Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Discuss arguments for existence of God and faith in general. Any aspect of any orientation toward religion/spirituality, as long as it is based upon a positive open to other people attitude.

Moderator: Metacrock

User avatar
mdsimpson92
Posts: 2187
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:05 pm
Location: Tianjin, China

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

Post by mdsimpson92 » Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:20 pm

Robin Yergenson wrote: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.
On the first one, John Stuart Mill would agree with you on the first one. I believe his though was eudaimonistic utiliatarianism. Personally, because I subscribe to the is-ought problem I am unconvinced. Though I will say I am eudaimonistic it is within more of a stoic context, supporting virtue ethics. The problem is that I don't find the idea of putting the self over the community if there was a situation where those interests were to clash coincidentally (not to say I don't support individual freedom, oh no quite the opposite), in fact the very way in which we learn and understand our values is through the context of our relationships within our community. I am partially a communitarian of a Stoic variety.

2)The stoics and John Scottus of Ireland would be in agreement with you.
Julia: It's all... a dream...
Spike Spiegel: Yeah... just a dream...

User avatar
Metacrock
Posts: 10046
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:03 am
Location: Dallas
Contact:

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

Post by Metacrock » Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:13 am

Did Rob come back and answer my questions? I think my questions really drive home the point. We as a species value each other. We see this value in terms of feelings and a concept of human essentialist. The reductionists want to reduce value to scientifically based ideology about gene frequency.

That' what I think his arguments are getting at.
Have Theology, Will argue: wire Metacrock
Buy My book: The Trace of God: Warrant for belief

Robin Yergenson
Posts: 126
Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 6:00 pm

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

Post by Robin Yergenson » Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:32 pm

Hi Metacrock,

When you say,
Metacrock wrote:hey you know I have a hard time seeing where you answered my questions rob.
Do you mean that you didn't see my November 13, 12:33pm response, or do you mean that you saw my response and you feel that I evaded your questions in some way? I was pretty direct so I doubt that it's the latter. Let me know.

Rob

User avatar
Metacrock
Posts: 10046
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:03 am
Location: Dallas
Contact:

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

Post by Metacrock » Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:00 am

Robin Yergenson wrote:Hi Metacrock,

When you say,
Metacrock wrote:hey you know I have a hard time seeing where you answered my questions rob.
Do you mean that you didn't see my November 13, 12:33pm response, or do you mean that you saw my response and you feel that I evaded your questions in some way? I was pretty direct so I doubt that it's the latter. Let me know.

Rob
I did not see the response. I'll look
Have Theology, Will argue: wire Metacrock
Buy My book: The Trace of God: Warrant for belief

User avatar
Metacrock
Posts: 10046
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:03 am
Location: Dallas
Contact:

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

Post by Metacrock » Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:12 am

Robin Yergenson wrote: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,
that's because you bought into the big lie that life ends and we don't live on. we do live on. There's more to life than life. We sacrifice for others we are not just throwing away what we have we are making our lives more meaningful.
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 far your illustrating a hybrid enlightened self interest.
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.
that might be something you can't help so it weakens the test to assume it.
In this case we are no longer contractually obligated to share our food.


totally fallacious assumption

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”,

that's not a human response it's a selfish monster response.


believing the lie of materialism really cuts you off from the good. making yourself the no one priority of your life you cut yourself off from the good of others.
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
we can't get to her is a valid response. you could still try to have her jump and catch her. The idea that "we just can't reach her, if true, is a valid reason not to try."

