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 Post subject: Re: Romney Releases Tax Returns PostPosted: 2012-09-25 11:26am
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Civil War Man wrote:

They don't really work that way. Ronald McDonald Houses are basically like hostels or B&Bs for the families of patients, specifically newborns or small children, so they don't have to commute from home.

Then it would be selfless as your not required to work there in exchange for their help. Working for the common good with not expectation of return is selfless.

Civil War Man wrote:
I'm not sure how one would expect a return from shipping prefab shelters to Haiti.

Positive PR

Civil War Man wrote:
Anyway, I think your problem is that you define selfishness so broadly that it also encompasses people who do it out of empathy. If a woman were to, for example, survive breast cancer, you'd call her selfish for donating to breast cancer research, even though she could just as well be supporting the research because she knows first-hand how horrible the condition is and doesn't want anyone else to go through what she did.

If you directly benefit from your own actions (Like donating from a disease you suffer from) it can not be selfless. Surviving cancer is not like surviving a car crash or the flu. Once you have Cancer you can only fight it down to a manageable level or push it into remission. A woman who survives breast cancer is not cured, only out of direct danger from the tumor that was threatening her life. One of the most common problems with cancer after all is the cancer flaring back up.

Which brings me back to the point. What you benefit from can not be selfless by definition because you are expecting a benefit form it.
If I started a Leukemia Research foundation and took money from Phant and instead of spending the money on Leukemia research I spent it on hookers and blow he would be pissed. Why? Because he expected a return for his money. He expects that his donation no matter how humble will do something to fight a disease that so obviously impacted him. That expectation of the return is selfish.

You may say that's a high standard to match to which I say of course it is. It is hard to do good in this world. To act selflessly is a hard thing to do. We humans are a greedy short sighted bunch who conform to whatever social norms we happen to be born in and the vast majority of us never examine our own preconceptions for even an single hour of our lives. But we want to do good, very few people think they are bad people and will fit whatever cultural tradition has fitted us to believe is good and what is evil. In fact one of those cultural traditions is harming Phant right now because it seems he can not convince of the concept of a neutral act. To him an act of selfishness must be evil it is always evil because it implies focus on ones own needs above others. Yet he likely commits tends of thousands of these acts of selfishness every day, but he can ignore or rationalize away the other ones. After all he can't be a bad person and to be selfish is to be a bad person.

So he can't be selfish... because that would make him a bad person.
And there in lies his problem and where is anger comes from. He can not grasp the concept of the neutral act, all acts must be good or all acts must be evil. In his mind there is no room for anything else.




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 Post subject: Re: Romney Releases Tax Returns PostPosted: 2012-09-25 11:33am
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Channel72 wrote:
What the fuck are you talking about? What you said doesn't even address my argument. I never said donating more money makes it "more good", and I'm not making a moral argument. I said donating a lot of money is the only way that your individual donation is likely to have any noticeable effect on the state of medical research.

So you intend to argue that only acts that increase the likelihood of an increase of the common good count? Intent matters for nothing? Only the Rich can be moral?

Channel72 wrote:


Therefore, Phantasee's donation can't possibly be out of self-interest. It's just a way to "contribute", and "feel good about yourself." It's not out of self-interest motivated by fear of getting the disease.

You've never even addressed this, accept to blather about scale or something, and yet it undermines every fucking thing you've said in this thread.

Did he expect a return, did he expect his money would go towards improving the state of Leukemia research? Can you say in my previous post example he would have felt just as good if they money went to hookers and blow instead or Leukemia research?




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 Post subject: Re: Romney Releases Tax Returns PostPosted: 2012-09-25 11:40am
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If you spent the money on something other than leukemia research you could expect donors to be angry at you for misleading them. You would have lied to them, or is that not a valid reason to be angry?

Also, I really wish you would stop pretending you know anything about me. Every post you make in this thread digs your hole of stupidity deeper and deeper.



