Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mill: On Utilitarianism

Mill would might respond to Arnold one of 2 ways.  First, he might say that while pain might sometimes be an instrumental good, it is not a good in itself (unlike pleasure).  Therefore, pain cannot be pleasure.  Second, he might respond that Arnold is confused.  He seems to be saying that, for him, growing is a good in itself.  But would Arnold pursue growth if it didn't bring him pleasure?  Probably not.  So, it is not growth that is the good in itself, but the pleasure that Arnold gets from growth.   

Arnold, you are a great man in many respects, but a logician you are not. 

In the chapter of Utilitarianism titled "What Utilitarianism Is" Mill replies to a series of common misunderstandings and criticisms directed at utilitarianism.

1.  Objection:  Damn fools be confusin' what utilitarians mean by 'utility'.

Reply:  Utility is not something different from pleasure but "pleasure itself, together with exemption from pain".

Clarification:  Definition of Utilitarianism/Greatest Happiness Principle:  Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.  Happiness means the same as pleasure and absence of pain.  Unhappiness is pain and privation of pleasure.  Morality is founded on the principle that "pleasure, and freedom from pain, are the only things desirable as ends; and that all desirable things are desirable either for the pleasure inherent in themselves, or as means to the promotion of pleasure and the prevention of pain."

Issue:  Mill thinks that we ought to act on the greatest happiness principle because it brings about 'good' consequences.  However, one might contend that morality involves what is right, not necessarily what is good.  Are rightness and goodness one and the same?

2.  Objection:  Utilitarianism is the doctrine worthy only of swine--there are nobler objects of pursuit for humans other than mere satisfaction of pleasure.

Reply: Ah ha! It's not the utilitarians but their critics who represent the human condition in a degrading light.  The critics assume that human beings are only capable of the same pleasures that humans are capable of.  But surely the pleasures that would fully satisfy a beast would not satisfy a human being's conception of happiness.  Humans also have pleasures of the intellect, imagination, and moral sentiments which animals don't have.

Mill's Qualitative Hedonism:  No inconsistency arises in utilitarianism by saying there are distinct kinds of pleasures, some of which are more desirable and more valuable than others.  In other words, there's no good reason to suppose that pleasure is all of one type and can only be measured in terms of quantity and intensity.  There are higher (i.e., intellectual) and lower (i.e., bodily) pleasures.

Ok, but how do you decide why one type of pleasure is higher and another lower?  It seems kind of arbitrary...Here's how you dooz it:  If a majority of people who have experienced and are able to understand and appreciate both kinds of pleasures have a preference for one, then the preferred one has the higher ranking.  To determine different kinds of pleasure you'd run the same test but if the majority wouldn't trade a small amount of one type of pleasure for any amount of the other, then you have 2 different kinds of pleasure (high and low).   It seems as though, in theory, you could have lexical scale of kinds of pleasures.

For example: Suppose we want to compare the pleasure we get from being on facebook to writing an 'A' paper.  If the majority of people who have done both wouldn't trade even a small quantity of the 'A'-paper feeling for a ton of time on facebook, then we could say that the kind of pleasure you get from being on facebook and the kind of you get from writing an 'A' paper are qualitatively different.  They are of distinct kinds.

People who are acquainted with both higher and lower types of pleasures prefer the higher pleasures:  According to Mill this is an empirical fact.  Part of his supporting evidence is that few humans would give up being human in exchange for being a fully satisfied pig and few well-educated people would give up their education for being a fully-satisfied ignoramuses (ignorami?).  As Mill famously says,

[i]t is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.  And if the fool or the pig is of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question.

Rob Ford Counter-Reply:  How do we explain people giving up long-term higher pleasures in favor of short-term lower pleasures?  People can knowingly make bad choices.  For example, we know we shouldn't be chronically checking facebook when we're supposed to be writing a paper or studying, but we do it anyway.  The fact that we don't act on our knowledge is no indictment against the claim that we have the knowledge of what is good for us.

So, now that we've sorted out what utilitarians mean by 'utility' and that there are (at least) 2 distinct kinds of pleasure, lets look at some further objections that Mill deals with...

3.  Objections from Kantian (aka deontological, aka transcendental) Ethics:  
(a)  Happiness cannot be the rational purpose of human life because (i) it isn't attainable and (ii) ain't nobody got a right to happiness. 

Reply 1:   Dude, even if you were right that happiness isn't attainable, which your aren't, the objection still wouldn't apply to the other half of the utilitarian doctrine--that utility also includes avoidance of pain and suffering.  So, even if we can't attain happiness, rational action is still directed at avoiding and minimizing pain and suffering.  Boom goes the dynamite. 

Reply 2:  You're wrong about the unattainability of happiness because you misunderstand what it is. Happiness is not just a "state of exalted pleasure" or "a life of rapture".  No, my dear friend; by happiness we mean "an existence made up of few transitory pains, many and various pleasures, with a decided predominance of the active over the passive," and not expecting more from life than it can reasonably bestow. 

(b)  True nobility and virtue requires renunciation of one's own happiness.

Reply 1: You're all like "virtue and nobility require self-sacrifice blah, blah, blah".  Yeah, OK, I get it. But check this out.  Why would anyone sacrifice their own happiness? Go ahead, I bet you'll never guess.  Give up?  Cuz they're trying to make things better for other people.  Maybe for their family or friends or community.  Maybe they realize by sacrificing their own happiness they can make many more people happier or at least reduce their suffering.  

Sure we call this virtuous behaviour...no doubt.  But at the end of the day this only further confirms happiness as the supreme good because no one in their right mind would suffer and sacrifice their own well-being if they didn't think the consequence of this suffering would be an improvement in the well-being of others.  The suffering itself is not a good, rather its consequences are.  To voluntarily give up one's own happiness without the effect of improving the well-being of others is not virtuous, it's just plain loco...ese. 

Clarification of Utilitarianism and the Principle of Impartiality:  Don't get it twisted.  Utilitarianism isn't about maximizing your own individual happiness at the expense of others.  What makes an action right is that you impartially evaluate the sum total of happiness that several courses of action might produce and choose the one that creates the most--regardless of how it's distributed.  

For example:  Suppose you can do A or B.  Action A will improve your own utility by 4 units but Action B will improve 5 other people's utility by 3 units, for a total of 15 units.   You must make the decision from the point of view of a "strictly impartial" and "disinterested and benevolent spectator."  The right choice, as prescribed by utilitarianism is B.  You do not treat your own well being as of greater importance as the well being of others.

