Saturday, January 30, 2010

20 Virtue Ethics and Ethic of Care

With our subject of Virtue ethics we have arrived at a fairly new station along the tracks of modern theories of ethics. It is exciting to discover that it plays an important role in the debates on ethics of today.

This means that in the research in preparation of my lecture I run into an abundance of new issues, names, publications related to Virtue Ethics. And we first have to sort them al out to get to the heart of the debate.

For instance, in my former lecture I mentioned the author of 'Lack of Character (2002), John M. Doris. Further research showed that he is not just somebody.

He also has written an article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy about Moral psychology. Let me quote him, so that you see how psychology and philosophy of ethics have become close connected these days.

-begin quote
To date, discussion of empirical psychology in philosophical ethics has tended to focus on moral character.

In contrast to Kantianism and Utilitarianism, which share an emphasis on identifying morally obligatory actions, the burgeoning tradition of contemporary virtue ethics emphasizes the psychological constitution, or character, of actors.

The central question for virtue ethics, so the slogan goes, is not what sort of action to do, but what sort of person to be. The importance of moral psychology to this tradition is not far to seek.

On the one hand, proponents of virtue ethics often contend that ethical theories focused on character manifest greater psychological realism than do their competitors .

On the other, there are masses of empirical research in personality and social psychology that appear directly relevant to familiar philosophical notions of character;

although the parallel was not much noticed until fairly recently, philosophers and psychologists had, to a considerable extent, been talking about the same things.
-end quote

And all this is mainly caused by Margret Anscombe 's article "Modern Moral Philosophy". Interesting to note, that when I was a philosophy student at the university in the early 70s, virtue ethics wasn't a subject at all.

The whole program was heavily leaning on deontological ethics, in particular Kant. In my program was some room for philosophers like Hare (emotivism) and Moore. Utilitarianism wasn't hardly mentioned, nor jeremy Bentham or John Stuart Mill.

So you can imagine that my "discovery" of virtue ethics (for me a logical outcome of our study of deontology and utilitarianism in all former lectures) is very exciting. In a way it fits into my personal ideas and frame of mind. On the other hand it opens all kinds of new perspectives and relations.

So lest summarize the potion we have reached once again. Moral theories are concerned with right and wrong behavior. This subject area of philosophy is unavoidably tied up with practical concerns about the right behavior.

However, virtue ethics changes the kind of question we ask about ethics. Where deontology and consequentialism concern themselves with the right action, virtue ethics is concerned with the good life and what kinds of persons we should be.

“What is the right action?” is a significantly different question to ask from “How should I live? What kind of person should I be?”

Where the first type of question deals with specific dilemmas, the second is a question about an entire life. Instead of asking what is the right act here and now, virtue ethics asks what kind of person should I be in order to get it right all the time.

Whereas deontology and consequentialism are based on rules that try to give us the right action, virtue ethics makes central use of the concept of character.

The answer to “How should one live?” is that one should live virtuously, i.e. have a virtuous character. [from IEP]

Another interesting aspect of our present subject is its relation with my former project on Women Philosophers. Not only because Margret Anscombe had a crucial influence in this matter. There is more. Just read this.

-begin quote
Over the past fifteen years, Carol Gilligan has been listening to women and men talk about morality. [In] her book, In a Different Voice (l982a), Gilligan describes a moral universe in which men,

more often than women, conceive of morality as substantively constituted by obligations and rights and as procedurally constituted by the demands of fairness and impartiality,

while women, more often than men, see moral requirements as emerging from the particular needs of others in the context of particular relationships.

Gilligan has dubbed this latter orientation the "ethic of care," and she insists that the exclusive focus on justice reasoning has obscured both its psychological reality and its normative significance.
-end quote

Because the relation between the theory of ethics ands psychology has become more tight due to the issue of virtue, there has developed also a feminist approach to ethics.

Where such other moral theories as Kantian morality and utilitarianism demand impartiality above all, the ethics of care understands the moral import of ties to families and groups. It evaluates such ties, differing from virtue ethics by focusing on caring relations rather than the virtues of individuals.

Another result and modern development thanks to Margret Anscombe.

To be continued next week…………

The Discussion

[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:22] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks, feel free.....
[13:23] Laila Schuman: how does this relate to politics
[13:23] Repose Lionheart: great stuff!
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:23] herman Bergson: Maybe this lecture gives little rise to debate, I know
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: :)
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: i think it makes more sense
[13:23] Laila Schuman: what government should be
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: to have a set ready and not to have to decide with each act
[13:24] herman Bergson: Yes Laila... I read somewhere a reference to politics and virtue ethics....
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: hmm yes and that government make right decisions for people and not just for themselves
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: as is case at many places in the world
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: china ex
[13:24] Repose Lionheart: yeah, makes more sense
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: laila the government connection project has not started yet in full
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes.. a peculiar phenomenon that a government is more interested in its own preservation than that of the people
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: that is so true
[13:25] Laila Schuman: true... but i was thinking of the difference that herman brought up between the masculine and feminist approaches
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: indeed, they feed themselves then either jail n execute people or let them starve to death, make me so sad
[13:25] Adriana Jinn: unfortunatly
[13:26] herman Bergson: But what is more important to learn is that the person is put again in the center of the debate on ethics
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: that is true yes
[13:26] herman Bergson: Not only the person, but also its psychology
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: ah yes
[13:26] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:27] Repose Lionheart: even biology
[13:27] herman Bergson: I think we all have felt the cerebral character of discussions on deontological ethics and consequentialism
[13:27] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:27] herman Bergson: yes Repose...
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: OMG!!!
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: omg yes
[13:27] Adriana Jinn: yes
[13:27] Repose Lionheart: !!
[13:27] Repose Lionheart: too much so
[13:27] herman Bergson: And the fact that I kept saying... I am missing something in this debate...
[13:28] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: we all felt so I think
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:28] herman Bergson: I think that virtue ethics has put the discourse back on the right track
[13:28] Repose Lionheart: agreed!
[13:29] herman Bergson: If that is so Gemma, then we went trough a good learning process ㋡
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:29] herman Bergson: It is interesting to see that many important publications are from 2001 and after
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: i will always think of it as the cat chasing its tail lesson
[13:30] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:30] herman Bergson smiles
[13:30] herman Bergson: Yes… something like that indeed
[13:31] herman Bergson: What is so interesting to me is that when I was a student virtue ethics just didnt exist
[13:31] herman Bergson: so Like I discovered evolutionary epistemology I now have discovered this issue
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: really?
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: but it seems to be rooted way back with Plato
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: no ancient analogs?
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: oh
[13:31] herman Bergson: Yes...GEmma
[13:32] herman Bergson: But due to centuries of christianity the aristotelian ideas of virtue were blacked out
[13:32] Repose Lionheart: ooh
[13:32] herman Bergson: Ethics became a matter of deontology.... a matter or rules following..
[13:33] herman Bergson: and this is related with the idea that these rules must come from a lawgiver...
[13:33] herman Bergson: and religion has such lawgiver in a god or revelation through the bible
[13:34] Repose Lionheart: theology dominated
[13:34] herman Bergson: the utilitarians tried to escape that lawgiver/deontic idea
[13:34] herman Bergson: they made use to calculators of happiness by evaluating consequences
[13:35] Alarice Beaumont: sorry... i have to go :-(
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: al
[13:35] Repose Lionheart: bye, Alarice
[13:35] herman Bergson: and virtue ethics goes back to the agent in all this, the acting human, and his psychology
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: bye Alarice
[13:36] Alarice Beaumont: bye :-)
[13:36] herman Bergson: Bye Alarice, be well
[13:36] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye :o) Ala
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: wow, 2000 year story arc
[13:36] herman Bergson: Yes indeed Repose...
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: ah yes and thats logical because as u said before, who we are determine how we act
[13:36] herman Bergson: amazing....
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: at least a great deal
[13:37] herman Bergson: Yes Bejita, that is becoming the focus of the debate now
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: :)
[13:37] herman Bergson: We still have not zeroed in on the real matter of virtue, but we'll soon get to that
[13:38] herman Bergson: I think Next Tuesday we'll get to that in more detail
[13:38] Repose Lionheart:(^_^)
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:38] Adriana Jinn: ok
[13:39] herman Bergson: The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Stanford Encyclopedia both have very good articles on this subject.
[13:40] herman Bergson: I'll certainly will use these as sources
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: oki
[13:40] herman Bergson: Any questions left unanswered?
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: do you think virtue ethics is a deeper position than duty or consequestialist ehtics
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: ?
[13:41] herman Bergson: Personally I would say yes...
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: at least it is understandable
[13:42] Repose Lionheart: it combines the strengths of both the other positions
[13:42] herman Bergson: My reasons for this are, that it has a closer link to realistic psychology
[13:42] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: that can be true
[13:43] herman Bergson: and that deontic theories are hard to hold, because we have lost our belief in who formulates the obligation, the laws
[13:43] Repose Lionheart: i see
[13:43] herman Bergson: and consequentialism is a too theoretical construct in my opinion...
[13:43] ZANICIA Chau: bravo
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: if the one making the rules have a bad personality everything he decide becomes wrong
[13:44] herman Bergson: the idea of pain and pleasure was well understood, but the theory is before the emergence of evolutionary theory and psychology
[13:44] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:44] herman Bergson: a good example of this is Jeremey Bentham, who made even pleasure/pain calculations
[13:45] herman Bergson: Mill dropped that idea, but yet it shows how theoretical the theory was
[13:45] herman Bergson: this does not mean that we should not think anymore about the consequences of our actions....
[13:46] Adriana Jinn: of course
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: that we must always do
[13:46] herman Bergson: but in virtue ethics we look at them from a different perspective
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: from who you are
[13:46] herman Bergson: yes Bejita
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: seems logical
[13:47] herman Bergson: Well I think that we have come a long way and really found something to work on...
[13:48] Adriana Jinn: hi rod
[13:48] herman Bergson: So.. I would like to thank you for your participation today and hope to see you next Tuesday
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:48] Rodney Handrick: Hi Adriana
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: hmm ill try to come by then
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: :)
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: see you Tuesday
[13:48] herman Bergson: Rodney!! Right on time as usual
[13:48] Adriana Jinn: thank you so much herman
[13:48] Bejiita Imako: can be interesting
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: lololol
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor!
[13:48] bergfrau Apfelbaum: daanke herman!
[13:48] Rodney Handrick: Hi Herman
[13:49] ZANICIA Chau: Thanks very much
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: well at least we know you are alive Rod
[13:49] Rodney Handrick: lol...hi Gemma
[13:49] Adriana Jinn: hihih
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: hi Rodney
[13:49] Rodney Handrick: Hi Bejiita
[13:49] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:49] Jarapanda Snook: Thanks Herman
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:50] Qwark Allen: ******* Herman *******
[13:50] Bejiita Imako: interesting this
[13:50] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:50] Bejiita Imako whispers: :)
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

