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One of my favorite definitions of the word "integrity" is: Doing the right thing when nobody is watching, and without any potential for reward.

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Apr 24·edited Apr 24

"One of my favorite definitions of the word "integrity" is: Doing the right thing when nobody is watching, and without any potential for reward."

Another way to put it is: You can easily judge a person's character by how they treat those who can do nothing for them or to them.

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“ The ethicist Peter Singer…”. Now there’s an oxymoron if there ever was one. “… you just can't compare the life of a child to the cost of a pair of shoes, no matter how expensive.¹” WTF?

I apologize for insulting the good folk here with what amounts to an “ad hominem” argumental rebuttal of Singer’s philosophical musings, but is this the same Pete Singer who went all in on the pro-abortion controversy a couple of decades ago and argued for late term abortion? Not even that, IIRC he argued for *post term* abortion! Yep, babies born with serious complications and birth defects should be “put to sleep” like an old dog—for the good of society, with the parents’ consent of course.

I understand the need to allow free exchange of opinion, but there are some people so evil as to be shunned by good people. No academic should be considered above the societal code of morality in which they dwell.

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He’s involved in “effective altruism,” made famous by Sam Bankman-Fried.

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That's a strong disgust reaction.

I believe free speech is worth being disgusted sometimes.

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Virtue signaling in blogs, articles, and videos is very popular today, but it mainly involves talk, not action.

Most take the form of hoping, wishing, praying, or just pissing and moaning about a problem, but almost always bereft of a solution. The message is always: 'I am a good person...I care.'

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Something I explore in this piece: https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/p/love-of-the-people

"The Social Justice religion’s most enduring missionary work on its benighted Western fellow men has been in the field of what I would call its White-Intelligentsia Guilt-Trip-by-Proxy Syndrome. The chattering class, civil lawfare against their deplorable white fellows - for crimes of Euro-centricity and whiteness - grinds on like a 21st c. Dombey & Son. And thanks to fifteen year’s more expansion of tertiary education, the prosecution team has grown......

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Apr 24·edited Apr 24

Male husband here: Substack gets us mixed up.

I might not save the child if I feared reasonably that the police would accuse me of tossing her into the pond in the first place, or would suspect that she had jumped in to escape my predatory advances (knowing that I wouldn't want to get my shoes wet.) If the police are properly thinking dirty, they would doubt that a man wearing nice shoes *would* jump into a pond just to save a stranger's child without an ulterior motive which it is their job to interrogate out of me and produce evidence to close the case and ensure a prosecution.

This is why men will no longer assist women in distress (acutely) or in the sense of mentoring them in the workplace. Once you have made contact and there are no witnesses, whatever she later says you did, you did. Maybe only one woman in ten will do this, and only one child in a hundred would be induced by the nice policewoman to recall what you "did", but if it happens to you, you are absolutely screwed.

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Humans evolved in tribes. Every “help another” scenario would someone who was likely a biological relative.

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Adam Smith said people help one another because they see themselves in the other. In a word, sympathy. People even help animals for this reason. Sure, some people might make a show of it for popularity but it doesn’t mean that their meanness of spirit should be extrapolated to all of humanity.

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So basically there is no such thing as altruism? In the example given, who knows if there are subconscious motives at play? But simply put it is the right thing to do. Studies have been done on babies who can discern and respond to distress without being able to communicate. It may just be a basic human evolutionary response to help others.

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"So basically there is no such thing as altruism?"

No, altruism does exist, but it is rarer than many would like to believe.

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"One answer—though there are likely many answers, since people are complex—is that we use such cases to signal to others that we are good people". This seems unnescessarily complicated. Maybe most of us actually are good people, and others' perceptions are irrelevant.

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I'm the author. Perhaps you're right. This is still an open question after all. However, you might check out a book called *The Elephant in the Brain*. It provides a wealth of evidence for the claim that we often do things to help others motivated by subconscious desires to signal our virtue. Worth checking out! Thanks for reading! 😊

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"But what makes this difference? When our passive feelings are almost always so sordid and so selfish, how comes it that our active principles should often be so generous and so noble? When we are always so much more deeply affected by whatever concerns ourselves than by whatever concerns other men; what is it which prompts the generous upon all occasions, and the mean upon many, to sacrifice their own interests to the greater interests of others? It is not the soft power of humanity, it is not that feeble spark of benevolence which Nature has lighted up in the human heart, that is thus capable of counteracting the strongest impulses of self-love. It is a stronger power, a more forcible motive, which exerts itself upon such occasions. It is reason, principle, conscience, the inhabitant of the breast, the man within, the great judge and arbiter of our conduct. It is he who, whenever we are about to act so as to affect the happiness of others, calls to us, with a voice capable of astonishing the most presumptuous of our passions, that we are but one of the multitude, in no respect better than any other in it; and that when we prefer ourselves so shamefully and so blindly to others, we become the proper objects of resentment, abhorrence, and execration. It is from him only that we learn the real littleness of ourselves, and of whatever relates to ourselves, and the natural misrepresentations of self-love can be corrected only by the eye of this impartial spectator. It is he who shews us the propriety of generosity and the deformity of injustice; the propriety of resigning the greatest interests of our own for the yet greater interests of others; and the deformity of doing the smallest injury to another in order to obtain the greatest benefit to ourselves. It is not the love of our neighbour, it is not the love of mankind, which upon many occasions prompts us to the practice of those divine virtues. It is a stronger love, a more powerful affection, which generally takes place upon such occasions; the love of what is honourable and noble, of the grandeur, and dignity, and superiority of our own characters."

One might say that we need to maintain our reputation with the great arbiter of our conduct, that

we signal not only to others, but to ourself. But the more natural way to put it is as Smith does. We have a passion to avoid the disapproval of our conscience and a corresponding love of what is honorable.

Now, if you ask why we have that passion and that love, my response is: We don't have anything better to do.

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There's another explanation, of course.

It's not that we're specifically refusing to calculate the cost of rescue, as an informed decision, each time the question comes up....

It's that we tend to default to our training when making a decision under stress. Which means we'll probably do whatever we've been trained to do ever since we were children.

and training is both observable and resource-intensive. When designing the rescue algorithm to train your child in, You want the algorithm that simplest to learn, easiest to teach, least embarrassing for your neighbors to see you teaching to a child, and which algorithm is fastest at giving a 'good enough' answer in an emergency.

Which means that... you can either live with the CERTAINTY that your neighbors will see you taking the extra time and effort to repeatedly train your children to abandon strange neighbors to their death if a valuable resource is at stake and there are no witnesses during the incident in question....

Or you can live with the POSSIBILITY that someday in the distant future, your future adult child MIGHT sacrifice a nice pair of shoes to save a strange nameless child even though there are no witnesses, because you taught your child the safest, shortest, rescue decision algorithm TODAY.

Put that way, of course we don't worry about training children in complex resource-prioritization during rescues. Most likely, the child is never going to grow up to be responsible for THAT many rescues, or THAT much in the way of resources, anyway. a simplified algorithm will be fine. "Rescue anyone you can physically see, and who you can rescue without dying yourself" should do it. And if ONE of the children DOES grow up to be a professional rescuer with a large resource pool and infinite rescue demands, we can re-train that SPECIFIC child LATER.

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Just empathy, I wouldn't let a kid drown even if no one knew because I understand suffering

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