Practical Application of the Greatest Happiness Principle:  (a) Laws and social arrangements should seek to harmonize the happiness/interests of the individual with the happiness/interests of the community. (b)  Education and opinion should serve to teach people that their own individual happiness is bound up in the happiness of others.

4.  Objections:  The utilitarian standard is too high!  It's unreasonable to expect people to consistently put their own happiness aside in favor of the happiness of others.

Reply (and criticism of Kant):  First you said it was too low and now it's too high.  Make of your freakin' mind people!  99 times out of hundred our own interest will align with what's also best for others.  So long as we don't confuse motivation of action for the rule of action, utilitarianism is not too high a standard.  Kant thinks that only an action's motive defines if the action is right.  But this is wrong.  The motive tells us about the moral worth of the agent, it does not tell us about the moral worth of the act.  

If we want to know if the act is right, we look at the consequences of the act; if we want to know if the agent is good, we look at the intentions behind the act.  Don't get 'em mixed up.  Of course, good acts usually come from agents with good intentions and agents with bad intentions usually do bad things but it's not necessarily the case.  Sometimes someone who intends to do good can cause harm and vice versa.

Criticism of Aristotle:  A moral standard doesn't decide whether an act is good or bad based on whether the person who did it is good (i.e., virtuous) or bad.  That's loco.  Good (i.e., virtuous) people can sometimes do bad things just as non-virtuous people can sometimes do good things.  Defining the action as good or bad in terms of the agent's moral character is loco.

ISSUE: What is morality about, the act or the intent behind the act?  Or is it both?  Or is it the agent's character?

5.  Objection:  It's just not practical to do a utility calculus every time we have to act in a moral situation.  Sometimes there just isn't time or energy or the foresight to anticipate and calculate the utility calculus of each possible course of action.

Reply 1:  That's just ridiculous.  Ain't nobody sayin' we can't use Christianity as a guide for action because there isn't time to read the Torah and New Testament before each decision...

Reply 2:  Besides, it's not like we're starting from scratch every time we have to make a decision.  Each individual has a lifetime of experience and a wealth of social knowledge to draw on for rules of thumb.  We learn what general principles tend to give the best utilitarian outcomes in like situations.

For example:  It's not like you need to sit down and weigh the consequences of murder and stealing each time it crosses your mind, you've got secondary rules prohibiting these acts that already conform to the main principle.  Duh! 

We can use the first principle of utilitarianism to derive secondary (practical) principles of action.  If, in a particular situation, the secondary principles conflict, we can resort back to the first principle to decide which secondary principle should take precedence. 

Kinds of Utilitarianism Rule vs Act Utilitarianism:  Ok, there's an extensive literature on this topic so I'm just going to give a brief outline.  

(Simple) Act Utilitarianism:  For each act, you must perform the utility calculus.   Otherwise stated, for each act, you should judge its rightness or wrongness in terms of how much relative happiness is created (relative to other options or inaction).

Rule Utilitarianism (weak):  We use secondary rules to make decisions.  However, if we encounter a situation where the secondary rule dictates a course of action that doesn't maximize happiness, we temporarily suspend the rule in favor of the Greatest Happiness Principle.  Under this type of rule utilitarianism, the secondary rules are heuristics, but can be suspended for special cases in which they don't give the right result.

Rule Utilitarianism (strong):  Same as weak except the rules are never suspended. Suspending rules undermines predictability causing anxiety and uncertainty which, in turn, diminish utility.

Common Objections to Utilitarianism
A.  It seems to commit us to doing things we consider to be immoral:  For example, suppose there's a terrorist who's going to blow up half of Uzbekistan.  The authorities have managed to capture his two children.  The only way to convince him to give himself up is to threaten to kill his two sweet innocent children who have never even hurt a fly.  In fact, it was reported that they have flies for pets and they treat them very well.  Anyhow, we know that he doesn't believe that the authorities will harm his kids and that the only way to get him to believe it and turn himself in is to kill the first one.  

Utilitarianism commits us to killing the first kid in order to save half of Uzbekistan. Although it might seem justified, killing innocent children hardly seems to be a moral act.  Also, because the good is defined in terms of utility, utilitarianism call this action 'good'.  But killing innocent kids (especially if they don't hurt flies) doesn't seem good...

B.  The Experience Machine:  Suppose it's the future.  It is the year 2000.  There are robots and flying cars everywhere and they both talk in robot voices.  Neuroscientists have invented an experience machine...basically like the matrix.  You can plug in and have any experience you want.  You can have any the memories implanted too.  You can choose to have the experience of climbing mount Everest.  You'd have all the memories of the struggle along the way and the triumph at summit.   

In fact, if you wanted, you could remain plugged into the machine forever and pre-program the exact life you want.  You'd never know the difference.  Would you choose to be plugged in forever?   

Utilitarianism defines good in terms of pleasure (and absence of suffering).  However, this thought experiment seems to show (if you answered no) that there's something more that we desire beyond mere pleasure.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Kantian Ethics: A Summary

Introduction and Context
Kant is considered to be one of the most important philosophers ever...EVER!  Therefore, everything he says it true.  The end.  Well, not quite.   Lets avoid appeals to authority and look at the arguments ourselves, shall we? 

As I mentioned in earlier posts the difference between the 3 main ethical theories (virtue, deontology, consequentialism) is a matter of emphasis.  While virtue ethics answers the question "what should I do" by emphasizing what a virtuous person would do (i.e., emphasizing things about the agent),  deontologists replies "you should do what ever you have a moral duty to do" (i.e., emphasizing properties of the action).  In a moment I'll explain how we figure out what our duties are but for now, know that Kantian ethics has to do with moral duty.   This why it is often referred to as deontology (Latin deon means "which is binding" or "duty").  

Ok, so the obvious question is "what's my duty?".  The short answer is that for any given situation you should figure out what principle (maxim) you are acting on and decide if you would want everyone to act on that principle.  As Kant says:

act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.

So, in plain English, what does this mean?  It's like this y'all.  Suppose you want to know if you should keep a promise.  Last week you borrowed $50.00 from a friend and you promised to pay it back this week.  Well, your favorite DJ is in town this week and tickets are $50.00.  Not only that but you're going to need a new outfit.  Who the hell wears the same outfit two weeks in a row, right?  Am I right? And of course you're going to need money for X.  The music is never as good when you're sober.  