19 Virtue Ethics continued

The most mysterious and inexplicable moment in evolution must have been the moment that a biological organism said to himself: "Here I am!", the emergence of self-awareness.

Probably the next question could have been: "And now What ???" I just do as it pleases me (moral subjectivism) or I feel myself as a subject of a greater Universe with its own laws, which I should obey (Deontic ethics).

Or I am just a member of the tribe and have to watch my actions, take care that they contribute not only to my personal wellbeing, but that of the tribe as well (Utilitarianism/Consequentialism);

Or I could say, 'No, it is not just about consequences. I have to go back to the source of them: me as an acting person. There I may find the answer on my "Now what?" (Virtue ethics)

In my former lecture I referred to an increasing dissatisfaction with the forms of deontology and utilitarianism and that neither of them, at that time, paid attention to a number of topics that had always figured in the virtue ethics' tradition,

— the virtues themselves, motives and moral character, moral education, moral wisdom or discernment, friendship and family relationships, a deep concept of happiness,

the role of the emotions in our moral life and the fundamentally important questions of what sort of person I should be and how we should live. What has Virtue ethics to say about this is our question of today.

Margret Anscombe states in her famous article "Modern Moral Philosphy" (1958) our problem as follows:

[One preliminary remark. To cheat is just behavior. To say that cheating is unjust is a completely different story]

-begin quote-
In present-day philosophy an explanation is required how an unjust man is a bad man, or an unjust action a bad one; to give such an explanation belongs to ethics; but it cannot even be begun until we are equipped with a sound philosophy of psychology.

For the proof that an unjust man is a bad man would require a positive account of justice as a “virtue.” This part of the subject-matter of ethics, is however, completely closed to us

until we have an account of what type of characteristic a virtue is—a problem, not of ethics, but of conceptual analysis— and how it relates to the actions in which it is instanced…
-end quote

You can find the original article of 1958 here :
It is not easy reading…

Keep in mind that it was 1958, when the ethical discourse was still dominated by deontological ethics and consequentialism. Psychology was still in its infancy.

Before starting a philosophical analysis of the concept of virtue we first need a 'sound philosophy of psychology' she says. What might that be?

Philosophy of psychology refers to issues at the theoretical foundations of modern psychology. Some of these issues are epistemological concerns about the methodology of psychological investigation.

Other issues in philosophy of psychology are philosophical questions about the nature of mind, brain, and cognition, and are perhaps more commonly thought of as part of cognitive science, or philosophy of mind.

After WWII moral behavior was no longer a subject of philosophical reflection only. It also became a subject of psychological research. One of the famous experiments is of course the Milgram experiment.

An experiment that tested the confiict between moral standards like "Thou shall not hurt your fellowman" and obedience.

Just do a google search on "psychological research on moral behavior" and you are right in the middle of the modern debate on ethics.

Just one exemplary search result of the present situation of ethical discourse. It is a book with the title "Lack of Character: Personality and Moral Behavior" by a John M. Doris (2002).

But when you read his opening sentences it is not just a John M. Doris. It is philosophically and scientifically an exciting John M. Doris.

-begin quote
I'm possessed of the conviction that thinking productively about ethics requires thinking realistically about humanity. Not everyone finds this so obvious as I do; philosophers have often insisted that the facts about human psychology should not constrain ethical reflection.

Then my conviction requires an argument, and that is why I've written this book. The argument addresses a conception of ethical character long prominent in the Western ethical tradition,

a conception I believe modern experimental psychology shows to be mistaken. If I'm right, coming to terms with this mistake requires revisions in thinking about character, and also in thinking about ethics.
-end quote

And read this review:
-begin quote
‘… Lack of Character is by far the best thing I know of written on the implications of recent social psychology for philosophical discussions of virtue and character.

The book refers to and assesses an extraordinary large literature in psychology, philosophy, and beyond, and works out in considerable detail one very plausible way of thinking of ethics in the light of the facts of psychology.’
Gilbert Harman, Stuart Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University
-end quote

For today I have to come to an end, but I am so excited about the results of my research on virtue ethics. It feels like a confirmation, that we followed the right track and really arrived at a station.

It was a woman philosopher(!), Margret Anscombe, who constructed the tracks. A John M. Doris, who claims that philosophers made a mistake by ignoring psychology in their philosophical debates on ethics.

