Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Should you think about your duty, or about the consequences of your actions? Or should you concentrate on becoming a good person?

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Catriona
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:00 pm

Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Post by Catriona »

Now that I am living on my own after 45 years of partnership, I find the question of doing the right thing an increasingly difficult one.
Am I doing the right thing for me or for other people?
What is the right thing?
The thing which harms no-one but myself?
The thing which satisfies my criterion of self-good?

If I please others' wishes and desires, but not my own, is it the right thing?
If I please myself, but hurt others, is it the wrong thing?

Have I reached an age where it does not matter?

A current dilemma is an invitation to Christmas lunch. This would be with a friend, her husband, their children and their grandchildren.

I am coming to the conclusion that although this is the right course of action for my friends, it is the wrong thing for me. If I don't go, they will probably see is as a slight. If I do go, I will not be happy and will feel manipulated.

What is the right thing?
MMasz
Posts: 69
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2013 6:16 pm

Re: Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Post by MMasz »

Catriona wrote:Now that I am living on my own after 45 years of partnership, I find the question of doing the right thing an increasingly difficult one.
Am I doing the right thing for me or for other people?
What is the right thing?
The thing which harms no-one but myself?
The thing which satisfies my criterion of self-good?

If I please others' wishes and desires, but not my own, is it the right thing?

No, you are not doing the right thing.

If I please myself, but hurt others, is it the wrong thing?

Yes, it is the wrong thing.

Have I reached an age where it does not matter?

A current dilemma is an invitation to Christmas lunch. This would be with a friend, her husband, their children and their grandchildren.

I am coming to the conclusion that although this is the right course of action for my friends, it is the wrong thing for me. If I don't go, they will probably see is as a slight. If I do go, I will not be happy and will feel manipulated.

What is the right thing?

Without knowing your specific reasons for not attending it would be difficult to say, but as your question is stated, i.e., feeling manipulated, then I would not attend as it is not in your best interest.
If you have not read Ayn Rand’s “The VIrtue of Selfishness”, I would recommend it.
Catriona
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:00 pm

Re: Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Post by Catriona »

MMasz wrote:
Catriona wrote:...If I please others' wishes and desires, but not my own, is it the right thing?

No, you are not doing the right thing.

If I please myself, but hurt others, is it the wrong thing?

Yes, it is the wrong thing.

So as far as the situation in question is concerned, doing the right thing can not be done to the satisfaction of both parties. It cannot be reconciled.

If I do go, I will not be happy and will feel manipulated.

What is the right thing?

Without knowing your specific reasons for not attending it would be difficult to say, but as your question is stated, i.e., feeling manipulated, then I would not attend as it is not in your best interest.
My best interest being not being put into a situation of the family celebrations of people who are not my family.
My reason, when I have to think about it, is that I am not happy, my husband being dead and no longer with me. A sub reason is that I am reaching a point where I want to choose what to do, not be guided by others however well-meaning their intentions.

If you have not read Ayn Rand’s “The VIrtue of Selfishness”, I would recommend it.
Thank you. I think I need to develop the virtue of selfishness. With it, might come acceptance and tolerance of external manipulation.
MMasz
Posts: 69
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2013 6:16 pm

Re: Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Post by MMasz »

[quote="Catriona”]Thank you. I think I need to develop the virtue of selfishness. With it, might come acceptance and tolerance of external manipulation.[/quote]

I am sorry for your loss. My father passed a couple years ago leaving my step-mom very sad, however she has learned to cope well.

Adopting Rand’s "virtue of selfishness” which she also called “rational self interest” can be quite liberating from the altruistic zeitgeist. Sacrificing your happiness to please other people is the straight road to unhappiness.

Here’s a link to a pdf of Rand’s “The Virtue of Selfishness”. Many of these articles are worth the read. Although I don’t agree with her atheism, there is a lot of good stuff here.

http://philo.abhinav.ac.in/Objectivism/ ... shness.pdf
uwot
Posts: 5187
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:21 am

Re: Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Post by uwot »

Catriona wrote:A current dilemma is an invitation to Christmas lunch. This would be with a friend, her husband, their children and their grandchildren.

I am coming to the conclusion that although this is the right course of action for my friends, it is the wrong thing for me. If I don't go, they will probably see is as a slight. If I do go, I will not be happy and will feel manipulated.

