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If one being made the rules

  1. Dec 9, 2003 #1
    Just a, possibly-interesting, thought:

    If there is a being that chooses what is right and wrong, then what tells all the other beings that they must obey this being's standards?

    The being Itself can't tell us that, since we would have to assume that the being knows whether it is right or wrong to listen to It, and this assumption would preclude the necessity for It to tell us ITFP.

    IOW, if one being chooses the all the standards of right and wrong, then who chooses that it is "right" to obey these standards. If it is the being Itself that chooses that it is "right" to obey It, then what causes us to obey that it is right to obey It? If it is again It that chooses this, then what causes us to obey that it is right to obey that it is right to obey It?

    Do you see what I'm getting at, or have I made this completely incomprehensible?

    Any response is appreciated .
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 9, 2003 #2
    BTW, my own personal opinion is that, if this were the case, we would have to choose whether to submit to Its rules, after which every other decision about "right and wrong" would be up to It.
  4. Dec 14, 2003 #3


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    Is this a version of Socrates' Euthyphro argument?

    Either the commands of the gods are necessary or they are not.

    If they are necessary, then the gods had no choice but to issue them, and why should we obey such limited beings?

    If they are not necessary then the gods might have issued other commands, but chose to issue these. And why should we obey such arbitrary beings?
  5. Dec 14, 2003 #4
    Right and Wrong and Rulers

    We were in the tree, or under it. We had a banana, and wanted to eat. We didn't want the jaguar to bite us, or the bigger human take the banana. Our parents were occasionally lost, we were without protectors. The fear of these pains and losses, pushed us to create paternal and maternal deity. This fear caused us to stay in groups where some order let us nurse long enough, and let us have the fruit of the tribe. We wanted more, we were afraid of the weather. Finally our fears begat our masters. Now even though we are able to look deep into the universe, and watch it's processes, and notice the incomprehensible size of it, and the possibility that there is even much more we don't sense. We are the fleas on the back of the sleeping dog, that is the universe. Just take what you need, I wouldn't want to wake it up.
  6. Dec 15, 2003 #5
    I'd never heard of this before...but it does seem to fit :smile:.
  7. Dec 15, 2003 #6
    Re: Right and Wrong and Rulers

    Very interesting bit of musing there, Dayle. And welcome to the PFs. :smile:
  8. Dec 18, 2003 #7
    Would it help to define "right' as: Beneficial to the the most beneficial cause in the long run?
  9. Dec 19, 2003 #8
    I don't think so. If "right" were defined thus, then what would make this the "right" definition?
  10. Dec 19, 2003 #9
    I think we're starting to mix up moral "right and wrong" and logical "correct and incorrect (also sometimes called right and wrong)". Heh.

    If one being chooses right and wrong, isn't the definition of right "What the Chooser says is right"? If that is not the definition of right, then the Chooser must be in the wrong to try and choose what is right despite the real definition. If the Chooser is doing something wrong, obviously what It says is right is irrelevant.

    So if there is one being that chooses right and wrong, either we accept what it says because accepting it is "right" by definition, or we accept nothing that it says because it is actually doing something wrong itself- and how can an imperfect being choose what is right and what is wrong?
  11. Dec 20, 2003 #10
    That's what you'd think, isn't it? And yet, that cannot apply in all cases, since that Chooser cannot choose that it is right to let Him choose what is right, can He? That's the point of the thread, if the Chooser were to choose that He has the right to choose, then who gave Him the right to make that decision for us ITFP?

    It's simple to choose what's right and wrong, you just might not choose correctly :wink:.
  12. Dec 20, 2003 #11
    I think you took those excerpts a little bit out of context...

    That was meant as "how can an imperfect being DEFINE what is right and what is wrong?"

    I went on "If that is not the definition...". If you think about it, the definition CAN'T be "What the Chooser says is right", for the very reason you described. This whole concept of Chooser is riddled with paradoxes, I think the idea is incorrect (for that reason, heh)...
  13. Dec 26, 2003 #12
    Well, the fact remains that there could be a perfect being, capable of deciding right and wrong for us, on all occasion except for the occasion of choosing whether to listen to It or not.
  14. Dec 28, 2003 #13
    That can be rephrased to "Well, the fact remains that there could be a perfect being, capable of either deciding all right and wrong or no right and wrong, depending on if we listen to it or not." Hmm... Why do you use the word "perfect" in your sentence? What makes you think that this being would be "perfect"? If it was perfect, wouldn't it have perfect power, and thus we would not have the choice of whether or not to listen to it? And what defines perfect? The same being?

    You are correct, the fact does remain that such a possibility exists. It is, however, riddled with paradoxes (as I have already said). The possibility also exists that a giant frog is in the center of the galaxy grabbing stars with his tongue, and thus the movement of the stars produces gravitational effects similar to that of a black hole. The possibility exists, but it is riddled with paradoxes.

