? To prioritize other kinds of good such as physical good (e.g. unfaithful sex) or emotional good (e.g. merciless revenge). Now why should we prioritize the moral good over the other kinds of good? By definition of the moral good which is "what we ought to do". In other words, to say "we can do something else than we what ought to do" is a contradiction.
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