Author Topic: your mustache might be evil  (Read 240800 times)

sol

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #250 on: October 28, 2016, 09:18:23 PM »
New MMM post is right on target with this ongoing discussion:  http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/10/26/notes-on-giving-away-100000/

arebelspy

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #251 on: October 28, 2016, 09:35:48 PM »
While there are lots of arguments in this thread about maximizing effectiveness, giving it all when you are dead, etc. I think that misses a big part of the point. IMO active charity/giving/helping has significant benefit for the person who is giving as well as the less fortunate who receive the help. They meet others who are good forces in life while becoming a better person themselves. Just as you touch people's lives when you help them, they touch your life back. I've personally gotten a lot of satisfaction and happiness out of actively being involved that I have NOT gotten out of writing a check.

Sure, but that's could be quite selfish.

I mean, less selfish compared to not giving any, but potentially much more selfish than maximizing the good despite you not getting as much out of it.

I may personally enjoy dishing out food to the hungry, but if I could earn $100 in the same time span, and donate it all, I might be able to feed many more that way.  I may get more satisfaction out of doing it myself, but help less people.

Which is the better route?

Depends on what you're trying to do.  If you want to maximize your own happiness, your route may be the better way.  If you're trying to maximize the most happiness for the most people, the other route may be the way to go.

But it's something to consider--if you are thinking about "this makes ME happier," as in your post, you might consider what you're trading off (potentially helping even more, thus prioritizing your happiness over all of theirs being quite selfish).
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FIFoFum

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #252 on: October 28, 2016, 10:23:57 PM »
This discussion just makes me think of poor Superman in this comic: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2305#comic

brooklynguy

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #253 on: October 29, 2016, 07:38:58 AM »
As I've noted in similar discussions elsewhere in the forum, I find Peter Singer's conclusion in this succinct essay helpful in reconciling the conflict between my desire to enjoy my own life and my desire to maximize worldwide utility:

Quote from: Peter Singer
In a society in which the narrow pursuit of material self-interest is the norm, the shift to an ethical stance is more radical than many people realize. In comparison with the needs of people going short of food in Rwanda, the desire to sample the wines of Australia’s best vineyards pales into insignificance. An ethical approach to life does not forbid having fun or enjoying food and wine; but it changes our sense of priorities. The effort and expense put into fashion, the endless search for more and more refined gastronomic pleasures, the added expense that marks out the luxury-car market – all these become disproportionate to people who can shift perspective long enough to put themselves in the position of others affected by their actions. If the circle of ethics really does expand, and a higher ethical consciousness spreads, it will fundamentally change the society in which we live.

We can (and should) always strive to do better without letting perfection become the enemy of the good.  To Bakari's point, even small steps taken individually become huge strides collectively.

FIRE47

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #254 on: October 30, 2016, 07:01:10 AM »
While there are lots of arguments in this thread about maximizing effectiveness, giving it all when you are dead, etc. I think that misses a big part of the point. IMO active charity/giving/helping has significant benefit for the person who is giving as well as the less fortunate who receive the help. They meet others who are good forces in life while becoming a better person themselves. Just as you touch people's lives when you help them, they touch your life back. I've personally gotten a lot of satisfaction and happiness out of actively being involved that I have NOT gotten out of writing a check.

Sure, but that's could be quite selfish.

I mean, less selfish compared to not giving any, but potentially much more selfish than maximizing the good despite you not getting as much out of it.

I may personally enjoy dishing out food to the hungry, but if I could earn $100 in the same time span, and donate it all, I might be able to feed many more that way.  I may get more satisfaction out of doing it myself, but help less people.

Which is the better route?

Depends on what you're trying to do.  If you want to maximize your own happiness, your route may be the better way.  If you're trying to maximize the most happiness for the most people, the other route may be the way to go.

But it's something to consider--if you are thinking about "this makes ME happier," as in your post, you might consider what you're trading off (potentially helping even more, thus prioritizing your happiness over all of theirs being quite selfish).

To me though this fits the definition of perfect being the enemy of good. Don't get me wrong the logic of what you are saying makes sense. But in reality now instead of doing something people become stuck in an internal analysis of the selfishness of volunteering compared to the alternative of earning and donation, then in all likelihood paralyzed by analysis or worried that instead of helping they are actually being selfish they then do neither.

In today's world (and likely all the times of the past) I think arguing that volunteering is selfish compared to what else you could be doing to bring yourself happiness would be a very inaccurate argument and not only that but counterproductive.





« Last Edit: October 30, 2016, 07:04:03 AM by FIRE47 »

Bakari

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #255 on: October 30, 2016, 09:41:11 AM »
I may personally enjoy dishing out food to the hungry, but if I could earn $100 in the same time span, and donate it all, I might be able to feed many more that way.  I may get more satisfaction out of doing it myself, but help less people.


Possibly, but most certainly not a given.


I know people who spend 20-30 hours a week volunteering, and have for years.  And not just mindlessly serving food in a line either - in one case it is pro-bono legal work.  Work that other people get 47k take home to do, but costs around 68k to employ.  If she were doing equivalent work for pay, and then donating 100% of it back to the organization, she'd give them 47k in cash, but by bypassing taxes etc she does the same amount of work while giving them 68k in labor value.
AND she gets to see the faces of the people she is helping!



If the soup kitchen has to hire staff, since everyone is working and not volunteering, and they have to pay that person's salary, plus payroll taxes and unemployment and workers comp insurance, and the person has to pay 10-30% of it in taxes, then you would have to make a significant amount more than the soup kitchen staff for it to be more efficient to give money rather than to directly do the work (in which case 100% of your labor goes to the intended cause).
But, if the soup kitchen worker is making a tiny fraction of what they could make if they had a job like yours instead of working for a non-profit, the same reasoning would demand that they quit that job, make more money, and donate all the excess money.  Which has to be used to hire someone else now!  It continues recursively forever, with no one actually doing and work, because everyone is earning money to donate instead.



Depends on what you're trying to do.  If you want to maximize your own happiness, your route may be the better way.  If you're trying to maximize the most happiness for the most people, the other route may be the way to go.


