Why is "what's best for everyone" better than "what's only best for me (and my friends / family)"?

Does it need explaining or justifying at all? 

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I probably didn't make myself very clear Simon, there's an old adage, that I learned while studying American History in college and all of the compromises that went into authoring the Constitution, that if everyone walks away dissatisfied, it was probably a good compromise, but I labored under the false impression that everyone was familiar with the adage, which obviously wasn't the case.

Let's say that four people each want two of something, but there are only four somethings - if each gets one, it may be a fair compromise, but no one will have gotten what they wanted.

If, on the other hand, someone walks away happy, it could only mean that he got two, and at least one other, got none, so though one was happy, the compromise wasn't a fair one.

The adage depends on no one wanting less than two, and simply getting one, though fair, is insufficient - simply knowing the compromise was fair, is not necessarily enough.

But not every situation is like that.  Very often, one of something will be enough for each person, although it's not everything they hoped for. 

If nobody can do with less than two, then a different kind of outcome is required. . 

I get your point - sometimes it's enough, sometimes it's not. 

But then, in many group disputes, people only care about their own interests.  It varies according to the group and the parties which make it up.  What makes the members of the group care more about achieving fairness for each other?  Two things:  the ethics or morals of the individual members;  and how closely bonded or loyal the members are to each other. 

In fact, it's not just a group dispute, it's any situation where morality is under consideration, and that means any social situation. 

Because no one wants to be labeled a selfish, egocentric, bastard. 

Because if you get a bad reputation, people don't want to help you any more than they have to, people tend to reject you, it causes conflict and trouble and generally makes life more difficult and can lead to ruin. 

No one? Two words: Ayn Rand.

Oh, Unseen doesn't mind --

Somewhere, this week, I read a banner that said, "What would politicians do if we all got along?"

When it comes down to it, there isn't a way to know what decision is best for everyone. It would take foreknowledge that people are incapable of possessing. In the same way an individual can't know what actions will lead to the best outcomes for oneself. We can only do the best we have with what we've got.

"I suppose I was really asking, which I wasn't able to make clear, in my clunky title:  in a group dispute, where multiple actors are involved, why is it better for everyone to be satisfied with the outcome rather than just you?  This is an important point which I see as axiomatic, so I want to make sure I've nailed it everyone's satisfaction."

Is it a better outcome that is reached when everyone is satisfied? Probably not. If people did what was best for themselves they wouldn't smoke or engorge themselves on fast food until they dropped dead at 50 from a heart attack. Most people are pretty terrible at critical thinking skills and planning for the future. I certainly wouldn't qualify a decision that a grouped reached to be "best" for the group. I'd say that it was simply a decision that a group had consensus on. If people more people are satisfied it keeps group cohesion together which tends to be better for the group in the long run, but that doesn't mean that the group will have a better future or that there will be smooth sailing ahead.

One of the problems with a person using force to get the outcome he or she desires (which doesn't matter if her or she is acting in his or her own interest or that of the group's and counter to his or her interest) is that it suppresses others in the group. It ostracizes others and they have little or no interest in contributing to the welfare of the group. Fear and intimidation works for a time, but it leads to dramatic and terrible outcomes for those who use it. Generally speaking, of course. Case in point being Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and Hosni Mubarak. Now, we are seeing the same with Al-Assad in Syria, but I digress.

How do people come to a consensus? Generally, people either have an opinion and stick to it, are persuaded by others to see the validity of another opinion as being correct, or determine that it is better to keep group cohesion and acquiesce rather than turn everyone against them. In the short, You think you are right, you realized you were wrong, or you act in your self interest for your place in the group. Whether staying with a group that you think is making a bad choice is really in your best interest, well, I'll leave that decision up to you. In my opinion, you'd have to have a compelling reason to continue on with a group that is moving counter to your own goals and interests.

Personally, I don't make decisions for others. I find it arrogant,self-righteous, and it implies that I know you better than you do. While I might have a better grasp on likely outcomes given my own personal knowledge and experience that you wouldn't have, I don't know your own goals and motivations. For me to make a decision that is "better" for you, may be completely counter to what would be "better."

So to answer the question: "in a group dispute, where multiple actors are involved, why is it better for everyone to be satisfied with the outcome rather than just you?" It's not that it's better, but it's just how group dynamics work. If there continues to not be a consensus, then shortly there will no longer be one group, but two. What's best isn't necessarily what's best, but it does tend to be what works.

Interesting points are getting raised.  This turns out to be quite a big subject, but I know we can get a handle on it.  



How do you define a group dispute?  

How do you define an outcome in a group dispute?  

How do you define "best for everyone" in a group dispute?

Which is more advantageous for me personally:  to do good or to do evil?  

Whichever the answer is:  how is it more advantageous?  



It's clear that reality is messy and varied, however, I still think we can narrow down the number of classifications and it's not THAT messy and varied.  Perhaps we can isolate out some essential elements and see how they apply across the board.  



I think that experience shows overwhelmingly that it is more advantageous for me personally to do good.  I think that doing good is the only way to true happiness for me personally.  It might be hard in the short term but it is almost inevitably more advantageous in the long term.   By contrast, doing evil may produce pleasure in the short term but almost inevitably has bad consequences in the long term and leads to unhappiness for me personally.  

The world is not a perfectly just place.  Evil is not always punished (by agents external to you) and virtue is not always rewarded (by agents external to you).  However, although it can seem neck-and-neck at times, I believe that the amount of justice in the world far outweighs the amount of injustice.  It's just that we tend not to notice the mundane, run-of-the-mill justice that we encounter almost all the time: we take it for granted. 

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