Reason and Morality

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Burning ghost
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Reason and Morality

Post by Burning ghost » July 31st, 2017, 4:38 am

I am very much of the opinion that reason can often lead a person away from making a moral decision. Instead of making a moral choice we often find ourselves avoiding such an act of responsibility and putting our weight behind the "rational" choice rather than the "moral" choice.

I am not suggesting we shouldn't consider the logical facts of a situation, but I am opposed to making decisions based only by theoretically weighing possible outcomes against each other and then favouring the one that sways further toward an resolution that takes away moral responsibility.
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Re: Reason and Morality

Post by Spectrum » August 1st, 2017, 11:08 pm

Burning ghost wrote:I am very much of the opinion that reason can often lead a person away from making a moral decision. Instead of making a moral choice we often find ourselves avoiding such an act of responsibility and putting our weight behind the "rational" choice rather than the "moral" choice.

I am not suggesting we shouldn't consider the logical facts of a situation, but I am opposed to making decisions based only by theoretically weighing possible outcomes against each other and then favouring the one that sways further toward an resolution that takes away moral responsibility.
I believe you are referring ethical decision based on casuistry - Trolley - ethics. This is a common approach [of using reason] in studying moral and ethics. Such an approach is really a farce as there will be infinite situations and by the time one reason [calculate] to arrive at the most optimal decision, it is likely to be too late.

What I have been proposing is to approach Moral and Ethics using a holistic Framework and System where reason and intuition [spontaneity] are used in a spontaneous manner.

It is like a professional sport-person who develop his/her skill using reason [lots of thinking, planning, logic, etc.] and all sorts of knowledge [Science, philosophy & whatever] to his potential and when in competition s/he executes his/her skills spontaneously without conscious thinking and reasoning. And for the sake of greater improvement, the sport-person will review his past actions and make the necessary improvements.

The model and principles for the development of skill for a sport person can be applied to Moral and Ethics albeit with added complexities.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

Burning ghost
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Re: Reason and Morality

Post by Burning ghost » August 2nd, 2017, 4:04 am

Yep! That is my thinking. Surprising that many just don't get it and keep on with the calculated idea of "morality" rather than being responsible for their thoughts.

I use rationality to find how I would like to act in some given situation. I find I can always imagine some situation where I am simply at a loss as to what I would do. Further still I have come to the conclusion that at the heart of the matter it is a bad idea to announce publically what you would or would not do simply because in doing so you are subject to societal ideas of what is or is not acceptable. This can completely mislead what you really think about X or Y because you'll be, on some level, trying to justify yourself to others rather than presenting the dilemma to yourself as a problem you can look at honestly rather than pandering to societal "dos and don'ts.

That said it is most certainly worth exploring these ideas with others because they may present intricacies to the problem you've not thought of and challenge aspects of your character you may well have not taken the time to investigate. Either way a great deal of caution is required to stay honest to ourselves in the face of public debate or inquiry.

-- Updated August 2nd, 2017, 4:42 am to add the following --

Or just watch South Park :)
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Re: Reason and Morality

Post by Alias » August 4th, 2017, 10:58 pm

Does anyone actually make decisions based on rational analysis?
I know we discuss the rationale of each option in thought-experiments posed on forums or in classrooms, but do we follow the same procedure in life?
I very much doubt it. Much of the the time, we don't even know what we've decided to do until we find ourselves doing it.
Sometimes we go through the motions of contemplating options, but really, we're just inventing excuses, because we already know we won't be resolute of brave or generous or patient enough to do what we know we should. Often, we're not sure what we ought to do, and muddle through, trusting our gut, or a mentor's advice.
Sometimes - rarely, but these are the occasions we prefer to recall - we know exactly what the right thing is, what we must do, and carry it through.

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Re: Reason and Morality

Post by Burning ghost » August 5th, 2017, 3:59 am

All is as a serpent -

My claim would be that people are drawn to the idea of doing so so as to shirk responsibility or justify almost any action taken. The old "rationally there was no other choice!" is basically an admittance of refusing to take direct responsibility.

