Everything we do is for our own benefit
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20-03-2014, 09:46 PM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
(20-03-2014 08:43 PM)Baruch Wrote:  The fact you dont care about the massive benefit to the other is great - its precisely my point, it means the other can have a massive benefit with your little gain - without you caring too much for your ego to explode.
I have very little ego and I don't get jeolous. I don't care if someone else gets more intense gains or longer term gains than myself from my own actions.
All that is important to me is that I benefit otherwise my actions are irrational from my perspective.
(20-03-2014 08:43 PM)Baruch Wrote:  However X may end up suffering or regretting giving to Y later on and in totality X may have diminished benefit. (what if X gets hit by a bus and never gets to feel the satisfaction or if X simply forgets they gave to Y ! )
Yes, we don't always get it right. Sometimes we think we will get benefit and it ends up that we don't. But hopefully we learn and move on from our mistakes.
e.g. My wife joined a charity group, became member of the board (treasurer). It was a great way for her to get back into the business side of things after a hiatus looking after young children. It was to build up her confidence and prepare her for a real job, she also was going to get warm fuzzies from doing something for the community.
As it turns out it was a thankless job, no-one in the community expressed any thanks, internally there was a lot of in fighting and cattiness. She did gain her business confidence but gained no warm fuzzies. She left and was greatful for not having to waste her time on the charity anymore.
But just because her benefits weren't realised it doesn't meant that your motives weren't for her own benefit.
(20-03-2014 08:43 PM)Baruch Wrote:  
Quote:Why does it become rational for person x to fill person y's need?
Because for a tiny benefit (and potential loss) person X has the ability to overwhelmingly benefit Y.
If it were for an expected loss to person X then it would be irrational for person X to take action to benefit person Y.

I really do think that in the situation of person Y being a starving beggar then person X gives food to person Y because person X associates with person Y, has empathy and/or feels morally obliged. Thus motivation is to relieve one self of the empathy pains or to do what one believes to be one's duty.

Giving blood is a better test case.
As you say it is hard to know or accept that you have benefited anyone, and you may feel pain and tired for your own experience. If you don't do it out of duty how do you rationalise doing it?
It seems you didn't like the experience Baruch. Are you still keen to give blood? Is it something you will do every year?
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22-03-2014, 10:32 AM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
Quote:
Quote: Baruch Wrote: The fact you dont care about the massive benefit to the other is great - its precisely my point, it means the other can have a massive benefit with your little gain - without you caring too much for your ego to explode.
I have very little ego and I don't get jeolous. I don't care if someone else gets more intense gains or longer term gains than myself from my own actions.
All that is important to me is that I benefit otherwise my actions are irrational from my perspective.

I understand Stevil that you dont care if someone gets more intense gains or long term gains than your self and your interested only in self gain.
However can you some up why this is RATIONAL to only be interested in self benefit ? I understand it is desired - but are only desires of self benefit rational ?

There is something that got lost in this long dialogue & it may be strikingly obvious - we may be interested in self benefit because we value it & feel good ("warm & fuzzy satisfaction" - but why is is specifically rational ? (not just a pleasant emotional experience for ourselves to self gain but irrational ?

Is the only reason why it was rational for your wife to do charity work was for warm fuzzy experiences ? She didn't get warm fuzziness - therefore it was irrational to continue doing charity ?

If we are discussing motivations are all motivations rational in your opinion ? Reason being all motivations require some personal benefit ? If somehow personal benefit didn't occur then the motivation becomes irrational ?

Quote:It seems you didn't like the experience Baruch. Are you still keen to give blood?
I would still do an action which can benefit other people even if I don't necessarily like the experiences. I don't see why not liking an experience must be irrational.

