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  1. #1
    Broud Balestinian G-Virus's Avatar
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    Default Morality and the one life dilemma

    Yesterday on Ventrilo, an age old topic was brought to life and discussed again. The question therein, was why anyone should worry about others in this life when they can plunder and take it for all its worth? The premise of the question is only valid when it revolves around the idea that there exists no such thing as an afterlife or reprisal in the form of consequential punishment from the law.

    The idea here is that humans are naturally selfish creatures and need fear to be controlled. Human laws are one method of social control, whilst fear of God might be the ultimate form of control because if God exists then nothing can be gotten away with.

    In simple terms, if this is the only life one is given, and one knows that they can get away with certain things, why should they not do it? Think of it from a Darwinian/animalistic stand point of dog eat dog world. So if you could get away with stealing one million dollars and no one would ever know and you would never be punished, would you do it? Why or why not?

    PS: I was going to use the word moral but I didnít want people to come on here and derail the topic by asking stupid questions like what is morality when they can easily infer the meaning from the context.
    Seek freedom and become captive of your desires, seek discipline and find your liberty.

    "If you go looking for something in particular, your chances of finding it are very bad, because of all the things in the world, you're only looking for one of them. If you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good, because of all the things in the world, you're sure to find some of them."

  2. #2
    Habitual Fi LineStepper JocktheMotie's Avatar
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    Sure, I'd do it. The only reason sometimes why I don't do things is because I am aware of the repercussions and consequences if I do. I don't really believe that what I am experiencing now in this life is some kind of test, or audition for things to come.



  3. #3
    Boring old fossil Night's Avatar
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    Ultimately, it boils down to how you perceive yourself within the greater spectrum of human culture -- a/theism doesn't necessary change perspective. The ardent belief that all people deserve ideals like dignity and self-respect tend to be motivational enough for many non-religious folks to behave such that they do not offend the governing mores of their respective culture.

    What's more, a selfish lifestyle is likely to alienate those you've abused. You're likely to have enemies; folks who might be interested in reciprocity. A logical response to the probability of retaliation would be the thoughtful reduction of one's overtly offensive behaviors. What this means in practice is somewhat academic, but I think this notion of "social pressure" to conform -- laws/afterlife or not -- would factor heavy in the decision-making of our hypothetical participant.

    Finally, it should be stated that emotional awareness of suffering would likely modify the practical behavior of our subject. Compassion is a powerful motivational tool. I'm not personally sold on its singular connection to religion. Witnessing the destruction one's recklessness creates could make for a voluntary recognition of the utility of social order.

  4. #4
    Broud Balestinian G-Virus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Night View Post
    Finally, it should be stated that emotional awareness of suffering would likely modify the practical behavior of our subject. Compassion is a powerful motivational tool. I'm not personally sold on its singular connection to religion. Witnessing the destruction one's recklessness creates could make for a voluntary recognition of the utility of social order.
    I wish that this was always the case, but there are those in this world who are born without hearts. A few of these people often achieve high social power positions and become tyrants in this world, and go almost unchecked in the suffering they bestow on others. This can be anyone from a dictator to a white collar criminal to a rapist. Sometimes this compassion isn't even a concept to some. In all honesty, these people exist and in such a world where consequences aren't always served, they have nothing to motivate them to do otherwise.

    By the way, thanks for the reply.
    Seek freedom and become captive of your desires, seek discipline and find your liberty.

    "If you go looking for something in particular, your chances of finding it are very bad, because of all the things in the world, you're only looking for one of them. If you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good, because of all the things in the world, you're sure to find some of them."

  5. #5
    Boring old fossil Night's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G-Virus View Post
    I wish that this was always the case, but there are those in this world who are born without hearts. A few of these people often achieve high social power positions and become tyrants in this world, and go almost unchecked in the suffering they bestow on others. This can be anyone from a dictator to a white collar criminal to a rapist. Sometimes this compassion isn't even a concept to some. In all honesty, these people exist and in such a world where consequences aren't always served, they have nothing to motivate them to do otherwise.

    Thanks for the reply and by the way.
    No problem. Nice thread topic.

    I agree with the premise if your response -- often those atop the hierarchical chain gained their position by political corruption alongside the willful manipulation of others. Obviously, this isn't always the case, but is a good example of a real world scenario in which your OP takes form.

    I don't think these types of personalities are the norm. Most people come inherently equipped with things like openness to compassion; an instinctual desire for cooperation and a general sense of goodwill towards other people (also an instinctual gift). As such, the likelihood that we would run into a sociopathic personality within the range of our experiment seems concurrently improbable to what we might anticipate in person.

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    veteran attention whore Jeffster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G-Virus View Post
    I wish that this was always the case, but there are those in this world who are born without hearts. A few of these people often achieve high social power positions and become tyrants in this world, and go almost unchecked in the suffering they bestow on others. This can be anyone from a dictator to a white collar criminal to a rapist. Sometimes this compassion isn't even a concept to some. In all honesty, these people exist and in such a world where consequences aren't always served, they have nothing to motivate them to do otherwise.
    Well, if you're going to bring reality into it, then my response is that you CAN'T know for sure that you won't ever get caught or punished if you steal a million dollars. This is why pure hypotheticals never go anywhere but in circles.
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    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    Well, if you're really concerned with maximizing pleasure and being efficient and smart about it, you'll probably realize that stealing shit from people is not as gratifying as giving to them. A little investigation into human psychology, I think, reveals that satisfaction from material acquisition is fleeting; you habituate and want more. The satisfaction from altruism is much deeper and lasts longer.

    That, and what Night said (I think). A lot of it depends on how you define your SELF. If you look at yourself as an isolated independent thing, you'll probably be more inclined to be selfish than a person who sees themselves as integrated and feels a sense of duty to help others -- a desire that flows from feeling unified and integrated.

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    rawr Costrin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G-Virus View Post
    In simple terms, if this is the only life one is given, and one knows that they can get away with certain things, why should they not do it? Think of it from a Darwinian/animalistic stand point of dog eat dog world. So if you could get away with stealing one million dollars and no one would ever know and you would never be punished, would you do it? Why or why not?
    They should do it then. If the actions would bring them happiness, then there isn't a good reason not to. However, they should carefully consider whether it will actually bring them happiness, or at least, as much happiness as other actions. As others have pointed out, compassion towards others can give a lot of satisfaction. Then there's the fact that you can never really be sure you wont be caught. Even if intellectually you realize the chance is very low, there might always be that nagging doubt that interferes with enjoying the spoils.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Moiety's Avatar
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    It's human nature to be selfish. That is to care only about what pleases us. In the end though, even charity and good will can be seen as self-pleasing. Madre Teresa was selfish like anybody else. She just happened to get satisfaction from helping others.


    So ultimately the payback for being charitable and nice depends on how the person's brain is wired. But everything one does is for self-gratification. Might be a long term plan, the purpose doesn't really change though.

  10. #10
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    In the stated scenario, the benefits far exceed the harm done, so it would be illogical not to take the money.

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