To be continued……

The Discussion

[13:22] Alarice Beaumont: he sounds so right to me!
[13:22] herman Bergson: Who do you mean Alarice?
[13:22] oola Neruda: Herman... can human psychology be used as an excuse for immoral behavior? what about responsibility.. or am i missing the point
[13:22] Alarice Beaumont: ethics and character belong together.... in my humble opinion
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: true
[13:23] herman Bergson: Yes Alarice...
[13:23] herman Bergson: are moving way to fast....
[13:23] oola Neruda: adn self discipline
[13:23] herman Bergson: the only thing we can say is that there is a close relation between psychology and ethics
[13:24] herman Bergson: But those stories like..he killed his mother because he had a bad childhood so he is excused...that has nothing ot do with ethics
[13:24] Alarice Beaumont: no .. i agree on that
[13:24] Alarice Beaumont: and honestly i don't like that excuse
[13:25] herman Bergson: But what is interesting is for instance that consequentialists have endless debates on al kinds of cases...
[13:25] oola Neruda: am i not using the correct definition of ethics?
[13:25] Adriana Jinn: yes i think that it depend of each one of us to know what we find good or bad
[13:25] Alarice Beaumont: so easy to blame everybody else but not the guilty
[13:26] Repose Lionheart: does biological constraint on moral behavior mitigate moral responsibility, though?
[13:26] Adriana Jinn: what someone can find bad someone else will not
[13:26] Alarice Beaumont: think oola is right
[13:26] herman Bergson: there is a huge difference between a psychological explanation of behavior and moral justification
[13:26] Repose Lionheart: oh
[13:26] Alarice Beaumont: uuhh sorrry for the typos :-(
[13:26] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:27] herman Bergson: In virtue ethics it is important to find out where psychology stops and ethics begins, I would say
[13:27] herman Bergson: Fact is that moral behavior has become a subject of investigation of psychology
[13:28] herman Bergson: before ..say 1950 this hardly ever had been the case
[13:29] herman Bergson: So now we have arrived at a station where the tracks split up into psychology and philosophy of ethics
[13:29] Alarice Beaumont: hmmm
[13:30] herman Bergson: The next step will be to discover the demarcation between the philosophical analysis of the concept of virtue and how psychology deals with it
[13:30] herman Bergson: To say it in another way....
[13:31] herman Bergson: when a psychologist starts a research on virtuous behavior he has to define his concept of virtue...
[13:31] herman Bergson: there is no scientific method for getting that is a philosophical analysis basically
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: ahhh...this is possibly circular?
[13:32] Repose Lionheart: oh
[13:32] Repose Lionheart: i see
[13:32] herman Bergson: Well your remark point at the danger Repose...
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: Has the Milgram experiment been replicated?
[13:33] herman Bergson: You could get into circularity here easily indeed
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:33] herman Bergson: Oh yes..many times and in many ways..outcome always the same...
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: oh
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: seems to put the subjects under great moral stress
[13:33] herman Bergson: The Milgram experiment was to administer electric shocks to a person who gave wrong answers..
[13:34] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:34] herman Bergson: the leader of the experimant stimulated the test person to obey the rules of the test..
[13:34] herman Bergson: wrong answer ..more voltage in the shock
[13:35] herman Bergson: about 62 % of the test persons did as ordered..even when they heard the 'victim' scream
[13:35] herman Bergson: But an anecdote...
[13:35] herman Bergson: Of all test persons who refused to go too far...
[13:36] herman Bergson: no one ever inquired about the condition of the electro tortured person
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: wow
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: depressing
[13:36] herman Bergson: check Milgram experiment in Wikipedia
[13:37] herman Bergson: Yes… I was surprised to read that
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: thought about wath i'd do
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: pretty certain i'd not push the button
[13:37] herman Bergson: question too
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: but hard to know for sure
[13:37] Abraxas Nagy: exactly
[13:38] herman Bergson: yes..that is the scary part
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:38] Abraxas Nagy: right
[13:38] Abraxas Nagy: under the right circumstances
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:38] Abraxas Nagy: u can be made to do some pretty awefull things
[13:39] herman Bergson: so ..we have arrived at a crossroad of psychology and ethical theory...
[13:39] Repose Lionheart: that's why i read history
[13:39] Repose Lionheart: so i don't repeat it
[13:39] Adriana Jinn: right
[13:39] Repose Lionheart: if possible
[13:40] herman Bergson: Next time I'll dig into the philosophical analysis of Virtue and maybe we can see a connection with psychology then too
[13:40] Abraxas Nagy: ah interesting
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: yes!
[13:40] herman Bergson: How I see it is like this.....
[13:41] herman Bergson: After the exclusively philosophical theories on ethics we have arrived at the individual, the person...
[13:41] herman Bergson: the virtuous person...
[13:41] herman Bergson: that is what psychology is looking at too
[13:42] herman Bergson: the next level is to show that the individual person is a social person too
[13:42] herman Bergson: which has consequences for ethics
[13:42] Abraxas Nagy: indeed
[13:43] Repose Lionheart: oh, the rise of virtue ethics coincides with the growth of psychology?
[13:43] Repose Lionheart: yes, a social ethic
[13:43] herman Bergson: then the final step could be to show that the person eventually is a social biological organism which places him in the line of evolution
[13:44] herman Bergson: so that willl be the conclusion of this project...
[13:44] Repose Lionheart: !
[13:44] herman Bergson: when we have arrived at the bilogical level
[13:45] Abraxas Nagy: ah
[13:45] Repose Lionheart: one possible empirical ground
[13:45] herman Bergson: yes Repose
[13:45] Repose Lionheart: ah
[13:45] Repose Lionheart: very cool
[13:45] herman Bergson: But you say 'ONE possible ground'
[13:46] Repose Lionheart: hehehe
[13:46] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:46] Repose Lionheart: could be another direction too
[13:46] herman Bergson: You mean to imply the possibility of other grounds too?
[13:46] Repose Lionheart: a further ground perhaps
[13:47] herman Bergson: ok..anything particular in mind?
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: a religious or spiritual naturalism, maybe
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: logically compatible
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: i think maybe
[13:47] herman Bergson: Yes...we dont exclude that option
[13:47] Adriana Jinn: i was thinking of spiritual also yes
[13:47] Alarice Beaumont: uhm.. sorry.. have to go earlier today :-(
[13:48] Alarice Beaumont: cu on thursday :-)
[13:48] Abraxas Nagy: c ya Alarice
[13:48] herman Bergson: Bye Alarice..and thnx
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: bye!
[13:48] herman Bergson: We definitely have to come to terms with spirituality in relation to our ethical discourse
[13:49] herman Bergson: I'll keep an open mind to that option too
[13:49] Repose Lionheart: ok!
[13:49] Adriana Jinn: yes
[13:49] herman Bergson: allthough I have my personal perspective on these matters...
[13:49] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:50] herman Bergson: But stick to your own too plz....
[13:50] herman Bergson: I take the privilige to be biased in these matters and expose my biasedness here
[13:50] herman Bergson: Hello Rodney !
[13:51] Repose Lionheart: a brave thing, i think
[13:51] Rodney Handrick: Hi Herman
[13:51] Adriana Jinn: biase ??????
[13:51] Abraxas Nagy: it sure is
[13:51] herman Bergson: I guess you would do the same Repose
[13:51] bergfrau Apfelbaum: hey :-) Rodney
[13:51] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:51] Repose Lionheart: yes, i think so
[13:51] Rodney Handrick: Hi Bergfrau
[13:51] herman Bergson: so a solid ground for a good exchange of ideas and discussion
[13:52] Abraxas Nagy: right
[13:52] Repose Lionheart: yep
[13:53] herman Bergson: So ..everyone..dont hesitate to give your opinion...
[13:53] herman Bergson: we are entering delicate grounds now ㋡
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: uuhhhmmn
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: lol
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: I'd say
[13:53] Qwark Allen: the least
[13:53] herman Bergson: But as I said before....
[13:54] Abraxas Nagy: but doenst that make it more interesting?
[13:54] herman Bergson: You should all have your Personal Philosophical Program
[13:54] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:54] Repose Lionheart: hmmmm
[13:54] herman Bergson: which means....your set of basic ideas....
[13:54] herman Bergson: dont question your basic ideas..they are yours...
[13:55] herman Bergson: but put them to the test....see if they hold in a good philosphical debate
[13:56] Qwark Allen: seems to me , always a work in progress
[13:56] herman Bergson: As JJC Smart said... Not everyone will be persuaded by his theory of ethics..
[13:56] Repose Lionheart: he was right
[13:56] herman Bergson: Yes long as you live it like that you are always on the right track
[13:57] herman Bergson: Yes Repose....
[13:57] herman Bergson: the expectation that we finally will find the ultimate truth, the ultimate answer is a lost cause
[13:58] Repose Lionheart: agreed
[13:58] Repose Lionheart: or maybe an ever distant goal
[13:58] herman Bergson: where we can play the logic trick by saying that that statement must be the ultimate answer ㋡
[13:59] herman Bergson: Yes Repose.. a Popperian approach....
[13:59] herman Bergson: from the very beginning of mankind...we always have tried to reach the horizon....
[14:00] herman Bergson: we are still on our way.. ㋡
[14:00] Adriana Jinn: sure
[14:00] Repose Lionheart: yep
[14:01] herman Bergson: Well..may I thank you for your interest and participation again....
[14:01] Abraxas Nagy: thank you Herman
[14:01] Adriana Jinn: thanks herman it is really interesting
[14:01] herman Bergson: if you have no remaining questions about today's subject....class dismmissed ㋡
[14:01] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor!
[14:01] CONNIE Eichel: thanks professor :)
[14:01] Repose Lionheart: great class
[14:01] Abraxas Nagy: indeed
[14:01] Justine Rhapsody: thanks Professor
[14:01] Rodney Handrick: thanks Herman
[14:01] Abraxas Nagy: like always
[14:02] herman Bergson: You are welcome
[14:02] herman Bergson: It is pleasure to work for you
[14:02] Adriana Jinn: thanks again
[14:02] Adriana Jinn: see you on thusday
[14:02] Adriana Jinn: bye all
[14:02] Repose Lionheart: yep
[14:02] CONNIE Eichel: bye bye
[14:02] Abraxas Nagy: c ya Adriana
[14:02] Qwark Allen: thank you
[14:02] herman Bergson: ok..Till Thursday
[14:03] CONNIE Eichel: till then :)
[14:03] Qwark Allen: ******* Herman *******
[14:03] Abraxas Nagy: see you all next time :D
[14:03] Qwark Allen: more interesting then ever
[14:03] Qwark Allen: ;-)
[14:03] herman Bergson: thank you Qwark
[14:03] Qwark Allen: hope to see you thursday
[14:03] Qwark Allen: ;-)
[14:03] Rodney Handrick: bye
[14:03] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ty!! herman! that you are, a piece of our way :-))
[14:03] Qwark Allen: indeed
[14:03] herman Bergson smiles..