Anyway, enough about my your weekend.  What should you do about the promise you made?  Lets see what happens when we apply Kant's rule (referred to as the categorical imperative or CI).  First, figure out what maxim (i.e., principle) you're acting on.  Maybe something like "if your want to borrow money but know you won't be able to pay it back, promise that you will anyway."  If it became a universal law that everyone who made such a promise in similar circumstance broke it, then promises wouldn't be possible.   Whenever you promised a friend that you'd pay them back, they'd know that nobody in your situation ever keeps promises, and so they'd have no reason to believe you.  By universalizing your behavior you'd eliminate the very possibility of there being promises.  In short, by universalizing your behavor a sort of logical contradiction is caused.  

Main Points
1.  The moral quality of an action is solely determined by the intentions behind it, not by its consequences.  Consequences, shmonsiquences...what I the nature of your intent?
Issue:  Is this true?  Can you think of counter-examples? 

2.  The appropriate moral action for any situation can be known by any rational agent; that is to say, reason gives us access to moral truth.  
Issue:  What is the necessary assumption about the relationship between reason and morality?  Is it true?  Can you think of counter-examples? 

3.  The only thing in the whole world that is good without qualification is a good will.  
     (a)  For example, the virtues such as courage, power, wealth, and honor may be good but they can all serve evil ends if the agent doesn't have a good will.  A good will, on the other hand, is always good in itself, not because of any consequences that may follow from it. 
     (b)  A well-intentioned action way end up not having the intended consequence, but this doesn't negate the fact that the will was morally good.  For example, I might give money to a homeless person with the intent of helping them.  However, they take the money, buy drugs and OD.  Assuming there was no way for me to reasonable anticipate the outcome, my act was still good because it was well-intentioned.  The unfortunate consequences are outside my control and so that they turned out bad does nothing to diminish the moral goodness of my act.  It's not that consequences don't matter at all, however, they don't matter when we evaluate the moral worth of an act.  For this, we only consider the intent of the act. 
Issue:  Is the only intrinsically good thing a good will?  Can you think of counter-examples?  Is it true that we should take into account the consequences of an action in evaluating its moral worth? 

4.  The only appropriate motivation for a moral act is duty.  
     (a)  For example, suppose you want to impress someone you have a crush on.  You're walking down the street with this person and you see an old lady who needs help crossing the street.  Even though it's out of your way, you help the old lady.  However, the real reason you help her, (i.e., your intent) is not because you feel a sense of duty to help those who require help but because you want to impress your friend and show what a swell guy/gal you are.  For Kant, your act is not moral even though it had a good consequence.  
     (b)  The example that Kant gives is of a shopkeeper who doesn't overcharge his customers.  However, he doesn't overcharge because he acknowledges a duty to only charge what is fair and to not deceive people, rather he doesn't overcharge because he knows, in the long run, it will hurt his business as people find out.  This is acting out of prudence rather than duty.  So, for Kant, the shopkeepers actions have no moral worth.  It is merely a happy coincidence that duty and enlightened self-interest align. 
     (c)  Some people are naturally disposed to helping others out of compassion.  But we cannot call actions moral that arise out of someone's inherent disposition.  It's just dumb luck that their particular inclinations line up with duty.  They did not exercise their will in choosing to do the right thing.  Morality demands exercising the will to act according to duty.  Their inclinations could have been otherwise.  However, someone who doesn't feel compassion for others, yet acts out of duty to help them, is acting morally.   
     (d)  Recall in (2), that moral action is accessible to any rational agent.  So, if moral action depended on having the good fortune of being born or having the right upbringing to act morally, then moral action wouldn't be possible for everyone.  Contrast this with Aristotle who said pretty much the opposite--people learn to be virtuous by establishing the right habits.  But if you don't have the right dispositions or upbringing to establish those habits as a child/youth then as an adult won't have the ability to be virtuous/moral.  It's too late to form the right habits. 
Issue:  Does an action that arises from compassion devoid of moral worth because it wasn't arrived at rationally?

5.  You can know whether an action is moral by identifying and evaluating the underlying principle (i.e., "maxim") according to which it was done.  Two people can act in exactly the same way in the same situation, but only one will be acting morally.  To distinguish the two, we need to look at the maxim according to which each acted.
     (a)  For example, your girlfriend/boyfriend asks you "where were you last night?".  You tell the truth that you were poppin' bottles in VIP at Hakkasan with your ex.   Now, we need to ask what maxim you were acting on when you decided to tell the truth.  Suppose you accidentally posted a time-stamped instagram on facebook right around the time that you texted you bf/gf that your were at home working on your philosophy paper.   You told the truth because you were acting on the maxim "always tell the truth except if you think you can get away with it."  However, suppose in a parallel universe, your Kantian twin tells the truth because he/she is acting on the maxim "always tell the truth *period*."
Which one is acting morally?  According to Kant, it would be your twin.  But why?...(see: (6))

6.  The Categorical Imperative (CI) and how to distinguish between moral and non-moral maxims.  As you might have guessed, the way to figure out which maxim is the moral one (i.e., duty), you run it through the Categorical Imperative-o-Matic.  Lets look at the example in 5 (a) to figure out which of the two maxims is moral.  Remember, figuring it out isn't a matter considering particular consequences, but of what is rational.  Basically what you need to do of each maxim is to ask whether we could wish it to be a universal law.  That is, could we wish that every person past, present, and future, would act according to that maxim.        
     (a)  Lets look at the first maxim:  "Always tell the truth unless you can get away with it."  Now, what would happen if we universalized this maxim?  This would mean that anytime someone was in a situation where they thought they could get away with a lie, they'd tell a lie.  But if everyone did this, then lying in such a situation would be logically impossible:  if it is a universal law that people do this then anytime we ask someone to tell the truth in a situation where they could get away with a lie, we already know that they will lie!  Because we already know that in this situation people will lie (because it's a universal law), then the lie doesn't work.  Lying requires that people think you will tell the truth!          
     (b)  1st criteria for identifying whether a maxim can be universalized:  Because universalizing this maxim results in a logical contradiction/negates itself, reason tells us it is not part of the moral law and we should not do it.  In short, any maxim that results, through universalization in a contradiction/self-negation is evidence for the us rejecting that maxim as moral.  Maxims that are the opposite of the ones that lead to contradiction are called perfect duties.  E.g., lying leads to contradiction, therefore you have a moral duty to act on the maxim "always tell the truth."
     (c)  Lets consider the second maxim: "Always tell the truth."  If I universalize this law, that is, suppose that every person, past, present, and future always tells the truth then no contradiction ever results.  For this reason this second maxim is a moral law, and we are duty-bound to abide by it.
     (d)  Now, what about a situation where you have mucho dinero and you see a homeless person asks for some help.  You decide not to help them.  Lets figure out what your maxim of action is and run it through the categorical imperative to see if your action is moral.  Maxim:  "don't help people even if you can."  Well, if I make this a natural law, no obvious contradiction emerges.  So is it morally permissible not to help people?  Kant says it's not just logical contradictions that tell us if a maxim is moral, it's if we could "will that it become a universal/natural law."  So consider that your current good fortune is a contingent matter. It could easily be otherwise and you might be in a position requiring compassion and assistance.  If this were the case, would you wish that is were a universal law that nobody helps those in need?  You couldn't rationally wish this.  And since we need to consider universalization not from our contingent circumstances but from all possible circumstances we might be in, we could not rationally will that the maxim "don't help people in need even though you can" be universal.
     (e)  Second criteria for deciding if we should act on a maxim : If we eliminate the contingent facts about our situation, could be rationally will our maxim into universal law?  Moral maxims discovered through this method are called imperfect duties.