If the difference between two choices is small, its important to remember that ones' self is a person too, therefor increasing your own happiness is just as much a part of increasing overall human happiness as any other one person.  Here I think specifically of people who sacrifice a huge amount to help one individual.  Its entirely possible to do more harm to your own life than you bring good to someone else's, and overall be doing net bad for the world while not being at all "selfish".
Obviously the scales are different if you are helping thousands in a significant way - but maybe could be a factor if you are only helping dozens in a moderate way.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2016, 09:47:33 AM by Bakari »

arebelspy

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #256 on: October 30, 2016, 09:16:43 PM »
Good thoughts, thanks Bakari (and brooklynguy & FIRE47).
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lifejoy

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #257 on: October 30, 2016, 09:29:38 PM »
I read the beginning and the end, but missed the middle. Maybe it's a cop out, but I feel like I'm in no position to help others unless I help myself first. This is not a blanket statement but a general guideline that I live by. I donate my time and items to people that need it, but I make sure there is balance in my life so I can maintain optimal usefulness.

arebelspy

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #258 on: October 30, 2016, 09:42:19 PM »
I read the beginning and the end, but missed the middle. Maybe it's a cop out, but I feel like I'm in no position to help others unless I help myself first. This is not a blanket statement but a general guideline that I live by. I donate my time and items to people that need it, but I make sure there is balance in my life so I can maintain optimal usefulness.

Aren't you--by definition--past the point of helping yourself if you have a positive savings rate after making sure you have food, a place to live, clothes, etc. (the basics/necessities)?
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azure975

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #259 on: October 30, 2016, 09:54:30 PM »
I read the beginning and the end, but missed the middle. Maybe it's a cop out, but I feel like I'm in no position to help others unless I help myself first. This is not a blanket statement but a general guideline that I live by. I donate my time and items to people that need it, but I make sure there is balance in my life so I can maintain optimal usefulness.

Aren't you--by definition--past the point of helping yourself if you have a positive savings rate after making sure you have food, a place to live, clothes, etc. (the basics/necessities)?

Not necessarily. What about having a good savings cushion so that in case of a medical emergency you don't have to rely on medicaid or gofundme (as many seem to do these days)? Of course, it's hard to know how much you need for contingency planning--I once read an article where a guy who had 500M said he would feel financially secure if he had 1B. So maybe it's just an excuse to keep amassing money. However, I do see a lot of people who have enough to get by if nothing unexpected happens, but if they have a layoff, car problem or medical problem they're scrambling. I think taking care of oneself would include making sure you're not a burden in the event that something goes wrong, because something always will.

englishteacheralex

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #260 on: October 30, 2016, 11:11:21 PM »
There's a point at which self-preservation becomes denial of the reality of what money can actually do (i.e. a lot, but not everything). And that point is different for everyone and has as much to do with individual risk tolerance as it does with objective truth about money.

There are millionaires who are still worried about the uncertainties of life to the point where they can't bring themselves to give anything away. And paupers who give because money is seen as communal and responding to the needs around them is a part of cultural expectations and a form of insurance, because the community will, in turn, support you when you are in need.

I think a good question that everyone ought to ask themselves is simply...how much is enough? At what level will I have enough that I feel adequately covered in case of emergency and can let go of the emotional need to keep every penny of the rest? And if the answer is, when you really look inside: Never, I will never have enough to feel comfortable about giving a significant amount away it's a signal that there is a problem with how you view money. Because no amount of money can prevent all possible forms of hardship.

I say this as someone who didn't give a dime of my income away for many, many years because I didn't see any need for generosity and felt very sure that I needed to build up my own emergency fund first. After watching several wealthy friends/relatives experience awful circumstances that no amount of money could have prevented, I realized that to a large extent the money thing is a mirage. It is not to be scoffed at, and it's essential to behave responsibly with it, but generosity acknowledges that it truly isn't everything and that it is an enormously powerful tool for good when put into service beyond one's own material needs.

GrumpyPenguin

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #261 on: October 31, 2016, 06:28:40 AM »
I read the beginning and the end, but missed the middle. Maybe it's a cop out, but I feel like I'm in no position to help others unless I help myself first. This is not a blanket statement but a general guideline that I live by. I donate my time and items to people that need it, but I make sure there is balance in my life so I can maintain optimal usefulness.

Aren't you--by definition--past the point of helping yourself if you have a positive savings rate after making sure you have food, a place to live, clothes, etc. (the basics/necessities)?

If one is making sure their whole life is covered with saved assets, without having to worry about taking from society, then merely having a positive savings rate for a time would not imply that you're "past the point of helping yourself." Only once we've reached FI then perhaps that is true.

tomsang

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #262 on: October 31, 2016, 07:33:44 PM »
Depends on what you're trying to do.  If you want to maximize your own happiness, your route may be the better way.  If you're trying to maximize the most happiness for the most people, the other route may be the way to go.


If the difference between two choices is small, its important to remember that ones' self is a person too, therefor increasing your own happiness is just as much a part of increasing overall human happiness as any other one person.  Here I think specifically of people who sacrifice a huge amount to help one individual.  Its entirely possible to do more harm to your own life than you bring good to someone else's, and overall be doing net bad for the world while not being at all "selfish".
Obviously the scales are different if you are helping thousands in a significant way - but maybe could be a factor if you are only helping dozens in a moderate way.

I agree.  The concept where your Mustache may become more evil is when you are making high six figures to seven or eight figures.  It is hard to justify quitting and donating your time to the charity.  One of my partners had this issue.  He was contemplating quitting and donating his life to the charity.  I mentioned to him that those that he would help would be better off if he continued his employment if he wrote a nice six figure check each year.  He is still employed ten years later.

Metric Mouse

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #263 on: October 31, 2016, 07:49:48 PM »
There's a point at which self-preservation becomes denial of the reality of what money can actually do (i.e. a lot, but not everything). And that point is different for everyone and has as much to do with individual risk tolerance as it does with objective truth about money.

There are millionaires who are still worried about the uncertainties of life to the point where they can't bring themselves to give anything away. And paupers who give because money is seen as communal and responding to the needs around them is a part of cultural expectations and a form of insurance, because the community will, in turn, support you when you are in need.

I think a good question that everyone ought to ask themselves is simply...how much is enough? At what level will I have enough that I feel adequately covered in case of emergency and can let go of the emotional need to keep every penny of the rest? And if the answer is, when you really look inside: Never, I will never have enough to feel comfortable about giving a significant amount away it's a signal that there is a problem with how you view money. Because no amount of money can prevent all possible forms of hardship.

