Lawful Evil and being "Good"


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If you're mind controlled into doing evil, evil is being done, but you aren't the one doing it. If insane events force you into a contrived situation where the only option is something "evil" (like in the Saw franchise), it's the same deal. It's basically equivalent to a natural disaster—nobody is doing evil there. It's just an occurrence.

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In Saw, the 'evil' is being done by the one who organized the optional choice in the first place.

In a no-win situation, the choice is neutral.

==Aelryinth


Aelryinth wrote:

In Saw, the 'evil' is being done by the one who organized the optional choice in the first place.

In a no-win situation, the choice is neutral.

==Aelryinth

The situation doesn't have to have a villain though. The situation could be pure happenstance. The choice is still neutral, but pointing at a "true evil" just obfuscates the actual issue.


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Not really.

This was well understood by the authors of the Arthurian stories. There is no happenstance, and cooperating with evil is still doing Satan's work.

The Good choice is to stop the train -- break the situation -- or die trying.


Orfamay Quest wrote:


The Good choice is to stop the train -- break the situation -- or die trying.

How are you proposing to do that while locked naked in the shed with only a button to press? The problem is that inaction is still a choice that you are making. Choosing to kill yourself before the people get ran over is no different than choosing not to press the button.

If you don't believe in happenstance, then you are deferring to a "greater power" who would judge your actions by its own rules. Clearly the Arthurian writers would have believed in such higher powers.


Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


The Good choice is to stop the train -- break the situation -- or die trying.

How are you proposing to do that while locked naked in the shed with only a button to press?

Well, step one is to break out of the shed. I'll worry about step two after that.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


The Good choice is to stop the train -- break the situation -- or die trying.

How are you proposing to do that while locked naked in the shed with only a button to press?
Well, step one is to break out of the shed. I'll worry about step two after that.

Clearly you try that and it doesn't work. What now?


Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


The Good choice is to stop the train -- break the situation -- or die trying.

How are you proposing to do that while locked naked in the shed with only a button to press?
Well, step one is to break out of the shed. I'll worry about step two after that.
Clearly you try that and it doesn't work. What now?

I try again. Repeat until success or moot.


Orfamay Quest wrote:

Not really.

This was well understood by the authors of the Arthurian stories. There is no happenstance, and cooperating with evil is still doing Satan's work.

The Good choice is to stop the train -- break the situation -- or die trying.

I challenge the assertion that 'die trying' counts as overall good.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


The Good choice is to stop the train -- break the situation -- or die trying.

How are you proposing to do that while locked naked in the shed with only a button to press?
Well, step one is to break out of the shed. I'll worry about step two after that.
Clearly you try that and it doesn't work. What now?
I try again. Repeat until success or moot.

So you've been trying to get out and suddenly a countdown starts giving you the remaining time before you can press the button or it is locked out as a safeguard. 10 seconds remain. You still try. Now 2 seconds remain and even if you could exit the booth, you wouldn't be able to do anything in the time that remains. It's just you, the button and 2 seconds. What do you do?

Liberty's Edge

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Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
The Good choice is to stop the train -- break the situation -- or die trying.
How are you proposing to do that while locked naked in the shed with only a button to press?

Even in those circumstances... it's technically possible.

If you could time the button press such that the track switch was 'in progress' when the train reached the junction then the train could derail.

Of course, that might be even worse if there were people on the train... or it flipped over and wound up crushing everyone on BOTH tracks... but you COULD stop the train.

That being said, the entire contrived (and yes, you can always make it even MORE contrived to eliminate options) scenario is just a variation on the 'ends justify the means' fallacy... e.g. 'killing one person is justified if it saves ten'.

Given the simple fact that humans are not omniscient we can never KNOW the 'ends' of our actions. Saving those ten people might result in one of them killing a hundred... but one of those hundred might otherwise have killed thousands... et cetera. We cannot know the 'ends', and thus they can never be (valid) justification for our 'means'.


Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


The Good choice is to stop the train -- break the situation -- or die trying.

How are you proposing to do that while locked naked in the shed with only a button to press?
Well, step one is to break out of the shed. I'll worry about step two after that.
Clearly you try that and it doesn't work. What now?
I try again. Repeat until success or moot.
So you've been trying to get out and suddenly a countdown starts giving you the remaining time before you can press the button or it is locked out as a safeguard. 10 seconds remain. You still try. Now 2 seconds remain and even if you could exit the booth, you wouldn't be able to do anything in the time that remains. It's just you, the button and 2 seconds. What do you do?

Asked and answered.

For one thing,... Why do I have any reason to believe the countdown timer?


Orfamay Quest wrote:


Asked and answered.

So your choice is to do nothing and let the 10 people die.

You monster.

Quote:
For one thing,... Why do I have any reason to believe the countdown timer?

It's a booth owned by the train company with clear instructions on how to use it, for switching tracks. It would be unreasonable to assume the booth is lying.


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Lawful Evil characters tend to play the long game; they may do more active (and noticeable) good than actual capital G Good characters, as doing so can help gather support for and make it more difficult to question your overarching policy. The Prince will be the favorite text of many LE rulers.


Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


Asked and answered.
So your choice is to do nothing and let the 10 people die.

Goodness, no. I chose to do something that would have saved everyone, but apparently rolled a 1 and couldn't pull it off.

Quote:
Quote:


For one thing,... Why do I have any reason to believe the countdown timer?
It's a booth owned by the train company with clear instructions on how to use it, for switching tracks.

I have literally no reason to believe any word in that sentence after the word "booth."


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


Asked and answered.
So your choice is to do nothing and let the 10 people die.

Goodness, no. I chose to do something that would have saved everyone, but apparently rolled a 1 and couldn't pull it off.

That was clearly wrong when the timer reached a time where no other action was feasible.

As for believing the countdown, you can see the train coming and judge it's distance to the switch so the countdown seems right


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


The Good choice is to stop the train -- break the situation -- or die trying.

How are you proposing to do that while locked naked in the shed with only a button to press?
Well, step one is to break out of the shed. I'll worry about step two after that.
Clearly you try that and it doesn't work. What now?
I try again. Repeat until success or moot.

Do you assume moral responsibility when you fail and, due to your self-imposed quest for moral purity, everyone you could have saved dies? You have prioritized your own purity over the lives of ten innocents.

If it becomes clear that you have no chance of accomplishing this "pure" goal, do you, a Good person, truly continue attempting it rather than attempting something that might save fewer people but is sure to succeed?

Melkiador wrote:
You monster.

Whoa, easy there, GLaDOS. I think we can put these differences behind us.


Clearly the Glados quote was tongue-in-cheek.


Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


Asked and answered.
So your choice is to do nothing and let the 10 people die.

Goodness, no. I chose to do something that would have saved everyone, but apparently rolled a 1 and couldn't pull it off.

That was clearly wrong when the timer reached a time where no other action was feasible.

I have no reason to believe any such event occurred.

Quote:


As for believing the countdown, you can see the train coming

I have no reason to believe that what I see is an accurate depiction of reality.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:


If it becomes clear that you have no chance of accomplishing this "pure" goal,

.... Objection! Assumes "facts" not in evidence.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
I have no reason to believe that what I see is an accurate depiction of reality.

So, you're pleading insanity? For the sake of argument, assume you are sane.


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Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
I have no reason to believe that what I see is an accurate depiction of reality.
So, you're pleading insanity?

Nope. I'm calling you --- or the person who set up this little psych experiment -- a liar.

Quote:


For the sake of argument, assume you are sane.

My sanity has no bearing on your trustworthiness.

Expanding a little bit....

* I wake up, naked, in a locked shed.

Well, I certainly have reason to believe I woke up, and whether it's a shed or a sound stage doesn't matter at this point. I will give provisional assent to this statement.