7.  Categorical Imperative Vs Hypothetical Imperatives.  
     (a)  Lets start with hypothetical imperatives.  These are conditional statements of the form "if you want X then do Y."  They usually have to do with goals or desires.  So, if I want to be wealthy, I should become a philosophy rock star.   If I want to be famous, I should get a reality TV show.  If I want to be wealthy and famous, I should be a philosophy rock star with a reality TV show (watch out Kardashians!).  What all hypothetical imperatives have in common is that they are contingent.  They are contingent on some end or goal (it could be moral or not).  If the goal or end changes, then what I should do also changes.
     (b)  Categorical Imperatives are, well, categorical.  Categorical means that it is absolute.  It does not change in relation to my goals or circumstances.  An imperative is a command.  So, a (the) categorical imperative is an absolute command that applies to all people across all circumstances.   In terms of application, whenever we find ourselves in a moral situation, whatever maxim the categorical imperative spits out is what anyone in that situation or relevantly similar situations is obligated to do; they have an moral duty to do it (or refrain from doing it).  There cannot be special exceptions.
     (c)  Kant's classic example:  Recall the example of the $50.00 your friend lent you and you promised to pay back.  You consider acting on the maxim "keep your promises unless it's going to inconvenience me."  Now we have to run this through the CI and see if we can universalize it without giving rise to a contradiction/self-negation.  Ask, could I will it that it were a universal law that everyone breaks their promises when it's inconvenient for them.  Well, if this did become a universal law, then the practice of promises would be undermined.  Consider how much stock you'd put in someone's promise to pay you back the next time you lent them money.  The promise would be essentially meaningless because we'd know ahead of time (because it is a universal law) that people will break their promises if keeping them causes personal inconvenience.  The conclusion is that since the very practice of promise-keeping would be negated by this universalization, the maxim is not part of the moral law, and therefore, we should not act in accordance with it. 

8.  The second formulation of CI:  Kant give a second formulation of the CI, which, if you run maxims through it, should yield that same outcome as the first version:  Always act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means.
     (a)  What does this mean and how does it fit with Kant's ethics?  For Kant rationality and autonomy are closely tied.  Moral action is only possible if people have freedom of will; that is, if you automatically, without exercising any volition, always acted according to duty you could not act morally.   Moral behavior requires the exercise of choice--i.e., choosing to act according to duty. Because freedom of will is the source of moral behavior, interfering with it would prevent an agent's ability to act morally.  Since the first formulation would prohibit us from preventing people from acting morally, it follows that infringing on people freedom is is morally prohibited.  
     (b)  We cannot interfere with rational agents (i.e., treat them as means to some end that isn't their own) because it would prevent them from exercising their own will freely.  For this reason we cannot treat people merely as means, but must treat them as ends in themselves.
     (c)  The qualification "merely" is important.  Sometimes, my action might treat someone as a means to furthering my own ends, but this is OK so long as I do it in such a way that also treats the other as an end in themselves (autonomous agent).   That is, I must seek consent (so they can freely choose to help me further my end) and/or my action has to also further a goal of the other agent.

10.  Kant vs Aristotle:  
(a)  For Kant emotions play no relevant role in morality.  Aristotle, on the other hand, thinks that part of cultivating virtue (moral behavior) is learning to feel the appropriate emotions for a given circumstance.  There is an appropriate amount of shame, compassion, anger, sadness, etc...for any given situation.  Learning to feel these emotions in their appropriate amount is part of being moral.  It is a necessary component.  Aristotle also says the appropriate mean of emotion for a particular situation will vary from person to person based on their character and their position.  In the face of violence, we expect a soldier to feel more courage than we do for a baker.
(b)  Kant thinks moral prescriptions are universal, categorical, and exceptionless while Aristotle advocates flexibility. Aristotle says "for among statements about conduct those which are general apply more widely, but those which are particular are more true, since our conduct has to do with individual cases, and our statements must harmonize with the facts in these cases."
Issue:  Who's right? 

Common Criticism
1.  Reason is content-free and so the theory doesn't provide any content.  Suppose you want to know whether we should build a park or a shopping mall.  The park will have some benefits and provide disproportionate benefits to some people.  The same can be said of the mall.  Because Kant's ethics is value-free, it doesn't seem to offer us any way of making choices between competing values--and presumably, ethics is all about values!  

Reader Comment:
I think I would rephrase that 1st "common criticism" of CI being content free to say it probably isn't a comprehensive decisive test for every action you could possibly do. As your "ball park v shopping mall" suggests, there are quite a lot of situations where CI doesn't give an obvious sign that you have an obligation to commit or refrain from doing something. I think Phillipa Foot (Foot some year, some page) suggests that this limited applicability of CI means it's a side-constraint on our actions that might well be silent on a lot of our possible actions which are then decided on say, either our inclinations or on pragmatic, consequentialist grounds. On this reading, actions done on these latter grounds are not strictly speaking moral, but are just different, and not necessarily inferior(?), kind of acts.
From Jay Carlson, famous American philosopher

2.  Does the fact that a maxim yields a logical contradiction really mean it's immoral? Without much effort we can come up with ethical dilemma where both maxims of action don't yield contradictions.  How do we choose between the two if we can't appeal to consequences? 

3.  The CI seems to allow some acts that we consider to be immoral.  There no logical contradiction in willing that "always use the most efficient means of medical research, regardless of animal welfare."

4.  Regarding promise keeping, you could have the maxim "break your promises as long as you can get away with it and no one else knows that this is your policy".  This would not yield any logical contradiction/self-negation of promise keeping.  If everyone acted according to this maxim, this would not harm the practice of promise-keeping.

