What makes an action immoral?

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Re: What makes an action immoral?

Post Number:#31  Postby Burning Giraffe » June 4th, 2009, 11:04 am

philoreaderguy wrote:What makes an action immoral? How do we know if a certain choice, action, or behavior is immoral?


That requires a meta-ethical analysis of morality itself. Is what makes something moral in the intention, in the action, or in the consequence? Is morality an objective natural law or is morality dependent upon a broader subjective standard. If morality is simply acting in accordance with the will of God, then the discussion gets even more complicated and difficult to resolve.

The reason why "What makes an action immoral" is so difficult to answer is that we still all disagree with the meta-ethical analysis of Morality in the first place. :)
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Re: What makes an action immoral?



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Post Number:#32  Postby Burning Giraffe » June 4th, 2009, 11:11 am

Dreamshift wrote:Well, I think I'll be more Nihilistic when it comes to this question than others. Absolute morality derived from a being I likely cannot fully comprehend is risky for two reasons: One, why does it care about me and what I do, and two would I even understand what such said being is trying to say with my limited scope of reality?

So lets start with a Tabula Rasa, a clean slate. If there are no absolutes, and so a dialogue to be had, then we must find a context to base our morality. For me, I find the context should be our environment and how we can survive and thrive the most effeciently, because in the end it is what is most effecient that survives not the most moral (I site the sustainable and relatively peacful lives of the Native Americans and the Europeans who took their land in the name of "Manifiest Desteny").

So our environment is Earth, flora, fauna, and the people that inhabit it. If we are to sustain our existance, we must live harmonously with those things, and doing so is the most effecient and ergo the basis of our morality (in my tabula rasa method of logic). We must care for our Earth and our fellow man/woman to live the most successfully while expanding and growing in sustainable ways as to keep a percieved balance of power with threats foriegn (If the Natives of America could even percieve their threats, they would have likely done so as well, but they didn't have such a good connection to the budding global economy as the Europeans did). If we can do this, I think we'll live both morally and sustainably. I thin that's quite Ulitarian, but I'll stick to my guns until someone gives me a good reason not to.


This is a very good illustration of how moral systems are developed and why we can have so many. Whatever rises to the position of highest priority of any particular standard will set the logic for the rest of the moral system. In this example, we can see that the moral system must be consistent with the initial premise. Environmental Efficiency and efficacy of social harmony are the priorities here. Anything that causes an inefficient use of natural resources is immoral and anything that create social disharmony is immoral. This is, in essence, a Utilitarian ethic, if you consider that environmental efficiency and social harmony are actually in the best interest of everyone.
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Re: What makes an action immoral?

Post Number:#33  Postby Clearide » January 18th, 2012, 10:50 pm

We steal every moment of our existence from God. Every immoral act is an admission of guilt.
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Re:

Post Number:#34  Postby Wittgenstoned » January 19th, 2012, 2:02 pm

captain_crunk wrote:What makes an action immoral is human judgement of the action (or, for the religious folk- God's judgement of the action). Until someone actually decided to label a particular action is moral or immoral, it was nothing more than an action. Somewhere along the line, people started being concerned with whether what they do is right or wrong. I don't know when or how this happened, nor where the idea of morality originated from.
The way we know whether or not a coice, action, or behavior is immoral is through reason and logic. Hm, does that mean I think morality is objective? Or subjective? I'm having one of those mental lapses here where I forget how I made the two easily distinguishable from one another and now I'm confusing myself. :?


I think you are partly right and partly mistaken. Moral facts probably supervene on human institutions and judgements. But, ontologically speaking, judging something morally good or bad does not make it so. For instance: if I promise something (and fullfilling it is reasonable - i.e. a fair promise), then I do wrong by letting it down (provided nothing nullifies it, such as other obligations). So the institution of promising makes certain actions right or wrong as a consequence. Take away all beings able of promising from the universe, and actions wrong or right on the basis of that institution can't exist. I.e. where we deprived of the capacity to issue promises, I could probably still act in ways I could had I had the capacity to promise. For instance: wether or not I can promise not to punch you, I could still punch you (forget the badness of punching you!). I could not do wrong in punching you in virtue of promising not to, if I didn't have the capacity to promise not to and actually did promise it. And I think this is true of most "higher" moral qualities. That they depend upon certain institutions. But once these exist, the moral quality follows.
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Re: What makes an action immoral?

Post Number:#35  Postby Xenos » January 24th, 2012, 7:25 am

Clearide wrote:We steal every moment of our existence from God. Every immoral act is an admission of guilt.


