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What are your personal moral principles?

rousseau

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We talk a lot about morality here, what it is, how it works, but I don't remember much discussion about how our own members think about morality as it pertains to their own, day-to-day lives.

So the questions are:
- What moral principles (if any) guide your day to day life?
- How do you (if you do) gauge that you're living your life to the standards you've set for yourself?
 

untermensche

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To side with the down trodden and abused and the victims of human power schemes.

And to not side with any power that illegitimate, like power within dictatorial systems.
 

Bronzeage

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I am moral, only as much as is necessary to survive.


Some people believe being "moral" means one is nice to other people. This is not necessarily true.
 

bigfield

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Most of my day-to-day decisions are conditioned responses. I don't really think about it.

As far as it's conscious, I try to leave people better off than I found them.
 

Wiploc

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I'm a utilitarian: I think it's good to be nice to people.
 

spikepipsqueak

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Most of my day-to-day decisions are conditioned responses. I don't really think about it.

As far as it's conscious, I try to leave people better off than I found them.

^^^ That, with the proviso that I am not always successful in this.

Always eat a baby before eating a kitten.

You are right only to a point. The reason for eating the kitten is that it acts as a palate cleanser before you move on to the snow leopard/tiger course.
 

BH

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I want to survive and understand others do too.

I am willing to be kind and help others but I will not do so to people who try to hurt me in any way. I draw this line at physical violence, threatening my employment and ability to feed and house myself. I have no problems avenging myself on people who do these things to me and keep it within legal bounds.
 

Treedbear

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...
So the questions are:
- What moral principles (if any) guide your day to day life?

Generally it's to do nothing that would harm other human beings. But there's always a compromise or else it wouldn't concern morality. Should I favor one person over another? The same question applies to groups of people. Very often it involves my own personal interests as a functioning member of society. Personally, I tend to place concern for my family at the top. I myself come in second. The average person on the street third. The people I work with fourth. As the relationship becomes more distant the rationale becomes less rigid simply because what I do will have less influence. Not to say these relationships couldn't outweigh those closer ones. And symbolic acts can also fall in the moral domain. So allegiance to one's local community is up there along with one's country. The well being of Humanity as a whole is of ultimate importance, and that's because I believe it's the primary purpose and source of all moral reasoning.

- How do you (if you do) gauge that you're living your life to the standards you've set for yourself?

Often I don't know or it's just hard to be sure. Peace of mind and sleeping well are a good sign though.
 

PyramidHead

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A quick recap of the negative ethics I have described previously (described in more detail by its originator at the link):

-All humans are born into a terminal situation we naturally wish to postpone, containing no value except what we manage to create and not enough space to do so without interfering with each other

-The basic moral imperative that all ethical systems have in common is to consider the interests of others and not just your own, to act in a way that is respectful of the fact that others exist and have preferences

-Due to the situation we find ourselves in, it is structurally impossible to live according to this fundamental ethical norm, as everything we do necessarily deprives someone else and disrespects their projects

-A system of morals that sidesteps this issue and merely instructs us how we should behave having already entered the situation that impedes us from being truly moral is a secondary or second-degree morality, situated within the moral impossibility described above

-A primary or first-degree morality recognizes the structural impediment and disqualification that our condition as humans entails from birth and will reach different conclusions about several important areas, such as suicide and procreation

To the extent that second-degree ethics assumes up-front that it is possible to live morally, and that life has positive intrinsic value that we can appeal to in our striving to act in accordance with it, they may all be called "affirmative" ethics. This category contains most of the moral theories that have been described in the history of civilization from Europe to Asia.

An ethics that, at least initially, opens up the possibility of the received conditions of human life being incompatible with the most basic moral duties, and asserts that no human acts can ever be moral in the first-degree or primary sense (though they may be moral for secondary reasons, like the good of the country) may be called "negative" ethics.

In affirmative ethics, there is a strong impulse toward regarding suicide as a great evil and procreation as a sublime good. This polarity flips in negative ethics. Suicide, though still disqualified from being truly moral in the same way as any human act, has a better chance at being moral if it removes oneself from harming others. And procreation is seen not as the bestowing of a gift but as a manipulation of another human being, not just in terms of what they might do with their time, but in the sense of bringing them into the same terminal existence that obligates them to disrespect others in their struggle to postpone its consummation.

