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Rex Glacies

How do you determine what is right and wrong?

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A question that's been on my mind recently. How do you know what is right and what is wrong? Like, to you, what determines what is evil and what is good? I'm not asking about what you think is morally right; I'm asking how you found your "moral compass." Do you believe in a deity that governs over right and wrong? Or karma, and plan and act accordingly? Maybe you think right and wrong is different for each person, and everyone has to find out what they stand for on their own? Or perhaps do you think good and evil are just human constructs in a universe that doesn't actually care?

Edit: My own personal view is that good and evil can only come from religion, or in the least, a higher power. Mankind is a species that is constantly changing and evolving; if there is not a higher power to dictate right from wrong, then right and wrong will change along with society. And if what is right and wrong changes over time, then can we be certain that that is truly the correct foundation of morals? Therefore, logically, to me, there has to be a higher presence that can judge our actions, and sets bounds for good and evil. I have found that higher power to be in the Bible, namely Jesus's teachings followed by God's laws, but I am still interested in what others think on the matter.

Edited by Rex Glacies

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Me, I just try to not do anything to hurt people though what defines as right and wrong for me isn't necessarily the action, but the events leading up to something, stealing is wrong when it's for personal gain, but stealing for your family so they can eat isn't as clear. In short, it's case by case and really it's people making choices that cause events to happen, we don't have a machine that can visit alternate worlds yet or time travel so we don't know, just live the way we've been living.

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I believe that right and wrong is a matter of "loving your neighbor", or basically putting others before yourself. In general, one should avoid doing anything to the detriment of others unless absolutely necessary. Those who have plenty to spare are morally obligated to share a portion of their wealth with those less fortunate in the most efficient manner possible. 

However, I disagree with the concept that one shouldn't be able to enjoy themselves while they could instead be doing something to help others. The goal of life is not to fix as many of the world's problems as possible, the goal of life is to live life to the fullest, which is why fun exists in the first place. Self-actualization, as Maslow called it, is the result of balancing charity and pleasure while maintaining a correct state of mind.

These are my personal sentiments. I don't think that they should be enforced by the government and I don't think they have to apply to larger-scale enterprises, like business and national policy. I do however hold these standards in place for my own lifestyle, as even before developing them, I would feel guilt, exhaustion, or emptiness when I ignored them and feel content when I heeded them.

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53 minutes ago, Ronnie said:

Your brain can decide that for you. It's called guilt.

This is Serious Discussion, you'll need to expand on this.

The early basis of my moral foundation came from my parents.  I still love and respect them, so I try to follow the "why" of their moral logic.  I also remember what I didn't like, and do my best not to inflict that on anyone else.  The last part would be from religion, but that's mostly to polish the rough edges.  The upside is that I usually don't step on too many toes.  The downside is that I can turn on myself, hard, which results in some nasty depressive spells.  Balance is the key.

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I Have set things that I think are wrong like hurting another living thing just because you can or causing emotional pain to someone because all you care about is your self, this is probably my biggest problem with people since people love to make me feel like shit.  I guess my guide would be, will this hurt me if someone did it to me?  If I think it would I try to avoid doing it.

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I start off believing I am right and you are wrong in any dispute/discussion. Then it becomes a test of wills on who can keep arguing further, who will not compromise on their point of view. I mean, if you are right, how can you lack conviction?

The good and the right always triumphs in the end, they just need to fight it out till the wrong capitulates as they will lack conviction by virtue of taking a position of compromised beliefs. The heart and soul always knows.

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1 hour ago, Rothene said:

I start off believing I am right and you are wrong in any dispute/discussion. Then it becomes a test of wills on who can keep arguing further, who will not compromise on their point of view. I mean, if you are right, how can you lack conviction?

The good and the right always triumphs in the end, they just need to fight it out till the wrong capitulates as they will lack conviction by virtue of taking a position of compromised beliefs. The heart and soul always knows.

So just out of curiosity, what if I were to lose a yelling match with Hitler?

