Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

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

Post by Robin Yergenson » Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:33 pm

Hi Metacrock,

Looks like my “ASAP” response didn’t happen as quickly as I had hoped. When I did go out to respond I say that runamokmonk was queued up ahead of you, so anyway, sorry for the delay. Your questions are extreme examples but you are right to expect a valid principle to apply to extreme cases as well. Now, 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.
For “Example 1” you say,
Metacrock: Suppose we are in a life boat with you, me, and an old woman. We don't have enough food. You say "O let's kill the old woman because 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 won’t 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 probably all going to die anyway.
One critical fact that we discover as we exercise my points 1 and 2 is the fact that we benefit more by aligning ourselves with an implicit contract to live in accord and reciprocate rights with one another rather than to steal and prey on one another (I can demonstrate this but I’ll assume for now that it’s self-evident). So then, having aligned our self to such a contractual principle, each of the three occupying the lifeboat have an equal right to the food supply provided. If our willingness to honor the rights of others only extends to those times when it is convenient, kind of like the pirate’s code of “steal when you can, trade when you must,” then it’s really no contract at all and we’ve missed the whole point entailed in the afore mentioned fact. In this case, “civil and loving” is not the reason we are obligated to share, it’s our contractual agreement.

So then, you might want to tailor your scenario even more by requiring that you and I each boarded the life raft with our own very limited food supply but that the old woman has none. In this case we are no longer contractually obligated to share our food. Since it will be a serious threat to our life to share our food, the only remaining reason to do so (I’ve mentioned this before) is the fact that “an action that results in high risk to one’s life is only moral and justified if the life that will remain 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 our quality of life, then even if the genetic predisposed emotional response is unjustified, it’s a risk worth taking.

You then say for “Example 2”,
Metacrock : 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?
You should be quite aware by now that I have repeatedly refuted genetics as a basis for proper moral action so you already know I would not pick “B.” Rather, I’ll say, “Metacrock wait! Let me join you!” because I am genetically predisposed to such selfless bravery too, and because it is not clear yet that the risk is not justified. But later, upon entering the house and seeing the stairs engulfed in flame, I’ll recognize that it is a foolish waste to proceed further and I’ll say, “Metacrock, this is not going to work. We’re going to have to encourage her to jump while we stand below and try to break her fall rather than the three of us being burned alive.” When you respond with “Metacrock: No, she’ll surely break a hip from the fall, so I’m heading up those flaming stairs with or without you.” “Rob: Come on Metacrock, if you run up those stairs you’ll be throwing your life away.” But you, having conditioned yourself to throw care to the wind in such circumstances, run forward, and as you fall back down the stairs in a ball of flame, I run to throw a rug over you, usher you out of the building, and then while you are incapacitated, I run to the window to encourage the old woman to jump and that I’ll try to break her fall. The old woman responds, “Old woman: Why doesn’t Metacrock help you break my fall? I don’t want to break a hip you know.” And I respond, “Rob: I’m sure he would help if he could, but he foolishly run up the burning stairs to help you and now he’s unconscious having sustained second and third degree burns. I’m afraid I’m all you’ve got right now. Now jump!”

Rob

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

Post by Robin Yergenson » Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:59 pm

Hi mdsimpson92,

You say,
mdsimpson92 wrote:Hey Rob does this rational egoism resemble your beliefs to an extent?

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/egoism/
Yes, I align in many ways to Ayn Rand's philosophy, but I do hold some major differences:

1) This may seem to be quibbling, but I see the correct system of morality for all rational beings to be rooted in our nature as rational volitional organisms to prefer to live and thrive, not merely, "if you prefer to live and thrive, then you ought to do this" but "as rational volitional organisms we ought to prefer to live and thrive." The former is a consequence of a subjective whim-based preference, the latter is a consequence of the way objective reality is. True morality is not whim-based.
2) This one is in no way quibbling. I do not see willful evasion to be the root of all moral evil. We all evade things that we sincerely consider to be of lesser significance all the time. Given the huge amount of information that our senses are bombarded with at any given moment, we have to be this way. Rather, an insufficient awareness of the facts (i.e. stupidity, ignorance, a lack of omniscience, etc.) is the root of all moral evil. As you know, I like to talk about this.
3) Ayn Rand was not open to peer scrutiny and from what I gather, attempted to create a "cult-like following" that I find deeply disgusting (I used to be in the Witness Lee "Local Church" that had similar cult-like tendencies and so I have a strong aversion to them). Michael Shermer has commented on this in some of his writing.
4) I find her materialistic suppositions to be unsupported.