I'm not sure what God you're referring to, but most conceptions indicate that God is the creator of humans. If he's the one who brought us into existence in the first place, then how are we guilty of stealing our existence from him? If he didn't bring us into existence, what is his role?

I don't agree with your second statement because it doesn't consider human fallibility or the influence of others. A person with a general intent to do right as best they can may still make mistakes and commit an immoral act not out of guilt but of a simple failure to understand the nature of their action, its consequences, and so on. You could imagine further and consider, say, a person being drugged by another through their drink and later committing some immoral act. They aren't acting out of guilt or mistake (aside from, perhaps, not paying their drink enough attention), but a general impairment of their cognitive functions brought onto them by the action of another.
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Re: What makes an action immoral?

Post Number:#36  Postby Rebwit » January 27th, 2012, 2:59 pm

Too lazy to read all posts.
Anything you do for the sake of survival should not be examined morally.
In Mexico, for instance, prison escapees who do not break any other laws (killing a guard, material damage etc) are not charged for anything and no extra time is added to their sentence, because it is a mans right to fight for his freedom.
(wiki)
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Re: What makes an action immoral?

Post Number:#37  Postby Inzababa » January 28th, 2012, 3:43 pm

philoreaderguy wrote:What makes an action immoral? How do we know if a certain choice, action, or behavior is immoral?


you know by how much blame you can put on whoever is making that action.

And you measure blame according to a mixture of intentions and consequences.

If you want the details though, that's obviously a lonnng discussion (probably as illustrated by the length of this thread).

However I'll suggest this :

measurement of blame is only a question of perspective. (from which point of view you are judging from).
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Re: What makes an action immoral?

Post Number:#38  Postby Kingkool » February 4th, 2012, 4:52 pm

An action is immoral if either:
a) it goes against your own integrity
b) you know your actions are evil
c) (though it is cliche) the ends don't justify the means
d) you know that the ends of your means are evil.
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Re: What makes an action immoral?

Post Number:#39  Postby Fanman » February 4th, 2012, 5:47 pm

I think that the answer to this question is priori, in that we all "know" what makes an action immoral. However, articulating the answer in an objective philosophical manner is not so easy. Essentially, I would say that an immoral action is any action that is commited dishonestly by a person, which causes harm to another person.
Last edited by Fanman on February 4th, 2012, 6:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What makes an action immoral?

Post Number:#40  Postby Xenos » February 4th, 2012, 5:57 pm

Kingkool wrote:An action is immoral if either:
a) it goes against your own integrity
b) you know your actions are evil
c) (though it is cliche) the ends don't justify the means
d) you know that the ends of your means are evil.


The second through fourth reasons seem to beg the question rather than answer it. While not all immoral actions may be evil, all evil actions are necessarily immoral. The second reason is focal point here, because the last two can be subsumed under it. So when you say that an action is immoral if you know it to be evil - since 'evil' is a particular type of immorality - it's like saying you know an action to be immoral if you know it to be immoral. This doesn't answer why a given action is immoral, though.

In regard to your first reason, it seems to be another case of begging the question. My conception of integrity is that it means to act in accordance with your moral values; that your action corresponds to what you believe to be right action. To go against - to violate - your integrity would mean to perform an action that, by your own standards, you believe to be immoral. Thus the nature of integrity already assumes a moral standard of right and wrong. The first reason seems to be saying, then, that you know an action to be immoral if acting on it would be immoral by your own standards (it would be going against your integrity). But this, again, doesn't answer why we hold such action to be immoral in the first place.
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Re: What makes an action immoral?

Post Number:#41  Postby Kingkool » February 4th, 2012, 6:13 pm

Xenos wrote:
Kingkool wrote:An action is immoral if either:
a) it goes against your own integrity
b) you know your actions are evil
c) (though it is cliche) the ends don't justify the means
d) you know that the ends of your means are evil.


The second through fourth reasons seem to beg the question rather than answer it. While not all immoral actions may be evil, all evil actions are necessarily immoral. The second reason is focal point here, because the last two can be subsumed under it. So when you say that an action is immoral if you know it to be evil - since 'evil' is a particular type of immorality - it's like saying you know an action to be immoral if you know it to be immoral. This doesn't answer why a given action is immoral, though.

In regard to your first reason, it seems to be another case of begging the question. My conception of integrity is that it means to act in accordance with your moral values; that your action corresponds to what you believe to be right action. To go against - to violate - your integrity would mean to perform an action that, by your own standards, you believe to be immoral. Thus the nature of integrity already assumes a moral standard of right and wrong. The first reason seems to be saying, then, that you know an action to be immoral if acting on it would be immoral by your own standards (it would be going against your integrity). But this, again, doesn't answer why we hold such action to be immoral in the first place.


