Re: Ethics

Daniel Fabulich (
Thu, 25 Jun 1998 20:02:54 -0400 (EDT)

On Thu, 25 Jun 1998 wrote:

> It doesn't take a science wiz to answer this question. Anyone in business or
> with any human relations experience knows people by nature are imitative and
> recompensive. You screw someone over, they screw you back. You give them
> something, they feel obliged to give you that. And people feel obliged to
> act on behalf of others when the acts aren't performed (the group and mob
> mentality.) Social pressure reinforces this.

Much of the time, yes. However, I still maintain that even if egoists
would only hurt people when they could do so and get away with it, the
world would be a much worse place to live if everybody did this.

> Case : A person's life is in danger. Saving that person requires a slight
> but controllable risk. - - Let's say the person is your best friend vs. a
> guy in a klan suit. Won't your feelings towards that person effect your
> likelihood of jumping in. If people perceive you to be a selfish and
> unsympathetic character, they're less likely to protect you or look out for
> you. People with lot's of enemies or no friends place their lives in grave
> danger.

All this shows is that the egoist must be careful. However, a world full
of careful egoists is not a world I'd like to live in.

> To take the hedonistic perspective, "Well, only if its fun," assumes that the
> value of the pleasure itself is more valuable than your mortality. To say,
> "Well, I don't have a moral responsibility, but its in my own self interest,"
> takes a more practical look at the "economics of self preservation,"
> ultimately, what comes around goes around.

Sometimes it comes around, and when it does utilitarianism and egoism
agree. However, are we prepared to say that it's ok to hurt people so
long as nobody finds out, or if your reputation is not besmirched in the
process? If I save a few lives in public and rape a few women in secret,
is this the right way to live?

> Also, let's just say, it is foolish to help other people. - - And, you're a
> cryonicist. You probably don't want to expouse this philosophy too much.
> Why should a cryonics org look out to preserve you after you've gone ???
> Suppose its no fun and it would be better to pocket the money ?

Better to sign a contract with your clients, mandating that if you decide
to pocket the money instead, big men with pointed sticks will come and
drag you through the Sahara. In that case, it would be foolish NOT to
fulfill the terms of your contract; this is arguably why contracts exist
in the first place.

> Incidently, rationality must be defined according to the ends, not a universal
> truth (unless one believes in God). Likewise, ethics are the means, and
> should be judged in the long terms, by whether they lead to the ends.

I agree.