There's a possible reply which is that I would not will that people do the same to me; that is break promises whenever they can get away with it. 

5.  It seems odd to say that a compassionate disposition has no bearing on morality.  We often conceive as the capacity for compassion as very closely tied to morality.  For Kant a key issue with compassion is not that it's bad or anything but that it clouds the judgment of whether the agent's actions are moral are not (i.e., from duty vs disposition).

More Issues:  
What reason do we have to suppose that reason and morality necessarily align? 
If we say they don't, then by what method can we arrive a moral truth (objective or subjective)? 
How do we know how to ask the right questions?  At what level of particularity do we consider the situation? 
If consequences don't matter, how do we choose between two actions which are both moral? 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Moral Problem: Michael Smith

Introduction and Context
So far it looks like if we're moral realists (i.e., we believe there are objective moral facts) we are in deep doo-doo.  In Why Be Moral, Glaucon and Adeimantus compellingly argue that it's better to appear moral than to actually be moral.  The Euthyphro dilemma shows that appealing to God can't, on its own, give us an account of objective moral truth--if anything it points to a naturalist account.  And if that isn't bad enough, Mackie's arguments from disagreement and queerness undercut the likelihood of a naturalistic account objective moral truth.  

Before you go around raping and pillaging, lets take a look at what a naturalistic account of objective morality has to offer in terms of a response to the various problems that have emerged. 

Started from the Bottom, Now We're Here
Contemporary naturalistic theories of objective morality (moral realism) pretty much all start from the same place:  Moral obligation is justified in terms of reasons.  There is some reason for which it's wrong to poke babies in the eyes for fun.  There is some reason for which you shouldn't steal.  There's some reason for which should help to feed a starving child.  Reasons for and against an action are at the bottom of all naturalistic moral realist theories...and now we're here.

So far so good...except what happens if we don't share or we disagree about what the relevant reasons are in respect to what we should do?  How do you decide whose reasons are the true indicator of moral facts?  Maybe I have what I think is a good reason to steal Bob's money but you tell me that the reason I shouldn't steal Bob's money is because it harms Bob's interests.  I respond, well, that it will hurt Bob isn't a reason for me not to take Bob's money--I couldn't give two hoots about Bob's interests.  I only care about mine.

Ok, you reply, but suppose someone were to do the same to you, would that bother you?  Of course it would.  It would bother me because my interests are at least as important as the interests as the next person, and stealing from me would cause me to my interests to subverted by the interests of another. 

Enter the principle of impartiality:  Stealing from me isn't wrong because there's something special about stealing from me or that there's something special about my interests.  Stealing from anyone is wrong.  From the point of the view of the universe, ceteris paribus, all of our interests have equal weight/are worthy of equal consideration and so any act that unjustifiably preferences one set of interests over another is wrong.  

This principle sounds good in theory but there are also good reasons to think we needn't alway act impartially nor that morality demands it.  If I can only save one life: the life of a close family member or a stranger I've never met, it doesn't seem wrong for me to prefer the interests of my family member.  What about spending money to extend my life 1 year or spending that same money to extend the life of a stranger for 5 years?  What about my personal interest in going to a concert and the interests of a starving child who could eat for 3 months off the ticket price?  Is it morally wrong for me to preference my own (possibly trivial) interests in such a situation?  The point is, reasons as a ground for naturalistic moral realism seem to only get us so far.  As it stands, we have no clear account of how to weigh them against each other or how to reconcile competing reasons. 

Another Big Problem
So far we've said that appeals to reasons ground an account of objective morality.  But where do reasons come from?  (On some accounts) reasons are a reflection of our motivations.  We all have different motives for action but different motives will generate different reasons for action. If I'm motivated to X then I have reason to X.  But what if I'm not motivated to X (i.e. I have no desire to X), does it mean that I have no reason to X?  

Since reasons underpin naturalistic morality, people having different reasons will imply different standards of wrong and right.  This will undercut any hope at objectivity in morality.

What constitutes a good reason for action for you might not be a good reason for me, so I will use my reason to justify my action and you'll use your reason to justify your different action and we'll both be right.  The only way out of this mess is to come up with a way to mediate between competing reasons...

Enter Smith's moral realism

Smith's Rationalist and Internalist Moral Realism 
Smith has two main issues to deal with:  (1)  Explain how there can be objective morality despite the fact that we all can have different reasons for action and (2) explain his answer to (1) in a way that also addresses Mackie's argument from moral disagreement and argument from queerness. 

Before proceeding, lets get one conceptual distinction out of the way:  explanatory reasons vs justifying reasons.   If I keep a lost wallet we can ask "why did you keep the wallet?"  I can respond "because I like money and there was money in it."  This would be an explanatory reason.  The reason I give doesn't justify my behavior but it explains it.  It is often said that explanatory reasons are agent-relative reasons.   A subclass of explanatory reasons are motivational reasons.  These are the specific sub-class of reasons which explain an agent's actions in terms of their particular motivations, desires, and means-end beliefs (i.e., beliefs about how to best realize what they are motivated to do).

A justifying reason, on the other hand, would be something like this:  "I kept the wallet because I couldn't afford food for my children and it's true that if you are given a choice between letting your children go hungry and returning a wallet, you should not return the wallet."  Justifying reasons are generally considered to be reasons we'd appeal to for or against acting in a certain way.  Justifying reasons are sometimes called normative reasons

How to Get Moral Objectivity from Reasons

Solution summary: Rationality is a universal quality and humans all possess it (to varying degrees).  The desires you'd rationally have about a situation are the desires that we'd share universally about that situation.  Since, under ideal conditions of rationality, we'd all have the same desires (and motivations), we'd also all have the same reasons for action (in a given moral situation).  Therefore, we could, if acting rationally, all share the same reasons for action thereby giving rise to objective morality.

So, to repeat, the first main problem for Smith is this: Objective moral facts can be known by appealing to reasons.   However, if not everyone thinks that the same reasons are good reasons for an action, then people will have different ideas about what is right and wrong, and objective morality doesn't get off the ground.  

There's a side-issue that need resolving too.  What kind of reasons are we talking about to ground moral judgment?  Motivational or justifying reasons?  If it's only agent-relative motivational reasons then it doesn't seem like the project will get very far.  Clearly, we all have different motivations for doing things.  On the other hand, if we're talking only about justifying/normative reasons then it doesn't seem that reasons have any power.  