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Friday, January 22, 2010

18: Virtue Ethis, an introduction

Virtue ethics is currently one of three major approaches in normative ethics. It emphasizes the virtues, or moral character, in contrast to the approach which emphasizes duties or rules (deontology) or that which emphasizes the consequences of actions (consequentialism).

When the physician of the village is in great need the utilitarian would feel morally obliged to help him, if it were only for the consequence that the village will keep its physician, which contributes to the well being of everyone.

The deontologist would say "Do unto others as you would be done by" and uses that as his moral maxime to guide his actions and do good.

The virtue ethicist would regard it as a quintessential feature of being human, that you are charitable or benevolent and kind towards the other in need. It was already Aristotle who formulated these thoughts perfectly in his "Ethica Nicomachea" about 330 B.C.!

- begin quote
However, to say that happiness is the chief good seems a platitude, and a clearer account of it is desired. This might perhaps be given, if we could first ascertain the function of man.

For just as for a flute-player, a sculptor, or an artist, the good is thought to reside in the function, so would it seem to be for man, if he has a function. Have the carpenter, then, and the tanner certain functions, and has man none? Is he born without a function?

Or as eye, hand, foot, and in general each of the parts evidently has a function, may one lay it down that man similarly has a function apart from all these? What then can this be?

Life seems to be common even to plants, but we are seeking what is peculiar to man. Next would be a life of perception, but it also seems to be common even to the horse and every animal.

There remains, then, an active life of the element that has a rational principle. Now if the function of man is an activity of soul which follows or implies a rational principle, and we state the function of man to be a certain kind of life, and the function of a good man to be the good and noble performance of this,

and if any action is well performed when it is performed in accordance with the appropriate excellence: if this is the case, human good turns out to be activity of soul in accordance with virtue, and if there is more than one virtue, in accordance with the best and most complete.
- end quote

It is historically interesting to see, that during the nineteenth century Aristotle's words were overshadowed by men like Kant with his deontic approach of ethics and in the Anglo-American philosophy by Bentham and Stuart Mill with their utilitarianism.

In our project on Women Philosophers we met Margret Anscombe. In 1958 she published the article "Modern Moral Philosophy", which lead to an increasing dissatisfaction with the forms of deontology and utilitarianism .

To quote from the Stanford Encyclopedia: "Neither of them, at that time, paid attention to a number of topics that had always figured in the virtue ethics' tradition

— the virtues themselves, motives and moral character, moral education, moral wisdom or discernment, friendship and family relationships, a deep concept of happiness,

the role of the emotions in our moral life and the fundamentally important questions of what sort of person I should be and how we should live."

And although I read this only today for the first time, you may recognize in this quote my increasing dissatisfaction with consequentialism,

my repeated remark, that I was missing something. And I think , that it was this that I was missing. This doesn't mean we have found the golden egg.

We still have to deal with serious questions like:
1. are the virtues natural or acquired?
2. are the virtues reliable?
3. what makes the virtues valuable? Are they instrumentally or intrinsically valuable?

