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Goals vs Principles

Discussion in 'Ethics and Morals' started by Nakosis, Dec 5, 2022.

  1. Nakosis

    Nakosis Time Efficient Lollygagger
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    As I've seen it elsewhere defined.

    Principles drive goals which in turn would define what behavior is acceptable in view of the necessity of achieving the goals.

    Perhaps I've used the terms interchangeable when I shouldn't. I think what some have been trying to tell me is that what is missing from my moral goals is a driving principle.

    So lets call a principle a rule of conduct.
    And, call a goal a measurable target.

    I'm open to other suggestions.

    However, my question is, if principles drive goals, then what drives principles?
    When, where, how are principles justified? Are they ever justified?
    Are they justified without goals in mind.

    In my mind, every principle ought to have a goal behind it to justify it.
    Am I wrong?

    It becomes a conundrum then though,
    Which comes first, the goal or the principle?
     
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  2. The Sum of Awe

    The Sum of Awe Brought to you by the moment that spacetime began.

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    In your last thread, if one decides to not steal the cookie because there’s a chance they might get caught, that is a less successful way to derive your moral principles than the one who doesn’t steal a cookie because the person who baked them might’ve been inconvenienced.

    Something is immoral if it harms another. If we harm another we harm ourselves because we’re all experiencing the negative energies of the world together.
     
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  3. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    I think you are right to associate principles with behaviour, or conduct. Goals are something quite separate, though choice of goals involves conduct, so goals can be influenced by principles.

    Principles are the more fundamental of the two, it seems to me. I don't see that a principle needs to have a goal behind it. For instance one principle might be honesty. What goal would lie behind that? Another might be the avoidance of harm to others. Again, what goal would lie behind that?
     
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  4. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist

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    It's not wrong. Just incomplete. Justification comes from reasons. Without the goal, yes, you're probably correct, the principle is not justified. But there's more to justifying a principle. That is my objection.
     
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  5. Nakosis

    Nakosis Time Efficient Lollygagger
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    So then the principle is compassion?
    A feeling of compassion for other people is the driving principle?

    The goal being to not to cause harm to others to prevent being harmed ourselves?
    Kind of like the golden rule?

    So is there a goal driving compassion or does it never get beyond the need to satisfy an internal feeling?
     
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  6. Heyo

    Heyo Veteran Member

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    We all know how rare it is that someone learns from debates on the internet. I see your progress through the last OPs you started and am pleased how you listened to the input. Just wanted to get that out.
    Principles don't drive goals, they limit goals.
    They especially limit goals when they are in conflict with the goals of others. When you can avoid conflict, it is easier to follow your goals.
    I don't see the necessity but I think all morals do have a goal. (At least mine have.) The goal is to keep a peaceful society in which I can follow my goals mostly uninterrupted (as long as I don't interrupt the goals of others).
    The goal is the spontaneous urge to do something. You had goals as soon as you were born (i.e. to survive). You developed principles through your forming years. Today you check your goals against your principles before you act. Ideally.
     
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  7. The Sum of Awe

    The Sum of Awe Brought to you by the moment that spacetime began.

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    Yes. But then you might ask why do so many good people suffer and why do so many bad prevail? It is best to think that since the pain (being caused to the victims) exists, that is enough reason to try to end it. Your legs might not feel the wound on your arm but they will still run for help. It’s the same body that’s injured and feeling pain.

    The goal is to avoid causing others to feel pain. If we don’t like the feeling of our fingernails being ripped off, we shouldn’t allow that feeling to exist at all. Thus not ripping other peoples fingernails off.

    Of course we can’t always satisfy everyone. Not intentionally causing pain is plenty, some might slightly inconvenience themselves to make others happier and that’s better yet, and some altruists will even sacrifice their own happiness for the happiness of others and that’s great if that’s what they want to do.
     
  8. It Aint Necessarily So

    It Aint Necessarily So Well-Known Member
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    For me, it's their ability to facilitate my moral intuitions - to make what feels right come to pass. Serving those moral intuitions is the source of meaning and purpose in life, and of right conduct. Incidentally, moral intuitions doesn't include acquired moral dicta. I mean originating from the conscience. Following rules that aren't what one would choose without those rules is not moral behavior.

    By their ability to achieve the above. The original moral intuition cannot be justified - they are irrational, meaning not derived from reason, like intuitions of what's beautiful or what's funny - but the principles chosen to effect it are justified according to their ability to accomplish that goal as with the justification of any belief.

    One comment on principles. We want to be able to distinguish them from pseudo-principles, a term I coined for the principles many wheel out when it is expedient, but that don't apply when it is not - the kind that lead to hypocrisy (special pleading, unjustified double standard). So, if we claim to be fiscal conservatives as a principle, but really only care about the budget, debt, and deficit when the expenditures help others but lose interest when they benefit us, what has offered as a principle is actually a pseudo-principle. An authentic principle is in play wherever it apples unless trumped by a higher principle.
     
  9. osgart

    osgart Nothing my eye, Something for sure

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    One goal of morality is to not destroy life. Another is to love, bring joy, and peace instead of war, hatred, misery and violence.

