(urth) 5HC : Skinner, Turing and happiness

maru marudubshinki at gmail.com
Tue Mar 22 18:54:24 PST 2005

Iorwerth Thomas wrote:

> There's an example from a book of ethical dillemas [1] on how 
> following Kant's categorical imperative regarding honesty made a 
> female correspondant of his (and probably by extension everyone around 
> her) extremely _unhappy_.  Utilitarianism has a place in any well 
> thought out moral philosophy, but it probably shouldn't be the only 
> consideration.  Happiness at large tends to mean the happiness of the 
> majority in the eyes of many [2]; this can lead to people suggesting 
> some fairly twisted things.
'And ye shall know them by their fruit'?

> (At a risk of introducing a political argument into the thread, I'd 
> ask people to examine the position of the leader of the British 
> Opposition towards the travelling minority, and whether it'd be easier 
> for him to make his case were he a utilitarian.)
Well, I'm visiting England tomorrow. I'll pick up some papers and see if 
I can.

>> I'd have argued that a Christian is someone who doesn't want to 
>> suffer the eternal torment of Hell, and so believes in Jesus and does 
>> what their church tells'em.
> There's no actual set definition of what a Christian believes (bar the 
> Nician (sp?) creed, and maybe not even that, if you're a liberal 
> Anglican).   There has been, since the inception of the religion, a 
> strand that believes that either
> a)  No one is in Hell, since God is merciful
> b) Hell is temporary, intended to reform, for the same reason.
> It's called Universalism; there's some textual evidence that Paul was 
> one [3].  It lost steam once most people in the West were Christain, 
> largly because the worry that Uncle Bob, the virtuous worshipper of 
> Zeus, would have somewhat unfairly wound up in Hell became less of an 
> issue.
Too bad; the idea that one should suffer infinitely for merely finitely 
crimes is a really lousy one, which has caused untold mental torment.

> It's tempting to suggest that someone whose primary motivation for 
> being a Christian was fear of Hell probably wouldn't do a good job of 
> escaping Hell (if indeed, it exists and there's anyone in there) 
> becase they have the wrong motivation for what they do.
> [3]  On the other hand, there's textual evidence for almost any view 
> of Paul that you wish to put forwards.
>>> On second thoughts, if you're correct, I doubt anyone _should_ have 
>>> a problem with such a motivation, as it's quite clearly unselfish.  
>>> Mich ink has no doubt been spilled on such issues.
>>> Iorwerth
>> Arrgh. The point was that even apparently unselfish, principled 
>> actions can be as well, if not better, understood as enlightened 
>> selfishness as well.  But fortunately no ink need die for our debate. 
>> No, 'tis the electrons and phospors who shall suffer.
> I think my chief problem with this is that they could probably be 
> understood just as well in a Jungian or Freudian outlook, depending 
> taste - they all tend to reduce motivations to one primary thing, 
> power, sex, happiness, whereas we always have several, including those 
> we aren't aware of.  Also, not having access to people's inner 
> thoughts, we can't know.
> I'd like to observe that to a certain extent, I'm one of those people 
> you describe; the problem is - my inability to be happy while those 
> around me are unhappy doeas not imply that, in order to do what I must 
> to make them happy, I'll wind up happy.  It just means that if they're 
> unhappy, so am I.
> Iorwerth
Wait- I must be misunderstanding you here; if truly they being unhappy 
means you too are unhappy, then their being happy is a *necessary* 
pre-recequisite, thusly for you to be happy you must previously had 
helped them become happy (if necessary). If the link only works as a 
downer, well that just sucks.


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