Response to Chris – By Godless Teen

December 11, 2012 in General

If you haven’t yet noticed, I’ve been stuck arguing with this fellow Chris over a variety of topics for the past few days. I’ll dive right in: I’m writing this post as a response to Chris’s last argument. We’ll see what happens. To begin with the relevant information:

“Just saying that something is human *isn’t enough*. Hitler was human, but (for obvious reasons) he didn’t deserve to live like other humans. “

Here, you show how you value humans – to you, humans do NOT have a inherent value, yet a value that is placed, assigned.  You claim that Hitler didn’t deserve to live like other humans.  Well, who gets to decide this?  You? Me?

Who gets to decide this? Ultimately, yes, you and me- but it’s not so simple.

In all reality, the moral code is what decides whether or not something has value. Because happiness and unhappiness are the two factors that determine whether or not something is moral, we just need to see if killing people is immoral. Clearly, in almost every circumstance, it is, because doing so promotes less happiness than unhappiness. It’s my theory of morality that determines that, not me. However, in order for that outcome to be worth anything, I have to try and discover what the results of the action are. In other words, it’s like decoding an enemy transmission. You might not be able to get all the parts of it, nor may you be able to translate all of it, but that’s not what matters. What matters is the parts that you do have and that you can translate. You use those parts to determine the content of the message.

Back to morality, then, the theory of morality that is used is the determining factor of whether or not an action is moral. However, we can’t always predict the exact results of the theory of morality. So, ultimately, we have to piece things together, while sticking to the code as much as possible, in order to determine that an action is immoral.

Now to go on to the actual comment.

No, I do not believe slapping the label “human” on something gives it value, while slapping the label “not human” or “subhuman” gives something any less value, necessarily. Here’s an example:

Say we have a dandelion (Flynn), fly (Robert), a dolphin (Julie), and a human (Pete). How do we determine whether or not killing any one of these living things is immoral? If I asked “Is it moral or at least permissable to kill Flynn, Robert, Julie, or Pete”, if you didn’t know that they weren’t all humans, you would say “no”. However,

A dandelion feels nothing. It feels no pain, it feels no sadness. The only immorality that could possibly be produced by killing it is by, perhaps, ruining somebody’s view of that nice yellow plant. Otherwise, though, it’s perfectly permissible.

A fly feels nothing, or, at least, next to nothing. Again, unless it’s the last fly in the world, killing it really won’t produce any unhappiness, so the action is permissible.

Now we get to the other side of the spectrum. If we were to kill Julie, we would be further endangering a beautiful species. We would be destroying the life of an organism whose intellect is highly advanced. We would cause great pain to the dolphin, as well as prevent it from experiencing any future happiness that it’s entitled to by the fact that it can actually experience happiness and pain; it would say that it wants to continue feeling happiness, and thus we are destroying what it desires, and producing more unhappiness.

Finally, with a human, we get practically the same results as with the dolphin, although the human may or may not experience more pain (I wouldn’t know), as well as cause grief to family, friends, and relatives.

Anyhow, my point is that humans don’t have an inherent value that is unique among all the species. Dolphins also have value, as do cats, dogs, birds, and other such creatures. We just like to think that humans are extremely unique in this regard because we’re a heck of a lot closer to other humans than we are to dolphins.

Thus, Hitler had no inherent value, he had the value assigned to him by the moral theory that is embedded in each of our brains. We looked at the evidence, and determined that he was evil off of what we could- we used the theory to the farthest extent we possibly could to determine whether Hitler was a moral or immoral human. The conclusion, overwhelmingly, was that he produced far more unhappiness than happiness in the world.

“Similarly, whether or not a zygote is a human- it’s irrelevant.”

Here your value of the human is shown again – no inherent value.  In fact you make the case that whether or not someone is human is, “irrelevant.”

Again, I would ask: according to who? I would argue that it IS relevant.

Yes, I argue that just saying “OMG IM HUMAN” doesn’t automatically give you value. If we met a sentient alien race that were just as intelligent as we were, would we roast them over a fire and eat them, saying that the action isn’t immoral because they ”aren’t human”?  Talk about bias: “I only care about one species, and that’s the human race! If it benefits us, it’s clearly moral, because we deserve more than other species do!”

Again, according to moral theory, which we interpret as best as we can in our minds.

So now, here’s my question to you Chris: why should slapping the label of “human” on something make it suddenly have intricate value? Why should humans have any more value than an equally intelligent, sentient race? How do humans suddenly get this “inherent value”? Where does it come from? Why does it exist?

I believe all humans DO have inherent value that is NOT lost.  You differ.  To you, a humans value is meaningless until you place value on them.

Are you suggesting that, for example, a four-year-old boy has inherent value- the right to live? If that’s the case, then clearly it would be immoral by your code of morality to murder a tyrant like Stalin or Hitler, because, as you just said, ”…all humans DO have inherent value that is NOT lost.”

Also, you twist my words.

A human is not meaningless. I just say that, just because something is human, does not automatically guarantee it has value. Yeah, it sounds a bit weird, but I’ll explain- it’s really quite simple:

A zygote is human, true. By your moral code, it has the same value as a great leader. On the other hand, by my moral code, it cannot experience happiness, nor unhappiness; thus, destroying it is no more immoral than picking a dandelion.

A tyrant is human, true. Unless you’re willing to accept that humans can lose this “inherent value”, then this tyrant has just as much value as a zygote, a four year-old child, or an elderly man who wants to die dearly, as his terminal illness slowly tears him apart. To you, this tyrant should not be killed; to me, he or she should.

So now, here’s my question for you:

What is your basis for morality?

Because, clearly, yours seems very odd and erratic.

What I predict you’re going to say is that it is the basis that your God provides in the Bible. However, you have not and cannot prove his existence, so your moral code is suddenly thrown out the window into free-fall. And even if your God exists,

Why should we obey his moral code over mine?

Because it makes him happy? Does the torture of millions of innocent people, who are so unhappy because of people like you, not bother you at all? Does the fact that your god crushed forty-two children with bears for calling somebody out for being bald not bother you? Does the greatest act of genocide in all history not bother you? Really, you’d rather support a jealous, murderous, psychopathic god- just for your own benefit. Because maybe, just maybe, condemning people in life and then watching them get further tortured in death brings you happiness? That’s just sick! If you believe that people are going to forever be tortured for their lives, then why make their lives any worse? The extreme selfishness, just to get you to heaven- that’s just disgusting, and no excuse for a moral code whatsoever.

So now, I ask,

Are you going to condemn people in life, make their life torture, because you believe that promoting that unhappiness will grant you eternal bliss, while they have to spend eternity in torture? Or are you going to stand up for their happiness in life, the only chance they have to receive any happiness, and risk joining them in their deaths?

“Also, you completely misunderstood my wood analogy. Neither a zygote nor a piece of wood feel anything. Thus, their destruction is not immoral in regards that it causes either pain.”

No I did understand it, I just showed you your flaw in it. Quite different than not understanding. I wholly understand your “non-feeling” argument, I dealt with it and will so again.

This is what I said originally:

…Killing a blob of a few cells does not make that blob go through excruciating pain, considering that it doesn’t have a nervous system to feel pain, experience happiness and sadness, and the like. It’s practically no different from burning a piece of wood. Neither can feel pain from being burnt/destroyed; nor can either have the capacity, at the time, to experience happiness.

This is how he responded:

“It’s practically no different from burning a piece of wood. Neither can feel pain from being burnt/destroyed; nor can either have the capacity, at the time, to experience happiness.”

Actually it’s quite different. A piece of wood has come from something that IS or was living was then removed from the life source (tree).  And only AFTER it’s been removed it is no longer living and just a piece of wood.

Whereas the “blob of cells” are connected to a life source and through abortion are the cells then removed from the life source.

So, yes, quite different indeed.

Hmm… No mention of pain nor happiness, which were the exact things I was pointing out with my analogy.

Exodus 21:16: You shall not bear false witness to your neighbor.

Look familiar, Chris?

 

“If it can’t think, it can’t feel, it’s no different from killing a dandelion. So simply saying “killing humans is wrong” isn’t enough. I can come up with thousands of examples to prove this idea wrong.”

