Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

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Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Post by Metacrock » Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:32 pm

rob please go to this thread and read about it. we are going to try an idea that we did on my old boards years ago and it was fun.

I hope you will take part!

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1607
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Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Post by runamokmonk » Sat Nov 05, 2011 5:37 pm

I've emboldened some parts of quotes.
Rob:
1. As rational volitional beings, we have to grasp enough of the essentials about reality so that when we choose to act in order to obtain some goal, we obtain our goal a sufficient amount of time. This is what we “ought” to do.
2. Entailed in this broadest condition of “oughts”, we also have to determine what it is that we "ought" to act to obtain. Now, it is our nature as an organism to prefer to live and thrive. In terms of value, since nothing will be of value to me if I no longer exist, I need to maintain my existence in order to make value of any kind coherent in any sense. That’s because things do not have intrinsic value. Value is only coherent with respect to a valuer. So then, that most fundamental value of living and thriving needs to be recognized as our deepest value and the basis for all our actions.

In what I highlighted above, what I am understanding is that you are saying that your own personal life is of greatest value. This is the subjective value from facts about the world.

I said~
Why is living and thriving the greatest value? It seems at some point you develop a value system above even your own self preservation. This desire becomes higher than your own personal living and thriving.


Your reply
I’m not sure what you are referring to. Living equates to self preservation. Dying equates to the lack of living, the lack of self preservation. But most would also agree that a life without freedom and filled with torment is not a life worth living, so it’s not just any form of living that is valued, but a thriving life. And you say,




I said
I read about MLK once and if I recall correctly, at some point he pretty much knew his death was coming.


your reply
There is risk in trying to talk objectively about someone like MLK that we all feel deeply indebted to, but you are the one who chose to focus on him, so please try to be objective. Of course we take risks all the time. Sometimes (as with various forms of thrill-seeking) the risk doesn’t justify the potential benefit. In those cases we are trading a greater value for a lesser value and that is immoral. MLK’s passion for freedom was truly inspirational, but his religious beliefs in an afterlife may have resulted in undue risks. You say,

Atheists have died and taken risks on their own life for values they hold higher than their personal life.




RY said~
We can talk about what someone used to value when they existed, and we can talk about the great value that someone else’s sacrifice was to other valuers, but since value is only coherent in the context of a valuer, once we cease to exist we are no longer able to realize value of any kind. The very notion is incoherent. In my initial post I had said,

“Further, we need to avoid acting to obtain a lesser value at the expense of a greater value, because that too, is a net loss. While I will agree that there are times when self sacrifice makes sense, it is usually in the context of ‘if I don’t risk sacrifice now in this way in order to save this person then my self-loathing will make life intolerable anyway.’ This is like an implicit awareness that many/most of us have, part of our genetic predisposition mentioned above. It is only in light of this (the consequence of self-loathing that would result) that we can conclude the risky action of altruism to, at times, be moral.” In other words, an action that results in high risk to my life is only moral and justified if the life that I will have by not taking that risk will no longer be worth living. MLK may have felt that way, or he may have had some unjustified notion of reward in the afterlife. Probably a little of both.


I brought up Martin Luther King to show someone holding something of greater value other than their own personal life, which in the simplest words I'd say, was "freedom". But not simple freedom for himself but the realization of freedom in the world for others.

That was what he valued.

Since MLK's highest value was for freedom, maintaining his own personal existence isn't required for this value that he had. This value was not therefore dependent on his own personal existence for he valued freedom to be realized whether he kept on living or not.

One could argue like you have and say, "an action that results in high risk to my life is only moral and justified if the life that I will have by not taking that risk will no longer be worth living." and this may be the reason for an action such as with MLK.

In a previous post you responded to Metacrock,

Metacrock: We are also capable of giving it up for the good of the other. Of course you know I'm from Texas so I was raised on the story of the Alamo where the lesson is that laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, such as the cause of Freedom, is the highest good, not survival.