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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-25 12:31pm
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Split from the Romney Releases Tax Returns thread.

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 Post subject: Re: Romney Releases Tax Returns PostPosted: 2012-09-25 12:39pm
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Mr Bean wrote:
This is the key stumbling block I've gone back to several times you can't or won't grasp.
Donating for selfish reasons is not bad

Agreed.
Quote:
But donating for selfish reasons is not good either.

Disagreed. It is less good, but still good. Which fits into the spectrum you mentioned afterwards:
Quote:
Depending on the morality system you ahead to it's anything from a neutral act to a lesser good deed as the giving was done with the expect of the return. Unless you intend to make the argument that the money donated towards research was not expected to be put towards the goal of Leukemia research. The size of the donation does not matter, if it is a charitable gift then it is or is not scale does not matter in a question of morality.


Or to put it another way: Helping someone is good. Helping someone, but expecting something in return - in any way or form - is less good, but still good.

Or maybe: Helping your family, friends, relatives, etc is less good than helping a total stranger. It is still good, however.

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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-25 12:42pm
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So your argument is: Phantasee personally knew someone who died of Leukemia, and is therefore himself afraid of getting Leukemia, or afraid that someone else he knows will get Leukemia. Therefore, his donation to Leukemia research is out of self-interest.

And for the 3rd time now, your argument is bullshit because it assumes Phantasee actually thinks that his individual donation will have any noticeable effect on Leukemia research, or even lead to a cure in time to save him or anyone else. But unless he's donated millions of dollars, it's unlikely his donation will have any fucking effect. And I'm he sure he knows that. Everybody knows that. I've donated to medical research, but I'm not under any delusion that my individual donation will matter much.

Therefore, Phantasee's donation can't possibly be out of self-interest. It's just a way to "contribute", and "feel good about yourself." It's not out of self-interest motivated by fear of getting the disease.

You've never even addressed this, accept to blather about scale or something, and yet it undermines every fucking thing you've said in this thread.


The point is also sailing over your head. The very fact that Phantasee donated money towards a condition that has personally affected him in the past is proof of Beans' basic argument, as opposing to using that money towards any number of other conditions. Unless you are claiming that his donation to leukemia was pure chance. All of your blathering about the amount of donation is a red herring. Regardless of Phantasee's intentions, the fact that he donated towards something that has affected him is self-interest BY DEFINITION. Even if it was just to make him feel better, as you yourself say in your post, that is still self-interest.

The problem is you people seem to think that self-interest is inherently bad, as opposed to being neutral. Why the fuck should Phantasee, or you, be offended that his donation was influenced by self-interest? EVERYBODY's decisions are influenced by self-interest, because it is hard-coded into our fucking brains to act that way. Again, stop being butt-hurt by what Bean is saying and making absurd strawman arguments about the scale of donation. Again: Phantasee is not a bad person, and nobody is claiming that he is. That doesn't change the fact that self-interest was a factor in his decision making, just as it is for every human being on the planet for every decision we make. (Hell, there are people that make the argument that altruism in and of itself is a condition of self-interest, but that's not an argument we need to make, here).



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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-25 12:58pm
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Mr Bean wrote:
If you directly benefit from your own actions (Like donating from a disease you suffer from) it can not be selfless. Surviving cancer is not like surviving a car crash or the flu. Once you have Cancer you can only fight it down to a manageable level or push it into remission. A woman who survives breast cancer is not cured, only out of direct danger from the tumor that was threatening her life. One of the most common problems with cancer after all is the cancer flaring back up.


So replace the hypothetical with something else. If the disease just happens to be something with little to no chance of recurring once you recover (like a lot of viral infections), does donating towards a cure to that disease after you've recovered from it suddenly become non-selfish?