Correct, because you place an opinionated value upon a human life.  It isn’t valuable to you if it doesn’t fit YOUR criteria – your opinion.  So certainly you can come up with any number of reason to kill someone, which is exactly my point.  At least you show that you extend your killing to beyond conception and birth.

To you, human life has NO INHERENT value.  Only assigned value which can be added and taken away at will based upon whichever criteria you would like to use.

So let me get this straight, Chris:

Are you saying that we shouldn’t have assassinated Osama bin Laden?

Because it seems more and more like that’s the case.

Also, I must’ve sent you enough evidence that happiness does have value, but you clearly must’ve decided to omit that part from your brain. So, I’ll just do some copy and pasting right here [this was in an email to Chris]:

…As for my justification of using happiness as my measuring stick for how moral an action is, happiness clearly seems to be the ultimate desirable thing in the universe. Everything else that is desirable is simply an offshoot of happiness. For example, people want more wealth because it will allow them to purchase more goods and services that will improve their quality of life in a way that they approve of and thereby make them clearly happier. Everywhere in the world, we see that people want to be happy, that people do things to make themselves happy. Even you, wanting to go to heaven: you want to go to heaven so badly because doing so will grant you eternal happiness, or not? Being able to enter the kingdom of your god, an amazing place (in your eyes), will make you happy. Thus, you will do almost anything if you believe that it will get you closer to that kingdom.

Yup, my moral code sure is op-

Also, to quote JT Eberhard:

“…All the atheist must realize is that if a world with moral rules would be better, then that’s all the motivation we need to make them up.  If we see, based only on how the world works, that telling the truth, not stealing, not killing each other, etc., makes people happier, then that’s all we need in order to suggest that “good” people ought to do those things.  I think we can very easily defend that the world really works in these ways.”

Well, your opinions are clearly wr-

Your last question is whether or not my code of morality is a “must follow” for others. I would say yes; unless a more improved theory of morality, better supported by the evidence, comes along, I would suggest that everybody follows this moral code. As I stated before, everybody desires happiness (with, maybe, a few exceptions- lunatics, for example. In their situation, however, their lunacy can be attributed to defects in the mind, and, overall, they can be said to be irrational and thus have no say in what is moral and what is immoral). If everybody desires happiness- from the most faithful Christian, to the most caring atheist, and, on the other side of the spectrum, even tyrants- then we are morally obliged to do what produces the most overall happiness, because everybody wants happiness. I might work at a soup kitchen, for example, because I know doing so will make the people eating there happy. Ultimately, however, my motivation for doing this is that, by helping at the soup kitchen, the gratitude and the happiness that I produce for the people eating there will bring me happiness- the satisfaction of knowing that I did something to make others feel better.

OK JUST STAHP.

… That’s better.

So, Chris keeps telling me that my moral code is opinionated, blah, blah blah blah, blarg…

So, my question to you is this:

Do you believe that happiness has any intricate value to it?

If your answer is “no”, then my question is this:

What motivates you to do what you do?

Finally, if your answer is “God”, then my question is this:

What is God’s motivation for what he does, for what he declares?

Moving on:

“We know what cases promote happiness and what doesn’t through a variety of sources: past experience, observing human desires, and the like. *sigh* you’re practically asking me how we know something makes us happy at this point. Maybe you need to go back to preschool.”

Why is a joke funny? How do we know a joke it [sic] funny? Because it makes someone laugh.  But only AFTER the joke is told do you know that it was funny.  In fact, above you prove my point that we usually only know what causes happiness AFTER the fact.  “Past experience…” Etc.

Well, let’s get the facts straight, shall we?

It’s not like what makes us happy has dramatically changed over the past years. Even if we had nothing to start off with, thousands of years ago, to tell what made people happy and what didn’t, then it still gave us knowledge today that we can use. Chris might as well state that a scientific discovery is illogical because we had no clue of its existence beforehand.

However, even that in mind, then we can detect patterns. Generally, vacations make people happy, Watching movies makes people happy. Having friends makes people happy. Eating ice cream makes people happy. That in mind, we can now predict patterns for attitudes that can boost happiness in the future- it’s not as if the population goes from liking cookies one day to hating them the next.

Yet, those two things in mind, we can still make rational predictions about happiness without past experience. If I really wanted to go to a movie, I could use this knowledge to determine that, unless I’m an extreme outlier, there are many others who would like to go to a movie as well. It’s not like I’m particularly unique, it just happens to be that many people are brought happiness by the same things.

Either way, whether or not we knew if actions were moral or immoral in the past is irrelevant, because there’s another factor in here: evolution.

It’s not like evolution haphazardly gave us happiness for doing one thing and sadness for another; it gave us happiness for behavior that increased our chances of survival and reproduction. Similarly, it “programmed” this morality into us, so that even if we couldn’t spend hours philosophizing about this kind of stuff, we would still likely perform by moral rules, because our genetics have been wired to do just that. We can observe other species following this code; for example, stealing in some species that are relatively close to humans on the evolutionary tree often results in punishment by other members of that species.

However, past experience doesn’t always work does it? (past experience = predictability – remember this word)

As for human desires. Not all desires lead to happiness – many adults can tell you this.

Yeah, because I know that tomorrow people will hate ice cream, popcorn, movies, Halloween, candy, and all that other good stuff. Just like they do every other day of the year.

No, not all desires to- for example, chemical addictions and depression might not lead to happiness. However, those are desires driven by an irrational motivator (or, perhaps more accurately, a motivator that is controlled by foreign chemicals not natural to the body, for example)- not by happiness, the motivator for other human actions. However, generally, we do things because it’ll make us happier, if even only slightly so.

In addition, what makes one person happy doesn’t equate to ALL persons happiness. Big Bang Theory (tv show) makes others annoyed.  Not everyone likes that show do they?  In fact, more people DON’T watch the show than do.  Thus, it only adds happiness to a minority of the population.  Think we should kill it. [sic]

The beauty is, nobody’s forcing another person to watch television. That’s our choice. We’re able to get ourselves to choose certain things that we like and dislike, for whatever reason. On the other hand, it’s not like the minority of the population doesn’t like to get run over by cars, or something.

Also, again, I emailed you my response to majority rules versus minority rights. To copy and paste again:

…In the end, I decided that the overall net gain of happiness is more important than how that happiness is distributed among people. Although slavery might benefit a heck of a lot more people than it hurts, those people are gaining relatively little in relation to what slaves are losing- the slaves lose all their personal rights, are the subjects of violence often, and spend their entire lives in an absolutely horrible environment. Does the gain of the majority justify the loss of the minority? I would say no: because happiness is the medium by which we are measuring morality, I would say that the overall gain of happiness by the majority does not justify the loss of the slaves.

However, it gets better: again, nobody’s forcing you to watch TV. Don’t like it? You don’t have to watch it (as compared to murder- it’s not a matter of “not having to dislike it”). So there’s virually no unhappiness being produced for you, while there’s an abundance of happiness for those who do watch the television.

“Then you take the neighbor idea and totally twist it.”

No, I kept you to your wording.  And below we see you actually support my argument.

Actually, I never mentioned the word neighbor once in my post… Rather, I said the above quote because this is what Chris said:

I could make a case that killing my neighbor will increase happiness in the world.  If so, killing my neighbor is not wrong – according to you.

I talked about “twisting the neighbor idea” because he tries to apply something like that to my moral code. I responded by saying that

Then you take the neighbor idea and totally twist it. Well, unless your neighbor is a tyrannical, evil dictator, there is virtually no possible (predictable) way that killing them will promote more happiness than less. Maybe they’re annoying, so you get peace of mind. But does that outweigh the grief, pain, suffering, and so forth that the neighbor and their relatives/friends/etc feel? Of course not. 

I simply stated that ”killing thy neighbor” practically always goes against my moral code.

“Well, unless your neighbor is a tyrannical, evil dictator, there is virtually no possible (predictable) way that killing them will promote more happiness than less.”

Ah, not so fast.  Here again YOU are being arbiter of value.  I can think of many possible ways that killing him would promote more happiness, according to your def. 1) child molestor. 2) Child killer 3) Serial rapist 4) Torturer of peoples pets 5) Wife and child abuser.