The Discussion

[13:22] Myriam Brianna: (damn, gotta go already)
[13:22] herman Bergson: sorry for the confusion..I hope you still could understand me..
[13:22] Repose Lionheart: :(
[13:23] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:23] Paula Dix: lol yes
[13:23] Abraxas Nagy: I do
[13:23] Justine Rhapsody: yes
[13:23] Corona Anatine: for 1 i would say - surely like all human charactristics - a bit of both
[13:23] herman Bergson: ok.. so much for an introduction of this subject
[13:23] Repose Lionheart: great stuff
[13:24] herman Bergson: not consequences but virtue are now our focus
[13:24] Alarice Beaumont: think so
[13:24] Corona Anatine: ??
[13:24] herman Bergson: What astonishes me are the words of Aristotle
[13:24] Corona Anatine: vitrue without context?
[13:25] Repose Lionheart: virtue becomes primary, but consequences are not denied, right?
[13:25] herman Bergson: A man who lived in a completely different information technology, no easy access libraries...only his brilliant mind
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: i wonder how he would state it if he weer alive today
[13:25] herman Bergson: of course not Repose...
[13:25] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:25] Repose Lionheart: right
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma...That would be something
[13:26] herman Bergson: Well..we still have to find out what virtue is...
[13:26] herman Bergson: one interesting question to begin with...
[13:26] herman Bergson: is it innate or acquired...
[13:27] herman Bergson: so is it nature or nurture...!
[13:27] herman Bergson: and here is the next step to link up with biology and ethology I think
[13:27] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:27] herman Bergson: Darwin awakes again
[13:28] Abraxas Nagy: its aquired
[13:28] herman Bergson: ok..thnx Abraxeas
[13:28] Abraxas Nagy: :D
[13:28] Corona Anatine: i would disagree in part
[13:28] herman Bergson: Well...just kidding
[13:28] Paula Dix: lol
[13:28] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:28] Corona Anatine: acquiring requires that the acquiring is possible
[13:28] herman Bergson: First we have to get a clear idea of what virtue is
[13:29] Abraxas Nagy: ah... isnt it a concept?
[13:29] herman Bergson: Yes Corona…there has to be a fertile soil...
[13:29] herman Bergson: A concept...I would is not an abstraction…
[13:29] herman Bergson: it IS observable behavior
[13:30] Alarice Beaumont: virtues are defined by the society... groups of people
[13:30] Alarice Beaumont: and they must be accepted by the majority
[13:30] Abraxas Nagy: right
[13:30] herman Bergson: There is the behavioral component.....
[13:30] herman Bergson: Socially accepted behavior
[13:30] Repose Lionheart: maybe biological too
[13:30] herman Bergson: YEs repose...
[13:30] Alarice Beaumont: yes.. sounds good
[13:31] herman Bergson: that leads to the question of universality
[13:31] Abraxas Nagy: but doesnt that vary from culture to culture?
[13:31] Corona Anatine: it has to be so- as all consider themselves virtuous - it is for others to decide if that is true
[13:31] Alarice Beaumont: yes.. it varies... depending on culture
[13:31] Alarice Beaumont: notuniversal
[13:31] herman Bergson: Well...there is something coming up in my mind all the time...
[13:31] herman Bergson: about immoral behavior...
[13:31] Alarice Beaumont: that's why so different groups are spreading over the world
[13:32] Paula Dix: i guess the biological thing would be universal?
[13:32] herman Bergson: let me give you the story...
[13:32] herman Bergson: yes paula I would assume that
[13:32] herman Bergson: but the story...
[13:32] herman Bergson: in war...
[13:32] herman Bergson: a village is taken by the enemy...
[13:33] herman Bergson: all men are killed and all women are raped by the conquerer...
[13:33] herman Bergson: how to understand this behavior
[13:33] herman Bergson: we would say...war crime...
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: happened over and over and still does
[13:33] Alarice Beaumont: i think power andhumiliation
[13:33] herman Bergson: senseless murdering and raping..
[13:33] herman Bergson: but someone gave this explanation..
[13:34] herman Bergson: this behavior is very basic....
[13:34] herman Bergson: you kill the stop procreation of that tribe
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:34] Abraxas Nagy: right
[13:34] herman Bergson: and rape all women to bring in your genes in that tribe
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: going on in where ?? congo now???
[13:34] Abraxas Nagy: nowadays yes
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: or next country
[13:34] Repose Lionheart: biological imperative then...
[13:34] herman Bergson: this is almost universal behavior
[13:35] Corona Anatine: your overlooking one item of fact - in early times it was not the women who were raped it was everyone
[13:35] Corona Anatine: it was a humiliation thing
[13:35] Alarice Beaumont: yes you are right Herman... unfortunately
[13:35] Paula Dix: lions do that also
[13:35] Repose Lionheart: yes, Corona
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: still corona
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: it is definitely a power thing
[13:35] herman Bergson: The men may be raped too Corona, but then killed I guess
[13:35] Corona Anatine: definitly
[13:35] Abraxas Nagy: exactly
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: yeah
[13:36] Corona Anatine: if you reread bible
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: that was a grim laugh
[13:36] Corona Anatine: it was women killed too
[13:36] herman Bergson: I was flabbergasted by this explanation especially while it sounded so obvious
[13:36] Corona Anatine: only preteens were spared
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: or left to bear a child who was not the pure tribe
[13:36] Paula Dix: yes scary!
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: cooperation, kindness and love have evolved in us too
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: yes of course
[13:37] herman Bergson: what I want to say is that related to virtue ethics our basic ethical drives could be innate
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: hmmmm
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: oh, yes
[13:37] Corona Anatine: has this not be shown to be the case?
[13:37] herman Bergson: like our bad habits are greed and selfishness
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: in that case, some may be more evolved than others
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: evolved
[13:38] herman Bergson: that is not abnormal...
[13:38] herman Bergson: some are more intelligent than others..
[13:38] Paula Dix: very interesting Herman!
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:38] herman Bergson: maybe you know the Gauss graph
[13:38] Paula Dix: no
[13:38] Abraxas Nagy: yep
[13:38] Corona Anatine: yes
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: no
[13:39] Corona Anatine: also called a normal graph
[13:39] herman Bergson: When you test human abilities...doesnt matter what..also physical features you get as a graph of the score a Gauss graph
[13:39] Alarice Beaumont: yes
[13:40] herman Bergson: in simple terms...
[13:40] Alarice Beaumont: most are in the middle
[13:40] herman Bergson: only a few are really stupid...the majority is average and only a few are really clever
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: oh, right
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: got it
[13:41] herman Bergson: I'll bring a picture with me next time
[13:41] Abraxas Nagy: the bell shape graph
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:41] Corona Anatine: yeh
[13:41] herman Bergson: so maybe this also applies to virtues
[13:41] Paula Dix: oh, i get it now
[13:41] herman Bergson: if they are innate for instance
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:42] herman Bergson: in other is not surprising that we have criminals in our society...
[13:42] Corona Anatine: before you build a bell curve of virtue you would first have to assign them numerical values
[13:42] Alarice Beaumont: mm.. how do you mean it applies to virtues?
[13:42] herman Bergson: nor Nobel prize Winners for science
[13:43] herman Bergson: Well Alarice..a virtue like courage is a personal benevolence is
[13:43] herman Bergson: as are vices like selfishness and sadism
[13:43] Paula Dix: i see, some no virtuous at all, most average, some very virtuous
[13:43] Repose Lionheart: and there would be a moral average (to which politicians appeal)
[13:43] herman Bergson: yes Paula...
[13:43] herman Bergson: Good point Repose
[13:44] Paula Dix: and that would apply to every conceivable virtue
[13:44] herman Bergson: I would say so yes
[13:44] herman Bergson: on the other hand...if we look at the nature / nurture debate...
[13:45] Repose Lionheart: allows for a social ethic, policy creation and an attention to outcomes...
[13:45] Paula Dix: lol yes, you would "distort" the curve with culture
[13:45] herman Bergson: Even Aristotle knew that virtue is also a product of education]
[13:45] Repose Lionheart: blends duty and consequence
[13:45] herman Bergson: Like Corona already remarked
[13:45] herman Bergson: there has to be the grows the plant
[13:46] Corona Anatine: tho to make another analogy it is like a vessel being filled with water
[13:46] Corona Anatine: which allows for the vesel to be of differing shape
[13:47] herman Bergson: yes Corona..
[13:47] Paula Dix: interesting idea Corona
[13:47] Corona Anatine: the vessel being the socail structure
[1[13:47] herman Bergson: like the Gaussian Curve shows
[[13:47] Repose Lionheart: agree, Corona
[13:48] Corona Anatine: so perhaps an idea of virtue is innate
[13:48] Corona Anatine: but what is seen as vitruous varies
[13:48] herman Bergson: This discussion is a wonderful prelude of the three final lectures of this project
[13:48] Paula Dix: and we would have all trends of virtue around on every society
[13:48] herman Bergson: in the next lecture we will dig into the concept of virtue
[13:48] Paula Dix: only some being enhanced and others not
[13:48] Corona Anatine: which often conflict paula
[13:49] Paula Dix: yes :)
[13:49] herman Bergson: then in the next we'll put it in the social context by loking at the ethics of pragmatism
[13:49] Repose Lionheart: good ㋡
[13:49] herman Bergson: and finally I'd like to investigate the bounderies of ethics and biology/ethology
[13:50] Corona Anatine: would that be a partical demonstration : )
[13:50] Paula Dix: :)))
[13:50] herman Bergson: and thus we have come far from our startingpoint: moral relativism
[13:50] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:50] Paula Dix: now it starts to make sense :)
[13:51] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:51] herman Bergson: yes Paula..that was what I said to myself too ^_^
[13:51] Paula Dix: lol
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: LOL
[13:51] Qwark Allen: loool
[13:51] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:51] herman Bergson: So class dismissed ..time to celebrate
[13:52] Abraxas Nagy: ty herman
[13:52] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor
[13:52] Corona Anatine: ty Herman
[13:52] Paula Dix: yay!
[13:52] Justine Rhapsody: thank you Professor
[13:52] Abraxas Nagy: yay
[13:52] Corona Anatine: will it be a virtuous celebration or an immoral one
[13:52] herman Bergson: I prefer the virtuously immoral one, Corona
[13:53] Corona Anatine: lol
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:53] Paula Dix: lol
[13:53] Corona Anatine: hmm virtuous immorality
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: there's a wonderful concept
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: are we gonna party Qwark?
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: find in believe in it
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:53] Alarice Beaumont: lol
[13:53] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:53] Qwark Allen: ehehehe
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: i
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: w0oh0o!
[13:53] Qwark Allen: at relaxation
[13:53] Corona Anatine: doing immoral actions for virtuous reasons
[13:53] Qwark Allen: ;-)))
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: :D
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:53] Qwark Allen: now that you talk about it
[13:54] Qwark Allen: need to get ready
[13:54] Qwark Allen: loool
[13:54] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:54] Corona Anatine: sounds good to me