I was arguing how one knows that an action is immoral, not why they are immoral. And I believe Evil and immoral are the same thing.
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Re: What makes an action immoral?

Post Number:#42  Postby Xenos » February 4th, 2012, 6:49 pm

Kingkool wrote:
Xenos wrote:
Kingkool wrote:An action is immoral if either:
a) it goes against your own integrity
b) you know your actions are evil
c) (though it is cliche) the ends don't justify the means
d) you know that the ends of your means are evil.


The second through fourth reasons seem to beg the question rather than answer it. While not all immoral actions may be evil, all evil actions are necessarily immoral. The second reason is focal point here, because the last two can be subsumed under it. So when you say that an action is immoral if you know it to be evil - since 'evil' is a particular type of immorality - it's like saying you know an action to be immoral if you know it to be immoral. This doesn't answer why a given action is immoral, though.

In regard to your first reason, it seems to be another case of begging the question. My conception of integrity is that it means to act in accordance with your moral values; that your action corresponds to what you believe to be right action. To go against - to violate - your integrity would mean to perform an action that, by your own standards, you believe to be immoral. Thus the nature of integrity already assumes a moral standard of right and wrong. The first reason seems to be saying, then, that you know an action to be immoral if acting on it would be immoral by your own standards (it would be going against your integrity). But this, again, doesn't answer why we hold such action to be immoral in the first place.


I was arguing how one knows that an action is immoral, not why they are immoral. And I believe Evil and immoral are the same thing.


I'm not sure I see a difference between how one knows an action to be immoral and why an action is immoral. The former seems to imply a knowledge of the latter, in that if you can identify an action as immoral seems to mean you know what makes an action immoral in the first place and how the given action meets the criteria.

Although if you believe evil is the same as immoral, then wouldn't that mean that your second reason to the question of what makes an action immoral is that you know it to be immoral (since evil and immoral are synomynous from this view)? An action is immoral if you know it to be immoral? This would seem to still be begging the question, though.

I'd explain my claim that "While not all immoral actions are evil, all evil actions are necessarily immoral" by mentioning that the difference is one of degree in regard to an action. This requires an example of a moral principle, so for the sake of this I'll simply assert one to explain my view: that the initation of force against another person is immoral. Now consider the first case in which Person A slaps Person B and then walks away (they were arguing or what have you). I'd consider that to be immoral by light of the above principle, but not evil. But imagine a second case in which Person A not only slapped Person B, but then proceeded to assault and murder them. It's then that the label of evil, by light of the above principle, seems fitting. What separates an immoral action from an evil one is a matter of degree.

-- Updated Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:58 pm to add the following --

Fanman wrote:I think that the answer to this question is priori, in that we all "know" what makes an action immoral. However, articulating the answer in an objective philosophical manner is not so easy. Essentially, I would say that an immoral action is any action that is commited dishonestly by a person, which causes harm to another person.


In regard to the last sentence, what if a person honestly commits an action that will bring harm to another? The last line seems to exclude this possibility. You could imagine a person pretending the drink he offers to his guest is safe (when he has, in fact, poisoned it) and thus being immoral. But an individual could also state that his drink is poisoned and try to force the person to drink it; there would be no dishonesty in this and, if successful, would still cause harm.
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Re: What makes an action immoral?

Post Number:#43  Postby Fanman » February 4th, 2012, 7:19 pm

Hi Xenos,

You make a good point, but I would argue that the premise of attempting to poison someone no matter the circumstances is dishonest morally - in that it is not a honest or moral act. In my opinion, one would have to be dishonest in order to attempt to poison another person.
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Re: What makes an action immoral?

Post Number:#44  Postby stormy phillips » February 4th, 2012, 9:26 pm

What makes an action immoral? The morals of others. "I have no morals, yet I am a very moral abiding person".
Men are not disturbed by things, but the view they take of things.....Epictetus
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Re: What makes an action immoral?

Post Number:#45  Postby Kingkool » February 5th, 2012, 10:49 am

Fanman wrote:Hi Xenos,

You make a good point, but I would argue that the premise of attempting to poison someone no matter the circumstances is dishonest morally - in that it is not a honest or moral act. In my opinion, one would have to be dishonest in order to attempt to poison another person.


What if you were trying to poison Adolf Hitler right before he rose to power? Would you consider that immoral or dishonest?
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