Right and wrong in regards to pain and pleasure.

I posted this in another thread, but i thought it might deserve it’s own thread:

I see the idea of right and wrong as an absolute truth in nature. You could compare it to things such a physics. (gravity is an absolute truth) Gravity is a constant in nature and is surely not relative. I believe the same is also for ethics.

Something good can be measured by pleasure while bad can be measured by pain. If one would agree that pain and pleasure are in fact absolute truths just like gravity, in that they are constant and physical, you can move to say that pain is something bad and pleasure is something good.

You could say that something that causes pain is bad and something that cause pleasure is good. But of course, it isn’t this simple. There are cases where there is both pain and pleasure involved such as someone taking pleasure in causing bodily harm to their body. (masochists) But i would say that you would need to weigh the pain and pleasure involved and whichever has the highest degree, will dictate whether something is good or bad.

In this case, i would say this situation is good because this person is only causing temporary physical pain to themselves, but gains mental pleasure that has long term effects on their happiness.

But if this bodily harm was known by family members and was causing them much distress and worry, then this situation could be bad due to the fact that the pain of the family members outweighs that of that one person’s pleasure.

It is almost like a math equation. You just need to take all the pleasure and add it together and take all the pain and add it together too, then take the difference and see which is greater. This is looking at it in a metaphorical perspective.

But i think this a good way to define what is right and wrong in an absolute sense… i just think it’s silly to say that ethics is relative to each person’s ideals or each societies ideals because then everyone can just go around justifying anything they do or say.

And i believe there is a name to this theory too, just don’t know what it is atm.

In your theory, whatever brings pleasure is good, and whatever causes pain is bad. If however, a pleasurable experience were to cause many people pain and discomfort, such an action would then be bad. This reminds me a lot of utilitarianism, which says that an action is good if it brings the most amount of happiness. Utilitarianism seems to look to the consequences of an action in determining its outcome. Thus a single action can be good or evil depending on the circumstances (e.g. killing someone would cause his family distress - evil, whereas sacrificing a man with no family may help save the nation - good).

You have not created a system with an absolute set of moral values. The problem that you hope to avoid, which would be people justifying immoral acts, would be allowable under your system, as the immoral would say that they brought about a great deal of happiness to many people through their “immoral” actions (imagine a person who broadcasts himself torturing a victim on the Web to a large group of people, and that they would derive much pleasure from viewing it).

You can only have a system of moral absolutes when certain actions, regardless of the intent or circumstances, are always and everywhere immoral. The ends (goal) do not justify the means (how you try to attain the goal). An act is good only when it, along with the intent and the surrounding circumstances are also good. Actions are good in so far as they are agreeable to our ultimate end and are in accord with reason.

Moral principles such as these one are based upon the natural law, which urges us to preserve our own life, to be social, to desire what is true, and to propagate the species. You may want to look up the natural moral law on the Web, as it addresses your belief that right and wrong come from nature.

There are no absolute truths. Ethics and morals are based on nothing more than those around you. As Nietzsche said … become what you are.

You say this with no argument to back it up… and btw i don’t even really care what nietzsche said because his word is not the answer to all things. So when you say there are no absolute truths, you are saying that all of physics is not an absolute truth such as the force of gravity. If there were no absolute truths then everything would be random and in chaos.

but everything is random and in chaos…


Apparantly you don’t know what random and chaos is. Last time i checked pillows wern’t randomly blowing up, pencils arn’t turning into fire ants, houses arn’t randomly changing shape, and everytime you walk into a store, your not instantly transported to France. Everything has structure in the universe and this keeps there from being true chaos and randomness.

Randomness within the limits of a physical world with physical laws can become orderly in time. If the universe was chaos, we wouldn’t exist. Planets wouldn’t form, or at least they wouldn’t be spherical.

Arguably, the universe was once in a state of chaos.

change your perspective and see what you deny


Maybe our definitions of chaos and randomness are different, Imp. But i see this from many perspectives and i see the same thing.

As random as everything might seem, there is always a road of events that causes something to happen. It’s like one giant and very very complicated puzzle. Everything fits together no matter how irregular things might seem. Cause and effect is one of the many structures of nature which stops randomness from occuring.

As for chaos… there can be many forms of chaos. The one that i am refering to has to do with physics and the nature of the universe.