It seems to me neither gut instinct or rational analysis is the best fit for any situation. At least with the first you accept your decision as your decision rather than as some mere calculation that attempts to cut out the "humanity" from the equation (so to speak.)
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Re: Reason and Morality

Post by Judaka » August 7th, 2017, 9:23 am

Rationality takes into account morality, it just weighs other aspects of the situation or desires against one's notion of morality.

For example although one might believe killing animals for meat to be unethical, they could continue to eat meat despite this on the basis that it is affordable and tasty. I suppose this is the kind of thinking you find distasteful? You desire moral conviction to be held in a higher regard to other interests and view a failure to do this negatively?

We have seen societies where morality is held above all other interests, enforced by law and society to varying extents... people at the mercy of someone else's interpretation of right and wrong. It is unpleasant and senseless, am I wrong here? Yet you say neither gut instinct or rational analysis are ideal in any situation, I am unsure of what you are suggesting is an alternative, some kind of dogmatic approach to morality? Honestly not sure what to make of this thread yet.

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Re: Reason and Morality

Post by Burning ghost » August 7th, 2017, 9:56 am

My aim here was not display my own moral ways. It was only to highlight that people often feel justified by taking actions if they can rationalise it and that sometimes such judgements are used against common sense (an example being law. Where often people agree with someones "illegal" actions and yet still send them to prison. It is in law generally where this is most apparent probably?)
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Re: Reason and Morality

Post by -1- » August 8th, 2017, 3:50 am

I don't understand the post. What is it about morality that people reason out instead of intuitively apply?

Do people struggle with moral questions in life, using reason? In "Crime and Punishment", Raskolnyikov centainly did that.

I find myself rather ruminating over past injustices, and past hugely embarrassing situations where I made myself into a ass. (No, not "an ass". That's part of the idea.)

Never have I come across in my life to decide over a moral issue using reason. Perhaps I am a sociopath? It was in each case my incredibly strong sense of guilt that had made the decision for me. I never had to move a finger to arrive at a decision.
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Re: Reason and Morality

Post by Burning ghost » August 8th, 2017, 4:48 am

Well I think most of us never really have many obviously difficult moral conundrums to deal with in day-to-day life. For people with more power and influence they have to live with these things every day. World leaders, soldiers and police officers. Even managers and supervisors will sometimes find themselves in a position where they have to weigh their views against company wishes.

What I am saying here is that no matter the decisions we make in life we will always try to reason out our actions. We don't often question our motives for good outcomes but often use calculated reasoning to cover up our responsibility and reason our way out of being the reason behind the outcome. Instead we blame reason itself rather than admit error or immoral action.

"Crime and Punishment" is a great example of this whole dilemma. One thing the book never deals with is what would have been the outcome if he had only killed the old woman? Would he have lived on and been successful having already reasoned the immoral and evil nature of the old woman. If he had then taken the money and made a success of himself and helped a great many people what real "evil" would he have committed? The old woman was clearly a nasty piece of work. His reasoning seemed sound to me although the murder did not seem very necessary and theft would have sufficed. Maybe without the death of the innocent young woman the whole book would have been abe to explore this in more depth. Maybe showing him as a successful adult in later life and then discovery the history of the old woman and coming to sympathise with her, or even become like her. Anyway, he was obviously exploring what was announced in the title of the book and not these tangential thoughts I am espousing!

1 -
Never have I come across in my life to decide over a moral issue using reason. Perhaps I am a sociopath? It was in each case my incredibly strong sense of guilt that had made the decision for me. I never had to move a finger to arrive at a decision.
This is another point and I am happy to discuss it. The "guilt" happens after the act, or imagining after an act. In many cases I am sure everyone on this forum has acted in a way that they then felt ashamed about. What is most important is that in many extreme situations we don't have time to rationalize our actions and merely act as if without thinking.

As an example I like to use the child in a burning building analogy. We may be so scared that we run to safety and the child burns to death. Like me I would imagine you'd feel pretty awful if you could've helped but were so concerned for your own safety that you ran for your life. In this sense exploring hypothetical situations like this can imbue us with the power to overwhelm certain spontaneous reactions and allow us to act as we would want to act. If you imagine that you had left a child to burn in a building and felt awful about it, and then imagine you find yourself in the same real life situation again, do you think you'd act differently than you did the first time? I really think I would then try to save the child, maybe I would fail and run away, but I imagine I would at least hesitate a little. If this scenario happened again and again I would most certainly overcome my fear and rather than fighting the intent to run I would be fighting my intent NOT to run and be trying to save the child.