Is it not possible for an individual to take multiple perspectives - eg you can take the perspective of a what is rational for your group in terms of success, the species, all species, one of your cells and even what is rational for different aspects of your own life experience (eg what would be a rationally required to benefit in the future but not now)

We want pleasure and dislike pain, that's just a psychological empirical observation - however in and of itself what makes this rational ?
If you say successful "survival or reproduction" then why is this rational for yourself only ? (it may be rational for survival of the species - but you don't care about the species)

If someone is ONLY interested in themselves (lets say the narcissistic psychopath) then wouldn't the RATIONAL conclusion be that they are in effect taking the role of a cancer within a species ? The cancer cell utilizes resources only for itself - it "doesnt care" about other organs & the host and from the cancer cells point of view (if we can imagine such a thing) what it is doing may seem rational ?
The facts that the cancer cell eventually kills the host is irrelevant in this thought experiment because as the narcissistic psychopath may reason - everyone dies anyway, doesn't matter how, as long as I benefit.
However why is it rational only to take the view of the cancer cell ? We can take multiple views and the view of other cells would be working in harmony is rational ? We can take the view of the entire host and what is rational for its benefit ?
Why in your opinion ONLY the view of the cancer cell is rational ? SO what if it gets the most immediate gratification ? So what if it gets immediate benefits ?

A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence -
David Hume


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22-03-2014, 07:20 PM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
(22-03-2014 10:32 AM)Baruch Wrote:  However can you some up why this is RATIONAL to only be interested in self benefit ? I understand it is desired - but are only desires of self benefit rational ?
You claim that it is rational to feed someone else because they are hungry.
You deny the necessity to have empathy or conditioning or beliefs as something that makes Person X care about Person Y's predicament.

Let's put it this way.
If you throw your food into a ditch it might get eaten by millions of bacteria. Millions get feed rather than one individual.
Thus wouldn't it make more logical sense to feed millions rather than one?

But of course you will say the human's life is more important than that of the bacteria. Now we are delving into a humanistic belief system. Why do you think a human's life is more important? Could it be because you are human and you can relate (empathy) to that of a human? Is it because you gain more personal value from living within a society of humans that take care of each other?

There is a reason why you walk past millions of hungry bacteria without a second thought but instead feed the hungry human being. It isn't simply because the human is hungry (the bacteria are hungry too).
There is a link between you and this human. You gain personal value from feeding the human you don't get this same value from feeding bacteria.

(22-03-2014 10:32 AM)Baruch Wrote:  - we may be interested in self benefit because we value it & feel good ("warm & fuzzy satisfaction" - but why is is specifically rational ?
It is rational to fulfil our own needs and wants.
If you are hungry it is rational for you to eat because there is a direct link between you and yourself. You benefit from taking action to support your own needs.

(22-03-2014 10:32 AM)Baruch Wrote:  Is the only reason why it was rational for your wife to do charity work was for warm fuzzy experiences ? She didn't get warm fuzziness - therefore it was irrational to continue doing charity ?
That's right, that's why she made the rational decision to quit.

(22-03-2014 10:32 AM)Baruch Wrote:  If we are discussing motivations are all motivations rational in your opinion ?
No they are not all rational.
People that act out due to conditioning, beliefs or out of panic aren't basing their decisions on rational logic.

(22-03-2014 10:32 AM)Baruch Wrote:  Reason being all motivations require some personal benefit ? If somehow personal benefit didn't occur then the motivation becomes irrational ?
It's not about whether benefit was actually realised. That's confused logic.
It's about the expectation of benefit. People do get it wrong sometimes, maybe luck doesn't go their way, maybe something else outside of their control hinders the benefits from being realised.
But if a person does something without expectation of benefit then this is irrational. They are likely acting out of conditioning or belief rather than reasoned rational logic.


(22-03-2014 10:32 AM)Baruch Wrote:  it may be rational for survival of the species - but you don't care about the species)
It could be reasoned that global warming could be avoided if we killed all the people. That all the billions of non human animals would be better off.
This would be irrational because it would mean I need to kill me, and my loved ones. How do I benefit from that?

