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Author Topic: Autonomy and Morality  (Read 5866 times)
LewdM@thew
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« on: July 10, 2006, 18:16:00 »

First and foremost, this in here because it has nothing to do with religion, God, right or wrong, good or evil, or supernatural existences.

Just as a little background info, i have always been curious about morality, and what exactly is 'right' or 'wrong.'  I found it all to be a crock.  I came to the conclusion that right and wrong, good and evil are perceptions people use to qualify otherwise neutral existences (pretty zen right?).  Feeling content with that explanation, I went on with my life.  But it was hard for me to actually live that way, to live without a conscience, or to live with people who actually had none, and pretending to be "OK" with it.  I was in Zen denial.  Because of this, i kept coming back to the notion of morality, yet i kept coming to the same conclusions.   So I decided to take an extra-critical look at the issue, and that's when I discovered that I had been asking the wrong questions.  Morality isn't really about good and evil, right or wrong, its not about going to heaven or hell, its not even about God or the after life.   That's jumping way too far ahead, and making far too many assumptions.  I'm going to show you the process at which I discovered a moral truth in hopes that you wont clutch on to any preconceived opinion about morality, but rather, see what I have to say from clean slate.


First, we must create a operant definition of morality.  This is the definition I will be using for this discussion. Morality is the the way in which people ought to treat other people.  Note, when i use the word "ought," i don't use it in terms of right or wrong, i use it in terms of "soundness."  This will make more sense later.  

Since we now have a working definition of morality, the next step is to find where morality is applicable.  A person cannot be held accountable (blamed or respected) for actions that are beyond that persons control or consent.  Or in other words, morality is only applicable when the given actions are autonomous.   Think about it, we cannot be blamed for actions that are not of our own doing.  "Actions of our own doing" is a direct reference to our wills, and thus, our autonomies.  Therefor, morality's jurisdiction is autonomy.

The next step is to understand what our autonomy is.  To do this, i will create an operant definition of autonomy.  I will be using this definition for the remainder of the discussion: Our autonomy is our will, its the way we think, feel, and act.  *Note how the issue of free will or determined will is not addressed.  This is because the ultimate natures of our wills do not impact this notion, and thus, hold no bearing in its validity.  So long as we have wills/autonomies, it matters not where they come from.

Now that we have a working definition of both Morality and Autonomy, we can get to the fun stuff.   All people who have wills/autonomies are applicable to moral theory.   This covers every consciously functioning human on the planet.  So if you are reading this, this mean you too.   Since there is no basis for much of what is considered "right or wrong" i will not assume the validity of any of those principles.  Instead, i will only make observations.   All conscious people have autonomies, or modes by which they think, feel, and/or act.   This means that we are all morally equal in this sense.

That's it.  Nothing else can be assumed to be true.  Fortunately, nothing else is needed to formulate a universal (among autonomous persons, that is) moral code.   Since all autonomous people share equal moral standing, they all have equal moral responsibilities and rights (regardless of what they are) by default.  You may be asking yourself "what rights or responsibilities could we possibly have if nothing else but autonomy is assumed to be true about people?"  Ill tell you.   Since we all have autonomies, and because we all share the same responsibilities and rights as every other autonomous person, we all have the rights to pursue our own autonomies.  However, with that comes the responsibility to respect the autonomy-pursuits of all other people.  

This doesn't means you can just do whatever you want, but you are morally permitted to do whatever you wish, so long as those actions don't infringe upon the autonomies of other people.  If this all seems vaguely familiar, its because this logical proof holds a striking similarity to the Golden Rule.  

From this, all autonomous actions can not only be applied to this moral theory to discover if an act is morally acceptable or not, it can also be used to calculate just retributions for those actions.  Since the proof is in the puddin', as it were, I'm encouraging anyone who thinks there is a flaw with this theory to present a hypothetical situation that would expose this flaw in my reasoning.  But please, do only one situation per post so I can focus properly on the given scenario.  You can post more than one scenario, but please do it after I have addressed your previous scenarios. It would honestly be mutually beneficial.
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LewdM@thew
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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2006, 21:43:57 »

I forgot to mention something.  Remember when i talked about soundness?  When i said that, i was referring to being consistent with the principle of "live and let live"...only we have a much more acute understand of what exactly that means, now.    

For example, if you were to pursue your autonomy at the expense of another, you would be acting inconsistently with the Golden Rule.  You would be acting outside of your rights, and betraying the rights of a other. This means things like stealing, rape, murder, and so on would be morally unacceptable, not because people see them as being 'bad', 'evil', or 'wrong'...its because its inconsistent with this natural law of equality.   Because everything we willingly do is a product of our autonomy, any inconsistency with this principle would ultimately be an infringement upon another's autonomy. And since its logically impossible for someone who's autonomous to not have an interest in pursuing their autonomy, then any inconsistency would be "doing unto others, as you would not want done unto you".    Again, this is because its the nature of 'want' to pursue our autonomous desires, and thus our autonomy.
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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2006, 21:43:57 »

logoVisit the website of Astral Pulse creator Adrian Cooper.