I agree that freedom is essential to a life worth living, but it is not a value at all if you the valuer are not around to experience it. As such it cannot trump the life of the valuer. Once the valuer ceases to exist, freedom, love, value of any kind become incoherent. The existence of the valuer is at bottom of any value chain (whether the valuer grasps this fact of reality or not). Previously you had said,,


And you also stated here (highlights mine)~
Of course my values are subjective. I’m a subject and since value is only coherent with respect to subjects like me, values are subjective, but as we’ve discussed before, labeling something “subjective” that is not merely subjective is confusing, and my values are not merely subjective. But I see that I need to define value. By value I do not mean merely subjective whim-based preference. The heroin that is preferred by a drug addict is in fact harmful to him and so while it is a merely subjective whim-based preference, it is not a value in the sense that I intend it here. Here I mean something that has actual benefit to the subject. These are the things that I am referring to in point 2, the things that we "ought" to act to obtain. So to say that “None of that means that your system of value is any less subjective than any other,” is to focus on a nonessential. What is essential here is that some things are actually good for you that you ought to pursue and some things are actually bad for you that you ought not pursue.

Robin Yergenson

1. As rational volitional beings, we have to grasp enough of the essentials about reality so that when we choose to act in order to obtain some goal, we obtain our goal a sufficient amount of time. This is what we “ought” to do.
2. Entailed in this broadest condition of “oughts”, we also have to determine what it is that we "ought" to act to obtain. Now, it is our nature as an organism to prefer to live and thrive. In terms of value, since nothing will be of value to me if I no longer exist, I need to maintain my existence in order to make value of any kind coherent in any sense. That’s because things do not have intrinsic value. Value is only coherent with respect to a valuer. So then, that most fundamental value of living and thriving needs to be recognized as our deepest value and the basis for all our actions.


These are the reasons I am understanding you to be saying, that the personal value held by each individual for his/her life ought to be their greatest value. But this does not include that in such a value system each person is to be held of value (from what I am understanding). The logic that when one dies, their values become incoherent, is logical within this value system.

But if one also values the other, than dying for others in the name of freedom or love, is coherent with such a value system.

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Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Post by Robin Yergenson » Sun Nov 06, 2011 5:25 pm

Hi runamokmonk,

I appreciate your objectivity. I was afraid I might cross the line with some of my comments on MLK. For context, I have claimed,
Rob:
1. As rational volitional beings, we have to grasp enough of the essentials about reality so that when we choose to act in order to obtain some goal, we obtain our goal a sufficient amount of time. This is what we “ought” to do.
2. Entailed in this broadest condition of “oughts”, we also have to determine what it is that we "ought" to act to obtain. Now, it is our nature as an organism to prefer to live and thrive. In terms of value, since nothing will be of value to me if I no longer exist, I need to maintain my existence in order to make value of any kind coherent in any sense. That’s because things do not have intrinsic value. Value is only coherent with respect to a valuer. So then, that most fundamental value of living and thriving needs to be recognized as our deepest value and the basis for all our actions.
You say,
In what I highlighted above, what I am understanding is that you are saying that your own personal life is of greatest value. This is the subjective value from facts about the world.
Well, the existence of the valuer needs to be at the bottom of the valuers hierarchy of values. The valuer’s existence is essential to any value that he might hold. This is an objective fact so it is not merely a subjective value. As I have shared with Metacrock, I think the term “subjective” is confusing since all judgments made by the subject are subjective but some of them also comport with reality and so they are objective as well. A belief can be merely subjective, or it can be objective as well, in which case it is more essential to say that it is objective. And you say,
Atheists have died and taken risks on their own life for values they hold higher than their personal life.
Just as the term “subjective” is often confusing, the term “atheist” is even more so. We are all atheists with respect to all the notions of God that contradict our own. In this sense, all of us are atheists, and yes, all of us are capable of making poor immoral choices where we pursue a lesser value at the expense of a greater value. I think this might seem frustrating right about now since I seem to be repeating myself, so let me elaborate. Take the value of freedom. Freedom means nothing to a rock. Freedom means nothing to a corps either. But it is very essential to a life worth living. This is objectively true. The point I’m wanting you to get is that freedom is only a value to subjects who are living. Once I am a corps, it is of no value to me in the least. If I die so that you can be free, your freedom has no value to me in the least. If I die and the whole world becomes free, it still has no value to me in the least because corpses do not hold values of any kind. Now, I don’t think you disagree that my freedom is an objective value that I ought to hold. And, I don’t think you disagree that my life is an even deeper objective value that I ought to hold. But please demonstrate why the life and freedom of another ought to be of greater value to me than my own? Where does the basis for such a claim come from? If you say love (not to put words in your mouth), this doesn’t help at all because love is the emotional response that we often have for things that we value and it says nothing to say that the reason we should value another more than oneself is because of our emotional response to value. I understand all too well the popular opinion tied to altruism, but when you break it down, you see that it has no justified basis. Rather, it is a carryover from our genetic predisposition to benefit the genetic pool over self. Yes, it’s quite natural. Religion is not the cause but rather has aligned to this genetic predisposition. But there is no reason to suggest that genetics is the basis for morality. None. You quoted me as saying “an action that results in high risk to my life is only moral and justified if the life that I will have by not taking that risk will no longer be worth living.” Yes, that’s the one exception for undue sacrifice. If the genetic predisposed emotional response for not taking high risk destroys my quality of life, then even if the genetic predisposed emotional response is unjustified, it’s a risk worth taking, and yes, it’s why many of us do, but a better approach would be to think things through so that we avoid being duped by such an unjustified predisposition. Consider some other kinds of retraining that most of us have been successful at, our genetic predisposed desire for sex, our genetic predisposed sexual jealousy, neither of which are a reasonable basis for morality just because we are predisposed that way. So isn’t it reasonable to put our genetic predisposed tendency towards self-sacrifice in check too? Sure, I will benefit if you will sacrifice yourself for me, but you won’t, so it’s better to look for a win-win opportunity that avoids self destruction.