I could make a pretty strong argument that any of those are good enough reasons to kill him.  His death would mean no more children being molested (which as history shows, some of these kids with then go on to be molesters themselves) killed, abused (again, many abused kids turn out to be abusers themselves) etc.

Quite a snowball effect.

First, Chris makes the assumption that he 100% knows that those 5 examples are true. Unless that is true, then there’s already the factor of “but if I’m wrong, there’s the factor of my killing somebody for nothing- I become the murderer!

Then, let’s take this further. Indeed, all five of those things are absolutely horrid. However, I believe that there are few things (if anything) more immoral than murdering a person. I believe none of the 5 options but 3 deserves the death penalty automatically. Although they are all horrid, you’re still taking the life of somebody- you’re still causing some grief, pain, loss of potential happiness, and the like. On the other hand, 3 has already taken the life of somebody, and can very easily take the lives of many others.

So, now, let’s look at option 3. Ok, so you’re 100% sure that you know that he’s a murderer. Check. You know that that is the only crime that deserves capital punishment. Check. Now what?

It’s not your duty to punish others for their crimes.

It’s the government’s.

To quote myself:

…This is where government steps in, with the social contract: we give up some of our abilities in order for everybody to be as happy as possible. Because I produced far less happiness than unhappiness, it is the government’s duty to punish me for my crime.

We allow the government to deal punishment, via the Social Contract. That other person agreed, through the Social Contract, to be able to accept punishment from the government. However, that person was also promised to have their personal rights protected, including their security, which you are trying to breach, even though you could very easily be wrong. In other words, you simply need to contact the government to have that man arrested, not come into his house with a shotgun and blow him to bits.

It’s that simple.

But, hey it’s YOUR morals, you don’t have to include the above…you can just stick with your “evil dictator” if you wish – though I bet some might disagree with you and WANT them included – so will you?

With the dictator, however, things are different. Some people (Stalin and Hitler) create so much evil in this world that you could be morally justified to punish them without authority from the government. However, these circumstances are rare, and even then they will likely result in your own punishment for inflicting upon their rights. However, if you agree to accept punishment, in turn for overturning a tyrannical dictator, then your action is justified (keeping in mind that it is near 100% sure- by anyone’s standards- that this person is an evil, genocidal dictator).

Ah, but isn’t calling someone evil – as you have above, imparting your morals upon them?  Where do you get this authority to do such a thing?  Why is YOUR morals better than the evil dictators?

I answered this question 1235798407324289732430709878578294067 times already for Chris, so I’ll do yet another copy and paste from my email to him (by the way- his response to that email was simply “Thanks! Very interesting. Chris”)

Your last question is whether or not my code of morality is a “must follow” for others. I would say yes; unless a more improved theory of morality, better supported by the evidence, comes along, I would suggest that everybody follows this moral code. As I stated before, everybody desires happiness (with, maybe, a few exceptions- lunatics, for example. In their situation, however, their lunacy can be attributed to defects in the mind, and, overall, they can be said to be irrational and thus have no say in what is moral and what is immoral). If everybody desires happiness- from the most faithful Christian, to the most caring atheist, and, on the other side of the spectrum, even tyrants- then we are morally obliged to do what produces the most overall happiness, because everybody wants happiness. I might work at a soup kitchen, for example, because I know doing so will make the people eating there happy. Ultimately, however, my motivation for doing this is that, by helping at the soup kitchen, the gratitude and the happiness that I produce for the people eating there will bring me happiness- the satisfaction of knowing that I did something to make others feel better.
On the other hand, if I go out and shoot thirty people, I have committed a moral wrong. Although perhaps my happiness was given a boost, the extreme grief, pain, and snuffing out of life far outweighs my temporary joy (insanity?). This is where government steps in, with the social contract: we give up some of our abilities in order for everybody to be as happy as possible. Because I produced far less happiness than unhappiness, it is the government’s duty to punish me for my crime.  

So I already answered his question without actually having to write something new.

Also,

Why should people follow *your* morals, Chris, when you can’t even prove the existence of your God?

 

Increase in happiness for humans?  Meaningless, since a human’s value is subject to your whim.

Nope. Organisms are given value based on their capacity to experience happiness and unhappiness.

“ *sigh* again, saying something is human isn’t enough… Rather, the ability to experience happiness and the reverse of happiness is the determining factor. I must’ve written this so many times by now that you’re clearly little more than a troll.”

What I’m showing you is that you do not give humans an inherent value.  To you, a humans value can be gained and lost depending on your mood, opinion, IE morals.  And thus, to you a human ONLY has value if it can feel pain and experience emotion.  Well, what about those humans who can’t feel pain?  Are they fully human to you, or can they be killed without issue?

I don’t give humans an inherent value just for being humans, I give them value for their capacity to experience happiness and unhappiness.

Also, where the hell did you get the idea that I assign value based on mood?! Not only did I never say that, but that completely and utterly slams my code of morality that I’ve explained hundreds of times, because my mood is not the decider of what does and does not make people happy.

Chris, you’re putting words in my mouth, and you’re lying.

As for the part about people who can’t experience pain… Again, as I stated in my previous argument,

No, I don’t believe that pain is the only factor in deciding what is immoral. I usually just cite pain with abortion because it’s the main value being talked about. 

It’s not just pain and happiness, it’s unhappiness (which also includes sadness, grief, etc.) and happiness.

Also, to take the example of unconscious beings: whether or not they can experience pain in the moment is irrelevant. What does matter is the fact that you’re stripping them of their right to experience happiness in the future, something that they would love to keep. You’re also badly hurting their family and friends, which is also morally wrong.

“No, I don’t believe that pain is the only factor in deciding what is immoral. I usually just cite pain with abortion because it’s the main value being talked about.”

I understand.  In fact to quote you: “Because an action is only immoral if it promotes less happiness than unhappiness”

Good, now you’re on track. Now please look at your last statement (…And thus, to you a human ONLY has value if it can feel pain and experience emotion) and see the contradiction. And no, don’t try to get away with “emotion”- it’s too vague, while pain was very specific. You should’ve said unhappiness.

Though, as I made the argument that you do not take into consideration potential of happiness. And I just showed that your def. is myopic and falls short in some cases.

Do you take in the potential of happiness for the skin cells you just scratched off your body, each of which contain the genetic code to create another you? I didn’t think so.

The difference between a living human being and a fetus is that one can understand the feelings in question, while the other cannot. You might as well compare a dog and a rock: both can experience the effects of damage, but it’s the conscious perception of that damage that counts (throwing a rock against a wall doesn’t make it think “Owch!”). A human can conscientously experience both suffering and happiness, can describe them, and can state that, given the option, they would like to keep that ability to experience happiness. A fetus before the third trimester, however, does not meet any of these three conditions. It’s the ability to actually perceive happiness and unhappiness, and the fetus cannot experience either up to week 27.

“I consider abortion killing… But then again, picking a dandelion is killing it. “Killing” seems like a far too loaded word in this regard, as it’s no different from destroying a dandelion.”

Of course you think it’s loaded because you are having a hard time defending it.  It is killing.  That is a human living and growing inside the mother.  Removing it from the mother, the life source is killing it – and again here you decide that a fetus is no more valuable than a dandelion.

Killing a dandelion isn’t exactly hard to defend. However, Chris uses the word “killing” in a much different way, related more to the conscious perception of happiness and unhappiness than causing something to… Well, no longer live.

I do believe that a fetus (before the third trimester) is no more valuable than a dandelion, for reasons I’ve stated before.

So when does the fetus gain your value then?

FOR *&%$’s SAKE DID YOU NOT READ WHAT I WROTE?

Because an action is only immoral if it promotes less happiness than unhappiness, and the fetus/zygote/whatever cannot feel pain and unhappiness prior to the third trimester of pregnancy,abortion cannot be immoral simply because it destroys a few cells with no actual conscience.

Prior to the third trimester of pregnancy.

Prior to the third trimester of pregnancy.

Prior to the third trimester of pregnancy.

Prior to the third trimester of pregnancy.

… You get the idea.

“Yes, I believe that destroying a baby once it can experience happiness and the reverse of happiness is wrong”

But your [sic] okay with not even giving it a chance to experience happiness…it’s worthless to you. No more valuable than a dandelion or a piece of wood.

