Yay for Whatever I Want!

December 10, 2008

Being given free space to talk about whatever I want, I figure why not compare Koalas and Hamsters; which are cuter? However, that has little to do with philosophy, so let me take a more interesting topic.

In taking this class, I’ve begun to realize two inherent flaws in philosophy.

First of all, all philosophers seem to make the inherent assumption that humans should act in a way that benefits humans. Maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe humans were made to destroy all life on earth, possibly through nuclear weapons. If so, all efforts to dismantle the nukes, which would prolong the lifespan of humanity would be immoral. So, the question becomes how do we tell what the source of morality is. Kant thought the source of morality was good intentions. Mill believed morality came from pleasure. But, while they could talk of why they thought these things are valuable, they failed to mention why humans should act for there own benefit. Maybe they shouldn’t. To be honest, I doubt that this is true, but it needs to be analyzed in order for it to be proven.

Second of all, I think it’s somewhat obvious what has to be done to find the ultimate moral philosophy. Every single one of the theories has situations where they don’t work, but also has situations where it does. Therefore, a moral theory is needed that manages which theories to use when. A theory to decide when virtue is greater than intention, when pleasure is more important than social contract, and etc. For it is unlikely that any complete moral theory could be based upon a single idea. The only question is how we figure out when to use each theory. How do we figure out what situations give preference to different moral theories? This is a topic that I will have to do a lot more thinking about to reach any conclusions.


December 9, 2008

Murder’s moral value is dependent of what inspires it, but is always immoral. An action is always caused by either an excess, mean, or defect. However, as murder is an action reserved for the most extreme of circumstances, it is always inspired by an extreme excess or extreme defect. For example, extreme anger could cause someone to kill someone out of hatred. Or extreme selfishness could cause murder for the sake of greed. But no mean could cause such an extreme action. There is never a case of a murder from a truly virtuous person who is living all aspects of their life in the mean.

Rationality and Self-love

November 24, 2008

Blog about the issue of rationality that arises time and time again in these passages. Here are some questions you might think about: What is the connection between rationality and self-interest or self-love? What kinds of assumptions does Kant make about the nature of rationality? How does Kant use the notion of rationality to demonstrate our duties? In what ways is categorical imperative dependent on rationality? Et cetera.

Kant believes that people’s inclination shouldn’t be included in making moral decisions. This is rediculous. As long as we rationally think in the long term, self love is wonderful. Human beings rationally act for their own protection. I don’t think that self love and pleasure are the same, just as a parent who does nothing but pleasure their child with candy is not a loving parent. True, self-love in the short term would seek out nothing but pleasure. But human’s rationality balanced with that persuit of pleasure is what allows for moral decisions.

The Job of the Government

November 24, 2008

Blog about the connection that Hobbes posits between morality and government. What’s the connection? Are governments/sovereigns subject to moral judgment?

The government’s job is to act in the name of justice and morality. If the government is failing in its job, then it is corrupt and must be abolished. If any member of the government misuses or abuses their powers, then they shouldl be brought to justice by the rest of the government. Any corrupt government will eventually be overthrown by its people.

The Social Contract

November 24, 2008

Blog about the question of who, precisely, is a party to the social contract. Can we rightfully say that the sovereign has made an agreement to give up some rights? How about a child? Or a person who, because of material limitations, cannot easily opt out of the contract by moving away? If these people are only parties to the contract in a limited way, is their subjectivity to moral judgment also limited? Due Sunday at midnight.

A child or any person who is stuck in the country is bound by the country’s social contract. Otherwise, that person could just start shooting anyone they wanted with no responsibility. Also, a lack of social contract could mean that anyone could shoot anyone who wants to leave the country without punishment. There can be no partial social contract for those who want to leave, so the social contract has to apply for the benefit of both people.

Human Behavior

November 16, 2008

Blog about Hobbes’s conception of the state of nature. Is he right that human nature, combined with the finiteness of the world’s resources, will necessarily lead to a state of war? Is he right that the state of war described would really be the worst situation imaginable? Due Sunday at midnight

Yes. Hobbes is absolutely right. People are built to serve their own well being. It’s how we survive. So, even if it meant sacrificing the lives and happiness of everyone else for our own benefit, we’d do it.

