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Author Topic: Abortion and Morality  (Read 2996 times)
Explodicle
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February 29, 2012, 06:56:27 PM
 #41

It's rational for an individual, assuming they are acting out of self-interest.
http://www.unc.edu/depts/econ/byrns_web/Economicae/rationalselfinterest.html

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Or we could just not cheat each other.  But, ok if that is the world you want, that is the world you will get.

So let me get this clear, in the tragedy of the commons it is rational for the farmer to add one more cow than his share assuming no repercussions from the other farmers?  And you are proud to be this type of rational.  And in a situation where there are no repercussions it is rational to steal and cheat?

Yes, this would be rational. I don't see it as something to be proud of, since it's not much of an accomplishment. We should create social pressures to discourage such behaviors, so that rational people act in accordance with the common good. It's irrational to steal and cheat if everyone will hate you for it.


"the economist's notion that people act “rationally” merely implies that people try to act in ways consistent with their own objectives"

And you say you are proud to be rational? 
No, that wasn't me.
How do you get pride from this?  Do you tell people you meet "I am proud to act in ways that are consistent with my objectives."  Well, if this is how you justify any selfish actions as moral (what I was talking about) then so be it.  But I don't think you are being rational.  When you said "rational" I thought you meant something different having to do with consistent judgement for actions, non-arrogance, and general philosophy.

I was arguing yesterday whether a businessman or humanist would make the best president.  I think I'll know after you answer my first question.


I'm not clear as to why pride should decide my actions, as opposed to what promotes all my values including pride. I'm merely saying that any solution to this problem needs to correct the incentives of selfish individuals so that they promote the welfare of others. Morality is more complex than just cooperating in every prisoner's dilemma. Sometimes defecting even helps pressure a fix for a broken system.

I am NOT claiming that all rational actions are moral, or vice-versa. In fact, I completely agree with you regarding the morality of sex-selective abortion. The fact that the moral action is not the rational action IS the problem.
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dayfall
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February 29, 2012, 07:46:46 PM
 #42

Yes, this would be rational. I don't see it as something to be proud of, since it's not much of an accomplishment. We should create social pressures to discourage such behaviors, so that rational people act in accordance with the common good. It's irrational to steal and cheat if everyone will hate you for it.

I'm not clear as to why pride should decide my actions, as opposed to what promotes all my values including pride. I'm merely saying that any solution to this problem needs to correct the incentives of selfish individuals so that they promote the welfare of others. Morality is more complex than just cooperating in every prisoner's dilemma. Sometimes defecting even helps pressure a fix for a broken system.

I am NOT claiming that all rational actions are moral, or vice-versa. In fact, I completely agree with you regarding the morality of sex-selective abortion. The fact that the moral action is not the rational action IS the problem.

It is only a problem to you, because I think moral actions are rational actions. 

Unless you wish your opponent to defect against you, yes, morality is as simple as cooperating in the prisoners dilemma.  Fixing the dilemma so that even a sane but immoral person chooses the moral option is the best solution for the real world.  I agree.  But if your goal is to fix a broken system then I don't think you are playing the same game because your end goal is to create a system so that not even yourself can cheat and profit.  This would be irrational according to that economist.  The "rational" fix is to make the system so that you can defect and profit but the majority of others cannot sanely do so.

I have never heard anyone rationalize theft that simply increases your wealth.  If you rationalize any theft then I bet that theft is actually moral.
Explodicle
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February 29, 2012, 10:47:16 PM
 #43

It is only a problem to you, because I think moral actions are rational actions. 

Unless you wish your opponent to defect against you, yes, morality is as simple as cooperating in the prisoners dilemma.

Are you saying it's rational to cooperate in a prisoner's dilemma? Are you universally applying superrationality?

I can certainly imagine situations where I would rather someone defects, even against me. For example, we want Bitcoin miners to defect against one another, not conspire to keep profits high! If I can do more good overall by defecting against you I'll do it, and I hope that you would adopt a similar policy. Wouldn't you betray me to cure cancer?
the joint
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February 29, 2012, 10:56:04 PM
 #44

Two questions that must be addressed before talking about the morality of abortion:

1)  Who decides what is right and what is wrong?
2)  How do you know if the decision maker is correct?

I would say that anybody can decide what is right and what is wrong.  The 2nd question is a whole different ball game.