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jalef
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« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2006, 11:04:10 »

that resembles pretty much the existentialistic point of view. it based on the human being being a free being lol. in fact the human freedom (or autonomy) is the only thing that a human has by default. it is not only his possiblility but his duty to express himself by the means of free will!  so the only thing that is morraly forbidden is to hinder another human from using his freedom. i really like this aproach.
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StumblingForward
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2006, 18:07:56 »

The problem with this point of view is it paints humans as consistant creatures when they are anything but.  For example if someone is so enraged that they are ready to literally kill someone then it is my moral responsibility to interfere with their autonomy and stop them.  Assuming that it was just rage and not more deeply rooted, they're likely to thank me when they calm down.  Is it morally correct to interfere with someone's autonomy to stop them from interfering with someone else's?  What if it were a tattoo that I am 99% sure they wouldn't like later, then am I morally justified in interfering even when they aren't infringing on another's autonomy?
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2006, 04:28:03 »

Many people shouldn't have free will, such as children, mentally disabled, rage-aholics, wife-beaters, etc.

Their autonomy dosen't fit with morality. I see automomy as being a lower, animalistic side of humanity. Basic desires like food and sex, or rage and violence. But morality fits in with a higher, self-conscious thinking that animals don't have. We can use free will to consciously direct autonomy. It's just some people don't/can't. They don't have "morals".
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2006, 04:28:03 »



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LewdM@thew
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« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2006, 16:59:46 »

The problem with this point of view is it paints humans as consistant creatures when they are anything but.  For example if someone is so enraged that they are ready to literally kill someone then it is my moral responsibility to interfere with their autonomy and stop them.  Assuming that it was just rage and not more deeply rooted, they're likely to thank me when they calm down.  Is it morally correct to interfere with someone's autonomy to stop them from interfering with someone else's?  What if it were a tattoo that I am 99% sure they wouldn't like later, then am I morally justified in interfering even when they aren't infringing on another's autonomy?

Thats a good point you made StumblingForward.  But humans are consistant in the sense that they all pursue their own autonomies Thats what it means to be autonomous). And they are also consistant in the fact that, in so doing, they pursue emotional gratification.  Heres a deductive proof of this.

Premise 1) Our autonomies are characterized by the choices we make.
Premise 2) Any choice is a preferred action over other possible alternative actions.
Premise 3) Any preference is a desired "something" over other possible "somethings"
Premise 4) Any desire is the longing for emotional gratification.

Conclusion) Therefore, any autonomous act is in the pursuit of emotional gratification.

This is a pivotal point in my theory.  If you don't agree with this deductive argument, please explain why because the gravity of the theory depends on the validity of that argument.
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So lets take a look at the examples you stated Stumbling.  In the murder example, the person who is trying to kill the other person is acting outside of his rights, thus, stopping him from murdering the other person is not infringing upon his autonomous rights, though it is infringing upon his autonomy. However, just because you may want something doesn't mean you're entitled to it.  Similarly, just because someone may want to kill someone else doesn't mean they have a right to do so.  Unless the person who is about to be murdered genuinely wants to be killed (and has no prior agreements to fulfill, and has given the murderer permission to kill him), the murderer would be infringing upon that victims autonomous rights.  This is not within the murders rights, thus stopping him is morally acceptable.  Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean you are in the right to stop him by any means, but thats a whole other issue, one we can talk about if you wish.

For now, lets move on to the tattoo issue. Your friend has the right to do what he wants with his own body, so long as doing so doesn't infringe upon the rights of others.  You don't automatically have the right to decide what he is allowed to get tattooed on his body, thus you have no jurisdiction to stop him...unless he gave you permission to keep him from getting stupid tattoo's before hand.  If he did this, then you stopping him isn't infringing upon his autonomy, its fulfilling it under his own consent. Otherwise, the only rights you have is to voice your opinion about the matter. But, anything more than that would be stepping outside of your rights, eventhough you have good intentions.  In the end, we all only have jurisdiction over our own lives, not that of our friends or family (in some cases).

This brings us to the point you made Stookie.  Just because you have autonomy doesn't mean you have the ability to give genuine consent in a given society, something which is needed for moral rights and responsibilities. Children, the mental challenged, and all others lacking the ability to rationalize on a mature level cannot give genuine consent. This is because to consent, one must be fully aware of the terms, conditions, and possible consequences of one's choices and actions.  Otherwise, a person would be giving permission based on an innaccurate understanding of the situation, meaning actual consent was impossible to give.   This means no moral contracts can be made until one is able to give genuine consent.

