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The Morality of Action

User Thread
 31yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that ExplodingGopher is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
The Morality of Action
Alright, based on what I've read in the philosophy section, some of you have a pretty good grip on philosophy and the world around you. I'd like to pose some questions that I will contribute to in later posts: How do you judge whether or not an action is moral? Does the end always justify the means? Must we look to motive as a determinant for the morality of action, or is the result all that matters? I'd be interested to know what you think.

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""The truth to be fair is that dreaming was the first mistake.""
 31yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that ExplodingGopher is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Ok MiA, so two lines of questions from there. 1) What is the source of this 'original judgement' you're talking about? How is it determined? You sort of touch on this, but answering it directly will serve you well. Do you really judge your actions by the way people in society judge actions? Your moral beliefs are going to change every four years (at least) under that circumstance. Is society really the best judge of action?

2)You say motive is really important. So if I kill someone, but I claim either a) I didnt mean to kill him or b) killing him was beneficial to society, should I get off? Does good motive absolve someone of responsibility for their action?

When more posts are up, I'll give you the rundown on what I personally believe.

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""The truth to be fair is that dreaming was the first mistake.""
 31yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that ExplodingGopher is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Cruel fate has its ways of destroying your first point. Let's say you do let the old guy in front of you in line. He then goes out the door, and gets run over by a truck. If you had been a jackass and gotten out of there quicker, you wouldn't have killed the old guy. Besides, keeping your place in line when someone old steps behind you is not necessarily immoral, unless your moral standards are really low.

How do you determine what really happened anyway? It's not all that simple either. You say "accidents aren't immoral." Just because you didn't mean to do it does not absolve you of responsibility, as I said in an earlier post. True, there's a difference between immoral and illegal, but whether you meant to kill a guy or not, he's still dead, and it's still your fault.

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""The truth to be fair is that dreaming was the first mistake.""
 32yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that Angelfire is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
In theory, not practice, the motives behind an act determine an act's morality. The ends justify the means, if someone for whatever reason ,urders and believes that they will bring universal fortune, then the act is moral.
HOWEVER, in practice, it is a combination of the act and the results which matter, as motives are very diffcult to determine. Some acts, in practice are "good" or "bad" because they either (generally speaking) help society/people (giving, community service) or create instability and misery (thievery, vandalism).
The results matter, because that's what will in the long run count, not motives or even the act itself, but its results. If you commit a crime but by some twist of fate results in the happiness of many, you are more likely to be forgiven despite what your motives might be.
So in theory : motives count.
In practice : the act itself counts for the law and order of society AND the results matter if the laws are flexible enough to accomodate for them or if public opinion can matter more then the law (public opinion tends to be heavily influenced by results).

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"Durch Nacht und Blut das Licht"
 31yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that ExplodingGopher is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
I don't think the difference between the theoretical and the practical is all you make it out to be. For instance, you say (theoretically), the ends justify the means. OK, so, I want world peace (reasonable theoretical ideal). I discover that the only way to create world peace quickly is to kill everyone who disagrees with me. If everyone were to believe the same thing, and the rest are dead, then there will be world peace. Practically or theoretically, this really isn't a moral goal. Do the ends justify the means here?

I'm not really sure where the difference between theory and practice comes in. When we're looking at the morality of action, we're looking at both theory and practice because it's how we live our lives. To put a line between theory and practice is not only illogical, it's useless.

You say "If you commit a crime but by some twist of fate results in the happiness of many, you are more likely to be forgiven despite what your motives might be. " Does that mean crime is OK if you think you're going to benefit society? Crime is a breaking of the social contract, so it would seem to me that making the foundation of government break down could hardly be useful to society. Besides, name me one crime that's going to benefit everyone else.

(Please note, this isn't a personal attack, I just think discussing these things and examining your own views gives you a better sense of how to live/act.)

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""The truth to be fair is that dreaming was the first mistake.""
 31yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that ExplodingGopher is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Very nice. I like your reply.

Only one more question for you, then I'll post some of my own views and hopefully generate more discussion...

Is the only reason we must hold people accountable for their actions is "because you can't prove what your motives were." Does that mean that if motive could be known, accidental actions could always be defended and always be moral? Accidents happen due to carelessness; most can be prevented by careful planning or good control. For example, if you accidentaly shoot someone, it's either because a) you were too angry or b) you didn't know how to operate the gun. Both can be avoided...either don't carry a gun when you're angry, or at the very least, learn how to use one. However, if I fail to take those precautions AND the shooting was still accidental, should I be absolved of responsibility? I don't think so....



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""The truth to be fair is that dreaming was the first mistake.""
 35yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that Wyote is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
C) you are completely out of your fucking mind and you believe that what you are shooting at is in actuality aliens come to take over your body and assimilate the entire world, so it is up to you to save the day!

is it still immoral?

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"A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge. - Thomas Carlyle"
 32yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that Angelfire is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
"Does that mean that if motive could be known, accidental actions could always be defended and always be moral? Accidents happen due to carelessness; most can be prevented by careful planning or good control."
You would have to prove it was caused by excessive carelessness when being careful should have been expected.

" However, if I fail to take those precautions AND the shooting was still accidental, should I be absolved of responsibility?"
Unnecessarily risking other people's lives is immoral. If you had absolutely no idea you were endangering others, then you weren't being immoral.

