Some things on morality systems

So ever since I learned about the three ethical systems thing (consequentialism, deontology, virtue ethics – I don’t think I did have an article that lists them just from the top but the consequentianalist one does mention the other two near the top, so, here), (‘ever since’ here is a few months or so, I think), I’ve been trying to figure out where I fit in.

I read an article on consequentialism that was persuasive to me (it didn’t actually fully persuade me, for some reasons I’ll mention later*, but as in it had objective qualities (that I would not be able to lay out at the moment, but clearly they’re there) that with respect to me gave it the subjective quality of persuasiveness), and that had a weight. I was generally if not fully concretely aware that I differed from it in some ways. I kind of thought about that as maybe putting me then somewhat toward deontology (if probably still closer to consequentialism), even as I find deontology strange/not-right-feeling/something like that (more on that later too). I kind of felt like the lines between were more blurred than it seemed people were talking as. I also kind of felt like it seemed like I was actually something else different from actually all of them. I didn’t feel like I understood what virtue ethics actually was (possibly influenced by the fact that the person where iirc I ran into the three systems thing, and then at least one other person (though I saw that like a few days ago, so not likely an influence) noted that they didn’t feel they did).

Then today I read these two posts from Unequally Yoked (Ethics Case Study #2: Senior Gift and Case Study in my Ethics/Metaphysics), (the second of which also linked to the post “Here I Am, Dressing up as Christ”, which I’d read earlier without it giving me these ideas/understandings, but now that I’ve read these two and it’s been sparked by them, its contents contribute). As a result, I feel like I have a much better grasp on virtue ethics. And, in turn, some things re: me.

  • Having been thinking that  I ‘do some consequentialism’ and ‘do some deontology’, in that sense I also ‘do some’ virtue ethics (I think about more than deontology but less than consequentialism).
  • My feeling that I am actually something else different from all of them is in fact :entirely correct: {by “:entirely correct:” I mean something like, often I experience things as not-quite-concrete/not-quite-in-the-place-in-my-mind-where-I-can-think-about-things. That thought was like that before. Now it has turned into the kind-of-thing-I-can-think-about, and also I see that it is correct/true/accurate}.
  • So thinking about the lines-feeling-blurred thing, I’d ended up with something like, it seems all the of them are saying ‘some things are Bad (and some things are Good)’ and they differ on what those things are – in consequentialism bad consequences are bad (and good consequences are good), in deontology breaking rules is bad (and obeying rules is good) and in virtue ethics ‘personal badness’ is bad (and virtue is good). Well, this is in fact a very useful formulation for me, since it allows me to get at where I actually am.
  • Where I actually am is that I also have ‘some things are Good and some things are Bad’.  But, they doesn’t fit exactly onto *any* of the other frameworks. (I think for me, the best/most covering description of those things is more like states. Like, it is Good when such-and-such things are the case, and it is Bad when such-and-such things are the case. But haven’t actually thought it all through yet.) Some of the things are pretty well expressed by consequentianalist things. Some of them are pretty well expressed by virtue ethics things. (I think expressing them as deontology things generally feels weird, but when they’re not quite consequentianalist they feel more like rules in the way that they are different from consequentianalist things, which is why I think I had the feeling about it how I did). But, this is like how I can have ideas/thoughts/feelings etc, and some of them are well expressed as bullet pointed lists and some of them are well expressed as art, etc. That’s a thing about how they’re well expressed, but bullet pointed lists/art isn’t actually what they *are*.
  • Back when I was reading the Consequentialist FAQ, I was thinking something like ‘well, I feel like our systems are going to come to the same conclusions a large amount of the time, but I also do :believe: in a morality-in-the-metaphysical-realm kind of thing and for me this all connects to that’ (even as there are many moralities-like-that that the author discusses that I strongly disagree with and think do badthings). Well, this (as in, the above) is what that comes out of, for me.

[1] And because I said I would mention the reasons I differ from consequentialism:

So, first, back when I read the FAQ (which was Jan 8 2015), I had response-thoughts that I was composing into a post. I didn’t end up writing that post, and now forget most of what I was going to say. But, one of the things was about this quote:

Searching for moral rules means searching for principles that correctly describe and justify enough of our existing moral intuition that we feel confident applying them to decide edge cases.

The thing is that !! this definition is awesome and great and I’m very glad I ran into it.

Now, the big appeal of consequentialism to me is that consequentialism gives results that are also super-important things to me, that being things about ‘it is bad to hurt people/when people are hurt and it is good when people flourish etc’.

When I was thinking of the three systems, it occurred to me that the advantage consequentialism has over the other two (and an appeal I think it has for many people) is that you can get stuff externally/’empirically’. As noted, all the systems say ‘some things are Good and some things are Bad’, but then you have to actually have which things are which, and the answer to how is generally something like ‘thinking/feeling about it’. In consequentialism, meanwhile, you get to get them by ‘asking people’. (Or more accurately by obtaining information about people, with asking actually just being a possible method of obtaining some information).

Well, the reason that I break from consequentialism is that it doesn’t ‘give me’ enough of the things that my moral intuitions do.

The major way this happens is something I described as ‘not protecting against having bad people’, but that’s longer than I’m going to get into right now.

A simpler-to-describe way is there are things I care about that you don’t get this way. A pretty easy one is existence of non-person-etc things. Another thing I read today was this post involving moral relevance of nature so to speak. A thing it said was

The trees do not feel pain, they do not suffer, it may be a bad idea to burn them but that is entirely because doing that will hurt humans and other great apes (and if you consider insects and rodents and whatnot relevant it will hurt those too)

Well, while I do agree that people are so, so much more morally relevant than plants that in general “[no]thing I do to a plant which I purchase could be considered evil” (well, it’s somewhat more complicated for me, but not getting into that either), I don’t think plants are entirely morally irrelevant. I think there is an *additional reason* there not to burn the trees down. Or, for a more :clear: test case/whatever these are called – if there was some planet that only had plants, and about which it was definitely true that no ‘higher life forms’ would ever evolve on it and people would never get there, see it, or experience it in any way, and there were no people who had (or had ever had or would ever have) any kind of preferences or feelings or etc about it, and that planet could either be destroyed or not, I think it would be more Bad if it was and more Good if it wasn’t.

And, now, a reason I was confused about blurred lines is that totally sounds consequentialist. If you destroy the planet, it will not be there anymore; that is a bad consequence so. (And this led to blurred lines, because similarly I can think ‘well, if you break a rule a rule will have been broken and that is a bad consequence). But, [now I see] that the thing about this is that it goes back to ‘you figure out what is bad by thinking/feeling about it’ and the way consequentialism gives itself lines is by not doing that (or at least by not doing that right away, but again not getting into that right now). ‘Obtaining information from people’ will not give it to you. (And in case someone shows up saying that if you collect information about the plants, you will also conclude they should not be destroyed, since they do defend themselves, do things to preserve their lives, etc – OK, well, I will have the same option about a planet with rock formations). And I’m not willing to give it up, so a morality system that does not give it to me does not work for me. But it does work out fine coming from my kind of morality system, so, 👍.

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