Value, GT.

Ok, Chris, I’m going to ask you a very serious question right now, ok? Get ready:

Would you destroy a rock, knowing that you never even gave it the chance to experience happiness?

Potential to feel is not the same as feeling. Prior to feeling, there is no worth. After, there is (given that it still has the capacity to feel). Simple.

So then, when do humans get their value according to you?

*sigh* I’m just not going to reply to this one. I’ve already replied a thousand times over.

“Again, in almost every circumstance, murder is wrong because there is virtually no possible way that it could produce more happiness than unhappiness (in the predictable future)… This is so basic.”

Who’s happiness?  You don’t say.  Mine or theirs?  Plus, why is it murder?  You haven’t yet established when human value is attained by anyone – since we don’t start out with any value, when does this value come to be?

Everyone’s overall happiness. Not yours, nor theirs, but, on average, everyone.

It’s murder because it’s killing something that does have the capacity to feel happines and unhappiness.

The value comes to be at trimester three.

*deep sigh*…

And during our life, according to you, we can lose this value.

Hitler. Stalin. ‘Nuff said.

As to be “murder” this implies a value (since you were okay with killing Hitler, you wouldn’t call that murder I suppose).  So you wish there to be “okay killing” and “murder”.

Actually, I would say that it’s still murder to kill Hitler. It’s just morally justifiable in this one, extreme circumstance.

And there is ”okay killing”. It’s when killing somebody- a terrible somebody, mind you- promotes more happiness than unhappiness (bin Laden, Hitler, Stalin).

Yet, with arbitrarily assigned and fickle values, how do we know who is valuable and who is not?

Capacity for happiness and unhappiness. Happiness and unhappiness that a person produces in the world.

“In the predictable future…” Interesting.

If I fire a gun at a person, I can predict that the bullet will kill the person. On the other hand, I can’t predict that the murder will cause a small wave of air from the falling of the shell on the ground that moves some atoms this way and that way and eventually has a chaos theory-like effect that results in a 20 year old woman who discovers space travel. I have to use what information I have and go with it.

“On the other hand, killing trees is generally ok… But once the Earth starts running out of trees, it stops being ok, because destroying more trees will start to harm everybody.”

But why does that matter to us?  You have yet to establish a value for humans – only assert that at conception we do not possess any, and whenever we are given our value it can be taken away.

Happiness. Unhappiness. *sigh* this is wearing me out.

“Potentiality is worthless in this regard.” You can’t predict how the baby will affect the world. It could bring more happiness, but it could also be the next Stalin. Plus, we know its birth will create some unhappiness, as the result of overpopulation and not being wanted by the mother.”

(there’s that word: potentiality)

No, you just want potentiality to be worthless – to defend your position.  However, watch carefully as you contradict yourself in a bit.  You DO care about potentiality of other things (say ordering a pizza): just not humans.

I meant this in a different context than what Chris understood (although I admit that I was a bit vague. It was pretty late when I wrote that comment.). Either way, I’ll respond to Chris’s argument:

The potentiality of a pizza is not whether or not the pizza can experience happiness. It is whether or not I will experience happiness from eating it, given that I can consciously perceive happiness and unhappiness. On the other hand, a pizza has no potential to a fetus for… Well, obvious reasons.

What we’re comparing here is not my potential here to experience happiness and the fetus’s potential to experience happiness: we’re comparing the fact that I can, in the moment, experience happiness, whereas a pre-third trimester child cannot experience happiness and the like. Again, dog and rock: sure, the rock might eventually become something living, but right now, there’s no point in not slamming it against the ground because of the potential.

In all honesty, I fail to see how potential to become something in this case (a zygote into a human) makes an action immoral. Immorality is, again, an action that promotes unhappiness, and since the fetus isn’t becoming unhappy, it is not immoral.

Regardless, you’re okay with never giving the baby a chance – since it has no value to you, that’s understandable.

And while not being wanted by the mother could be an issue for the mother, there could be people that would want and love the baby – sadly not enough, I admit.

And you’re okay with never giving the rock a chance.

The baby is no more than the rock. Neither can experience pain. Neither can experience happiness. Because an action is immoral only if it promotes or demotes happiness, and, with both the rock and the zygote, there is no demotion of happiness, we can clearly see that ”giving a chance” is pointless when it doesn’t harm the world. You, however, treat the child as if it’s already been born.

And the second part only confirms that you would have thousands of unwanting mothers suffer just for the good of others. The mothers did not consent to this; their happiness is being violated in order to boost the happiness of others. You might as well say that we should dissect somebody and take out their organs to help patients who have malfunctional ones. This is a direct violation of security to our own bodies.

“Happiness can be predicted up to a certain point,”

CORRECT!  Thanks for FINALLY agreeing with me.  And do you know when that point is?  When our prediction fails.  I’ll show you.

Um, no, just to the point where the future becomes too hazy to predict. Like the example about the gun shell causing space travel earlier.

“and that’s how we determine what to do in the moment. I can’t predict that eating a pizza, on the other hand, will create a ripple effect that results in nuclear war… Or the colonization of other planets.”

Here’s the pizza more valuable than babies in predictability!

But let’s do something more simple: will winning the lottery make you happy?  You have no idea, but based on the POTENTIAL that it will make you happy, you play the lottery (if you are legally able to do so).

No, here’s an example of the point at which I can’t predict the future any more…

Actually, I play in the lottery because the incentive to be able to win grants me happiness. The knowledge that I could be rich, that I have to possibility of being more happy, gives me happiness. And that’s why I play.

Also, you’re comparing two completely different things. I’ll just repeat once more, then: a moral action involves promoting happiness as opposed to the reverse of happiness. Abortion does not produce the reverse, as there was no happiness in the fetus to reverse in the first place. On the other hand, playing in the lottery does promote happiness: it is the economic exchange of one good (money) for a good that I think is worth more (the ticket). Because I believe the ticket is worth more than the money that I spent to buy it, the natural reaction to making a good deal like that promotes my happiness (at least, until I find out that I lost).

In fact, it’s exactly because of the potential for happiness you do actions and make choices.  You watch a movie because you are pretty sure it will make you happy.  Though it may suck.

Every prediction is based on probability. If I find that I know exactly what kinds of movies I like, exactly what flavors of ice cream I like, etc., then, using Bayesian probability, I find that the potential risk is worth the potential return. True, 1% of the time I may find that I completely wasted my time watching the movie. The other 99% of the time, however, given Bayesian probability (more explained in Nate Silver’s book The Signal and the Noise), I calculate that it will be worth going to the movie. In other words, using mathematical terms:

Average Net Gain of Happiness = .01 x (How unhappy I will be if I hate the movie) + .99 x (How happy I will be if I love the movie).

Unless that unhappiness is worth at least 100 times more than that happiness to me, then I can predict that, probability-wise, the risk will probably be well worth the profit.

You’re comparing something’s potential to feel happiness in the future, although it has never consciously perceived it and is still as valuable as a pebble, to the potential for somebody to be happy who is willing to give up something (be it time, money, or anything else) for something else because they believe that the risk is worth the gain.

You’re comparing the destruction of something that can’t feel,

To the ability for somebody to choose what they believe will give them the most profit.

… There might just be something wrong with that. -_-

So, thank you for showing that potentiality DOES play a role in happiness and thus contradicting your above statement – or at least at it pertains to baby’s.

Two different types of potentiality: potentiality that is not based in creating happiness in the present (destroying a zygote cannot be felt by the zygote, nor can the zygote complain that its rights are being violated because it cannot experience happiness nor unhappiness), and potentiality that is based on creating happiness in the present (I will go to the movie Sunday night because I believe going will make me happy. The motivation for actually going there is happiness. Happiness is driving me in the present to continue onwards to the movie. It’s not like I suddenly teleported to the movie, without choosing whether or not to do so.)

You’re comparing happiness as a motive in the present and happiness as a motive in the future. Because the zygote cannot experience happiness in the present, because it cannot use happiness as a motivator to act, it does not follow the same Bayesian probability methods that humans do; it does not choose, it does not experience happiness nor unhappiness, and is thereby no different from a rock.

“My conclusion is not opinion, it is based on millennia of evidence that happiness is the ultimate desirable commodity.”

