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September 21, 2013
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Yesterday, I found a wonderful game on newgrounds.com, a game called 'Socrates Jones: Pro Philo' ( www.newgrounds.com/portal/view… ). It is a game whose mechanics remind one strongly of the 'Phoenix Wright'-series - just that it is about philosophy or, more accurately, about finding the nature of morality.
Yepp, it is quite a hard game and the fact that I discovered it at 3 in the morning didn't EXACTLY help...
BUT. By its mechanisms, it works pretty well. You are, practically, talking with multiple philosophers, including Hobbes, Mills and Kant to find out about their views on morality and critically review them, to find flaws and reject or accept them as your choice. Thus, by analysing the views on morality of the highest thinkers, you try to find one answer that satisfies you. To prove the philosophers wrong, you use parts of their own statement.
The game was very amusing and very inspiring. After playing it (finished at 5am) and lying in my bed and thinking about it (it's a joy to wake up with birds singing, not to fall asleep with them) I had a few of my own thoughts about morality. I want to present them to you and must ask you to TRY and find flaws in my argumentation, since there is no other way to further evolve my theory. I will present my theory point by point and try to bring a structure in.

Basic problem of morality:
-Morality is about choices of right/good and wrong/bad.
-There is no clear definition of what's right and wrong. Many people have different perceptions of right and wrong; what ULTIMATELY is right or wrong is defined by morality.
-People have different views on what's right and wrong and mostly try to do their best, even if it may seem immoral to others.
-Different people can back their views on what's right/good by logical arguments; others can find flaws in their views by logical arguments. So far, no perfect moralic laws have been found yet that apply to everyone in every situation.
-Most, if not all people who commit acts based on morality do so because they want to cause happiness (instantly or in the future) or want to prevent unhappiness. The majority of the people will agree that happiness is good.
This brings us to the following conclusions:
-Morality is subjective; it is based on the SITUATION as well as on the individual PERCEPTION of the situation.
-Morality is about doing good and happiness is good, thus, making as many people as possible as happy as possible is morally right.

Or is it. Let's take two examples where happiness is created where the way of doing so may not be morally right. I will start to explain the first one: drugs.
-Drugs cause happiness, and quite a huge ammount of it AND do this instantly. The happiness created is so strong that it leads to mental addiction.
-Some drugs have health disadvantages however. This means that those who take them will be unhappy in the future from taking drus (because they'll be ill and die).
-Also, the addiction will lead to criminality, which makes others unhappy.
-Because the long-term unhappiness is stronger then the short-term happiness, drugs aren't good anymore.
This brings the conclusion:
-When thinking about which action is good, one must think about the long-term effects.

Now, the second example. This is an example that most of you will know: The Matrix.
-In the Matrix, people are fairly happy, since they live in an illusional world which is happier than the world they physically live in.
-While being happy in the Matrix, they are physically exploited in real life.
-Most people who find out about that are hurt by the destruction of their worldview and suffer from that. They chose to live in the real world, to fight this system of exploitation.
-There are, however, people who chose the Matrix over the real world and did so knowingly. Because they don't harm anyone by this basic choice and are happier themselves, this is not immoral. Therefore, the simple existance of an illusional world like a Matrix isn't wrong or bad.
-What IS wrong is the fact that the humans who are part of the Matrix didn't have this choice; they were born and instantly forced to live under these circumstances.
-It also is wrong because the creators of the Matrix chose their slavery knowingly. It is not something that couldn't be changed, like the restriction of freedom by living in a physical body (like any human does). It was a conscious act.
This brings us to the conclusion:
-Something is only good if it respects the personal freedom of everyone.