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

17 A defense of consequentialism

J.J.C.Smart, an Australian philosopher born in 1920, works in ethics and philosophy of science. His defense of utilitarianism in Utilitarianism: For and Against (1973), co-authored with Bernard Williams.

After distinguishing various types of utilitarianism, (and there are a dozen or so at least) Smart opts for actutilitarianism. He hopes that our widely shared desires to promote everyone’s happiness may lead others to become actutilitarians too.

I wondered what makes utilitarianism and consequentialism so popular among empiricist philosophers. The answer is quite obvious. It makes the notions of good and bad in fact 100% empirical.We all can see the consequences, don't we?

"Act-utilitarianism is the view that the rightness of an action depends only on the total goodness or badness of its consequences, i.e. on the effect on the welfare of all human beings (or perhaps all sentient beings).", is Smart's thesis.

He rejects the idea that act-utilitarian principles could be known to be true by intellectual intuition and holds the view that ultimate ethical principles depend on attitudes or feelings.

This is his first argument: ethical principles depend on attitudes or feelings and thus have no truth-value. This is what is called the non-cognitivist position in metaethics.

Smart: "In adopting such a metaethics, I renounce the attempt to prove the act-utilitarian system. I shall be concerned with stating it in a form which may appear persuasive to some people, and to show how it may be defended against objections."

And then he formulates his goal: "In setting up a system of normative ethics, the utilitarian must appeal to ultimate attitudes which he holds in common with those whom he is addressing.

The sentiment to which he appeals is generalized benevolence, the disposition to seek happiness or good consequences for all mankind, or perhaps for all sentient beings."

This is the quintessence of his position: he regards generalized benevolence, something like the attitude that eventually we would love to see everybody happy, as an empirical fact of being human.

And then he makes an remarkable statement about the defender of actutilitarism: "He will not be able to convince everybody, but that is not an objection. It may well be that there is no ethical system which appeals to all people."

Bentham evaluated the consequences just by their plain pleasantness, which is a hedonistic utilitarianism. Mill made a distinction in qualities of pleasantness: playing darts isn't just as pleasant as reading poetry for instance.

Moore believed that some states of mind, such as knowledge, had intrinsic value independent of their pleasantness. As if you could say that pleasantness combines with act of acquiring knowledge is a higher quality of pleasantness than winning a game of darts.

Smart: "I shall now state the act-utilitarian doctrine. (…) Let us say, then, that the only reason for performing an action A rather than an alternative action B is that doing A will make mankind (or, perhaps, all sentient beings) happier than will doing B.

This is so simple and natural a doctrine that we can expect that many readers will have some propensity to agree. For I am talking, as I said earlier, to sympathetic and benevolent men, that is, to men who desire the happiness of mankind.

The utilitarian’s ultimate moral principle, let it be remembered, expresses the sentiment not of altruism but of benevolence, the agent counting himself neither more nor less than any other person."

Smart: "The utilitarian position is here put forward as a criterion of rational choice. We may choose to habituate ourselves to behave in accordance with certain rules, such as to keep promises, in the belief that behaving in accordance with these rules is generally optimific (productive of the best outcome),

and in the knowledge that we often do not have time to work out pros and cons. The actutilitarian will regard these rules as mere rules of thumb and will use them only as rough guides. He acts in accordance with rules when there is no time to think.

When he has to think what to do, then there is a question of deliberation or choice, and it is for such situations that the utilitarian criterion is intended."

I almost hear David Hume say: "Custom is the great guide of life."

And here the final stand. Smart: "Among possible options, utilitarianism does have its appeal. With its empirical attitude to means and ends it is congenial to the scientific temper and it has flexibility to deal with a changing world.

This last consideration is, however, more self recommendation than justification. For if flexibility is a recommendation, this is because of the utility of flexibility."

Let me draw the picture: We live in an empirical world, in which is no such thing as an objective moral truth. What we have at the best is the empirical observation of the human attitude of generalized benevolence and the quality of rationality, since the utilitarian position is according to Smart a rational choice.

Based on that we have to keep a sharp eye on the consequences of our actions for them to stay in tune with our benevolence. If we do so we act morally right.