It depends upon why you say it. If you decide to try to reach a beautiful woman in child bearing years on hope that she'll sleep with you but you wont try to reach an old woman in the same level of risk then you are just being selfish.


risking your life is going above and beyond the call of duty. No one is obligated to dot that just as a matter of course. The reasons for rejecting can't be that "I am no 1 on my own hit parade and so much more important than anyone else."
Have Theology, Will argue: wire Metacrock
Buy My book: The Trace of God: Warrant for belief

Robin Yergenson
Posts: 126
Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 6:00 pm

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

Post by Robin Yergenson » Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:59 pm

Hi mdsimpson92,

You say,
mdsimpson92 wrote:On the first one, John Stuart Mill would agree with you on the first one. I believe his though was eudaimonistic utiliatarianism. Personally, because I subscribe to the is-ought problem I am unconvinced. Though I will say I am eudaimonistic it is within more of a stoic context, supporting virtue ethics. The problem is that I don't find the idea of putting the self over the community if there was a situation where those interests were to clash coincidentally (not to say I don't support individual freedom, oh no quite the opposite), in fact the very way in which we learn and understand our values is through the context of our relationships within our community. I am partially a communitarian of a Stoic variety.

2)The stoics and John Scottus of Ireland would be in agreement with you.
You say that subscribe to the is-ought problem. It appears to me that there is no problem. No gap. What am I missing here:

a) My predisposed nature to prefer to live and thrive is a fact of reality.
b) In order for my living and thriving to be realized there are actions that I ought to take and other actions that I ought not take.

So where's the gap?

Rob

User avatar
mdsimpson92
Posts: 2187
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:05 pm
Location: Tianjin, China

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

Post by mdsimpson92 » Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:07 pm

Robin Yergenson wrote:You say that subscribe to the is-ought problem. It appears to me that there is no problem. No gap. What am I missing here:a) My predisposed nature to prefer to live and thrive is a fact of reality.b) In order for my living and thriving to be realized there are actions that I ought to take and other actions that I ought not take.
Because you are deriving an ought from an is. The problem comes from using what is descriptive to tell us something prescriptive or normative.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hume-moral/#io

I will admit there are ways around this in "certain" areas like virtues but that does not tell how one should act. Just because we are selfish doesn't mean that we should act within our best interests or that that is the primary value. Keep in mind I am not against thriving, but I am against the idea of priveleging one's own interests over others. What justifies me serving my interest over other individuals. Is is becuase I am more intelligent, stronger, more able to survive? I know that there are many cases in which acting in ones interests benefits the whole "invisible hand" and what not. But there are times and situations where that is not true. What then?

I will also admit that if you reject foundationalism and prefer something like coherrentism or pragmatism then the is-ought criticism will fall flat.
Julia: It's all... a dream...
Spike Spiegel: Yeah... just a dream...

User avatar
Metacrock
Posts: 10046
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:03 am
Location: Dallas
Contact:

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

Post by Metacrock » Sat Nov 19, 2011 10:19 am

Robin Yergenson wrote:Hi mdsimpson92,

You say,
mdsimpson92 wrote:On the first one, John Stuart Mill would agree with you on the first one. I believe his though was eudaimonistic utiliatarianism. Personally, because I subscribe to the is-ought problem I am unconvinced. Though I will say I am eudaimonistic it is within more of a stoic context, supporting virtue ethics. The problem is that I don't find the idea of putting the self over the community if there was a situation where those interests were to clash coincidentally (not to say I don't support individual freedom, oh no quite the opposite), in fact the very way in which we learn and understand our values is through the context of our relationships within our community. I am partially a communitarian of a Stoic variety.

2)The stoics and John Scottus of Ireland would be in agreement with you.
You say that subscribe to the is-ought problem. It appears to me that there is no problem. No gap. What am I missing here:

a) My predisposed nature to prefer to live and thrive is a fact of reality.
b) In order for my living and thriving to be realized there are actions that I ought to take and other actions that I ought not take.

So where's the gap?

Rob

I am not saying that you personally are selfish. I understand we are not arguing about weather or not to value humans but where to the draw the line in personal sacrifice. Sorry If I got feisty.

when I speak of "selfish monster" I am speaking of human nature, what we all have, not anyone person in particular.
Have Theology, Will argue: wire Metacrock
Buy My book: The Trace of God: Warrant for belief

Robin Yergenson
Posts: 126
Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 6:00 pm

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

Post by Robin Yergenson » Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:19 am

Hi Metacrock,

As more of us interact on a given thread it does become confusing trying to determine who responded to who. Have you ever looked at what it would take to move to the branching thread system that CARM uses? It seems like it goes hand-in-hand with increased participation which is a good thing.