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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-25 03:23pm
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Ziggy Startdust wrote:
The point is also sailing over your head. The very fact that Phantasee donated money towards a condition that has personally affected him in the past is proof of Beans' basic argument, as opposing to using that money towards any number of other conditions. Unless you are claiming that his donation to leukemia was pure chance. All of your blathering about the amount of donation is a red herring. Regardless of Phantasee's intentions, the fact that he donated towards something that has affected him is self-interest BY DEFINITION. Even if it was just to make him feel better, as you yourself say in your post, that is still self-interest.

So basically your whole argument reduces to some stupid tautology like "doing something that makes you feel good is in your self-interest." If we apply that definition to acts of charity (or any other human activity, really) the word "selfish" and "selfless" lose any useful meaning. "Selfish" is generally applied to someone who acts out of self-interest without regard to or at the expense of other people. Phantasee's donation helps other people, so calling it "selfish" because it made him feel good is just plain abuse of language. And saying it was motivated by self-interest because it made him feel good is so extremely tautological that it's not even worth saying.

Regardless, Bean is just blatantly backpedaling now, and you're either not paying attention to what he originally said, or you're backpedaling as well. Bean clearly implied originally that Phantasee (and people in general) only donate to diseases when they feel they are at risk of getting the disease themselves:

Mr Bean wrote:
So your saying that you have zero fear that your own children will suffer the same fate and that your donation to Leukemia research was totally motivated by detached motivation of the promotion of the greater good?

Why don't you understand the simple concept that people spend money fighting the conditions and diseases they know about because they are the conditions and diseases either yourself or the ones they care about can/have suffered from

The implication of Bean's quotes here is that he thinks people donate money to try and save themselves from the disease. I pointed out how this is ridiculous, because it implies that people are delusional enough to think that their small donation will actually PAY OFF by saving them or their loved ones from the disease. But in practice, nobody thinks like that - unless maybe they've donated millions. Most people only donate to "feel good about themselves" - most of the time they don't even follow up to see how their donation was spent.

But now you're pretending that all along the argument here was just that "doing something that makes you feel good is selfish" or "all human actions ultimately stem from self-interest", which is tautologically true to the extent that it's not even worth pointing out.

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 Post subject: Re: Romney Releases Tax Returns PostPosted: 2012-09-25 09:18pm
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D.Turtle wrote:
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But donating for selfish reasons is not good either.

Disagreed. It is less good, but still good.


Can someone articulate for me why being perfectly altruistic is a good thing? Pretty sure Aristotle would say that's an excess of virtue, and the negative effects for the person are obvious.



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 Post subject: Re: Romney Releases Tax Returns PostPosted: 2012-09-26 05:05am
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Mr Bean wrote:
It's cynical but true, people don't donate lots of money to little unpopular diseases, you can take the average charitable giver and determine which disease will get their donations depend on what they fear the most or what they are most at risk of. Cynical but true, if you or those you care about are not at risk for Lou Gehrig disease your not going to think to donate money to fight the disease because your not going to think about it when it comes time for deadly disease donation day.

To put it bluntly there are a shit ton of diseases, conditions and syndromes out there. The ones your at risk for are the ones you know about or the ones friends and family have gotten.


I work for a very large (in UK terms) group of grant-making trusts, most of which have living settlers. I can tell you from this experience that you are talking utter rubbish. 90%+ of our grant-making has no perceivable beneift to the settler involved. A lot of it (£10m+ per annum) has to do with trying to enable sub-Sarahan Africa to feed itself - what benefit does the rich, white Lord who gives that money get from this, other than the satisfaction that he is able to help farmers in Kenya, Uganda et al improve their crop yields and form a strong trading collective with other farmers in the country? Others give a lot of money towards youth justice for no other reason than wanting to see disadvantaged young people given a chance in life. Whatever your politics, this charitable giving is in no way selfish.

I won't disclose the name here, as we do not particularly seek publicity for the work we do, but another, bigger, example would be Bill Gates and there are countless others who do the same sorts of things.

Hence, to suggest that people "only" give money to causes they feel will benefit them is completely false.