I’m glad to see that you are reading my responses to Metacrock too. It’s very important to recognize that “by value I do not mean merely subjective whim-based preference. The heroin that is preferred by a drug addict is in fact harmful to him and so while it is a merely subjective whim-based preference, it is not a value in the sense that I intend it here. Here I mean something that has actual benefit to the subject.” It is a fact of reality that anything self destructive to the valuer is mutually exclusive of actual benefit to the valuer and cannot therefore be considered an objective value in any sense.

I can see that you are giving careful thought to this and I appreciate it. Society will always promote this false notion that we should sacrifice for the good of it, but let’s not be sold this skyhook notion. I look forward to your critical response.

Rob

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Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Post by runamokmonk » Sun Nov 06, 2011 6:43 pm

I said`
"In what I highlighted above, what I am understanding is that you are saying that your own personal life is of greatest value. This is the subjective value from facts about the world."


RY replied
Well, the existence of the valuer needs to be at the bottom of the valuers hierarchy of values. The valuer’s existence is essential to any value that he might hold. This is an objective fact so it is not merely a subjective value. As I have shared with Metacrock, I think the term “subjective” is confusing since all judgments made by the subject are subjective but some of them also comport with reality and so they are objective as well. A belief can be merely subjective, or it can be objective as well, in which case it is more essential to say that it is objective. And you say,

I guess one could say that it is an objective fact that homo sapiens need to be alive in the first place in order to have values. But this does not therefore equate that an individual homo sapiens needs to maintain its existence in order to be coherent with his hierarchy of values, for he may value something, someone, or be principled to valuing humans in general, even if at the cost of his own life.

The cost to his own life is used by me to easily highlight a hierarchy of values.

RY
Just as the term “subjective” is often confusing, the term “atheist” is even more so. We are all atheists with respect to all the notions of God that contradict our own. In this sense, all of us are atheists

I could have said materialist as that is what I meant for atheist. My point here was to highlight someone not believing in life after death, or God of any kind, and yet having a system of values in which the greatest value was not simply himself but to a higher principle or value.



RY
Take the value of freedom. Freedom means nothing to a rock. Freedom means nothing to a corps either. But it is very essential to a life worth living. This is objectively true.
I am not sure this is objectively true that freedom is essential to a life worth living. I think a life worth living is a subjective evaluation.

RY
The point I’m wanting you to get is that freedom is only a value to subjects who are living. Once I am a corps, it is of no value to me in the least.


RY
The point I’m wanting you to get is that freedom is only a value to subjects who are living. Once I am a corps, it is of no value to me in the least. If I die so that you can be free, your freedom has no value to me in the least. If I die and the whole world becomes free, it still has no value to me in the least because corpses do not hold values of any kind. Now, I don’t think you disagree that my freedom is an objective value that I ought to hold. And, I don’t think you disagree that my life is an even deeper objective value that I ought to hold. But please demonstrate why the life and freedom of another ought to be of greater value to me than my own?


You have argued that freedom, love and value of any kind become incoherent once the valuer ceases to exist (quoted just below this paragraph). What I highlighted above is to point out that I am not exactly arguing that others lives are worth more, but questioning why your life is of the greatest value, in regards to how I am understanding your points.
".......freedom is essential to a life worth living, but it is not a value at all if you the valuer are not around to experience it. As such it cannot trump the life of the valuer. Once the valuer ceases to exist, freedom, love, value of any kind become incoherent. The existence of the valuer is at bottom of any value chain (whether the valuer grasps this fact of reality or not)......"