What I mean is, if knowledge of right and wrong doesn't motivate action, what use is it?  If mere awareness of a normative reason doesn't motivate action, there doesn't seem to be any practical value in figuring out what's right and wrong.  If, upon discovering a (normative) reason for acting morally, people who were going to act immorally aren't motivated to do act otherwise, what practical value is there to figuring out and explaining moral truths?  

Because of this problem, Smith defends a position called "reasons internalism".  Reasons internalism attempts to connect justifying reasons to agent-relative motivational reasons.  In other words, reasons internalism tries to show that knowing a moral fact (justifying reason) will necessarily play a role in motivating the right actions.

Ok, now that we've got most of the terminology and context out of the way, lets take a look at how Smith attempts to deal with the problem of moral objectivity.  

What is (naturalistic) moral rightness?  Moral rightness is what we'd desire ourselves to do in a certain circumstance if we were fully rational.   So, if you want to know what 'right' is, (a) imagine that you are perfectly rational and (b) imagine what you'd want done in that particular situation.  

Consider an example:  You find a wallet on the ground and want to know what to do.  First imagine that you are perfectly rational and then imagine what you would want done in that particular circumstance.   Under these conditions you have a good chance (not a guarantee) to know what the right thing to do is. 

So, where does the objectivity come from?  Ah! Ha!  I'm glad you asked.  Lets work backwards for a second.  How do we determine what to do?  We appeal to reasons.  But of course, if we all have different reasons then we'll come up with different answers about what to do.  But where do reasons come from?  Reasons come from agent-specific desires, beliefs, and motivations.  Obviously, we differ enormously in these agent-specific respects...so appealing to them will not get us commonly-held reasons.  

The trick is to find a way to make everyone recognize and be motivated by the same reasons.  The only way to do this is to find something that generates the same desires.  We need something that is grounded in something universal: i.e., something we all share that is homogenous.  Rationality. Ta! Da!  Since rationality is universal, if in any particular situation we imagine ourselves as purely rational we will share the same motivations and desires (because they arise from the same source).  Those same motivations and desires (across individuals) will in turn generate the same reasons for action (across individuals), which in turn will generate the same moral judgments about a particular moral situation. 

Now, how does this connect to the agent-relative vs justifying reasons issue? Knowing what a (hypothetical) fully rational agent would want to do creates in (actual) you a desire to do that thing. Added to our pre-reflective set of desires, we now have a new desire to do what a purely rational agent would do.  This new desire will play a motivational role in how we act (because we want to actualize desires).  But since this new desire is something that would be universally shared (because it's what all purely rational being would want), it is not merely an explanatory reason (i.e., "because I wanted to do x") but a justifying reason (i.e., "because it's what all fully rational agents would want").

1.  Why should we suppose that there is an overlap between what is rational and what is moral?
2.  Would our desires really be the same if we were all fully rational?
3.  Can desires be rational or is reason content-free?
4.  Is it true that knowing what a fully rational agent would want to do cause me to want to do that too?

Reply to Mackie's Argument from Queerness
Mackie says that moral properties can't be a feature of the world be cause they'd be metaphysically and epistemologically queer.  I can come to know and study all the properties of matter and energy but how come no one has ever scientifically identified the property of 'rightness' in something?  I know how my sense of sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing work.  But how come no one's ever discovered a moral sense organ?  If we can sense these properties, surely there must be an organ or faculty for it.

Smith's reply is this:  Rightness is simply the qualities or properties we would want acts to have in circumstance C if we were fully rational.   There's nothing magical going on here.  If you want to know what rightness is, think about what a fully rational being would want in a particular moral situation. The features that we'd want the acts to have in those situations is 'rightness'.  

One might object that we've defined 'rightness' in terms of rationality, and maybe we can't give a naturalistic account of rationality.  Ok, maybe so, but rationality is naturally realized; that is, it emerges from the natural world.  A rational creature is simply one with a certain psychology-type.  And psychology is something that can be studied scientifically, so it is therefore, a natural quality. 

Reply to Mackie's Argument from Moral Disagreement
Recall that the argument from moral disagreement goes something like this:  It's an empirical fact that there is and has been a lot of substantive moral disagreement between cultures, over history, within cultures, and between individuals of the same culture.  Rather than saying this moral disagreement is a consequence of people misperceiving objective moral truth, it make more sense to say moral rules are socially constructed and reflect cultural ways of life.  

In Smith's reply, notice how he employs a very similar strategy to Mackie's but starts with different evidence arguing for the opposite conclusion.  

Convergence Claim: 
Smith's basic reply is the convergence claim:  If you removed all the distorting factors in people ethical reasoning (cognitive biases, cultural prejudices, uncritically accepted beliefs, dogma, ideology, religion, disagreement over non-moral facts) and engaged in rational discourse, everyone would eventually end up with the same moral conclusions.

Mackie is cherry-picking:  He's only looking at instances of moral disagreement but there is and continues to be lots of important moral agreement in the world--across cultures and individuals.  The empirical fact that moral arguments tend to illicit the agreement of our fellows gives us reason to believe that there will be a convergence in our desires under conditions of full rationality.

Abduction: The best explanation of moral agreement in the world is our convergence upon a set of extremely unobvious a priori moral truths. And convergence on these truths requires convergence in the desires that fully rational creatures would have.

Counter: But what about all the moral disagreement?

1. : Alongside massive disagreement we find entrenched agreement.   For example, there is widespread agreement on thick moral concepts (descriptive concepts that are also value-laden): courage, brutality, kindness, meanness, honesty.  Moral agreement is so extensive that normativity has been incorporated into naturalistic descriptive concepts.  If we look at how these concepts are used across cultures we will find significant overlap not only in the behaviors they describe but also in the moral evaluation of those behaviors.
2:  Past moral disagreement was removed, inter alia, by a process of moral argument.   The fact that rational argument can lead to changes in culture's and individual's moral evaluations of cultural practices and behaviors is strong evidence for the positive role of rationality in accessing moral truth. Consider, for example, slavery, women's rights.  Essentially, there is moral progress across and within cultures, and one reason for this is rational discourse.

3: Current intractable disagreements can be explained away by absence of ideal conditions of reflection and discussion; i.e., if we removed the elements that distort or impede rational discourse, we'd have substantive moral agreement.

1.  Is it rational arguments that bring about change in moral attitudes or is it something else like emotions and the ability to empathize?
2. If we did remove all the distorting influences, would there be a convergence of desires of fully rational people?
3.  Is the convergence claim falsifiable? If it isn't, it doesn't mean it's false, only that as an empirical claim it will lose some strength.