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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-26 12:35pm
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Channel72 wrote:
So basically your whole argument reduces to some stupid tautology like "doing something that makes you feel good is in your self-interest."


How is that a tautology? Something that benefits you is in your self-interest. Do you deny this?

Channel72 wrote:
If we apply that definition to acts of charity (or any other human activity, really) the word "selfish" and "selfless" lose any useful meaning. "Selfish" is generally applied to someone who acts out of self-interest without regard to or at the expense of other people.


How does this change any of what I have said?

Channel72 wrote:
Phantasee's donation helps other people, so calling it "selfish" because it made him feel good is just plain abuse of language. And saying it was motivated by self-interest because it made him feel good is so extremely tautological that it's not even worth saying.


You are the one attaching negative attributes to the phrase "self-interest," even though I have made it quite clear it is a strictly neutral term. By the definition of the word "self-interest," Phantasee acted in his self-interest. This is not a bad thing, nor is it a good thing. It is just a thing. And you accuse ME of abuse of language?

Channel72 wrote:
Regardless, Bean is just blatantly backpedaling now, and you're either not paying attention to what he originally said, or you're backpedaling as well. Bean clearly implied originally that Phantasee (and people in general) only donate to diseases [i]when they feel they are at risk of getting the disease themselves:


I am not backpedaling, as my position has not changed. I cannot speak for Mr. Bean, but I did not interpret his original argument the way you did. Whether his argument has changed since is not my concern. I interpreted Mr. Bean's original argument simply that Phantasee acted out of self-interest, regardless of the exact motivations. And that is a true statement. You and Phantasee are the ones that interpreted "self-interest" as being inherently negative.

Channel72 wrote:
But now you're pretending that all along the argument here was just that "doing something that makes you feel good is selfish" or "all human actions ultimately stem from self-interest", which is tautologically true to the extent that it's not even worth pointing out.


That IS what I've been arguing all along. I dare you to find a post of mine arguing anything differently. I am going to say this one more time, since you still refuse to acknowledge it:

Phantasee's actions WERE out of self-interest. If you or he find that offensive, that is your damned problem. Self-interest is not a negative quality. It is an important psychological phenomenon that is inextricable from altruism. This is cognitive science 101. That does not mean that Phantasee is immoral, because self-interest is a neutral quality. The argument could then be made (though I am not making it) that someone who acted without self-interest would be acting more charitable then Phantasee. I am not saying it is true, or even that I think that way, but merely it is a valid argument that one could make.



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 Post subject: Re: Romney Releases Tax Returns PostPosted: 2012-09-26 01:15pm
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Mr Bean wrote:
Cute, so failing to address the point you simply attack and run off.
Let me make this clear, I know why your offended. I don't mind, after all I am telling you an act you saw as a morally good thing to do was a selfish act. Which is what I've said several times now.

Let me put it a bit more bluntly. To preform a selfless act it must be something you don't directly benefit from. I'm not calling you a cunt because you donated money to fight a disease Phant. I'm not calling you anything except to point out the act was selfish in nature, you will benefit from it even if you don't want to admit that. And acting to benefit ones self is a selfish act.

It's as simple as that.
It does not make you bad, it does not make you anything.

You GOT to be kidding me.

So, using your matrix, my donation to the Singapore Heart Foundation is cynical because I fall under multiple risk factors for developing heart disease and my donation to the Singapore Cancer Society benefits me directly, since hey, more funds to help the patients I work with, the faster I get them out of my hair and go home...........


odd. I would had thought it was because I seen the suffering and dilenma those guys went through and that every little bit counts.

