Presentation on theme: "Utilitarianism as an Operative Social Philosophy."— Presentation transcript:
Utilitarianism as an Operative Social Philosophy
Science and Religion: Irreconcilable?
Albert Einsteins definition of religion. As regards religion, on the other hand, one is generally agreed that it deals with goals and evaluations and, in general, with the emotional foundation of human thinking and acting, as far as these are not predetermined by the inalterable hereditary disposition of the human species. Religion is concerned with man's attitude toward nature at large, with the establishing of ideals for the individual and communal life, and with mutual human relationship. These ideals religion attempts to attain by exerting an educational influence on tradition and through the development and promulgation of certain easily accessible thoughts and narratives (epics and myths) which are apt to influence evaluation and action along the lines of the accepted ideals.
What is the individual ideal? Its empowerment. –The history of things like slavery, womens rights, and spare the rod... convinced me of the importance of this ideal. Empowerment, however, is NOT the Communal Ideal Why not?
Well there is this guy...
And this guy...
And do you really want to empower this guy?
One should not seek to empower everyone because certain individuals empowerment will lead to others being harmed. If empowerment is not the communal ideal, then what is? Its justice. In short,
What is justice? People take up different definitions and use different philosophies of justice (divine command, retribution, restorative, distributive, Kant, John Rawls, Aristotle, libertarianism, utilitarianism, others?) –I assert that utilitarianism is the most useful definition. Why use Utilitarianism? Essentially, utilitarianism is the maximization of the individual ideal at the communal level. –Individual ideal = empowerment –Communal ideal = empowerment of the most people = Utilitarianism
What is Utilitarianism? An ethical theory holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes the overall "happiness Epicurus, the first utilitarian? Francis Hutchinson –action is best, which produces the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers; and that, worst, which, in like manner, occasions misery. William Paley, Jeremy Bentham, and John Stewart Mill Any Questions?
The Levels The individual and communal ideals made me realize the need to address problems at different social levels. The levels being addressed in this presentation are: The Individual Level The Interpersonal Level The Societal Level
The Individual Level Empowerment vs. Obedience
He was not empowered
This guy liked it that way… Slavery was established by decree of almighty god, it is sanctioned in the bible in both testaments and from Genesis to Revelation. It has existed in all ages and has been found among people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency of the arts - Jefferson Davis
This guy didnt... (Thomas Paine led Pennsylvania to become the first state to enact emancipation legislation.)
Religion need always aim at preserving and promoting the sanity and vitality of the community and its individuals, since otherwise this community is bound to perish. - Albert Einstein How can this be done? Truth to power
What is Truth to Power? Truth to power is a phrase developed by the American Friends Service Community (i.e. a Quaker charitable group) as a reaction against totalitarianism and McCarthyism.
Truth to Power
Is the Christian Church an active supporter of Truth to Power? I assert that the church believes in several positions which detriment this concept. Homosexuality Premarital sex Religious heresy Original sin Others? Any questions?
Interpersonal Level Utilitarian Morality Vs Biblical Morality and Moral Relativism
Divine command - an action is morally good if it is commanded by God. The problem - The bible is filled with commands of God which lead to people being harmed (slavery, spousal abuse, child abuse, genocide, etc.) Moral absolutism - the belief that certain actions are absolutely right or wrong, devoid of the context of the act. The problem - There are very few moral absolutes. I refer to this combination as biblical morality as I am not sure what else to call it. Several Christians tend to believe in:
Consider the following Moral absolutism Thou shall not murder. Thou shall not steal. Thou shall not lie. Thou shall respect ones parents. Thou shall be loyal. The reality Hitler should be murdered if it means saving lives. Robin Hood should steal if it means saving his people from starvation. The undercover cop should lie when he is asked about his occupation. The child should runaway from his abusive parents (to appropriate authorities). The underling whom learns about his corporations inappropriate disposal of toxic waste should inform on them.
One common criticism - Humans arent omniscient and therefore cant understand all the possible consequences of an action. Utilitarian morality is based in consequentialism. Consequentialism - the belief that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness of that conduct.