The interesting point here is that I actively think about this situation and try to make myself do as I want to do. To do and be what I want to be rather than simply roll over and "react" and will be "acting" as I want to act.

The sociopath would let the child die and not bat an eye lid. For the extreme sociopath they would be in danger and remove themselves from danger. It is simple for them. For people who have affection for human life they would want to help if they could. If they looked briefly at the situation they may find the whole situation to be too risky and not risk two lives being lost over one. Others would not even think, they would simply either try and save the child or try and save themselves. The question is what person do you want to be.

There is another matter to all of this I have not really mentioned yet. It is the issue of making your decisions and reasoning explicit to other people. I think this is morally abhorrent in many situations. This is because we will lie to ourselves often when discussing with other people about what the "best" thing to do is. The principle seems to me to be honest with yourself and to do so this has to involve some dark and disturbing questions we don't even want to express to any other person. If we do so we are likely to adhere to social perspectives of what is "wrong" or "right" and find ourselves on the defensive/offensive in quite unnecessary situations where we absorb moral views that are not really our own.
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Re: Reason and Morality

Post by Judaka » August 8th, 2017, 5:01 am

Burning ghost wrote:My aim here was not display my own moral ways. It was only to highlight that people often feel justified by taking actions if they can rationalise it and that sometimes such judgements are used against common sense (an example being law. Where often people agree with someones "illegal" actions and yet still send them to prison. It is in law generally where this is most apparent probably?)
I always feel justified in taking actions if I feel I have made a rational choice, rationalising is not the same as rational analysis, the definition of rationalising according to google define is: to attempt to explain or justify (behaviour or an attitude) with logical reasons, even if these are not appropriate. It happens after the action in question has taken place and has well understood negative connotations, all of which has nothing to do with what you were talking about earlier which was that "reason can often lead a person away from making a moral decision" as you said in your opening post.

Not to mention the law is a questionable example because a particular case or circumstance in the law may hold sympathy with some group of people but unless they are somehow involved in the legal process there is no contradiction. Even if they are, lawyers, jurors and so on are not at liberty to decide how the law is operated, the few individuals have any real discretion, unless you are talking about them then I don't understand your point.

Even if I took the rest of this comment at face value, practically speaking, you can't force a structure of pre-requisites for feeling justified upon others - I can feel justified in turning up late for work even if all my reasons are ludicrous from anyone else's perspective, my medium towards this feeling cannot be characterised by anything, it could range from entitlement, to rationalisation to an alien value system. I want the freedom to choose such things for myself and I also don't trust anyone else to decide for me so I am not sure what you feel you are trying to create awareness for.

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Re: Reason and Morality

Post by Burning ghost » August 8th, 2017, 5:37 am

I have seen this kind of reaction before on forums. I am not laying down the law of how to do this or that. I am expressing certain things that intrigue me not trying to establish some bizarre moral dogma we MUST all abide by.

I guess I am asking the reader if they want to be like X or Y how do they do so. What I do is explore hypotheticals and try to understand the grey area between my views and those imposed upon me by society and popular opinion. In many circumstances someone may feel morally justified where popular opinion would punish their behavior (even though deep down many people would act against their own best moral judgements.) I think facing up to the self deceit of this social dynamic is helpful to becoming the best person you wish to be.

I have to go to work now so I will go a bit more in depth into the use of hypotheticals.

-- Updated August 8th, 2017, 5:39 am to add the following --

It is a very obvious question to ask "what do 'good' people do?" Then ask "am I a 'good' person?"

The next step is making an effort to live up to your own expectations or simply ignoring the "good". Many dilemmas present themselves.

-- Updated August 24th, 2017, 3:30 am to add the following --

Nearly forgot about this!