What is the right thing?
Christmas is an odd time morally, it is the season of giving after all; some people aren't used to giving and don't do it very well. If you think you are being manipulated by accepting an invitation to lunch, it maybe that your friend deserves to feel slightly slighted. That of course may create problems of it's own and the best solution is to find a way to excuse yourself without causing any tension. I don't know the circumstances of your partnership, nor it's ending, but Christmas is also a time for reflection, you could explain that that is what you wish to do; a friend will accept that.
If you feel you are being bogged down with ethical dilemmas, Machiavelli's The Prince can be very refreshing.
Catriona
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:00 pm

Re: Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Post by Catriona »

uwot wrote:
Catriona wrote:What is the right thing?
Christmas is an odd time morally, it is the season of giving after all; some people aren't used to giving and don't do it very well. If you think you are being manipulated by accepting an invitation to lunch, it maybe that your friend deserves to feel slightly slighted. That of course may create problems of it's own and the best solution is to find a way to excuse yourself without causing any tension. I don't know the circumstances of your partnership, nor it's ending, but Christmas is also a time for reflection, you could explain that that is what you wish to do; a friend will accept that.
If you feel you are being bogged down with ethical dilemmas, Machiavelli's The Prince can be very refreshing.
The death of my partner is the reason I'm alone.
My friend has been wonderful to me, but does not recognise my need for solitude at times. After a year of this, I feel less confident now than I did immediately following the death of my husband. Such is the curse of dependency and the ease one can slip into it.
I shall finish the year in this vein, however next year I must assert my independence or go under.
I have sent for Rand’s “The Virtue of Selfishness”. I look forward to reading it.
This year, I will do the right thing as far as she is concerned. Rather than feeling manipulated, perhaps I can see it as giving a gift and the right thing for me to do.
duszek
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Joined: Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:27 pm
Location: Thin Air

Re: Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Post by duszek »

One needs to realize carefully what is at stake and then make the best decision.

An excuse is a useful instrument but it is only a cover because then the tone of the voice carries the right message. The main message. And decides about the future of a personal relationship.

One cannot predict the future but taking a decision involves making a guess about what a future outcome will be.

Am I in a position to contribute to a positive atmosphere at a Christmas lunch with a friend ?

Or am I in such a mood that people will suffer because of my mere presence and I will feel it and so it´s MUUUUUCH better to arrange a cozy time on my own ?

Trying unusual paths is sometimes frustrating but almost always interesting. And helps to avoid regrets and speculations about what we have possibly missed.

Best wishes.

:)
duszek
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Location: Thin Air

Re: Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Post by duszek »

People in England are famous for being self-sufficient.

Do you know the short film about Miss Sophie celebrating her 90 th birthday in the company of ghosts and the butler drinking for them ?

The French are also good at staying alone. A lady once said on the radio: Je préfère être seule que mal accompagnée.

Being alone is a challenge and an opportunity.

Blaise Pascal said something on the subject too. That we look for company and entertainment to escape ourselves, and thus do not make any progress as individuals. Being alone is a chance to mature.
marjoramblues
Posts: 636
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:37 am

Re: Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Post by marjoramblues »

C: If I please others' wishes and desires, but not my own, is it the right thing?
If I please myself, but hurt others, is it the wrong thing?

M: It all depends on circumstances

C: Have I reached an age where it does not matter?
M: It always matters.

C: A current dilemma is an invitation to Christmas lunch. This would be with a friend, her husband, their children and their grandchildren.

I am coming to the conclusion that although this is the right course of action for my friends, it is the wrong thing for me. If I don't go, they will probably see is as a slight. If I do go, I will not be happy and will feel manipulated.

M: Sometimes, we overthink things. A Christmas invitation to a friend's house is probably done with the best of intentions. If you think that you are not up to it, then don't feel obliged to go.
However, how do you know that it would be 'wrong' for you.

Also, you are assuming that your friend will not understand any reason offered for not accepting the invitation. Why would they be slighted ? I don't see any manipulation here, why would you feel that way?

C: What is the right thing?

M: Only you can decide what is the best thing to do. I have refused friends' kind invitations before and they have not been at all slighted - and, who knows, perhaps I missed out.

If you decide to go/not go, then be at peace with your decision.
A friend will understand, either way.

Read any philosopher with an angel one shoulder 8) and the devil on the other :evil:

Best wishes.
Catriona
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:00 pm

Re: Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Post by Catriona »

marjoramblues wrote:C: If I please others' wishes and desires, but not my own, is it the right thing?
If I please myself, but hurt others, is it the wrong thing?
...
Read any philosopher with an angel one shoulder 8) and the devil on the other :evil:

Best wishes.
I am really interested in the ethical side of my dilemma. I have studied Philosophy of the Mind, but not ethics. Perhaps it is my time to do this.

Is there a virtue ethical answer?
Does doing the right thing, in respect of the other person, take precedence over self-interest? Or by doing the right thing, does that actually create self-satisfaction which overcomes self-interest or self-gratification?
marjoramblues
Posts: 636
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:37 am

Re: Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Post by marjoramblues »

C: I am really interested in the ethical side of my dilemma. I have studied Philosophy of the Mind, but not ethics. Perhaps it is my time to do this.

M: Perhaps it is.

C: Is there a virtue ethical answer?

M: What do you understand by 'virtue ethics'

C: Does doing the right thing, in respect of the other person, take precedence over self-interest? Or by doing the right thing, does that actually create self-satisfaction which overcomes self-interest or self-gratification?

M: Good questions. What does your life, experience and reflection suggest as answers?

