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Peter Singer and The Life You Can Save

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Deboss I see the Awesomeness. from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Jul 1st 2011 at 2:27:37 AM

Thread Hop:

Singer basically starts with this premise: nearly all of us would consider it immoral not to save a drowning child because we don't want to ruin a new pair of shoes.

Already lost me.

Fight smart, not fair.
Gault Laugh and grow dank! from beyond the kingdom Relationship Status: P.S. I love you
Laugh and grow dank!
Jul 1st 2011 at 2:59:30 AM

[up] A wet pair of shoes < the life of a child. What's there to lose? Is it really that hard co comprehend? Honestly, it's pretty fucking simple.

edited 1st Jul '11 3:05:15 AM by Gault

yey
TheDeadMansLife Lover of masks.
Lover of masks.
Jul 1st 2011 at 3:07:29 AM

My watch? Children are easy. A watch this good is rare. AND WHERE ARE ALL THESE DAMN KIDS COMING FROM! STOP GOING INTO THE DEEP END LITTLE FOOLS! WHERE ARE YOUR PARENTS!

Please.
Deboss I see the Awesomeness. from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Jul 1st 2011 at 3:41:53 AM

Not the understanding, holding the value.

Fight smart, not fair.
Gault Laugh and grow dank! from beyond the kingdom Relationship Status: P.S. I love you
Laugh and grow dank!
Jul 1st 2011 at 6:24:53 AM

So if I were to assume that you would hold the pristine condition of your footwear above the life of another Human being, I would be correct?

You're a libertarian, aren't you?

yey
Deboss I see the Awesomeness. from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Jul 1st 2011 at 6:47:57 AM

1) No. 2) sometimes.

While I feel that the condition of my footwear isn't particularly important, I don't feel that it's viable to consider that a starting point as people always have the right to ignore things.

Fight smart, not fair.
Gault Laugh and grow dank! from beyond the kingdom Relationship Status: P.S. I love you
Laugh and grow dank!
Jul 1st 2011 at 6:54:22 AM

With ability comes responsibility. You are as much responsible for conditions being as bad as they are through your inaction as you would be had you personally caused them. And that's because things like your intent or personal disposition or lack of will all pale in comparison to the reality.

Power without control is not simply unproductive. It is actively destructive.

yey
MilosStefanovic Decemberist from White City, Ruritania
Decemberist
Jul 1st 2011 at 7:01:26 AM

No, people don't have any moral responsibility whatsoever. Humans are not good by nature, and good deeds are only a matter of choice.

edited 1st Jul '11 7:01:38 AM by MilosStefanovic

The sin of silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
Gault Laugh and grow dank! from beyond the kingdom Relationship Status: P.S. I love you
Laugh and grow dank!
Jul 1st 2011 at 7:06:01 AM

You are right insofar as the idea of moral responsibility is a Human invention. Yes, that is correct. But like many other Human inventions, it serves a purpose. And that purpose is for the benefit of greater society.

As for Human nature, that is an entirely different tact. But if I may touch briefly on the subject, Human beings are significantly predisposed towards altruism simply by our biology. This is corroborated in the very existence of what are called "mirror neurons" which are the essential biochemical elements of Human empathy. I'm not sure if that's what you mean by Human nature, but if there is anything else that could be closer to what Human nature would be, I do not know what it is.

yey
joeyjojo Happy New Year! from South Sydney: go the bunnies!
Happy New Year!
Jul 1st 2011 at 7:08:41 AM

Are we penalizing people for the things they don't do now? I hate to sound cold but I have no duty to rescue a stranger. Sure I will, but if I come across a downing child I'm well with in my rights to keep on walking by.

edited 1st Jul '11 7:09:25 AM by joeyjojo

hashtagsarestupid
MilosStefanovic Decemberist from White City, Ruritania
Decemberist
Jul 1st 2011 at 7:13:23 AM

[up][up]Mirror neurons are still relatively unknown territory, and their function is hotly disputed, so I wouldn't use them as a proof.

And, yes, moral responsibilty does serve a purpose, but you cannot except a human to be good simply because he exists. Moral obligation makes sense only in case of oaths focusing on helping and protecting people (e.g. Hippocratic Oath), but even them are broken and bended too many times to assume moral obligation as being in the root of human behaviour.

edited 1st Jul '11 7:13:38 AM by MilosStefanovic

The sin of silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
Deboss I see the Awesomeness. from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Gault Laugh and grow dank! from beyond the kingdom Relationship Status: P.S. I love you
Laugh and grow dank!
Jul 1st 2011 at 7:33:02 AM

[up][up]I don't expect that. I never made any assumptions based on a hypothetical Human being living in a vacuum nor would I, as not only is that not the case it would defeat the purpose of this conversation as morality is an invention geared specifically for use in mind of other people. I do not expect a Human being to be good simply because he exists. I expect him to be good because he exists alongside a great many other people with which he needs to get along, else it be to his and others' detriment. Moral obligation is not the root of Human behavior, it is a modifier on Human behavior.