Replies to Foot
Foot's main criticism is that logical consistency doesn't necessarily imply moral behaviour.  Eg. A criminal can have logically consistent premises about what to do yet not arrive at the correct moral conclusion.

The criminal's flaw is his premises. He has a normative reason to gain wealth no matter what the cost to others. But a fully rational creature would not want this.  His desire isn't what a fully rational creature would desire.

Counter:  The problem of conflicting intuitions about what a fully rational creature would want
What if the criminal says that he did rationally reflect on what a fully rational creature would want in his circumstance and he came up with a normative reason to gain wealth no matter what the cost to others.  He comes to this conclusion even thought the vast majority of others conclude the contrary.

Reply: Intellectual Arrogance
Just because his intuition differs from the vast majority doesn't mean, ipso facto, he is wrong.  But the criminal is demonstrating intellectual arrogance.  The criminal sticks to his opinion that he has reason to gain wealth no matter what the cost to other.   He sticks to his view without good reason. He doesn't weigh his position "in light of the folk...the only court of appeal there is for claims about what we have normative reason to do."  

Reflecting on what a perfectly rational individual will do doesn't guarantee the correct answer, it's a starting place.  From there we engage in rational dialogue and check our intuitions and arguments against those of others.  If they differ, they we need to find some reason for which we should prefer ours...especially if we are in the minority.  It doesn't mean we're wrong, only that we shouldn't be so arrogant to suppose we have stumbled upon the truth while the majority (of epistemic peers) has erred.

Issue:  Is this a satisfying reply?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Why Be Moral? Plato, The Republic Book II

Plato: Introduction to Why Be Moral (aka Glaucon's Challenge)
The first question of philosophy is "how should I live?" Implicit in this question is a similar question: "what does living a good life entail?"  Amongst other things, over the course of The Republic, Plato tries to answer this question. One of the central issues to be resolved in answering the above questions is whether being moral is required for the good life.  If it is, then presumably moral person will live a "more good" life than an amoral person.  The further implication is that there is some value in living a moral life that living an amoral life doesn't have.  

In this passage from Book II of the Republic, Plato attempts to defend the view that we should behave morally/justly for its own sake rather than for the potential beneficial consequences.    In philoso-talk we'd say acting morally is also a good "in itself" and not just an instrumental good.

An instrumental good is something that is good because of some consequence it brings about.  For instance, money is an instrumental good because it is a means to obtaining some other goods like paying for our university education or going on vacation. The "good" that money possess is to allow us to get the things that are more gooder than money.  If money didn't allow us to get good things, it would cease to have any value.  It'd just be colored paper.

An intrinsic good is a good that has value not because it allows us to get other things but because it just fundamentally is good.  Things that are intrinsic goods might include happiness and pleasure.

Anyhow, in this passage, Glaucon and Adeimantus argue that people only behave justly because (a) they are afraid of the consequences of getting caught acting unjustly or (b) they are too weak or cowardly to do what they really want to do or (c) they pursue the instrumental value of being perceived as just.  People don't act justly because they see some intrinsic value in behaving justly.

Note:  Although they aren't completely equivalent, for our purposes we can use the word "moral" interchangeably with how Plato uses "just".

Setting the Scene:  Justice Is Only an Instrumental Good, It Has No Intrinsic Value
Glaucon identifies 3 categories of goods:  (1)  purely intrinsic, (2) intrinsic but also having good consequences, (3) purely instrumental goods.  In the first category we can put things like (harmless) pleasures and happiness.  We don't want them because of any additional consequence they might bring us.  We don't seek happiness in order to obtain some other thing.  We just want happiness as an end in itself.  Same goes for pleasure. 

In the second category are things that are ends in themselves but also bring about further good consequences.  Health is something we desire for itself but also for its consequences:  being healthy "just is" good but it allows us to enjoy aspects of life we can't enjoy without it.

In the third category are things like money.  If money didn't allow us to get the things we really wanted, it would have no value--we wouldn't try to get it.  Since money is an instrumental good, it has no value of its own.  It's value is only in the other things it allows us to get.

The Main Issue:  Glaucon says justice (or behaving morally) belongs to the third category.  Justice is an instrumental good.  People only behave morally because of what it gets them (or what being perceived as failing to behave morally will get them): acting morally gets you a good reputation and status--the real goods we're after.  Like money, behaving morally isn't desirable in itself.  Doing so is a burden without the consequent benefits.

Socrates on the other hand says justice belongs in the second category.  It is good in itself and it has good consequences.  

In this passage, Glaucon presents his argument for why justice is a purely instrumental good rather than a good that also has intrinsic value.  Part of his argument is also to show why acting morally isn't an intrinsic good. 

Argument 1:  What Justice Is and Where it Comes From
Justice is the result of a compromise against having to suffer injustice and the benefits of being able to act unjustly.  Consider a pre-legal group of individuals living in the same area;  i.e., people in the "state of nature."  If there are no laws and you are stronger than others you can take and do what you want. This is good (for you).  However, in such a state you're also vulnerable to people or groups of people doing the same to you...which would really suck.  Justice is a way of reconciling this situation: in order to protect themselves from being at the receiving end of unjust acts, people enter into a contract of laws.

The down side is people no longer get to take and harm whomever they want whenever they want.  In short, people enter into a society of laws, not because they think justice is intrinsically good, but because they don't want to be at the receiving end of injustice.  What most people actually desire is be able to do whatever they want.  If you suspended all laws, this is exactly how people would behave.  In short, this proves that people don't act justly because they see it as some intrinsic good, rather, they do it for other reason. They do it as a means to avoid harm done by others:  just behavior is an instrumental good.  Boom! Goes the dynamite. 

Issue:  Is Glaucon correct that people only enter into social contracts to avoid harm?

Issue:  Is Glaucon giving a purely descriptive account of people's behavior or is he putting forward a meta-ethical position?  What might his meta-ethical position be?

Issue:  Glaucon implies that the law is a perversion of our natural desires: it is the middle road between what is good (acting on our natural desires without consequence) and what is bad (suffering injustice without being able to avenge one's self).  This implies that the true good life would be act on our natural desires without their being impinged upon.  Is he right?

The Ring Thought Experiment
Glaucon then proposes a thought experiment that has an eerie resemblance to Lord of the Rings (plagiarism alert!). Suppose someone we considered to be just found a ring that could make herself invisible.  It's inconceivable that this person wouldn't take advantage of this in someway to advance her position in a way that she wouldn't without the ring.  Eg.  eavesdropping on conversations, stealing expensive things, free friends and family from prison (I'd love to get my family out of prison), etc... Even if she didn't advance her own position, maybe she'd do things to help her loved ones (that she couldn't do otherwise).  This again goes to show that we don't value justice in itself because given the chance to do injustice, we will do it.  Given the opportunity, we will act according to what benefits us and/or our loved ones.