Anyway, it's mostly items 2 and 3 that prevent me from promoting her more. Item #2 is the way of most religious systems and is a deeply hurtful way to view our fellow human beings.

Rob

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

Post by Robin Yergenson » Sun Nov 13, 2011 3:10 pm

Hi runamokmonk,

You say,
runamokmonk wrote:I might reply later. Metacrocks hypothetical questions better asked what I was getting at.

You say,
Rob: 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.
Those are good questions. Existing alone is not the fundamental value. It is only existing together with a sufficient amount of quality entailed in freedom, relationships, etc. that allows our hierarchy of values to emerge. And I'm not just talking about "my value system." I'm saying that this is true of all objective systems of value whether the valuer like yourself has discovered it or not.

Rob

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

Post by runamokmonk » Sun Nov 13, 2011 3:13 pm

So then, you might want to tailor your scenario even more by requiring that you and I each boarded the life raft with our own very limited food supply but that the old woman has none. In this case we are no longer contractually obligated to share our food. Since it will be a serious threat to our life to share our food, the only remaining reason to do so (I’ve mentioned this before) is the fact that “an action that results in high risk to one’s life is only moral and justified if the life that will remain 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 our quality of life, then even if the genetic predisposed emotional response is unjustified, it’s a risk worth taking.


I know that there is a common theory that thoughts effect feelings. Cognitive Behavoriol Therapy advocates are big on this (I'm not saying I fully agree with them, but for reasons beside the point of this scenario).

If this person who chose not to share their food survived, then felt worse than their initial calculation and sought help because their quality of life diminished, I think they would be asked what are their thoughts about what is causing them to feel such a way.

I'm saying it wouldn't be just a feeling but something more than that. I figure it would be remorse for being selfish and not given to one in need.

See the thought would come first and the feelings in this case would be because of the values.

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

Post by runamokmonk » Sun Nov 13, 2011 4:40 pm

Robin Yergenson
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.
One critical fact that we discover as we exercise my points 1 and 2 is the fact that we benefit more by aligning ourselves with an implicit contract to live in accord and reciprocate rights with one another rather than to steal and prey on one another (I can demonstrate this but I’ll assume for now that it’s self-evident). So then, having aligned our self to such a contractual principle, each of the three occupying the lifeboat have an equal right to the food supply provided. If our willingness to honor the rights of others only extends to those times when it is convenient, kind of like the pirate’s code of “steal when you can, trade when you must,” then it’s really no contract at all and we’ve missed the whole point entailed in the afore mentioned fact. In this case, “civil and loving” is not the reason we are obligated to share, it’s our contractual agreement.


1) This may seem to be quibbling, but I see the correct system of morality for all rational beings to be rooted in our nature as rational volitional organisms to prefer to live and thrive, not merely, "if you prefer to live and thrive, then you ought to do this" but "as rational volitional organisms we ought to prefer to live and thrive." The former is a consequence of a subjective whim-based preference, the latter is a consequence of the way objective reality is. True morality is not whim-based.

You start off with humans being organisms that prefer to live and thrive.

I don't think "living and thriving" means very much with behaving ethically.

An not all goals are of the same moral worth.

But "bad" goals can be achieved using reason and logic with calculated risks (not that I advocate that or anything!) for their net benefit to oneself.

If one has a "bad" goal, which cares not about reciprocal rights or contracts, there would still be the rational plan to achieve such a goal within a time frame of their lifetime.


Then~
"One critical fact that we discover as we exercise my points 1 and 2 is the fact that we benefit more by aligning ourselves with an implicit contract to live in accord and reciprocate rights with one another rather than to steal and prey on one another..........."

As a group individual human beings do benefit more by respecting each other and following rules or prinicples.

But the individual egoist is an individual for their own benefit.