(22-03-2014 10:32 AM)Baruch Wrote:  If someone is ONLY interested in themselves (lets say the narcissistic psychopath) then wouldn't the RATIONAL conclusion be that they are in effect taking the role of a cancer within a species ?
This is a very poor analogy because a selfish person would not be a narcissistic psychopath. A selfish person would want to avoid prison, avoid unnecessary danger, would want to live within society where people don't murder each other.
It seems to me you haven't put much thought into this analogy.
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23-03-2014, 04:28 PM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
Quote:
Quote:Baruch Wrote: However can you some up why this is RATIONAL to only be interested in self benefit ? I understand it is desired - but are only desires of self benefit rational ?

You claim that it is rational to feed someone else because they are hungry.
You deny the necessity to have empathy or conditioning or beliefs as something that makes Person X care about Person Y's predicament.

Let's put it this way.
If you throw your food into a ditch it might get eaten by millions of bacteria. Millions get feed rather than one individual.
Thus wouldn't it make more logical sense to feed millions rather than one?

The analogy with feeding bacteria is terrible. This is because bacteria don't "suffer" and "need" things in the same way as beings with consciousness like we have.
If you argued about feeding chimpanzees or some animal rights based on the same argument then this might work - eg Peter Singers type of utilitarianism. Peter Singer does NOT include creatures who don't have the capacity to suffer or lack consciousness.

Empathy means one can appreciate/know someone else's need's - it does not automatically mean someone must act to remove the empathy because of taking away associated guilt or removing "empathy pain" for their own benefit. Empathy itself is not causal but more like an epistemological method to become aware of another (of course it can also fail eg empathy for non conscious objects).
The cause is having a desire to help others, and as you mentioned yourself NOT all desires or motivations are for self benefit.
Empathy may be part of the causal chain but does not necessitate self benefit.
Empathy is also not necessary & sufficient for the casual chain (but often associated). - [see previous comments on people who can still act to help others with empathy disorders]


Quote:
Quote: Baruch Wrote: - we may be interested in self benefit because we value it & feel good ("warm & fuzzy satisfaction" - but why is is specifically rational ?

It is rational to fulfill our own needs and wants.
If you are hungry it is rational for you to eat because there is a direct link between you and yourself. You benefit from taking action to support your own needs.

This is the key point - and you did not answer but evaded.
Why is it rational to fulfill your own needs & wants but not others ?
Yes it fulfills a personal desire, but not all desire fulfillment is rational (as you agreed). Maybe we are using "rational" in different ways.

A direct link between "you and yourself" ????? Tautology ????? What do you mean ?
The "self" isn't some causally isolated bubble.

There is a direct link between myself and other humans (especially those I interact with).

We are not isolated automatons but socially intertwined on many levels.
We may not directly share another persons organs but we share "mental/conscious space" with others (emotionally, intellectually, culturally, socially).
I would go as far as saying it is irrational & absurd to consider oneself in compete isolation (& very bad pseudo-science).
There is nothing woo woo or irrational about the idea of the self not being some isolated bubble and I can reference many neuroscience + cognitive mind philosophy research. (we are not just a sack of neurons - but body, environment and social interactions all combined, of course the neurons are necessary but not sufficient.)
The causal mechanism is far more complex that "rational for self benefit & irrational to benefit others." Perhaps you would want to explain further or you have a very simplistic naive approach ? (no insult intended)

Quote: Baruch Wrote: Is the only reason why it was rational for your wife to do charity work was for warm fuzzy experiences ? She didn't get warm fuzziness - therefore it was irrational to continue doing charity ?

That's right, that's why she made the rational decision to quit

You mean a DESIRE to quit. The desire is not necessarily rational.


Quote:
Quote: Baruch Wrote: If we are discussing motivations are all motivations rational in your opinion ?

No they are not all rational.
People that act out due to conditioning, beliefs or out of panic aren't basing their decisions on rational logic.

Not sure what you mean by beliefs - because a belief can be rational. (I dont think you mean "faith" ???) Of course we act on beliefs, but they may be based on rational ideas.

Quote:
Quote: Baruch Wrote: Reason being all motivations require some personal benefit ? If somehow personal benefit didn't occur then the motivation becomes irrational ?

It's not about whether benefit was actually realized. That's confused logic.