    Principles are only as good as the desire for them. Without the principles necessary for morality no one would know what to trust, no one would deserve anything or anyone. There'd be no goals worth achieving because everything would be constantly undermined.

    Foundations that always change and shift are not as reliable as those that are firm, consistent, and constant.

    To have goals without principles means that anything goes to get those goals accomplished.

    Without morality then anything and everything is acceptable. Without principles there is no morality.

    If a person has a goal of being wealthy and everyone living are thieves and pirates then there is no wealth to be had because it's all undermined. Wealth depends on other people who make society liveable by doing what is necessary morally. If people don't get what they deserve there is no value, and nothing meaningfully good happens.
     
  10. Nakosis

    Nakosis Time Efficient Lollygagger
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    One goal might be to live in a society where you could trust what others told you. Another might be to live in a society where you did not have to worry about others causing harm to you.

    We may not ourselves consciously choose our principles but we are consciously aware of their development. The prevailing thinking is that their are two factors in the development of principles for an adult. First socialization. This happens throughout childhood. Your parents, school, the commercials you watch, movies, news reports, your religious community etc...

    That is why there is a current battle in school regarding the proper socialization of children. Why some feel that religion should be a part of education and others don't. It is part of the socialization process that happens when we are children.

    Also genetics affects the socialization process to a degree. The genetic personality one is born with effects the effectiveness of the socialization process.
    My own principles, while I may have consciously defined them and tried to justified them through goals, they were developed through a life long process of socialization.

    Still principles can vary from individual to individual based on a number of factors.
     
  11. Nakosis

    Nakosis Time Efficient Lollygagger
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    Principles are developed by socialization and genetics. Something the individual may not have conscious control over. However something society is aware that happens and tries to consciously influence in the development of principles children.

    For example, the Golden Rule was a principle taught by many societies.
     
  12. Nakosis

    Nakosis Time Efficient Lollygagger
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    Yes, my principles limit my goals but, I think society has goals in mind when they encourage the development of certain principles in the individual.

    Just not sure how capable one is in altering their own principles since their development started in early childhood. And principles seem to become a part of one's identity. Their principles are a part of what makes them who they are.
     
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  13. Nakosis

    Nakosis Time Efficient Lollygagger
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    Yes, but it wasn't always that way. Compassion wasn't always part of our social consciousness. Especially compassion for our enemies.
     
  14. Heyo

    Heyo Veteran Member

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    More or less. Just watch how fast someone abandons his principles under duress.
     
  15. Nakosis

    Nakosis Time Efficient Lollygagger
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    Fairness, you've developed a principle of fairness.
    I can recall watching hundreds of cartoons as a kid where fairness was the main theme.

    I'd imagine the creators of the cartoons had the idea of creating a fair society. Where they got the idea, they may not be consciously aware of themselves but they felt it was a good thing.
     
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  16. Nakosis

    Nakosis Time Efficient Lollygagger
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    Well, there are greater imperatives like survival.
    While society tries the socialize the individual, the individual may have a greater concern for their own safety.
    Not always though. Sometimes the individual will be willing to sacrifice themselves for "the greater good".
     
  17. Heyo

    Heyo Veteran Member

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    When I realized that, I added "survival" to my list of primitives. It is that what allows for self defence, and society seems to agree that you are allowed to disregard the other principles when your life is on the line.
     
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  18. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist

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    None of this addresses my objection about justification. Socialization, genetics, societal influence does not justify a principle the same way that a goal doesn't justify a principle.
    Not wrong but incomplete. Justification is more than having a goal, more than cultural influence.
     
  19. Nakosis

    Nakosis Time Efficient Lollygagger
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    Then what?
    I have principles, as I consider them, they are not rationally nor logically justified. They just feel right.

    What I said, socialization and genetics seems to be anthropologists and psychologists have determine as the source of principles.
    A principle represents values that orient and rule the conduct of persons in a particular society. To "act on principle" is to act in accordance with one's moral ideals.[4] Principles are absorbed in childhood through a process of socialization. There is a presumption of liberty of individuals that is restrained. Exemplary principles include First, do no harm, the golden rule and the doctrine of the mean.
    Principle - Wikipedia
     
  20. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist

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    Justification is a muti-step process. First identify the potential for harm. Harm is the universal metric for right vs. wrong actions.

    If there is harm, it must be justified first. Unjustified harm renders the entire principle unjustified. If there is no harm or the harm is justified then the principle can be assessed to determine if it is justified or just a whim, a passing fancy, superstition, indoctrination, etc.

    If you are talking about yourself literally, then none of your principles are justified, and justification is not valuable to you. So why ask about it? You don't care if it's justified, you just care about what feels good.
    The source of a principle does not justify it. "It exists" is not justification.

    Justify - show or prove to be right or reasonable.

    Notice, justification is about right vs. wrong or reasonable. What's reasonable?

    Reasonable - (of a person) having sound judgment; fair and sensible. as much as is appropriate or fair; moderate.

    So fairness is a factor. Is it fair to cause harm needlessly when no harm is directed back to the source? No. Justification begins with justifying any possible harm.
     
    #20 dybmh, Dec 7, 2022
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2022
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