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3 minutes ago, SullyMcGully said:

So just out of curiosity, what if I were to lose a yelling match with Hitler?

Then Hitler has a better screaming voice. In all seriousness, this more depends on character. I don't like arguing. Does it make me wrong?

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Its very hard for me to see things as 'good' and 'evil.' When a person says something is evil, what they're actually saying is "Boohoo! I don't like that!" while logically proving that said action or event or object is 'evil' or objectively bad is pretty much impossible if you get deep into thought. Since we seem to be the only animals that perceive what we call 'morality', and we can't objectively agree on what is 'good' and 'evil', its fair enough to take the majority opinion as a moral standard. I tend to listen to my emotions when I think of my moral code, because logic is very useless in defining a moral code for yourself...unless it involves a certain level of dehumanizing. But I don't think that's what most people want.

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Religion is something I have learned from to determine what is right and wrong. And, of course, my parents have always been teaching me good things.

And I guess following what my heart says most of the time will eventually lead me to do the right thing, and to not commit any wrong. 

 

 

 

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23 hours ago, Ronnie said:

Your brain can decide that for you. It's called guilt.

This doesn't answer the question.  Why do we experience guilt in the first place?  What if someone does something wrong but feels no guilt for it?

I start with the premise that God is good, and has created us with consciences.  Due to the fallen, sinful nature of man, however, it is possible for one's conscience to be corrupted, which is one reason God has also revealed Himself and His will through the Bible.  Jesus pointed out that the moral laws boil down to, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength," and, "Love your neighbor as yourself".  Quite often, we want to focus on the second law there, and conveniently ignore the first.

Of course, it is impossible for us to be perfectly good, or even "good enough" to meet God's standard.  Fortunately, God knew of this impossibility and had the plan by which people can be Saved, rather than Lost.

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23 hours ago, eclipse said:

This is Serious Discussion, you'll need to expand on this.

 

47 minutes ago, JJ48 said:

This doesn't answer the question.  Why do we experience guilt in the first place?  What if someone does something wrong but feels no guilt for it?

Guilt is a cognitive emotion. Guilt is also highly subjective depending on the person's upbringing. Guilt decides what we feel is right or wrong because of the negative repercussions that comes with whatever action we face. We're told by our parents, friends and the legal system of what is right and wrong. The majority of us know something like killing, theft, or rape is wrong because we'd feel guilty if we did something like that and we'd be aware of the punishment and consequences that follow it. We also know what is right when we donate to charities or protect someone from harm because it provides a positive outcome and benefits. What if someone does something wrong but feels no guilt for it? Then it's because they lack the cognitive function in their brain to determine what is wrong and lack the emotion of guilt. Believe it or not there are killers out there who'll murder someone and carry on about their day as if murder was normal like buying milk at a grocery store. Should they be punished for it? Of course. But are they aware of their wrongdoing? No they aren't. If a killer does kill and is aware that what they did was wrong, then they're just knowingly evil and that's pretty scary. Anyways, the legal system gives us a good frame of reference of what is wrong because there exists laws that go against theft, piracy, or murder. There exists punishments to those who commit crimes. Though a crime doesn't always have to be extreme. Even if someone just tells a lie to their friend, most of us will feel guilty for doing that and that's how we know what we did was wrong and we try to right it. The moment we tell that friend the honest answer, we get that sense of relief in our system and the guilt is no more. It's all just functions of our brain. I'm no neurologist or psychologist so I can't give any more deep or accurate answers but this is just my 2 cents.

Satisfied?

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8 hours ago, Rothene said:

I start off believing I am right and you are wrong in any dispute/discussion. Then it becomes a test of wills on who can keep arguing further, who will not compromise on their point of view. I mean, if you are right, how can you lack conviction?

The good and the right always triumphs in the end, they just need to fight it out till the wrong capitulates as they will lack conviction by virtue of taking a position of compromised beliefs. The heart and soul always knows.

Because I have better things to do with my time than engage with someone who wants to be right, as opposed to someone who wants to make themselves a better person.

Do not underestimate the power of deceit - see my wall for more details.