* ... and somehow, someone explains this creepy setup to me.

Well, that someone may be lying, but if I disbelieve and it's true, someone's going to die, and that's not nice, so I should give provisional assent to that as well.

* The same someone says that the shed is escape-proof.

Bullfrog. Nothing known to humanity is escape proof, and that this "shed" should be the one escape-proof item in the visible universe is highly unlikely to the point that it can be dismissed. So, a) the shed is not escape-proof and b) the someone is a liar.

* There is a timer
... set by the voice, apparently, which is a known liar. Disregard.

* ... and a window
... or some sort of projection unit, also set by the lying voice. Disregard.

* ... and an explanation that <X>
... also given by the lying voice. Presumptively disregard, irrespective of whatever it says.


Hey guys, dial it back.


Orfamay Quest wrote:


Nope. I'm calling you --- or the person who set up this little psych experiment -- a liar.

I explained before. You and your buddies got wasted last night. You ended up locked in the booth and they all passed out on the tracks.

Also, in addition to the clearly labeled instructions for the button and display, you now remember touring this place on a field trip once when you were a kid and the guide gave the same instructions.


Claxon wrote:
Hey guys, dial it back.
Thread Title wrote:
[Alignment Thread]

Ahahaha, no.


Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


Nope. I'm calling you --- or the person who set up this little psych experiment -- a liar.
I explained before.

Yes, and we've established that your explanations are not trustworthy.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


Nope. I'm calling you --- or the person who set up this little psych experiment -- a liar.
I explained before.
Yes, and we've established that your explanations are not trustworthy.

Hey, you're the one that got yourself locked in a booth. Don't blame the messenger.


Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


Nope. I'm calling you --- or the person who set up this little psych experiment -- a liar.
I explained before.
Yes, and we've established that your explanations are not trustworthy.
Hey, you're the one that got yourself locked in a booth.

Assumes "facts" not in evidence.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


Nope. I'm calling you --- or the person who set up this little psych experiment -- a liar.
I explained before.
Yes, and we've established that your explanations are not trustworthy.
Hey, you're the one that got yourself locked in a booth.
Assumes "facts" not in evidence.

You were there. You shouldn't need proof of things you experienced.


Snowblind wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Hey guys, dial it back.
Thread Title wrote:
[Alignment Thread]
Ahahaha, no.

I know you're joking but this is how threads get locked/edited.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:


If it becomes clear that you have no chance of accomplishing this "pure" goal,

.... Objection! Assumes "facts" not in evidence.

No, it assumes that we're treating this as a question of morality rather than strategy. Stop trying to game this! Freakin' Paizonians... :P


Two recommendations:

First, let's stop calling the subject "You" and start calling it "Suzanne". Make things feel a tiny bit less personal.

Second, the point of the exercise is to explore what Suzanne does in a binary situation. Demanding facts and rules lawyering the situation turns it from a hypothetical philosophical exercise into an exercise on strategy on par with your average D&D game.

If you aren't willing to accept that Suzanne is in a truly binary situation where only two choices are at all possible, you shouldn't try to take part in the exercise. That's like refusing to accept that d20s resolve your skill checks.


Stepping back from the playground taunts, it's really rather simple.

Ayn Rand wrote, in the middle of an otherwise unnoteworthy book, "Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."

It's something similar. Whenever you think you are facing a situation where you have to do something evil, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.

Gordie Dickson expressed it somewhat better at the end of Soldier, Ask Not, which I won't expound upon further because I don't want to spoil the plot (it's a very good book and I recommend it). But essentially, any situation like this ultimately hinges on the Fallacy of the False Dilemma. There's always, or almost always, a third choice -- such as breaking out of the toolshed -- which the poser of the problem will attempt to define away. (Really? The shed is unbreakable? Where do I buy one of these? And why doesn't the government build bunkers out of these sheds?)

