Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Luck and Morality Discussion

(This is mainly a topical teaser, not much more)

Today I'm going to a philosophy meetup on the role of luck in moral reasoning.

This is one of the better philosophy-oriented meetups I've found; it's moderated by people who've been doing philosophy (either professionally or not) for a long time and a fair number of the other people have philosophy degrees or are otherwise very well-read on the topic, so we're not stuck on the shallow end of the pool. Tonight's topic looks promising and juicy; the central role of intent in how we apply moral reasoning is well-established, but the act of uncontrolled factors in creating the palette of choices we have to choose between in a given situation, as well as how we judge probabilistic results after the fact, are thorny issues; reckless behaviour that has a 50% chance of getting someone killed (without an intent to harm) will meet punishment/condemnation differently depending on how the dice fall. We also might condemn someone for their choices even if they're constrained between a few terrible alternatives. Are these fair?

This should make for juicy discussion is that it's just deep enough that it captures some of the fundamentally different ways to think about morality; too much deeper and people would need to lay out their entire individual frameworks and it would not be workable in a large group; more shallow and there would not be enough exposed difference to be worth talking about.

The main thing we need to watch out for is uneven contribution to the discussion; people like me sometimes tend to dominate discussion on these topics (not a monologue, but a conversation might get going between a few of us that goes on forever if we're not careful, although I try to ramp down if I feel this is happening and I notice), and there are a few people who monologue if they're not stopped.

I have a lot of other things to write about, but I might talk about how I think about these issues in my value theory later. My thoughts on this topic are fairly conventional in their conclusions; the only potentially interesting bits might be in my reasoning; basically how I deal with the objections of those that are looking for some non-conventional solution (but probably haven't found it; adequately addressing the concerns raised makes one's moral system pretty alien).

Tags: philosophy

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