Re: Volitional Morality and Action Judgement

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sat May 15 2004 - 00:12:03 MDT

On May 14, 2004, at 6:54 AM, Pablo Stafforini wrote:

> 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).

What you are describing is merely what is consistent with the
understanding of the person at the time regarding their values. Most
people are notoriously poor at such understanding and have highly
rationalized irrational value systems. So how would such consistency
be at all helpful beyond simply letting the individual make her own

>> 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.

You have no means of determining future preferences. Or are you
speaking of preferences regarding future state?

>> 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.

There are many ways that humans generally do no act to secure their
wishes projected into the future. There are acts in conflict, acts of
commission and omission and so on. Do you actually propose to compel
individuals to act more consistently with their stated values? If you
are not advocating some kind of compulsion then I am not sure what it
is you do intend in this discussion.

> 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
> system/etc.).

There it is again, "the decision the person will take in the future".
  No one can know this yet to be decided decision! This is

- samantha

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