There is always always another choice in the real world, or in any game world run by a human instead of a computer. And, for that matter, often in a game world run by a computer (See Ender's Game, or the Kobayashi Maru scenario.)


OOC: I'm doing this in the form of one of those Cracked articles. "So you got yourself stuck in a moral dilemma."


Kobold Cleaver wrote:


Second, the point of the exercise is to explore what Suzanne does in a binary situation.

And if we're discussing a moral situation, the idea that there is a binary choice between evil and evil is at best controversial, and to most philosophers outright wrong.

Quote:


If you aren't willing to accept that Suzanne is in a truly binary situation where only two choices are at all possible, you shouldn't try to take part in the exercise.

Not when the point I'm making is that the exercise itself is misleading.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Nothing known to humanity is escape proof

That's because nothing lasts forever. Over the next 24 hours, you, naked and unarmed, have no tools with which to break out of...let's say an airtight metal box with 24 hours' worth of air. Do you punch the wall? Okay. You do that. It's thick metal. Do you try to construct a bomb? Okay. There are no explosive materials. You have two buttons and a military-grade glass window showing you the trains.

Or let's try a different scenario. You're in space, in (again) an airtight satellite. All means of locomotion have been stripped from it, so it's just a metal can with a nice view.

You have access to a button that launches a single nuclear missile located on Earth.

You see an asteroid headed for Earth. According to the missile's location (you can barely see the silo from your position), the missile will hit that asteroid and knock it away. You used to work there and know that this button is connected to the same missile silo, and you know the exact trajectory for the same reasons. The location has excellent security and nobody has had time to change the trajectory since you left (an alien just teleported you into this box for entirely unrelated reasons connected to, I dunno, something something Star Trek, cut me some slack).

You cannot choose the missile's trajectory. You can only press the button. You can see (no voice required) that if the missile hits the asteroid, the asteroid will be deflected and hit a nearby space station, killing ten innocent scientists.

I know I shouldn't, but I can't resist this game. How do you justify inaction there? ;P


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:


Second, the point of the exercise is to explore what Suzanne does in a binary situation.

And if we're discussing a moral situation, the idea that there is a binary choice between evil and evil is at best controversial, and to most philosophers outright wrong.

Quote:


If you aren't willing to accept that Suzanne is in a truly binary situation where only two choices are at all possible, you shouldn't try to take part in the exercise.
Not when the point I'm making is that the exercise itself is misleading.

Fair enough, but I'll tackle this from the moral ground this time. Let's ditch the exercise, since you take exception to it.

I posit that refusing to accept a solution that is highly likely to be effective and taking a riskier solution instead is an evil act if:
a) Doing so is highly likely to lead to more deaths, and
b) You are only doing so because you are unwilling to accept a morally "impure" option.

I am, of course, referring to a nonspecific "you".

I should also clarify something. Are you arguing this from the front of, "What I would do"? Or is this more a, "This is what I believe Good is, but a legitimately Good person would probably be better off picking a non-Good solution"?


Kobold Cleaver wrote:


I know I shouldn't, but I can't resist this game. How do you justify inaction there?

By refusing to passively accept the premises. Since I know that accepting what I deleted would cause deaths, I reject that entirely. In particular, I reject your statements that I can take no effective action, and I am morally justified in taking any action that I would believe may be effective in the absence of your statements.

And, note, I'm not justifying inaction. That is specifically the one thing that I am not justifying.


What do you mean by "what you deleted"? And if you reject the premises of pressing the button, what do you do?


Kobold Cleaver wrote:

I'll tackle this from the moral ground this time. Let's ditch the exercise, since you take exception to it.

I posit that refusing to accept a solution that is highly likely to be effective and taking a riskier solution instead is an evil act if:
a) Doing so is highly likely to lead to more deaths, and
b) You are only doing so because you are unwilling to accept a morally "impure" option.