I understand this point. If someone accidentally benefited from your actions and you didn't benefit then you believe you acted irrationally. However go back to my previous point - not all self benefit is rational.

Quote:
Quote:Baruch Wrote: it may be rational for survival of the species - but you don't care about the species)

It could be reasoned that global warming could be avoided if we killed all the people. That all the billions of non human animals would be better off.
This would be irrational because it would mean I need to kill me, and my loved ones. How do I benefit from that?

I have a simple answer - If my family was going to die and I could save them and die as a result I would do so and consider this to be a reasonable decision. My self benefit is negligible and limited because I do not believe in an afterlife - and even the final moments are not exactly "self benefit" - because I would still consider this to be reasonable even if accidentally I didn't feel any 'satisfaction' in the last moments. The logic is simple - I value them as a group more than I value myself. Likewise it does not have to be family but dying to save someone else I value through a rational deliberation more than my self. Of course I value myself and not suicidal - but there are others I consider of higher value.
I am not discussing some absolute external values here - I dont need to believe in anything external - just subjective human social interactions, I subjectively value some people more than myself and hence willing to benefit them more than myself.

Are you saying it is impossible or irrational to value someone else more than yourself ? Are you saying you can ONLY attach a value yourself ? Of course I value my own life but it is possible to rationally decide other people are of greater value.

Quote:
Quote: Baruch Wrote: If someone is ONLY interested in themselves (lets say the narcissistic psychopath) then wouldn't the RATIONAL conclusion be that they are in effect taking the role of a cancer within a species ?

This is a very poor analogy because a selfish person would not be a narcissistic psychopath. A selfish person would want to avoid prison, avoid unnecessary danger, would want to live within society where people don't murder each other.
It seems to me you haven't put much thought into this analogy.

The analogy is just fine, some people desire the well being of others even if they dont benefit all that much. Whilst some people desire only their own benefit. Not all desires are rational - a desire for self benefit may be irrational and a desire for others benefit may be rational or vice versa.


Some suggestions why there might be confusion here:
In philosophy there is the "Value-Fact distinction" similar to David Hume's Is/Ought distinction in metaphysics (or better anti-metaphysics !!! or metaphysical skepticism).
According to this it is not more reasonable for you to self benefit that to benefit others.
Your desire for self benefit is because you value yourself only. I value helping others because I value myself and others or in some cases others more that myself. (this is not judgmental - just a reflection of desires)
The facts are that all these values are just subjective mental states - your subjective value for yourself is no more reasonable than valuing others.

Of course evolution - from social & biological causal process as facts (natural selection) bring about a situation were human survival could not occur if there were no subjective values perceived about oneself & others. In some sense subjective values as mental states are objective because they are a necessary part of the biological world otherwise we cannot exist. (the counter-factual of not valuing yourself or others would lead to extinction)

A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence -
David Hume


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23-03-2014, 04:58 PM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
(23-03-2014 04:28 PM)Baruch Wrote:  
Quote:
Thus wouldn't it make more logical sense to feed millions rather than one?
The analogy with feeding bacteria is terrible. This is because bacteria don't "suffer" and "need" things in the same way as beings with consciousness like we have.
You are invoking empathy here.
Without empathy, the suffering of others is unimportant.
(23-03-2014 04:28 PM)Baruch Wrote:  Empathy means one can appreciate/know someone else's needs - it does not automatically mean someone must act to remove the empathy because of taking away associated guilt or removing "empathy pain" for their own benefit. Empathy itself is not causal but more like an epistemological method to become aware of another (of course it can also fail eg empathy for non conscious objects).
So what if you are aware of suffering, why would you care enough to take action to end that suffering?
You do so because you have empathy for the sufferer.
(23-03-2014 04:28 PM)Baruch Wrote:  Empathy may be part of the causal chain but does not necessitate self benefit.
It does if your cause to action is to alleviate your own empathy pains.