Mr Bean wrote:
Losonti Tokash wrote:
No, it's actually about how his personal definition is so ridiculous as to be unusable

I suggest you expand your readings a bit to the culture of India. There you might find two religions known as Hinduism and Buddhism that share the concept of Dāna. That of giving without expecting reward. The concept of charity only being possible when no return is expected or anticipated. To give your food to a beggar is Dāna. To bring that beggar back to work your fields in exchange for food is not. If you expand your search further you will find Judaism with the concept of Tzedakah which holds that second highest form of it is anonymously give donations to unknown recipients. If you wish I can provide links about the various Catholic writings about the concept of Charity and the morality of giving.

My "ridiculous personal definition" forms the heart of several religions statements about how to be moral when giving. It is one the "true" forms of charity in cognitive psychology as Ziggy pointed out. There is a science of morality and discovering a code of universal morality is one of those goals of science.

I suggest you expand your readings a bit to the concept called Karma. As recited in the Diamond Sutra, you reap what you sow. Oh wait, sorry, that's in the Bible. The Chinese version(since I obviously didn't read the damn Vedic verses) is that you get what you give.
Hell, may I point out to you that the concept of Dana in Buddhism, you actually spiritually benefit from the act itself? Thus invalidating your entire philosophical argument that acts of selfless generousity must not benefit oneself, or it is actually motivated more from self interest than others.

You see Bean, the problem is that you're automatically painting anyone who could had benefited from a moral selfless act to be not as selfless as someone who didn't benefit. That's nonsense. We should at least consider the moral matrix of why Phantase donated and the reasons for doing so.

Saying that cognitive pyschology shows that we donate to causes we're affected emotionally is bullshit. Saying that there are philosophical concepts of selfless generousity is also bullshit. Because the problem here that everyone here is aiming at is at one single statement.

"Donating to help yourself is not an act most would call selfless."
The common stance for most people is that if I somehow benefited when I helped others and the benefits to others is greater than my own, then yes, the act is selfless. Insofar as the aim was to help others as opposed to myself. The personal benefit would be a bonus.

Quote:
A woman who survives breast cancer is not cured, only out of direct danger from the tumor that was threatening her life. One of the most common problems with cancer after all is the cancer flaring back up.

No, it does not. A woman who survives breast cancer is considered cured when the risk of her getting cancer recedes to the normal rate.(for a vulnerable group of population, since she has received treatments which increase her risk of getting blood cancers, breast cancers due to radiation and of course, her own genetic vulnerability.)



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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-26 01:23pm
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Ziggy Stardust wrote:
[
The point is also sailing over your head. The very fact that Phantasee donated money towards a condition that has personally affected him in the past is proof of Beans' basic argument, as opposing to using that money towards any number of other conditions. Unless you are claiming that his donation to leukemia was pure chance. All of your blathering about the amount of donation is a red herring. Regardless of Phantasee's intentions, the fact that he donated towards something that has affected him is self-interest BY DEFINITION. Even if it was just to make him feel better, as you yourself say in your post, that is still self-interest.

So? Why couldn't Phantasee intention has been motivated to prevent other people from going through the same pain that they underwent? To make the world a better place?

The problem is that Mr Bean automatically assumes that Phantasee intent was motivated by self interest, because he could had benefited.
Using pysch studies that shows we're motivated by our emotions is nonsensical. I say again, that the INTENT is more important than any calculation that shows Phantasee has benefited, especially since Mr Bean cannot show that Phantasee has done the calculations to show that he is aware of the benefits he would get.


Even if we were to argue that such an calculation might had been made unconsciously, it would still be on the onus of Mr Bean to show that self interest was a stronger motivating factor than some other selfless intent, such as the desire to help anyone else from going through the same pain that he did.



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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-26 01:26pm
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Ziggy Stardust wrote:
How is that a tautology? Something that benefits you is in your self-interest. Do you deny this?

The phrase "something that benefits you is in your self-interest" is a textbook tautology. It is a useless sentence that doesn't convey any meaning. The term "self-interest" is defined in terms of "things that benefit the self", so of course something that benefits you is in your self-interest. It's literally equivalent to saying "things that benefit you are beneficial to you."

