"Ethical Fourier transform"

Discussion in 'Debate Forum' started by Eutychius, Aug 18, 2015.

  1. Eutychius

    Eutychius Moderator

    Recently I found one of the most intriguing comic strips I have seen in a very long time:

    [​IMG]

    TL;DR : When encountering unsolvable ethical questions, we tend to use a simple application of numbers (either as pure math or economics) to determine the "least bad" scenario and use it as optimal.

    However, is pure rationality used as an ethical tool inherently hypocritical? Is the ability to apply utilitarianism enough to actually solve a serious ethical dilemma? Is it actually "good" to use this damage limitation logic or is it a necessary evil?

    Discuss.
     
  2. Rickaby

    Rickaby Well-Known Member

    Re: Ethical Fourier transform

    I'm glad someone drew attention to this.

    It's entirely hypocritical because it's about morals. X is bad to do because Y. If you show someone that he's a hypocrite in this kind of situation, he will try to use numbers as a form of damage control.

    Not too long ago I saw a vegan preaching to everyone else how eating meat is terrible, because it causes death and suffering to millions of animals. When that person was told that millions of animals also die for vegetarian/vegan products(protecting crops through poisoning, deaths caused by harvesting, etc), the vegan said that the number of animals who die for vegan products is much smaller. This is true, but it still kills the moral stance behind it.

    In the end it all boils down to a holier than thou "yeah but you are worse than ME" kind of mentality, from the one who tries to defend their hypocrisy through numbers.
     
  3. Eutychius

    Eutychius Moderator

    Re: Ethical Fourier transform

    I do agree with you, but your example makes it easy to build an opinion on the whole picture since we're already encountering a position that isn't entirely dependent on morals (like killing animals for food or picking up plants for food).

    Going back to the post and the trail-piloting example, we can see a very strong dilemma. Kill 1 person, or kill 5? I don't think anyone would assume (given only this piece of info) that killing 5 people is better than killing only 1 yet we can agree killing any number of people is a bad thing.

    So, there lies the interesting question: Can a purely logical choice of saving more people be still morally wrong due to the nature of the problem? Or can a morally ambiguous choice be more good than evil for what it achieves compared to the alternatives?
     
  4. 6.83

    6.83 Well-Known Member

    Re: Ethical Fourier transform

    Stealing truffle mushrooms and champagne to feed your family is perfectly ethical if it is the most readily-available food in the vicinity. Its image as luxurious food or price has nothing to do with it, "bread" seems fine to steal to feed your family as it is commonplace. When you use specific foods for your argument rather than generalized hypothetical foods that are defined by their rarity and availability, you're skewing the argument in your favor by appealing to the reader's inherent bias!

    In either case, I totally agree. Killing 5 people IS less ethical than than killing 1 person, unless that 1 person is me, in which case killing me is the worst thing you could possibly do. Other exceptions may apply if these 5 people may be worthless or damaging to society, such as terrorists and the 1 person that would die is someone whose death could result in huge losses, even economical as economical losses could end up increasing crime rates leading to higher mortality as well as further deaths by means of starvation.

    In either case I recommend putting the thread title in quotation marks, as "Ethical Fourier Transform" is not an actual defined term.
     
  5. Rickaby

    Rickaby Well-Known Member

    Re: Ethical Fourier transform

    It's not really a moral issue anymore if you are obliged to make an immoral choice no matter what, right? So all you're left with is the logical choice.

    'tis why I am not a fan of these hypothetical questions.
     
  6. 6.83

    6.83 Well-Known Member

    Re: Ethical Fourier transform

    Why aren't you a vegan then? :^)
     
  7. Rickaby

    Rickaby Well-Known Member

    Re: Ethical Fourier transform

    Because I like le bacon and I don't consider eating it an act of immorality.

    /antijoke
     
  8. fr0zenknife

    fr0zenknife Well-Known Member

    Re: Ethical Fourier transform

    I do not think stealing is fine in any case. The ethical and moral solution would be those who are not in need to give those who are out of compassion.
     
  9. doomsheep

    doomsheep Well-Known Member

    Re: Ethical Fourier transform

    when people say something is 'unsolvable' they usually mean it's an inproperly set question or they didn't manage to get a consensus.
     