I say this as someone who didn't give a dime of my income away for many, many years because I didn't see any need for generosity and felt very sure that I needed to build up my own emergency fund first. After watching several wealthy friends/relatives experience awful circumstances that no amount of money could have prevented, I realized that to a large extent the money thing is a mirage. It is not to be scoffed at, and it's essential to behave responsibly with it, but generosity acknowledges that it truly isn't everything and that it is an enormously powerful tool for good when put into service beyond one's own material needs.

If one feels this way, is it simply a view of money, or a deep seated need for safety and control?  The issue may not be primarily money, aside from the confusion that money provides safety.  If one can come to terms with the fact that nothing can prevent certain hardships, and therefore no amount of money could prevent certain problems, one may find themselves free to do much more than they previously allowed themselves, including spending their money more freely, but certainly not limited to that.

hoping2retire35

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #264 on: October 31, 2016, 08:39:13 PM »
Ok, one of the few times I am posting without reading the whole thread but, I think the way to view acquiring wealth before retiring when your life goal is to help people who need it now is to compartmentalise a bit. For one you are not being frugal to gain material positions but to to gain freedom from work. Once Freed from this work you will not also be able to give money ( or more money if u continued to work) but also volunteer. A second thing one should remember about giving is that the world is a big place, you $100, $1000, even $1 mil can be a drop in the bucket. A better way to give is to use your current skills, or some you think you can eAsily gain and to use those to help others , knowing if need you have a stream of income to help when no one else will.

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rachael talcott

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #265 on: November 01, 2016, 11:42:56 AM »
What about Maslow's hierarchy of needs? (described by MMM here: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/06/08/happiness-is-the-only-logical-pursuit/)

You can use money to meet someone's physiological needs, and to some extend their need for security.  But can you help someone fulfill their needs for belonging, esteem, and self-actualization just by giving money?  It's good to work to give money to, say, drill wells in Africa, but is that better than using the time to help a local kid self-actualize, given that both are fulfilling genuine human needs?

matchewed

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #266 on: November 01, 2016, 02:55:55 PM »
What about Maslow's hierarchy of needs? (described by MMM here: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/06/08/happiness-is-the-only-logical-pursuit/)

You can use money to meet someone's physiological needs, and to some extend their need for security.  But can you help someone fulfill their needs for belonging, esteem, and self-actualization just by giving money?  It's good to work to give money to, say, drill wells in Africa, but is that better than using the time to help a local kid self-actualize, given that both are fulfilling genuine human needs?

At some point, IMO, it is our responsibility as extraordinarily affluent people to help those who cannot fulfill those bottom rungs fulfill them. It would bring greater good to the world rather than helping a small number of people figure out their life's purpose.

It is worth considering and thinking on the fact that your mustache may interfere with such things.

englishteacheralex

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #267 on: November 01, 2016, 03:07:12 PM »
Meh, splitting hairs. This kind of thinking is what leads to the analysis paralysis in MMM's newest blog post about giving. There's lots of ways to be generous. Getting too caught up in optimization of the generosity just wastes time.

You don't have to save the world with your gift of time or money. You just have to use the time/money for something that doesn't benefit you materially. Obviously do your best to make sure the recipient of your gift isn't a scam or horribly mismanaged, but after that I say just give and trust that part of the benefit is that you thought of something other than your own base needs.

If giving is something you do systematically over time, you can continuously change the how/what you give to as new information/passion springs up. We've "re balanced" our "asset allocation" of giving several times as needs arise or dissipate. That's part of the fun. There's lots to be said for giving money, lots to be said for giving time, lots to be said for giving personally to people you know, lots to be said for giving to organizations you believe in. Why pick just one? Do all of those things over a lifetime.

rachael talcott

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #268 on: November 01, 2016, 04:00:07 PM »
What about Maslow's hierarchy of needs? (described by MMM here: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/06/08/happiness-is-the-only-logical-pursuit/)

You can use money to meet someone's physiological needs, and to some extend their need for security.  But can you help someone fulfill their needs for belonging, esteem, and self-actualization just by giving money?  It's good to work to give money to, say, drill wells in Africa, but is that better than using the time to help a local kid self-actualize, given that both are fulfilling genuine human needs?

At some point, IMO, it is our responsibility as extraordinarily affluent people to help those who cannot fulfill those bottom rungs fulfill them. It would bring greater good to the world rather than helping a small number of people figure out their life's purpose.

It is worth considering and thinking on the fact that your mustache may interfere with such things.

I'm willing to consider the possibility, but it's not immediately obvious to me that the bottom of the triangle should trump the higher levels.  There is a (sad) set of experiments with baby monkeys in which they have all their physical needs met but are denied warmth and affection, and they ended up permanently damaged.  One starved itself to death.  Some creatures like humans and monkeys seem to have a deep need for social interaction.  I'm not saying that we shouldn't give money to take care of physical needs.  Just that not all needs are physical, and it's good that some people choose to focus on non-physical needs of others. 

matchewed

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #269 on: November 01, 2016, 05:02:23 PM »
What about Maslow's hierarchy of needs? (described by MMM here: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/06/08/happiness-is-the-only-logical-pursuit/)

You can use money to meet someone's physiological needs, and to some extend their need for security.  But can you help someone fulfill their needs for belonging, esteem, and self-actualization just by giving money?  It's good to work to give money to, say, drill wells in Africa, but is that better than using the time to help a local kid self-actualize, given that both are fulfilling genuine human needs?

At some point, IMO, it is our responsibility as extraordinarily affluent people to help those who cannot fulfill those bottom rungs fulfill them. It would bring greater good to the world rather than helping a small number of people figure out their life's purpose.

It is worth considering and thinking on the fact that your mustache may interfere with such things.

I'm willing to consider the possibility, but it's not immediately obvious to me that the bottom of the triangle should trump the higher levels.  There is a (sad) set of experiments with baby monkeys in which they have all their physical needs met but are denied warmth and affection, and they ended up permanently damaged.  One starved itself to death.  Some creatures like humans and monkeys seem to have a deep need for social interaction.  I'm not saying that we shouldn't give money to take care of physical needs.  Just that not all needs are physical, and it's good that some people choose to focus on non-physical needs of others.

By nature of the assumption of Maslow's hierarchy of needs you cannot attain the higher ones without satisfying the lower ones. You can't get warmth and affection when you've starved to death.

*Edit* To expand on this further while the lack of affection may lead one to die, lack of food certainly will. One can find love and belonging in a multitude of ways. Not having resources to maintain food, water, shelter, or security will certainly kill you.

