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From each and to Each

Which society is better?

  • From each according to his ability, to each according to his need

    Votes: 2 15.4%
  • From each according to his choice to act upon his ability, to each according to his production

    Votes: 11 84.6%

  • Total voters
    13

fredmertz

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I'm asking in the ideal sense of the words. I don't believe either ideal is practical because of human nature. I have a strong preference towards one ideal though. And I know those with the preference towards the other ideal will hold me back and vice versa. So I'm not asking which you think we should try to implement. I'm asking which society would be better off in the long run, in your opinion, between these two philosophies if they were able to be implemented in their ideal states.

So to better explain each (though I feel I understand it better than I can explain it, I'll attempt to):

From each according to his ability, to each according to his need: This would mean that all people produce at a level that they are able. That in the ideal world, all people are working and taking back from society what they need. If society produces a surplus to make life more luxurious, all people get a fair share in those extras. Because each job is crucial for society to continue and each life is to be valued equally, the work therefore rewarded equally. The school janitor gets as much from society as the brain surgeon.

The ideal supported by this philosophy is everyone contributing as much as they can to society and everyone is rewarded equally by society, but it does restrict society from valuing the worth of the services or goods received (no premiums or discounts) and it does restrict the individual from producing less than they want to if they should choose to. They lose that freedom

or

From each according to his ability and choice to act upon that ability, to each according to his production: You choose to work if you want. You choose what job you take, often times based on your ability, but if you choose to, you can work under your qualifications and therefore receive less too. If you aren't able to work in a job that pays more than $10/hour (or choose to work in that job even if you could be doing more), then you don't get the extra luxuries because the value you add to society simply isn't as much as a doctor (for example) who would get those extras. So in this case, society decides your worth and you also have a choice of your worth. So if you produce in a way that society rewards you with $500k/year, then so be it (assuming no corruption, etc. - speaking in strict ideals)

The ideal supported by this philosophy is freedom of choice, by society and the individual, but it does restrict the individual by his ability.


I ask because I truly think people are leaning towards the Marxist ideal if it were truly possible. But I'm not sure. Maybe that's just the way that it feels. PersonallyI would much rather restrict a person by his ability (and therefore societal reward) and give him the freedom to make a (sometimes limited) choice rather than restrict a person's and society's choice to how much each person receives.

But it all comes down to what you prioritize more.

Please note!: I am not asking which is more practical. Or which will solve our nation's problems. I'm asking which is the 'better' society if they were both implemented ideally. This is a true hypothetical as neither can be implemented ideally.
 
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lizzie

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Neither would work perfectly, but I normally choose whichever will work within the bounds of nature more readily. The first choice wouldn't work because it discourages productivity overall. Nature states that whatever works best, succeeds.
 

tacomancer

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Ultimately we are going to have to have some combination of both in order to fix the biggest problems with either choice.

In the marxist one. People will not be motivated or organized.
In the other one. People will be taken advantage of.
In both cases, there is too much opportunity for selfish people to distort the system in their favor either by being a part of a marxist government or by creating a monopoly.
 

fredmertz

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updated the question with a note to clarify my question:

Please note!: I am not asking which is more practical. Or which will solve our nation's problems. Or which has the bigger weaknesses. I'm asking which is the 'better' society if they were both implemented ideally. This is a true hypothetical as neither can be implemented ideally.
 
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tacomancer

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updated the question with a note to clarify my question:

Please note!: I am not asking which is more practical. Or which will solve our nation's problems. Or which has the bigger weaknesses. I'm asking which is the 'better' society if they were both implemented ideally. This is a true hypothetical as neither can be implemented ideally.
Ah. Sorry, I misunderstood. I think if implemented ideally, than either one would be equally good. The reason I say that is because for an ideal to work, people would be satisfied and happy with their situation (at least happy enough to not begin changing things) and ultimately thats what really matters for society.
 

fredmertz

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Ah. Sorry, I misunderstood. I think if implemented ideally, than either one would be equally good. The reason I say that is because for an ideal to work, people would be satisfied and happy with their situation (at least happy enough to not begin changing things) and ultimately thats what really matters for society.
hmmm... that's interesting. That's a constant that I hadn't thought of (that people are satisfied and happy with the situation). So holding that constant, as I requested, I feel like I can get an opinion out of you yet :)

So let's say we have two societies: One in which women are treated equally and one in which they are house slaves. In both situations, neither society knows of any other way to act and both accept and deal with their lives to the point that they won't desire to change things, but rather just make the best of it. The point that they accept their lives in both situations doesn't mean that they both are just as good as each other from a standpoint outside of the situations. We would say that people can be happier in one society than the other. Or that one society is more fair. Or that one society promotes your beliefs more strongly than the other. Despite the individuals views within that society.