It seems it is "rational" that is put in there in order it to have the ought for the morality or to have contracts.
Last edited by runamokmonk on Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Robin Yergenson » Sun Nov 13, 2011 5:34 pm

Hi runamokmonk,
runamokmonk : You start off with humans being organisms that prefer to live and thrive. I don't think "living and thriving" means very much with behaving ethically.
You have an arbitrary notion about what ethics is that you are now using to conclude such an opinion. It is your nature to want to live and thrive, right? There are things that you should do in order to obtain that goal, right? Than are these or are these not things that you ought to do? And is ethics and morality about those things that you ought to do? Then demonstrate to me the basis for your thinking when you say, “I don't think "living and thriving" means very much with behaving ethically.” And you say,
runamokmonk : And not all goals are of the same moral worth. But "bad" goals can be achieved using reason and logic with calculated risks (not that I advocate that or anything!) for their net benefit to oneself. If one has a "bad" goal, which cares not about reciprocal rights or contracts, there would still be the rational plan to achieve such a goal within a time frame of their lifetime.
Yes, any kind of goal, both good goals and bad goals all require reason and logic to guide our choices and actions to obtain them. But I think we agree that bad goals are goals that we ought not pursue. In other words, it is immoral to pursue bad goals, right? And you say,
runamokmonk: Then~"One critical fact that we discover as we exercise my points 1 and 2 is the fact that we benefit more by aligning ourselves with an implicit contract to live in accord and reciprocate rights with one another rather than to steal and prey on one another..........."

As a group individual human beings do benefit more by respecting each other and following rules or principles.

But the individual egoist is an individual for their own benefit.
That’s entirely right. Acting based on self interest is not mutually exclusive of acting on the interests of a group. What’s your point? And you say,
runamokmonk : It seems it is "rational" that is put in there in order it to have the ought for the morality or to have contracts.
Well, rocks, trees, worms, etc. don’t have moral oughts, nor do they form contracts. Why? Because they are not rational, so yes, you are correct, but I don’t get your point. Maybe you should slow down and think this through a little. Where are we disagreeing?

Rob

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

Post by runamokmonk » Sun Nov 13, 2011 6:26 pm

You have an arbitrary notion about what ethics is that you are now using to conclude such an opinion. It is your nature to want to live and thrive, right? There are things that you should do in order to obtain that goal, right? Than are these or are these not things that you ought to do? And is ethics and morality about those things that you ought to do? Then demonstrate to me the basis for your thinking when you say, “I don't think "living and thriving" means very much with behaving ethically.” And you say,

A drug kingpin could be considered thriving in a harsh world.

I don't see where living and thriving means, be good to others, be moral.

I do prefer to thrive, but thriving would be much different.

I am saying the word "thriving" doesn't tell me much.

Yes, any kind of goal, both good goals and bad goals all require reason and logic to guide our choices and actions to obtain them. But I think we agree that bad goals are goals that we ought not pursue. In other words, it is immoral to pursue bad goals, right? And you say,
I am using the word "bad" as a moral judgement, as something wrong. "Bad" would be a value judgement.

I agree that I ought not pursue "bad" goals. But that is because of a value system.

Someone may have "bad" goals.





runamokmonk: Then~"One critical fact that we discover as we exercise my points 1 and 2 is the fact that we benefit more by aligning ourselves with an implicit contract to live in accord and reciprocate rights with one another rather than to steal and prey on one another..........."

As a group individual human beings do benefit more by respecting each other and following rules or principles.

But the individual egoist is an individual for their own benefit.
RY-
That’s entirely right. Acting based on self interest is not mutually exclusive of acting on the interests of a group. What’s your point? And you say,

The egoist is acting on his own self interest, not necessarily with regard for others or the group.

Those could be good or bad goals.

Some may not care about hurting others because that isn't in their value system. The egoist (or anyone), may possibly not have "good" goals, and prey on others, or not care if others were hurt in the process of the goal.


runamokmonk : It seems it is "rational" that is put in there in order it to have the ought for the morality or to have contracts.


Well, rocks, trees, worms, etc. don’t have moral oughts, nor do they form contracts. Why? Because they are not rational, so yes, you are correct, but I don’t get your point. Maybe you should slow down and think this through a little. Where are we disagreeing?

But, it seems, anyone not agreeing to your value system would irrational because they don't agree and follow.

Any value system could define things that way.

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

Post by Robin Yergenson » Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:09 am