Quote:
That IS what I've been arguing all along. I dare you to find a post of mine arguing anything differently. I am going to say this one more time, since you still refuse to acknowledge it:

Phantasee's actions WERE out of self-interest. If you or he find that offensive, that is your damned problem. Self-interest is not a negative quality. It is an important psychological phenomenon that is inextricable from altruism. This is cognitive science 101. That does not mean that Phantasee is immoral, because self-interest is a neutral quality. The argument could then be made (though I am not making it) that someone who acted without self-interest would be acting more charitable then Phantasee. I am not saying it is true, or even that I think that way, but merely it is a valid argument that one could make.

In that case I don't have any argument with you, other than to ask why you think it is interesting or even worth pointing out that all human actions ultimately reduce to self-interest? I don't think anyone here, even Phantasee, would contest that. I'm also confused why you think Bean was just saying something so non-controversial like "all human actions are ultimately motivated by self-interest." Mr. Bean's specific claim was that the primary motivation for Phantasee's donation was FEAR of actually getting cancer - and thus it was motivated out of self-preservation and fear.

He said:

Mr Bean wrote:
Yes, because you are giving to a charity for a disease that can affect you. My own family for example when I donate to Alzheimer charities that is with the implicit understand that I want there to be a fucking cure for Alzheimer by the time it could affect me as it has affected my Great Grandmother, Grandmother and now recently possibly my Mother.

I mean really, it's pretty clear that was the meaning of Bean's post, since it was a follow-up to Darth Wong's complaint that Romney only donates to his own church. Both Phantasee and Hillary also interpreted it that way. You've just reduced it to the broadest possible parameters, to the point where you're basically spouting tautologies that nobody disagrees with.

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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-26 01:42pm
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And with regards to Darth Wong church statement and how its different from cancer survivors donating to cancer research, a huge world of seperation divides this ethically.


1. Most cancer survivors donate so as to help the next person who might go through the traumatic experience of getting cancer. An intent of selflessness.
Do Church goers have similar, selfless intent?

2. Based on effects. The effects of it is mostly beneficial to others as opposed to themselves or a group they belong to. Church goers donate to an organisation, an in-group that they belong to and a good portion of the benefits are to the organisation .(there are acts of charity from churches afterall).
Cancer survivors........ might or might not receive such benefits. Its also highly unlikely that if a cancer does recur, it would be in time for them to benefit anyway(obviously depending on the cancer itself).



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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-27 03:04am
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A question:
If I take on board what Bean has said,
And I go out of my way to make sure that I only donate to 'truly charitable' causes (ones which do not affect me personally in any way)

Am I not being selfish by seeking moral superiority?



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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-27 04:37am
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Mike's original point was that donating to charities you benefit from and being smug about it is hardly charitable.

Most societies actually agree, which is why it's generally a faux-pas to brag about how much money you give to charity.

That said, I generally dislike this thing people do when they split hairs on whether or not X is slightly morally better than Y or Z because Y or Z was done because you had a reason vaguely related to yourself, while X wasn't.

Almost nobody does such fine moral calculations before making their decisions anyways, since it would be equivalent to calculating a 15 years return on investment rate on the 2.50$ you're about to spend on a candy bar, adding expected increase in health bills over your lifetime, and weighing it against the benefits of additional endorphines gained from consuming it. It becomes ridiculous.

Intent matters in the broad strokes: for example, if a firefighter does what he does for the fame and limelight, you should watch him, because he might begin to start fires himself ; But if, say, a Doctors Without Borders member goes to some disease-ridden region to fight tuberculosis because his wife died of it...who cares? What's the purpose of pointing out that his colleague is a slightly better person because he does it for no other reason than helping people?



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- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-27 09:00pm
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Darth Wong wrote:
Personally, I'm tired of the way Christians crow that they give more to charity, and it turns out the charity they're giving to is their own church. If you donate to something you use yourself, that is a pretty weird form of charity.