(23-03-2014 04:28 PM)Baruch Wrote:  
Quote:It is rational to fulfill our own needs and wants.
If you are hungry it is rational for you to eat because there is a direct link between you and yourself. You benefit from taking action to support your own needs.
This is the key point - and you did not answer but evaded.
Why is it rational to fulfill your own needs & wants but not others ?
Hmmm, I've explained why it is rational to fulfill one's own needs.
I have also explained why it is not rational to fulfill someone else's needs. Because Person X is not person Y. There needs to be a causal link otherwise we have "spooky cause at a distance"
(23-03-2014 04:28 PM)Baruch Wrote:  A direct link between "you and yourself" ????? Tautology ????? What do you mean ?
There is a distinct difference between yourself and someone else.
Your body gives you feedback if it needs food, so you then feed yourself. If evolution didn't drive us this way then we would forget to eat, we would then starve and nor procreate.
What is the link between you and some stranger?
(23-03-2014 04:28 PM)Baruch Wrote:  There is a direct link between myself and other humans (especially those I interact with).

We are not isolated automatons but socially intertwined on many levels.
We may not directly share another persons organs but we share "mental/conscious space" with others (emotionally, intellectually, culturally, socially).
There is a link between myself and others because I like sex, so I want a woman to interact with. I don't know how to run a water supply so I want people to do this for me. I don't know how to perform medical procedures so I want people to do this for me. I might get bored without friends, so I want friends...
(23-03-2014 04:28 PM)Baruch Wrote:  I would go as far as saying it is irrational & absurd to consider oneself in compete isolation (& very bad pseudo-science).
That would be absurd, but this statement is beside the point. We are discussion causal motivation to action, not whether a person believes their own actions may not have consequences such that others might react back on them.
I accept that if I go around harming people then eventually (probably pretty quickly) society will attack me back. Removing me as a threat such that people can continue living within society safely.
Your statement above is a strawman that I don't go by.
(23-03-2014 04:28 PM)Baruch Wrote:  There is nothing woo woo or irrational about the idea of the self not being some isolated bubble and I can reference many neuroscience + cognitive mind philosophy research. (we are not just a sack of neurons - but body, environment and social interactions all combined, of course the neurons are necessary but not sufficient.)
There is woo woo when you consider that If person Y is hungry then Person X is motivated to feed them even if person X has no benefit. This is effect without cause.

(23-03-2014 04:28 PM)Baruch Wrote:  The causal mechanism is far more complex that "rational for self benefit & irrational to benefit others." Perhaps you would want to explain further or you have a very simplistic naive approach ? (no insult intended)
I think that your approach is simplistic and naive. You ignore empathy, you ignore the benefits that society provides for the individual, you mis-characterise selfishness with narcissism and psychopathic behaviour.
I really feel you have an agenda that you are trying to assert rather than exploring ideas that I am conveying and I am sure you would say the same of me.
I doubt even now you are able to articulate the difference between a selfish person and a narcissistic psychopath.
I doubt you currently have the ability to imagine what the world would look like if you were to take a purely selfish approach to it. I doubt you could understand why a selfish person may feed a hungry homeless person or why a selfish person may help an old lady across a street, or why a selfish person doesn't steal from others or kill others.
I think at this point we must end this conversation, otherwise we will wind up resenting each other.
We are merely going in circles here. Saying the same things over and over. We are not going to see eye to eye on this.
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24-03-2014, 02:13 AM (This post was last modified: 24-03-2014 02:52 PM by Baruch.)
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
One of the reasons why your position may be irrational or lack explanatory power is it is circular:

"If a person willingly performs an act, that means he derives personal enjoyment from it; therefore, people only perform acts that give them personal enjoyment." In particular, seemingly altruistic acts must be performed because people derive enjoyment from them and are therefore, in reality, egoistic. This statement is circular because its conclusion is identical to its hypothesis: it assumes that people only perform acts that give them personal enjoyment, and concludes that people only perform acts that give them personal enjoyment.

In other words:

"All men desire only satisfaction."

"Satisfaction of what?"

"Satisfaction of their desires."

"Their desires for what?"

"Their desires for satisfaction."

"Satisfaction of what?"

"Their desires."

"For what?"

