Why shouldn't we murder?

Why shouldn't we murder?
Mike H
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#101 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Nov 24, 2009 - 7:43 PM:

So far it seems like no one (besides holdyourcolor) has addressed the argument I formulated earlier. I'll post it again.

Define an act of "murder" to be an act of killing which is generally considered to be wrong.

Define an act to be "wrong" if it is an act we shouldn't perform.

Define "bad" to be "contrary to someone's interests."

1. An action can only be wrong if it has bad consequences

2. It is possible for murder to not have bad consequences

3. Therefore, it is possible for murder to not be wrong.

(3) clearly follows from (1) and (2), so this is a valid argument.

In support of (2), I have the example with the maid and the old man. This is an example of "murder" (on the new definition) because it would generally be considered wrong for the maid to kill the old man (though I argue it would actually not be wrong). It is true that the old man probably values his life a lot, so murdering him in all likelihood goes against his interests. So it is "bad." However, that does not mean it has bad consequences. Consequences can only occur after the act. But after the act of murder, the victim no longer exists. And according to the example, the murderer gains, while everyone else in society is unaffected. Therefore, there are no bad consequences for anyone.

(1) is definitely controversial. It means I'm taking a consequentialist view of morality rather than a deontological one. That's a topic for another thread. But I think it would be enough to argue here that assuming consequentialism is true, it is possible for murder to not be wrong. If you're a deontologist you might even be able to use this argument against consequentialists.

EDIT: I found a little paradox in my argument...suppose more and more people were convinced by my argument that an act of killing, X, which they considered before to be wrong before, is not actually wrong. Then eventually X would no longer fit my definition of "murder" and they could no longer be convinced by my argument! Can anyone help me resolve this paradox?




Second Priest:

Well, considering the fact that murder is a legal term, perhaps the only person who can really answer your question is those who made the laws. In certain situations, i can see how "murder" can be a very good thing. The law disagrees, I go to prison, and life goes back to normal.

Tell me, Mr Mike, when do you feel murder is wrong? What strings do you attach to this action that determines its moral or ethical weight?


I'm defining murder to be "acts of killing which are generally considered to be wrong." Murder is both a legal and a moral term. Even if there were no laws, people would still consider some types of killing to be "murder."

I do feel that murder is wrong. However, by my argument above, it seems to me like it shouldn't be. I think maybe the problem is with the consequentialist assumption - but why is anything about an action morally relevant besides the consequences? If people simply had a right to not be murdered, regardless of the consequences, then that would provide an answer. It's just not a satisfactory answer to me. Why do people have this right? I want to dig deeper. In the case of most things considered wrong, like torture for example, you can point to bad consequences that result. So I can see the reason behind a right to not be tortured. But murder is different, because as I'm arguing, it does not have bad consequences. So why do we consider it wrong?

Reincarnated:


The moral reason is one issue - we each have our moral values (what we consider to be right or wrong), and I am sure that it is possible that someone (like the maid in the example) might not consider it wrong to murder.

But the other issue is the law. Regardless of whether one personally believes that an act is wrong or not, the law might take a different view. If the maid cannot see anything wrong with murdering the old man, I would simply remind her that she might get caught - and is the possible reward of $1,000 really worth it?

Morals are all well and good - but where morals are lacking there is only one thing which prevents murder - its the fear of justice. Isn't that also why God promises heaven for the good, and hell for the bad?


Yes, the maid might have the moral value that it is simply wrong to murder. But why would she have this value, if not for consideration of the potential victim? And if she makes sure the death is quick and painless, why, beyond that, should she care for the potential victim? He wouldn't exist anymore, and we're assuming that no one would even notice he's gone.

Those who say that murder is wrong are committed to the position that its wrong regardless of whether there's a law against it or not. If there is no law against it, there should still be a reason to not perform a wrong action, correct? If not, why did we make a law against it in the first place?

Blue Pac:

First of all the maid would lose a customer that pays them if he dies. It would be in her best interest if old people like him continued to live so she'll have a job. It would be more rational if she convinced the old man to give her the money considering the old man is rational. If she is willing just wait until the old man dies of natural causes then steal the money it would be more rational because she would still be paid while she waits for him to die.