But what if the honest person with the ring didn't take advantage of the rings powers to benefit themselves or loved-ones?  If we found out, we might publicly praise them as to preserve our public image as just individuals, however in private we'd say this person is a fool!

Issue:  Is the fact that everyone else might think this person a fool an argument against the intrinsic value of acting morally?  

Issue: “We would catch the just man red-handed going the same way as the unjust man out of a desire to get the better [...]."  Is this true?

Uber-Just Man vs Uber-Unjust Man
If being just has value in itself, then that value should be visible to even the unjust.  But consider the following:  there a person who only does things for justice-sake.  He doesn't care about the reputation or praise he acquires for his acts.  In fact, lets suppose that he gets none of these benefits.  Not only that but the just man is perceived to be the exact opposite!  For every just act, he gets accused of being unjust and is punished accordingly.  Yet, he continues to act this way.  In other words, lets strip away from acting justly all the instrumental goods and see if there is any good left over.  If there is, then Socrates might have a case.  If not, then he doesn't.

On the other hand, consider the most unjust man of diabolical cleverness.  He does everything for personal gain no matter what the consequences to others.  No only that, but because he is so clever, he is perceived to be and praised as just!  This is true injustice!  He can harm his enemies, help his friends, he wins all contests.  He has power, wealth, and reputation to bring about or rectify whatever he wants.  If he gets caught or is accused of injustice he can uses his resources to coerce or persuade his detractors.  In short, this person gets all the instrumental goods associated with being perceived to be just but doesn't get any of the yet-to-be established intrinsic goods for actually being just.  

Lets consider how we might perceive the life of each.  The just man lives and dies despised by all because they all perceive him as unjust.  The maximally unjust man lives a life of happiness and is perceived to be honorable and just by all.  He has wealth, friends, power, status, and his own realty tv show.  Who would you say had the better life?  If justice is an intrinsic good then we must answer it was the just man.  But this is contrary to what most consider to be a good life.

Issue:  What is the measure of a good life?  Glaucon seems to imply it is measured by happiness.  Is he right?  

Issue: Is Glaucon right that a good life being able to do whatever you please while maintaining reputation for being just?

Issue:  Could any good come out of the uber just man's life?

Issue:  Glaucon's initial line of argument was to show that there in no intrinsic good in being just.  To illustrate his point he compares the life of the uber just and uber unjust man in terms of happiness.  Is this an effective line of argument?

If that doesn't convince you that justice is merely an instrumental good, then Adeimantus has a different argument...

Justice Vs Appearance of Justice
When we teach our children to be moral why do we do it?  Is it simply because we want for them to be just; full stop?  Or is it because we want our children to have the things that perceived just behavior attracts such as respect and a good reputation?  It seems like it's the latter.

Issue:  Is this why we teach our children to be moral?  Is it so they can function in society or is it because we believe there is some intrinsic good that comes out of being just apart from the desirable social consequences?

Reward and Punishment
Also, consider another reason for which parents implore their children to be just.  If they aren't just, they are told they will be punished in the afterlife but if they are just they will be rewarded.  Again, this is not an argument for the intrinsic good of being just, but one more example of why acting morally is an instrumental good.  If you act morally YOU will be rewarded, if not YOU will be punished.  As one of my favorite professors (Dr. G. Brown) called it, this is "'lolly-pop' morality."  If you're good, you get a lolly pop.  If you're bad, you get punished.  This has everything to do with personal interest and nothing to do with intrinsic good.

Justice is Difficult and Unprofitable and Injustice is Sweet, Easy, and Shameful only by Opinion and Law
Acting unjustly is sweet and easy.  Also, many unjust people are happy and looked up to (often because of their gains--not from the gym, tho).  On the other hand, justice is difficult and often runs counter to personal interest.  To make matters worse, those that live justly and in poverty are often looked down on while those who got rich off of unjust actions are looked up to (see: contemporary American culture).

The Unjust Can Escape Divine Justice
God/gods can be bought off or can grant forgiveness (often hand in hand).  The rich man with his ill-gotten gains can make a sizable donation to whatever religious organization he belongs to and be forgiven.  Or after a lifetime of ill-gotten gains and immoral behavior, he can ask for forgiveness.  God/gods can be persuaded. Instead of struggling through life, why not live the fun life then pay off the gods/ask for forgiveness at the end?

The very gods can be moved by prayer too.
With sacrifices and gentle vows and
The odor of burnt and drink offerings,
human beings turn them aside with
their prayers,
When someone has transgressed and
made a mistake

All the sources we have to know about God/gods tell us this is true.  The evil can be forgiven on their death bed even.  

The Seeming Overpowers the Truth
Given the difficulty and lack of any guarantee of happiness or reward for being good and all the benefits that come with being perceived as just, why would anyone choose to be just?  What value is there?  It seems clear:  it makes way more sense to seem just than to be just.  This way you get all the instrumental benefits and none of the self-sacrifice.

Sure, it's not always easy to get away with things, but this is why you need to cultivate your skills of persuasion (i.e., take phil 102) and organize into secret societies to impose force and coerce when necessary.

Issue:  Is it true that "Seeming just is what leads to a happy life, there is no intrinsic value in being just" and “the seeming overpowers even the truth.”

But what about God/gods?  If there are none or they don't care about human affairs, then it makes no difference.  If there are God(s), the books through which we know them tell us they can be "persuaded and perverted by sacrifices, soothing vows, and votive offerings".

Sympathy for the Wicked
If someone can show these arguments to be false and has an argument for why we should be just (rather than appear to be just), he must have great sympathy for those who do injustice.  The arguments in favor of seeming to be just are very compelling and so it should be understandable to someone who comprehends them, yet opposes them, why people adhere to them.

Haters Gonna Hate
Also, it seems that the only reason people are willingly just is because they lack the power, courage, or strength to act as they truly would if they could.  (See:  Nietzsche) 

Why Be Moral?
Can you think of any reasons for being just other than the instrumental benefits?  What good does the unjust man who appears just miss out on that just man who appears unjust gains?  And even if we can show some good that the just man gains, does it outweigh all the instrumental goods the clever unjust man gains?

Boom! Goes the Dynamite.

Issue: Is this true? "In all history there is not one who praised justice for something other than its consequences: reputation, honors, and gifts that come from it."