I must say though, I think the Golden Rule is a WONDERFUL ethical principle.  It is Universal (distributes to everyone) at the same time that it takes into account individual circumstance and/or perspective.

For tough ethical questions like these, I follow the Golden Rule.  To me, it seems as if the Golden Rule is the most comprehensive ethical model around.

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February 29, 2012, 10:59:54 PM
 #45

Two questions that must be addressed before talking about the morality of abortion:

1)  Who decides what is right and what is wrong?
2)  How do you know if the decision maker is correct?

I would say that anybody can decide what is right and what is wrong.  The 2nd question is a whole different ball game.

I must say though, I think the Golden Rule is a WONDERFUL ethical principle.  It is Universal (distributes to everyone) at the same time that it takes into account individual circumstance and/or perspective.

For tough ethical questions like these, I follow the Golden Rule.

Isnt' that avoiding the question? 

Let me remind you of it: if its morally OK for a woman to have an abortion that kills any unborn thingy inside her, how can it be immoral for her to have an abortion that only kills female unborn thingies.

The golden rule says you are allowed to intervene to stop someone doing something wrong.  My question was how can abortion on demand be OK if abortion to select a sex is wrong?

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February 29, 2012, 11:06:38 PM
 #46

Two questions that must be addressed before talking about the morality of abortion:

1)  Who decides what is right and what is wrong?
2)  How do you know if the decision maker is correct?

I would say that anybody can decide what is right and what is wrong.  The 2nd question is a whole different ball game.

I must say though, I think the Golden Rule is a WONDERFUL ethical principle.  It is Universal (distributes to everyone) at the same time that it takes into account individual circumstance and/or perspective.

For tough ethical questions like these, I follow the Golden Rule.

Isnt' that avoiding the question?  

Let me remind you of it: if its morally OK for a woman to have an abortion that kills any unborn thingy inside her, how can it be immoral for her to have an abortion that only kills female unborn thingies.

The golden rule says you are allowed to intervene to stop someone doing something wrong.  My question was how can abortion on demand be OK if abortion to select a sex is wrong?

I sort-of avoided the question because my previous post implies the possibility of simultaneous right/wrong states according to the Golden Rule.  Two people can abide by the Golden Rule and reach entirely different conclusions.  I think it's entirely possible that someone can think it's OK for a woman to have any abortion, but think that it's not OK for a woman to have an abortion given that she knows the fetus is female, and be completely right about it.  

I personally don't hold that view   Cheesy

Explodicle
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February 29, 2012, 11:44:34 PM
 #47

My question was how can abortion on demand be OK if abortion to select a sex is wrong?

If the expected consequences from one rule are good, and the expected consequences from another rule are bad.
dayfall
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March 01, 2012, 04:39:39 AM
 #48

Are you saying it's rational to cooperate in a prisoner's dilemma? Are you universally applying superrationality?

I can certainly imagine situations where I would rather someone defects, even against me. For example, we want Bitcoin miners to defect against one another, not conspire to keep profits high! If I can do more good overall by defecting against you I'll do it, and I hope that you would adopt a similar policy. Wouldn't you betray me to cure cancer?

Yes, I do say so.  I can certainly rationalize it.   It is not superrationality but maximizing the overall good.  Aborting the female child does not do this.  The woman is irrational to conclude she should have the extra male at the detriment to society.

I would prefer us miners dropped the difficulty to a level high enough to just secure the network.  It is a waste (al la tragedy of the commons) for anyone to mine higher.  Please explain why you want up to keep difficulty higher than required for network security.  (keeping difficulty high for security sake is not defecting)

Well, it isn't exactly betraying you if you just said you wanted me to do it.  And in the scenario you mean ("more good overall"), we could talk it over and someone agree to be the "sucker".  For instance the defector can split the profits fairly amongst the cooperators. 

memvola
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March 01, 2012, 10:58:36 AM
 #49

The woman is irrational to conclude she should have the extra male at the detriment to society.

Why? It's precisely your norms of society that postulate this. How can you assert that your metrics are universal?

Besides, it's cherry picking, since conflicting norms can be discovered for other reasons of abortion. What makes this stand out?

Two people can abide by the Golden Rule and reach entirely different conclusions.

Precisely. But I don't think the gist of Hawker's point depends on the golden rule, but on consistency in ethical reasoning.

For example, we want Bitcoin miners to defect against one another, not conspire to keep profits high!

