Topic 5 - Moral Dilemma 1

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Re: Topic 5 - Moral Dilemma 1

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Fri Sep 16, 2016 11:30 pm

Valete amici!

It is really such a pleasure to talk about philosophical subjects with you, because all of you are really advancing the discussion and your arguments are very well-thought and right on topic.

Claudi Tusce, you are right to correct me that your argument is based rather on Stoicism than Christianity. Indeed your response is exactly what a Stoic would say. Virtue demands to remain on the boat and put the common good above selfish interests.
But here is my problem with Stoicism. They are not really able to provide conclusive logical arguments for their virtues. It reminds me of a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Of course they argue in a pantheistic way that all nature is One, and so by harming others we harm ourselves. But they fail to provide evidence for this assumption.
I am the only one who can feel my pain, and I cannot feel the pain of others. So how can we be all One? We cannot discard the possibility, but we have no conclusive evidence for it. So if we allow arbitrary assumptions, another one can come up with a contradicting assumption. The result is that people keep disagreeing with each other and fight sometimes violently over who is right.
Utilitarianism also has a similar concept, the greatest good for the biggest number of people. But this arbitrary definition also leads to serious moral dilemmas. Can we kill an innocent, if we can save two others by it? And what exactly is the common good? This is a dangerous ground, because the term "common good" has been abused too often, e.g. by communist regimes like Pol Pot or Mao.

But of course nobody can feel well with the logical conclusion to abandon the leaking boat for selfish reasons. Although I stated that the rational solution for me would be selfishly abandoning the lifeboat, I have to admit that this cannot be what I want to be the solution. Because this time it might be me who saves his life on the expense of others, but next time someone else in the leaking boat might have a friend in the other boat who promises him rescue. In this case I would not want to be left back with hardly a chance of survival. And it is more likely that I am not the one with a friend in the other boat.
Therefore what is needed is an agreement before the emergency happens. If such a situation is likely to happen, we have to establish rules that prohibit that anybody leaves his assigned lifeboat. And who does so, has to get punished. We can all agree on this rule, because it will most likely benefit us in such a situation, because it is not likely that we will be the lucky one who has a friend on the other boat. The moral reference group for such a rule are therefore all passengers and crew members on the ship. All established rules must be agreeable for such a reference group.
And if a rule is established before the accident that everybody who abandons his assigned lifeboat will be severely punished, then the moral dilemma disappears.
What is logically correct for the group will then also be logically correct for the individual. If in our example we are faced with the two options (a) staying in the leaking life boat and possibly dying in 5 hours if no rescue occurs or (b) abandoning the leaking boat, increase the chances of survival, but afterwards with certainty being punished with death or a life sentence.
Even based on your selfish interests it is now reasonable to stay on the leaking boat.

The elimination of the dilemma is achieved by wise laws for the community, laws that are agreeable for all members of the community. When the situation occurs, then what is good for the community becomes also what is good for you.
This is what a republic has to be based on, reasonable laws that are agreeable for all and which are rigorously enforced (offenses punished and compliance rewarded). It is the basis of Rousseau's contrat social. In such a perfect republic there is no conflict between virtuous for the common good (res publica) and logical for the individual.

And in fact this is exactly how the system works in the real world. It is hardly abstract virtue that prevents people from committing crimes, it is the logical reasoning that a crime will be punished and therefore does not pay off. We cannot expect people in a society to act virtuous, just because we tell them that it is virtuous, if it is not also reasonable for them to act this way.
Acting against reason and logic never works. Therefore we cannot come up with arbitrary virtues, we have to bring virtues in accordance to reason and logic.
This is a kind of new Stoicism that I am suggesting here.
I am really happy about Cassia's nice example and all the thoughtful input of the others in this thread. Like real philosophers you have all approached the issue without prejudice.
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Re: Topic 5 - Moral Dilemma 1

Postby Marcus Minucius Audens » Sat Sep 17, 2016 4:19 pm

Master Lupus -- The problem with your 'Christain' view, that a penalty be placed on anyone leaving the boat of death does not really ring true. No Christian Court would penalize anyone for saving their own life by leaving a sinking boat, if the person had no legal responsibility to those who remained. Further, Cassia has removed, as I did, all other mentioned factors possible, as well as several other not mentioned, so I see no reason to try and add any before the problem is fully discussed. If such had been added it would have loaded the question impossibly and no-one would have seriously considered it due to its obvious result. Now I would agree that there would be a punishment involved in that whoever abandoned the boat would be reviled, probably by Christians, who have done like things all through history, and like things which I have been the receiver of in my life. Of course, the true Christians would not do so, but there don't seem to me to be many of those around.
Marcus Minucius Audens

Re: Topic 5 - Moral Dilemma 1

Postby Gaia Cassia Longina » Sat Sep 17, 2016 10:06 pm

Well bringing certain religious aspects may change the argument slightly, I still think that it still nicely proves that there can be no "right" choice, either way, someone gets hurt.

Wonderful contributons from all of you! I really like how this topic turned out! Thoughtful conversation and philosophical debate is always fun.

It will be a challenge to come up with something for next week as good as this!
Gaia Cassia Longina

Re: Topic 5 - Moral Dilemma 1

Postby Marcus Minucius Audens » Sun Sep 18, 2016 2:36 pm

In response to ideas for a future possible dilemma, I have always been facinated in politics about the men in history who were those who cast a single deciding vote on a very important legislation that involved thousands if not millions of people. The pressure on such men would have been enormous and history relates that most of these men were ruined by the experience in the political arena. Just a suggestion

Respectfully Submitted;
Marcus Audens
Marcus Minucius Audens


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