So, for my part, I don't blame other people for their failings, try to give them as much space as they need to work out their problems, and I don't ever intend to have children. I actually love children; it's parents I have a problem with, and don't want to become one. I'm not suicidal, but I don't have any qualms with suicide and generally respect people who decide to do it, rather than immediately categorizing them as mentally ill. Those are my primary ethical stances. In the secondary realm--that is, assuming that we are all continuing forward as a species, regardless of whether or not it's good in itself to do so--I'm a communist.
 

southernhybrid

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Be polite and friendly to strangers and try not to harm others. Don't carry a grudge towards someone who has hurt you. That only hurts you both. Don't judge other people because you have no idea how their genetic and environmental influences have impacted their lives or made them the people that they are. When you don't judge others, it's just easier to be a decent person. Still, there are times when this is very difficult and you just want to smack the shit out of someone. Just calm down and move on.
 

just_me

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My code of being me is to considering all people important enough to investigate further than who they initially seem to be and what others claim they are is one of the driving forces that I hope to achieve but sometimes fail miserably at. I have found myself, many times edited replies of posts that I've made in some childish need to get back at someone who had offended my sense of self, fully knowing that I've demeaned myself far greater, by my own actions than anyone else could ever do. I think that those times I failed to measure my responses I have made their point far better than they and I have no one to blame except myself.


Hopefully others will offer me the same in return and we can get through most of the small minded drama queen episodes that humanity seems to enjoy inflicting on themselves and others.
 

Politesse

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I try to live in accordance with my best virtues, auch as I understand them, doing my utmost to cultivate them. The physical, moral and spiritual senses can be educated with patience and discipline, and I look for the company of books and people that bring out my best rather than my worst. Individual moral decisions I try not to obsess over evaluating as "good" or "bad"; things are seldom so straightforward, so I think it is important to learn whatever you can from each experience without rushing to categorize it too cleanly.
 

Loren Pechtel

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Don't do to others what you wouldn't want them to do to you.

(The normal version of this stated in the positive has a big problem with people desiring different things.)
 

PyramidHead

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Don't do to others what you wouldn't want them to do to you.

(The normal version of this stated in the positive has a big problem with people desiring different things.)

How does your version avoid that problem? If I don't want anybody to give me any help because I'm a masochist and want to do everything myself, does that give me the right to deny help to people who want or need it?
 

Jason Harvestdancer

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Don't do to others what you wouldn't want them to do to you.

(The normal version of this stated in the positive has a big problem with people desiring different things.)

How does your version avoid that problem? If I don't want anybody to give me any help because I'm a masochist and want to do everything myself, does that give me the right to deny help to people who want or need it?

That version says you are not obligated to help, only that you are obligated to not cause harm. You are not forbidden from helping people if you wish.
 

PyramidHead

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Don't do to others what you wouldn't want them to do to you.

(The normal version of this stated in the positive has a big problem with people desiring different things.)

How does your version avoid that problem? If I don't want anybody to give me any help because I'm a masochist and want to do everything myself, does that give me the right to deny help to people who want or need it?

That version says you are not obligated to help, only that you are obligated to not cause harm. You are not forbidden from helping people if you wish.

It seems to come down to semantics, though. If I wouldn't want somebody to ignore me in my time of need, I shouldn't ignore others in theirs. That's an obligation to help in all but name.
 

Jason Harvestdancer

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That version says you are not obligated to help, only that you are obligated to not cause harm. You are not forbidden from helping people if you wish.

It seems to come down to semantics, though. If I wouldn't want somebody to ignore me in my time of need, I shouldn't ignore others in theirs. That's an obligation to help in all but name.

No, it doesn't. One version is a prohibition against certain actions, saying "thou shall not". The other, the version you favor, is a mandate of positive action, a "thou shall". The "thou shall not" version that I favor doesn't prohibit helping, it does prohibit harming. It doesn't mandate helping either, which is what makes it different from yours.

I think it is an important distinction for another reason too. I've seen people do some very horrible things "for your own good" or "for the public good". A positive obligation to do good gives moral justification to that.
 

PyramidHead

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That version says you are not obligated to help, only that you are obligated to not cause harm. You are not forbidden from helping people if you wish.

It seems to come down to semantics, though. If I wouldn't want somebody to ignore me in my time of need, I shouldn't ignore others in theirs. That's an obligation to help in all but name.

No, it doesn't. One version is a prohibition against certain actions, saying "thou shall not". The other, the version you favor, is a mandate of positive action, a "thou shall". The "thou shall not" version that I favor doesn't prohibit helping, it does prohibit harming. It doesn't mandate helping either, which is what makes it different from yours.

I think it is an important distinction for another reason too. I've seen people do some very horrible things "for your own good" or "for the public good". A positive obligation to do good gives moral justification to that.

First, I don't favor the Golden Rule, I'm just not sure how this rule avoids its problems. Your rephrasing of the semantic flaw that makes them basically equivalent doesn't help.


Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Okay, since I would like it if someone gave me a hand in my time of need, I will give others a hand in their time of need.

Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you. Okay, since I wouldn't like it if someone AVOIDED giving me a hand in my time of need, I WON'T AVOID giving others a hand in theirs.


For every behavior that is prohibited by the second rule, there is a phrasing of the first that compels it, and vice versa.

A better rule might be this:


Do not do unto others what THEY would not have you do unto them.