Does this convince you to have an opinion yet? I don't see how both of my examples in the poll can be viewed as 'just as good as each other'. Which is better/more moral/happier/would you prefer to live in?
 

fredmertz

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Neither would work perfectly, but I normally choose whichever will work within the bounds of nature more readily. The first choice wouldn't work because it discourages productivity overall. Nature states that whatever works best, succeeds.
But each, in their ideals, would promote productivity. Ideally, each person in the first choice would work to maximum productivity as required by society (and therefore also work to invent new goods for the benefit of society). Because in the ideal world, each person would contribute as much as they could. And they would collect back from society only what they need or is their 'fair share' (obviously not practical, but if it were, would it be superior?)
 

tacomancer

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hmmm... that's interesting. That's a constant that I hadn't thought of (that people are satisfied and happy with the situation). So holding that constant, as I requested, I feel like I can get an opinion out of you yet :)

So let's say we have two societies: One in which women are treated equally and one in which they are house slaves. In both situations, neither society knows of any other way to act and both accept and deal with their lives to the point that they won't desire to change things, but rather just make the best of it. The point that they accept their lives in both situations doesn't mean that they both are just as good as each other from a standpoint outside of the situations. We would say that people can be happier in one society than the other. Or that one society is more fair. Or that one society promotes your beliefs more strongly than the other. Despite the individuals views within that society.

Does this convince you to have an opinion yet? I don't see how both of my examples in the poll can be viewed as 'just as good as each other'. Which is better/more moral/happier/would you prefer to live in?
You could just ask me which I would prefer to live in. I was originally trying to look at it from an objective perspective, which means look at the system and taking me out of the equation, so to speak. I think I would be happiest in from each to each society as I think it would afford me and everyone else the most freedom, so long it was voluntary and not enforced by a more powerful authority and human nature is no different from what it is now (which I think it would have to be for either option to work in practice).

Ultimately, it makes me think of game theory. The best possible outcome comes from everyone making the right choices, even if it is to the detriment of themselves, but people don't do that, so we have to live with something less. This is where politics comes in as we have to start dealing with practical things and what is instead of what is ideal.
 
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fredmertz

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You could just ask me which I would prefer to live in. I was originally trying to look at it from an objective perspective, which means look at the system and taking me out of the equation, so to speak. I think I would be happiest in from each to each society as I think it would afford me and everyone else the most freedom, so long it was voluntary and not enforced by a more powerful authority.
Yeah, I majored in philosophy. So I don't ask anything direct. My responses are looong.

Anyway, to clarify the from each according to his ability to each according to his need - is that your answer? Because both have 'from each to each' in them.

And if so, how does this give you more freedom? By definition, it seems to restrict your freedom to choose to do less than your ability, or to earn more than what the 'average' citizen would earn. I can see the altruistic point that it will be better for the less able. But it is worse for freedoms by definition, no?
 

tacomancer

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Yeah, I majored in philosophy. So I don't ask anything direct. My responses are looong.

Anyway, to clarify the from each according to his ability to each according to his need - is that your answer? Because both have 'from each to each' in them.

And if so, how does this give you more freedom? By definition, it seems to restrict your freedom to choose to do less than your ability, or to earn more than what the 'average' citizen would earn. I can see the altruistic point that it will be better for the less able. But it is worse for freedoms by definition, no?
Yes, the marxist one. Yes, it might restrict that freedom, but I think on balance, when everyone is taken into account, we end up having more. However, this is entirely dependant on our prosperity and the resources we have available to us in order to do things. The ability to do things is what defines our freedom (I don't believe in the idea of natural law to be the definer or freedoms, I think freedoms happen where the rubber meets the road in every day life). Ultimately, I think in a society where resources are not evenly distritubed, for the rich person to be able to do more, it gets to a point of diminishing returns where lots of resources have to be brought to bear for a small gain of freedom (eventually the private jet only flies a little faster, even if it is vastly more expensive, for example or the maintenance on a 10% larger swimming pool is more than a 10% gain in cost due to changes in structural supports needed).
 

