Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Concerning Good Government

First, do you agree with what has been call the theory of rational self-interest, namely: That human choice/intention can be characterized in terms of a description of self in relation to a project, where a project is either an end or means to a practical end that the individual desires. That project can either a project solely of the will (e.g. I hope Geoff agrees with me) or outside the will (e.g. I will write this post so that he does). All of the later types contain or can be written to contain one of the “being” verbs, where the subject of the verb is the individual willing. All of the former can also be written such, (i.e., I will hope…, I am hoping…, etc.). Thus even the most selfless acts include this personal dimension that makes them acts of the individual. Furthermore, that the ends of human willing are specific and practical. For example, projects are chosen for the sake of conformity intellect and reality, for the sake of conformity of what one communicates to others and one's intellect, for the sake of friendship (what I would call human intimacy), for the sake of play, for the sake of life, etc. These are not only personal goods, but also things that you can desire for another. Thus I will write this article for the mutual conformation of our intellects to reality.

Now, to take a normative step, do you have any objection to this: Because these are the natural and common ends of human action, when we in the ordinary course of our lives must make choices about ourselves and others, we ought to pursue these ends for others as for ourselves?

5 comments:

Andy Bodoh said...

I should revise the above by saying "human choice/intention can be characterized as the adoption of a description of self in relation to a project,

Geoff said...

I think I agree with most of this. But when you say, "these are not only personal goods, but also things that you can desire for another," yes, you can desire a good for another person, but you can't desire it on behalf of another person.

I don't want to disagree right off the bat, but I want to clarify in my mind your meaning: When you say, "We must make choices about ourselves and others," we can only make choices :about: others insofar as our choices :affect: others in relation to ourselves, is that not true? Otherwise, we would be making choices :for: others. In other words, I can make a choice about others insofar as I choose not to associate with another, correct? But I do not have a right to make a decision on someone else's behalf. Would you say that is accurate?

Andy Bodoh said...

On your first point, I mean that you can desire "that another obtain some good" and you can act according to that desire (e.g. I want you to get to truth and so I argue with you).

On your second point, I agree "affecting" is a better word than "about" in so far as your choice does not directly and proximately affect their will. However, I would qualify your rejection of "for" on the grounds that on can be granted the authority to act in the person of another. In such cases (with limitations) they can be said to be making choices "for" another person.*

*Footnote* Such an issue is interesting to discuss on a moral ground...if a decision is bad, who is responsible? Ultimately I would suggest that if the authority to act was granted in good faith, then then the actor would be wholey accountable. If the authority to act was granted with an improper intent (i.e., a patient wishing to be euthanized should he "become a vegetable"), then the guilt would objectively fall on both. I would suggest the rational for this would be found in an argument that the authority to do evil cannot be granted even if such thing is desired by the granter. But more on authority later.

Geoff said...

Andy: "On your first point, I mean that you can desire "that another obtain some good" and you can act according to that desire (e.g. I want you to get to truth and so I argue with you)"

All right. I don't like where this is headed, but all right. I see that you used an example of "convincing," to confer a good, not "forcing." I'm still game, though.

Andy: "However, I would qualify your rejection of "for" on the grounds that on can be granted the authority to act in the person of another. In such cases (with limitations) they can be said to be making choices "for" another person."

Here I assume we're talking about situations such as relationships between parents and children, and someone who makes medical decisions for a comatose person?

I totally agree on the third paragraph, regarding the distinction of culpability.

Andy Bodoh said...

Well, we may be coming back to the first point, but we will see.

On the second point I am talking about these and similar cases (i.e. lawyers for a client). We may debate some of the particulars, but that is the general issue.