You may be thinking "how on earth could we tell is someone is really mature enough to give genuine consent?"  Ill tell you what doesn't work, using one's age as a cue.  But what does work is a standardized test.  A test you have to take and pass before you are considered "competent" and thus, before you have the right to enter and pursue moral contracts.  Of course, there could be levels of testing that would permit different levels of rights and responsibilities (similar to the age thing, but way more accurate).   So there could be an Adult Competency Test (Full rights and responsibilities), a Young Adult Competency Test (partial rights and responsibility), etc.  Sounds good right? 
« Last Edit: July 13, 2006, 17:04:32 by LewdM@thew » Logged
StumblingForward
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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2006, 02:36:42 »

Another example for you:  What if I have a friend who has just gotten out of an abusive relationship?  99% of the time he knows he doesn't want back into that hell, but occasionally he starts thinking that it would be a good idea.  Whether he's asked me to or not I consider it a moral thing to be there for him during those times to remind him that it's not what he wants long term.  Do you agree? 

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Premise 1) Our autonomies are characterized by the choices we make.
True, but we may have trouble sticking to the choices we've made.  I'd also like to modify this premise to "informed choices" rather than just choices.
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Premise 2) Any choice is a preferred action over other possible alternative actions.
Premise 3) Any preference is a desired "something" over other possible "somethings"
This example takes into account not the immediate preferred actions but the long term preferred action.
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Premise 4) Any desire is the longing for emotional gratification.
Again, I am looking out for my friend's long term rather than immediate emotional gratification.

A curiosity of mine, how much force do you think is morally acceptable to stop someone from committing murder?  Do you agree that the less force used the more moral it is?
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LewdM@thew
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« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2006, 04:20:34 »

Ill just start from the top and work down.

Another example for you:  What if I have a friend who has just gotten out of an abusive relationship?  99% of the time he knows he doesn't want back into that hell, but occasionally he starts thinking that it would be a good idea.  Whether he's asked me to or not I consider it a moral thing to be there for him during those times to remind him that it's not what he wants long term.  Do you agree? 

Well it depends, what exactly do you mean by 'being there for him'?  If you are there for emotional support, as in a friend who will listen to problems and give advice, then yes, its OK.  Stating your opinions is not necessarily an infringement of another rights.  However, if the friend doesn't want your support, and you pry into his life any way (like stocking him/ the person hes in a relationship with) then i would consider that an infringement of privacy.  In most cases, i feel an infringement of a persons rights has some sort of physical element, something more than thoughts or words, some sort of actual action that had been taken.  But, if you're just there to remind your friend of what you think he wants out of a relationship, it seems morally OK.

True, but we may have trouble sticking to the choices we've made.  I'd also like to modify this premise to "informed choices" rather than just choices.

It doesn't matter if we have troubles sticking to the choices we make.  We are responsible for the choices we make, and its up to us to understand the possible consequences of an action before acting.  If certain people are unable to do this, then they shouldn't be able to have certain rights.  With rights come responsibility, you cant have just one or the other.  Informed choices or not, the choices we make are the choices we are accountable for. Being informed is what makes the difference between being competent and being incompetent.

For example, a person may deliberately keep himself 'uninformed' as an attempt to dodge the responsibility of his actions. This is why I advocate some sort of  standardized testing for people to have full rights/responsibilities.  It would also work like a contract in itself, one that would prove that you are of sufficient competence to act within full rights, and thus, take full responsibility for your actions.  Any choice we make, especially the ones that could infringe upon the rights of others, should be informed before it is made anyway.  If a person fails to do this, that person is obviously not ready to have the rights to do certain things. This is because that person is unable to comprehend what exactly it is he is doing, wouldn't you agree?   

Thats what competence is, being aware of your actions, and their consequences, to a sufficient degree.  If you're not able, you are not competent. If you are not competent, you should not be allowed rights (depending how incompetent) because you cannot handle the responsibilities of your actions.  Fair enough? I think so.


This example takes into account not the immediate preferred actions but the long term preferred action.

It takes into account both, as a matter of fact. However, unless the long term preferred action has been protected by some sort of contract, then the immediate out weighs the prior.  Why? Because people change and they should be allowed that freedom.  This is another reason why there should be some sort of standardized testing.  It would make sure that you were of sufficient competence to enter into contracts, and thus, be held accountable for the contracts you enter, even if it spans years and years. 