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In their ideal forms I favor the second. Why you may ask? Isn't it good that everyone is equal? The problem is the first option is a lie even in its ideal form. People are not equal. Some produce things of grandness and beauty, some produce mundane but necessary things, some produce nothing at all, and some produce things of evil and horror. These things do not deserve equal recognition, acclaim, and compensation. Think of this applied to a person's love life for instance. Person A dates (at different times) three people, B,C, and D. Each of the people A dates does their best to make the relationship work and feels the need for love. Person B is very submissive which A doesn't find attractive at all. C is very controlling which A is mildly attracted to. D is self-sufficient but not controlling which A finds incredibly attractive. Under the first ideal, since all have given according to their ability, A needs to give his/her love equally to each of these people despite the fact that the only one he/she truly loves is D. But in the name of each being equal even if they are different his love must be equal. If this seems like a dumb system to you, then you prefer option 2 as well.
 

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Yes, the marxist one. Yes, it might restrict that freedom, but I think on balance, when everyone is taken into account, we end up having more. However, this is entirely dependant on our prosperity and the resources we have available to us in order to do things. The ability to do things is what defines our freedom (I don't believe in the idea of natural law to be the definer or freedoms, I think freedoms happen where the rubber meets the road in every day life). Ultimately, I think in a society where resources are not evenly distritubed, for the rich person to be able to do more, it gets to a point of diminishing returns where lots of resources have to be brought to bear for a small gain of freedom (eventually the private jet only flies a little faster, even if it is vastly more expensive, for example or the maintenance on a 10% larger swimming pool is more than a 10% gain in cost due to changes in structural supports needed).
Regarding diminishing returns: in some instances, yes. In others, it's economies of scale and quite the opposite (and I think this happens more often than not). But I would argue either point. The fact that the pool owner/rich produced enough to have enough resources to demand an extra 10% pool for 10+% more resource is their choice. Though less overall would be produced for the same amount, in this very specific scenario, why shouldn' those who work more for the resources get to allocate where those resources go?

Well, you answer that with "(I don't believe in the idea of natural law to be the definer or freedoms, I think freedoms happen where the rubber meets the road in every day life)" which I interpret to mean that natural law is inferior to balancing goods and services being distributed. I'm glad you concede that your views go against natural law, at least and this is just your preference. There really is no point in arguing becuase you understand what ideal you are giving up, you understand the unfairness, but you value the reward more than the cost. In my mind, I just can't comprehend justifying a society which rewards equally person A who is able and does contribute 20% of what person B is able and does contribute. No reward is worth that cost that I can think of. But this is my opinion and I understand that Person A is simply goig to have a worse life because he was born less-able. This sucks for him, but it is not an injustice that was decided upon. As you say, that's natural law. I'm not angry at the more able for having more and I don't feel bad for the less able for having less.

I suppose I could compare it to 9/11 vs Katrina. 9/11 had a bigger impact on America because it was a choice. The injustice was human choice. Katrina was just nature. Both sucked. But 9/11 is impossible to accept.
 
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tacomancer

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In their ideal forms I favor the second. Why you may ask? Isn't it good that everyone is equal? The problem is the first option is a lie even in its ideal form. People are not equal. Some produce things of grandness and beauty, some produce mundane but necessary things, some produce nothing at all, and some produce things of evil and horror. These things do not deserve equal recognition, acclaim, and compensation. Think of this applied to a person's love life for instance. Person A dates (at different times) three people, B,C, and D. Each of the people A dates does their best to make the relationship work and feels the need for love. Person B is very submissive which A doesn't find attractive at all. C is very controlling which A is mildly attracted to. D is self-sufficient but not controlling which A finds incredibly attractive. Under the first ideal, since all have given according to their ability, A needs to give his/her love equally to each of these people despite the fact that the only one he/she truly loves is D. But in the name of each being equal even if they are different his love must be equal. If this seems like a dumb system to you, then you prefer option 2 as well.
If you look at a system and each gets what they need, you could say that if a person was getting what they need and person A and D can give that to each other than they should be a match. Person C might be attracted to person A, but they will likely be attracted to others as well, who can fulfill their needs in a relationship and love/be loved, than that would satisfy that as well, so things may not result as they would in your example.