Not if we can't agree on what "effectiveness" entails, which is (of course) the point of the argument about what the "greatest good" is.

The hidden point -- as Aelryinth insightfully pointed out -- is that the question of "greatest good" normally only comes in when the actions under discussion are evil.

Quote:


I should also clarify something. Are you arguing this from the front of, "What I would do"? Or is this more a, "This is what I believe Good is, but a legitimately Good person would probably be better off picking a non-Good solution"?

Well, I would like to be an angelic paragon of virtue who never makes morally incorrect choices, but I -- me, myself -- can't make that claim. Which is to say, I'm human, or at least, illithid.

I also believe that there is always a third way and that true dilemmae do not exist, but I may not be smart enough or imaginative enough to find that third way. This is also a failing on my part, because I didn't roll an ∞ on my intelligence score. Which is again to say, I'm illithid.

But enough about me.

A legitimately Good person would not accept that there is no third option, and, in fact, a tremendous amount of our improvement in life has come from people saying "there must be a way we can do both" instead of passively accepting the binary choice between unacceptable outcomes.

A real-world example that I'm rather fond of -- penicillin, the wonder drug, used to be incredibly rare, and by extension, expensive and in short supply. There were always more patients in need of it than drugs to treat them, and medics were faced with apparent dilemmae (multilemmae? polylemmae?) in whom to treat.

The solution was a third way. Penicillin is not well metabolized, and something like 90% of penicillin given to a patient is excreted in urine within four hours of administration. So rather than giving ten doses to ten people, the medics would give ten doses to ten people, collect their urine and get another nine doses out of it, which they would then give to nine more people, and so on, until they had treated a hundred people.

Evil lies in giving up and saying "well, 90 of you will die, and we just have to decide which 90."


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
What do you mean by "what you deleted"?

You wrote several paragraphs, which I have no reason to accept, and therefore deleted from my response.

Quote:


And if you reject the premises of pressing the button, what do you do?

Anything I believe will be effective.


My point is that there are situations where there is no plausible win. In these situations, going for the win anyways is selfish. Do the best with what you have. Don't try to attain the ephemeral if doing so means real people suffer for it.

We can bring up examples all day of situations where there is or isn't a "secret win". You bring up the example of penicillin, which I agree was a case in which that win was present. I bring up the spaceship situation, though, which you seem unwilling to explore (probably because it is a legitimate no-win scenario where you have to deal with some losses no matter what).

Yes, there are many instances where the "nobody gets hurt" solution exists. But I don't subscribe to the philosophy that every single instance has that solution. I think that's a dangerous blanket to lay down, in fact, and will lead to greater evil by rendering us unwilling to accept hard truths when the choices are put before us.

Our society has a real phobia of the concepts of "The Greater Good" and "The Lesser Evil". And so we tell glorious stories where the hero finds the third option and keeps his hands clean. But an inability to accept the occasional lesser evil is a problem. Kirk was kind of a moron.

By all means, search for the secret win. Hope for the best. But plan for the worst. And when your time is up and you have to make the call, refusing to take the solution that looks most likely to succeed and save some lives is the true Evil.

tl;dr: I would rather take a 99% chance to save ten people than a 1% chance to save eleven.


Kobold Cleaver wrote:
My point is that there are situations where there is no plausible win.

And that point is what I reject. Flatly, uncontrovertibly, and almost certainly beyond your ability to shift in a forum post.

Quote:


We can bring up examples all day of situations where there is or isn't a "secret win". You bring up the example of penicillin, which I agree was a case in which that win was present. I bring up the spaceship situation, though, which you seem unwilling to explore (probably because it is a legitimate no-win scenario where you have to deal with some losses no matter what).

Goodness, no. But if I actually explore it, someone will simply end up with hurt feelings.

Since you pushed, as an obvious example.... I have a way to communicate with the missile on earth. This means I have a way to communicate more generally with planet earth, which means rather than launching the missile, I can phone HQ and tell them what's going on and let them use their greater resources to find a solution. I can, if necessary, dismantle the radio link to the missile and rebuild it to communicate on a different frequency.