But in the end, you have no right to take it upon yourself to fulfill their desires for them, unless they give you that right...and they do it with all seriousness (meaning like a contract, perhaps even in writing).  People talk, and a lot of what they say is casual speak and not literally serious.  To avoid any confusion or abuse of spoken contracts, there would be terms and conditions that would be needed to be fulfilled before spoken contracts are considered valid.

Again, I am looking out for my friend's long term rather than immediate emotional gratification.

Looking out for your friend's long term emotional gratification is fine, but taking things into your own hands is a different story. It all really depends on how you do it, thats what will make the difference between a morally acceptable and a morally unacceptable action.  As heartless as it may seem, sometimes you have to let people make their own decisions, even if they aren't the ones you think are best for them.  Buts thats the beauty of having autonomy, being able to make you own choices, even if they are bad ones.  But you can always be there, giving advice, warning against bad decisions, and things of that sort.  But there is a line that can be crossed when trying to help an other, even if you have the best of intentions.  In the end, you can't literally stop them from making a mistake without stepping outside of your rights.

A curiosity of mine, how much force do you think is morally acceptable to stop someone from committing murder?  Do you agree that the less force used the more moral it is?

I would think that that the less force one needed to use to resolve a situation (thus the less suffering there is) the better...but the word 'better' just reflects my own opinion.  In certain situations, such as kill or be killed, just about any action (so long as it doesn't involve others) is acceptable.  For example, if your life is in certain peril, you have the right to defend yourself at a cost up to and including one proportional to what is being risked (ie life). But its hard to tell if your life is in certain peril, probable peril, or no peril (gun may not be loaded)...so its gets very tricky here. 

Its very hard to develop some sort of morally acceptable consequence for an action that hasn't happened yet, because you get into gray areas of "how likely" an action would have happened.  Thats why I advocate harsher penalties for those who commit these types of crimes.  You cant get retribution for a murder because no matter what you do, nothing will bring that person back to life. Because of this, directly threatening a person's life with a weapon would give that other person the right to defend themselves, even if it means killing the other person in self defense.  This way, people wont be tempted to abuse the "i may not have actually done it" factor, and would actually think twice before pulling out a gun or whatever.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2006, 04:22:13 by LewdM@thew » Logged
Stookie
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« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2006, 04:26:58 »

I'll start at the beginning.

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This is the definition I will be using for this discussion. Morality is the the way in which people ought to treat other people.


Morality is the way people feel they ought to treat other people, based on their own personal knowlege (or lack of knowledge) and thinking.

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I will be using this definition for the remainder of the discussion: Our autonomy is our will, its the way we think, feel, and act.

I don't agree with this, because I feel autonomy is not true willing, thinking, and feeling. It's base, animalisitc drives and desires, which willing, thinking, and feeling can overcome.

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Premise 1) Our autonomies are characterized by the choices we make.

Our automomies are characterized by basic instincts and desires. Real human choices are created out of conscious thought.

Quote
Premise 2) Any choice is a preferred action over other possible alternative actions.

A choice may not be a preferred action - it may be a sacrifice. However, once again, it's something only a human with conscious thinking would do.

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Premise 3) Any preference is a desired "something" over other possible "somethings"

That's a true definition.

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Premise 4) Any desire is the longing for emotional gratification.

Base desires are for survival - food, clothing, shelter, mating, etc.  A person can have a desire for a cigarette, but I wouldn't call it emotional. It's purely physical.

Quote
Children, the mental challenged, and all others lacking the ability to rationalize on a mature level cannot give genuine consent. This is because to consent, one must be fully aware of the terms, conditions, and possible consequences of one's choices and actions.

But they are forced to live life purely on their autonomy. In your definition, this means every decision they make is moral.

And there are people who are fully aware of the consequenses who still take the same immoral actions. Columbine. They could have probably passed the "standardized test".

Quote
But what does work is a standardized test.  A test you have to take and pass before you are considered "competent" and thus, before you have the right to enter and pursue moral contracts.  Of course, there could be levels of testing that would permit different levels of rights and responsibilities (similar to the age thing, but way more accurate).   So there could be an Adult Competency Test (Full rights and responsibilities), a Young Adult Competency Test (partial rights and responsibility), etc.  Sounds good right?


No! (are you being sarcastic?) To test every person for competency? By whose standards? That's just plain scary, 1984, brave-new-world-type-stuff. I think they do that in North Korea.

I think your definitions break us down into animals when there is so much more to us than desire and emotions that drive our moral decisions. Humans have a spectacular capacity to think beyond what our "autonomy" tells us. Or at least some of us.
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LewdM@thew
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« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2006, 05:36:14 »

Morality is the way people feel they ought to treat other people, based on their own personal knowlege (or lack of knowledge) and thinking.

