Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton

Ethical Compatibility

My results:

1. Mill (100%)
2. Bentham (93%)
3. Sartre (87%)
4. Kant (84%)
5. Epicureans (67%)
6. Prescriptivism (65%)
7. Rand (63%)
8. Aquinas (46%)
9. Hobbes (45%)
10. Noddings (43%)
11. Aristotle (39%)
12. Cynics (39%)
13. Spinoza (37%)
14. Stoics (34%)
15. Nietzsche (30%)
16. Hume (26%)
17. Plato (25%)
18. Ockham (23%)
19. Augustine (22%)

Revisited to write more:
I had trouble with the 'how important is this question' part of the questions. I left almost all of them as medium.

I don't have a coherent theory of morality of my own. I have some notions about what a theory of morality should look like, and some paradoxes that a theory of morality has to handle.

So, as a geeky CS theory type, I'm defining a "morality" as a function that takes a situation in which one might find oneself, and returns a set of actions one could morally take in that action. Within this definition, I introduce a bunch of other ideas:

A valid morality should have the following properties:
- a valid morality should be complete. It should cover every situation in which one might find oneself, and there should always be at least one moral alternative. (When all you have is two evils, choosing the lesser one needs to be morally valid.)
- a valid morality should be computable. If people can't figure out what the moral thing to do is in a situation, the morality is not useful. (This same idea leads to the idea that simplicity is a virtue for a morality.)
- a valid morality should be--I don't know what word to use here--balanced, perhaps? What I mean here is that if you are following a morality, you should never be outraged or egregiously screwed by someone else following the same morality.

I think that an idealistic (I'm not sure this is the right word) morality would be one such that the world would be optimal if everyone followed that strategy. (Note that I haven't defined "optimal"). This might be a consequence of being balanced; I'm not quite sure. I do lean towards utilitarianism. I also happen to believe that "the greatest good for the greatest number" and enlightened self-interest often coincide. (For example, I remember a measles outbreak in Dallas, during which I heard on the radio that the cost of treating the kids without insurance who had caught measles was ten times greater than the cost of immunizing every kid for free would have been.)
(A tangent and/or a question for Monica: is Judaeism an idealistic morality in this sense? With elements like the sabbatical year, I wonder whether Judaeism would work if all the world followed Jewish law.)

A practical morality would be one that catches on and thrives in the world of other moralities. Therefore, followers of a practical morality must not be too badly screwed by non-followers.

Here are some of the paradoxes and problems that a morality should cope with, which I don't really know how to deal with:

* I do not believe that there is a defined morality specified by God/the universe/whatever. Therefore, a component of a good morality needs to be an awareness that one's current morality may not be perfect, and therefore needs to include an avoidance of fanaticism and some tolerance for other moralities. On the other hand, some things really are wrong, so a morality that blithely accepts every other morality is not right either.

* I believe that a perfect morality needs to be both idealistic and practical, in those narrow senses I defined above. A perfect morality needs to work for everyone, but it also needs to work when you're the only one being moral.

* I believe that there are moral actions of the state that are not moral actions of individuals. For example, I feel that war can be moral when mass murder is not, and the incarceration of criminals can be a moral thing for a state to do when it is not moral for individuals.
Yet I also believe that the state is an aggregation of individuals, and the actions of the state are aggregations of individual actions. And putting these two together seems to create a paradox.

I think I've blithered enough for now.
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