Ultimately though, I don't think the example works either way, whether it is my example or yours. Here is why. In terms of resourses, a person gets things and than chooses what to do with these things. The resources are things in that they have no mind of their own so they are incapable of caring what happens to them. People are not things and you cannot treat them the same way because they do have a mind and preferences. Ultimately, you have to look at this thing from a resource level because of that and because people cannot be given other people as wages for work done (at least not in these two situations as I assume both situations have basic human rights as part of their society, I might be reading ito it though). Anyway, the fundamental difference between people and things, at least to me, prevents interpretation of this situation to expand into relationship and only works with things/resources.

Regarding diminishing returns: in some instances, yes. In others, it's economies of scale and quite the opposite (and I think this happens more often than not). But I would argue either point. The fact that the pool owner/rich produced enough to have enough resources to demand an extra 10% pool for 10+% more resource is their choice. Though less overall would be produced for the same amount, in this very specific scenario, why shouldn' those who work more for the resources get to allocate where those resources go?

Well, you answer that with "(I don't believe in the idea of natural law to be the definer or freedoms, I think freedoms happen where the rubber meets the road in every day life)" which I interpret to mean that natural law is inferior to balancing goods and services being distributed. I'm glad you concede that your views go against natural law, at least and this is just your preference. There really is no point in arguing becuase you understand what ideal you are giving up, you understand the unfairness, but you value the reward more than the cost. In my mind, I just can't comprehend justifying a society which rewards equally person A who is able and does contribute 20% of what person B is able and does contribute. No reward is worth that cost that I can think of. But this is my opinion and I understand that Person A is simply goig to have a worse life because he was born less-able. This sucks for him, but it is not an injustice that was decided upon. As you say, that's natural law. I'm not angry at the more able for having more and I don't feel bad for the less able for having less.

I suppose I could compare it to 9/11 vs Katrina. 9/11 had a bigger impact on America because it was a choice. The injustice was human choice. Katrina was just nature. Both sucked. But 9/11 is impossible to accept.
I think part of the reason that people cannot come to an agreement is that there are different ideas of what freedom is. To me, the idea of having freedom of association means little if I am alone and lost in the woods. However, it might mean more later if I am in the coffee shop with my newly befriended rescuers. To me, it is all situational and there is no way to avoid that. But it also means that relying on random chance to be the arbiter of these things to be inadequate because we should either have freedom or not have freedom. But that is my opinion on the matter.

I imagine we have a similar disagreement on what the term fairness means. Probably stemming from our different understand of freedoms since fairness is ultimately about people having the same freedoms.

I do understand the viewpoint that you are espousing, but again, having fully looked at it, I find it to be unacceptable because it goes against human nature (total communism does to, people are kind of trapped in the middle between libertarianism and communism and probably always will be) as well because we are communal creatures and are rarely only act purely on self interest (unless you redefine self interest to mean anything a person does, which I do not accept as a valid definition) because of our need for community (unless you are a sociopath or an extreme introvert that doesn't even like internet message boards).

Anyway, the reason I bought the example of the jet or swimming pool is that we tend to have limits on what commonly available technology can produce and to go beyond that, you need specialized equipment. At that point, you start hitting diminishing returns. Of course that line changes as people invent things, so it can be argued that by pushing the envelope, you are increasing everyone's overall freedom (yay capitalism!) and are doing a good thing. So it can be a mixed case. I think though that invention is more rare and per your scenario, people are investing stuff in both systems, so it may be a moot point.

Either way, forgive all the remarks in parenthesis, people tend to read into what I write and it causes me to seek to clarify.
 
