RE: Volitional Morality and Action Judgement

From: Pablo Stafforini (
Date: Fri May 14 2004 - 07:54:00 MDT

Randall said:
> Either you are using the term "best interest" for something I
> would not use that term for, or you are making the mistake of
> assuming that a single objective "best interest" exists which
> can be determined by an outside observer.

I'm doing neither. I'm using the term 'best interest' to designate that
which is *best* for the person --'best' according to his/her own system
of values/utility function/conception of the good life/goal system (call
them what you wish).
> In order to determine a person's best interest, you would
> have to weigh their options against their goal system (not
> yours!) and choose the best option which is consistent with
> that goal system.

Of course. That's exactly my point. Only that the weighing involves both
present and future preferences.

> Unless you are intelligent enough to closely simulate that
> person, however (and no human currently is), you are unlikely
> to be able to make such a determination, so you must accept
> the person's own decisions as the closest approximation to
> their "best interest" that you can find.

I'm not opposing a person's decisions with the decisions of an external
observer. I'm opposing the person's present decisions with her own
future ones. When you talk about accepting the person's own decisions
you seem to ignore that those decisions involve a whole *range* of
preferences -- a temporal range which projects into the future. If the
decision the person takes in the present contradicts the decision the
person will take in the future, you are not "accepting" the person's
decision when you accept her present one. On the contrary, you are
arbitrarily giving absolute importance to a single point in the segment
that represents the temporal dimension of the person's interests (= goal


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