Basically I am saying societal moral order should not dictate how we act as individuals. Ironically it is essentially immoral to act based on set rules and laws dictated by others or under the sway of others. To act in a moral manner one should surely act without concern for what others deem as "good" or "bad". To act morally is to act as an individual with an individual feel for what you regard as "good" and "bad". What clouds this is the complexity of the idea of "good" and "bad". By this I mean we're forever refining and shifting our views of "good" and "bad", and in doing so more and more we act morally with conviction toward a "truth" rather than having some hypothetical "truth" thrust upon us that in effect partly supplants individual responsibility.

The moral way for the individual is a path of suffering and striving understanding that in the face of such suffering nothing of value may ever be gained. The moral act is one done in belief in the fruits of justice even if they are never achieved (and often they rarely are in anyone's life to any overwhelming degree.)
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Re: Reason and Morality

Post by Ranvier » August 28th, 2017, 11:28 pm

Burning ghost

Outstanding comment:
Basically I am saying societal moral order should not dictate how we act as individuals. Ironically it is essentially immoral to act based on set rules and laws dictated by others or under the sway of others. To act in a moral manner one should surely act without concern for what others deem as "good" or "bad". To act morally is to act as an individual with an individual feel for what you regard as "good" and "bad". What clouds this is the complexity of the idea of "good" and "bad". By this I mean we're forever refining and shifting our views of "good" and "bad", and in doing so more and more we act morally with conviction toward a "truth" rather than having some hypothetical "truth" thrust upon us that in effect partly supplants individual responsibility.
This is probably the best and most sensible paragraph I have read in morality forums. Bravo, I tip my "heat" in your direction.

Ex. How can one rationalize or justify executing (premeditated murder) a man on the death row... for murder. It goes against logic and morality. I faced many times legally permissible or even ethically advisable situations, yet my "internal" compass forced me to "recuse" myself from committing an immoral act that would otherwise force my hand in social or systemic pressure.

-- Updated August 28th, 2017, 11:34 pm to add the following --

*hat :)

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Re: Reason and Morality

Post by Robert_in_valhalla » August 29th, 2017, 12:18 am

"Crime and Punishment" is a great example of this whole dilemma. One thing the book never deals with is what would have been the outcome if he had only killed the old woman? Would he have lived on and been successful having already reasoned the immoral and evil nature of the old woman. If he had then taken the money and made a success of himself and helped a great many people what real "evil" would he have committed? The old woman was clearly a nasty piece of work. His reasoning seemed sound to me although the murder did not seem very necessary and theft would have sufficed. Maybe without the death of the innocent young woman the whole book would have been abe to explore this in more depth. Maybe showing him as a successful adult in later life and then discovery the history of the old woman and coming to sympathise with her, or even become like her. Anyway, he was obviously exploring what was announced in the title of the book and not these tangential thoughts I am espousing!"
Sounds like a merging of Crime and Punishment with Hugo's Les Miserables.

1 -
Never have I come across in my life to decide over a moral issue using reason. Perhaps I am a sociopath? It was in each case my incredibly strong sense of guilt that had made the decision for me. I never had to move a finger to arrive at a decision.
This is another point and I am happy to discuss it. The "guilt" happens after the act, or imagining after an act. In many cases I am sure everyone on this forum has acted in a way that they then felt ashamed about. What is most important is that in many extreme situations we don't have time to rationalize our actions and merely act as if without thinking.
As an example I like to use the child in a burning building analogy. We may be so scared that we run to safety and the child burns to death. Like me I would imagine you'd feel pretty awful if you could've helped but were so concerned for your own safety that you ran for your life. In this sense exploring hypothetical situations like this can imbue us with the power to overwhelm certain spontaneous reactions and allow us to act as we would want to act. If you imagine that you had left a child to burn in a building and felt awful about it, and then imagine you find yourself in the same real life situation again, do you think you'd act differently than you did the first time? I really think I would then try to save the child, maybe I would fail and run away, but I imagine I would at least hesitate a little. If this scenario happened again and again I would most certainly overcome my fear and rather than fighting the intent to run I would be fighting my intent NOT to run and be trying to save the child.
And this reminds me of Hugo's last or close to last scene in 93! Where the old man runs into the burning building to rescue the children. the building he had set fire to to distract and escape. Of course, his nephew, who was leading the chase after the old man, returns the favor, allowing him to go free and face the repercussions of his decisino to do so.
The interesting point here is that I actively think about this situation and try to make myself do as I want to do. To do and be what I want to be rather than simply roll over and "react" and will be "acting" as I want to act.

