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Reply To Alice

Alice Bachini commented below:

What is your definition of "good"?

Notice how it all starts with an epistemic error. I guess I need to go over this subject even more often. Suffice it for now that arguing semantics misses the point in a discussion.

100% morally perfect/ mostly morally correct/ has the best available world-view available at the current time in history?

We both know perfectly well that no one is 100% morally perfect, and that that criterion is absurd. So is having the best "available" worldview. And 'mostly right' just won't cut it either, because it's not a numbers game.

Rather, good is an explanation, and we must actually think to use the word, not just apply mechanical criteria.

Does your definition of "good" take into account people's inexplicit moral theories, as well as their explicit ones?

[sarcasm]No. Of course not. Why would I do that?[/sarcasm]

[different sarcasm]What, did you think I'm stupid?[/sarcasm]

Seriously if you want to talk to me, think about who you are talking to as you write. Feels like next you'll be asking, "Do you think maybe, just possibly, Popper might have gotten something right?" or "Do you think maybe, just possibly, Popper might have gotten something wrong?" Yes, of course, duh.

Does it take into account the degree of *activeness* with which the person exercises their goodness?

If such a thing exists, I take it into account imperfectly and inexplicitly. But I don't think it does. Is 'inactive good' the Nazi guard who has some reservations floating around in his head while he stops a jailbreak?

I expect to be told something like 'active good means actually doing good things'. But seems to me that just means living in a good way. But if active good is living well, then I don't see how inactive good could exist, as it would imply living wrongly, and thus not be good. If inactive good doesn't exist, then taking into account 'the degree of *activeness*' of someone's good is incoherent.

I'm not convinced that how tough your life is is principally characterised by how good you are (if that is what you are implying).

I didn't say that at all here. I gave ways being more good can make your life harder elsewhere, but of course I did not claim that's the only or main factor.

Here, I simply gave ways a bad person could fuck with a good person.

It seems to me that the toughness of one's life depends on factors such as being skilled at dealing with the problems one chooses for oneself, being flexible and good at acquiring new knowledge when needed, and so on.

Superficially that seems plausible. But we don't choose what problems to have directly. Mostly, they just happen to us. The car breaks down. Or we don't understand something. Or the son wants something. Or the boss wants something. Even choosing a hobby, say, means picking which problem to work on, not what problems exist. (It is possible to create interesting problems by designing games or puzzles, and other ways. But that's not important to this.)

Before I continue I want to clarify what the statement really says, behind the pretty words. It simply means that the way to get through life best is to A) choose the right problems to have in your life B) Deal with problems rightly (And a few aspects of how to do this are listed)

Well, A) is wrong, and B) is kinda obvious (It's just a form of "we should act rightly"). Anyhow, if we can't control the problems we face directly, and we are doing our best to solve them, is that all we can do?

No! A focus on dealing only with current and foreseeable problems is damning. We must add into this an analysis of morality, and act rightly even if we cannot see the benefit. This means putting aside any petty notions about aiming for an easy life, or putting happiness above all, and accepting any (moral, but otherwise too) argument that seems true, like it or not.

Good knowledge of the practical details required to live by one's theories, perhaps.

No, knowledge of one's theories is required to live by one's theories. That simple. Well, that and theories you can do. Theories that ask you to do things you don't know how to are just idiotic (as opposed to ones that tell you to learn, then do it).

Plus a good deal of luck, like being in the right place at the right time.

[sarcasm]Yeah, let's blame our problems on luck, chance, and maybe the heavens.[/sarcasm]

Sometimes people get picked on for being good. Sometimes they get picked on for being fat or wearing glasses or being a child.

Dear god, is this really an equivocation between being good and wearing glasses? Does it really imply that attacking goodness and attacking fatness are equally bad?

Adults getting picked on for being good can develop a wide range of strategies for dealing with it, so they don't experience it as coercive, and don't mind it at all, even find it amusing, in most cases, except where they're being arrested and tortured in unfree countries, maybe.

They can develop a wide range of strategies for dealing with it, but "so they don't experience it as coercive" is not the point of all of them. It's only the point of the ones favoured by the commenter.

The sentiments seem to be that if we can find a way not to mind badness, then the problem is solved. Of course, if held consistently, this view should apply to being arrested and tortured too.

The right view is more like: badness is not bad "because it might coerce good people" and the solution is not "to find states of mind more defended against coercion." Rather, we must not let bad people try to hurt us in the first place. A successful defense requires using offense -- we must fight evil, not just try to cope with it.

Some good adults find those skills harder to develop than others: I think it depends on their entrenchments, their meta-knowledge, luck, and other variables.

Or in plain and more accurate English: it depends on their worldview and their situation (and luck, or so it's claimed).

[sarcasm]Really? Wow! I never would have thought of that! I'm glad you told me.[/sarcasm]


Elliot Temple on December 15, 2003

Comments (6)

On the first part (about what you meant by "good"): thanks, that was enlightening.


Alice Bachini at 2:12 PM on December 15, 2003 | #726

The rest of your post I will reply to on the curi list, as it needs cutting and pasting and is quite long.


Alice at 2:14 PM on December 15, 2003 | #727

More existentialist rambling from Alice...I'm sure she knows what she is talking about. question is, does anyone else?



Do you think she dreams in colour?


attila at 4:10 PM on December 18, 2003 | #728

Feel free to ask me yourself, Attila. I won't bite your head off.



How gratifying that people I've never even heard of should be so interested in the workings of my mind! Must make me important, or something.


Alice at 10:17 AM on December 19, 2003 | #729

Yes, well you would think that, wouldn't you.



Blowing your own trumpet seems to be just about your only skill.


attila at 12:32 PM on December 19, 2003 | #730

Atilla! You're such a sweetie! I never realised before I actually had a skill :-)


Alice at 9:38 AM on December 20, 2003 | #731

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)