Furthermore I'd contend that the higher you go on Maslow's hierarchy the locus of control over those things become more internal than external. While you may be the one going to the grocery store it is still the support of massive complex systems which allow you to eat. I would contend that love/belonging, esteem, and self actualization lean more towards an internal locus of control.

So in the end I'd say that yes it is better to use your money on charity to drill wells in Africa than to help someone in a modern industrialized nation self-actualize. Or in short and as a corollary would it be better to save 100 people from dying or one person from feeling like they had an unfulfilled life? I think the answer is a bit more clear. I'd like to hear your take on it though.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2016, 05:22:19 PM by matchewed »

arebelspy

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #270 on: November 01, 2016, 05:58:43 PM »
By nature of the assumption of Maslow's hierarchy of needs you cannot attain the higher ones without satisfying the lower ones.

Isn't the more modern view that you can be working on multiple needs, on multiple levels, at once?

The idea that you "HAVE" to have all the lower ones satisfied to seek out and attain higher ones just isn't true, in the real world, from what I understand.
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matchewed

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #271 on: November 01, 2016, 06:01:20 PM »
By nature of the assumption of Maslow's hierarchy of needs you cannot attain the higher ones without satisfying the lower ones.

Isn't the more modern view that you can be working on multiple needs, on multiple levels, at once?

The idea that you "HAVE" to have all the lower ones satisfied to seek out and attain higher ones just isn't true, in the real world, from what I understand.

Yeah I see that there will be a bunch of grey between those levels and that my sentence is very black and white. But in the context of the discussion alongside charity I'd still contend that not being able to meet those lower levels will impact pursuit of the mid/higher levels.

Metric Mouse

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #272 on: November 01, 2016, 06:10:58 PM »
What about Maslow's hierarchy of needs? (described by MMM here: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/06/08/happiness-is-the-only-logical-pursuit/)

You can use money to meet someone's physiological needs, and to some extend their need for security.  But can you help someone fulfill their needs for belonging, esteem, and self-actualization just by giving money?  It's good to work to give money to, say, drill wells in Africa, but is that better than using the time to help a local kid self-actualize, given that both are fulfilling genuine human needs?

Maybe use the 'stache to hire someone to do these things? I mean, realistically, that's what giving money is doing. It's paying someone else to deliver food, pour soup, inject medicine, build a house etc. etc.  But somehow some doctors still manage to find time to provide free services or volunteer overseas, even though they could make much more money to buy food to donate if they worked those hours.

rachael talcott

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #273 on: November 01, 2016, 06:16:28 PM »
Quote
By nature of the assumption of Maslow's hierarchy of needs you cannot attain the higher ones without satisfying the lower ones. You can't get warmth and affection when you've starved to death.

*Edit* To expand on this further while the lack of affection may lead one to die, lack of food certainly will. One can find love and belonging in a multitude of ways. Not having resources to maintain food, water, shelter, or security will certainly kill you.

Furthermore I'd contend that the higher you go on Maslow's hierarchy the locus of control over those things become more internal than external. While you may be the one going to the grocery store it is still the support of massive complex systems which allow you to eat. I would contend that love/belonging, esteem, and self actualization lean more towards an internal locus of control.

So in the end I'd say that yes it is better to use your money on charity to drill wells in Africa than to help someone in a modern industrialized nation self-actualize. Or in short and as a corollary would it be better to save 100 people from dying or one person from feeling like they had an unfulfilled life? I think the answer is a bit more clear. I'd like to hear your take on it though.

Thought experiment:  What if you were faced with the forced choice between A) having all your physical needs met and dying a painless death at a ripe old age, but living with no love, no belonging, not mattering to anyone, not being respected by anyone, and not accomplishing anything or B) living only one more year, but a year in which you are richly loved and esteemed and accomplish something so great for humanity that you are remembered fondly for generations to come? 

I would choose B) every time.  I'm wondering if part of our disagreement is that you'd choose A)

I think you're right that self-actualization is fairly internal, although a little encouragement to think about one's self-actualization can go a long way.  You can't do it for them, but you can sometimes see the good in someone that they can't see in themselves and point it out to them.  I'm not sure I follow you on love and esteem being internal.  These seem to me things that have to be freely given by someone else to be real. 






matchewed

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #274 on: November 01, 2016, 06:21:10 PM »
Quote
By nature of the assumption of Maslow's hierarchy of needs you cannot attain the higher ones without satisfying the lower ones. You can't get warmth and affection when you've starved to death.

*Edit* To expand on this further while the lack of affection may lead one to die, lack of food certainly will. One can find love and belonging in a multitude of ways. Not having resources to maintain food, water, shelter, or security will certainly kill you.

Furthermore I'd contend that the higher you go on Maslow's hierarchy the locus of control over those things become more internal than external. While you may be the one going to the grocery store it is still the support of massive complex systems which allow you to eat. I would contend that love/belonging, esteem, and self actualization lean more towards an internal locus of control.

So in the end I'd say that yes it is better to use your money on charity to drill wells in Africa than to help someone in a modern industrialized nation self-actualize. Or in short and as a corollary would it be better to save 100 people from dying or one person from feeling like they had an unfulfilled life? I think the answer is a bit more clear. I'd like to hear your take on it though.

Thought experiment:  What if you were faced with the forced choice between A) having all your physical needs met and dying a painless death at a ripe old age, but living with no love, no belonging, not mattering to anyone, not being respected by anyone, and not accomplishing anything or B) living only one more year, but a year in which you are richly loved and esteemed and accomplish something so great for humanity that you are remembered fondly for generations to come? 

I would choose B) every time.  I'm wondering if part of our disagreement is that you'd choose A)

I think you're right that self-actualization is fairly internal, although a little encouragement to think about one's self-actualization can go a long way.  You can't do it for them, but you can sometimes see the good in someone that they can't see in themselves and point it out to them.  I'm not sure I follow you on love and esteem being internal.  These seem to me things that have to be freely given by someone else to be real.

Right but your B is not what I'm arguing. I'm arguing would you live a year of B barely scraping by and going several days in a row without food, fearing for your life or violence towards your loved ones only to die at the end of that year having not accomplished something great for humanity but probably remembered by your loved ones or neighbors for you being you.

I'd rather put my resources into preventing my B situations than your A situations.

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #275 on: November 01, 2016, 06:24:45 PM »
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Maybe use the 'stache to hire someone to do these things? I mean, realistically, that's what giving money is doing. It's paying someone else to deliver food, pour soup, inject medicine, build a house etc. etc.  But somehow some doctors still manage to find time to provide free services or volunteer overseas, even though they could make much more money to buy food to donate if they worked those hours.