"For satisfaction"—etc ....ad infinitum.


The example I gave about being willing to die for rescuing family members or other people valued more than oneself has better explanatory power. Firstly there is not necessarily satisfaction experiences as I explained (might not be enough time) and no afterlife.
The explanation being person X did action A to help Y because they desired to do so. The cause of that desire could be multifaceted and have many reasons.

According to you the only motive someone is willing to die to rescue the family is their desire for self satisfaction (or conditioning but we excluded this) and satisfaction is the only reason for the desire....and desire is the only reason for the satisfaction. Your equivocating desire with satisfaction as the same thing or tautology..

You accuse me of spooky action at a distance when it is reasonable to make a decision about something and not do it only for satisfaction. On the other hand what your saying may be limited to circularity & tautology.

________________________________________________________________


On another note: You seem to have got upset, none of what I said is normative "oughts" so in some sense we are just discussing facts, not what people ought to do. I have no problem with egoism and in some sense actually prefer an "enlightened egoism." I think altuism is definitely possible because we can value others more than ourselves as I stated (and the example of saving ones family even when not believing in an afterlife etc)

However it may be a relief to you that I don't see altruism as "always good" and Selfishness as "always bad" - reason being systems which have tried to influence people towards altruistic behaviour can be a complete disaster. (and likewise for selfishness)
I am considering Ayn Rands book "We the living" and "The virtue of selfishness" as essays which explore this issue from an ethical egoistic perspective. On the opposite perspective unenlightened selfishness probably leads to narcissism. There is a difference - not all ethical egoists are narcissistic and I do know the difference.

____________________________________________________________


On another point - and very important:

Why is your position somehow superior to conditioning ? Self benefit is also conditioning. Your conditioned to only serve yourself. Conditioned to only do an action for self benefit. That puts you in the same place as myself when you said that a person does an altruistic act because of conditioning.

Quote:
Quote: This is the key point - and you did not answer but evaded.
Why is it rational to fulfill your own needs & wants but not others ?
Hmmm, I've explained why it is rational to fulfill one's own needs.

You have not explained why it is rational to fulfill only one's own needs - just that you are conditioned to do so because you are hungry, you eat. Just conditioning. Why any different to conditioning ? It is not more "rational" than helping another. Your conditioned towards ethical egoism, others conditioned towards rule utilitarianism, others towards deontology etc.

Evolutionary process for survival & reproduction have given us the capability for desiring to help others and desiring to help ourselves - we have complex motives and not just self satisfaction.

____________________________________

On another point - your not arguing for amoralism but ethical egoism. (which is not denial of morality) i.e you are arguing it is rational to be an ethical egoist and we ought to be.
(presupposing we ought to be rational)
Thats more like objectivism or ethical egoism not amoralism.

If just doing everything to benefit yourself is just conditioning then it is no more rational to benefit yourself that to benefit others - this would be an amoralism. (just an empirical description of what people do - no oughts implied)

A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence -
David Hume


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24-03-2014, 11:07 PM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
(24-03-2014 02:13 AM)Baruch Wrote:  One of the reasons why your position may be irrational or lack explanatory power is it is circular
Would you be interested in exploring a hypothetical planet filled with selfish people?

We can hypothesis what this planet would look like, how different people would behave, how societies might look.

I think this might show you the explanatory power behind the idea.
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25-03-2014, 02:35 AM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
(24-03-2014 11:07 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(24-03-2014 02:13 AM)Baruch Wrote:  One of the reasons why your position may be irrational or lack explanatory power is it is circular
Would you be interested in exploring a hypothetical planet filled with selfish people?

We can hypothesis what this planet would look like, how different people would behave, how societies might look.

I think this might show you the explanatory power behind the idea.


Have you every read Ayn Rands virtue of selfishness ? She (or Leonard Peikoff/objectivist philosophy - had to come up somewhere in this discussion) [b]does NOT have an amoralist position - far from it.[/b}

In any case according to you everyone is either selfish or conditioned - so we do live on such a planet.