... and that's at least potentially a win that solves everything. I phone home, the back room boys reprogram the missile, and everyone was happy. (I think that was, more or less, the plot of the Apollo 13 movie, wasn't it?) And so the "good" option is to break the rules.

Now, here's the point where you want to make some ad hoc adjustment to the problem statement to try to plug that hole. You're right, I'm not willing to continue to explore "what if" scenario upon "what if" scenario. Because no matter what you write, I would look for a hole in it, and if I didn't find a hole in it, I'd start to disassemble the assumptions, one by one, until I found one. ("Check your premises. You will find that one is wrong." Since no one in the history of literature has ever been able to write a story without holes, I rather doubt this forum will be where the first one appears.)

We tell glorious stories where the hero finds the third option because that's what heroes do. Most of us aren't heroes, I'm afraid. Most of us are also neutral in alignment, not good. But these stories are what define "good" for us.


The reason they're heroes is because we put them in heroic versions of reality. I believe that your philosophy leads us away from good and towards a mess of consequences.

Even if it's accurate, I don't think it applies well on a matter of applicability. I think it ends up approaching a religion at a certain point—believing in things you can't see and probably can't find. But morality itself is a religion of a sorts, I suppose.

And with that stated, I think I'm done. I will say that I respect your philosophy, and you back it up well. I don't think it holds up. But we come from very different views of the world, so I wouldn't, would I? :P


Boy, we're off-topic, aren't we? Lawful Evil people: You do you. Believe in yourselves. Or whatever.


I think you can be LE, but really have good intentions. Your methods however, may lead you to some ill-conceived* or just straight out evil actions.

The way PF works is that your methods are a large part of where you end up on the actual alignment scale.

*The guy who takes the most efficient path, such as calling some demon or devil to solve a problem, may also be taking a darker path.

Dark Archive

Kobold Cleaver wrote:
You cannot "fall" from evil. As long as the willingness exists to commit evil acts, you can be as nice as you want. Evil isn't about a compulsion to screw people over constantly—it's just about a capacity, if the circumstances are right. You could make a Lawful Evil knight who behaves as Lawful Good in every single way, except where tengus are involved, because it turns out she hates tengus more than anything and murders them at first glance (even the hatchlings!). Until a tengu shows up, though, she will come across as the nicest, most altruistic person you've ever met. Lawful Evil.

Yup, racism (or sexism or fantasy speciesm, or some intolerant level of nationalism or faith) is one great way to evil up an otherwise 'nice' character. He's the champion of all human things, the noblest of the noble with everyone admiring his faith, charity and sense of honor, and he will cold-bloodedly drown a dozen goblin babies just as fast. She's the gentle midwife who eases birth and comforts the dying, and when confronted with the ghost of a woman who lingered behind because her children were in danger when she died, instead of resolving the ghosts fears by telling her that her children made it (or that they died, and are waiting for her in the afterlife), she'll shred that undead monster's soul with positive energy.

Characterizing such folk can be as easy as remembering that racist, sexist and / or anti-Semetic comment some relative made at Thanksgiving and building a character around that, utterly convinced that they are moral and righteous and that everyone around them is foolish and morally lazy by comparison, and yet completely unaware that they have a mote in their own eye the size of a Buick.

'Nice' but evil is super-easy. I prefer my own evil characters to be reasonable and practical and not at all the short-sighted ID-controlled twits generally serving as villains in forms of media entertainment where the bad guys explicitly can't win and the writers have been cautioned not to glorify or glamorize them (like the old comics code authority comics, in which the bad-guys were literally mandated to fail, no matter how much or little effort the heroes put into it).


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Rule 1: There is no such thing as the "Greater Good."