But can you buy someone love, belonging, and respect? 

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #276 on: November 01, 2016, 06:29:11 PM »
Quote
Maybe use the 'stache to hire someone to do these things? I mean, realistically, that's what giving money is doing. It's paying someone else to deliver food, pour soup, inject medicine, build a house etc. etc.  But somehow some doctors still manage to find time to provide free services or volunteer overseas, even though they could make much more money to buy food to donate if they worked those hours.

But can you buy someone love, belonging, and respect?

I could argue the utility of money in acquiring some of these things, yes. But to your point, there are very much some things that money cannot buy, which is why voluneteering time and not just giving money can be so important.

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #277 on: November 01, 2016, 06:30:32 PM »
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Right but your B is not what I'm arguing. I'm arguing would you live a year of B barely scraping by and going several days in a row without food, fearing for your life or violence towards your loved ones only to die at the end of that year having not accomplished something great for humanity but probably remembered by your loved ones or neighbors for you being you.

I'd rather put my resources into preventing my B situations than your A situations.

If the forced choice is my A vs your B above, I think I'd still prefer B.  Both sound pretty terrible, but I would rather live a short miserable life than a long miserable life. 

matchewed

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #278 on: November 01, 2016, 06:31:06 PM »
Quote
Maybe use the 'stache to hire someone to do these things? I mean, realistically, that's what giving money is doing. It's paying someone else to deliver food, pour soup, inject medicine, build a house etc. etc.  But somehow some doctors still manage to find time to provide free services or volunteer overseas, even though they could make much more money to buy food to donate if they worked those hours.

But can you buy someone love, belonging, and respect?

I could argue the utility of money in acquiring some of these things, yes. But to your point, there are very much some things that money cannot buy, which is why voluneteering time and not just giving money can be so important.

That is a fair point as well. Use the monetary resources to tackle things that generally require that type of resource while volunteering time to aid someone with their self-actualization.

matchewed

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #279 on: November 01, 2016, 06:33:07 PM »
Quote
Right but your B is not what I'm arguing. I'm arguing would you live a year of B barely scraping by and going several days in a row without food, fearing for your life or violence towards your loved ones only to die at the end of that year having not accomplished something great for humanity but probably remembered by your loved ones or neighbors for you being you.

I'd rather put my resources into preventing my B situations than your A situations.

If the forced choice is my A vs your B above, I think I'd still prefer B.  Both sound pretty terrible, but I would rather live a short miserable life than a long miserable life.

And no it wasn't about what you'd like to live but what would you spend your resources to prevent, that is my question.

rachael talcott

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #280 on: November 01, 2016, 06:38:23 PM »
Quote
Quote from: rachael talcott on Today at 06:30:32 PM
Quote
Right but your B is not what I'm arguing. I'm arguing would you live a year of B barely scraping by and going several days in a row without food, fearing for your life or violence towards your loved ones only to die at the end of that year having not accomplished something great for humanity but probably remembered by your loved ones or neighbors for you being you.

I'd rather put my resources into preventing my B situations than your A situations.

If the forced choice is my A vs your B above, I think I'd still prefer B.  Both sound pretty terrible, but I would rather live a short miserable life than a long miserable life.

And no it wasn't about what you'd like to live but what would you spend your resources to prevent, that is my question.

Sorry -- I wasn't very clear.  Because I think of A as being more terrible than B, I would prefer to try to prevent A over B, if I had to choose. 

matchewed

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #281 on: November 02, 2016, 04:48:33 AM »
So again just to be clear 100 people starving is better than one person feeling unfulfilled?

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #282 on: November 02, 2016, 07:25:00 AM »
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So again just to be clear 100 people starving is better than one person feeling unfulfilled?

No, it is not about them feeling anything.  It's about them actually being loved and respected. These are the sorts of things that make life actually worth living.  It also seems unlikely to me that the calculus is actually that the time it takes to love one person could be used to make enough money to save the lives of 100 people. 

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #283 on: November 02, 2016, 09:20:54 AM »

So again just to be clear 100 people starving is better than one person feeling unfulfilled?
We have a hard time not feeling "human life" is magical and sacred no matter what - hence all the anti-abortionists and not allowing the terminally ill (or chronically unhappy) to legally choose to end their life.  In those cases it has nothing to do with happiness, its simply an axiom fixed into us, a blind rule to follow just because.


Lets pretend to agree, just for the sake of argument, that animals have feelings (if you already believe that, even better)


You have a chance to help 100 factory farmed chickens live one more year - inside of a tiny cage in which they can not stand up or turn around, can not interact with other chickens in any meaningful way, eat an unnatural chicken diet with added antibiotics and hormones designed to make them fat quick, and stand forever in their own excrement.


Or, you could use the resources it would take to do that and adopt one puppy which you would take home and care for and love and it would have a wonderful happy life.


Which is likely to cause the greater increase in "overall global happiness"?


This may sound like an extreme example, with lots of other unpleasant implications, but then, so is the false dichotomy you are positing in the first place.  These kind of questions are rarely so simple and straightforward.




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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #284 on: November 02, 2016, 10:30:00 AM »
Background:
I find it morally repugnant that a person with a million dollars in the bank would think it better to spend his money on a $4 latte five days a week than on feeding a starving child who would otherwise suffer and die a miserable death by virtue of having lost the lottery of birth.

I'm all for charity. My wife and I give to a number or great organizations. I think your statement is quite strong and, in my opinion, a bit off base.

Think of how many people that $4 latte goes to feed. Of course there's the employees of the coffee house. But, the employees of the factory that made the cup, lid, other accessories, sugar, milk, etc get fed. As do the employees who source and extract the raw materials to make the cup and lid and other items. If those are manufactured overseas, the families or the importer, steamship line and railroad get fed. What about the architects who designed the building or the laborers who installed and built the store, they all got fed as well. There are numerous people who get to eat because people are free to spend their $4 however they like.

hoping2retire35

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #285 on: November 02, 2016, 10:42:15 AM »

So again just to be clear 100 people starving is better than one person feeling unfulfilled?
We have a hard time not feeling "human life" is magical and sacred no matter what - hence all the anti-abortionists and not allowing the terminally ill (or chronically unhappy) to legally choose to end their life.  In those cases it has nothing to do with happiness, its simply an axiom fixed into us, a blind rule to follow just because.


