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Thread: Most of us are basically good: a thought experiment

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    I'm thinking if good is true then bad is true. If good and bad are only applicable to unique subpopulations by individuals then the terms are meaningless. However if everybody identifies by his neighborhood, district, town, county, state, region, skin color, language, sex, relationship, and says they are good and different from that is not good or evil or bad then good and bad have tribal value.

    And since we can define ourselves by identity with specific relationships and values and we are a family/tribal species those terms can be applied if specifically defined by relationship. So there's that.

    Then the thought experiment takes on value to the extent relationships are specified vis a vis value making bilby's analysis somewhat less useful leading to conclude that some or even many would answer him with not so.

    I'll correct my evaluations by specifying family and some level of group can be specified, that fear demarks those boundaries leading to yes but at a much lower extent than that claimed for nation, party, faith, etc. categorization.

    Its called eating one's cake and having it too.

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    People are 85% good. Honest Tea did an experiment. They put a bunch of their teas out on the street in a cooler with a sign that said $1 per bottle, and then stepped back and let people make up their own minds. I happened to run into the guy running the experiment and asked him how much they got. They received 85 cents per bottle on average.

    SLD

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    basically bad result from information about tea value study

    FDI

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    Given that there is no cost at all to the button pusher, they'd have to be downright evil prefer others to suffer for no reason to choose the "only me" button. So, this thought experiment would only show that most people are not serial killer level evil, not that they are good.

    To show "good", then pressing the everyone button would need to come at a cost or at least a reduced gain, such a "all my problems solved" "most of everyone's problems solved".

    Or what about "I get 10 times more than I need" vs. "Everyone, including me, gets what they need but no more." There the person is not sacrificing anything vital or needed, but merely forgoing excess so everyone has what they need. Plenty of people would choose the "me" button in that case. In fact, we see it in real life with those who have not only all the wealth they need but all the wealth to get what they want, and yet still act to increase their wealth even more at others' expense.

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    Deus Meumque Jus
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    Given that there is no cost at all to the button pusher, they'd have to be downright evil prefer others to suffer for no reason to choose the "only me" button. So, this thought experiment would only show that most people are not serial killer level evil, not that they are good.

    To show "good", then pressing the everyone button would need to come at a cost or at least a reduced gain, such a "all my problems solved" "most of everyone's problems solved".

    Or what about "I get 10 times more than I need" vs. "Everyone, including me, gets what they need but no more." There the person is not sacrificing anything vital or needed, but merely forgoing excess so everyone has what they need. Plenty of people would choose the "me" button in that case. In fact, we see it in real life with those who have not only all the wealth they need but all the wealth to get what they want, and yet still act to increase their wealth even more at others' expense.
    To me what it demonstrates is that acting against one's own interests, or against a cost, isn't the best measure of our desire to ease the suffering of others.

    Maybe the extent of our benevolence can be measured by cost, but when there isn't one at all the most human decision is nearly universally to help.

    The catch being that this is human nature under ideal conditions - conditions that don't and can't exist the brunt of the time.

    IOW, in a world of competing resources, competition and hoarding is the default. But if you take away those conditions it isn't.

    So if our metric for goodness is the extent that people act outside their own interests, you actually come to the conclusion that we're mostly bad. I'd rather call that our response to reality.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Watched a 'maybe this happened during man's evolution' video that hypothesized modern humans confronted homo erectus in India after Toba eruption about 74 thousand years ago.It seems there were both human and homo erectus tools before the eruption there but only human tools after the event. It also takes place at about the time of the human bottleneck or near extinction. Some speculate that during these tough times humans and homo erectus confronted each other in this area.

    resumptins were both used fire but man completely controlled it while erectus did not. Also it was assumed that humans were better planners than were the erectus while erectus were probably faster because of evidence from their leg bones.

    Bottom line one group probably based their values on a different set of presumptions than did the other. Erectus were not planners but they were excellent trackers and hunters and they knew how to find water. Humans may not have been quite as fast or as long haul travelers but it was clear they planned and communicated by mouth, hand face, and token and they had means to carry water.

    So one group the erectus may have cooperated most of the time but when stressed they probably resorted to everyone for oneself including going to cannibalism as evidenced by scratches on erectus bones at erectus sites.

    Humans though since they had tokens and language probably aggregated better than did erectus.

    Allfo this leads one to conclude there were very different concepts of good and criteria by which one adjudged good in the two species leading to certain victory by humans who had a much more sophisticated and adaptive culture, not to mention much better weapons.

    Just thought i'd throw these two into the discussion about good for a more complete experiment.

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