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fredmertz

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If you look at a system and each gets what they need, you could say that if a person was getting what they need and person A and D can give that to each other than they should be a match. Person C might be attracted to person A, but they will likely be attracted to others as well, who can fulfill their needs in a relationship and love/be loved, than that would satisfy that as well, so things may not result as they would in your example.

Ultimately though, I don't think the example works either way, whether it is my example or yours. Here is why. In terms of resourses, a person gets things and than chooses what to do with these things. The resources are things in that they have no mind of their own so they are incapable of caring what happens to them. People are not things and you cannot treat them the same way because they do have a mind and preferences. Ultimately, you have to look at this thing from a resource level because of that and because people cannot be given other people as wages for work done (at least not in these two situations as I assume both situations have basic human rights as part of their society, I might be reading ito it though). Anyway, the fundamental difference between people and things, at least to me, prevents interpretation of this situation to expand into relationship and only works with things/resources.



I think part of the reason that people cannot come to an agreement is that there are different ideas of what freedom is. To me, the idea of having freedom of association means little if I am alone and lost in the woods. However, it might mean more later if I am in the coffee shop with my newly befriended rescuers. To me, it is all situational and there is no way to avoid that. But it also means that relying on random chance to be the arbiter of these things to be inadequate because we should either have freedom or not have freedom. But that is my opinion on the matter.

I imagine we have a similar disagreement on what the term fairness means. Probably stemming from our different understand of freedoms since fairness is ultimately about people having the same freedoms.

I do understand the viewpoint that you are espousing, but again, having fully looked at it, I find it to be unacceptable because it goes against human nature (total communism does to, people are kind of trapped in the middle between libertarianism and communism and probably always will be) as well because we are communal creatures and are rarely only act purely on self interest (unless you redefine self interest to mean anything a person does, which I do not accept as a valid definition) because of our need for community (unless you are a sociopath or an extreme introvert that doesn't even like internet message boards).

Anyway, the reason I bought the example of the jet or swimming pool is that we tend to have limits on what commonly available technology can produce and to go beyond that, you need specialized equipment. At that point, you start hitting diminishing returns. Of course that line changes as people invent things, so it can be argued that by pushing the envelope, you are increasing everyone's overall freedom (yay capitalism!) and are doing a good thing. So it can be a mixed case. I think though that invention is more rare and per your scenario, people are investing stuff in both systems, so it may be a moot point.

Either way, forgive all the remarks in parenthesis, people tend to read into what I write and it causes me to seek to clarify.
I do the same with parenthesis! Quite alright. I've never disagreed with someone so whole-heartedly and respected them so much at the same time. But I wanted to make one further conclusion. I agree we disagree on what 'fairness is', but think you may have unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally) hit another true point: Human nature.

first, regarding fairness: To clarify, I don't think it is fair that some people should get less simply because they can't produce more. That randomness sucks for them. But I also don't think it's fair to restrict someone who can (and does) produce more to collect more for the reason that his surplus production needs to be balanced with the underproduction of others. So which unfairness do I choose? The one nature 'decided' or the one that man decided? I choose nature's injustice. Trying to solve nature's injustice with another injustice is worse than just letting it be. I think you understood that, but I got confused when you said this was against human nature... and maybe this is why:

second: Human nature. I would argue that everything we do is for our own benefit. It's nice to think otherwise, but it seems I only want friends who give me something greater or equal to that which I put into the relationship. It doesn't have to be quantifiable. It's usually qualitative in fact. They make me happy. But if I am putting too much into it, I won't want to be a part of it. The same goes for a community (or nation). If I give more than I receive, I wouldn't want to be part of it. Again, what I receive can be qualitative. It can be reassurance that I'll be taken care of. It can be clean streets that make me happy. Whatever it is, I do it because it's worth it to me. I really don't understand 'altruism' for non-selfish interests. If I give, I give because it makes me happy to give. I won't give if I'm indifferent. So I act on selfishness and I believe this is human nature.
 

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In their ideal forms I favor the second. Why you may ask? Isn't it good that everyone is equal? The problem is the first option is a lie even in its ideal form. People are not equal.
This much, I agree with 100%! I think it's worded perfectly.
 