You're missing the point here. You can change the $1000 to $1 million in my example if you'd like. The point of the example is that if its in someone's self-interest to murder, and if society is unaffected, why shouldn't they murder? What reason could they possibly have to refrain? It seems to me like the only possible reason is consideration for the victim's interests - but those no longer exist and therefore no longer matter after the murder.

Nikangelo:

We shouldn't murder because it deprives the murdered individual the same liberty.

So in order to protect the right to murder, why shouldn't murder?

Ciceronianus:

Why indeed? If only we knew where to find MikeH.

Yes if only you knew! But you don't, so you'll have to find the answer yourself smiling face
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#102 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Nov 25, 2009 - 8:12 AM:

Mike H wrote:
Those who say that murder is wrong are committed to the position that its wrong regardless of whether there's a law against it or not. If there is no law against it, there should still be a reason to not perform a wrong action, correct? If not, why did we make a law against it in the first place?

The very REASON why we have a law against murder is BECAUSE the consensus in society considers murder wrong, BUT there may be some individuals either who do not consider that murder is wrong or who do not restrain their actions according to such belief.

IF everyone believed murder was wrong, and restrained their actions accordingly, then there would be no useful purpose served in having a LAW which proscribed murder. The LAW is useful simply because there may be some individuals who do not restrain themselves from committing murder.

The LAW is there precisely to PROTECT society against the “strange maids” of this world.
Second Priest
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#103 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Nov 25, 2009 - 9:53 AM:

The law is there to grant order. Order is the basis behind most laws. Without order, there is no society.

On the side of morality, what of the evolutionary point of view. If everyone who feels its ok to murder were to be killed off by others like themselves, and those against the subject where left in peace, well, there is your reason. However this theory is less philisophical.

Just an idea. Fell free to play.
dodgingflames
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#104 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Nov 25, 2009 - 10:08 AM:

reincarnated wrote:

The LAW is there precisely to PROTECT society against the “strange maids” of this world.


But do laws really protect you, or is it an imagined protection? Obviously, I could still be murdered in the presence of laws against murder because they are not a physical restraint keeping everyone else from murdering me. Therefore, I should have a natural human instinct, fear. However, I have no fears because of an imagined protection, so I could easily be a target. Fear keeps us from making dumb decisions; humans have made it so we do not have fear, so we start making dumb decisions. A prison sentence could be the fear that keeps people from committing crimes, but the same legal system that is supposed to be protecting ME is protecting the CRIMINALS as well. Innocent until proven guilty, circumstantial evidence, all that bullshit. So here we have two imagined protections on opposing sides, leading us to believe that no matter what we do, we are somehow or another protected from the consequences of that decision. However, if we were to remove the imagined protections(laws and legal systems) it would simply be me against the criminal, which is a much fairer fight than the one protecting us both. This would lead people to fear again, as if you committed a crime against me, I would not be held back from harming or killing you, so you would be less likely to try to harm me. It could end up with everyone caring for their fellow man so as to not be on anyone's bad side, and it would be much more harmonious.

As for the actual issue, I don't believe that if you feel that murder is NOT wrong, that you can address the situation at all really. Because, to you, there is no situation, it is simply an action which does not affect you, or if it does it ends your consciousness which leads to nothing affecting you. Therefore, 'murder' is not wrong or right, it just is.
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#105 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Nov 25, 2009 - 10:19 AM:

Golden rule. I don't want to die, so it is wrong to kill someone else who doesn't want to die. Plain simple first grade morality.
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#106 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Nov 25, 2009 - 7:18 PM:

dodgingflames wrote:
But do laws really protect you, or is it an imagined protection? Obviously, I could still be murdered in the presence of laws against murder because they are not a physical restraint keeping everyone else from murdering me.

Agreed - but I did not say that laws make murder impossible (they simply act to reduce the likelihood of murder). Consider a society in which there are NO laws - do you think (all else being equal) the average individual would be more or less safe in such a society (compared to our existing society)?

dodgingflames wrote:
the same legal system that is supposed to be protecting ME is protecting the CRIMINALS as well. Innocent until proven guilty, circumstantial evidence, all that bullshit.

Can you come up with a better system?

dodgingflames wrote:
However, if we were to remove the imagined protections(laws and legal systems) it would simply be me against the criminal, which is a much fairer fight than the one protecting us both.

