Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Reaction: Psychic Sadist

Peter, over at On Philosophy had a post that caught my attention: The Psychic Sadist. His post was about utilitarianism and his concerns with it. In his argument, he uses an example of a “psychic sadist who lives in a cave and never come in direct contact with the rest of the world.” Peter questions utilitarianism and disagrees with “Now in such a world utilitarianism tells us that we should attempt to minimize the happiness of the total world minus the sadist in order to increase the happiness of world including the sadist.”

My question or argument is that I do not think that one person would pull the ‘weight’ that the psychic sadist did in Peter’s example. I feel that he is giving to much ‘weight’ to the person in the cave. All people have the same right to happiness and pleasure and if we are to follow the utilitarian model, we need to seek the most pleasures/happinesses and avoid pain/unhappiness. I do not think that the effects of one person is enough to throw off the balance in a utilitarian model.

I do not necessarily agree with the utilitarian model, but for arguing purposes, in the utilitarian model, one person would not offset any type of balance and would only have minimal affects.

Peter also talks about how, “There are cases in which maximizing happiness may be detrimental to society, such as when we take away the happiness of many people in order to make one person happier.” I feel that this is missing the point to utilitarianism. I do not think that it would be considered utilitarianism if one person is valued over many. I think that it is the goal that many people are a little happier rather than one person very happy and others unhappy. I may be wrong in my statement, but I feel that utilitarianism is more focused on a general happiness for society, so focusing on one person’s happiness in the argument just does not make sense.

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend. ~ Albert Camus

Monday, May 21, 2007

Reaction: Wealth and Liberty

I was over at Philosophy et cetera and found an interesting post on Wealth and Liberty, which was a response post to a Richard A. Epstein post at Cato Unbound. They were discussing viewpoints on whether a person becomes more free because he has more wealth. Before I dive into this more deeply, I want to say that this immediately reminded me of something I learned about Aristotle. Aristotle says that although just because one is wealthy does not mean he is happy, but it is easier for on to be happy if he is wealthy. I realize that this has little or nothing to do with wealth and freedom, but I just thought of it when I was reading this post. Anyways, on to the topic at hand, if a person is wealthy, is he more free? Richard Epstein’s argument is that, “A person does not become more free because he has more wealth; he becomes wealthier, which confers on him more opportunities to use the liberty that he has.” Richard at Philosophy et Cetera is taking the viewpoint that, “no individual lacks the physical or material capacity to meet their needs.” Richards point is that all people are always free do to what they want, but money or wealth will change how their actions are dealt with in society. As an example of this he uses resources, if something is in a store window, everyone has the same freedom to take it, but a security guard is paid to stop him, and money is then restricting that resource. If you don’t have money than you may not be able to stop your liberties from being taken away, whereas if you just bought the thing, you would be fine. These are interesting points and I agree that if a person has more wealth, that does not make him more free, just more wealthy. I think people who are wealthier have more opportunities, but are not necessarily more free. Stemming from the Aristotle point that wealth does not equal happiness, but it is easier to become happy if one is wealthy; I think that a person is not more free if he is wealthier, but it is easier for a wealthier person to live freely.

If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life - and only then will I be free to become myself ~ Martin Heidegger

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Reaction: What’s so Unobservable about Causation?

Richard Brown over at Philosophy Sucks! recently posted about Causation. His argument is against Hume, in that he feels he can see the relation in A cause B. He gives examples of billiard balls, gravity, pain and many more. He alsogoes on to say how he feels he can see the relation between two events.

I found this post very interesting, and enjoyed how it challenged my beliefs, but I do disagree. I feel that Brown is missing Hume's point. Hume's view as I understand it is that we cannot see causation like I see a bird flying in the air. We can not point to something and say "look, there it is, you are looking at causation." Take Hume's example of the sun rising. The sun has rose everyday since I can remember. Not one day in my life did the sun not rise. Does this mean it is going to rise tomorrow? No, it doesn't. It is very likely and very probable that the sun will rise tomorrow, but I can not point to something and say, "There it is, there is the cause for the sun rising." Similarly, if every time I throw a basketball at the ground, it bounces back up, is it necessarily so that the next time I throw it at the ground it will bounce up? No, it is not necessary, it is only likely.

I feel that brown needs to observe Hume's thoughts on probability and his views on causation and he will have a better understanding on what is so unobservable in causation.

The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins. ~ Soren Kierkegaard

Monday, May 14, 2007


All set up now, about to enter into the world of blogging. Be sure to keep checking back for new posts.

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Just learning how to use this blog thing, hopefully lots more of these to come.

~Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know. ..Ernest Hemingway