It is your opinion that this is how we should do things.  Using happiness are your unit of measure [sic].  However, as we have seen – this is a faulty measuring rod.  What makes some happy doesn’t always make everyone happy.

If you didn’t read a thousand times already,

In the end, I decided that the overall net gain of happiness is more important than how that happiness is distributed among people. Although slavery might benefit a heck of a lot more people than it hurts, those people are gaining relatively little in relation to what slaves are losing- the slaves lose all their personal rights, are the subjects of violence often, and spend their entire lives in an absolutely horrible environment. Does the gain of the majority justify the loss of the minority? I would say no: because happiness is the medium by which we are measuring morality, I would say that the overall gain of happiness by the majority does not justify the loss of the slaves. 

It’s what makes the most happiness among everybody, not necessarily among the majority.

YOU think this is what we should do – however, you can’t beyond your opinion show me why.  Since none of us have inherent value (as you have shown) and our value can be taken away – OUR happiness is irrelevant.  As you are willing to take away 1) potential for this happiness, 2) someone else’s happiness as well.

I’ve shown that humans have value, but not just because they’re humans- because of what they feel.

I’ve shown that happiness is the ultimate desire.

I’ve shown that there is a difference between something having the potential for happiness, but not having happiness in the moment, and something having the potential for happiness, anad having happiness in the moment because they feel good about doing the action that will make them happier.

Now, here’s my favorite part – and I could have predicted this: You go to irrelevance to try and bolster your argument:

“On the other hand, you believe in a god to do all your moral work for you. You don’t care if banning LGBT marriage makes people extremely unhappy, it’s what god says, end of story”

GT you no NOTHING of my belief.  You no nothing of my stance on GLBT [It's technically LGBT...] marriage.

Well, let’s see.

You’ve constantly asked where my morality comes from, if I’m an atheist. If that’s the case, you’re implying that it is your god that defines morality. So I clearly understand the first part of your position.

The second part, you’re correct, I don’t understand. However, the Bible repeatedly says that LGBT marriage is detestable, and absolutely sinful. So either you’re admitting that your god is wrong about something, you don’t want to admit you oppose LGBT rights, or you just warp up the message of the Bible to make it fit your opinions.

But I don’t need to be the one to consult with about this. You can just go ahead and consult Answers in Genesis. They’ll set you straight.

“That is abhorrently lazy, and absolutely disgusting.”

No, making statements about someone’s beliefs when you actually know nothing of their beliefs is lazy.  Disgusting?  Naw, but sure as heck lazy

Again, if you believe that your God is the ultimate authority, yet you contradict his views, you ultimately find yourself in a lose-lose.

Also, FYI, it is my opinion that, should the Bible actually have been the inspired word of God, then it should be taken literally. It wouldn’t make sense if your God wrote this book only for it to be interpreted completely incorrectly, thereby sending everybody straight to the depths of hell.

“It is an appeal to authority (an authority who can’t even be proven to exist). It is an appeal to another being who can supposedly determine what is moral and immoral- which you characterize him with, even after the 2 Kings incident. Absolutely disgusting. Absolutely sick.”

Irrelevant, to whether or not your morality stands.  Such statements usually reserved for those who wish to not look deeper into theirs lest they find fault.

Yeah, because happiness mauled 42 children to death for calling somebody bald…? How is it irrelevant, when this is the being that you are basing your morality off of? I certainly don’t base my morality off of some single being, putting my absolute faith in him.

“And finally, my point is that you Christians cherry-pick the Bible. You ignore the crap, and take out the slightly better stuff. If you really want to be a Christian, read the damn Bible, and then tell me that your god is moral and that atheists aren’t.”

And here again, you make an accusation without ANY knowledge about what I do/don’t believe in. (and yeah, atheists NEVER cherry pick the Bible to suit their case)

Well, let’s see: if you don’t cherry pick the Bible, I find it difficult for you to base your morality off of God, which you certainly imply that you do. If you do, that just reaffirms my statement.

Also, we often do cherry pick for the wrong stuff, too. But I’m not sure that’s necessarily a bad thing. If I told you that I work at a soup kitchen every weekend and help the elderly during the week, you’d say I was a good person. However, if I did the same thing, but also mauled 42 children with bears for calling somebody “bald”, committed the largest act of genocide in history, and inspired a book supporting slavery, anti-LGBT rights, and the like, then your opinion of me would be very different.

A thousand rights does not necessarily justify a single wrong. And God’s done a heck of a lot of wrongs.

Again, lazy – at least I ask and read your replies, you GT just say stuff like the above.  I guess hoping it’s true.

However, if you really want to talk Bible, let’s do it.  I love talking about the Bible – yes even the crap parts!

I don’t shy away GT.

But again, your above is irrelevant to whether or not your morals are true beyond opinion and your whim.

Many unanswered questions GT, love to know your answers.

You read my replies, yet you ignore them (I did a hell of a lot of copy-and-pasting of my own stuff just to prove that earlier).

I assume based on what evidence I have, based on what you imply, based on what you say- and I know that you’re just contradicting yourself if you believe otherwise.

Good for you. I’m glad you like talking about murder, rape, and genocide.

I’ve already answered how my morals are more than opinion.

I’m done with this conversation. Thank you; goodbye.

6 responses to Response to Chris – By Godless Teen

  1. Wow, quite a response – this may take some time. But let’s start at the start (I’ll break theses up into parts)

    PART ONE: Who decides human value?

    “Who gets to decide this? Ultimately, yes, you and me- but it’s not so simple.
    In all reality, the moral code is what decides whether or not something has value”

    From here on out, I’m going to use ‘person’ or ‘human’ in place of “something.” So we would read your statement as: the moral code is what decides whether or not a person has value.

    According to you: a person’s value is decided by moral code – not a code AROUND a person’s value.

    Let’s move on.

    “Because happiness and unhappiness are the two factors that determine whether or not something is moral, we just need to see if killing people is immoral.”

    Okay, now you add un/happiness. So let’s add this to your statement above and we now have you stating: un/happiness decides the moral code which decides a person’s value.

    So, yes, let’s find out if killing people is immoral or not.

    “Clearly, in almost every circumstance, it is, because doing so promotes less happiness than unhappiness. It’s my theory of morality that determines that, not me. ”

    Ah, now you are trying to separate yourself from YOUR theory. Which is to say that you are now trying to say your theory is OUTSIDE of yourself. Interesting. However, you now then have the task of pointing to where this morality exists outside of yourself.

    If it weren’t for you coming up with this theory – where else do we find it?

    No, it’s YOUR theory, you thought it up – so, yes, you are determining it via your theory.

    In addition, you have yet to address how we measure the promotion of happiness in all circumstances – what is the standard that we use? And while speaking generally helps you case: IE almost ALL circumstances it’s immoral to kill. Since we don’t yet have a baseline determined yet, how do we make this judgement?

    Hopefully you get to this further on.

    “Back to morality, then, the theory of morality that is used is the determining factor of whether or not an action is moral. ”

    YOUR theory, let’s remember. As well as this theory is based on our being able to measure un/happiness to determine morality to determine human value.

    “However, we can’t always predict the exact results of the theory of morality. So, ultimately, we have to piece things together, while sticking to the code as much as possible, in order to determine that an action is immoral. ”

    Then how is it binding? A action is either moral or it’s not…this statement opens up actions to subjectivity NOT objectivity. Which is a point in favor or my argument: it’s only your opinion.

    Already your theory is missing a key element. An action is either moral or it’s not. Your theory allows for wiggle room, speculation, and opinion. And since we have no established baseline for happiness yet, your moral waters are still quite muddy.

    “No, I do not believe slapping the label “human” on something gives it value, ”

    I’m not talking about labels, I’m taking states of being. A human is a human, a flower is a flower. You do not believe the two are any more or less valuable than the other.

    I agree labels do not ADD or SUBTRACT value – however that’s not what we are discussing. I’m speaking of inherent value from a person BEING a human.

    So I won’t even address your “naming flowers” bit you go on to do – you either completely misunderstand what it means to BE human, or you are trying to change the argument. However, it’s back in place now.