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And they would collect back from society only what they need or is their 'fair share' (obviously not practical, but if it were, would it be superior?)
It would not be superior imo, because it opposes the laws of nature. What works, survives. If I am the smartest, biggest, fastest, most creative, or most ingenious, that is what survives in nature. It earns its respect and its rewards.
 

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I do the same with parenthesis! Quite alright. I've never disagreed with someone so whole-heartedly and respected them so much at the same time. But I wanted to make one further conclusion. I agree we disagree on what 'fairness is', but think you may have unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally) hit another true point: Human nature.
Thanks for the compliment. It is always pleasant to chat with someone who can disagree without calling the other person names. There are many on this forum who do not have this maturity. (Its fun to verbally run over those people though since they usually suck at logic or argument.)

first, regarding fairness: To clarify, I don't think it is fair that some people should get less simply because they can't produce more. That randomness sucks for them. But I also don't think it's fair to restrict someone who can (and does) produce more to collect more for the reason that his surplus production needs to be balanced with the underproduction of others. So which unfairness do I choose? The one nature 'decided' or the one that man decided? I choose nature's injustice. Trying to solve nature's injustice with another injustice is worse than just letting it be. I think you understood that, but I got confused when you said this was against human nature... and maybe this is why:
I think I am going to have to disagree that the to each according to their ability is natural. Here is why. All economies are ultimately a social construct stemming from mutually agreed on rules. The only way I see to avoid that is if the person was alone (I know, this is a similar place with the idea of natural rights comes from), but if the person is alone there is no economy, only the production and consumption of resources. The moment two people interact, they have to start agreeing on the rules of interaction and at that point, any economic arrangement is possible. (This is also part of the reason I don't like the natural rights idea, nature always gets taken back out of it almost immediately and it links two fundamentally different things together, the lone man and his will linked to society and social rules)

second: Human nature. I would argue that everything we do is for our own benefit. It's nice to think otherwise, but it seems I only want friends who give me something greater or equal to that which I put into the relationship. It doesn't have to be quantifiable. It's usually qualitative in fact. They make me happy. But if I am putting too much into it, I won't want to be a part of it. The same goes for a community (or nation). If I give more than I receive, I wouldn't want to be part of it. Again, what I receive can be qualitative. It can be reassurance that I'll be taken care of. It can be clean streets that make me happy. Whatever it is, I do it because it's worth it to me. I really don't understand 'altruism' for non-selfish interests. If I give, I give because it makes me happy to give. I won't give if I'm indifferent. So I act on selfishness and I believe this is human nature.
Like I said. I don't like definitions of selfishness that can mean anything a person does. There are interactions that are defined by the gaining and loss of value (however it is defined) and there are interactions that are not.

When I go to church, I used to pick up a family that had no car of their own. They did not fit in the minivan well and I have literally nothing in common with them. Also, it costs extra gas because it was 3 miles out of my way. The reason I did this was because they wanted to go to church and had no way to get there (the girl came from a broken home and the guy was between jobs, both very young, heartbreaking situation). Ultimately, the only thing I got out of that was the occasional good feeling of doing what I felt to be my duty, but that was certainly not every time. Often, it was just a pain in the ass to do, but it was the right thing, so I did it even when it did put me in a bad mood.

I know a retired teacher who helps out with a profound mentally handicapped class at a local school. She does not get along with the main teacher, but she does it because those kids need the extra help that the county can not afford to provide.

I tend to be very nice to people I have just met and I don't get any reward (again, not even a good feeling) but it is the right thing to do, even when they turn out to be jerks, I still try to be nice because thats what my moral system tells me I aught to do. But I get no value from it and I am sometimes insulted for my efforts and can sometimes find myself bitching later on that evening to my wife. I will go back the next day and do it again.

I think ultimately, if you want to live a life where there is no emotional effort, than yes, your statement is true, but we are people who have a choice to either do the right thing or to do the thing that gives us something we seek (if we are in a situation where the two might be different). People are animals who tend to go with things that benefit us, but it does not mean we have to. I guess I better stop before I start getting religious :p (Since much of christianity is about getting past our internal monkey and being good beings, which I suck at by the way)
 
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lizzie

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I tend to be very nice to people I have just met and I don't get any reward (again, not even a good feeling)
But you do get a reward. The reward for selflessness is in helping yourself improve. It may be done as a gesture of kindness, which may or may not be appreciated by the recipient of your goodwill, but the reward is bestowed on the one who gives. A giving heart gives without thought of reward. It gives because it wants to.
 

