Conducting Single-Agent Evaluations With The Hierarchy-Of-Desires Method

Posted in Desirism, Ethics, Logic, Morality, Thinking Critically on  | 7 minutes | 4 Comments →

We discussed the method and some preliminary objections here. I think the best way to illustrate the method’s strengths and weaknesses would be to just dive in and play around with it.

It is my opinion that any moral theory worthy of being considered “the best” should be able to guide both isolated individuals and interactive groups towards the “moral good” at any given time. So, I’ll begin by considering the effects of any particular desire on the affected desires of an isolated individual, in order to specifically determine whether or not the particular desire tends to fulfill or thwart other desires. My hypothesis was that if desirism’s definition of good is sufficient, the numbers should line up with our moral intuitions most of the time.

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Proposed Method For Meaningful Evaluations In Desire Utilitarianism

Posted in Desirism, Ethics, Logic, Morality, Philosophy on  | 5 minutes | 15 Comments →

We’ve been discussing the moral theory called desire utilitarianism or desirism lately, and unfortunately, I’ve noticed a tendency towards oversimplified evaluations that lack correspondence to real-world ethical scenarios.

For example, we might debate whether the desire to exterminate a minority is good or bad, according to the theory of desirism. Presuming we agree the desire to exterminate another human being thwarts their desires, proponents of “extermination is bad” might point to this fact and attempt to affix an across-the-board value of “bad” to that desire. Other people dream up all sorts of wild and fanciful “what if” scenarios that purport to disprove the theory: “if extraterrestrials with horrible taste in music threaten to exterminate us unless we worship Milli Vanilli, then worshiping Milli Vanilli is good.”

If only it were that easy.

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Responding To faithlessgod’s Desirism

Posted in Desirism, Ethics, Morality, Philosophy on  | 5 minutes | 3 Comments →

In a recent discussion at Luke's, faithlessgod defended desirism thusly:

My version of the analysis: We need to evaluate the desire to torture (or exterminate etc.) some group. We compare the presence of the desire to its absence. If it is present and fulfilled what is this causal desire’s material and physical affects on other desires? The other desires are those that are affected by making the target of the causal desire true, that is to bring about any state of affairs where the proposition expressed by the causal desire is made true. These are the affected desires. What is the affect on them? The desire not be tortured or not to feel pain or an aversion to torture or pain is directly thwarted. If this causal desire is absent, then the affected desires are not thwarted. Therefore it is a directly desire-thwarting desire.

I apologize to those eager to discuss Staume's book; I assure you that I'm eager as well. It's just that I felt my response to faithlessgod was relevant enough to merit being transplanted over here. It's pretty clear to me that his argument has non-trivial problems, but as always, let me know if you think I've missed something, or, if you think faithlessgod's desirism differs significantly from Fyfe's.

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