Thats not the definition I'm using, and thats why it doesn't make sense to you.  What I'm referring to is not based on personal knowledge at all, thus its not based on a persons 'feelings'.  Its based off of autonomy, plain and simple.  Its based off of human nature, and thus, a principle universally true about humanity. There is more to humans,but there need not be more to morality.  I will get into the specifics next because you addressed those points.  Those premises are what I'm referring to.


I don't agree with this, because I feel autonomy is not true willing, thinking, and feeling. It's base, animalisitc drives and desires, which willing, thinking, and feeling can overcome.

Autonomy is defined as 'self governing.'  This naturally includes both base drives and desires as well as rationality, thought, and feeling.  But this is just semantics, you see.  The word 'autonomy' has no actual impact on this theory.  What it represents, the way in which we govern ourselves, is what I'm referring to. Call it what you want, thats what im talking about.  For the sake of simplicity, lets refer to it as autonomy.  Just keep in mind what exactly it is im referring to.

Our autonomies are characterized by basic instincts and desires. Real human choices are created out of conscious thought.

Again, I developed an 'operant definion' to clarify what exactly it was i was trying to define.  Though I'm sure there are many takes on what exactly people think autonomy is, including the dictionary, the defintion I stated is the one I used in this theory. Other takes of autonomy do not come into play because i used an operant definition to specificy what it was i was defining.  We could call "the means by which we make our choices" anything really...but autonomy seemed to fit that idea to a "T."  Lets not get into semantics anymore, I think we now both understand what I mean when I say autonomy.


A choice may not be a preferred action - it may be a sacrifice. However, once again, it's something only a human with conscious thinking would do.

Ah but it is!  Even a sacrifice is a voluntary action (if its by a person's will/autonomy). This means there are other possible actions that could have been taken, but weren't.  Now, why would this be?  If a person had many choices of what to do, and out of all of the possible actions that could have been taken, decided to sacrifice something, that sacrifice must have been preferred.  Just because its a sacrifice doesn't mean its not preferred, in fact, people  sacrifice somethings in order to do something else, something preferred, isn't that right? 


OK, heres what it comes down to.  People have the ability to choose.  Out of the possible options available to us, people make certain choices based on a number of factors. However, regardless of what those factors are, our choices are actions we decided to pursue, out of all of the other optons available to us.  That is what a preference is.  A preference is defined as:

1. The selecting of someone or something over another or others.
2. The right or chance to so choose.
3. Someone or something so chosen. See Synonyms at choice

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/preference

So it matters not what we choose, a choice is, by nature, a preference.

Base desires are for survival - food, clothing, shelter, mating, etc.  A person can have a desire for a cigarette, but I wouldn't call it emotional. It's purely physical.

Our physical self is very much linked to our emotional self. But that doesn't matter, i don't even know why i put 'emotional' in there. From now on, just refere to a desire as "the longing for gratification".  Fair enough?


But they are forced to live life purely on their autonomy. In your definition, this means every decision they make is moral.



And there are people who are fully aware of the consequences who still take the same immoral actions. Columbine. They could have probably passed the "standardized test".

I'm not sure what your point is.  Children, mentally challenged people, and the like would have guardians with sufficient consent, i assume.  But regardless, thats why they shouldn't have full rights or responsibilities.  They aren't capable of handling the responsibilities which are born with having full rights.  So no, not every decision they make would be moral.  If they had restricted rights, they would not be legally able to do certain things.  This doesn't mean they are not physically capable of certain things.  By all means, yes, even the people with restricted rights can commit immoral acts. This would only make it harder for them to do so.

As for the Columbine thing, if they were indeed competent, then they would be rightly accountable to receive the full consequences of their actions. I'm not sure where you were going with that but I think you may be thinking this theory was designed to stop immorality.   It wouldn't, and i never made such a claim.  I proposed this because there is a center of truth behind many of the subjective manifestations of morality you see around you today.  And though many seem to think that morality is intrinsically subjective, they are right in a way.  Its subjective to humanity, its subjective to autonomy.  So if you fall under the category of human and autonomous, then this applies to you even though its subjective.

No! (are you being sarcastic?) To test every person for competency? By whose standards? That's just plain scary, 1984, brave-new-world-type-stuff. I think they do that in North Korea.

I think your definitions break us down into animals when there is so much more to us than desire and emotions that drive our moral decisions. Humans have a spectacular capacity to think beyond what our "autonomy" tells us. Or at least some of us.