You say,
Metacrock: I am not saying that you personally are selfish. I understand we are not arguing about whether or not to value humans but where to the draw the line in personal sacrifice. Sorry If I got feisty.

When I speak of "selfish monster" I am speaking of human nature, what we all have, not anyone person in particular.
Thanks for clarifying. And since you are toning down your feistiness, I'll tone down my response that I had prepared. But before moving to it, I would like to clarify that I am a very selfish person. Everything I do is ultimately motivated by personal benefit to me personally. I work hard to provide for my family and to be valued by my company, I exchange value with my friends, family, and coworkers, I try to expose the error in our human society, and on and on, all because I derive actual personal selfish benefit by doing so. I make no attempt to label this ultimate motive for self benefit a negative thing in any sense. Rather, as I have demonstrated, it is the proper basis for action of any kind. The real negative, the real monster that needs exposed is stupidity which results in innocent error. Why do people cheat? Stupidity. Why do people behave is self destructive ways? Stupidity. Why do people prey on people? Stupidity. At bottom, the root of a moral evil is not selfishness. It is believing something to be true that isn’t, and then acting on that belief, forming entire world views rooted in such error. The common enemy of us all that we should recognize and be allied against is what? Stupidity.

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.
You say,
Metocrock: That’s because you bought into the big lie that life ends and we don't live on. We do live on. There's more to life than life. We sacrifice for others we are not just throwing away what we have we are making our lives more meaningful.
Well, not exactly. Because ex nihilo nihil fit (from nothing comes nothing) is a fact, and because the inverse (that which is something cannot become nothing) is also a fact, that which we are of, our fundamental essence, whether it be mind-stuff, spirit-stuff, material-stuff, whatever the stuff of Rob and Metacrock is, is necessarily eternal (change too, cannot come from or become nothing). So, even though there may be astronomically long stretches between states of conscious existence, conscious existence is what we have done an infinite number of times and it is what we will do an infinite number of times. But how does that change my two claims (1 and 2 above) in any way? And you say,
Metocrock: That's not a human response it's a selfish monster response. Believing the lie of materialism really cuts you off from the good. Making yourself the no one priority of your life you cut yourself off from the good of others.
I have demonstrated an integrated basis for morality based on rational self interest. You need to demonstrate the error and to offer an integrated basis for your moral presuppositions. You say,
Metocrock: The reasons for rejecting can't be that "I am no 1 on my own hit parade and so much more important than anyone else."
• Do you agree that it is our nature as rational beings to prefer to live and thrive? If not why not?
• Do you agree that it is important to avoid pursuing a lesser value at the expense of a greater value? If not why not?
• Do you agree that values require a valuer so that our values, those things that benefit us absolutely whether we grasp it or not, can only be our values when we exist? If not why not?

If you do not agree to these things, please demonstrate the error. If you do agree with these things, then please explain to me how it is that our own life is not at the bottom of our personal chain of values. And please share with us what you do consider to be at bottom and demonstrate why you think so. I have avoided arbitrariness in my demonstration of self interest as the basis for all moral action. Let’s see you try that with your moral system. Please don’t disagree just for the sake of disagreeing. We cannot expect to make progress that way. Where is the error that exists between us?

Rob

User avatar
Metacrock
Posts: 10046
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:03 am
Location: Dallas
Contact:

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

Post by Metacrock » Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:58 am

Robin Yergenson wrote:Hi Metacrock,

As more of us interact on a given thread it does become confusing trying to determine who responded to who. Have you ever looked at what it would take to move to the branching thread system that CARM uses? It seems like it goes hand-in-hand with increased participation which is a good thing.
sure I have. I've been posting on CARM since 1998. I like that way of doing much better. I didn't set this up. It was set up for me by a friend who paid for the board. He picked the company. Really there aren't that many free one's around that have the other way. CARM laid out money for theirs.

You say,
Metacrock: I am not saying that you personally are selfish. I understand we are not arguing about whether or not to value humans but where to the draw the line in personal sacrifice. Sorry If I got feisty.