I partially agree, but I think some issues are conflated here. We want them to defect against one another, because the system is built upon a descriptive reality that they would do so. If they don't, the system wouldn't work efficiently. So it's specific to the technical context. In a grander context, we would prefer the miners to keep mining even if it's unprofitable, since it would help the network. This won't work of course, but it's still desirable.

I'd like to defend dayfall here, because I agree that acting towards an enlightened self-intrest is rational, mostly because of transcendental issues. Not overreaching towards something above your life does not make much sense, and you are not doing it anyway. Even if you are a reptilian bastard, what you call immediate self-interest would still serve something greater than your life, be it continuation of your genes, or your attitude itself. So, while you're at it, why not work towards creating a more coherent perspective? The reason I don't agree with dayfall is, that this resulting perspective does not need to conform with his/her particular world view.
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March 01, 2012, 02:14:16 PM
 #50

I'd like to defend dayfall here, because I agree that acting towards an enlightened self-intrest is rational, mostly because of transcendental issues. Not overreaching towards something above your life does not make much sense, and you are not doing it anyway. Even if you are a reptilian bastard, what you call immediate self-interest would still serve something greater than your life, be it continuation of your genes, or your attitude itself.

I'm not certain I understand so please correct me if I'm misinterpreting:
An enlightened self-interest is one that values abstracts like not defecting more highly than specifics like familial success. So if your goal is to maximize utility on a situation-by-situation basis, then defecting is always irrational.
Yes?
memvola
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March 01, 2012, 03:16:35 PM
 #51

I'd like to defend dayfall here, because I agree that acting towards an enlightened self-intrest is rational, mostly because of transcendental issues. Not overreaching towards something above your life does not make much sense, and you are not doing it anyway. Even if you are a reptilian bastard, what you call immediate self-interest would still serve something greater than your life, be it continuation of your genes, or your attitude itself.

I'm not certain I understand so please correct me if I'm misinterpreting:
An enlightened self-interest is one that values abstracts like not defecting more highly than specifics like familial success. So if your goal is to maximize utility on a situation-by-situation basis, then defecting is always irrational.
Yes?

No, I don't agree with that. Hmm, actually after reading the history of the debate, I think I mostly agree with you. I thought you said defecting is always rational. I'm merely saying that it depends on whether there is a greater good attained by not defecting. Good here of course is what you deem to be good (maximizing utility could come into play here depending on your ethical preferences). For instance "not betraying" can by itself be a moral for you, and you might value it higher than your life, it's perfectly rational. So, in essence, surviving doesn't happen if what survives isn't you.
dayfall
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March 01, 2012, 04:03:02 PM
 #52

Why? It's precisely your norms of society that postulate this. How can you assert that your metrics are universal?

The reason I don't agree with dayfall is, that this resulting perspective does not need to conform with his/her particular world view.

It is not because it's my "norm", I was assuming a disproportionate ratio would be harmful.  If you think it would cause a better society then advocate it.  If my premise is faulty then this case would no longer stand out. 

If it is rational to believe having 10 males to 1 female is best, then they need a lottery or some such.  This would invalidate my argument because the woman would no longer be defecting; she would actually be helping herself and her society.  However, it is likely that this belief is not actually rational.
memvola
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March 01, 2012, 05:40:30 PM
 #53

It is not because it's my "norm", I was assuming a disproportionate ratio would be harmful.  If you think it would cause a better society then advocate it.  If my premise is faulty then this case would no longer stand out. 

My point is, what's a better society is not an objective judgment. It depends on what you think is good, what your ideal society is. I'm sure we'd agree on this or that superficially, but without us agreeing on fundamental values, there's no point in discussing actions. As an extreme example, if I believe that ultimate elimination of sexes from the human species would be a good thing, where would we start debating? Certainly on the desired results, and whether they themselves are good according to our respective values. Ordinary examples are a lot more subtle and convoluted though...

If it is rational to believe having 10 males to 1 female is best, then they need a lottery or some such.  This would invalidate my argument because the woman would no longer be defecting; she would actually be helping herself and her society.  However, it is likely that this belief is not actually rational.

Two things here. First, even if we shared the same goals, we still wouldn't know what's best, we don't have the science. Second, we don't share the same goals.

We could judge if the abortion is justified in case by case basis, but there are many leaps one needs to take in order to accept that these cases are "less" justified than other elective abortion cases.
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