Yes, there is so much more to us, but there isn't any more to morality.  And yes, we test everyone before they are declared competent because those who aren't shouldn't have the rights competent people do.  As for standards, by human standards of course.  Thats the best part! This whole theory is based off of the fact that we have autonomy, or the ability to make decisions. Every little rule and regulation is just an implication of that premise, not of a person.  From the one observation that we are able to make choices, we can make deductive conclusions as to what is acceptable and what isn't.  There is no esoteric rationality involved, its just cold logic!  Amazing right?  Thats why its applicable to all autonomous humans, because the only thing for this theory, and for the "rules" this theory implies to be true, is for people to be autonomous.   Its this theory is like math, and the rules that come from it are just different equations of the same truth.  So long as x = autonomy, the rules are universally sound.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2006, 05:45:56 by LewdM@thew » Logged
StumblingForward
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« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2006, 05:57:49 »

Generally speaking I agree with you. I will put in physical terms "being there" for my friend.  Let's say that my friend's ex left a message for my friend to call her.  I am infringing on my friends autonomy by not passing along the message.  If I deem my friend able to handle the stress of being reminded of his ex I would pass the message along but if my friend were about to write an important exam I would not.  Do you think that would be a moral decision?

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Buts thats the beauty of having autonomy, being able to make you own choices, even if they are bad ones.
  Virtually word for word from a quadrapelegic I met talking about how he wanted to live his life.  Well said.

As for the competancy test, that's a grey area.  While I think ideally it would make sense, there are two major problems.  First of all, by who's standards?  I think that you put too much power in a person or a group's hands by allowing them to decide what defines maturity.  However I do wish our society had a coming of age ceremony beyond going out and getting borderline alcohol poisoning on their 18th.  The other issue is that being able to make clear decisions isn't a black and white thing, it's a gradient.  I've worked with kids and the goal of a kindergarden teacher is to be able to leave the room and have nothing change. To have the kids autonomous and able to settle their own disputes.  A good kindergarden teacher does achieve this most of the time by the end of the year but it happens in stages.  And people never stops growing up and changing.  At what point do you say "ah, now you can make sound decisions!" when people are learning their whole life (hopefully) to make better and better choices?
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« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2006, 15:11:07 »

OK, I get what you're saying a little better now. You're right about semantics. But what is defined as moral still seems subjective. I understand what your saying about how it's based on autonomies. Now, don't you still need a collective agreement on morality?

Or is the point that morality isn't necessarily a "good" thing, it's just part of what defines us?

(Is this Kantian philosophy?)
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LewdM@thew
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« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2006, 18:11:32 »

Generally speaking I agree with you. I will put in physical terms "being there" for my friend.  Let's say that my friend's ex left a message for my friend to call her.  I am infringing on my friends autonomy by not passing along the message.  If I deem my friend able to handle the stress of being reminded of his ex I would pass the message along but if my friend were about to write an important exam I would not.  Do you think that would be a moral decision?


Hmm, let me think about this one. I guess it depends on how time-sensitive the message is and/or if you specifically agreed to relay that message in a certain amount of time (be it by your friends terms, or your friends ex's terms).  If you didnt make any such agreements and the message isnt time sensitive, then no one autonomy is being infrigned upon. So as the situation is described, it is morally acceptable. So long as you fulfill your agreement of passing along the message in a reasonable amout of time, i dont see any problems with waiting until his paper is finished.  Of course, its up to you to deem whats a 'reasonable amount of time'...i dont think there is a standard  for that (and i cant think of how to go about making one either  tongue )


 
As for the competancy test, that's a grey area.  While I think ideally it would make sense, there are two major problems.  First of all, by who's standards?  I think that you put too much power in a person or a group's hands by allowing them to decide what defines maturity.  However I do wish our society had a coming of age ceremony beyond going out and getting borderline alcohol poisoning on their 18th.  The other issue is that being able to make clear decisions isn't a black and white thing, it's a gradient.  I've worked with kids and the goal of a kindergarden teacher is to be able to leave the room and have nothing change. To have the kids autonomous and able to settle their own disputes.  A good kindergarden teacher does achieve this most of the time by the end of the year but it happens in stages.  And people never stops growing up and changing.  At what point do you say "ah, now you can make sound decisions!" when people are learning their whole life (hopefully) to make better and better choices?

Well, the princibles themselves dont depend on any person to be studied, learned, etc.  Its just like math.  Math's standards and rules are not dependent on any person's (or group of persons) take on math, its logic is self suffient and independent of opinion. Math is black and white in this sense. This theory works in the same way. So to test when someone is considered mature enough, I supposed they would be tested with an array of moral dilemmas, and they would be expected to answer them correctly.  And to grade those tests, the princible would used as a cross reference to eliminate as much subjectivity in grading as possible.  But as you said, with people comes curruption.  There's nothing we can do about this besides rigorus screening of moral officals.  Perfection is not an option when people are involved  wink


Now, don't you still need a collective agreement on morality?