    “Now we get to the other side of the spectrum. If we were to kill Julie, we would be further endangering a beautiful species. We would be destroying the life of an organism whose intellect is highly advanced. We would cause great pain to the dolphin, as well as prevent it from experiencing any future happiness that it’s entitled to by the fact that it can actually experience happiness and pain; it would say that it wants to continue feeling happiness, and thus we are destroying owhat it desires, and producing more unhappiness.”

    See what you did above? You are granting the dolphin the future possibility of happiness (something you do not allow an unborn baby) however, this dolphin may never again experience happiness. So here you give a dolphin MORE value that a human.

    Why?

    Pain.

    However, you either fail to take into account, or just ignore the fact that we can kill without causing pain. Quite easy to do, in fact. All we need to do is sedate Julie – slip her a mickey in her food. Once she’s sedated we can then inject her with more sedatives until her heart stops – not once EVERY causing her pain at all. in fact, if we use say morphine: she’ll actually feel quite good! Her happiness will increase as we kill her!

    As for destroying Julies “desire” and producing more unhappiness. That doesn’t follow.

    Say Julie desires food now. Killing her does not INCREASE unhappiness (especially if we do it the way I described). If unhappiness is a property as happiness is, then the existence or taking away of happiness does NOT effect unhappiness. Unhappiness would have to be increased/decreased on it’s own.

    Example. Let’s start Julie at zero (on your spectrum of happiness): Her desire for food> increase or decrease happiness? Let’s say it increases it. So let’s give Julie a +1. (plus is happiness, neg. is unhappiness). Now let’s kill her painlessly as I described above. She now no longer has the desire. At worst she’s back to zero – and since she can’t experience unhappiness, unhappiness CANNOT increase.

    thus, as I just showed, we killed Julie without increasing unhappiness. Moral.

    Also, your example is that of INDIVIDUAL un/happiness, not CORPORAL.

    Not to mention what this may mean for hunting.

    However, we are still lacking a baseline.

    “Finally, with a human, we get practically the same results as with the dolphin, although the human may or may not experience more pain (I wouldn’t know), as well as cause grief to family, friends, and relatives.”

    So here, we don’t know if or any pain would be caused, nor if it would effect the family. So again, you are basing this on possibility or potentiality. The same respect of which you do not give a human fetus.

    “Anyhow, my point is that humans don’t have an inherent value that is unique among all the species. Dolphins also have value, as do cats, dogs, birds, and other such creatures. We just like to think that humans are extremely unique in this regard because we’re a heck of a lot closer to other humans than we are to dolphins.”
    Ah, so here you finally do say that humans do not possess any MORE value than any other creature – or a dandelion either for that matter. In other words, you have just stated, in fact that nothing has any value, as all value is the same. So my killing of a bird is EXACTLY the same as my killing a human as it comes to value.
    Because as you said, it’s “measured” un/happiness that gives you your morals, that gives you human value. Yet you just said here that humans, in essence, have no actual value ABOVE anything.
    But this goes against your moral theory. You have just assigned human value OUTSIDE of your moral theory.
    And you admitted that un/happiness cannot be truly determined until after the fact, which means and act is either moral or immoral ONLY AFTER the deed has been done – and based on potentiality.
    Lastly, if humans do not have ANY inherent value, then how does something that has no value (you) assign value to something else (me)? An unassigned value cannot assign value.
    Where is your value? If you get to value me, do I get to value you? This can’t work, neither of us have any value what so ever.
    So, if our value is zero (all things being equal as you would want it) then what does un/happiness plus morality equal = nothing.
    You are arbitrarily assigning value to situations and people.
    “Thus, Hitler had no inherent value, he had the value assigned to him by the moral theory that is embedded in each of our brains.”
    But this theory too has not value. Something of value cannot come from something valueless – you have yet to even establish a baseline for un/happiness and what can/can’t constitute pain. Lost of things cause pain, but are good for us. Do your morals incorporate this? You haven’t said.
    And since your moral theory has no working baseline, how do we know we are working from the correct baseline. Also, you have failed to establish if this baseline (that we don’t know of yet) is corporal or individual. Julies example was an individual. Yet if four people desire her death – well, I would say her unhappiness is outweighed by their happiness, thus her killing in that regard is a moral action. Almost a necessity.
    And if Hitler had no inherent value, that meant he had no value PRIOR to his taking power. You are only assigning him value AFTER the fact. So killing Hitler prior to his taking power: moral or immoral?
    “We looked at the evidence, and determined that he was evil off of what we could- we used the theory to the farthest extent we possibly could to determine whether Hitler was a moral or immoral human. The conclusion, overwhelmingly, was that he produced far more unhappiness than happiness in the world.”
    But the Jews had no inherent value either. Killing something valueless cannot be immoral. Plus, you cannot say what is evil – you gave no definition..you only so far have dealt with happiness and unhappiness. What’s evil? Just a lot of unhappiness?
    So far your only established way to even BEGIN to value a human life is through pain and unhappiness. However, un/happiness as we have seen is vague, has no baseline. Nor have you established whether un/happiness is to be measure corporally or only individually – or is this too on a case by case basis.
    As for pain – you do know that pain is also subjective (and as I showed can be removed from the equation altogether though medication). So, how does pain give a person their value.
    If their value is zero (same as all other living things) then how does pain add to their value? How does un/happiness add to their value? (so far you use potentiality for this, however you don’t use this for a fetus – you aren’t even following your own code in this case).
    Nor have you even begun to establish why it’s MORAL to increase happiness in the world. Wanted, sure. (opinion). Desired? Okay (opinion). Beneficial? (not necessarily) To be a productive society we don’t need happy people.
    And this is where you miss the point about opinion. You can’t get beyond it.
    So, to conclude how we humans get value.
    You state: “Yes, I argue that just saying “OMG IM HUMAN” doesn’t automatically give you value. “
    So, we begin with NO VALUE at all.
    We gain it through: measured un/happiness and pain (both of which lack a baseline and are subjective) to create a moral code that assigns values.
    Seems pretty subjective GT.
    Big question too: how does pain of a worthless creature create value?
    So far GT you have not answered how we are assigned value…and further question, given the variables involved this would also imply that value is of a spectrum, that is to say, other people are more valuable than others…which opens a whole different can of worms.
    “Also, you twist my words. A human is not meaningless. I just say that, just because something is human, does not automatically guarantee it has value. Yeah, it sounds a bit weird, but I’ll explain- it’s really quite simple.”
    No, I HELD you to your words you wrote – if you meant to say something different, than you need to use words differently. But lets see where you go with this.

    “A zygote is human, true. By your moral code, it has the same value as a great leader. On the other hand, by my moral code, it cannot experience happiness, nor unhappiness; thus, destroying it is no more immoral than picking a dandelion.”
    First, my moral code here is irrelevant. We are discussing your. We can get to mine later, but you are in the process of defending yours. Stick to it.
    Second, you have just in the prior arguments above made the argument that a human has no inherent value, nor are you willing to (though your moral code actually demands it) give the zygote the potential for happiness/pain.
    Your argument hinges on the notion that happiness and pain give a human value – yet have yet to establish how this works. If I am of no value to begin with, my does my pain matter at all?
    “A tyrant is human, true. Unless you’re willing to accept that humans can lose this “inherent value”, then this tyrant has just as much value as a zygote, a four year-old child, or an elderly man who wants to die dearly, as his terminal illness slowly tears him apart. To you, this tyrant should not be killed; to me, he or she should.”
    Yes, you have stated your point exactly. YOU are assigning the value to the tyrant. Someone YOU are above the tyrant to be able to do this – though you haven’t established how – via pain and unhappiness. While not wanted (opinion) neither is needed for the propagation of our species, thus you are still on opinion.
    And if one’s value can be lost via causing more unhappiness – as your moral code says can be, then could someone’s NOT adding happiness cause them to lose their value? Why/why not?
    But the above does nothing to answer the question you just tried to: “A human is not meaningless. I just say that, just because something is human, does not automatically guarantee it has value. Yeah, it sounds a bit weird, but I’ll explain- it’s really quite simple.”
    The above does not explain it at all. You just compared to people 1 you like the other you don’t and assigned them value based on your speculative moral code.
    So again the question: how does pain, un/happiness add value to something valueless?
    Maybe in part two we’ll see!