You are advocating that we do away with all laws, and simply have a "free for all" with no holds barred - last man standing takes the prize, is that the idea?


dodgingflames wrote:
This would lead people to fear again, as if you committed a crime against me, I would not be held back from harming or killing you, so you would be less likely to try to harm me. It could end up with everyone caring for their fellow man so as to not be on anyone's bad side, and it would be much more harmonious.

Harmonious???? ROFL. Just like Tombstone 1881 was harmonious? You want to live in fear your whole life? A scenario where there are no laws to restrain people's actions would end up with much greater injustice, bullying, gang wars, vengeance killings, arbitrary slayings - in short: Anarchy. Harmony would most certainly not be achieved!

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#107 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Dec 1, 2009 - 8:27 AM:

There will ALWAYS be laws, though not all laws are written on paper or in stone. Laws of nature are in place whether we wish them to be or not. You hurt someone I care about, I will want something done to you. There is not a case in which we would be completely lawless, as even in a society where there are no written laws, there would be the natural instincts written into our genetics.

Can I come up with a better system? Did I not already express my thoughts on the matter? I do not advocate that we do away with all laws, because as I stated, we can not erase our genetic coding. However, I do not feel as though a system that keeps me from harming my brother's murderer is fair to me whatsoever. If someone shoots my friend in front of me, and I in turn stab them and kill them, I am punished for that by my society, though I may consider it justice on behalf of my friend's death.

The problem with your argument is that before there were laws, there were none, and did we not still survive to evolve into what we are now? I'll give you that society is indeed much different now, but there are still civilizations in which there are no written laws, but order is still upheld. Anarchy is not an absence of laws, but a direct defiance of laws, both written and natural.

Also, though this is somewhat of a digression, should we not live in fear? We technically should be afraid even with all that is in place to 'protect' us. With all the shit that's happening in this world, this place that we call 'civilized', are we not constantly living in fear already? But we ignore our fears, because we are being lied to, being told that it is safe, when in reality, it's never been more dangerous to be alive than it is today. Desensitization of your natural human instincts is not protecting you, but rather setting you up to be a victim.
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#108 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Dec 6, 2009 - 4:27 AM:

dodgingflames wrote:
The problem with your argument is that before there were laws, there were none, and did we not still survive to evolve into what we are now? I'll give you that society is indeed much different now, but there are still civilizations in which there are no written laws, but order is still upheld.

How is this a "problem with my argument"?

dodgingflames wrote:
Anarchy is not an absence of laws, but a direct defiance of laws, both written and natural.

I disagree, but arguing definitions is pointless.

dodgingflames wrote:
Also, though this is somewhat of a digression, should we not live in fear? We technically should be afraid even with all that is in place to 'protect' us. With all the shit that's happening in this world, this place that we call 'civilized', are we not constantly living in fear already? But we ignore our fears, because we are being lied to, being told that it is safe, when in reality, it's never been more dangerous to be alive than it is today. Desensitization of your natural human instincts is not protecting you, but rather setting you up to be a victim.

You are living in constant fear? You must be leading a terrible life. How do you arrive at the conclusion that its never been more dangerous to be alive than it is today?
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#109 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Dec 8, 2009 - 5:51 AM:

reincarnated wrote:

How is this a "problem with my argument"?


Your argument is that without laws, we would be living some crazy, self-destructive lifestyle, correct? If there were no laws before, and we survived just fine, then how can you be sure that if we were to return to that kind of life that we would end up killing one another off? Or are you suggesting that all people are inherently bad and want to be the only one left?


I disagree, but arguing definitions is pointless.


I do admit that it could simply be defined as not having laws or government, but I'm really not concerned about that, as the only negative would come from there being a direct opposition to all laws. As I'm trying to say, I don't believe an absence of laws would result in "confusion, chaos, and disorder".


You are living in constant fear? You must be leading a terrible life. How do you arrive at the conclusion that its never been more dangerous to be alive than it is today?


You know, I actually retract that statement about it being more dangerous today. Considering we have given ourselves all the comforts in life and don't have to go hunting for food, fighting off wild animals, living in the wilderness, etc., I can't say that we're in constant danger of death. But the statement was based on the fact that children are abducted regularly, people are murdered every day, war, and so on. Yes, these things happened before, and probably always will, but it's happening more often now than ever(as far as I know).