And you didn't answer my points about selfishness also being conditioning according to a similar formulation or even circular if not taking others genuinely into account as part of the causal chain. (i.e not only ones own satisfaction as desire fulfillment, but also other peoples needs as part of an expanded self concept)

Neither you addressed being willing to die for the benefit of others whom one values more than oneself despite their not being an afterlife or time for satisfaction.

Neither you addressed the fact/value distinction points and how you are using the term rational. (this fits well with the selfishness also being conditioning if any altruism is conditioning)

A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence -
David Hume


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25-03-2014, 03:27 AM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
(25-03-2014 02:35 AM)Baruch Wrote:  Have you every read Ayn Rands virtue of selfishness ?
No I haven't

(25-03-2014 02:35 AM)Baruch Wrote:  In any case according to you everyone is either selfish or conditioned - so we do live on such a planet.
Yes, but I thought you think a selfish person needs to be enlightened to avoid narcissism. I think I can show that an unenlightend selfish person can behave within the norms of society.

(25-03-2014 02:35 AM)Baruch Wrote:  And you didn't answer my points about selfishness also being conditioning according to a similar formulation
I thought it would be much easier to walk you through the thinking behind a selfish person's decision making process rather than to address this directly.

I'm not sure on the best approach to get us both seeing eye to eye. There is a fair level of talking past each other going on here.

I define conditioning as acting out of beliefs or habit e.g. a person believes in morality and wants to be good thus they do what they believe to be good even if they receive no benefit.
This is in contrast to a person whom merely wants to satisfy their own needs and wants. They are not acting out of belief but instead they are rationalising their decisions based on the calculated benefits to themselves.
Two different mindsets which can appear to be very similar, just rationalised differently. One based on belief one not based on belief.


(25-03-2014 02:35 AM)Baruch Wrote:  or even circular
I don't understand your reference to circular. Lacking moral beliefs and acting out of selfish interest is not necessarily circular. I think if I walk you through the thought processes of a selfish person then you will see this. If it is circular then you can point out to me where I am having circular logic. But as I see it there is nothing circular about lacking a belief in gods and there is nothing circular about lacking a belief in moral truths. It is merely a lack of belief.

(25-03-2014 02:35 AM)Baruch Wrote:  Neither you addressed being willing to die for the benefit of others whom one values more than oneself despite their not being an afterlife or time for satisfaction.
Some people sacrifice themselves in panic situations, or due to beliefs and conditioning. I can even rationalise a selfish person sacrificing themselves in a situation where they would deem living as worse than personal death e.g. a Father who could have sacrificed his own life for his loved young daughter. This father may live the rest of his life in misery wishing he had died rather than his daughter. It is an emotive and empathy driven thing. An empathetic pain that could have only been bought off by self sacrifice or after the event as end of life to self.

(25-03-2014 02:35 AM)Baruch Wrote:  Neither you addressed the fact/value distinction points and how you are using the term rational. (this fits well with the selfishness also being conditioning if any altruism is conditioning)
I've addressed this many times. It is rational to satisfy your own needs because you are you. It is not rational to satisfy someone else's needs if you get no benefit because you are not that someone else. Why would you care about them getting benefit? Where is the link that would make you care?

I think if we discuss in this way then we continue to go in circles. I would like to walk you through the thinking process of a selfish society. But I understand if you are not keen to do this.
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25-03-2014, 01:37 PM
RE: Everything we do is for our own benefit
(25-03-2014 03:27 AM)Stevil Wrote:  
(25-03-2014 02:35 AM)Baruch Wrote:  Have you every read Ayn Rands virtue of selfishness ?
No I haven't

(25-03-2014 02:35 AM)Baruch Wrote:  In any case according to you everyone is either selfish or conditioned - so we do live on such a planet.
Yes, but I thought you think a selfish person needs to be enlightened to avoid narcissism. I think I can show that an unenlightend selfish person can behave within the norms of society.

(25-03-2014 02:35 AM)Baruch Wrote:  And you didn't answer my points about selfishness also being conditioning according to a similar formulation
I thought it would be much easier to walk you through the thinking behind a selfish person's decision making process rather than to address this directly.