So far, so good, right? However, I must bring up a last point and I am ashamed that I have to do so. What brings the need is the fact that many people judge humans differently based on a certain group they belong to. This group can be related to ideology, nationality, culture, race, sex, sexuality, religion and further on. The people who act like this - I may sometimes refer to them as racists, bigots, assholes or idiots - back their view with pseudo-logical arguments. While most of us (I hope) will agree with me that this is wrong, it MUST be explained why it is wrong.
-There are different groups of people on this world. Some belong to groups naturally, others chose to be part of a certain group.
-These groups consist of people that have certain things in common, may it be religious views, skin-color, worldvies or the fact if something's dangling between your legs or not.
-These things also influence the behavior of these people.
-However, there are lots of things that define a persons personality. Not just points that put them in certain groups but their personal background and history as well as body traits, hormones etc.
-There are so many factors of these that there can't be two people who are completely identical in every regard. Even identical twins WILL disagree on some points or show differences, despite identical bodies and family backgrounds.
-This means that there SHOULD be as many groups as there are people on this world (probably even more).
-Different people also deserve different treatment, because they have different views on, for example, happiness and since happiness is good, you can't generalize what will give everyone the most happiness.
HOWEVER.
-Many moral choices are made without knowing every person. Some are made based on a group they belong to which is valued higher or lower than another group.
-Because the members of this group are complete individuals, you cannot simply consider a group to be 'better' than another one without knowing each member properly.
-Thus, if you don't have knowledge about the subjects you are judging, you must treat them COMPLETELY equal.
This brings us to the conclusion:
-Despite all humans being different, humanity must be treated as equal, unless you know more about the single humans you're judging.

Edit: There is one thing I forgot to mention. Humans make mistakes, this is natural, but this also changes morals a little bit. Let me explain.
-People already did great things to create or restore happiness. They even committed crimes like murder to increase the happiness of many.
-However, often, when a human does something to cause a good result, it backfires; maybe, because the human wasn't aware of all the facts of the situation or because he didn't have the abilities to do it better. Or simply, there was bad luck.
-This means that there always is a risk of every plan failing.
-The fact that humans make mistake is something that every human on this world is aware of; thus, every human on this earth must keep this in mind and plan carefully.
-Because humans make mistakes naturally, the question wether an act was good or bad should be based on the intention, not on the outcome. In the end, someone who plans something bad MAY actually do something good unintentionally and vice versa.
This leads to the conclusions:
-The good intention is more important than the good result of the acts.
-Every person must consider the risks of the action and keep them in mind (or drop the plan if the risk is too high).

And this is my take on morality. That it is based on these points: Happiness (with long-term happiness as a sub-point) and personal freedom, both based on the view that all humans deserve equal treatment and equal amounts of happiness and personal freedom. More accurately: If someone does something with the intention of making people happier while respecting their personal freedom, he does the morally right thing. While errors by lack of planning may be forgivable, it is important to be reminded that people who do something like this need to think everything through and keep the consequences AND risks in mind.

PS: I must explain personal freedom a little further.
-There are many systems where people lack some freedom. In every nation, people lack freedom to do what's against the law.
-However, these freedoms are given up for certain advantages, like security, infrastructure and cable TV.
-Giving these freedoms up is a personal choice and thus, a part of freedom. It becomes problematic when it is enforced to give up freedoms. (Like, it's alright to join the army and have less rights in a lower rank; being force-recruited is not alright and thus, force-recruiting is immoral)
-Your overall personal freedom just goes as far as nobody elses freedom is restricted. You are free to walk around in public space, however, you're not free to invade a persons private place, even in the wilderness where no law exists and no bargain to give away personal freedom has been done (however, under extreme circumstances, the unhappiness prevented from risk of death may have a higher value than the personal freedom harmed).

PPS: I just found a minor flaw that I'm willing to fix. Due to my theory, punishments would be kind of immoral because they restrict someone elses freedom. This is why I have to add this:
-Acts are more moralic if they respect each others freedom.
-However, under certain situations, the advantages of doing something good can be so great that ignoring someone elses freedom is acceptable.
-If someone commits an immoral act against someone else, this act must be punished, ESPECIALLY if said person is a member of a society or group where something like that is restricted. For the punishment, the criminals personal freedom shall be ignored.
-However, the punishment should consider the long-term-effects as well as the effects on other people to be fair.