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But you do get a reward. The reward for selflessness is in helping yourself improve. It may be done as a gesture of kindness, which may or may not be appreciated by the recipient of your goodwill, but the reward is bestowed on the one who gives. A giving heart gives without thought of reward. It gives because it wants to.
I disagree. If you look at it from a resource perspective (or even a value perspective), I gain nothing by improving myself in the sense of being more kind. In fact, I lose because it makes me more easily able to be taken advantage of which can cause a loss of resources or other things I value, such as time or a good mood.

True kindness can really suck and reap havoc on your emotions and health.
 

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True kindness can really suck and reap havoc on your emotions and health.
Then it appears to me that there maybe some emotional problems underlying. As long as emotional gratification is the goal, emotional and physical health will be subject to getting out of whack. Once giving and kindness are done out of true desire, and not out of perceived necessity or obligation, emotional well-being can't be threatened.
 

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Like I said. I don't like definitions of selfishness that can mean anything a person does. There are interactions that are defined by the gaining and loss of value (however it is defined) and there are interactions that are not.

When I go to church, I used to pick up a family that had no car of their own. They did not fit in the minivan well and I have literally nothing in common with them. Also, it costs extra gas because it was 3 miles out of my way. The reason I did this was because they wanted to go to church and had no way to get there (the girl came from a broken home and the guy was between jobs, both very young, heartbreaking situation). Ultimately, the only thing I got out of that was the occasional good feeling of doing what I felt to be my duty, but that was certainly not every time. Often, it was just a pain in the ass to do, but it was the right thing, so I did it even when it did put me in a bad mood.

I know a retired teacher who helps out with a profound mentally handicapped class at a local school. She does not get along with the main teacher, but she does it because those kids need the extra help that the county can not afford to provide.

I tend to be very nice to people I have just met and I don't get any reward (again, not even a good feeling) but it is the right thing to do, even when they turn out to be jerks, I still try to be nice because thats what my moral system tells me I aught to do. But I get no value from it and I am sometimes insulted for my efforts and can sometimes find myself bitching later on that evening to my wife. I will go back the next day and do it again.

I think ultimately, if you want to live a life where there is no emotional effort, than yes, your statement is true, but we are people who have a choice to either do the right thing or to do the thing that gives us something we seek (if we are in a situation where the two might be different). People are animals who tend to go with things that benefit us, but it does not mean we have to. I guess I better stop before I start getting religious :p (Since much of christianity is about getting past our internal monkey and being good beings, which I suck at by the way)
I was hoping this was your point. I've had this thought process before and I just told you my conclusion. I'll explain my thoughts here and please feel free to correct any problems you see in my logic:

I personally do good deeds. Often times, I don't want to give up the costs of those deeds. But I still help people when I don't want to. But why? What would cause me to do this? Because it is the right thing to do! Just as you said. Independent of religion, there are morals (I know because I am not religious, but have a very strict view on morals and doing 'what is right'). But the question I found I asked myself was: If I were indifferent to morals, if I were ammoral, I wouldn't think there was a 'right thing to do'. And so I wouldn't help those people. You wouldn't have given rides and none of your examples would have happened. But we are moral people. People are moral! That is not arguable, IMO. So I act upon morals because I am not indifferent of them. Because I care about morals. It is human nature to care about morals, IMO. And so I do these good deeds that have a cost of my happiness/money/time to satisfy my desire to be moral. I do it for MY desire. I do it for me. This is off the topic of the thread, but I had to reply. I used to hope that I was wrong. That we were altruistic because it is the right thing to do.

But if I didn't care, I wouldn't do it. But I do care so I do. And the difference between the two situations is something within me, not within others. And so I've come to the conclusion that people selfishly act in the interest of others and that's what makes a good person good.
 