  10. TwoHourMotel

    TwoHourMotel Well-Known Member

    Re: Ethical Fourier transform

    If we wanna apply economics and logic and take out morals and ethics out of the equation, wouldn't the logical choice be to kill the 5 people if you consider the amount of resource toll a person has on the planet, it would be better to save on the resources and kill the 5, especially if they're from the first world.

    Inb4 plot to terminator.
     
  11. Rickaby

    Rickaby Well-Known Member

    Re: Ethical Fourier transform

    But what if it was a group of homeless people, or maybe tourists from Uganda? Checkmate.
     
  12. Humletz

    Humletz Well-Known Member

    Re: Ethical Fourier transform

    But what if those Ugandan tourists all had AIDS, i.e. were terminally ill? Checkmate.
     
  13. QoDivine

    QoDivine Well-Known Member

    Re: Ethical Fourier transform

    there doesnt seem to be another sane way of solving the problems that the image proposes.
    maybe the default way of solving problems like these is just puree rationality and the morals of people are something that dont quite agree with nature yet thats why we are trying to manipulate the world into making it allow for more moral choices. so its not hypocritical to sometimes use rationality to solve aforementioned problems because it is impossible to use morality to solve them. and afterwards we make sure that the circumstances never bring us to such a problem again by altering the parameters
     
  14. Eutychius

    Eutychius Moderator

    Re: Ethical Fourier transform

    Not really. Could these problems be set in any way that they warrant an obvious solution? And is it really dependent on a consensus?

    After all, unsolvable ethical questions are more often than not personal.

    I guess these examples belong more or less into a spectrum of moral ambiguity that is prevalent in this world and that is inherently blurred and vague, ultimately leaving us with the disturbing thought of lack of an objective moral compass.
     
  15. TwoHourMotel

    TwoHourMotel Well-Known Member

    Re: Ethical Fourier transform

    The way I see it, human morality is biologically driven, and like anything based in our biology, it's a 200,000 year old software running on a million year hardware so it's no surprise that it's incompatible with modern morality problems. I think everyone knows their morality is highly subjective, but I think the reaction to this realization causes some people to not want to see the world for the gray it is because it triggers their software and tells them that they aren't as safe as they might think they are, so instead they double down on the whole objective morality thing, attribute it to a higher being (this could be god or other people) and anything that challenges this view is either blasphemous or doesn't exist.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, gray is a nice shade and black and white is boring as fuck. It's too bad black and white is calmer for the human brain, since ambiguity could have left you dead in the jungle when our ancestors were writing the software.
     
  16. kildat017

    kildat017 Well-Known Member

    You can't justify stealing bread or killing livestock even if you're the hungriest person on the planet. It's a dilemma all of us are not an exemption of, that we're all bound to "kill" or "steal" just for our own most primal survival.

    I hate this world for that reason alone.

    Vegans are not exempted either. You think you're not "killing" plants when you pluck them out of their roots? A living thing grows, and plant stop growing once you pluck them out. Fulfilling the method to kill.
     
  17. TwoHourMotel

    TwoHourMotel Well-Known Member

    Oh for sure, you can only even consider morality if you are able to actually sit and think about it.
     
  18. kildat017

    kildat017 Well-Known Member

    You can only do this for so long. Couple of days later you're hungry again. And then what?

    I'll applaud you if you can steal or kill in front of a police station.
     
  19. TwoHourMotel

    TwoHourMotel Well-Known Member

    No I actually agree with you, we can only consider morality when things aren't dire. also, it would be smart for a really hungry person with nothing to lose to steal or kill in-front of the police station, since I'm pretty sure you get fed in prison.
     
  20. kildat017

    kildat017 Well-Known Member

    Morality is morality and it gives zero fucks on your situation, desperate or not. Get a job if you don't want to be hungry.

    What I'm trying to point out is something... more if you could call it. I'm not talking of --HOW-- you got your day's food, or the money behind it, no. But rather the ACT of eating itself. Where did your food came from? Without a meat butcher you wouldn't be eating that meat in the first place. It doesn't really take a stretch of imagination that by eating the meat is the same as admitting you killed it. Same with plants.