And here I rest my case………

The Discussion

[2010/01/19 13:26] Repose Lionheart: !
[2010/01/19 13:26] herman Bergson: And this leads to a room full of actutilitarians?????
[2010/01/19 13:26] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[2010/01/19 13:27] Repose Lionheart: not me
[2010/01/19 13:27] Alarice Beaumont: i find this quite difficult today... my head is bursting
[2010/01/19 13:27] Abraxas Nagy: same here
[2010/01/19 13:27] herman Bergson: why not you Repose, what is missing in this argument?
[2010/01/19 13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: to many big words lol'
[2010/01/19 13:27] herman Bergson: Yes Alarice, I understand
[2010/01/19 13:27] Repose Lionheart: i think the weakness is in making attitudes and feelings the basis of ultimate ethical principles --
[2010/01/19 13:27] Adriana Jinn: sorry i mist lots of it
[2010/01/19 13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: and ideas
[2010/01/19 13:28] Repose Lionheart: why is benevolence compelling
[2010/01/19 13:28] Repose Lionheart: ?
[2010/01/19 13:28] oola Neruda: is it really enough to "mean well"?
[2010/01/19 13:28] Repose Lionheart: why not disgust?
[2010/01/19 13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: i have to agree with that, Repose
[2010/01/19 13:28] Adriana Jinn: my english is not good enough today
[2010/01/19 13:28] Corona Anatine: what would you have as the basis instead
[2010/01/19 13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: before that is
[2010/01/19 13:28] herman Bergson: I agree Repose..
[2010/01/19 13:28] Repose Lionheart: recall someone tried "disgust" once
[2010/01/19 13:28] Abraxas Nagy: it looks good to me Adriana
[2010/01/19 13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: the whole thing sounds very convoluted as ethics
[2010/01/19 13:29] herman Bergson: Well..there is an empirical basis for that Repose
[2010/01/19 13:29] Repose Lionheart: oh
[2010/01/19 13:29] Adriana Jinn: nice for you abraxas
[2010/01/19 13:29] herman Bergson: Humans all have the same facial expressions for instance when disgusting something
[2010/01/19 13:29] Adriana Jinn: yes
[2010/01/19 13:29] herman Bergson: for instance ... offering them to eat dog shit..
[2010/01/19 13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: OMG!!!
[2010/01/19 13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: omg
[2010/01/19 13:29] Repose Lionheart: yes, but the things that disgust them are culturally variable
[2010/01/19 13:30] Corona Anatine: some things not all
[2010/01/19 13:30] herman Bergson: Or have them play with the idea that they have a mouth full of dogshit......
[2010/01/19 13:30] Corona Anatine: there are things that are of universal disgust
[2010/01/19 13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: yuck
[2010/01/19 13:30] herman Bergson: There seems to be a general feeling of disgust
[2010/01/19 13:30] Corona Anatine: related to biology mostly
[2010/01/19 13:30] Repose Lionheart: don't feel it sufficient to found an ethics upon though
[2010/01/19 13:30] herman Bergson: yes Corona...and we are biological beings
[2010/01/19 13:31] Repose Lionheart: or benevolence
[2010/01/19 13:31] Corona Anatine: in vedic lore they present the student with a human turd on a dinner plate
[2010/01/19 13:31] Adriana Jinn: what is benevolence ?
[2010/01/19 13:31] Corona Anatine: to help contemplate the human condition
[2010/01/19 13:31] herman Bergson: I think I have the same feeling, Repose..... the missing of that something special of being human
[2010/01/19 13:31] Repose Lionheart: brb -- just got a tornado warning in rl
[2010/01/19 13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: OMG!!!
[2010/01/19 13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: omg
[2010/01/19 13:32] Abraxas Nagy: wow
[2010/01/19 13:32] herman Bergson: benevolence is the feeling of the wish that everybody should be happy\
[2010/01/19 13:32] Paula Dix: lol
[2010/01/19 13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: it is a feeling of kindliness adraina
[2010/01/19 13:32] herman Bergson: a tornado warning????
[2010/01/19 13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[2010/01/19 13:32] Adriana Jinn: thanks you
[2010/01/19 13:32] Alarice Beaumont: omg
[2010/01/19 13:32] Adriana Jinn: ok
[2010/01/19 13:33] Corona Anatine: the problem then falls down to the fact that not everyone finds happiness in the same things
[2010/01/19 13:33] herman Bergson: yes....kindness...and isnt that a universaly recognized feeling?
[2010/01/19 13:33] Corona Anatine: gay sex for example
[2010/01/19 13:33] herman Bergson: No..Corona, but is that an objection to the general theory
[2010/01/19 13:33] Repose Lionheart: back, all ok
[2010/01/19 13:33] Paula Dix: i dont know... if parents are "benevolent" toward children, the children wont grow being egocentric without responsebility?
[2010/01/19 13:34] herman Bergson: Here we have the problem endless discussion about the meaniing of benevolent
[2010/01/19 13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: well that is an expression of helping the child grow to mature understanding
[2010/01/19 13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: of right and wrong
[2010/01/19 13:35] Paula Dix: then benevolent will also be a emotional moral idea?
[2010/01/19 13:35] Repose Lionheart: happiness is such a low goal, though
[2010/01/19 13:35] Repose Lionheart: why is that compelling?
[2010/01/19 13:35] herman Bergson: But Smart explicitely states that there are no absolute moral standards
[2010/01/19 13:35] Corona Anatine: what would a mature understand of right and wrong be ?
[2010/01/19 13:35] Repose Lionheart: what about joy
[2010/01/19 13:35] Corona Anatine: why do you consider happiness to be a low goal
[2010/01/19 13:35] herman Bergson: Here again Repose.....
[2010/01/19 13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: tht is the problem here lol
[2010/01/19 13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: ethics
[2010/01/19 13:36] herman Bergson: the problem with all such theories is the meaning of the concepts
[2010/01/19 13:36] Repose Lionheart: in my experience joy is so much better
[2010/01/19 13:36] Paula Dix: i cant accept the dismissal of emotions. Throw out half of you and use the rest to be happy? makes no sense
[2010/01/19 13:36] Repose Lionheart: yes, Prof
[2010/01/19 13:36] Corona Anatine: if you were happy all th e time would it have any meaning
[2010/01/19 13:36] herman Bergson: that is one of the reasons why this whole debate in literature on consequentialism is littered with casuitic
[2010/01/19 13:36] Repose Lionheart: oh
[2010/01/19 13:37] Corona Anatine: surely part of happiness lies in the contrast with when you are not
[2010/01/19 13:37] herman Bergson: when you take position A, there always is someone who comes up with a case in which position A leads to odd results
[2010/01/19 13:38] herman Bergson: same with pleasure and pain Corona
[2010/01/19 13:38] Repose Lionheart: yes
[2010/01/19 13:38] Paula Dix: exact, corona mentioned it, you cant never be sure of where will it end
[2010/01/19 13:38] Repose Lionheart: a, not a
[2010/01/19 13:38] Repose Lionheart: maybe duty and consequestialist ethics are two parts of a whole
[2010/01/19 13:38] herman Bergson: To be honest...that is what makes me so tired of all these debates between consequentialists
[2010/01/19 13:39] Paula Dix: well in this sense of happiness, i guess the idea would be to raise the lower limit, like you will never remove completely poverty, but the lower limit can be raised
[2010/01/19 13:39] Corona Anatine: you find them inconsequential ?
[2010/01/19 13:39] herman Bergson: Worth a thought Repose..indeed
[2010/01/19 13:39] Paula Dix: lol corona
[2010/01/19 13:39] Corona Anatine: : )
[2010/01/19 13:40] Repose Lionheart: hehe Corona
[2010/01/19 13:40] herman Bergson: maybe you are right Corona
[2010/01/19 13:40] Corona Anatine: raising the flow limit would be one answer
[2010/01/19 13:40] herman Bergson: What I completely miss in the utilitarian approach is man himself
[2010/01/19 13:41] Corona Anatine: but first you would need to define how that could be done
[2010/01/19 13:41] Repose Lionheart: yes, a strength of duty ethics though right?
[2010/01/19 13:41] herman Bergson: Like you find since Aristotle....virtue, duty, conscious
[2010/01/19 13:41] herman Bergson: things like that
[2010/01/19 13:41] herman Bergson: Like Moore already stated... knowledge isnt just pleasure
[2010/01/19 13:42] herman Bergson: knowledge or love have an intrinsic value, other than pleasue
[2010/01/19 13:42] Repose Lionheart: yes
[2010/01/19 13:42] herman Bergson: Like the example I gave in a former lecture
[2010/01/19 13:43] Corona Anatine: they might have value but it would be a vector not a scalar
[2010/01/19 13:43] herman Bergson: When my wife falls ill seriously and I need to offer a lot of care, (which is not always pleasant) that doesnt change the value of my love for her
[2010/01/19 13:43] Repose Lionheart: :-)
[2010/01/19 13:43] Paula Dix: exact, emotions must be part of the equation
[2010/01/19 13:44] herman Bergson: I can still lov eher or even love her more because what she has to endure
[2010/01/19 13:44] Repose Lionheart: yes
