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to be or not to be, that is the question...


forufes
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if i can benefit myself by harming others and can get way with it, why should i not?

so let's take a look at possible answers;

 

-the religious one was given.

religion successfully answers

"cuz god'll screw you up"

-cuz i simply don't want to. i do what i want and don't do what i don't want, you gotta a beef with that?

nope, but you shouldn't have a beef with those who have a different taste regarding what "they want".

 

if getting away with it doesn't include people not being aware of it

-because most benefits i get from harming people are weighted out by me being rejected by people, and people's acceptance is one of the most valued benefits i have in my life.

this is very strong, one may even argue that it's the ONLY driving force of any actions we carry out that aren't necessary for us to stay alive(IOW everything we do other than eating and shitting, is done to be recognized by others)

what of those who aren't recognized by others to from the first place? those social dropouts? those already rejected by their society?

 

if getting away with it includes people not being aware of it

-because harming others decreases my sense of self worth.

i measure others' worth with a scale of how beneficial they can be to others, if i harm others, i'm making myself worthless by my own standards.

BUT, i can be self centered, this is a one time life ride.

BUT, if it's a one time life ride, i want to achieve the highest self worth in it(illusion that leads to/explains sacrificial behavior)

 

-evolution ended up shaping us into a social species, which survives as a society, and such selfish behavior would damage and maybe destroy our society and hence our whole race, what would happen to our accumulated knowledge and technology, our heritage and civilization, our children and the memories they will hold of us?

trashed, why will you give a damn anyway? it'll all be gone once you die, so why bother with a doom that as far as you'll be concerned isn't-won't-didn't happen?

 

-because due to the technological and scientific advancements humans have achieved, it is impossible to get away with it. our science-driven ethical system came up with ways/methods/discoveries/inventions to make people self surrender when they do something wrong or able to detect guilt or can mind read or has cameras everywhere or has fool proof forensic capabilities or has altered our genes to be unable to do evil etc etc...

sigh, while i can point out MAJOR flaws specific for each one of the previous, not to mention general ones like privacy violation and all being part of the future...; me just says:

if a man was smart enough to create it, another man is smart enough to find a way(s) around it.

 

what is YOUR answer to that question?

Edited by forufes
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There's really just three reasons. Empathy, "self-worth," and external personal benefit.

 

Empathy - Unless you're a sociopath, you have an aversion to hurting other people. This will make "doing the right thing" automatic in most instances, the default position. You hurt yourself by hurting others. You want things to be the best for everyone.

 

"Self-worth" - Even if you don't care what happens to other people, you still want to be a "good guy" yourself, and be intellectually consistent. You would think less of someone else if they did it, so you don't do it yourself. You want to be a better person, and that includes acting ethically and morally.

 

External personal benefit - Basically, avoiding external consequences that negatively affect you. This includes punishment, the bad opinions of others, and the "religious answer" that you will always be "caught."

 

None of these things need be a conscious choice. Most of us aren't consciously choosing not to shoplift every time we go into a store, but we don't shoplift anyway, because these things are automatic.

 

Also, I guess some people follow "the rules" just because they like rules. May as well acknowledge that side of it, as well.

 

I'll also add that the question itself seems biased. You need a specific reason to do the "right" thing, but you don't to do the "wrong" thing? Why?

Edited by Sisyphus
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wow, you summed it up brilliantly, nothing less expected i might add..

 

There's really just three reasons. Empathy, "self-worth," and external personal benefit.

well put.

 

Empathy - Unless you're a sociopath, you have an aversion to hurting other people. This will make "doing the right thing" automatic in most instances, the default position. You hurt yourself by hurting others. You want things to be the best for everyone.

the aversion normal people have to hurting others is only for direct unreasonable pain, like sadism, to kill someone because you enjoy it, or fire an employee or make a student fail just for the heck of it, there i agree...

but take the term "it's strictly business", when and where is it used? when a bank lends a needy man some money just to take it away from him doubled in some time, isn't that hurting him? but then again the bank doesn't want to hurt itself either, and it was the guy's choice to take the loan, so the bank can say they're clear, but where's their empathy?

is it bigger for themselves, or for others?

would "the right thing" be more right for you or others? and what's either's share of it?

