Ubuntu wrote:I don't think most people will ever consistently take whatever philosophical or ethical beliefs and principles they hold to their logical conclusions which is partly why I think promoting utilitarianism is pointless.
Perhaps we're talking about slightly different things, but I think "promoting utilitarianism" doesn't have much to do with explaining the philosophical content in an academic way, unless the situation calls for it. It's mainly about giving examples of cost-effective causes to support, challenging received intuitions (e.g., that natural suffering is acceptable), focusing on efficiency in charity, making friends, sharing ideas, having fun.
Peter Singer is a great example of what it looks like to promote utilitarianism. While he can speak to fellow philosophers in journal articles if he needs to, he usually explains ideas without jargon or overarching philosophical edifices. He appeals to people's reason and their emotions, focusing on concrete examples and things they can do. Animal Liberation
has sold over 400,000 copies. Whether those readers are people who "hold to their logical conclusions" or not, a significant minority of them have been influenced to eat less meat.
Ubuntu wrote:I think two equally compassionate people can come to radically different conclusions depending on their worldviews.
Agree. Many empathetic people are working to preserve wild-animal habitats, with the effect of increasing the amount of small-animal suffering in those regions.
However, I do think empathy better correlates with actions that reduce suffering than a coin toss. Even if that isn't true now, it's not so important. What matters mainly is that empathetic values persevere into the age of friendly AI. The AI can figure out the facts for us later, but we need to get its values correct now.
Ubuntu wrote:especially if people are empathetic on the basis of enlightened self-interest and not because they believe everyone's interests have the same inherent value from an 'objective' point of view
That's an interesting phrase.
What does it mean to be empathetic out of self-interest? I thought the definition of empathy was caring about others for their own sake. Or are you thinking of people who feel better when they help others because they would feel bad if they didn't?
rehoot wrote:Two people with the same "empathy" could come to radically different conclusions, but research on empathy shows that people who rate themselves as having more empathic feeling about something are more prone to help
Also more likely to be vegetarian