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You're never, and I mean never, going to get a definitive answer for a question like this because there's so much variance in what influences a person's perception of what defines right and wrong that it's barely an exaggeration to say that no two people will give the same answer.

The one universal constant is that a person's perception of what is right and wrong is guaranteed to change over time, even if the foundation of one's morality remains the same from birth/early childhood-til-death. That is to say, morality is an ever-evolving beast and the best one can do is do their best with what they consider 'good' whilst maintaining an open mind so that one's perception of good can change in light of new evidence and experiences.

Or you could just be a moral nihilist like me and resign yourself to the belief that morality is an entirely human concept that has no worth other than that which is assigned to it by a collective. Existential nihilism, misanthropy and depression may or may not be included.

Edited by Mortarion

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I suppose my moral compass started off purely based on feelings, but through continuous (self-)reflection, I turned those into logical concepts.

The law is the ultimate core of my ideas of right and wrong (and the only "solid" part of it), since the law is the only objective compass that we have (morality being, by definition, subjective). I suppose it's always been like this, but this idea was reinforced when I started reflecting on legal positivism and legal naturalism in the first year of my law study.

Around the law, I set certain virtues (such as honestly, loyalty, kindness) and principles (such as "Do not treat other people solely as a means, but always treat them also as a goal in themselves") to further help me to determine right and wrong.

On 4-9-2017 at 1:17 PM, Rothene said:

I start off believing I am right and you are wrong in any dispute/discussion. Then it becomes a test of wills on who can keep arguing further, who will not compromise on their point of view. I mean, if you are right, how can you lack conviction?

The good and the right always triumphs in the end, they just need to fight it out till the wrong capitulates as they will lack conviction by virtue of taking a position of compromised beliefs. The heart and soul always knows.

Better yet, you should challenge anyone who disagrees with you to a duel, preferably a joust.

God is on the side of those who are right; He shall lead the righteous to victory over the evil!

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Well, first off I know the society I was raised in affected my morals; that is ultimately the base for my morality, even if it's subconscious. 

These days I'm a fan of the platinum rule; 'treat others the way they want to be treated'. I find it more useful than the golden rule as we're not all the same, we all have different beliefs and what works for me isn't going to work for others. For example, I have friends who prefer to be referred to by a gender-neutral pronoun; pronouns don't matter to me and I'm happy to be called whatever, but I recognise that it's important to them that I use they/them, so I endeavour to do so. 

7 minutes ago, Claudius I said:

I suppose my moral compass started off purely based on feelings, but through continuous (self-)reflection, I turned those into logical concepts.

Also this, only feelings = society, it's hard for me to determine between the two. I've been reading on how much our feelings/emotions are actually shaped by society and are not innate to us, and it's been really interesting. 

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On 04/09/2017 at 2:42 PM, Skynstein said:

That's good, until you notice that Kant's philosophy was based off on duty, and duty can't be acceptable as a sole moral source. Also, taking your acts as if you wished they'd be an universal rule (which is also applied to yourself) isn't always desirable, since sometimes people might show detrimental worldviews that they wouldn't mind being an universal rule which is also applied to them (like a "social darwinist" person).

 

--

 

I can't determine what is ultimately good or evil in every case, but I know it exists, and I can apply it to some cases (the most obvious and simple one being "would you say that bombarding a kindergarten full of toddlers isn't evil?"). I don't think it comes from the heavens nor do I think it is some sort of metaphysical existance or independent entity waiting to be discovered, but rather something that comes from any sufficiently intelligent being's intuition, instincts and reason.

I'm not a philosophy student nor do I have knowledge on the field, therefore I'm probably going to say crap, but I want to see how far that snowball goes: I think ethics come from our intuition, which was constructed and developed throughout our evolution. Through that intuition, we compare what "fits" in the metric and what doesn't, and decide what is right and what is wrong. Therefore, ethics is subjective - I claim that any attempt in affirming ethics as objective will end with propositions that require an infinite regress to justify themselves, something impossible for us to do.