When I speak of "selfish monster" I am speaking of human nature, what we all have, not anyone person in particular.
Thanks for clarifying. And since you are toning down your feistiness, I'll tone down my response that I had prepared. [/quote]


LOL yea sorry about that. :mrgreen:


But before moving to it, I would like to clarify that I am a very selfish person. Everything I do is ultimately motivated by personal benefit to me personally. I work hard to provide for my family and to be valued by my company, I exchange value with my friends, family, and coworkers, I try to expose the error in our human society, and on and on, all because I derive actual personal selfish benefit by doing so. I make no attempt to label this ultimate motive for self benefit a negative thing in any sense.
I am very selfish too. I just don't value being so.

Rather, as I have demonstrated, it is the proper basis for action of any kind. The real negative, the real monster that needs exposed is stupidity which results in innocent error. Why do people cheat? Stupidity. Why do people behave is self destructive ways? Stupidity.
No offense but I think that's very simplistic. cheating is done for many reasons. Most of the time when we characterize things as "stupid" we mean "this is a poor decision" but the implication is the person doing it has low intelligence that is not necessarily the case. saying "stupid" is also a way to simplify complex factors. I know because I do that a lot.

Why do people prey on people? Stupidity. At bottom, the root of a moral evil is not selfishness. It is believing something to be true that isn’t, and then acting on that belief, forming entire world views rooted in such error. The common enemy of us all that we should recognize and be allied against is what? Stupidity.
I disagree completely. I think the truth is that selfishness is too simplistic an answer as well. The real answer involved a complex set of variables yet selflessness is more of a motivation than being stupid.

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.
You say,
Metocrock: That’s because you bought into the big lie that life ends and we don't live on. We do live on. There's more to life than life. We sacrifice for others we are not just throwing away what we have we are making our lives more meaningful.
Well, not exactly. Because ex nihilo nihil fit (from nothing comes nothing) is a fact, and because the inverse (that which is something cannot become nothing) is also a fact, that which we are of, our fundamental essence, whether it be mind-stuff, spirit-stuff, material-stuff, whatever the stuff of Rob and Metacrock is, is necessarily eternal (change too, cannot come from or become nothing). So, even though there may be astronomically long stretches between states of conscious existence, conscious existence is what we have done an infinite number of times and it is what we will do an infinite number of times. But how does that change my two claims (1 and 2 above) in any way? And you say,
Metocrock: That's not a human response it's a selfish monster response. Believing the lie of materialism really cuts you off from the good. Making yourself the no one priority of your life you cut yourself off from the good of others.
I have demonstrated an integrated basis for morality based on rational self interest. You need to demonstrate the error and to offer an integrated basis for your moral presuppositions. You say,
Metocrock: The reasons for rejecting can't be that "I am no 1 on my own hit parade and so much more important than anyone else."
• Do you agree that it is our nature as rational beings to prefer to live and thrive? If not why not?
• Do you agree that it is important to avoid pursuing a lesser value at the expense of a greater value? If not why not?
• Do you agree that values require a valuer so that our values, those things that benefit us absolutely whether we grasp it or not, can only be our values when we exist? If not why not?

If you do not agree to these things, please demonstrate the error. If you do agree with these things, then please explain to me how it is that our own life is not at the bottom of our personal chain of values. And please share with us what you do consider to be at bottom and demonstrate why you think so. I have avoided arbitrariness in my demonstration of self interest as the basis for all moral action. Let’s see you try that with your moral system. Please don’t disagree just for the sake of disagreeing. We cannot expect to make progress that way. Where is the error that exists between us?

Rob
I find your third question kind of hard to follow. I provisionally agree with the three statements but I think in them you continue to reduce the complexities of moral deliberation to a formula based upon scinece.

your view is sloughing off the deontological as a motivation in ethical decision making. Duty and obligation are fundamental.
Have Theology, Will argue: wire Metacrock
Buy My book: The Trace of God: Warrant for belief

Post Reply