Zone1 Am I The Asshole?

Grogu

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Sep 17, 2023
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Just read an interesting article and thought it was worthy of further discussion:

Am I The Asshole?

“Philosophers are studying Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole?”​

In which philosophy tries to understand how normal people think about morality.

By Sigal Samuel May 1, 2024, 9:00am EDT

Philosophers, bless them, are trying to understand how normal people think about morality.

Normal people, as you may have heard, hang out on the internet. And what is the internet’s biggest trove of everyday moral dilemmas? Why, it’s Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole?” forum!

So, why not comb through millions of comments there to find out how people make moral decisions?

This might sound like a joke, but it’s actually been the past four years of Daniel Yudkin’s life. As he was doing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, Yudkin thought about how moral psychology and moral philosophy — his fields of research — mostly focus on hypothetical, contextless scenarios involving strangers.

For example, the famous “trolley problem” asks if you should actively choose to divert a runaway trolley so that it kills one person if, by doing so, you can save five people along a different track from getting killed.

That’s a pretty weird way to study moral decision-making. In real life, the trade-offs we face often involve people we actually know, but the trolley problem imagines a world where you have no special relationship to anybody. It doesn’t ask whether you should make a different decision if one of the people tied to the tracks is, say, your mother.

Yudkin, now a visiting scholar at Penn, hypothesized that this style of investigating morality overlooks an important aspect of real life: the relational context.

And Yudkin worried about that omission. Philosophy doesn’t only matter for the ivory tower — it can shape how we set up our societies. “If we’re living in a society that omits the importance of relational obligations,” he told me, “there’s a risk that we see ourselves as atomic individuals and we aren’t focused enough on what we owe each other.”

So, together with a group of co-authors on a recent preprint paper, he set about studying the popular subreddit where people describe how they acted in a moral conflict — whether with a spouse, a roommate, a boss, or someone else — and then ask that all-important question: Am I the asshole?

What studying morality on Reddit reveals​

Yudkin and his co-authors scraped roughly 369,000 posts and 11 million comments written between 2018 and 2021 on “Am I the Asshole?” (AITA for short). Then they used AI to sort the dilemmas into several categories. Those include procedural fairness (like “AITA for skipping the line?”), honesty ( “AITA for saying I don’t speak English in awkward situations?”), and relational obligations ( “AITA for expecting my girlfriend to lint roll my jacket?”).

The researchers found that the most common dilemmas had to do with relational obligations: dilemmas about what we owe to others.

A categorization of posts on Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole?” according to their moral themes: fairness, feelings, harm, honesty, relational obligation, and social norms.

With the help of AI, Yudkin and his co-authors categorized posts on Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole?” according to their moral themes. Courtesy of Daniel Yudkin

Next, they wanted to find out whether certain types of dilemmas were more likely to pop up in certain types of relationships. Will some dilemmas arise more often with your sister, say, than with your manager?

So the researchers examined how often each dilemma popped up in 38 different relationships. Surprise, surprise: The likelihood of encountering different dilemmas, they found, does depend on whom you’re dealing with. If you’re hanging out with your sister, you’re more likely to be worrying about relational obligations, while interactions with your manager are more likely to get you thinking about procedural fairness.

The truth is, you don’t need a fancy study to tell you this. If you’ve ever had a sister or a manager — or if you’ve ever had the experience of being, you know, a human — you probably already know this in your bones.

It’s probably obvious to most of us that relational context is super important when it comes to judging the morality of actions. It’s common to think we have different moral obligations to different categories of people — to your sister versus to your manager versus to a total stranger.

So what does it say about modern philosophy that it’s largely ignored relational context?

Uncovering philosophy’s blind spots​

Let’s get a bit more precise: It’s not as though all of philosophy has ignored relational context. But one branch — utilitarianism — is strongly inclined in this direction. Utilitarians believe we should seek the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people — and we have to consider everybody’s happiness equally. So we’re not supposed to be partial to our own friends or family members.

This ethical approach took off in the 18th century. Today, it’s extremely influential in Western philosophy — and not just in the halls of academia. Famous philosophers like Peter Singer have popularized it in the public sphere, too.

Increasingly, though, some are challenging it.

“Moral philosophy has for so long been about trying to identify universal moral principles that apply to all people regardless of their identity,” Yudkin told me. “And it’s because of this effort that moral philosophers have really moved away from the relational perspective. But the more that I think about the data, the more clear to me it is that you’re losing something essential from the moral equation when you abstract away from relationships.”