However, I believe morals are objective, since they're a group of norms deemed by that same intuition as valid, glued together and made into a code of conduct. As such, its validity can be questioned with regards to its congruency with that very intuition that allows us to judge what is right and wrong. Because that intuition isn't perfect and our minds are influenced by "noise" and varying judgmental capabilities, there can be ethical (and therefore moral) mistakes. One way to avoid those mistakes is through the rationalization of those moral claims - if I wonder if killing an unpleasant person is right or wrong, I can ask myself as an analogy if the act of killing someone for being unpleasant is justifiable, or if I'd be ok with having a person close to me killed by someone because they find them unpleasant.

On that matter, the Golden Rule is a good metric sometimes, and so is Kant's categoric imperative, because they use our survival instincts and intuition to judge cases that wouldn't be about us and makes it personal. By putting ourselves on others' shoes, we take the most favorable and agreeable possible choices that come to our heads). I wouldn't say it is a coincidence that the choices most closely tied to our well being, prosperity and survival are considered right choices.

 

tl;dr I go by what those instincts and what my intuition tells me, using some handy things like Kant's categoric imperative, the Golden Rule and my own empathy as tools for finding our what is right and wrong, and I try to use my reason to the best of my capabilities to judge whether moral claims coincide with those ethical judgments.

Edited by Rapier

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Really pessimistic outlook be warned,

I think the human brain driving our actions is entirely incapable of making us do something selfless.  I think the human brain is physiologically restricted to perform actions in the name of self-interest.  So why do some people do good things and others do bad things?  Well, as cheesy as it sounds, everyone feels good when they do a good thing.  And everyone feels bad for doing a bad thing.  Sometimes, we do things because its expected and we don't really think about it at all.  But everything goes back to self interest.  

Why do people donate to charity?  Well, sadly I think a ton of people do it for attention so they can show off their kindness.  There's just too many people that donate and talk about it for me to think it's rare.  If charity were entirely selfless, no one would ever talk about it.  I mean not even once, there's absolutely no reason to slip in "Oh yea I donated to that charity last week" into a conversation.  But, some people do donate anonymously, why?  Well, it goes back to that warm fuzzy feeling verse that disgusted cramped feeling.  People who consistently do good things feel good about themselves and people who consistently do bad things feel like shit.  It's cheesy, but I think we've all experienced both feelings at one point. 

So what makes someone a good person and what makes someone a bad person?  I think it depends entirely on how much they realize that our actions, for reasons that are unknown to us, affect our feelings.  Additionally, it could depend on how strong that good feeling is and how strong that bad feeling is when we do certain things.   Think about sociopaths, and why they tend to be more 'evil' than 'good'.  Personally, I don't blame them for their actions, they have an actual psychological disability that prevents them from feeling 'good' or 'bad' when faced with morality and so their brain, guided by self interest, never chooses to do good things on it's own which leads to violence.  Humanity likes the term free will, but I think it's just a trick the brain plays on us.  I think the brain calculates decisions based off how the decision will make the person feel and what they will get for choosing that decision.  The calculation takes into account both the results of your decision in the world and the feeling you will get for it.  Do I cheat on a test?  Calculation is something like [ + Get A on Test - Sick feeling about cheating - Rsk of getting caught +/- some subconscious reasoning or other minor reasons ]

How do I believe all this optimistically?  I'm not overly religious, but I think that good/bad feeling you get is some kind of Deity's way of keeping us in check.  It's like a Karma system that doesn't require us to wait for future events to punish us.  It's the immediate effect of betraying your morals.  

 

More to the topic, 

It's not for us to judge other people's conscious.  I don't think anyone should ever criticize someone else's morals.  This is a frequent issue I'm seeing with society today, especially in politics.  Many liberals think conservatives are evil and many conservatives think liberals are evil.  It's completely screws over our political system when we put our hands over our eyes and refuse to understand the other side's morality (or view for that matter).  It's also one of the largest causes of hate, violence, and nasty arguments.