[2010/01/19 13:44] Adriana Jinn: yes sure
[2010/01/19 13:44] herman Bergson: so I think, pleasure and pain are an unsufficient ground for moral choices
[2010/01/19 13:44] Repose Lionheart: yes
[2010/01/19 13:44] Paula Dix: true
[2010/01/19 13:44] Corona Anatine: indeed
[2010/01/19 13:44] Adriana Jinn: surely
[2010/01/19 13:44] Repose Lionheart: and you've used love to demonstrate that
[2010/01/19 13:45] Corona Anatine: in your example
[2010/01/19 13:45] Corona Anatine: you lower your happiness to increase her
[2010/01/19 13:45] Repose Lionheart: more than a coincidence i believe
[2010/01/19 13:45] Corona Anatine: there are some who might argue that would that be right if the sum total of happiness overall was less
[2010/01/19 13:45] herman Bergson: yes....I think that is the missing part in utilitarianism and consequentialism....these specific (human) attitudes/traits.
[2010/01/19 13:46] herman Bergson: I have no idea how to calculate with happiness
[2010/01/19 13:46] Corona Anatine: nor i
[2010/01/19 13:46] herman Bergson: Bentham did it in absurdum...
[2010/01/19 13:47] Corona Anatine: how then to be certian of raining it
[2010/01/19 13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: some would calculate it being alive at this point after being under concrete for 6 days
[2010/01/19 13:47] Corona Anatine: raising
[2010/01/19 13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: with not water or food or anything
[2010/01/19 13:47] Repose Lionheart: yes, Gemma
[2010/01/19 13:47] herman Bergson: yes happiness is just that then
[2010/01/19 13:48] Corona Anatine: but that misses the point slightly
[2010/01/19 13:48] Corona Anatine: that is adding context
[2010/01/19 13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: :-0
[2010/01/19 13:48] herman Bergson: Well, according to Smart, the moral debate is context related indeed
[2010/01/19 13:48] Corona Anatine: it can only really be said that for each person there are condiitons that will increase or decrease happiness
[2010/01/19 13:49] Corona Anatine: to state what condition they are is to value judge
[2010/01/19 13:49] herman Bergson: Yes and the moral debate is about the cosequences of my actions related to this increase or decrease
[2010/01/19 13:50] Corona Anatine: which make action difficult
[2010/01/19 13:50] Corona Anatine: because you can only be sure of the coseqquens to happiness if the other person was the same as you
[2010/01/19 13:51] herman Bergson: Here we go again...
[2010/01/19 13:51] herman Bergson: This is not necessarily so...
[2010/01/19 13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[2010/01/19 13:51] Corona Anatine: partly why we have religious wars
[2010/01/19 13:51] herman Bergson: stealing somene's food is independent of his bein glike me
[2010/01/19 13:52] Corona Anatine: yes
[2010/01/19 13:52] Corona Anatine: but
[2010/01/19 13:52] herman Bergson: there are things that transcend personal killinfg for instance
[2010/01/19 13:52] Corona Anatine: if you stole an anorexics food you would increrease their happines in the short term
[2010/01/19 13:52] Paula Dix: lol
[2010/01/19 13:53] herman Bergson: here you could say, and that is suggested with the idea of generalized benovolence, we are all the same
[2010/01/19 13:53] Paula Dix: like forcing children to school lower happiness at first
[2010/01/19 13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: oh dear
[2010/01/19 13:53] herman Bergson: yes but for real happiness you have to look at the longterm effects of course
[2010/01/19 13:53] Corona Anatine: the way forward might be to envisage happiness asa circle - the closer tot eh centre the more universal and important the things are
[2010/01/19 13:53] Paula Dix: consequences? :)
[2010/01/19 13:53] Alarice Beaumont: but there can be a common happiness..... look at the football world champion chip in germany
[2010/01/19 13:54] Corona Anatine: the ones at the outer edge ar e thoese less universal or fundamental
[2010/01/19 13:54] herman Bergson: But footbal (soccor) doesnt make me happy Alarice
[2010/01/19 13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[2010/01/19 13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: me either
[2010/01/19 13:54] Paula Dix: lol
[2010/01/19 13:55] Paula Dix: or me
[2010/01/19 13:55] Abraxas Nagy: me neither
[2010/01/19 13:55] Adriana Jinn: hihiih
[2010/01/19 13:55] Corona Anatine: nor does it a lot of the fans
[2010/01/19 13:55] Alarice Beaumont: lol.... but the whole spirit here did... even ppl who usually do not look football or are interested in it
[2010/01/19 13:55] Corona Anatine: as is it the football
[2010/01/19 13:55] herman Bergson: but maybe it does for the greatest number
[2010/01/19 13:55] Corona Anatine: or the sense of belonging
[2010/01/19 13:55] herman Bergson: so we are the succer minority
[2010/01/19 13:56] Paula Dix: wouldnt the first moral rule be survival?
[2010/01/19 13:56] herman Bergson: against the soccer majority
[2010/01/19 13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: i found out they have it in sl now and i have to do a story about it lolollo
[2010/01/19 13:56] Paula Dix: lol football in sl should be funny
[2010/01/19 13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[2010/01/19 13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: i saw a little this morning
[2010/01/19 13:56] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[2010/01/19 13:56] Abraxas Nagy: HUH ??
[2010/01/19 13:57] herman Bergson: Yes....there was a soccerfiled in the next sim in 2005
[2010/01/19 13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: just practice
[2010/01/19 13:57] Abraxas Nagy: football in sl?
[2010/01/19 13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[2010/01/19 13:57] Corona Anatine: easily done
[2010/01/19 13:57] Abraxas Nagy: o no
[2010/01/19 13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: yep
[2010/01/19 13:57] Corona Anatine: you just need aprim sphere
[2010/01/19 13:57] herman Bergson: Pulsia sim ... now it is gone
[2010/01/19 13:57] Paula Dix: physical ball...
[2010/01/19 13:57] Adriana Jinn: i have a friend that plays football on sl
[2010/01/19 13:57] Alarice Beaumont: well.. wasn't actually talking about soccer... lol more about the happiness all the ppl felt during that time^^
[2010/01/19 13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[2010/01/19 13:57] Abraxas Nagy: ah yes and some script
[2010/01/19 13:57] herman Bergson: yes a physical prim sphere...
[2010/01/19 13:57] herman Bergson: not even script Abraxas...
[2010/01/19 13:58] Abraxas Nagy: oh?
[2010/01/19 13:58] Paula Dix: maybe gestures to kick
[2010/01/19 13:58] herman Bergson: just a goal and a ball
[2010/01/19 13:58] herman Bergson: could help...a gesture...
[2010/01/19 13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: wel i think they are scripted
[2010/01/19 13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: somehow
[2010/01/19 13:58] Corona Anatine: or instead we coild dicuss paint drying
[2010/01/19 13:58] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[2010/01/19 13:58] herman Bergson: I guess so too
[2010/01/19 13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[2010/01/19 13:59] Abraxas Nagy: a sphere wont act like a (foot)ball
[2010/01/19 13:59] herman Bergson: Well I think it is time to look at the consequences of our debate and dismiss class
[2010/01/19 13:59] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor
[2010/01/19 13:59] Alarice Beaumont: lol sorry Herman about the distraction i caused lol
[2010/01/19 13:59] Paula Dix: lol paint drying is a cool theme :)
[2010/01/19 13:59] Repose Lionheart: yes
[2010/01/19 13:59] herman Bergson: paint frying?
[2010/01/19 13:59] Paula Dix: :)))
[2010/01/19 13:59] herman Bergson: drying I mean
[2010/01/19 13:59] Adriana Jinn: thank you herman sorry not to participate more
[2010/01/19 14:00] herman Bergson: Dont worry Adriana
[2010/01/19 14:00] herman Bergson: I thank you all for your participation
[2010/01/19 14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[2010/01/19 14:00] Corona Anatine: well many people spend hours dicussing art
[2010/01/19 14:00] Abraxas Nagy: thank you herman
[2010/01/19 14:00] Repose Lionheart: yes, thank you
[2010/01/19 14:00] Alarice Beaumont: have a good evening all.... thanks Herman.. and bye for tonight :-)
[2010/01/19 14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: btw feathers boa has a wonderful exhibit
[2010/01/19 14:00] Paula Dix: yes, im not joking when i say paint drying is a cool theme
[2010/01/19 14:01] Abraxas Nagy: c ya Alarice
[2010/01/19 14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: i can give you a lm i f you like
[2010/01/19 14:01] Repose Lionheart: when will the next project start?
[2010/01/19 14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: it is worth the trip
[2010/01/19 14:01] Paula Dix: i want Gemma!
[2010/01/19 14:01] Abraxas Nagy: see u all next time (i hope) :D
[2010/01/19 14:01] Adriana Jinn: next course ?
[2010/01/19 14:01] Repose Lionheart: yes
[2010/01/19 14:01] herman Bergson: In one or two weeks max.
[2010/01/19 14:01] Repose Lionheart: ok ^_^
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