I know from my own experience. When I first arrived at college, I would often put other people’s needs first. I figured, “do unto others as you want done unto yourself”, or whatever the expression is. I found, however, that no one ever gives my wants priority no matter how much I give theirs priority. While my actions would have made Kant happy, they also prove Hobbes to be absolutely right; people put their needs over others’ needs without exception.

Think about my example from a different angle, and Hobbes will be just as right. Why was I being so nice to people? Because I assumed that doing so would lead to people being just as nice to me. Even I was acting for my own benefit. People are nice and mean to others purely based on their own needs.

Good Will vs. Good Results

November 13, 2008

On your blog, I want you to think back over Kant and Mill and do some broad decision making. Each theory has its own problems. If you had to choose one of the two theories based solely on which one had the least troubling problems, which would it be? Are you bothered more by the shortcomings of Mill – think about, for example, his judgment of someone who tries to give to charity but the money ends up going for bad things – or the shortcomings of Kant – for instance, his judgment on what you should do if there’s a murderer looking for your grandmother.

To a large extent, I greatly dislike each theory because they are both incredibly stupid. There is great value in the results of our actions, as Mill says. And there is great value in the reasons for why we act, as Kant says. However, neither theory works because each theory denies the importance of the other. Kant sees little value in results and Mill sees little value in motives.

The only theory that I support is my own, that good will is valuable BECAUSE it causes good results. As neither Mill nor Kant allow this theory, I can support neither of them.


November 3, 2008

In your blog, I’d like you to rehearse the Categorical Imperative method of determining our duties. Explain why, in Kant’s view, it’s immoral to cheat on an exam. Due Sunday at midnight.

Categorical Imperative says that something has to be moral in all circumstances for it to be moral at all. So, for example, for cheating on an exam to be immoral, it just needs to not always work. That’s easy to prove.

Let’s say for a moment that everyone in a class cheats at once. After all, if they believe cheating to be both moral and a way of getting a perfect grade, it would be in their best interests to cheat. The problem is that a person who believes that they will pass by cheating will not study. Why bother? But if no one studies, no one will have the answers, so there will be no one to cheat off of. Thus, everyone student in the class will fail, proving that cheating, at least according to Categorical imperitive is immoral.

A potential flaw in this example is that no one studied. If the problem is that no one studied, that can be remedied by at least one class mate studying, or everyone studying so at least one person knows the answer to each question. This flaw doesn’t hold up under Categorical Imperitive, though. After all, the theory can’t be that “cheating is moral if someone studies”. Because Categorical Imperitive doesn’t allow for such shades of gray. Cheating, not just on tests, but at all, would have to be moral in every situation ever, no matter what.


October 30, 2008

This is a late blog that was homework due 10/16.

Mill refers to the objection that morality can’t be all about increasing overall happiness because happiness is unattainable.

I agree with MIll that people can be happy without being at the highest state of happiness. Any form of happiness qualifies as happines in my opinion.

Which brings up an interesting point. Just because someone is unhappy doesn’t mean that someone can’t also be happy. You can be sad about your job, friends, diet, and government, but love you teddy bear. So, is happiness a matter of where you fall on a linear scale, from -100 to 100? Or is happiness measured in how you feel about different things, where you can be both happy and unhappy at the same time?

Is Utilitarianism Too Demanding?

October 30, 2008

This is a late blog that was homework due 10/14.

Blog about the objection discussed in class. At 4:30, the question is whether utilitarianism really does demand too much of moral agents.

Mill’s answer to the objection is that while it’s preferable to increase happiness on a worldly scale, people can still increase happiness on a person by person basis. I agree with MIll’s point, in terms of acting, but still think that utilitarianism demands too much.

Utilitarianism makes it impossible to ever know what actions are moral and what actions are immoral. After all, my actions are going to influence people twenty generations from now. Or even people on the other side of the globe. Yes, this is bringing back up the question of how much we are responsible for our actions. But utilitarianism is focused on increasing the happiness of everyone in the world, so that must be what we are responsible for.

Mill’s point is invalid, as even if I intend for an action to benefit one person, if it leads to a genocide in Canada, my action will have been immoral.