No, you dont.  This princible sidesteps any need for a collective agreement because autonomy is what makes or breaks the princible. So long as a person is autonomous, it doenst matter what a persons opinion is about the issue.  In fact, voicing your opinion about ths issue, be it negative or positive, only reaffirms one's autonomy.   

Or is the point that morality isn't necessarily a "good" thing, it's just part of what defines us?

(Is this Kantian philosophy?)

Exactly, morality isnt about good or bad.  Its just an implication of autonomy.  Whether we qualify it as good or as bad, thats a matter of opinion. Im not sure what kantian philosophy is, so i couldnt say  undecided .
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StumblingForward
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« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2006, 00:25:51 »

Morality for me is doing what is best for someone.  What is 'best' depends on your situation.  If you are sure that you are helping your friend out then it is a moral act even if it turns out to be an incompetant act.  I also think that there are moral standards for yourself, masochism is not ethical.

Respecting autonomy is one aspect of doing what's best for another person but there are exceptions when respecting another's autonomy is unethical.  If someone is suicidal and wants you to go away then it is not an ethical thing to leave.  However leaving someone to kill themselves is not what is best for them (if you don't agree on suicide being unethical then I will elaborate) so it is ethical to use physical force to stop them killing themselves (calling paramedics to put them in an asylum for a night is an option.)

A real life situation for you:  I went to a bikram yoga studio yesterday.  It's very intensive postures done in a hot sauna, great fun but very exhausting.  We were told not to leave during the session but rather to lie down in the sauna if we got too hot.  One guy decided that he couldn't take the heat and so stood up to go.  The instructor told him he couldn't leave.  He walked past her and left.  She did not make any physical motions to block him, only verbal.  In your opinion at what point do verbal actions count as unethical?  (side note: I was very surprised to hear we weren't allowed to leave.  I've been to bikram yoga before and there was never any question that you could step out if you needed to.)
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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2006, 19:54:29 »

   Morality is an unconscious agreement that humans have made from many eons of mistakes. It is to avoid behavior that has always ended up being destructive for one or many. Any new acts are first questioned as being immoral as well, until it is determined to be good or bad for one or many, it's simply a survival tactic at work.
   You cant take immoral acts that are considered moral as examples of morality. They are misinterpreted by someone not in the best mental clarity to be moral. The cause of false morality is a twisting of the agreement to not be destructive, caused by destructive (immoral) people who package it pretty to empower their own destructive behavior, therefore it is all false.
  Good is considered positive because it is productive to one or many, evil is considered negative because it is destructive to one or many... (this applies to many things besides morality). Is this what was on the edge of your mind Stookie?
   The reason for this separation is the perpose of everything (which I wont go into here). And thats what I always look for, one small picture that reveals the whole scene.
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« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2006, 21:01:48 »

Morality for me is doing what is best for someone.  What is 'best' depends on your situation.  If you are sure that you are helping your friend out then it is a moral act even if it turns out to be an incompetant act.

     But that is not consistent with people having equal moral rights and responsibilities.  Here’s why.  What it comes down to is this; you believe that you have the right to override someone else’s autonomy at your own discretion.  For this to be a valid moral right, it must be universally applicable to all people.  This means, if you have the right to override someone else autonomy, they have an equal right to override yours.   

     So let’s put this theory to practice.  Let’s say you don’t want your friend to get a tattoo, but he wants to get one.   You exercise your right to override his autonomy, thus you try to stop him.  But, because your friend naturally has the same rights as you, he is within his rights to override your override, thus bringing you back to square one.  This is why people are not morally justified in overriding someone else’s autonomy.  It’s intrinsically hypocritical and inconsistent with the idea of equality.  In order to preserve this equality among people, no autonomous jurisdictions can overlap…unless a person is incompetent. 

     So basically, it would be unfair for you to have that right over someone else, because the nature of that right is wholly dependent on inequality. If it were an equal right, its purpose would be pointless.  What’s the point of being able to override someone else’s autonomy if they have the same right to override yours?  It’s futile.

 Besides, the idea of ‘what’s best for someone’ is strictly subjective to that individual, that individuals personal values, personal standards, and personal opinions of ‘good’ and ‘bad.’   But like I said before, morality has nothing to do with good and bad, or right and wrong.  It has to do with personal rights and responsibilities.  So unless you can deductively prove an objective standard of “what’s best” for someone, you cannot justly override another competent person’s autonomous rights.


Respecting autonomy is one aspect of doing what's best for another person but there are exceptions when respecting another's autonomy is unethical.  If someone is suicidal and wants you to go away then it is not an ethical thing to leave.  However leaving someone to kill themselves is not what is best for them (if you don't agree on suicide being unethical then I will elaborate) so it is ethical to use physical force to stop them killing themselves (calling paramedics to put them in an asylum for a night is an option.)