Morality is about informed choice. When you make a choice, and you know (or believe) that good will come from your action then you are moral. The opposite is immoral. Taking risking other's lives and fully knowing you are risking them is immoral and therefore "accidents" may be punished if it can be proved it was carelesness AND the author knew what he was doing.

However, I reiterate that practice is different from this idealistic theory. Mainly because, as MiA pointed out, you can rarely know with much certainty the true motives and knowledge of a person.

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"Durch Nacht und Blut das Licht"
[  Edited by Angelfire at   ]
 67yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that cturtle is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Quite a piece ya'll have chewed so well that I hesitate to reply for fear of it lacks the luster which is no surpise.
I watched the movie 'SwordFish' the other night. So I would have to agree that my view has changed with the passage of time. When I was young the 'Bond' movies were a big hit but as I view the repeats of these flicks I find them far less than I once did (correction). Seeing them now I think 'how could I have been so screwed up? Which is my point about SwordFish. Do you feel that the ending justifies the means which was the meat of the picture?

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"Terrorist or tyrant, few may come to the Truth that both are poor choice."
[  Edited by cturtle at   ]
 31yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that ExplodingGopher is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Just because you don't take the time to educate yourself on what is harmful to others and what is not does not destroy your responsibility.

Look, no one has given me a circumstance of an accident that cannot be prevented with proper safety precautions. The reason we don't keep guns in my house is because a gun accidentally going off could kill someone. Moreover, to take the responsibility to know that is to truly be responsible. At the point where you can say "I didn't know I was going to harm somebody" is the point at which you eliminate your responsibility for actions.

Look, every rational human being is responsible for EVERY action he or she takes. The phrase "It was an accident!" is a cop-out.

quote:
However, I reiterate that practice is different from this idealistic theory. Mainly because, as MiA pointed out, you can rarely know with much certainty the true motives and knowledge of a person.


You still don't prove your point. When it comes to action, idology and practice must be one and the same. Otherwise, what's the point? There is no purpose to a moral theory on action that cannot be used. The point you bring up about MiA doesn't really link back. True, you can't know someone's motives, but that has nothing to do with practice vs. theory. Responsibility of action is objective.


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""The truth to be fair is that dreaming was the first mistake.""
 32yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that Angelfire is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
"Look, every rational human being is responsible for EVERY action he or she takes. The phrase "It was an accident!" is a cop-out."
Nonesense, have you never made a mistake? Either because you didn't know something or simply because of a fluke?
Your not immoral for commiting those mistakes.

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"Durch Nacht und Blut das Licht"
 67yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that cturtle is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Now I really feel left out of the discussion. So you didn't answer my question but you nay not have seen the movie?
Now I could tell the plot then ask again but I will ask again another way. We all are aware of the events of 911. Most feel strongly the moral conviction for our actions. What if you found that the attacked wasn't orchastrated by those accused but had been actually set into motion by some secret Israeli (sp) organization for the express purpose of goading the US into war with Islamic nations? (Not to start any conspiracy but to parallel the movies plot in light of the present world situation) What would be your moral reaction to this kind of disclosure?

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"Terrorist or tyrant, few may come to the Truth that both are poor choice."
 32yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that Angelfire is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
cturtle - Their action may be ultimately moral in the Israelis eyes. However, by all standards, it would be a dishonourable, cynical and selfish thing to do.
In fact the perpetrators would have to believe that God required the action or something for it to be justifiable morally.

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"Durch Nacht und Blut das Licht"
 31yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that ExplodingGopher is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
MiA...we are discussing morality. Responsibility for your actions is directly related; if you can claim you have no responsibility for your action, then you can say your action was moral. But can you claim that?

In response to the other thing you said...YES you could have prevented that situation. How about this: you have the knowledge you're suicidal, and you have a gun. There are a number of alternatives in this situation. You could A) not buy a gun B) tell someone you're depressed C) go to a therapist etc... you don't need to have a gun in the first place, ESPECIALLY if you know you're depressed and might use it on yourself. Also, because you can imagine this situation, you can take the necessary steps to prevent it.

DumbTeen said:
quote:
Nonesense, have you never made a mistake? Either because you didn't know something or simply because of a fluke?


I'm not saying I haven't made mistakes, but I'm still liable for those mistakes. "A fluke" does not negate my moral responsibility for the action I took. Mistakes are part of life, and learning from them prevents them from happening in the future. However, you still have to take responsibility for the ones you make. If you don't, most immoralities could probably be 'defended'.

cturtle: If that would happen, then the US would be morally culpable for not figuring out what happened in the first place. A disclosure like that would prove everything we've been told recently as false, and the US government would have a lot to answer for. My moral reaction to the events would be different, but as that situation is unlikely, I don't think I'll talk about that.

I get off for two weeks starting tomorrow, and then I'll have some time to truly go in depth as to the morality of acting and how we justify action (using sources other than myself, of course...).

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""The truth to be fair is that dreaming was the first mistake.""
 32yrs • M •
A CTL of 1 means that Angelfire is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Endangering others by making the same mistake TWICE is immoral. However; the first time, especially if you lacked the knowledge or skill to avoid the mistake; then you are not immoral.

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"Durch Nacht und Blut das Licht"
The Morality of Action
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