 

Let me give you an example,

In a senior seminar, the last one before my graduation in college, we had someone come in to talk about ethics in the 'real world'.  He went through some scenarios and asked us if we could find the right or wrong decision.  The question was something along the lines of "You're working for John Deere (Tractors) and a third world country asks you to remove some features on a particular tractor because their country does not have the same safety regulations and they can't afford the tractor with the safety features, is it moral to say yes?"

My response was - yes, absolutely.  Most of the class, and the two friends beside me heavily criticized me as I tried to explain my reasoning. I was told jokingly that I had no morals.  My explanation was simple.  One, it's not my place to regulate what another country deems as safe.  Second, the third world country might save more lives from increasing food production by using the tractor than it will destroy by using the tractor.  For that reason, people thought I was totally crazy.  Shortly after, the speaker had brought up the same exact reasoning and people looked awkwardly around as they realized what I was saying wasn't totally crazy. We went through several other exercises that appeared to have an obvious answer, but then he and I could always fine reasons to back up the other side.  I'm not saying this to toot my own horn, but I think people (whether its this generation or if it's always been this way) completely fail to recognize how almost every moral decision is a gray area.  I think its a very serious issue with society today, and I think its very easily realized if you just sit and think about it.

 

Very few decisions are black and white.  Should I kill people?  Well, actually yes, in some situations I can kill ethically.  If an intruder walked into my home I could kill him without hesitation or risk of going to jail.  Others could not do it, even for self defense.  What are we doing?  Both me and people who refuse to kill, even for self defense, have developed our own 'code of ethics'.  Both seem right to us, but wrong to each other.  I have to accept and respect his code and (s)he has to accept and respect mine because the law dictates that my code of ethics is just as valid as his/hers.  The law is essentially a politically accepted code of ethics that everyone must follow.  It doesn't always agree with mine/your views, but for the wellbeing of the majority, they have been constructed.  

Edited by Lushen

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16 hours ago, Lushen said:

Really pessimistic outlook be warned,

I think the human brain driving our actions is entirely incapable of making us do something selfless.  I think the human brain is physiologically restricted to perform actions in the name of self-interest.  So why do some people do good things and others do bad things?  Well, as cheesy as it sounds, everyone feels good when they do a good thing.  And everyone feels bad for doing a bad thing.  Sometimes, we do things because its expected and we don't really think about it at all.  But everything goes back to self interest.  

[citation needed]

Quote

So what makes someone a good person and what makes someone a bad person?  I think it depends entirely on how much they realize that our actions, for reasons that are unknown to us, affect our feelings.  Additionally, it could depend on how strong that good feeling is and how strong that bad feeling is when we do certain things.   Think about sociopaths, and why they tend to be more 'evil' than 'good'.  Personally, I don't blame them for their actions, they have an actual psychological disability that prevents them from feeling 'good' or 'bad' when faced with morality and so their brain, guided by self interest, never chooses to do good things on it's own which leads to violence.  Humanity likes the term free will, but I think it's just a trick the brain plays on us.  I think the brain calculates decisions based off how the decision will make the person feel and what they will get for choosing that decision.  The calculation takes into account both the results of your decision in the world and the feeling you will get for it.  Do I cheat on a test?  Calculation is something like [ + Get A on Test - Sick feeling about cheating - Rsk of getting caught +/- some subconscious reasoning or other minor reasons ]

you don't seem to be well informed of what sociopathy is or what sociopaths generally do. please stop spewing incorrect pop psychology facts

sociopathy, which, by the way, isn't a formal personality disorder at all, isn't really at all defined by the "disability from feeling good or bad" but rather a lack of the biological function of empathy (which also means lack of remorse by consequence) and persistent antisocial behaviour (which, no, does not mean "doesn't like going outside").

Quote

How do I believe all this optimistically?  I'm not overly religious, but I think that good/bad feeling you get is some kind of Deity's way of keeping us in check.  It's like a Karma system that doesn't require us to wait for future events to punish us.  It's the immediate effect of betraying your morals.  