Moral psychologists like Princeton’s Molly Crockett and Yale’s Margaret Clark have likewise been investigating the idea that moral obligations are relationship-specific.

“Here’s a classic example,” Crockett told me a few years ago. “Consider a woman, Wendy, who could easily provide a meal to a young child but fails to do so. Has Wendy done anything wrong? It depends on who the child is. If she’s failing to provide a meal to her own child, then absolutely she’s done something wrong! But if Wendy is a restaurant owner and the child is not otherwise starving, then they don’t have a relationship that creates special obligations prompting her to feed the child.”

According to Crockett, being a moral agent has become trickier for us with the rise of globalization, which forces us to think about how our actions might affect people we’re never going to meet. “Being a good global citizen now butts up against our very powerful psychological tendencies to prioritize our families and friends,” Crockett told me.

Utilitarians would say that we should overcome those powerful psychological tendencies, but many others would beg to differ. Philosopher Patricia Churchland once told me that utilitarianism is unrealistic because “there’s no special consideration for your own children, family, friends. Biologically, that’s just ridiculous. People can’t live that way.”

But just because our brains may incline us to care for some more than others doesn’t necessarily mean we ought to bow to that, does it?

“No, it doesn’t,” Churchland said, “but you would have a hard time arguing for the morality of abandoning your own two children in order to save 20 orphans. Even [Immanuel] Kant thought that ‘ought’ implies ‘can,’ and I can’t abandon my children for the sake of orphans on the other side of the planet whom I don’t know, just because there’s 20 of them and only two of mine. It’s not psychologically feasible.”

If you ask me, that’s fair enough. While I’d respect the decision of those who choose to save the 20 orphans, I certainly wouldn’t fault someone for acting in line with an impulse that is hardwired into them.

So ... am I the asshole?”


I agree with the part in bold - 100%. Am I the asshole?

Discuss.
 
The general rule of thumb is: "If you have to ask if you are an asshole then you likely are a asshole."

My philosopher fee is $87.00 for anyone that reads this.....You can donate it to the forum. ;)
You’ve actually helped me, I think. More than either of us probably even realize.

I can swing $87. Will plan on donating soon.

Thanks! :)
 
I find that most of the time, if you have to ask, you are.
Please see my reply to the other poster above. I think you guys are actually correct, which means I have lots of work to do.

Soon, this forum will be $87.00 richer….
 
I take that back. I’m definitely not an asshole.

I just went into town, to pick up my diabetes meds. I decided to go through the pharmacy drive through. There was only one car in front of me when I got there. It must have taken that woman thirty minutes to move on. She was buying seemingly everything in the store (not just medication). Technically, one can buy other stuff at this particular pharmacy at the drive through, besides just prescriptions, but Jesus Christ! Have some common courtesy, for God’s sake! Then, on my way home, I had a punk skateboarder pass between me and the oncoming car, coming towards me (An illegal maneuver). He did it right on the double line of the road. I almost hit him and it would not have been my fault.

Now, I’m back to the “I’m the smartest person in the world and everyone else around me is a blithering brain dead moron - an Idiocracy” mentality.

I may calm down (or, I may not). Right now, I would save my cat, instead of the rest of the world (in the above scenario). That doesn’t make me an asshole. It makes me a genius, but that’s about it.

I just can’t believe how Stupid people are these days…..
 
Last edited:
I take that back. I’m definitely not an asshole.

I just went into town, to pick up my diabetes meds. I decided to go through the pharmacy drive through. There was only one car in front of me when I got there. It must have taken that woman thirty minutes to move on. She was buying seemingly everything in the store (not just medication). Technically, one can buy other stuff at this particular pharmacy at the drive through, besides just prescriptions, but Jesus Christ! Have some common courtesy, for God’s sake! Then, on my way home, I had a punk skateboarder pass between me and the oncoming car, coming towards me (An illegal maneuver). He did it right on the double line of the road. I almost hit him and it would not have been my fault.

Now, I’m back to the “I’m the smartest person in the world and everyone else around me is a blithering brain dead moron - an Idiocracy” mentality.

I may calm down (or, I may not). Right now, I would save my cat, instead of the rest of the world (in the above scenario). That doesn’t make me an asshole. It makes me a genius, but that’s about it.

I just can’t believe how Stupid people are these days…..
Welcome to my world. :(
 
Just read an interesting article and thought it was worthy of further discussion:

Am I The Asshole?

“Philosophers are studying Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole?”​

In which philosophy tries to understand how normal people think about morality.

