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GyantSpyder t1_jef9iyn wrote

I'd call it "the moral luck of the initial condition."

As in, when we begin to consider whatever question we are considering, if we have two people who are trying to "do" the same thing, the moral value of them doing it will often appear/be (depending) different based on how they happen to have arrived at where they are, which is often a product of, at best, a great deal of random chance if not other factors.

And, since to an embryo the actions of their parents before they develop are unknowable, the condition at which an embryo becomes a fetus becomes eventually a person leads to the person then relating to something like "how they were genetically engineered" as equivalent to randomness.

Here's an example -

Two mountain climbers who don't know each other have each rented a cabin near the base of a mountain they both plan to climb tomorrow. But tonight, it is cold, and there is a snowstorm. They show up at the office at the same time, and they each get a key to their cabin, and they have to walk up some steep dirt roads to get to their cabins. When they got the cabins, neither of them knew of any sort of details about which cabin was which, they just reserved the one the system said was available at the time.

So they go up the road together, and it turns out the first cabin is only a quarter mile up the road, which is great. But the other cabin is up the hill further, let's say another mile up, in the dark, alone, during a snowstorm.

But then the person with the key to the close cabin puts their key in the lock and it breaks.

So, here's the situation -

If the person who rented the closer cabin forces a window open and goes into the cabin anyway, especially if they don't break it, that's fine. They reserved the cabin, it's their cabin - it's not ideal but given the situation it seems fine.

If the person who didn't rent the closer cabin does the same thing, it is not only bad, it's a terrible crime - even though the person who rented this cabin has never seen it before in their life, this is now their cabin, and forcing the window and going into it is breaking and entering, it violates that person's consent, it might be arguably assumed to be a personal threat, it might cause trauma that will be passed down to future generations, all sorts of stuff.

The point is not that the person who rented the farther away cabin would force their way in - they probably wouldn't! But the situation wherein each of them forcing their way into the window has profoundly different moral implications has come about mostly just by chance.

So yeah, there are a lot of ways you could change this situation, especially for future reference- you could check the cabins in the future to see where they are, you could do a better job of checking the weather report and arrive before the storm blows in, you could bring multiple people and rent a cabin together rather than rent it alone, you could bring a snowmobile with headlights, all sorts of stuff. Some people might even say you should burn down the whole campsite and build one fat concrete tower where everybody has to stay in an identical room.

But none of that helps you now. In this initial condition where you find yourself.

And from there there is an interesting ethical conversation to be had about what "the right thing to do" is for each person, if we assume the second person walking up to the farther cabin alone in the dark in the snowstorm is very dangerous,

For example, you could say that the person who rented the closer cabin really ought to invite the other person in at least until the storm blows over a bit for their safety - that they will call the front desk on the telephone and see if there's a Snocat that can take you up or something.

And you could frame that as either a good thing they should do, or as an obligation they really must do, and then discuss how all that works.

Or, you could also say the person in the second cabin, because of the moral luck of their initial condition, should be excused if they insist on coming into the cabin also even if the first person doesn't want them there - that there is no valid ethical basis for excluding them from doing this because the differences in moral luck are more important than, say, the right of the person who rented the closer cabin to consent to who comes into it or not.

And then what follows is a sequence of events with their own moral significance depending on the situation.

So yeah, I would say

initial condition

moral luck

and then "path dependence" wherein the same events can have different relationships with things like consent, free will, etc., depending on the order they happen in.


Edmondg3 t1_jefebs8 wrote

That shit was crazy as fuck. I hope that's not how the world works and it was so over complicated there is no way you can prove any of that to be true. Sounds like you believe in karma which I think is a shit system. We just stated that free will is mostly an illusion if not 100% an illusion. The idea of being judged by a cosmic force for something you can't control is childish. I hope the universe does not punish biological robots that have no freewill for their actions. It would be much more intelligent for the judgemental gods to just change the creatures so they don't act in a "negative" way. Freewill is pretty much non existant at the human level of reality and no one can truly point to where it comes from if it does exist. Perhaps it exists at higher dimensions, but not here. So karma is really a higher system casting cosmic judgement on a smaller system that has little to no freewill. I hope reality doesn't function that way. You would figure if karma is real then all fishermen, all pest control and all meat farmers would be riddled with bad luck as they slaughter millions of fish/cow/pigs/bugs ect.


GyantSpyder t1_jegbns6 wrote

This is pretty basic freshman year philosophy stuff. If you're finding it really crazy and eye-opening then this is probably an area where you could blow your mind a lot!

It's long, but it's reasonably well-organized and I think it makes straightforward sense. I didn't make up the terminology.

None of this depends on free will or karma - at least not in the sense that it requires there to be an external punisher who enforces compliance with moral rules or a externally verifiable sense that things could have happened in ways other than they did. A lot of ethics does involve seriously thinking about why anyone would want to be ethical, and it doesn't start and stop with just the supernatural or speculative.

Something can be "the right thing to do" because, for example, it leads to you becoming the person you want to be. And whether you have free will or not does not matter. It can be the right thing to do because it's what you would want people to do for you, which also isn't an exotic concern.

In general this sub is way too obsessed with speculative questions of free will, sentience, determinism, consciousness, and "nihilism" and not really concerned with or interested enough in what life is actually like and how philosophy as a broad literature might give you a systematic way of speaking about it and making some sense of it. Of course you could accuse philosophers of the same thing but that's not always the case.

I just think your initial question in this comment thread isn't really a "free will" question - because whether you have free will or not I think if you're talking about change over time there is a role for random chance as a retroactive explanation that has a role in grasping moral situations.