Lets pretend to agree, just for the sake of argument, that animals have feelings (if you already believe that, even better)


You have a chance to help 100 factory farmed chickens live one more year - inside of a tiny cage in which they can not stand up or turn around, can not interact with other chickens in any meaningful way, eat an unnatural chicken diet with added antibiotics and hormones designed to make them fat quick, and stand forever in their own excrement.


Or, you could use the resources it would take to do that and adopt one puppy which you would take home and care for and love and it would have a wonderful happy life.


Which is likely to cause the greater increase in "overall global happiness"?


This may sound like an extreme example, with lots of other unpleasant implications, but then, so is the false dichotomy you are positing in the first place.  These kind of questions are rarely so simple and straightforward.

Or because some of us have a different life philosophy. Natural law instead of utilitarianism. People have inherent rights; just because a group of thugs, government agents, or politicians do not believe that does not make untrue.

How many of you on here think it is wrong to torture, kangaroo court, or any other extra judicial killing of a terrorist? Show me, using utilitarian philosophy, how that is wrong.


Edit; 'overall global happiness'. This is the wrong question.

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #286 on: November 02, 2016, 05:11:37 PM »
How many of you on here think it is wrong to torture, kangaroo court, or any other extra judicial killing of a terrorist? Show me, using utilitarian philosophy, how that is wrong.

Start a new thread, and we'll try.  Short answer: Those things all lead to less overall utility for everyone.
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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #287 on: November 02, 2016, 07:12:06 PM »
it was beginning to get a little off track. I thought about that later.
Need to come up with a good title, that always seems to drive a thread.

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #288 on: November 02, 2016, 07:15:16 PM »
I think your statement is quite strong and, in my opinion

Hi eyerishgold, I'm sol.  We haven't  met yet, but by way of introduction, most of what I post here is deliberately "quite strong". 

Nobody listens to wishy washy.  I could have said "your money has a higher marginal utility to impoverished people than it does to affluent westerners who are likely to waste it on things that don't even make them happy" but you and everyone else would have just glossed over it.  Calling you out for being morally repugnant by virtue of your decision to let a starving child die a slow and tortuous death?  Maybe somebody actually listens.

Maybe not.  People are cold-hearted.  I should have made it YOUR child who was going to die a slow and tortuous death, because some random billionaire really wanted a third gold-plated jetski instead of paying for your daughter's organ transplant.  It's the same argument.

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #289 on: November 03, 2016, 01:59:18 AM »
I find it repugnant that someone would spend their money on unnecessary luxuries while simultaneously claiming that everyone has a moral imperative for altruism. The hypocrisy is nauseating.

For some reason this sort of cognitive dissonance seems to be common among western society. If you believe there is a moral imperative for altruism, then you better be all-in on that or else you're violating your own mandate.

There actually are people who believe in the moral imperative for altruism and put their money where their mouth is. Look at this couple who survive on an ERE budget so that they can donate 94% of their income to charity:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3268936/Massachusetts-couple-lives-six-percent-income-away-100-000-year-needs-most.html

For the record, I do not believe in a moral imperative for altruism, but I have nothing but the utmost respect for people like the above couple who stick to their beliefs.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2016, 03:03:31 AM by Herbert Derp »

arebelspy

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #290 on: November 03, 2016, 02:18:23 AM »
I find it repugnant that someone would spend their money on unnecessary luxuries while simultaneously claiming that everyone has a moral imperative to altruism.

One can say what they ought to do, but not do it.  That just means they're immoral.

I'm immoral as hell, as there are moral imperatives I believe I should follow that I don't.

I think there is under one percent of one percent of people that can/do follow their own ethical beliefs all the time (or nearly).  The people you linked might be one.  The rest you likely find repugnant.  :)
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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #291 on: November 03, 2016, 02:41:24 AM »
One can say what they ought to do, but not do it.  That just means they're immoral.

I'm immoral as hell, as there are moral imperatives I believe I should follow that I don't.

I think there is under one percent of one percent of people that can/do follow their own ethical beliefs all the time (or nearly).  The people you linked might be one.  The rest you likely find repugnant.  :)

Just curious, what's your opinion on the virtue of the self-acknowledged egoist who sometimes behaves altruistically for his own gratification versus the altruist who frequently violates his own beliefs by acting selfishly?

In my opinion, what's even worse than the above two are "closet egoists" who claim to be altruists but are actually acting only in their own self-interest while denying this truth even to themselves. I'm not sure that you can get any more hypocritical than that, but sadly it seems to be all too common.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2016, 03:02:23 AM by Herbert Derp »

arebelspy

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #292 on: November 03, 2016, 03:14:17 AM »
One can say what they ought to do, but not do it.  That just means they're immoral.

I'm immoral as hell, as there are moral imperatives I believe I should follow that I don't.

I think there is under one percent of one percent of people that can/do follow their own ethical beliefs all the time (or nearly).  The people you linked might be one.  The rest you likely find repugnant.  :)

Just curious, what's your opinion on the virtue of the self-acknowledged egoist who sometimes behaves altruistically for his own gratification versus the altruist who frequently violates his own beliefs by acting selfishly?

In my opinion, what's even worse than the above two are "closet egoists" who claim to be altruists but are actually acting only in their own self-interest while denying this truth even to themselves. I'm not sure that you can get any more hypocritical than that, but sadly it seems to be all too common.

Ultimately, I'd care more about what you do, than what you say.

At the end of the day, I suppose I'd rather a hypocritical person who does good than someone who isn't a hypocrite but doesn't.
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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #293 on: November 03, 2016, 04:20:01 AM »
Ultimately, I'd care more about what you do, than what you say.

At the end of the day, I suppose I'd rather a hypocritical person who does good than someone who isn't a hypocrite but doesn't.

So it seems that as an egoist, I get the best of both worlds. I freely choose to engage in altruism because I find it to be genuinely gratifying to know that I helped someone in need. But if there is something else that I'd rather do, then I will do that instead.

Functionally, this makes me no different than the "hypocritical altruist." We both behave selfishly or altruistically depending on the situation. The only difference is that I'm not a hypocrite, and my conscience remains clear when engaging in selfish behavior.

So to take this all the way back to the original post in this topic, for the above reasons I don't have any problems justifying the accumulation of my personal wealth while other people are suffering. I am happy doing what makes me happy and I accept that truth about myself.

arebelspy

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #294 on: November 03, 2016, 04:47:24 AM »
So to take this all the way back to the original post in this topic, for the above reasons I don't have any problems justifying the accumulation of my personal wealth while other people are suffering. I am happy doing what makes me happy and I accept that truth about myself.