  2. Part Two: Morals base on opinion?

    So, is your moral code only that of opinion as is my contention? Let us look:

    “Your last question is whether or not my code of morality is a “must follow” for others. I would say yes; unless a more improved theory of morality, better supported by the evidence, comes along, I would suggest that everybody follows this moral code. As I stated before, everybody desires happiness (with, maybe, a few exceptions- lunatics, for example. In their situation, however, their lunacy can be attributed to defects in the mind, and, overall, they can be said to be irrational and thus have no say in what is moral and what is immoral). If everybody desires happiness- from the most faithful Christian, to the most caring atheist, and, on the other side of the spectrum, even tyrants- then we are morally obliged to do what produces the most overall happiness, because everybody wants happiness.”

    And

    “…As for my justification of using happiness as my measuring stick for how moral an action is, happiness clearly seems to be the ultimate desirable thing in the universe. Everything else that is desirable is simply an offshoot of happiness. For example, people want more wealth because it will allow them to purchase more goods and services that will improve their quality of life in a way that they approve of and thereby make them clearly happier. Everywhere in the world, we see that people want to be happy, that people do things to make themselves happy.”

    But let’s back up a bit, GT and quote what you said prior to this about your moral code (in the email you sent me):

    “As for the second part, I define morality as the “principles governing
    right and wrong”. The actual definitions of the two main terms though
    (right and wrong) go a bit deeper than that. I follow the principle of
    utilitarianism, although I do twist it a little. Utilitarianism
    usually asserts that something is right if it benefits the majority,
    however, I’ve found that that could lead to the promotion of slavery
    and other such clearly horrible behaviors. In the end, I decided that
    the overall net gain of happiness is more important than how that
    happiness is distributed among people. Although slavery might benefit
    a heck of a lot more people than it hurts, those people are gaining
    relatively little in relation to what slaves are losing- the slaves
    lose all their personal rights, are the subjects of violence often,
    and spend their entire lives in an absolutely horrible environment.
    Does the gain of the majority justify the loss of the minority? I
    would say no: because happiness is the medium by which we are
    measuring morality, I would say that the overall gain of happiness by
    the majority does not justify the loss of the slaves.

    Thus, my definition of a moral action looks something like this:

    “A moral action is any action that promotes greatest happiness to the
    greatest number of people, with greatest happines preceding greatest
    number of people in importance.””

    Right off the bat you show opinion. You took Utilitarianism and “twisted” it to what you wanted. Because you “decided” (your word) that the net gain of happiness is more important than distribution.

    You didn’t “like” that Utilitarianism could be used to promote slavery – for the greater good. You disagree with this (opinion) and thus “twisted” it to favor your opinion.

    Also, you chose “happiness” as your measuring rod…why? Because, in your opinion, this is the most important goal of humans.

    But this isn’t the greatest piece of evidence to show your moral code is nothing more than opinion.

    Emotion is.

    Your moral code is based on an emotion. Not on anything objective.

    Subjective things such as emotions cannot become objective: IE because something does indeed make me happy, it doesn’t mean it has to or always will. Emotions come and go, based on many variables. A joke today might be funny to me, but later on become offensive.

    You are basing your moral code on subjective emotions to determine right or wrong and thus, nothing is every truly, absolutely, objectively right or wrong.

    What might “net” more happiness today, might not tomorrow. According to this, then, what is moral today, might be immoral tomorrow.

    Not to mention it’s your opinion that happiness SHOULD be the measuring rod – however, you don’t argue that it has to be.

    And let us not forget that your code does not cover ALL HUMANS. (which is interesting because you speak of “personal rights” – we’ll come back to that)

    So, yes GT, your moral code is nothing more than opinion. You cannot get passed it.

    However, that is the least of your moral codes problem.

    For one, you contradict yourself in that one single paragraph: “In the end, I decided that
    the overall net gain of happiness is more important than how that
    happiness is distributed among people.”

    And that at the end say: “Does the gain of the majority justify the loss of the minority? I
    would say no: because happiness is the medium by which we are
    measuring morality, I would say that the overall gain of happiness by
    the majority does not justify the loss of the slaves.”

    You just contradicted your own moral code. You found a flaw you didn’t like in it, and just changed it to suit your opinion.

    If you truly believe that ‘net gain’ is more important, then slavery can be moral under the correct circumstance – which is simply that the majority are happier than the slaves. That’s how net gain works.

    I get paid a wage – gross wage it’s called before taxes. After taxes it’s my net wage. (and hopefully it’s still positive)

    Now if there are more people happy with slaves than the slaves are unhappy – the net gain is to happiness, which equals morality according to your code.

    Sure it could be the other way, more unhappiness with slaves than happiness of the majority, and that would then make it immoral in your code.

    But net gain CAN result into the slavery being moral – though you don’t like it.

    Which just shows, even more that your code is based on opinion – you take out and change what you don’t “like” and not what you actually say your code means.

    Your moral code with it’s net gain also fails to take into consideration cultural issues. For example, the Middle East. Certainly they aren’t following your moral code – yet you say they are obliged to follow it.

    Well, GT, just how do you manage to pull that off?

    According to you, government is to enforce this code. Does that include globally as well? So should our government force the Iran into this moral code? Does our government have an obligation to do it?

    Then I say, your moral code obliges war…in fact, it makes it morally mandatory. As if you aren’t willing to enforce this code around the world, why? Then it’s no really mandatory at all, so why should I be forced to follow it if others don’t have to?

    Sure there might be some immediate unhappiness at the start of the war – but remember, we are only concerned about “net gains” so we have to look forward to the future and know that because of this code many more people will be happy and thus adding to our net gain of happiness – which should make the soldiers families more happy when the son/daughter die in the war – it’s to spread happiness!

    Okay, so now let’s look at your “personal rights” comment.

    Where do these come from? You said humans have no inherent value – so how do we all of a sudden have rights?

    So we have “rights” before we have “value?”

    And if “value” can be gained/lost does that mean rights can to?

    If so, then slavery looks even better, because we can just use those folks who no longer have value and or rights, thus their unhappiness is a moot point and won’t even factor in the equation!

    In the end, yes GT your moral code is based on opinion YOUR opinion.

  3. In this part I would like to highlight something:

    YOU – “Also, to take the example of unconscious beings: whether or not they can experience pain in the moment is irrelevant. What does matter is the fact that you’re stripping them of their right to experience happiness in the future, something that they would love to keep. You’re also badly hurting their family and friends, which is also morally wrong”

    Wait a minute!!!!!!

    Did you just say: “whether or not they can experience pain in the moment is irrelevant…..you’re stripping them of their right to experience happiness in the future?”

    That alone just blew apart your abortion argument.

    You just said that it’s irrelevant that at a particular moment if a human can’t experience pain…it’s their right in the the FUTURE!

    Yet you stated that this doesn’t apply a human fetus – you state it can’t feel pain, thus is can be killed.

    Your above statement contradicts that. Because regardless if the fetus can’t feel pain NOW – it will in the future and you are “stripping” it of it’s right to happiness in the future.

    To quote: “Potentiality is worthless in this regard. You can’t predict how the baby will affect the world. It could bring more happiness, but it could also be the next Stalin. Plus, we know its birth will create some unhappiness, as the result of overpopulation and not being wanted by the mother.”

    So the potentiality of the baby is irrelevant, but the potentiality of the unconscious person isn’t?

    They are both in temporary states of painlessness and both have potential futures of happiness.

    So what is the difference then?

    There is none.

    Your moral code just fell here…you don’t even follow it as you claim it should be followed. You just showed you apply it how you WANT to apply it.

  4. Oh, and this: Two different types of potentiality: potentiality that is not based in creating happiness in the present (destroying a zygote cannot be felt by the zygote, nor can the zygote complain that its rights are being violated because it cannot experience happiness nor unhappiness), and potentiality that is based on creating happiness in the present (I will go to the movie Sunday night because I believe going will make me happy. The motivation for actually going there is happiness. Happiness is driving me in the present to continue onwards to the movie. It’s not like I suddenly teleported to the movie, without choosing whether or not to do so.)”

    Doesn’t help your case…just shows again YOU pick and chose what you want your moral code to show. You change things beyond the scope of your code.