I'm not sure on the best approach to get us both seeing eye to eye. There is a fair level of talking past each other going on here.

I define conditioning as acting out of beliefs or habit e.g. a person believes in morality and wants to be good thus they do what they believe to be good even if they receive no benefit.
This is in contrast to a person whom merely wants to satisfy their own needs and wants. They are not acting out of belief but instead they are rationalising their decisions based on the calculated benefits to themselves.
Two different mindsets which can appear to be very similar, just rationalised differently. One based on belief one not based on belief.


(25-03-2014 02:35 AM)Baruch Wrote:  or even circular
I don't understand your reference to circular. Lacking moral beliefs and acting out of selfish interest is not necessarily circular. I think if I walk you through the thought processes of a selfish person then you will see this. If it is circular then you can point out to me where I am having circular logic. But as I see it there is nothing circular about lacking a belief in gods and there is nothing circular about lacking a belief in moral truths. It is merely a lack of belief.

(25-03-2014 02:35 AM)Baruch Wrote:  Neither you addressed being willing to die for the benefit of others whom one values more than oneself despite their not being an afterlife or time for satisfaction.
Some people sacrifice themselves in panic situations, or due to beliefs and conditioning. I can even rationalise a selfish person sacrificing themselves in a situation where they would deem living as worse than personal death e.g. a Father who could have sacrificed his own life for his loved young daughter. This father may live the rest of his life in misery wishing he had died rather than his daughter. It is an emotive and empathy driven thing. An empathetic pain that could have only been bought off by self sacrifice or after the event as end of life to self.

(25-03-2014 02:35 AM)Baruch Wrote:  Neither you addressed the fact/value distinction points and how you are using the term rational. (this fits well with the selfishness also being conditioning if any altruism is conditioning)
I've addressed this many times. It is rational to satisfy your own needs because you are you. It is not rational to satisfy someone else's needs if you get no benefit because you are not that someone else. Why would you care about them getting benefit? Where is the link that would make you care?

I think if we discuss in this way then we continue to go in circles. I would like to walk you through the thinking process of a selfish society. But I understand if you are not keen to do this.

Go ahead & walk me through your opinion.

By the way - you are not arguing for an amoral position but a moral system called ethical egoism - this is NOT a denial of ethics or morality. (hence your not an amoralist)
It is a positive assertion of a moral code - hence why it is useful to read the virtue of selfishness by Ayn Rand - you might like it.

One can be just as conditioned to believe in ethical egoism than any other moral system (deontology, types of utalitarianism, virtue ethics or whatever)
[As exception maybe divine command ethical theory - because I'm not sure this is even coherent to start with & God has nothing to do with this discussion. ]

Also - we are using the word "belief" in different ways. Not sure what you mean by the term or suggesting "faith" - we all have beliefs and some may rationally believe that someone else genuinely has more value to live for than themselves and give to them with minimal benefit or even loss to themselves - as a rational decision not conditioned. (I'm talking about rational people - not some panic situation or self loathing suicidal person)

One reason why we may be talking past each other is that beliefs are also part of "needs and wants" repertoire - hence a selfish person also acts out of beliefs about what they want & need - and these can easily be conditioned.
(hence why I dont understand what you mean by beliefs - a person can have rational beliefs)
Likewise some one may want to help someone else just as much as wanting to help themselves if there are rational reasons to do so.

I have worked with cognitive behavioral therapies and hypnosis - and virtually any need & want can be altered by changing beliefs. (To an extent - if your bladder is full and need to pee, eventually regardless of what you believe you will have to let go at some point - but then this becomes conditioning & reflex)
However "wants" are definitely highly belief based & prone to conditioning (both what you want for yourself & for others).
"Needs" tend to be more biologically hardwired - but this requires a full discussion on the distinction [and not sure if we even agree on the distinction].
If the need is too biologically determined then it becomes a conditioned or reflex like process (eg limits to holding ones breath, bladder, responses to acute immediate pain etc)

A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence -
David Hume


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