Role models and doing what we think is right…

Thread Starter

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
2,341
In the philosophy of ethics there are two major schools of thought (and variations of them):

• Deonotological
• Consequentialist

In the former, there is a set of rules to follow. The rules themselves define what it ethical. A famous example is “do not lie” which is challenged when lying would save a life.

The follower of a deontological system would claim that it doesn’t matter about the outcome since the rule is authoritative. This is not a theoretical example, it is the position of a major world religion, fortunately almost universally ignored in practice.

In the latter, it is the outcome, the consequences of the action that decides whether it is ethical. So, should we lie? No if it would cause harm and yes if it would mitigate harm. But the practical problem with consequentialism is that it’s far too CPU intensive.

It’s impossible to calculate the outcome of every action in realtime, we don’t have the bandwidth. So, in practice, we have “rule consequentialism” that is, optimization By precalculation. For important, hard cases we work out a rule that is based on the idea of outcomes and stick to it.

So, for lying, for example, we might come up with “do not lie, unless lying is necessary to prevent harm, in which case lie minimally".

A third, unfashionable sort is called “virtue ethics”. This is the ethical system of Aristotle. In a nutshell, it says we know what is ethical by observing a virtuous person and following their example.

At first, this may seem circular but looking closer I find that not only does it make sense it’s actual the practice of most people. We find people we admire and seek to emulate them consciously or unconsciously. We learn from what we see in their actions that resonate with us as being right.

It’s not circular but it is reflexive. That is, the person is both a cause and effect for us. They are reflecting values we see in theory in society with practical actions we can’t necessarily work out on our own. We learn what to do from them to be in line with our own deeply held values.

This approach is not mutually exclusive with the other two though it is often presented that way. I see it as a practical tool to work out what my response to the demands of a consequentialist outlook should be. And, of course, it is an iterative, endless process.

So, the reason for this long discourse is to say that I have found many members here who act as virtue models for me. They are reminders of how to properly treat others and how to be the kind of person I think I should be. This allows me, In trying to practice what I see from them, to be an example for others who notice me doing those things. In that way all of us are links in a chain of a good and just culture.

I want to thank you, though I won’t name you, for being such people. I also want to say that nearly everyone who spends enough time here to be part of the community contributes in some way to this but as I am sure you know, there are stand out examples and we would all be better off if we more closely approximated the care and kindness they show to people.
 
Last edited:

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
8,156
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Internet,_nobody_knows_you're_a_dog
The cartoon symbolizes the liberation of one's Internet presence from popular prejudices. Sociologist Sherry Turkle elaborates: "You can be whoever you want to be. You can completely redefine yourself if you want. You don't have to worry about the slots other people put you in as much. They don't look at your body and make assumptions. They don't hear your accent and make assumptions. All they see are your words."[9]
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
23,054
Anonymity
We witnessed this in the CB Radio era. You could get on the air and squawk and squeal as much as you want in anonymity even though you were supposed to ID at every transmission. We see a difference with Ham radio because you are a known member of a community and are required to ID at the start and end of each transmission and every ten minutes.

There is a known phenomenon and social behavior in private automobile ownership. The person who gets behind the steering wheel adopts a new persona with a fresh sense of freedom, power, aggression and anonymity. The aggressive driver takes no care as to whether the car they just cut off or tailgated is being driven by a friend, family member or neighbor.

I like to follow the Golden Rule. I believe in Universality, Equality and Justice. What is right for me must be right for others, now and forever.
 

justtrying

Joined Mar 9, 2011
432
Anonymity
We witnessed this in the CB Radio era. You could get on the air and squawk and squeal as much as you want in anonymity even though you were supposed to ID at every transmission. We see a difference with Ham radio because you are a known member of a community and are required to ID at the start and end of each transmission and every ten minutes.

There is a known phenomenon and social behavior in private automobile ownership. The person who gets behind the steering wheel adopts a new persona with a fresh sense of freedom, power, aggression and anonymity. The aggressive driver takes no care as to whether the car they just cut off or tailgated is being driven by a friend, family member or neighbor.

I like to follow the Golden Rule. I believe in Universality, Equality and Justice. What is right for me must be right for others, now and forever.
Universality argument does not hold up. What is right at this moment may not be right tomorrow... There are people telling me that what is right for them is right for me and I tend to disagree as our core belief systems are different. It is a difficult situation.

I ended up adopting the "first do no harm" principle :)
 

Thread Starter

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
2,341
I gave up on having role models, especially after so many of them failed me.

Case in point: Bill Cosby
So you can see that you wanted to emulate the things he did that you perceived as good but you also could tell when his actions were bad. The role model is not a deontological thing, it is consequential. You see the actions of the person when they are good and you model it.

That they also do bad is entirely separate, you didn't depend on him being flawless to learn the good. Nor did you get fooled by his errors.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
8,156
A role model is a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated. There is no inherent good or bad in the term. I knew plenty of senior military guys we look up to as 'Role Models' who would be in prison in today's America if the public had a true report on their actions 50 years ago instead of some doctored up fan letters.
 

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
7,290
1.- I believe the golden rule is the second most important rule of all
2.- I'm religious, so saying what the first most important rule for me is would be redundant. And besides, I do not want this exchange to devolve into a religious discussion. Let me just say that I believe that the first and second rules are intertwined and therefore are completely inseparable, although they're different concepts.
3.- Which leads to this question: are good and evil social constructs? or are they absolute references?. I believe there is a basic, elemental part of humanity that is inherently good, and therefore I don't think that good and evil are artificial concepts, but rather direct consequences of human nature. It is our free will (I also believe in that) that makes the choice between one or the other.

Thank you Yaakov, for opening this transcendent and interesting thread.
 

ElectricSpidey

Joined Dec 2, 2017
1,525
Good and evil are Yin & Yang, all part of our dual concept mind.
Good and Bad
Up and Down
In and Out
Left and Right
On and Off
Over and Under
Light and Dark
All meaningless without their opposite, and all concepts.

And of course that is only my opinion.
 
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