I once told a struggling high school student that ease of moral choice is inversely correlative with the likelihood that it will be wrong. That is, the easier a choice is to make, the more likely it will be the wrong choice. Oddly, this has very little to do with moral choices as units. It has more to with increased time and, in that time, an increase in the chance that you will thoroughly evaluate a given choice.

Perhaps this tidbit accounts for my not-so-recent change in character from an emotionally-driven child to a rationally-driven adult. I have the seemingly inconsequential ability to allow or disallow persuasive rhetoric to consciously influence my actions.

i.e. I seldom get mad at people that anger me. Instead, I choose to not let their words "offend" me.

Conversely, I wanted the news to move me this evening as I watched the reaction to Palin's speech. I wanted to be angry. I wanted to be invigorated by ignorant commentary and asinine opinions.

I often wonder what my limits are.


Jayemel said...

I strongly disagree that the wrong choice is the easy choice. Rather, the integration of secularism and relativism into our society gives the wrong choices the appearance and glimmer of ease and pleasure.

As for getting angry at the ignorance, it's not the ignorance that is bothersome, it is the repetition of it as if doing so makes it any more true or demonstrates its power over us through will power. It's the deepest personal insult someone can make: talking down to you, treating you like a lesser life form.

Daniel T. Richards said...

I stand by my statement that an easy choice is often wrong--not because of it's outcome but because of the process. When considering ethics, I don't believe that the ends justify the means. An examined life, in my opinion, always trumps an unexamined one. So, when I say that the easier choice is often wrong, it's not because it often ends up being morally wrong. It's because an examined choice is always better than an unexamined one.

Of course, this only applies to new ethical situations--or the exploration of older, more complicated situations--for which a person hasn't developed a strategy for ethical action. For example, I know that stealing is wrong. I no longer have to actively contemplate the act while I'm standing in line at Wal-Mart. In that sense, it is the "easy" choice--but only because I've examined the issue previously. Contrarily, when I was first offered the chance to pirate software, I did not have that automatic response since the situation was unique. There was no way I could know a priori that pirating software was a moral equivalent to stealing. I had to evaluate the situation first.

I'm starting to regurgitate Rand at this point, but I'm pretty sure you get my drift. I probably should have made myself more clear, but I was frackin' tired when I wrote that post--did you notice the horrible grammar/syntax issues!?

As far as my point with "getting angry," I guess I was trying to say that I allow my emotions to flow in what I consider to be "the appropriate context." No matter what the offense is, I can choose to let it bother me or not. I often choose to let it slide. Recently, though, I've let certain situations affect me more just to see what would happen. Social experimenting on my friends is probably one of my favorite hobbies.


broken570 said...

so what exactly is your ethical theory? your normative ethical theory, i suppose. you're not a utiltarian. you're interested in the process. deontologist? value theorist? i don't know rand's ethical theory. i guess you'd be an ethical egoist, right?

i guess i don't exactly see how the ethical egoist responds to those kinds of ethical dilemmas such as pirating software. you can't turn to a deontological theory and claim it cannot be a universal maxim...that doesn't seem to concern the egoist. you already said you're not a fan of utilitarianism. you can't be a value theorist; that wouldn't make sense either. so...what exactly does dtr endorse as a normative ethical theory?

i will say this much: i don't think the process of decision making has any bearing on whether an action is right or wrong. some people may have a more finely tuned moral compass than others and may not have to make those kinds of deliberations. pirating software is obviously morally wrong, just the same as pirating anything would be wrong for the same reasons. some people might have to process that, but others might know it intuitively. i don't think you can say across the board that easy choices are wrong choices since not everyone makes decisions the same way or in the same amount of time. in fact, i often know the right choice quickly and know i will do it, even if i deliberate because i may want to do the opposite. i think there are many people like that.

as for getting upset...what's the point? there are some things you should be pissed off about, certainly, but if you're always pissed off at people you're never happy. if you like who you are and what you're doing, those around you don't seem so irksome anymore. in fact, you'll find you wish everyone the happiness you have. so if you don't get pissed off at people, i wouldn't be concerned. i'd say you're evolving. [pokemon!]

Daniel T. Richards said...

What is this, "Dan-Posted-Something-New-Let's-Attack-It!" Day? Sheesh. Some people.

This is not a response. It's too late to write a response right now. I have to teach at 8a. This is a "What the hell is going on?" post.

For now, I'll just say that my ethical theory is called "rational selfishness." To quote Rand (because I'm too tired/lazy to say something original at this exact moment): "The Objectivist ethics holds that human good does not require human sacrifices and cannot be achieved by the sacrifice of anyone to anyone. It holds that the rational interests of men do not clash—-that there is no conflict of interests among men who do not desire the unearned, who do not make sacrifices nor accept them, who deal with one another as traders, giving value for value."

More later, sir.


Zane said...

This post sucked!

Not really, but I wanted to join in on the attacks and it is nearly bed time, so I did not have time to write a real attack. I hope you will understand.