Friday, May 2, 2008

The New Ten Commandments

Now With 100% Less God!


1. Treat others as ends in themselves, never as mere means. (Kant)


2. A man [should]be willing, when others are so too, as far forth as for peace and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be content with as much liberty with others as he would allow them against him.(Hobbes)


3. “If a being suffers, there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration. . . . The principle of equality requires that its suffering be counted equally with the like suffering of any other being.” (Singer)


4. Eudaimonia, or flourishing, for humanity can only be achieved by acquiring virtue with regard to that which sets us apart, or our capacity to guide our own behavior by reason. Fulfillment can be achieved by living well according to this essential nature over the span of a whole life. (Aristotle)


5. Act according to that principle that will promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number. (Mill)


6. Only have aversion for those things that are in your control If you are averse to sickness, or death, or poverty, you will be wretched. . . .If you desire any of the things which are not in your own control, you must necessarily be disappointed; and of those which are, and which it would be laudable to desire, nothing is yet in your possession. (Epictetus)


7. “Man first of all is the being who hurls himself toward a future and who is conscious of imagining himself as being in the future. Man is at the start a plan which is aware of itself, rather than a patch of moss, a piece of garbage, or a cauliflower; nothing exists prior to this plan; there is nothing in heaven; man will be what he will have planned to be." (Sartre)


8. It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and honorably and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and honorably and justly without living pleasantly. (Epicurus)


9. Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others. And social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that : a) they are to be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of society b) offices and positions must be open to everyone under conditions of fair equality of opportunity (Rawls)


10. Refraining mutually from injury, exploitation, and putting one's will on a par with others, may lead to a certain degree of good conduct among individuals. But to make it a fundamental principle of society is a will to the denial of life, a principle of dissolution and decay. (Nietzsche)

15 comments:

mikespeir said...

"3. “If a being suffers, there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration. . . . The principle of equality requires that its suffering be counted equally with the like suffering of any other being.” (Singer)"

No. I will not consider a dog an equal. If I have to choose between saving a dog or a human from a burning house, the dog cooks.

Samuel Skinner said...

That doesn't counter the principle- people are just more valuable than things that aren't us (although if we run into other intelligences, we will need a new standard. Sentience? Intelligence?).

mikespeir said...

I'll quote it again: "The principle of equality requires that its suffering be counted equally with the like suffering of any other being.”

A dog's suffering is NOT to be counted equally with that of a human.

Matt McCormick said...

I slightly modified the original Singer quote to save some space. But the full version has a bit that is relevant to the question you guys are raising.

But it's not news that Singer's views about animal rights are pretty strong. That's why he's gotten so much resistance and press.

Nevertheless, an intelligent discussion about whether and to what extent animals should be considered morally is vastly better than worrying about simple minded commandments like "Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain."

Part of my point was that we have lots of really sophisticated, intelligent moral theories that give us much more insight into the nature of morality than the Bible.


3. “If a being suffers, there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration. No matter what the nature of that being, the principle of equality requires that its suffering be counted equally with the like suffering—in so far as rough comparisons can be made—of any other being.” (Singer)

MM

ChrisAC said...

I think you forgot "Try not to deep fry all your food"

Nevyn said...

Singer says "like suffering" and he chooses his words carefully. Suffering, in as much as dogs can experience it, should be taken into consideration. Singer himself would agree with you; human or dog, go with the human. Why? Because humans can suffer more exquisite suffering than the dog and humans have more potential. You need not consider the dog, en toto, as equal, but its capacity to feel pain does exist and must be taken into consideration. In some cases, their suffering may be equal to humans. Let's say your hand and the dog's paw are caught in a bear trap. What's going on in your brain, at that moment, is fairly indistinguishable.

mikespeir said...

'Nevertheless, an intelligent discussion about whether and to what extent animals should be considered morally is vastly better than worrying about simple minded commandments like "Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain."'

That, I'll buy. I certainly don't mean to suggest that a dog's suffering is inconsequential. I wouldn't think very highly of someone who knowingly allowed a dog to suffer, provided the opportunity were available to alleviate that suffering. In contrast, misusing the name of a being who as far as I know doesn't exist and couldn't suffer from anything I might do if he did is not even to be considered next to the suffering of a dog or even a lesser creature. Now, I might respect the ancient commandment in order not to offend, but my aim would be to avoid offending people, not God.

"Because humans can suffer more exquisite suffering than the dog and humans have more potential."

That may be Singer's thinking, but it's not mine. I simply value humans more highly than dogs, regardless the degree they can suffer. If I knew the dog would suffer more in burning to death, I would still save the human, again, provided I had to choose one or the other.

Eric Sotnak said...

mikespeir said: "I simply value humans more highly than dogs, regardless the degree they can suffer."

I think the interesting question here is WHY you value humans more highly.

And I think it is consistent with Singer's point that we do, generally, value humans more. Singer is not saying we must count dogs as being of equal value with humans. Rather, he is claiming that, apart from any other value-conferring moral properties two beings might have, their suffering should be given equal consideration. There may be problems here, but they don't imply the full moral equality of dogs and humans.

mikespeir said...

Of course why is an issue. Simply put, like most mammals, I identify with my own species. Humans contribute more to my happiness and well-being than do other creatures. Consequently, I value my own kind above any other. I expect that's at least the equal of Singer's why.

But I will insist, at least from as much as Singer is quoted here, that he esteems the suffering of a dog worthy of as much consideration as that of a human. There is simply no other reasonable way to interpret "...the principle of equality requires that its suffering be counted equally with the like suffering—in so far as rough comparisons can be made—of any other being.”

Reginald Selkirk said...

An interesting attempt at new commandments, but I think it's still hard to beat God's second attempt (after Moses broke the tablets, and God reissued them, and they were unaccountably different even though His Omniscience said they were the same words) in Exodus 34, as rendered in the King James version, and wouldn't it be great to see this posted on every classroom and courtroom wall in the land:

[11] Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
[12] Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:
[13] But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:
[14] For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:
[15] Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods , and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;
[16] And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.


Because when you're trying to convey God's omnibenevolence, it's just hard to beat a good rant on genocide and whoring.

Anonymous said...

UGH - Another 10 commandments created by men. What's an atheist chick to do?

Brigitte said...

Another 10 commandments nobody can actually keep. All very nice, but.

feralboy12 said...

1. "Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood."
2. "If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts."
3. "Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move."
4. "Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society—the social ramble ain't restful."
5. "Avoid running at all times."
6. "And don't look back—something might be gaining on you."

Matt McCormick said...

You're making my day, Feralboy.

Mark Erhart said...

This is a very poetic and beautiful piece written about empathy. An emotion you are not presenting here mikespier. It is essentially stating that all sentient beings have the same(equal) emotional and physical capacities for feeling pain. You are making a value judgement about saving people versus dogs not a moral one. There are people that would save their beloved pet way before they would save a stranger. That is a value statement not a moral one. The moral bigotry you express is in your statement that dogs don't feel the same as people. This is scientificaly untrue.