 

More to the topic, 

It's not for us to judge other people's conscious.  I don't think anyone should ever criticize someone else's morals.  This is a frequent issue I'm seeing with society today, especially in politics.  Many liberals think conservatives are evil and many conservatives think liberals are evil.  It's completely screws over our political system when we put our hands over our eyes and refuse to understand the other side's morality (or view for that matter).  It's also one of the largest causes of hate, violence, and nasty arguments.

[snip]

what a ridiculous idea. letting every action slide (including actions which, like your example, are actively dangerous towards other people) simply because "morality is grey and we should respect everyone" is just so painfully counterproductive to progress i'm not sure you're actually serious. why regulate emmissions? why create laws? why denounce oppression and hate? hey, morality's grey, right?

 

you can talk about the philosophical implications of good and evil all you want, but don't try to make claims about human psychology and neural processes if you don't really know what you're talking about.

Edited by fuccboi

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17 hours ago, Lushen said:

I think the human brain driving our actions is entirely incapable of making us do something selfless.  I think the human brain is physiologically restricted to perform actions in the name of self-interest.  So why do some people do good things and others do bad things?  Well, as cheesy as it sounds, everyone feels good when they do a good thing.  And everyone feels bad for doing a bad thing.  Sometimes, we do things because its expected and we don't really think about it at all.  But everything goes back to self interest.

I actually agree with this one.

Every action requires interest (or intent), it is impossible to act without any interest in something specific (be it analogous, ie. "I don't like cleaning the tableware but I will because I don't want to get sick or attract rats/cockroaches", or direct, ie. "I'm doing this because I like this") and that specific thing is necessarily a fulfillment of one or more of our needs. Someone who quotes my post wishes to respond me for their own arbitrary reasons, for example, to prove me wrong because they value truth (interest -> action -> fulfillment), because they like questioning and refuting others or whatever other motive. It is entirely possible for someone to skip my post or roll their eyes and move on with their lives, but someone who responds me necessarily does so only because they wish (this necessarily precedes action).

We only act in behalf of our needs (which is not selfless, but also very far from painting humans as essentially egotistical beings. Both are silly idealized extreme traits), and that's not necessarily a bad thing, for example, doing charity for the fuzzy, accomplishing feel you get after helping another person isn't being selfless (but it produces beneficial results).

Now, for a possible counter-example that seems to debunk my theory, which I feel the need to address before it is brought to the table: Taking an apparently selfless action, such as sacrificing yourself for someone in a situation where you have no direct gains, ultimately does not make it selfless, because you desire for that person's well being and this is the only reason you're acting at all - if they weren't important to you and linked to one or more of your needs, this would never happen.

Thus, that theory seems very plausible to me, at least logically since I lack evidence on human psychology backing up those claims and this is merely derived from what seems to make sense.

Edited by Rapier

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1 hour ago, Rapier said:

I actually agree with this one.

Every action requires interest (or intent), it is impossible to act without any interest in something specific (be it analogous, ie. "I don't like cleaning the tableware but I will because I don't want to get sick or attract rats/cockroaches", or direct, ie. "I'm doing this because I like this") and that specific thing is necessarily a fulfillment of one or more of our needs. Someone who quotes my post wishes to respond me for their own arbitrary reasons, for example, to prove me wrong because they value truth (interest -> action -> fulfillment), because they like questioning and refuting others or whatever other motive. It is entirely possible for someone to skip my post or roll their eyes and move on with their lives, but someone who responds me necessarily does so only because they wish (this necessarily precedes action).

We only act in behalf of our needs (which is not selfless, but also very far from painting humans as essentially egotistical beings. Both are silly idealized extreme traits), and that's not necessarily a bad thing, for example, doing charity for the fuzzy, accomplishing feel you get after helping another person isn't being selfless (but it produces beneficial results).

Now, for a possible counter-example that seems to debunk my theory, which I feel the need to address before it is brought to the table: Taking an apparently selfless action, such as sacrificing yourself for someone in a situation where you have no direct gains, ultimately does not make it selfless, because you desire for that person's well being and this is the only reason you're acting at all - if they weren't important to you and linked to one or more of your needs, this would never happen.