This places the priority where it belongs, on the recipient of my actions and what their preferences are, regardless of whether I have them as well. In both other rules, I must assume that what I want (or do not want) is valid grounds for what I should do (or not do) to others; if my wants are different than those of someone affected by my action, then both rules will run into this same problem since they both say the same thing. Only a rule that links what is not to be done to someone with what they would prefer I didn't do to them is immune to the problem of incompatible desires.

However, even this rule has its problems. For, just as a negative injunction could become an obligation with the right semantics in the other rules, so too can this one be exploited. If another person tells me "I wouldn't want you to refrain from having sex with me," then by this new rule I would be obliged to have sex with that person, since I shouldn't do to others what they don't want done to them. As a result, we should stop bothering with gold, silver, platinum, or diamond rules because as I said in my first reply to this thread, morality is impossible anyway.
 

Jason Harvestdancer

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It's not a rephrasing, it actually isn't even the same rule. It is two different rules with similar phrasing. One is a prohibition, the other a mandate. You cannot rephrase a prohibition into a mandate or vice-versa. There is no trick of semantics that can turn one into the other.

Your "better rule" though, it is a third rule and not a very good one. It counts on you knowing what they would not have you do unto them.
 

Alcoholic Actuary

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I think I've posted these before:

1) Does this action deceive anyone or allow anyone to be deceived?
2) Does this action gain or allow the gain of privilege or advantage to which I or someone else might not otherwise be entitled?
3) Would I be unsatisfied with the outcome if I were on the receiving end of this action?

If I can answer yes to any of the above, then I question the behavior and activity in which I'm engaging.

aa
 

Loren Pechtel

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I think I've posted these before:

1) Does this action deceive anyone or allow anyone to be deceived?
2) Does this action gain or allow the gain of privilege or advantage to which I or someone else might not otherwise be entitled?
3) Would I be unsatisfied with the outcome if I were on the receiving end of this action?

If I can answer yes to any of the above, then I question the behavior and activity in which I'm engaging.

aa

These are too broad.

1) Magicians.

2) Getting a high score on a SAT or the like.
 

Alcoholic Actuary

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I think I've posted these before:

1) Does this action deceive anyone or allow anyone to be deceived?
2) Does this action gain or allow the gain of privilege or advantage to which I or someone else might not otherwise be entitled?
3) Would I be unsatisfied with the outcome if I were on the receiving end of this action?

If I can answer yes to any of the above, then I question the behavior and activity in which I'm engaging.

aa

These are too broad.

1) Magicians.

2) Getting a high score on a SAT or the like.

I said I question my behavior, I don't automatically conclude that it is unprincipled. If I'm doing a magic trick with the intent to deceive someone for the wonderment of the deception, I'm sure the behavior is OK. If I'm doing it to swindle someone out of money then it's not.

I don't really follow you on the SAT score. If I studied hard and did well on my SATs then the privilege or advantage I get from a high score was entitled. If I cheated on my SATs then the high score wasn't entitled.

aa
 

Loren Pechtel

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I think I've posted these before:

1) Does this action deceive anyone or allow anyone to be deceived?
2) Does this action gain or allow the gain of privilege or advantage to which I or someone else might not otherwise be entitled?
3) Would I be unsatisfied with the outcome if I were on the receiving end of this action?

If I can answer yes to any of the above, then I question the behavior and activity in which I'm engaging.

aa

These are too broad.

1) Magicians.

2) Getting a high score on a SAT or the like.

I said I question my behavior, I don't automatically conclude that it is unprincipled. If I'm doing a magic trick with the intent to deceive someone for the wonderment of the deception, I'm sure the behavior is OK. If I'm doing it to swindle someone out of money then it's not.

I don't really follow you on the SAT score. If I studied hard and did well on my SATs then the privilege or advantage I get from a high score was entitled. If I cheated on my SATs then the high score wasn't entitled.

aa

If you didn't get a high score you wouldn't be entitled to those benefits.
 

Alcoholic Actuary

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I said I question my behavior, I don't automatically conclude that it is unprincipled. If I'm doing a magic trick with the intent to deceive someone for the wonderment of the deception, I'm sure the behavior is OK. If I'm doing it to swindle someone out of money then it's not.

I don't really follow you on the SAT score. If I studied hard and did well on my SATs then the privilege or advantage I get from a high score was entitled. If I cheated on my SATs then the high score wasn't entitled.

aa

If you didn't get a high score you wouldn't be entitled to those benefits.

Neither would anyone who didn't get a high score. If I get the benefits but didn't get a high score, then I'm on the receiving end of benefits to which I might not otherwise be entitled.

aa
 

4321lynx

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All that has been said in this thread, and all the endless BS that is yet to come here, and elsewhere, is, as Rabbi(?) Hillel said "commentary" on the Golden Rule; a Rule that nobody human lives by all the time, the "nobody" including all of you, and me, and Hillel himself, and all the gods and prophets, and politicians and other MF's that were ever born or that man has ever invented or will invent, so "Go and Learn."
 
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