Of course.  You'll just have to also accept that others who have a different moral framework (sol, perhaps, as the originator of the thread) may find that repugnant.  Because they care less about hypocrisy, as I said in my last post, than what you actually do, and what you do tends to more often serve yourself*.

*Which is the case for most of us, to be fair, and thus this thread.
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eyerishgold

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #295 on: November 03, 2016, 03:51:24 PM »
I think your statement is quite strong and, in my opinion

Hi eyerishgold, I'm sol.  We haven't  met yet, but by way of introduction, most of what I post here is deliberately "quite strong". 

Hi sol. Good to meet you. Your point about wishy washy posts is well taken.

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #296 on: November 03, 2016, 06:43:52 PM »
Functionally, this makes me no different than the "hypocritical altruist." We both behave selfishly or altruistically depending on the situation. The only difference is that I'm not a hypocrite, and my conscience remains clear when engaging in selfish behavior.

I wouldn't underestimate the ability of a hypocritical altruist to utilize enough self deception to keep a similarly clear conscience.

Of course.  You'll just have to also accept that others who have a different moral framework (sol, perhaps, as the originator of the thread) may find that repugnant.  Because they care less about hypocrisy, as I said in my last post, than what you actually do, and what you do tends to more often serve yourself*.

*Which is the case for most of us, to be fair, and thus this thread.

This is most often true with all humans, myself definitely included.  Even when purposely analyzing my own actions I often find it difficult to fully conceptualize my inner motivations.  Am I helping a neighbor move because of altruism, or am I simply saving social capital because I may move some day?  What I tell myself could well be different from reality.  This may be the nature of the beast, so to speak. 

If the goal is a purer form of altruism*, there is a strong argument for gifting money over time, IMO.  Even in the case where time is just as (or more) efficient than money, a gift of time almost certainly provides more personal satisfaction in the form of physically seeing good outcomes from the donation and potentially building social capital.  Planting a tree in the nearby park provides more personal gain than donating cash for carbon credits, "sponsoring" a child more than cash for mosquito nets for many unseen children, etc.  This is likely why charities try to "sell" themselves in ways that allows the donor to see the results of their actions.  It works.

*Frankly, I'm not sure true altruism even exists... or maybe I'm just more selfish than the average joe.

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #297 on: November 03, 2016, 09:37:55 PM »
I wouldn't underestimate the ability of a hypocritical altruist to utilize enough self deception to keep a similarly clear conscience.

...

This is most often true with all humans, myself definitely included.  Even when purposely analyzing my own actions I often find it difficult to fully conceptualize my inner motivations.  Am I helping a neighbor move because of altruism, or am I simply saving social capital because I may move some day?  What I tell myself could well be different from reality.  This may be the nature of the beast, so to speak. 

*Frankly, I'm not sure true altruism even exists... or maybe I'm just more selfish than the average joe.

Indeed, I believe that many of these so-called "hypocritical altruists" are actually "closet egoists" and simply haven't done enough introspection into why they make the choices they make. If you try to analyze human choices, once you dig down past all the layers of logic and rationalizations, you will probably find irrational feelings at the root. Why do we have such strong feelings about power and love, to name a few? You don't choose to have these feelings. The answer lies outside the context of the conscious, rational mind. Why do I feel varying levels of empathy for a struggling family member, a struggling child, a struggling stranger across the street, an unseen struggling stranger on the other side of the world, a struggling kitten, a struggling cow, and a struggling mosquito? The complicated answer is that it's some sort of opaque, subconscious determination based on how much I value or can relate to the subject in question. But why is that the case? Shouldn't empathy be more consistent and not based on opaque, arbitrary, and unconscious determinations? The simple answer is that empathy, like my other feelings, is irrational.

So it's no coincidence that you have such difficulty rationalizing your inner motivations--they are probably irrational, and you cannot rationalize the irrational. Can you construct a rational framework of ethics that either justifies your feelings or provides clear guidelines by which you can consistently overrule them without succumbing to hypocrisy? The greatest philosophers have tried to solve this problem for thousands of years and even they cannot agree on an answer.

In my opinion, the problems start to arise when people try to impose a rational system of ethics on top of an irrational hodgepodge of inconsistent and chaotic feelings. The seemingly inevitable result is that the system of rational ethics is unable to justify the full range of human decisions made according to irrational feelings, which leads to a collapse into hypocrisy. After a lot of introspection, I gave up on trying to rationalize my feelings and learned to accept them at face value. If I feel that I should help someone in need, I will. If I don't, I won't.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2016, 10:07:59 PM by Herbert Derp »

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Re: your mustache might be evil
« Reply #298 on: November 04, 2016, 06:55:34 AM »
I think it comes down to a matter of practicality, and maybe even biology.  Yes, I'm selfish, as is everyone here in one way or another.  Humans didn't evolve to worry about problems of BILLIONS of people, we evolved to worry about problems in our own rather small communities.  If my neighbor is dying of thirst, I'll help him/her out.  If someone halfway around the world is dying of thirst, I'm pretty disconnected and probably won't.   

The somewhat sad truth is this, if you worry about the problems of every person on the planet, you'll never be happy, and will constantly be paralyzed between choices of who to help first.  You could spend your whole life learning names of people who are in worse situations than you, and never come close to learning all of them.  That's how incomprehensible these numbers are to our brains.

In some sort of ideal altruistic world, you'd work as much and often as physically possible to help the maximum number of people.  Early retirement, time with your family, time with friends, a climate controlled shelter, all of these are luxuries that you're sacrificing lives to have.  Imagine how many people your rent/mortgage payment could help?  How many people could be fed if instead of playing with your kids you worked those hours?

For me, the goal isn't to save the world by myself.  It's to have an overall positive impact.  I recognize that there's an amount of selfishness I've got going on, and often that selfishness is good at motivating me.  If through my life I can make 10 people's lives significantly better, that's a pretty good record IMO.  If it's more than that, great.  If it's less, well I'll try and make it not less.

Bakari

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« Reply #299 on: November 04, 2016, 10:25:37 AM »

If the goal is a purer form of altruism*, there is a strong argument for gifting money over time, IMO.  Even in the case where time is just as (or more) efficient than money, a gift of time almost certainly provides more personal satisfaction in the form of physically seeing good outcomes from the donation and potentially building social capital.