And what is this about oaths? Do you consider keeping to your oath to be the highest sign of morality? Are you a particular fan of paleontological ethics? I wasn't sure we were still living on the Age of Chivalry where knights were kept to their chivalric code or honor.

It's called a social contract. You knowingly or not, willingly or not, kinda-sorta-pseudo-agreed to follow a set of rules and standards by which to conduct yourself. You really have very little choice in this. It is expected of you that you behave at least somewhat altruistically, because it is assumed that others, under the same set of standards, would behave the same way would it come to pass that you be in need. It is expected of you and it is very much bigger than you. In society's eyes, it has already paid in the form of getting other people to act such that it created the favorable conditions in which you now live. The payment it demands of you is that you follow the same set of rules.

edited 1st Jul '11 7:33:17 AM by Gault

yey
MilosStefanovic Decemberist from White City, Ruritania
Decemberist
Jul 1st 2011 at 7:42:10 AM

No, obligation is determined only by choice, or as a matter of punishment. There are no subconsciously made deals - a deal is a deal only if I agree to it.

The sin of silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
Gault Laugh and grow dank! from beyond the kingdom Relationship Status: P.S. I love you
Laugh and grow dank!
Jul 1st 2011 at 8:23:24 AM

You could take the easy route to and just say you're skipping out on the deal, you know.

Obligation is determined, practically speaking, by whether or not someone else decides to hold you to it. This is what social pressures do. And if all of society thinks it just to hold you to a certain standard of behavior...

edited 1st Jul '11 8:24:03 AM by Gault

yey
Deboss I see the Awesomeness. from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Jul 1st 2011 at 9:09:34 AM

Then there's no point in arguing for this since society obviously doesn't hold it to be true.

Fight smart, not fair.
Jul 1st 2011 at 9:34:22 AM

@joey: I know that you have a right not to save the drowning child; I acknowledged as much, and I don't think you deserve any kind of legal action taken agaisnt you for not saving him/her. But you would face a lot of social condemnation, which I would probably join in on to be honest. But you face no such social condemnation for not donating to charities that save lives. I just thought it was interesting to see how much of a difference the distance made in people's reactions.

Society is nowhere near the point of putting significant pressure on people to donate to overseas charity, but it's possible. We're born with a bit of natural empathy, which naturally only extends to about 100 people, with everyone else being the "other." And yet, we got ourselves arranged into nations of millions of people, with almost all of the citizens reasonably loyal to it, and many of them (soldiers) loyal to the point of giving up their lives for it. If with rhetoric and social conditioning we can get people to care about "America", which is composed of 300 million people and is solidly outside people's monkeyspheres, who's to say it's impossible to get people to care about "the world"?

Especially now, when the Internet is making the rest of the world more accesible than ever, and global trade is making everyone interdependent and puts blood on everyone's hands to a certain extent? In fact, from the trend I'm seeing, people are already thinking of themselves as a member of a group larger than their own nation - the First World, or the Western World. I don't feel any special connection to US tropers over tropers from the UK or Ireland or France or Sweden or anywhere else, for example.

edited 1st Jul '11 9:36:24 AM by OnTheOtherHandle

"War doesn't prove who's right, only who's left." "Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future."
Gault Laugh and grow dank! from beyond the kingdom Relationship Status: P.S. I love you
Laugh and grow dank!
Jul 1st 2011 at 9:39:24 AM

[up] Great points OTOH, and I greatly agree on that last one. Ich bin ein Troper!

edited 1st Jul '11 9:39:55 AM by Gault

yey
Jul 1st 2011 at 12:02:24 PM

I expect him to be good because he exists alongside a great many other people with which he needs to get along, else it be to his and others' detriment.
Though being "good" obviously serves one's interests to an extent, in practice, it's quite often sufficient to merely appear "good". Society is not thorough when it comes to detecting and penalizing sub-criminal violations of the social contract, and it even has a lot of blind spots when it comes to the criminal violations. In practice, this significantly lowers one's actual obligations to "whatever you can't manage to escape accountability for". And at that point, it becomes a question of the particular person's willingness to take a given risk or face a given penalty.

edited 1st Jul '11 12:03:57 PM by Tongpu

Jul 1st 2011 at 7:41:54 PM

"Humans are not good by nature"

Let's keep unfounded personal philosophies out of arguments.

And better than thy stroke; why swellest thou then?
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