I was saying that within a value system which puts oneself as the greatest value, that it is logical that one's values become incoherent when existence ceases. That valuer valued himself to the greatest degree, he is now non-existent and the thing he valued, is gone too.

But, I argued, that in a value system which values the other, dying for freedom, or for the love of others, are values which are actually coherent to that value system. A person with this value system can live and die a "life worth living and dying for", for what he valued was to a higher principle. In other words it is much more harmonious.

You have stated above that one must exist to value. It is the human choice of what to value as far as I can see. To choose the will to the good of the other, and to die (or live) with such values, or at least have such a tendency even if small, seems more coherent to me. This does not therefore equate to one necessarily being abused without care to yourself either, but that you live and die, with the idea of a principle of higher worth and last, than ones own life. I do not think this disvalues the valuer but brings more meaning and so value.

Whereas, taking oneself to be the greatest value, one must live with the knowledge of incoherency.


RY
Where does the basis for such a claim come from? If you say love (not to put words in your mouth), this doesn’t help at all because love is the emotional response that we often have for things that we value and it says nothing to say that the reason we should value another more than oneself is because of our emotional response to value.
How is placing one's life as the greatest value objective and not emotional? How can one not be emotional about holding oneself as the basis of value?

And even if we everyone took one's own life as the greatest value than we'd all be subjectively holding our lives as the greatest value.

It seems to me, that it is more objective, in the sense of being more impartial, to expand one's values, and I imagine one would then find higher principles and have the ideal of applying them fairly and trying to live by them.

This quote below, articulates, why I am saying that how I understand what you are saying, is that you, or everyone, ought to have themselves as the ultimate value from that fact that, "our nature as an organism to prefer to live and thrive".

A value system such as this does not in include that one ought to value each person. It is each person having themself as the greatest value.

RY
.......In terms of value, since nothing will be of value to me if I no longer exist, I need to maintain my existence in order to make value of any kind coherent in any sense..........

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Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Post by Metacrock » Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:51 am

Let me clarify what you are saying Rob.

suppose we are in a life boat with you me and an old woman. We don't enough food. You say "O let's kill th eold woman becasue she can't row." I say "she can have my food."

which do you buy?

A: if I let her have my food I can't row as much and thus wont help you get saved so she has to die?

B: we should both give her part of our food and not worry about rowing it's more important to be civil and loving. We are probalby all going to die anyway.

example 2.

I am walking down the street and I see a burning house, and old woman is leaning out the window shouting help help. I dash in to save her risking my own life. Pretend I'm still young.

you:

A: brovo that's the right thing to do.

B: she can't contribute to gene frequency anymore, I can so let her die. I should not risk my gene frequency for her non gene frequency?
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Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Post by mdsimpson92 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:31 am

Rob,

I've noticed that you seems to have a somewhat utilitarian (or at least consequentialist) view. Am I right to assume this. Well, actually now that I think of it utilitarian would actually call for a certain amount of altruism because you are valuing the individual while utilitarians give more value to the total regardless of rights. (Well, act utilitarians anyways).
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Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Post by Robin Yergenson » Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:16 pm