Thus, that theory seems very plausible to me, at least logically since I lack evidence on human psychology backing up those claims and this is merely derived from what seems to make sense.

You're probably right. However, what you are saying doesn't necessarily contrast with what everybody else is saying here. People could follow Kantian ethics or religious ethics out of complete self-interest without it conflicting with the reasoning behind those moral views. For instance, the reasons somebody would want to become a Christian are mostly self-motivated. Things like "I don't wanna go to hell", "I wanna live a more spiritual life", "I want to be nicer to other people because being nice makes me feel good" are the reasons why people join a lot of religions, and most religions understand that and are built to appeal to your self-interest. So what you are saying could be true, but that wouldn't necessarily mean that anybody who appeals to another standard of morality would be incorrect in doing so. 

I'm a Christian. I believe that, in a world where I believe that God exists, the most logical thing to do is as He says. So I would jump in front of a bus to save a little girl out of my own self-interest in doing what God would have me do in a given situation. Thus, I ascribe to my moral standard and yours at the same time. They aren't mutually exclusive.

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20 hours ago, Lushen said:

I think the human brain driving our actions is entirely incapable of making us do something selfless.  I think the human brain is physiologically restricted to perform actions in the name of self-interest.  So why do some people do good things and others do bad things?  Well, as cheesy as it sounds, everyone feels good when they do a good thing.  And everyone feels bad for doing a bad thing.  Sometimes, we do things because its expected and we don't really think about it at all.  But everything goes back to self interest.

Of course we're not. We'd be robots/zombies if we could be completely selfless.

Edited by Skynstein

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2 hours ago, Rapier said:

I actually agree with this one.

Every action requires interest (or intent), it is impossible to act without any interest in something specific (be it analogous, ie. "I don't like cleaning the tableware but I will because I don't want to get sick or attract rats/cockroaches", or direct, ie. "I'm doing this because I like this") and that specific thing is necessarily a fulfillment of one or more of our needs. Someone who quotes my post wishes to respond me for their own arbitrary reasons, for example, to prove me wrong because they value truth (interest -> action -> fulfillment), because they like questioning and refuting others or whatever other motive. It is entirely possible for someone to skip my post or roll their eyes and move on with their lives, but someone who responds me necessarily does so only because they wish (this necessarily precedes action).

We only act in behalf of our needs (which is not selfless, but also very far from painting humans as essentially egotistical beings. Both are silly idealized extreme traits), and that's not necessarily a bad thing, for example, doing charity for the fuzzy, accomplishing feel you get after helping another person isn't being selfless (but it produces beneficial results).

Now, for a possible counter-example that seems to debunk my theory, which I feel the need to address before it is brought to the table: Taking an apparently selfless action, such as sacrificing yourself for someone in a situation where you have no direct gains, ultimately does not make it selfless, because you desire for that person's well being and this is the only reason you're acting at all - if they weren't important to you and linked to one or more of your needs, this would never happen.

Thus, that theory seems very plausible to me, at least logically since I lack evidence on human psychology backing up those claims and this is merely derived from what seems to make sense.

the problem with that claim is that it's entirely unfalsifiable. i could bring up tendency towards reciprocity or things like the ultimatum game (where an "unfair" offer is often rejected despite accepting the offer being the option that maximises personal benefit) but you could always claim that that was simply due to what that specific individual values and so ultimately it was a "selfish" decision. there's always an, in popperian terms, ad hoc hypothesis that can be made. so this is no more in the realm of psychology or science, but rather philosophy. there's a fair amount of literature on the evolutionary need for humans to be, at least to a certain extent, "selfless," but you can always rationalise it within the theory of humans being inherently selfish as being on a basic level out of need for self-satisfaction, so clearly empirical evidence and science can only go so far regarding this topic.

 

there's nothing wrong with that. there is, however, a problem in trying to bring up faux-facts and pop science to make a half-assed point, imo.

Edited by fuccboi

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