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Moral nihilism

Moral nihilism
January 03, 2014, 04:33:16 PM
Quote
I’ll answer the easiest question first: You ask, “Does the origin of the data matter if the data is useful?” The answer is yes. History matters. Motives matter. These have to be part of the discussion. But there’s also an uncomfortable actuality that comes with this particular case: We can’t unlearn what we now know. We can’t decide something is false because we hate the way it was researched. We can’t ignore lifesaving information because someone died in the process.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/magazine/can-data-be-evil.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1&

Advanced version of the Trolley Problem: if the data would save many lives, but we must sacrifice some to achieve it, how do we choose?


Re: Moral nihilism
January 03, 2014, 05:49:38 PM
So moral nihilism is actually utilitarianism? The people who correctly identify the need for heads to roll should be the ones to go by taking their own lives. The alternatives are usually mass killings, cults of personality based on the inherent narcissism in accepting the roll as the judge of the quality and character of complete strangers.

In Mr. Likola's boat scenario, the lover of life severs the heads of those clinging desperately to its side. He leaves one man alive whom he helps onto the boat after which time he cuts his own throat and falls to the deep before the vessel capsizes.

Re: Moral nihilism
January 03, 2014, 06:41:03 PM
Approach it from another direction. Nihilism isn't necessarily pigeon holed as a strictly moral philosophy. But, a moral problem could be presented as it was in order to illustrate the way nihilism functions.

We could propose instead nihilistic bean sorting where the rotten ones are thrown into compost so that our bag of beans as a whole has entirely fresh product.

The alternative is to congratulate ourselves for our negative morality for our not harming any beans, even if the entire bag full becomes useless as a result of our tolerant inclusiveness.

It isn't immoral to impale beans, eat them or gas them all, yet it still remains logical to strive for the best at the cost of some so that the ultimate purpose of our beans is realized which is incidentally moral and good.

The alternative again doesn't deliver goodness and meaning but instead more along the lines of vanity and waste which are immoral even if we were humanitarian toward all the innocent beans.

Re: Moral nihilism
January 03, 2014, 07:21:10 PM
It ceases to be nihilism the moment you place value on a whole bag of beans. There are costs associated with ensuring you have a whole bag of fresh product. what are they, and are they justified?

it's worthwhile to remember Sparta incurred it's own population crises through the pursuit of a fresh bag.

accepting a mental model which describes the purpose of beans as truth is also not nihilism.

Re: Moral nihilism
January 03, 2014, 10:36:24 PM
I never took lack of inherent meaning as equivalent to the impossibility of its existence. That's more a matter of scope, or as some may prefer to call it, context. In other words, something relevant locally may have no relevance at the global scale.

As for value, in either case, a bag of beans is under production. One is discarded as defect in the pursuit of a negative morality. No returns are delivered from the production of this bag. The other bag is superior and commands the best possible returns for its production.

Re: Moral nihilism
January 06, 2014, 04:31:22 PM


Look, I appreciate the example, it's sentiment is clear and I agree with it to a point. However, humans are not either rotten or fresh, they have the tendency towards either end, often waffling between them. It's prudent to have your QC department (justice/ethics system) to recognize this fact or you'll be scrapping viable product left and right for not meeting overly rigid inspection criteria.