Churches have been at the front line of charity for at least 1900 years.

The only way this criticism would have validity is if the amount donated by a particular Christian to a church is less than the marginal cost of providing worship services to that particular Christians. I suspect the marginal costs are very low.

In any event, the benefits of the church are diffuse; the donor would not receive any particularized benefit from the charitable giving.

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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-29 11:09pm
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Darth Wong wrote:
Personally, I'm tired of the way Christians crow that they give more to charity, and it turns out the charity they're giving to is their own church. If you donate to something you use yourself, that is a pretty weird form of charity.


Actually, and this is coming from a liberal, conservatives give proportionally more to charity even after adjusting for church donations.

http://www.science20.com/adaptive_compl ... servatives

Quote:
2. Are conservatives richer, and thus able to give more to charity? Kristof notes that "measuring by the percentage of income given, conservatives are more generous than liberals even to secular causes," but we're given no information on how giving relates to wealth. When I'm spending 80% of my income on basics like food, housing, and transportation, I have less money to give as a percentage of my income. If I only spend 30% on the basics, I'm free to give a larger chunk to charity.

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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-30 11:43am
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Every act ever is "selfish" in that it is done to maximize perceived personal utility. The meaningful question is not, "Does this act provide the actor with utility?" It is, "What does this act indicate as something that provides the actor with utility?"

In the case of donation to a cause which has no impact on the donator, but helps others, it indicates that the donator derives utility from helping strangers. In the case of donation to a cause which helps others but also helps the donator, it indicates that the donator derives utility from helping strangers and/or that the donator derives utility from avoiding being a freeloader.

Those are different things, but they are both laudable and they are not mutually incompatible.

Now, some donations might be more charitable than others, but that is because more of the money goes to benevolent causes in some donations than others.

Let's propose a thought experiment:

Say for the sake of argument that I have $5000 to donate, and am a Christian. I choose from six options.

1: I donate $5000 to my political party. My political party advances my interests, but conducts no benevolence.
2: I donate $5000 to the rival political party. This political party opposes my interests, and conducts no benevolence.
3: I donate $5000 to my church. My church advances my interests with 30% of the money and conducts benevolence with 70% of the money.
4: I donate $5000 to the local mosque. The mosque opposes my interests with 30% of the money and conducts benevolence with 70% of the money.
5: I donate $5000 to breast cancer research. My family has a history of breast cancer, so this cause stands to benefit me. 100% of the money goes to benevolent purposes.
6: I donate $5000 to AIDS research. My family has no history of AIDS and is at low risk of contracting it, so this does not stand to benefit me. 100% of the money goes to benevolent purposes.

Are 2 and 4 somehow more charitable than 1 and 3? How about 6 and 5? Which one or ones are most morally commendable?



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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-30 12:41pm
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Feil wrote:
Every act ever is "selfish" in that it is done to maximize perceived personal utility. The meaningful question is not, "Does this act provide the actor with utility?" It is, "What does this act indicate as something that provides the actor with utility?"

In the case of donation to a cause which has no impact on the donator, but helps others, it indicates that the donator derives utility from helping strangers. In the case of donation to a cause which helps others but also helps the donator, it indicates that the donator derives utility from helping strangers and/or that the donator derives utility from avoiding being a freeloader.

Those are different things, but they are both laudable and they are not mutually incompatible.

Now, some donations might be more charitable than others, but that is because more of the money goes to benevolent causes in some donations than others.

Let's propose a thought experiment:

Say for the sake of argument that I have $5000 to donate, and am a Christian. I choose from six options.