Hi runamokmonk,

You say,
runamokmonk: A drug kingpin could be considered thriving in a harsh world.
Hmm. There could be harsh world conditions where surviving and thriving would require becoming a drug kingpin. But as long as there are opportunities to realize benefit without preying on others, predation, including trafficking drugs, would be a shortsighted choice with greater risk of personal harm, and so it would be immoral. And you say,
runamokmonk: I don't see where living and thriving means, be good to others, be moral. I do prefer to thrive, but thriving would be much different. I am saying the word "thriving" doesn't tell me much.
As I said before, it is because living in accord with others, exchanging value for value (where I mean value as I have defined it, where it has absolute benefit to the valuer) is in principle absolutely better for you than predation, that you should guide your life in that way and not to guide your life in ways of predation. Now, please don’t ignore this. If you think that this statement is in error, please demonstrate the error. And you say,
runamokmonk: I am using the word "bad" as a moral judgment, as something wrong. "Bad" would be a value judgment. I agree that I ought not pursue "bad" goals. But that is because of a value system. Someone may have "bad" goals.
I am using the word “bad” as a moral judgment too, in an absolute sense. And a value judgment in the context here, would be in the sense that value is not whim based but actually objectively beneficial to the valuer in an absolute sense. If you mean “bad” as a whim based judgment, you are just confusing the context of this discussion. You don’t want to do that, do you? For a particular set of conditions, people with bad goals who could be choosing good goals within that particular set of conditions but are not, are acting badly, acting immorally. Absolutely. And you say,
runamokmonk: The egoist is acting on his own self interest, not necessarily with regard for others or the group. Those could be good or bad goals. Some may not care about hurting others because that isn't in their value system. The egoist (or anyone), may possibly not have "good" goals, and prey on others, or not care if others were hurt in the process of the goal.
You are wrong. It is in the egoist’s value system to only have good goals, whether he knows it or not. As I have said repeatedly, values and morality are not whim based. They are for us to discover and align to. You keep ignoring this. Would you quit ignoring this please? And you say,
runamokmonk: But, it seems, anyone not agreeing to your value system would be irrational because they don't agree and follow. Any value system could define things that way.
I’m not making this stuff up. Yes, this is my value system, but it is not merely my value system. As I said previously, it is your nature to want to live and thrive. You agree. There are things that you should do in order to obtain that goal, right? Please respond to this. Do you agree or not? Then are these or are these not things that you ought to do? Should you or should you not do the things that allow you to obtain the goal of living and thriving? Would you respond to this please? If you say no, what basis do you have for saying no? And is ethics and morality about those things that you ought to do in an objective absolute sense, or is it about things that you choose to do based on personal whim? Please answer this. What am I missing here? This is an integrated system of objective morality. What are you proposing instead? What is its basis? I’m guessing you have no basis for your position, but I’m eager to hear you respond. Sorry to be so direct, but you do seem to be ignoring some key points, namely that values and morality aren’t whim based and they aren’t derived from some authoritative sky hook. They are rooted in rational self interest. This is the proper basis for why we act in any way. Given these key points, how could it be true that “Any value system could define things that way?”

Rob

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

Post by Metacrock » Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:58 am

hey you know I have a hard time seeing where you answered my questions rob.
Have Theology, Will argue: wire Metacrock
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Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Post by runamokmonk » Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:25 am


RY-
Hmm. There could be harsh world conditions where surviving and thriving would require becoming a drug kingpin. But as long as there are opportunities to realize benefit without preying on others, predation, including trafficking drugs, would be a shortsighted choice with greater risk of personal harm, and so it would be immoral. And you say,
runamokmonk: I don't see where living and thriving means, be good to others, be moral. I do prefer to thrive, but thriving would be much different. I am saying the word "thriving" doesn't tell me much.
RY-
As I said before, it is because living in accord with others, exchanging value for value (where I mean value as I have defined it, where it has absolute benefit to the valuer) is in principle absolutely better for you than predation, that you should guide your life in that way and not to guide your life in ways of predation. Now, please don’t ignore this. If you think that this statement is in error, please demonstrate the error. And you say




It also of net benefit to get more value from the value you traded.

It is also of net benefit to the individual with only his own life in his regards to not play fair.

This can be done with calculated risk assesment for ones goals, to thrive.

I don't see in this the value of caring about others in simply thriving for oneself.
















runamokmonk: I am using the word "bad" as a moral judgment, as something wrong. "Bad" would be a value judgment. I agree that I ought not pursue "bad" goals. But that is because of a value system. Someone may have "bad" goals.

RY-
I am using the word “bad” as a moral judgment too, in an absolute sense. And a value judgment in the context here, would be in the sense that value is not whim based but actually objectively beneficial to the valuer in an absolute sense. If you mean “bad” as a whim based judgment, you are just confusing the context of this discussion. You don’t want to do that, do you? For a particular set of conditions, people with bad goals who could be choosing good goals within that particular set of conditions but are not, are acting badly, acting immorally. Absolutely. And you say,





Objective net benefit to the individual would be bad if it treating others as if they are not of value.

Where does net benefit for the invidual equal caring and valuing others?

Each individual valuing oneself as the ultimate value does not equate to also valuing others.

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