There can be social chaos for sure, but society is still governed by the structure of nature. Nothing is higher than nature. It is the basis of all things in the universe. Society is just one branch of the mind of the human being which itself is apart of nature. But the nature of the universe itself is not in total chaos.

there is no logical reason to accept cause and effect as true.

(read hume)

and no, from a perspective of billions of years, there is no structure


Cause and effect is true because everything IS caused from something else. And if logical reasoning is what you used to figure out if it is true or not, you would come to the conclusion that it is true. All Hume said, was that we couldn’t predict the future from past experiences. That doesn’t make cause and effect false. No mater what happens in the future, it will still be the cause of something even if it is different from what has happened in the past.

As for the second statement, you have no counter argument to back that up. You can’t create philosophy without some kind of experiential confirmation or logical reasoning to back up your claim. I told you how there was structure in the universe… now tell me how there isn’t.

you have told me your metaphysical beliefs. you have no evidence for your claims, physical or logical.


Hedonistic utilitarianism

This is not the problem he’s trying avoid. He’s trying to avoid moral relativism. The example you give here is not one of moral relativism. It squares perfectly well with utilitarianism. Utilitarianism looks at the net hedonic value of the situation overall and says that this net value is the only thing that matters. Of course, a situation in which no pain at all is used in the means towards a morally sanctionable end is better than one in which pain is used, but only because the net good is greater.

This sounds Kantian. It certainly isn’t true according to the scientific meaning on “natural law”, which attriubtes natural laws to physical events that always turn out a specific way when the same initial conditions are met. I hope you aren’t confusing the two.

I think I’m going to have to agree with Imp here. Even after putting Hume aside, he’s right that nature is random and chaotic. In light of quantum mechanics, we now know that nature is almost ruled by laws. There is a nanoscopic degree of indeterminacy in the way physical events play out that renders them just shy of adhering to natural laws.

That being said, however, I think your original point has very little, or maybe nothing at all, to do with the laws of nature or cause-and-effect relations. Hedonistic utilitarianism attributes intrinsic moral worth to pains and pleasures regardless of what caused them or what effects they have, or whether they are necessitated by anything. It’s more a question of showing the identities of pleasure/pain and the moral/immoral to be equal.

Bla bla blu blu da da dum dum.

So you are wrong , i am right.

Fantasticly rational and productive arguments against the OP’s views so far.

Actually this doesn’t debunk my pleasure/pain model because i would say this situation is bad because of the long term damage to your health. This is to a higher degree of pain than the pleasure of eating the food. You’re not thinking that far into your own situation.

As for Imp… if you let go of a ball out of your hand, the ball will drop. The ball dropped because you let it go. This is an example of cause and effect. Letting go of the ball is the cause, and the ball dropping is the effect. Cause and effect is like an extremely long chain. It keeps going and going because every cause creates an effect and every effect is also the cause of another effect and so on. So my muscles contracting moves my fingers which cause the ball the drop which causes the ball to hit the ground which cause the ball to make vibrations in the air which cause my eardrums to vibrate which cause an electrical signal to be sent to my brain which causes my brain to interpret the vibrations as sound and so on. This is how it is with all things. Many causes can even cause multiple effects which branch off to cause their own effects and so on. And btw, i’m still waiting for an actual argument from you…

And to Gib…like in said before, how come pillows are not randomly blowing up and houses changing shape. Everything is stable, because everything follows certain natural laws. Things may SEEM chaotic and random, because the universe is so intricate and complicated. But everything fits together. And the whole cause and effect argument came after imp said that the universe is in chaos and random.

And do you have evidence of the metaphysical believe that logic holds absolute primacy in matters of “truth”, and if something is not logically entailed then it is not true? There are no premises that are “logical”, as logic is form, not content. And as far as i can tell, one can hold a premise, that logically entails causation.

Take PrinceofPersia’s argument, for example. S/he premises that everything IS caused from something else". Being that it is a Premise, it is neither logical nor illogical, but an assumed given. Following from this premise, it is NOT ILLOGICAL to conclude causation.

I told you, hume made my argument. you have not proven a cause or an effect. you have said events happen in time. the constant conjunction of events explains your habitual expectation of the next event, it doesn’t prove the future must occur.


it is an assumption, not a proof of anything. it is illogical to beg the question which is what causation does. there is no necessary connection between events.