So, what do you think? Give me your thoughts! How should I know if my theory is true if there is nobody opposing it?
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:iconaurasio:
Aurasio Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Something else I forgot to add, and this pertains to the last paragraph of the journal. I don't believe that citizens give up their personal freedom when they give up their ability to do what they want. This is because I don't believe that the ability to do what they want falls under their own personal choice or freedom. Their own sense of freedom is extended only up to all that they can do without adversely affecting a fellow member of the society. So, they do not 'lack' freedom, they only gain a better defined look at their own individual freedom.
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:iconarabascan:
Arabascan Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2013
Right, I agree to that. The personal freedom just goes as far as another ones freedom is not restricted. I will add this.
However, I also mean instances where personal freedom that DOESN'T decrease someone elses freedom is decreased. Like in the military. Soldiers have a HUGE loss of personal freedom; they cannot leave their bases without permission, even though that doesn't harm anyone else (in general, at least). However, this is a part of the deal: They give up these freedoms to be a soldier and enjoy the advantages of being a soldier (like payment, another social environment etc.).
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:iconaurasio:
Aurasio Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I'd rather say that when a soldier, or as such any employee, go through loss of personal freedom, they do so to prevent further harm to their institution or company. This becomes an act of personal responsibility, and as far as responsibilities go, they only enforce your freedom of choice because freedom also means to be responsible of your own actions.
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:iconarabascan:
Arabascan Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2013
Why they make the choice to give up their personal freedom is irrelevant. They knowingly and willingly give their personal freedom. It is a trade. It is just as acceptable not to make this deal and it is as responsible as making the deal and then sticking to it. Breaking the deal would be immoral again because it harms the system the deal has been done with, which decreases happiness, however, there may be situations when such a deal break CAN be acceptable again. Snowden broke such a deal because he wanted to increase long-term happiness by uncovering the immoral actions of his employer.
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:iconaurasio:
Aurasio Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
It is not a trade. It is gaining of responsibilities and hence taking actions to uphold those responsibilities. They still have the choice to do as they wish and then receive punishments for it.
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:iconarabascan:
Arabascan Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2013
It is a trade, in my eyes. Giving up certain freedoms and receiving responsibilities for the sake of payment and stuff. They do have the choice to act against the trade but they do not have the right to do so anymore.
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:iconaurasio:
Aurasio Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
There would be some issues I'd love to add to this wonderful article. First of all,  my view of morality is inclined more towards HARM than towards happiness. Considering the example concerning drugs :

1. When someone starts using drugs, not only is he causing worry for his loved ones, but also he is hampering their financial stability. In this case, the act itself becomes selfish, as he is forcing his loved ones through circumstances they didn't choose. Any harm caused to others for one's own sense of happiness would always be against morality.

When thinking about what's 'right', one must think about all possible harm he is causing to any single member of the society, no matter at what cost.

And that brings me to another question. What is 'greater good' ?
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:iconarabascan:
Arabascan Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2013
This is right. I should and will clarify this. When I mean happiness, I mean the happiness created for everyone. The person who uses drugs in your example causes extreme unhappiness. Worrying family members, crimes to get new drugs and so on. The personal happiness from the drug use cannot be higher than the unhappiness of the loved ones or even the personal unhappiness when there's no money for drugs, for example.

The greater good... I'd define that the greater good is the overall happiness of humanity while their personal freedom is respected. Let's take the recent NSA-case. Just for this thought, let's imagine that this act of privacy violation has been committed JUST to stop crime and make peoples lives safer (and not for reasons like power or that alike). While this would indeed increase happiness without creating unhappiness as long as nobody knows about it, it DOES violate the personal freedom of will. Besides the people agreeing to giving away freedoms for living in a safe environment (nations), they didn't agree to giving away all their personal information. Because what the NSA did (and probably still does) did MASSIVELY violate the personal freedom, it cannot be for the greater good.
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