Moral relativism is the belief that there is no objective reason to believe that one set of religious or cultural values are any more correct than another set of religious or cultural values. The problem - Religious and cultural values are not subjective. Moral relativism is very prevalent in our society though many of you may not be aware of the term. –The literal definitions of freedom of religion and freedom of expression descend into moral relativism; as do the expressed desires to promote tolerance, and eliminate discrimination and intolerance. Liberals are often accused of moral relativism.
Consider the following Moral Relativism All religions should be tolerated irrespective of their beliefs. (a.k.a. Religious Tolerance) The Reality What about the teachings of Muslim extremists? Or the pedophile preacher Warren Jeffs? No one should be subjected to discrimination, prejudice, or stereotypes. What about discriminating the murderer from the civilian? What about using prejudice to win at poker? What about a black man using stereotypes to avoid pointy white hat wearers? People should be able to speak without government interference. (a.k.a. Freedom of Expression / Freedom of the Press) What about sexual harassment? Or libel? Or slander? Or selling troop positions? Or advertising defective products? Or conning people? Or shouting bomb in a crowded movie theater?
If concepts such as discrimination and freedom of expression are not moral in and of themselves, then how can one define morality? Through utilitarianism. –Justified discrimination is moral, unjustified discrimination is immoral (where justice is defined as the greatest good for the greatest number). –Justified forms of expression are moral (MLK Jr.), unjustified forms of expression are immoral (sexual harassment).
What is Morality? A user-friendly definition of morality is achieved when one combines a justice based in utilitarianism with the words tolerance and intolerance. This results in four different combinations. Justified intolerance Justified tolerance Unjustified intolerance Unjustified tolerance Justified tolerance and justified intolerance form the foundation of utilitarian morality. And unjustified intolerance and unjustified tolerance form the foundation of utilitarian immorality.
Justified intolerance = using intolerance to create the greatest good for the greatest number of people. It is used by this guy to incarcerate criminals. And it is used by this lady to fight for civil rights.
Justified tolerance = using tolerance to create the greatest good for the greatest number of people. He was good at promoting it.
Unjustified intolerance = using intolerance to harm the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
Unjustified tolerance = using tolerance to harm the greatest good for the greatest number of people. He was good at promoting it.
Lets pause for questions.
Religion at the Societal Level Cooperative Intelligence vs. Competitive Faith
The tragedy of the commons.
Einsteins definition of religion These ideals religion attempts to attain by exerting an educational influence on tradition and through the development and promulgation of certain easily accessible thoughts and narratives (epics and myths) which are apt to influence evaluation and action along the lines of the accepted ideals. How can one exert an educational influence so that the individual and communal ideals are achieved? Memetics
What is a meme? A meme is an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. Memes can be bad and harm the society. Homosexuality is a sin. They can be good and help the society. Homosexual relationships deserve to have the same rights as heterosexual relationships. Or they can be neutral. The dance steps to the Cha Cha.
Which is meme is better for society?
Which meme is better for society?
As these products demonstrate, memes can change over time. A meme can change for the better. - a change from the idea radioactivity is good for you to the idea radioactivity is bad for you. Or memes can change for the worse. - a change from the behavior of eating healthier foods such turkey, corn, and red wine (as well as some unhealthy ones such as rum and tobacco) to the widespread consumption of corn syrup. A religion or culture should want to create the first type of memes and not the second. How can this be done?
A Three Step Process for Social Reform 1. Discover beneficial memes. 2. Cooperate by getting people to agree that the memes are beneficial. 3. Apply the beneficial memes.
An example. Step 1 - Discover the beneficial meme(s). Dying from cancer is not empowering. Dont eat uranium.
Step 2 - Cooperate by getting people to agree that the meme(s) is/are beneficial. Oh my! Radiation scary. Dont eat uranium.
Step 3 - Apply the beneficial memes. Dont eat uranium. Put it in the lead container.
Unfortunately it doesnt always happen that way. Lets use two different examples to illustrate this. –Pittsburgh and their child protection agency. –Florida and their child protection agency. When each of those three steps are followed, then a social improvement is achieved.
Back in the 1990s both Pittsburgh and Florida had a problem with their child protection agencies.
Pittsburgh replaced the head of the department with this guy. (Marc Cherna) Florida was led by this guy. (The one on the right, in case you are confused.)