Ah hah!  But what you consider ‘unethical’ is preconceived notion of what morality is.  Unless it’s deductively concluded from an objective fact (like we all have autonomy) it becomes subjective, it becomes a personal truth for you and you alone.   Again, this comes back to you having the ability to override someone else’s autonomy at your own discretion.  If that were a valid moral truth, it would be universally applicable to all people, thus rendering each person, still, only having genuine jurisdiction over themselves because anything other than that could be rightly overridden.

Suicide is not necessarily immoral, we need to let go of that preconception and start from the beginning with a clean slate.   A person has a right to do what he wishes with his life.  However, he cannot betray any contracts prior to the decision to kill himself.  So if this person has any outstanding contracts, such as dependents (kids etc), monetary debts, or any other agreed upon contracts, he cannot rightly kill himself otherwise he would be infringing upon someone else’s autonomous rights.   However, simply because someone may disagree with your decision doesn’t mean their rights are being infringed upon.  Their autonomy may be infringed upon, but their autonomous rights don’t have jurisdiction over anyone else’s life but their own (and any dependents they may have custody over).   Thus, if you are an independent competent person, of sound mind, and you have no outstanding contracts, you are free to kill yourself (on private property).   That’s all we can conclude without crossing over into ‘subjective’ territory or personal values, customs, standards, etc.

A real life situation for you:  I went to a bikram yoga studio yesterday.  It's very intensive postures done in a hot sauna, great fun but very exhausting.  We were told not to leave during the session but rather to lie down in the sauna if we got too hot.  One guy decided that he couldn't take the heat and so stood up to go.  The instructor told him he couldn't leave.  He walked past her and left.  She did not make any physical motions to block him, only verbal.  In your opinion at what point do verbal actions count as unethical?  (side note: I was very surprised to hear we weren't allowed to leave.  I've been to bikram yoga before and there was never any question that you could step out if you needed to.)

For verbal one’s, id say it becomes immoral when threats become involved, because those imply immoral actions.  Simply stating your opinion is within your rights.  Unless the man had specifically agreed that he would not leave the room until the routine was finished, the teacher had no right to physically stop that person from leaving.  But she can, however, state her demand so long as she does nothing more than state it.

_____________________________________________

Alaskans:  Exactly!   We can't do anything more than respect the autonomous rights of others before it becomes destructive, unfair, and unjust.
 
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« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2006, 05:06:42 »

I'm not going to interject anything into the exchange but that I somewhat agree with LewdM@athew's take on what morality is (or rather should be)

In my view morality is acting in a way that maintains the autonomy of the other.

That seems to sum up the ideas of personal responsibility and autonomy for the individual and the principles of specietal preservation (ie. doing things in a way as not to die off)



2cents & L&L
Jouni
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LewdM@thew
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« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2006, 21:02:45 »

I suppose, but id say that its less about looking out for #1, and more about staying out of other people's affairs.   
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« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2006, 01:11:49 »

True.

I intentionally didn't fix the beneficiary of the act only that any such act not curtail the autonomy of another.

There's still the question of imprisonment and punishment that isn't quite clear to me.
Imprisoning someone as a result of his actions could be seen as curtailing that person's autonomy but imho it isn't so. The person may still  make any and all choices he wishes, he only cannot execute all of them (ie, leave the place of imprisonment etc)

2cents & L&L
Jouni


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LewdM@thew
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« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2006, 16:44:29 »

Well, you can only choose options that are available to you.   

If a person is imprisoned, it would be because they infringed upon someone else's rights.  Part of being competent is being aware of the consequences of one's own actions.  Thus, autonomously infringing upon someone else's rights (while understanding the consequences of such actions) would mean that the person consents the consequences of the immoral action by executing the action itself.

Therefor, the possibility of imprisonment would be part of the contract you agree to when becoming "competent".   It acknowledges that you understand the consequences of your actions, and by agreeing to that contract, you consent any just punishment you bring upon yourself.  If you don't consent to this part of the contract, the you refuse to take responsibility for your own actions, and thus, you would rightly be denied rights because of it.   Basically, you cannot have a right without having a responsibility.


So being in jail is, in a roundabout way, a person's own autonomous decision.  By giving one's consent to the idea of receivieng jail time in the event of certain immoral actions, they choose to be held accountable for their actions by their own autonomy.  Yes, it clear that no one wants to be in jail, but as i said before, simply desiring something doesn't make it your autonomous right to have that something.  Lets just say that there is a difference between a person's autonomous rights/responsibilities, and a person's autonomous desires.
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