That doesn't sound like maximizing altruism at all, it sounds like penance for its own sake.  The personal satisfaction or lack there of of the giver has exactly zero relevance to the benefit received by others.  If the goal is to maximize benifit, then there is a clear winner in the case where time is more efficient than money.  To do otherwise to try to somehow prove one isn't doing it for selfish reasons - well, I'm just at a loss here for what the psychological analysis of that would be.  Who care's what a person's "real" motivation is, or whether or not they are being a hypocrite, if they end up doing the right thing?


Of course, one of those subconscious, irrational, emotional things we humans are stuck with is an unhealthy obsession over other people's internal motivations.  Hence all of our fears about terrorists and kidnappers, yet relative lack of concern over car crashes which cause 1000s of times more deaths.  Why the difference?  One is "deliberate", and the other an "accident".  Somehow killing someone with a gun is terrible and reprehensible, but killing someone because you wanted to check your messages is just an unfortunate mistake.  But both were just as much someone's fault, in in both cases the family has just as much lost someone.



Indeed, I believe that many of these so-called "hypocritical altruists" are actually "closet egoists" and simply haven't done enough introspection into why they make the choices they make. If you try to analyze human choices, once you dig down past all the layers of logic and rationalizations, you will probably find irrational feelings at the root. Why do we have such strong feelings about power and love, to name a few? You don't choose to have these feelings. The answer lies outside the context of the conscious, rational mind.


You might like (and everyone who has a human brain should follow) my favorite blog-turned-podcast:
http://youarenotsosmart.com/



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Why do I feel varying levels of empathy for a struggling family member, a struggling child, a struggling stranger across the street, an unseen struggling stranger on the other side of the world, a struggling kitten, a struggling cow, and a struggling mosquito?


It is, not by coincidence, roughly correlated with the degree of genes you are likely to have in common.  This was of course much truer when we lived in groups of 100 or less, when our emotions formed.


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The complicated answer is that it's some sort of opaque, subconscious determination based on how much I value or can relate to the subject in question. But why is that the case?


Because it gives us the best chance of maximizing the survival of our own genes (in someone else's body) into the future - which in turn means the next generation is likely to have genes that make them want to do the same


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Shouldn't empathy be more consistent and not based on opaque, arbitrary, and unconscious determinations?


Only if you assume that the internal feeling of empathy has any connection or relation to objective ethics, or that its purpose is to make us behave in a way that maximizes good for all sentient beings.  That was never evolution's goal though.  That is a rational goal came up with by conscious humans.
http://www.randomthoughts.fyi/2016/08/your-feelings-dont-determine-ethics.html


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The simple answer is that empathy, like my other feelings, is irrational.
if the purpose of empathy is to motivate behavior that makes it more likely for your own genes to survive into the future, then it is actually quite rational.


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So it's no coincidence that you have such difficulty rationalizing your inner motivations--they are probably irrational, and you cannot rationalize the irrational. Can you construct a rational framework of ethics that either justifies your feelings or provides clear guidelines by which you can consistently overrule them without succumbing to hypocrisy?


Probably not both.  However, it only becomes hypocritical if you make the assumption that knowing what is ethical implies what action one must take.  If one is not making the claim that everyone should maximize the happiness of all living things, than not doing so isn't really hypocritical.  It might be unethical - but maybe thats ok.  For that matter, maybe being somewhat hypocritical would be ok anyway.
Really, why should anyone care if someone is being hypocritical, if the actual actions they take are good.



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In my opinion, the problems start to arise when people try to impose a rational system of ethics on top of an irrational hodgepodge of inconsistent and chaotic feelings. The seemingly inevitable result is that the system of rational ethics is unable to justify the full range of human decisions made according to irrational feelings, which leads to a collapse into hypocrisy.
1) I believe it is possible, however difficult, to become (more) aware of the decisions one makes due to irrational feelings, and choose to choose differently.
The podcast from my first link (and the blog and books from the same author)  takes one very far in that direction


2) Not being able to justify a decision based on a system of rational ethics isn't necessarily the same thing as hypocrisy.  That part only comes in when you add in the feeling of wanting to believe one's self to be perfect all the time in every way, including following one's own system of ethics.  Even that isn't so impossible though - suppose your "system of rational ethics" is something along the lines of "do not, by your direct actions, cause immediate harm to a specific human being, outside of self defense".  Or even simpler "God, Family, Country".  It isn't all that hard to live a life that allows you to follow those 100%, or nearly so.
Of course, personally, I would argue that those are moral structures, not ethical ones, they merely can appear to fill the role of ethics; my point is that they are rational and consistent.




The somewhat sad truth is this, if you worry about the problems of every person on the planet, you'll never be happy, and will constantly be paralyzed between choices of who to help first.  You could spend your whole life learning names of people who are in worse situations than you, and never come close to learning all of them.  That's how incomprehensible these numbers are to our brains.

In some sort of ideal altruistic world, you'd work as much and often as physically possible to help the maximum number of people.  Early retirement, time with your family, time with friends, a climate controlled shelter, all of these are luxuries that you're sacrificing lives to have.  Imagine how many people your rent/mortgage payment could help?  How many people could be fed if instead of playing with your kids you worked those hours?


I don't think this truth is sad.  I think the alternative, "ideal" world is much sadder.  If everyone actually prioritized every other living person (maybe animal too?  they can feel pain and pleasure, happiness and depression too afterall), to the exclusion of themselves, then NO ONE would spend time with friends and family and all the other things.  EVERYONE, not just rich westerners, would spend 100 hours a week working to make things better for the world, tirelessly self sacrificing for the greater good.  And while we might end up with a world where everyone had enough food and more advanced sources of energy, there would always be more to do - even cheaper, greener sources of energy, even more nutritious, filling, delicious food that won't contribute to obesity, even more diseases cured - and people would still die, and there would still not be any obvious "correct" solution to the eventual inevitable problem of overpopulation.
In exchange for the slightly better conditions in some regards, every single person would never enjoy life.
What would be the point?

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For me, the goal isn't to save the world by myself.  It's to have an overall positive impact.
Agreed.  Actually, I go a step further - its to NOT have an overall negative impact; which I think the majority of people (all people, including charitable ones, and including poor ones) have a negative over all impact, when you add up all of their resource use and waste and pollution.  If most people most of them time were just breaking even, then we would never have to worry about conditions getting worse.


« Last Edit: November 04, 2016, 10:27:33 AM by Bakari »