1: I donate $5000 to my political party. My political party advances my interests, but conducts no benevolence.
2: I donate $5000 to the rival political party. This political party opposes my interests, and conducts no benevolence.
3: I donate $5000 to my church. My church advances my interests with 30% of the money and conducts benevolence with 70% of the money.
4: I donate $5000 to the local mosque. The mosque opposes my interests with 30% of the money and conducts benevolence with 70% of the money.
5: I donate $5000 to breast cancer research. My family has a history of breast cancer, so this cause stands to benefit me. 100% of the money goes to benevolent purposes.
6: I donate $5000 to AIDS research. My family has no history of AIDS and is at low risk of contracting it, so this does not stand to benefit me. 100% of the money goes to benevolent purposes.

Are 2 and 4 somehow more charitable than 1 and 3? How about 6 and 5? Which one or ones are most morally commendable?

What is important to remember that concerning 1 and 3 and 5, the benefits are diffuse and shared; there is no quid pro quo.

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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-30 01:39pm
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Luke Skywalker wrote:
Actually, and this is coming from a liberal, conservatives give proportionally more to charity even after adjusting for church donations.

http://www.science20.com/adaptive_compl ... servatives

Huh? The article says that if you exclude church donations, liberals are slightly more generous than conservatives:

Quote:
And in fact, Kristof notes that "According to Google’s figures, if donations to all religious organizations are excluded, liberals give slightly more to charity than conservatives do."


It follows this up by questioning whether excluding church donations is fair, since a lot of that money does go to substantial charitable work.

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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-30 04:39pm
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Channel72 wrote:
Huh? The article says that if you exclude church donations, liberals are slightly more generous than conservatives:


No, read more carefully. Discounting charitable donations, liberals donate slightly more in absolute terms, but conservatives still donate a significantly larger portion of their salaries (implication: liberals are richer).

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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-09-30 09:34pm
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Here's a question: if an action is not completely selfless, can you call it selfish? My opinion would be "not necessarily", depending upon just how much self interest there is.

With respect to the church issue: if I donate money to my (theoretical) church, chances are good -- better than good in some cases -- that some of that money will be spent upon things that will directly benefit me. Maybe the church is going to buy a van in the next year, and I'll be able to borrow it at some point. Maybe it will replace the old stained glass window with a nicer one, which makes me feel better. Maybe I'll be asked just a little less often to provide goods for the damned bake sales they keep having to raise money.

Can any act be completely selfless? I come down on the "no" side of that question. Even if all I get out of the transaction is a sense of satisfaction, I'm getting something, and it's what I planned to get. Does this make me selfish? I don't think that a reasonable person can argue that it does.

In a sense I see Bean's point -- for brevity's sake we'll call it that -- but I don't believe that donating to a charity whose goals may very slightly coincide with my interests sinks that transaction to the level of selfishness. Calling it that really does break the definition of that word, since that makes everything a selfish act.



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 Post subject: Re: Selfishness in Charity Donations PostPosted: 2012-10-01 11:32am
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SCRawl wrote:
Here's a question: if an action is not completely selfless, can you call it selfish? My opinion would be "not necessarily", depending upon just how much self interest there is.

With respect to the church issue: if I donate money to my (theoretical) church, chances are good -- better than good in some cases -- that some of that money will be spent upon things that will directly benefit me. Maybe the church is going to buy a van in the next year, and I'll be able to borrow it at some point. Maybe it will replace the old stained glass window with a nicer one, which makes me feel better. Maybe I'll be asked just a little less often to provide goods for the damned bake sales they keep having to raise money.

Can any act be completely selfless? I come down on the "no" side of that question. Even if all I get out of the transaction is a sense of satisfaction, I'm getting something, and it's what I planned to get. Does this make me selfish? I don't think that a reasonable person can argue that it does.

In a sense I see Bean's point -- for brevity's sake we'll call it that -- but I don't believe that donating to a charity whose goals may very slightly coincide with my interests sinks that transaction to the level of selfishness. Calling it that really does break the definition of that word, since that makes everything a selfish act.


Except that conservatives donate proportionally more to secular causes. They also are 50% more likely to donate blood. Lacking in intelligence and lacking in empathy aren't always related.

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