The concept of the greater good is something people created so they wouldn't feel bad for doing evil things. It is a coping mechanism. Generally good people who felt bad about doing evil conjured it up as a way to justify their actions.

Rule 2: Intentions don't matter.

If a Paladin does something evil they fall. It doesn't matter why. This applies universally. If an evil character does something good, regardless of why, its still good. An evil character who does too much good becomes neutral or good, much like a good character who does too much evil CAN become neutral or evil.

Rule 3: The ends don't matter, only the means.

This is the most important part. It doesn't matter what the outcome is. If you save an innocent child then you did a good thing. If that child grows up to be Hitler it doesn't change that you did a good thing.

Likewise, if you murder a man because he was in the way of good it doesn't change the fact that you murdered a man.


HWalsh wrote:

Rule 1: There is no such thing as the "Greater Good."

The concept of the greater good is something people created so they wouldn't feel bad for doing evil things. It is a coping mechanism. Generally good people who felt bad about doing evil conjured it up as a way to justify their actions.
1) In Pathfinder, there IS an objective "Greater Good" which applies. This Greater Good is what grants Paladins power, fuels the powers of Celestial Outsiders, etc. It is a tangible force as real in Pathfinder as Electromagnetism is for us. Moreover, even if you're applying "real-world" philosophy (already a mistake), can you objectively prove that "Greater Good" isn't real? Sure, even if it IS real, people will still mistake other things FOR it; typically they mistake pragmatism for "Greater Good". But to claim that real, actual "Greater Good" is absolutely unreal based on nothing at all is very illogical.

Rule 2: Intentions don't matter.

If a Paladin does something evil they fall. It doesn't matter why. This applies universally. If an evil character does something good, regardless of why, its still good. An evil character who does too much good becomes neutral or good, much like a good character who does too much evil CAN become neutral or evil.
Intentions matter very much. Again, Good and Evil, at least in the scope of the Pathfinder game (which we are currently discussing), are tangible, appreciable, real forces. People aren't "good" JUST because of a personal decision; they are Good because their actions AND intentions resonate with the energy of Good. Paladins are sworn so strongly to Good that both their actions AND their intentions must unwaiveringly resonate with Good. But other character not so code-bound may resonate on just one side of that equation. Actually, it's more of an inequality because Action weighs a bit more than Intent, but that doesn't mean that Intent has no value. Furthermore, even if we WERE talking about the real world, there is a very good argument for the value of utilitarianism in the morality of action. Is it moral to let a killer live and escape and threaten people? Can you absolutely say that the immorality of killing a killer completely invalidates the threat to their future victims? I'll give you a hint: no, you can't. You might think you can, but that doesn't make it correct.

Rule 3: The ends don't matter, only the means.

This is the most important part. It doesn't matter what the outcome is. If you save an innocent child then you did a good thing. If that child grows up to be Hitler it doesn't change that you did a good thing.

Likewise, if you murder a man because he was in the way of good it doesn't change the fact that you murdered a man.
Events don't exist in a vacuum. Everything is a continuum so, realistically, it's the division between means and ends that is a false-dichotomy. In the scope of Pathfinder's objective morality, it isn't the "act" of killing that is inherently evil (Good murder-hobos kill dangerous non-Good creatures for a living), but how that killing resonates with the cosmological energies. Was it killing for Good (It's a sad job, but it must be done) or was it killing for Evil (Woo, look how far that blood spray went!). Intent and action, again, go hand-in-hand. Even in the real world, both intent and action are important. Furthermore, in your first rule, you claimed that there is no Greater Good. If that were truly the case, then your other rules are invalid because if there's nothing that determines what kinds of actions are "good" or "evil", it's entirely up to personal discretion. If one followed all three of your rules, the first claims that Greater Good doesn't exist, thus, there are no such things as "good" or "evil" acts; everything is subjective and personal, so Rules 2 and 3 serve no purpose as NOTHING matters, neither means nor ends nor intentions.

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Liberty's Edge

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