    What you are really asking in this thread is "If things have definitions, what defines the definitions?" You are trying to find, in essence, a proof for the validity of proofs- and I'm afraid it doesn't exist.
  15. Dec 28, 2003 #14
    the chooser still has to make his right and wrongs. How does he form them? who does he take them from? Does he want to destroy his world or does he want to take care of them?
  16. Dec 30, 2003 #15
    Indeed, but It cannot decide whether we should listen or not...that's kind of the whole point of the thread.

    Because you used it in yours. I have no use for it, but, since you used it, I assumed you thought it to be an important distinction.

    Exactly, these are the paradoxes when one removes the personal choice of the individual.
  17. Dec 30, 2003 #16

    What do you mean?

    Preferably from him/herself, since s/he wouldn't really be making the choice, if s/he gathered it from someone else.

    Depends on the chooser.
  18. Dec 31, 2003 #17


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    (Alright, being new here, I've taken the liberty of reading the thread in it's entirety, adding pieces of input here and there hoping I've understood it correctly.)
    Basically the other beings need to be in accord with this being, be it common morals (on an interpersonal level) or common axioms (on a more global/cosmic level) or anything inbetween the two extremes.

    Maybe values are not that far from the rules of the universe?! But that's another thread isn't it...

    Trying to fix this by logic. (Haven't used logic in ages though so please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.)
    Chosing the being to be right basically makes it right. IE as in a logical proof, where
    As long as A is true, we're cool. If A isn't true, that is if the being doesn't know what's right or wrong, it may or may not still be valid to obey it. Simply considering there may be other factors whether or not to obey it, eg whether a given behavior will get you to heaven or not. However, if any stage of obeying to obey is false, we can deduce that it also doesn't know that's right or wrong either. This all incidentally leading me to the same conclusion as yourself. The Being may or not be right. But in our little world, all that matters is our choose of submission or not submission in terms of validating the choices of the Being.

    (definately enjoyed that!)
    Have to argue with everything though...
    There is perhaps a choice that is not necessary, but not arbitrary. One that could be replaced by another, but is initself a better choice. It is then in fact necessary in fact, but maybe not for us small humans to frown upon, us we are unlikely to see the best choice in every situation as any pressumed gods may.
    Or maybe a perfect being makes choices of right and wrong in a way that we also naturally agree and approve of them?!

    Can we really hope to understand something that much greater than ourselves without bringing it down to our level. Would be heaps of fun...=)

    (Phew!:smile: )
  19. Jan 2, 2004 #18
    I agree.

    Perhaps you should start a thread like that.

    Welcome to the PFs, tA. :smile:

    Not sure I understand what you are getting at. Could you re-phrase please?

    Also, why is it that you refer to humans as "small" (just a question)?
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2004
  20. Jan 3, 2004 #19


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    Mentat, thank you for the warm welcome.
    Not sure I would have understood that if I didn't already know what I was getting at either. Let's see if I can clarify...

    I agree that Socrate's Euthyphro argument supplies an answer to the question to whether or not we should obey a being that creates the rules. However I disagree with the initial assumption, and hence also with the conclusions.
    Here's the argument again:

    It basically boils down to how we define necessity. The classical example of an arbitrary choice is vanilla or chocolate icecream right? In most cases we need chose neither one nor the other (excluding allergies and the like for arguments sake), it's not a necessary choice in our eyes. But...I might hold a very strong preference for chocolate because it pumps me full of endorphins...(or a better choice might be vanilla because a chronically high level of endorphins supresses the immune system and is likely to cause cancer.) It's not a necessary choice, only in some ways a better one.
    Why wouldn't a Being we assume has the power to make rules also know what is a better choice on a grander scale.
    We may of course argue that this Being is 'aware' of all factors, and can make calculations that we cannot. This might even end with the better choice(s) being the necessary choice as well. (Assuming this Being wants/needs to make the best possible choice?) But can we not then give this Being credit for knowing more than ourselves, and follow their lead in terms of right and wrong?

    So the reason I call humans small, is that what they are just so in comparison to such a Being and the greater cosmos. If we assume that the Being is just as fallible as ourselves, it is of course a lot easier to distrust its judgement. So even if I am the center of my world and decide what rules I live by, it's hard to ignore that I'm not the one running the show. Not completely at any rate (if at all)....but who knows what rules really are in function, and if we are capable of comprehending them all?...
    Having said that, this post doesn't answer whether or not to follow a lead of a Being that doesn't know all the rules. Or at any rate a Being, whos rule comprehension we can't estimate or judge.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2004
  21. Jan 5, 2004 #20
    First you said you agreed with his argument, then you said you disagreed with both his premises and his conclusions...how is this possible :wink:?

    It might know what is "better" on a grander scale, but It cannot know if it is "better" to listen to It, ITFP.

    Sure, It may know more than we do, but that is merely a limiting factor in our own choice to serve It.
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