This guy is intelligent. 1. Marc Cherna promoted the beneficial meme Families should be preserved when it is safe to do so. 2. Local universities, foundations, law firms (and others) cooperated with Cherna and his meme to help discover how best to reform the agency, how to fund innovative programs, and how to proceed with things like adoption cases. 3. Marc Cherna et al applied the meme of family preservation when safe to do so by creating housing counselors to avoid the separation of families due to housing issues, and by creating a family transportation / visitation program to keep the parents connected to their children (among many other things).
Marc Chernas actions led to these headlines Child welfare agency in county draws national praise. DHS Director accepts honors. –Cherna will be honored by his peers as this years recipient of the Betsey R. Rosenbaum Award for Excellence in Public Child Welfare Administration. Pitt's Institute of Politics Bestows Coleman Award on Two Notable Pittsburghers –Under Cherna's direction, the DHS Forensics Program received a 2005 Innovations in American Government Award from the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
Are there combined IQs equal to Marc Chernas? Jeb Bush promoted the harmful meme The Kayla McKean Child Protection Act is helpful. and the harmful meme NCCPR characterized as Take the child and run. Jebs mandated reporters, child abuse center screeners, and DCF workers cooperatively agreed to these memes. Jebs mandated reporters, screeners, and DCF workers applied these memes. This led to the overburdening of the foster care system.
Jeb Bushs actions led to these headlines. Legislators rip governor, DCF. Miami 5-Year-Old Missing for Year Before Fact Noted Boy who died was left in bad home. DCF took siblings, left the youngest. Siblings recall seven years of abuse while under agencys care. DCF Finds Files Hidden In Ceiling. –A box of confidential child-abuse files was found stashed above the ceiling tiles of a West Palm Beach office building formerly leased to the state Department of Children & Families.
It also led to several things that should have been headlines. (taken from NCCPRs The Lengthening Shadow) DCF took the boy away nearly two years ago. Keith McConnico was not accused of abusing his son. He is not a drug addict. Keith McConnicos only crime is to be handicapped and need some help to raise the boy. Rather than provide the help, DCF took the boy. In Hillsborough county, one family has 12 foster children, all age 5 and under. Another has 13 children, most of them teenagers. And in another home foster parents aged 73 and 67 care for seven children none of them more than two-years-old. The review found that even in Sarasota, there was documented evidence of abuse in foster care in 12 percent of the cases. And in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, there was evidence that foster parents abused the children entrusted to them in nearly one-third of the records sampled. Furthermore, in only 30 percent of these cases is there evidence that DCF made "an appropriate change in the placement after the abuse was discovered.
In short, Marc Cherna created social improvements by promoting beneficial memes, having people cooperatively believe in these memes, and applying them. Jeb Bush created social problems by promoting harmful memes, having people cooperatively believe in these memes, and applying them.
What does this have to do with Utilitarianism? Greatest Good Marc Cherna > < Jeb Bush
One would think a MAJOR child welfare scandal would prevent ones reelection. One would be wrong. –Jeb was first elected in –NCCPR reports critical of Jeb Bushs DCF policies came out in 2000 and –Jeb Bush was reelected in 2002.
Jeb Bush is Brilliant! Marc Cherna is a moron! Jeb Bush is a Moron! Marc Cherna is Brilliant!
Religions should instead want to create intelligent cooperation by finding the beneficial memes (Marc Cherna is brilliant. Follow him.), creating cooperation amongst the society (Republicans for Marc Cherna.), and applying the beneficial memes (Hire assistant of Marc Cherna?). In other words, this
To recap, The individual ideal is empowerment. The communal ideal is justice. Truth to Power was developed by the Quakers and is a useful technique to produce empowerment and counteract falsehoods. Moral absolutism and moral relativism fail as moral outlooks. Utilitarian morality is about utilizing justified tolerance and justified intolerance. Utilitarian immorality is about utilizing unjustified tolerance and unjustified intolerance. Memes can be beneficial, harmful, or neutral. Social improvements can be achieved by finding beneficial memes, getting people to agree that the memes are beneficial, and applying the memes. Organizations can aid in this process by promoting intelligent cooperation (accepting Marc Cherna) or deter this process by promoting competitive faith (backing Jeb Bush).