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Then it appears to me that there maybe some emotional problems underlying. As long as emotional gratification is the goal, emotional and physical health will be subject to getting out of whack. Once giving and kindness are done out of true desire, and not out of perceived necessity or obligation, emotional well-being can't be threatened.
I disagree that doing something out of a sense of moral duty is a mental problem. This is a very normal thing that people do every day.

I am a little bit disturbed that you do not see this is a healthy possibility.

I was hoping this was your point. I've had this thought process before and I just told you my conclusion. I'll explain my thoughts here and please feel free to correct any problems you see in my logic:

I personally do good deeds. Often times, I don't want to give up the costs of those deeds. But I still help people when I don't want to. But why? What would cause me to do this? Because it is the right thing to do! Just as you said. Independent of religion, there are morals (I know because I am not religious, but have a very strict view on morals and doing 'what is right'). But the question I found I asked myself was: If I were indifferent to morals, if I were ammoral, I wouldn't think there was a 'right thing to do'. And so I wouldn't help those people. You wouldn't have given rides and none of your examples would have happened. But we are moral people. People are moral! That is not arguable, IMO. So I act upon morals because I am not indifferent of them. Because I care about morals. It is human nature to care about morals, IMO. And so I do these good deeds that have a cost of my happiness/money/time to satisfy my desire to be moral. I do it for MY desire. I do it for me. This is off the topic of the thread, but I had to reply. I used to hope that I was wrong. That we were altruistic because it is the right thing to do.

But if I didn't care, I wouldn't do it. But I do care so I do. And the difference between the two situations is something within me, not within others. And so I've come to the conclusion that people selfishly act in the interest of others and that's what makes a good person good.
I agree that people can be moral independent of religion. I was a strong atheist (the kind of atheist who would argue with religious people for the sake of proving them wrong actually) for most of my life so I can certainly appreciate your perspective here.

However, I disagree. Sure people have morals and care about them. But I disagree that acting on a moral is a selfish action. In the example in the quote, you identify your primary motivation to be doing it out your desire, which means doing it for you. I cannot say that I agree that one leads into the other. Sure you might do it because you want to, that is a fundamental attribute of free will and your brain's ability to control your muscles. However, I think the crux of the argument relies on motivation and expected results.

In my scenario, my expected result was to get these three people to church (someone else took them home). Another expected result was the hope that they would continue to value going to church. A third expected result was that they would find the help they sought at church (such as a job offer or charity (they received a LOT of diapers and spare clothing, no job though, unfortunately)). Now I did feel good that I was doing the right thing, but that was not my motivation (in fact the good feeling did not begin until I was well out of the situation for a few months). In fact, if I did it in order to feel good, I would have not felt good because I would have felt selfish and prideful (as I should, according to my internal morality).

A lot of internal reward mechanisms work that way. They happen when you are not focused on them. But because you are not focused on them, they cannot be considered a motivation or a reason for action and therefore cannot be put into the equation in determining whether an action is selfish or not.

As we agreed on before, actions and relationships are about exchanging value. In many cases, I agree this is true, however a feeling of (I did the right thing) cannot be given by another person. It is solely internal and is not subject to exchange because it is fully contained in our brain and mind.

If it cannot be exchanged, than it cannot be a transaction. So that possibility is also removed.

The only thing left is a nonselfish action.
 
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Goshin

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It sometimes works tolerably well within a family-sized unit. Expanding it to the community level usually results in problems, if not outright disaster.

The original Jamestown settlers attempted to use that methodology. They suffered from free-rider and lack-of-motivation syndrome and nearly starved to death. Then they switched to a capitalist model and thrived, and their surplus resulted in the first Thanksgiving feast.
 

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I disagree that doing something out of a sense of moral duty is a mental problem. This is a very normal thing that people do every day.

I am a little bit disturbed that you do not see this is a healthy possibility.
Just because it's "normal" doesn't mean it is healthy.:)
Why does my view disturb you? It shouldn't if you are secure with your own view.
 

tacomancer

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Just because it's "normal" doesn't mean it is healthy.:)
In this case, I view it as both normal and healthy.

Why does my view disturb you? It shouldn't if you are secure with your own view.
because I view your approach as fundamentally unhealthy and causes me to have concern for you and your well being. Also, I believe people with the value system are to be feared because its a bit sociopathic.
 
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