The sociopath would let the child die and not bat an eye lid. For the extreme sociopath they would be in danger and remove themselves from danger. It is simple for them. For people who have affection for human life they would want to help if they could. If they looked briefly at the situation they may find the whole situation to be too risky and not risk two lives being lost over one. Others would not even think, they would simply either try and save the child or try and save themselves. The question is what person do you want to be.

There is another matter to all of this I have not really mentioned yet. It is the issue of making your decisions and reasoning explicit to other people. I think this is morally abhorrent in many situations. This is because we will lie to ourselves often when discussing with other people about what the "best" thing to do is. The principle seems to me to be honest with yourself and to do so this has to involve some dark and disturbing questions we don't even want to express to any other person. If we do so we are likely to adhere to social perspectives of what is "wrong" or "right" and find ourselves on the defensive/offensive in quite unnecessary situations where we absorb moral views that are not really our own.
We must sell ourselves on what should be done? And yet to lecture or make your reasons explicit to others is "morally abhorrent". I offer advice everyday. Part of what I do, based on 20 or so years in the field I am in. Likewise I rely on and act on that same judgment myself. They are seamless. Not only that but the rational or reasonable and what is moral or ethical are largely seamless. Now granted I am pointing to what most would describe as business ethics, I would argue there is little difference regarding the process between business ethics and ethics, morality, and any other codes of conduct.

That said, I would argue for something much more situation-based, yet creative and ideally transcendent. It is in the situation that the creative is found.

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Re: Reason and Morality

Post by Robert_in_valhalla » August 29th, 2017, 12:33 am

Ranvier wrote:Burning ghost

Outstanding comment:
Basically I am saying societal moral order should not dictate how we act as individuals. Ironically it is essentially immoral to act based on set rules and laws dictated by others or under the sway of others. To act in a moral manner one should surely act without concern for what others deem as "good" or "bad". To act morally is to act as an individual with an individual feel for what you regard as "good" and "bad". What clouds this is the complexity of the idea of "good" and "bad". By this I mean we're forever refining and shifting our views of "good" and "bad", and in doing so more and more we act morally with conviction toward a "truth" rather than having some hypothetical "truth" thrust upon us that in effect partly supplants individual responsibility.
This is probably the best and most sensible paragraph I have read in morality forums. Bravo, I tip my "heat" in your direction.

Ex. How can one rationalize or justify executing (premeditated murder) a man on the death row... for murder. It goes against logic and morality. I faced many times legally permissible or even ethically advisable situations, yet my "internal" compass forced me to "recuse" myself from committing an immoral act that would otherwise force my hand in social or systemic pressure.

-- Updated August 28th, 2017, 11:34 pm to add the following --

*hat :)
This is true if and only if the good is derived purely from the individual. What if the good is derived not from the individual but from his or her interaction with others. What if the good is largely the "lingua franca" of the land and its people. And like most places they have their good points and their bad. Keep in mind all the bad acts which the social dynamic limits and moderates, unless you are suggesting that the social is that which corrupts the individual.

Both the original quote and the later point to internal feelings and compasses. I would argue these are largely products of one's social milieu, one's upbringing, one's education. Where else do they come from? Are you suggesting they are innate? They are transcendent? Divinely inspired?

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Re: Reason and Morality

Post by LuckyR » August 29th, 2017, 3:45 am

Burning ghost wrote:I am very much of the opinion that reason can often lead a person away from making a moral decision. Instead of making a moral choice we often find ourselves avoiding such an act of responsibility and putting our weight behind the "rational" choice rather than the "moral" choice.

I am not suggesting we shouldn't consider the logical facts of a situation, but I am opposed to making decisions based only by theoretically weighing possible outcomes against each other and then favouring the one that sways further toward an resolution that takes away moral responsibility.
Well if this is a common scenario in your experience, could I trouble you to give a few examples?
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