If you are interested in studying 'Virtue Ethics', this might be a good start:
http://www.iep.utm.edu/virtue/

Or... the PN articles...
Catriona
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:00 pm

Re: Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Post by Catriona »

marjoramblues wrote:C: I am really interested in the ethical side of my dilemma. I have studied Philosophy of the Mind, but not ethics. Perhaps it is my time to do this.

M: Perhaps it is.

C: Is there a virtue ethical answer?

M: What do you understand by 'virtue ethics'

C: Does doing the right thing, in respect of the other person, take precedence over self-interest? Or by doing the right thing, does that actually create self-satisfaction which overcomes self-interest or self-gratification?

M: Good questions. What does your life, experience and reflection suggest as answers?

If you are interested in studying 'Virtue Ethics', this might be a good start:
http://www.iep.utm.edu/virtue/

Or... the PN articles...
I have signed up for a subscription to PN, so await with anticipation.

I might have a lifetime of experience, but that counts for little.

Thank you for your responses. Much appreciated.
marjoramblues
Posts: 636
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:37 am

Re: Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Post by marjoramblues »

C: I have signed up for a subscription to PN, so await with anticipation.

M: Excellent - in the meantime, you can also access free articles.

C: I might have a lifetime of experience, but that counts for little.

M: I disagree; if you have lived, then you will have had to cope with certain difficult choices. How did you decide on one action or another?

C: Thank you for your responses. Much appreciated

M: I too appreciate responses to my questions; I see you have avoided some of mine.

This can be a useful forum for thrashing out ideas and gaining different perspectives.
Even attempting to answer some difficult questions through own thinking...


Catriona
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:00 pm

Re: Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Post by Catriona »

marjoramblues wrote:M: I too appreciate responses to my questions; I see you have avoided some of mine.

This can be a useful forum for thrashing out ideas and gaining different perspectives.
Even attempting to answer some difficult questions through own thinking...


My reluctance to answer some of your questions is lack of knowledge, lack of confidence and a doubt that I am struggling with an ethical problem or not.
However,

M: What do you understand by 'virtue ethics'
My slim understanding is that it is deals with the question of virtue. Virtuous behaviour; the doer; the receiver; the benefits and the damages (?) from what is perceived as virtuous behaviour or actions by the majority (?) of people. Is virtue something to be desired or treated with suspicion? Who gains and who loses (if anyone).
C: I might have a lifetime of experience, but that counts for little.
M: I disagree; if you have lived, then you will have had to cope with certain difficult choices. How did you decide on one action or another?
My decisions on one course of action or another have been largely taken without thinking too far into the future. My attitude has always been that we can't walk two paths at once and compare the two, therefore I have almost randomly gone down one path and lived that life.
marjoramblues
Posts: 636
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:37 am

Re: Is doing the right thing the right thing?

Post by marjoramblues »

C: My reluctance to answer some of your questions is lack of knowledge, lack of confidence and a doubt that I am struggling with an ethical problem or not.

M: Again - Sometimes, we overthink things. I understand about a sense of lack; however, usually when I try to answer something and listen to responses, my knowledge and confidence grow...little by little...

To recap:
M: A Christmas invitation to a friend's house is probably done with the best of intentions. If you think that you are not up to it, then don't feel obliged to go.

Q: However, how do you know that it would be 'wrong' for you. Also, you are assuming that your friend will not understand any reason offered for not accepting the invitation.
Q: Why would they be slighted ?
Q: I don't see any manipulation here, why would you feel that way?
C: Does doing the right thing, in respect of the other person, take precedence over self-interest? Or by doing the right thing, does that actually create self-satisfaction which overcomes self-interest or self-gratification?
M: Good questions. What does your life, experience and reflection suggest as answers? ... How did you decide on one action or another?
C: Is there a virtue ethical answer?
M: What do you understand by 'virtue ethics'?

C: My slim understanding is that it is deals with the question of virtue. Virtuous behaviour; the doer; the receiver; the benefits and the damages (?) from what is perceived as virtuous behaviour or actions by the majority (?) of people. Is virtue something to be desired or treated with suspicion? Who gains and who loses (if anyone).
M: Thanks for that; however, my understanding is as slim as yours. I read about it a while ago; what I remember is that it had to do with a person's character and capacity to act according to your developed values in any given circumstance.

So, what would a 'virtue ethical answer' look like as applied to your current dilemma?
I suggest that it would be based on your maturity, the kind of person you are and your capacity to weigh up pros and cons.

C: My decisions on one course of action or another have been largely taken without thinking too far into the future. My attitude has always been that we can't walk two paths at once and compare the two, therefore I have almost randomly gone down one path and lived that life.

M: OK. Well, you don't need to look too far into the future for some decision-making.
Is it better to act in a thoughtful or thoughtless way, towards self and others?
On reflection, have you had any joy/regrets about any consequences of actions taken?
Have you been more attuned to circumstances requiring less honesty than would be helpful?
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