 

selflessness and selfishness, where in between does "best for everybody" stand?

empathy IS a wavy and blurry line, pretty subjective, and one's bordering of "good" in it may be within the "bad" of somebody else.

 

"Self-worth" - Even if you don't care what happens to other people, you still want to be a "good guy" yourself, and be intellectually consistent. You would think less of someone else if they did it, so you don't do it yourself. You want to be a better person, and that includes acting ethically and morally.

you have two issues here, the first is the same one with empathy, one's standards of worth could be sheer force, survival of the fittest, if you can't survive, you're not worth surviving, and would hold himself to that same standard. again, it's a blurry line, if not a very wide strip.

 

second, some people don't care for self worth, they just don't have it, either they're not given it, and external ethical laws bound those from going savage, or those who decided they don't need it, because it's rubbish, personally i might be one of those. when you reach the conclusion of the meaningless of life, when you face your mortality, idk, you just decide, in a determined way, that it's just not going to matter, like a breakdown, this world becomes like....... lol it becomes like scienceforums IRC, you go in, you know it's gonna end whether you want it to or not, it's all about if you'll enjoy hanging around for that unknown period of time or not, if it's going to be a total waste of time or not.(don't know if that was a good example)

 

External personal benefit - Basically, avoiding external consequences that negatively affect you. This includes punishment, the bad opinions of others, and the "religious answer" that you will always be "caught."

imo that's the only one that'll work, it's the only logically consistent reason, the only one that makes sense. according to some variables;

can i cheat-endure-escape its penalty?

 

if not, do i care for its penalty? is the penalty bad enough to nullify my gain?

 

by taking the answers of these two questions to an extreme, you seal your ethical code.

 

None of these things need be a conscious choice. Most of us aren't consciously choosing not to shoplift every time we go into a store, but we don't shoplift anyway, because these things are automatic.

:confused:

there are many conscious moral choices.

AND those that are done automatically are base on those which are done cosciously(well thought).

you can say that your ethical code shapes or gets embedded into your general behavior, and you then decide in trivial moral situations without consciously employing your ethical code and choosing, but it's there, and it's all built upon each other.

 

Also, I guess some people follow "the rules" just because they like rules. May as well acknowledge that side of it, as well.

-cuz i simply don't want to. i do what i want and don't do what i don't want, you gotta a beef with that?

:D

 

I'll also add that the question itself seems biased. You need a specific reason to do the "right" thing, but you don't to do the "wrong" thing? Why?

:confused:

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All of the responses in the main post seemed to me to be completely focused around the question: "How does this affect me?" This seemed to me to be looking for selfish excuses to do the right thing (not that that's a bad idea). But the way I see it, there's no greater importance of one person's happiness over any other person's, and so one of the motivators for me to help others is to remember that self is just an illusion, and that really, everything is all about just benefiting everybody's existences as much as possible, without regard to who it is, as long as the most people possible are benefited with the least possible harm done.

 

To explain what I mean by saying that self is just an illusion, I'm going to create a little hypothetical scenario. Imagine that one day you switched consciousnesses with your friend. You're thoughts, memories, and personality; everything that is physically encoded into your body, stayed where it was, and your friend's likewise. The only thing that changed for you was that suddenly, you were you're friend. Neither you or you're friend would ever notice that anything at all peculiar had happened, and would go on continuing each others' lives as the other person. Is a scenario like this possible? What I'm trying to get at is that it doesn't matter. If you remove yourself from this incident, and look onto it as an outsider, would you say that this swap in consciousnesses has done the universe any worse or better? Both people still instill the exact same experiences into their consciousnesses, and while one may have swapped for the better and one for the worse, the exact same experiences still occur. As an outsider, one might be tempted to say that this swap is unnatural and wrong, and one would not normally volunteer to switch consciousnesses with another, but in this case, nobody was the wiser, so I see no wrong done, or even any relevance of considering whether there was a swap or not. My point is that each person's experiences get experienced. Who actually experiences them is quite irrelevant, because the entire sense of self is merely a creation of the mind.

Edited by Justonium
touching up
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