    You add potentiality in once case, throw it out in another – why? Because you don’t want it in your code. OPINION.

    “destroying a zygote cannot be felt by the zygote, nor can the zygote complain that its rights are being violated because it cannot experience happiness nor unhappiness), ”

    The unconscious person can’t either. Not at THAT TIME.

    The zygote eventually will be able to, just like the unconscious person WILL BE ABLE TO. That is, if they aren’t killed before that chance.

    “and potentiality that is based on creating happiness in the present”

    But the person is unconscious – they aren’t creating happiness. they are unconscious.

    “(I will go to the movie Sunday night because I believe going will make me happy.”

    the baby will someday go to a movie – many movies – if you don’t kill it first.

    Try again, GT.

  5. And finally,

    So what else can we discuss with your moral code?

    Let’s look at some of your defenses: “It’s not like what makes us happy has dramatically changed over the past years. Even if we had nothing to start off with, thousands of years ago, to tell what made people happy and what didn’t, then it still gave us knowledge today that we can use. Chris might as well state that a scientific discovery is illogical because we had no clue of its existence beforehand.”

    This is a NS argument. We are discussing emotions, not scientific discovery. The changes in our emotions has nothing to do with scientific discovery.

    Logical fallacy GT.

    And regardless if our emotions change, then our morals (according to this) change – thus, it’s at the whim of our emotions. And a glance at history shows that certain forms of entertainment were quite barbaric back in the days…

    But let’s look at another argument: Evolution.

    “It’s not like evolution haphazardly gave us happiness for doing one thing and sadness for another; it gave us happiness for behavior that increased our chances of survival and reproduction.”

    Ah, interesting. However, happiness is NOT mandatory for survival – only a want to live, not happiness. You can try and say it gave us happiness, but it’s not needed. If it’s not needed, though beneficial, it can’t be a basis for morality. We don’t NEED people to be happy to survive – we only need to stay alive and reproduce.

    In addition the pursuit of happiness doesn’t necessarily worked toward survival – ie drug use, unprotected sex with many partners (and the possibility of getting a sexually transmitted disease). Other risky behaviors such as sky-diving, and other extreme sports. There is a dangerous non-helping side to happiness.

    “No, not all desires to- for example, chemical addictions and depression might not lead to happiness. However, those are desires driven by an irrational motivator (or, perhaps more accurately, a motivator that is controlled by foreign chemicals not natural to the body, for example)- not by happiness, the motivator for other human actions. However, generally, we do things because it’ll make us happier, if even only slightly so.”

    You know little of drug use then. People use drugs to get happy, then get hooked on the feeling of being high. Despite it being an outside chemical, it’s the pursuit of happiness. Happiness does come from outside influences, this would be another one. People smoke pot to get high, because they feel good and it makes them happy. As with other drugs.

    “On the other hand, it’s not like the minority of the population doesn’t like to get run over by cars, or something.”

    But getting hit by a car isn’t a moral, immoral action. Doesn’t apply to your code.

    Let’s look at the neighbor deal:

    GT – “I talked about “twisting the neighbor idea” because he tries to apply something like that to my moral code. I responded by saying that”
    Then you take the neighbor idea and totally twist it. Well, unless your neighbor is a tyrannical, evil dictator, there is virtually no possible (predictable) way that killing them will promote more happiness than less. Maybe they’re annoying, so you get peace of mind. But does that outweigh the grief, pain, suffering, and so forth that the neighbor and their relatives/friends/etc feel? Of course not.
    I simply stated that ”killing thy neighbor” practically always goes against my moral code.”
    ME – “Well, unless your neighbor is a tyrannical, evil dictator, there is virtually no possible (predictable) way that killing them will promote more happiness than less.”
    Ah, not so fast. Here again YOU are being arbiter of value. I can think of many possible ways that killing him would promote more happiness, according to your def. 1) child molestor. 2) Child killer 3) Serial rapist 4) Torturer of peoples pets 5) Wife and child abuser.
    I could make a pretty strong argument that any of those are good enough reasons to kill him. His death would mean no more children being molested (which as history shows, some of these kids with then go on to be molesters themselves) killed, abused (again, many abused kids turn out to be abusers themselves) etc.
    Quite a snowball effect.”
    GT – “First, Chris makes the assumption that he 100% knows that those 5 examples are true. Unless that is true, then there’s already the factor of “but if I’m wrong, there’s the factor of my killing somebody for nothing- I become the murderer!”
    Ah, so you now would include those if they were true.
    Then you say: “I believe none of the 5 options but 3 deserves the death penalty automatically.”
    But that’s YOUR OPINION!
    Remember what you said: “Because an action is only immoral if it promotes less happiness than unhappiness”
    So even if you don’t agree that it doesn’t warrant death, according to your above statement my action would be moral.
    “It’s not your duty to punish others for their crimes.”
    Says you, but your moral code says nothing of this – it’s your opinion that Government should enforce the code, but your code says nothing of “punishing” it says an action is ONLY IMMORAL if it promotes less happiness than unhappiness.
    “We allow the government to deal punishment, via the Social Contract That other person agreed, through the Social Contract, to be able to accept punishment from the government.”
    But that’s not MORALITY – that’s a social contract, outside of morality. I’m showing you that your moral code CAN’T be enforced as you have it.
    That is the point you are missing. How can say something is murder (my neighbor) when I showed you that doing so DOES NOT violate your moral code?
    But then you go back on yourself: “With the dictator, however, things are different. Some people (Stalin and Hitler) create so much evil in this world that you could be morally justified to punish them without authority from the government.”
    Wait a minute!
    Hitler and Stalin were their OWN government – they didn’t make a social contract with us. So now you are enforcing your code upon someone who didn’t agree to the social contract – so the contract is useless.
    If it can be enforced WITHOUT agreement, then it’s not a social contract.

    Anyhow, let’s get back to how you assign human value.

    “Nope. Organisms are given value based on their capacity to experience happiness and unhappiness.”

    How do you quantify that?

    Many folks with MR (mental retardation) can’t experience happiness to the same degree that we do – guess that makes them less valuable. Same with MI (mentally ill) folks.

    “Chris, you’re putting words in my mouth, and you’re lying.”

    No, I’m showing you what your moral code results in.

    “I assume based on what evidence I have, based on what you imply, based on what you say- and I know that you’re just contradicting yourself if you believe otherwise.

    Good for you. I’m glad you like talking about murder, rape, and genocide.

    I’ve already answered how my morals are more than opinion.

    I’m done with this conversation. Thank you; goodbye.”

    Well, good thing you’re done with it…quite a hole to dig out of. GT

    Now, you did ask a lot of questions – but since you’re done I guess I don’t have to deal with them. However, if you do wish them answered by all means ask in a separate post (to keep things in order) and we can debate them.

    Anyway, that was fun!

    Too bad you have to stomp off…I actually thought you were better than that…

  6. One lasts posts, on this because I don’t take calling people liars or saying someone’s lying lightly.

    Here’s the section:

    ME – “What I’m showing you is that you do not give humans an inherent value. To you, a humans value can be gained and lost depending on your mood, opinion, IE morals. And thus, to you a human ONLY has value if it can feel pain and experience emotion. Well, what about those humans who can’t feel pain? Are they fully human to you, or can they be killed without issue?”

    YOU – I don’t give humans an inherent value just for being humans, I give them value for their capacity to experience happiness and unhappiness.

    Also, where the hell did you get the idea that I assign value based on mood?! Not only did I never say that, but that completely and utterly slams my code of morality that I’ve explained hundreds of times, because my mood is not the decider of what does and does not make people happy.

    Chris, you’re putting words in my mouth, and you’re lying.”

    You seemed to miss the point entirely.

    So here I’ll put it very clearly.

    Your moral code is based on EMOTION. EMOTION is influence by many factors, one of those factors?

    MOOD.

    And, as I showed in the other posts that yes you do assign human values as whim based on YOUR opinion, emotions, and yes, even mood.

    Now, that is NOT putting words in you mouth – that is SHOWING you the fault of your emotion based morals.

    It’s not LYING either, because I quote you, and show you.

    The one not being honest here, appears to be you GT with your own moral code.

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