Do I live in constant fear? No, because I am not afraid of death, nor do I wish to remain on earth any longer than I have to, though I will enjoy it while I am here. I didn't choose this life, and in my opinion, most of us would be better off dead. But there are people who won't even open their mouths to help someone they might consider a friend because they're terrified of the consequences, and while you may be lucky enough to live in a place where that isn't the case, these people are constantly afraid for their lives. And really, if we all opened our eyes, those of us who are afraid of death would be horrified. Tomorrow I could be the victim of a random drive-by. And what protection do I have? Your laws? Your government? What good are they to me when I'm already dead, and the reason I'm dead is because the people committing the 'crime' are not afraid of the consequences. Wow, if they get caught they get to be taken care of for however long with no real worries and no problems. If they thought that the punishment would be the people who care about me beating them to death with baseball bats, and being allowed to, they probably wouldn't be so likely to pull that trigger.

Of course, this is all hypothetical. Seeing as we have never lived in a place without laws or government, how are we to know what would happen?
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#110 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Dec 8, 2009 - 1:01 PM:

dodgingflames wrote:
Your argument is that without laws, we would be living some crazy, self-destructive lifestyle, correct? If there were no laws before, and we survived just fine, then how can you be sure that if we were to return to that kind of life that we would end up killing one another off? Or are you suggesting that all people are inherently bad and want to be the only one left?

Did we really “survive just fine”? What is “just fine”? If “just fine” is surviving despite unjust persecutions, arbitrary assassinations, lack of justice and recompense, rape, abuse, bullying, unchecked aggressiveness, then you are welcome to live in this kind of “just fine” world. I am not suggesting that ALL people are inherently bad – but I am suggesting that SOME people are inherently bad – and that is precisely why we need laws.
dodgingflames wrote:
I do admit that it could simply be defined as not having laws or government, but I'm really not concerned about that, as the only negative would come from there being a direct opposition to all laws. As I'm trying to say, I don't believe an absence of laws would result in "confusion, chaos, and disorder".

Absence of law is the definition of anarchy (in my book). Law helps to reduce confusion, chaos and disorder (law helps to ensure everyone knows or understands what is considered right and wrong). Could you please explain how you think the ABSENCE of law reduces confusion, chaos and disorder?
dodgingflames wrote:
You know, I actually retract that statement about it being more dangerous today. Considering we have given ourselves all the comforts in life and don't have to go hunting for food, fighting off wild animals, living in the wilderness, etc., I can't say that we're in constant danger of death. But the statement was based on the fact that children are abducted regularly, people are murdered every day, war, and so on. Yes, these things happened before, and probably always will, but it's happening more often now than ever(as far as I know).

Please look at it in context. “children are abducted regularly” – I personally know of nobody who has had their children abducted. “people are murdered every day” – I personally know of nobody who was murdered. Perhaps 1000 years ago I would have personally known people who had their children abducted or who were murdered – but statistically it is less likely to happen today.
dodgingflames wrote:
Do I live in constant fear? No, because I am not afraid of death, nor do I wish to remain on earth any longer than I have to, though I will enjoy it while I am here. I didn't choose this life, and in my opinion, most of us would be better off dead. But there are people who won't even open their mouths to help someone they might consider a friend because they're terrified of the consequences, and while you may be lucky enough to live in a place where that isn't the case, these people are constantly afraid for their lives. And really, if we all opened our eyes, those of us who are afraid of death would be horrified. Tomorrow I could be the victim of a random drive-by. And what protection do I have? Your laws? Your government? What good are they to me when I'm already dead, and the reason I'm dead is because the people committing the 'crime' are not afraid of the consequences. Wow, if they get caught they get to be taken care of for however long with no real worries and no problems. If they thought that the punishment would be the people who care about me beating them to death with baseball bats, and being allowed to, they probably wouldn't be so likely to pull that trigger.

The law is not there to protect the victims (how can it?) – it is there to deter crime (hence reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim in the first place). Seriously, what do you suggest as an alternative?
dodgingflames wrote:
Of course, this is all hypothetical. Seeing as we have never lived in a place without laws or government, how are we to know what would happen?

That’s where reason, wisdom and judgment comes in.
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