I just wanted to know if any of you are Anarchists or Communists. If you are I would like to add you to my friends and ask you to join my Anarchist group. If you aren't either then talk to me anyway so I can make you one. ;)

Tags: Anarchy, Communism

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But now you change desires. You switch people from having a desire, say, to get rich, to having a desire fulfil other desires (interests of others) which is pretty much what desire fulfilment promotes
But desire is irrelevant to the moral valuation of an act. The only thing to teach people is not to act on their desires in ethically significant situations. Or desire nothing except the greatest good for the greatest number.
I disagree that desire is irrelevant to the moral valuation. That is an assertion with no basis.

The point of the matter is that you cannot change one's actions without changing their desires or beliefs. You pretty much said it yourself when you said that "we need to train people to consider ethical only what is good for the greater amount". This will happen through changing their desires.

Or desire nothing except the greatest good for the greatest number.

You are going around in circles. You're saying that the greatest good is the one that has the best consequences and the best consequences arrive from people who desire the greatest good.
George,

I am curious. Could you explain a bit what is the most reliable/objective/successful/valuable framework for evaluating the greatest good?
Each person is the best judge of whether he has been harmed or benefited by an action, and by how much. The ideal way to evaluate the moral value of an action is to ask everyone affected by it whether he has been harmed or is better off because of it, and basing your analysis on that survey.

Obviously that is a process that we will not often be able to complete, so we use objective evidence as a basis for educated guesses about how the people would respond if we were able to ask them. This is one of several points in moral reasoning about which people may reach disagreement, but there are no rules that will always lead to the best results. Consequentialism has the virtue of confining the discussion to real affects in peoples’ lives – not any god’s will, or natural law, or a priori axioms, or what anybody wants.
Thanks George for the reply.

Is there any relevance to the consequences to the few (or minority)?
Their interests should count the same as everyone else’s. I think that the abuses of minority rights that are typically of concern are cases where they are done because of bias rather than contribution to the greater good.

That is my opinion with regard to same-sex marriage, for example. A majority of the American population still believes that same-sex marriages should not be recognized in law, but that is not a moral analysis. Legalizing same-sex marriage can appreciably improve the lives of the couple and their children, while there is no offsetting harm that would be suffered by any couples in traditional marriages.

Are there specific abuses of minority rights that you think would be supported by a utilitarian analysis?
I don't have any specific minority rights in mind. I was thinking about things such as eugenics, racial. ethnic, or religious discrimination, discrimination against the mentally ill...etc.
Utilitarian moral reasoning always tries to maximize conditions that promote well-being, and to minimize harm. I think that what concerns you are attempts specifically intended to harm people. This is not a utilitarian consideration.
I myself am a Mutualist, in the tradition of Proudhon, though I can't say I don't enjoy much of what Bakunin had to say, and Stirner will always have a special place..
Im an anarchist. Even if it does not work, we can use many of its ideas to make a better planet.
Db0 wrote on July 30
I disagree that desire is irrelevant to the moral valuation. That is an assertion with no basis.

According to the utilitarian principle, the best actions are the ones that result in the greatest good for the greatest number. These actions may not be particularly desired, however. As an example, the quality of life in London may critically require reducing auto traffic. Most Londoners may hate the cost of the permits imposed, but it may be outweighed by improvements in public health. The most desired policy is not the most moral one.

Db0 continued
The point of the matter is that you cannot change one's actions without changing their desires or beliefs. You pretty much said it yourself when you said that "we need to train people to consider ethical only what is good for the greater amount". This will happen through changing their desires.

Well, perhaps we do not disagree by much, then. But if we are training people only to disregard their desires and focus only on the harm and benefit that result from their actions, I do not see that desires are important for ethical training.

Db0 wrote on July 30
You are going around in circles. You're saying that the greatest good is the one that has the best consequences and the best consequences arrive from people who desire the greatest good.

I do think that, but it is not necessarily true. I mentioned a few days ago that if the greatest good resulted from training people to believe that moral right is declared by a god who will torture you forever if you break his rules, then that would be a better system than utilitarianism. But in fact I think the greatest good will be brought about by teaching people to analyze moral situations according to their consequences.

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