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Go to: Authors@Google: Sam Harris

Invisible Talker's Avatar Jump to comment 50 by Invisible Talker

To Nunbeliever:

Okay, let's see your objections.

In n. 1) you argue that a person being lied to has a chance of realizing his/her happiness is based on lies. This objection does not apply, because let's say the person in this example is someone who we know wouldn't change his beliefs. Meaning if I lied to him in this way, he'd hold on to my lie to his dying day. Also, my vague "Everything will be alright after death" -lie is nothing like some very specific and traumatizing lies by cults, please don't compare them.

Your objection n. 2) also does not apply if it actually IS the case the person's highest peak happiness is when he's being lied to in this specific way. Sure, we don't know if it is. But in this example, let's say it indeed is his highest peak happiness. Does this mean lying to him in this way is okay?

Your third objection I would characterize as an argument from alternative cost. In essence you're saying: "When you make the choice of putting him in the 'lie-peak-happiness' you dismiss possibly endless alternatives that might result in a higher degree of happiness, and these have to be taken into account". Fine, agreed, but let's say you do take them into acccount. For the purposes of this example, let's say in the advanced future we were capable of calculating a person's every possible peak happiness and measure them through great advances in neuroscience.

I repeat: If this person's peak happiness was when he was being lied to in the specific way that "Death is not the end" or something similar, and if we knew he would hold this view to his dying breath, would it be moral to lie to him in this way?

I dare you to say yes.

I don't think you're prepared to follow your own logic to its conclusion. Therefore you're left with two choices, either you follow your logic, or you admit your logic is flawed. My opinion of why your logic doesn't work is because morality isn't about making people happy. It's about treating people in a fair, respectful, compassionate and honest manner. In short, treating them like Human beings, not like happiness-machines.

Wed, 31 Mar 2010 11:10:00 UTC | #454346

Go to: Philosopher: Why we should ditch religion

Invisible Talker's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by Invisible Talker

13. Comment #472917 by Sciros on March 26, 2010 at 5:50 pm:

Ah, Sciros. Your post ecapsulates my thoughts perfectly. You do not know me, but I've always thought highly of your writings here on Rdnet. Kudos to you.

Tue, 30 Mar 2010 10:12:00 UTC | #453975

Go to: Authors@Google: Sam Harris

Invisible Talker's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by Invisible Talker

41. Comment #474052 by Nunbeliever on March 29, 2010 at 3:33 pm:

I argued that your example does not invalidate my position.
I know you think you so, but I don't understand why you think so. If morality is dependent on happiness, then why isn't lying to make someone happy ok?

Your "urge of knowledge" doesn't answer the question. It just sidesteps it. Sure, the guy might have an urge of getting knowledge but for all intents and purposes this urge is being satisfied. He *thinks* he has satisfied this urge, and is as a result both happier and physically healthier. So if his happiness is where morality should be grounded, why is lying to him to help him achieve a maximum happiness (that would otherwise be unattainable) not okay? I really do think this invalidates your position.

Tue, 30 Mar 2010 09:07:00 UTC | #453963

Go to: Authors@Google: Sam Harris

Invisible Talker's Avatar Jump to comment 46 by Invisible Talker

42. Comment #474072 by nother person on March 29, 2010 at 4:35 pm:

Once trapped on a local peak, it takes effort to abandon that peak and seek a higher level of well being. In effect, you are guilty of obstructing the individual's maximizing their well being potential.
But you don't know that he has an even higher peak of happiness. You just assume he has. What if that person's maximum happiness was when they were being lied to in this way? Would that mean lying to them was moral?

And I dare anyone to say yes to this.

Tue, 30 Mar 2010 08:59:00 UTC | #453961

Go to: Authors@Google: Sam Harris

Invisible Talker's Avatar Jump to comment 40 by Invisible Talker

To Nunbeliever:


You're free to claim the connection is there. But don't expect others to believe it without you actually demonstrating it. What exactly is the connection between morality and happiness? I don't think you know. I don't think you even claim to know. But it is precisely overreaching if you cannot show that which you claim.

If I can cause lifelong happiness and psychological well-being to someone by lying to them and having him believe me, why is this not moral?

I could say to a person: "Fear not in this life, for in the next you will be compensated for all your sufferings", causing him happiness and well-being, and a cure for his anxiety attacks. For all intents and purposes, the person in my example would be better off. Yet still this would not be moral. I don't actually believe in any next life, I'm just lying to him.

Just goes to show how the two are independent.

Mon, 29 Mar 2010 14:09:00 UTC | #453667

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