Hi runamokmonk,

You say,
runamokmonk: I guess one could say that it is an objective fact that homo sapiens need to be alive in the first place in order to have values. But this does not therefore equate that an individual homo sapiens needs to maintain its existence in order to be coherent with his hierarchy of values, for he may value something, someone, or be principled to valuing humans in general, even if at the cost of his own life. The cost to his own life is used by me to easily highlight a hierarchy of values.
Yes one could say that, but it would be missing the essence of the issue. Values depend on existence existing, stuff existing, causality existing, logic existing, change existing, etc., but these too go without saying. And yes, none of these “equate to an individual homo sapiens needing to maintain its existence in order to be coherent with his hierarchy of values.” But the notion of value that you go on to talk about suggests that you have not internalized value as I am using it here. Again, by value I do not mean merely subjective whim-based preference. Here I mean something that has actual objective fact-based net benefit to the subject, the one who values. You say,
runamokmonk: I could have said materialist as that is what I meant for atheist. My point here was to highlight someone not believing in life after death, or God of any kind, and yet having a system of values in which the greatest value was not simply himself but to a higher principle or value.
If a value is only coherent in the context of one who values, and if a value as I intend it here is not merely subjective whim-based preference but actual objective fact-based net benefit to the subject, the one who values, then there is no such thing as “a system of values in which the greatest value was not simply himself but to a higher principle or value.” Self, the subject, the valuer, is at bottom, the one that the value must be actual objective fact-based net benefit to. This is entailed in the definition. If you don’t like this definition, just say, “Rob, I don’t like your definition of value. I think that values and morality in general should be based on subjective whim-based preference and not on actual objective fact-based net benefit to the subject, the one who values.” Which way will you have it? You say,
runamokmonk: I am not sure this is objectively true that freedom is essential to a life worth living. I think a life worth living is a subjective evaluation.
Consider for a minute that your freedom to choose and act are all stripped from you, even your freedom of thought. What is left that has actual objective fact-based net benefit to the valuer? And you say,
runamokmonk: You have stated above that one must exist to value. It is the human choice of what to value as far as I can see.
As long as you continue to maintain value to be mere subjective whim-based preference rather than actual objective fact-based net benefit to the subject, we are not going to make progress on this issue, rather, we will just keep talking past each other. A morality and values based on mere subjective whim-based preference is exactly what undermines the very notion of morality.
runamokmonk: How is placing one's life as the greatest value objective and not emotional? How can one not be emotional about holding oneself as the basis of value?
As long as value is consistent with the way it is defined, it is objective value. Whether or not it is also emotional is nonessential to the definition. And you say,
runamokmonk: And even if everyone took one's own life as the greatest value than we'd all be subjectively holding our lives as the greatest value.
Yep.
runamokmonk: It seems to me, that it is more objective, in the sense of being more impartial, to expand one's values, and I imagine one would then find higher principles and have the ideal of applying them fairly and trying to live by them.
This would be an arbitrary skyhook system as opposed to an actual objective fact-based net benefit to the subject.
runamokmonk:A value system such as this does not in include that one ought to value each person. It is each person having themself as the greatest value.
Having a deepest value at bottom does not preclude you from having other values. It is simply the fundamental value in a hierarchy of other values.

In your next response, please just focus on the definition that I continue to require, and why you either do or do not agree with it. This seems to be where we are talking past each other.

Rob

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Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Post by runamokmonk » Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:39 pm

I might reply later. Metacrocks hypothetical questions better asked what I was getting at.

You say
Having a deepest value at bottom does not preclude you from having other values. It is simply the fundamental value in a hierarchy of other values.
If the deepest value at the bottom is for your own self then the other values would be at a lower place on the hierarchy.

This is why I kept asking about this.

If freedom, love and other values become incoherent in your value system then how could one die for something or someone loved for maintaining existence is the top of the hierarchy, the deepest value.

You asked me to imagine above what if my freedom was all stripped from me. Well I am saying that freedom is of a higher value than existence as many have died for it that we have today.

If maintaining existence and thriving is the deepest value, where freedom and love cannot trump the life of the valuer (paraphrasing), well, it sounds like possible cowardice. I'm not meaning you, personally with that, I am talking about how I understand the logic.

Like metacrock's scenarios, what if love, goodwill, or bravery, would be stunted because the deepest value is oneself rather than principles and values such as integrity, bravery, honesty, goodwill, and such, even at harm to an individual.

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Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Post by Metacrock » Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:30 am

Rob I'm not trying to put you down. These questions legitimately communicate what I fear about the kind of philosophy you advocate, if I understand you correctly. Please answer them. It's the only way I can know if I'm reading it correctly.

suppose we are in a life boat with you me and an old woman. We don't enough food. You say "O let's kill th eold woman becasue she can't row." I say "she can have my food."

which do you buy?

A: if I let her have my food I can't row as much and thus wont help you get saved so she has to die?

B: we should both give her part of our food and not worry about rowing it's more important to be civil and loving. We are probalby all going to die anyway.

example 2.

I am walking down the street and I see a burning house, and old woman is leaning out the window shouting help help. I dash in to save her risking my own life. Pretend I'm still young.

you:

A: brovo that's the right thing to do.

B: she can't contribute to gene frequency anymore, I can so let her die. I should not risk my gene frequency for her non gene frequency?
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Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Post by mdsimpson92 » Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:43 pm

Hey Rob does this rational egoism resemble your beliefs to an extent?

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/egoism/
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