By Sigal Samuel May 1, 2024, 9:00am EDT

Philosophers, bless them, are trying to understand how normal people think about morality.

Normal people, as you may have heard, hang out on the internet. And what is the internet’s biggest trove of everyday moral dilemmas? Why, it’s Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole?” forum!

So, why not comb through millions of comments there to find out how people make moral decisions?

This might sound like a joke, but it’s actually been the past four years of Daniel Yudkin’s life. As he was doing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, Yudkin thought about how moral psychology and moral philosophy — his fields of research — mostly focus on hypothetical, contextless scenarios involving strangers.

For example, the famous “trolley problem” asks if you should actively choose to divert a runaway trolley so that it kills one person if, by doing so, you can save five people along a different track from getting killed.

That’s a pretty weird way to study moral decision-making. In real life, the trade-offs we face often involve people we actually know, but the trolley problem imagines a world where you have no special relationship to anybody. It doesn’t ask whether you should make a different decision if one of the people tied to the tracks is, say, your mother.

Yudkin, now a visiting scholar at Penn, hypothesized that this style of investigating morality overlooks an important aspect of real life: the relational context.

And Yudkin worried about that omission. Philosophy doesn’t only matter for the ivory tower — it can shape how we set up our societies. “If we’re living in a society that omits the importance of relational obligations,” he told me, “there’s a risk that we see ourselves as atomic individuals and we aren’t focused enough on what we owe each other.”

So, together with a group of co-authors on a recent preprint paper, he set about studying the popular subreddit where people describe how they acted in a moral conflict — whether with a spouse, a roommate, a boss, or someone else — and then ask that all-important question: Am I the asshole?

What studying morality on Reddit reveals​

Yudkin and his co-authors scraped roughly 369,000 posts and 11 million comments written between 2018 and 2021 on “Am I the Asshole?” (AITA for short). Then they used AI to sort the dilemmas into several categories. Those include procedural fairness (like “AITA for skipping the line?”), honesty ( “AITA for saying I don’t speak English in awkward situations?”), and relational obligations ( “AITA for expecting my girlfriend to lint roll my jacket?”).

The researchers found that the most common dilemmas had to do with relational obligations: dilemmas about what we owe to others.

A categorization of posts on Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole?” according to their moral themes: fairness, feelings, harm, honesty, relational obligation, and social norms.

With the help of AI, Yudkin and his co-authors categorized posts on Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole?” according to their moral themes. Courtesy of Daniel Yudkin

Next, they wanted to find out whether certain types of dilemmas were more likely to pop up in certain types of relationships. Will some dilemmas arise more often with your sister, say, than with your manager?

So the researchers examined how often each dilemma popped up in 38 different relationships. Surprise, surprise: The likelihood of encountering different dilemmas, they found, does depend on whom you’re dealing with. If you’re hanging out with your sister, you’re more likely to be worrying about relational obligations, while interactions with your manager are more likely to get you thinking about procedural fairness.

The truth is, you don’t need a fancy study to tell you this. If you’ve ever had a sister or a manager — or if you’ve ever had the experience of being, you know, a human — you probably already know this in your bones.

It’s probably obvious to most of us that relational context is super important when it comes to judging the morality of actions. It’s common to think we have different moral obligations to different categories of people — to your sister versus to your manager versus to a total stranger.

So what does it say about modern philosophy that it’s largely ignored relational context?

Uncovering philosophy’s blind spots​

Let’s get a bit more precise: It’s not as though all of philosophy has ignored relational context. But one branch — utilitarianism — is strongly inclined in this direction. Utilitarians believe we should seek the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people — and we have to consider everybody’s happiness equally. So we’re not supposed to be partial to our own friends or family members.

This ethical approach took off in the 18th century. Today, it’s extremely influential in Western philosophy — and not just in the halls of academia. Famous philosophers like Peter Singer have popularized it in the public sphere, too.

Increasingly, though, some are challenging it.

“Moral philosophy has for so long been about trying to identify universal moral principles that apply to all people regardless of their identity,” Yudkin told me. “And it’s because of this effort that moral philosophers have really moved away from the relational perspective. But the more that I think about the data, the more clear to me it is that you’re losing something essential from the moral equation when you abstract away from relationships.”

Moral psychologists like Princeton’s Molly Crockett and Yale’s Margaret Clark have likewise been investigating the idea that moral obligations are relationship-specific.

“Here’s a classic example,” Crockett told me a few years ago. “Consider a woman, Wendy, who could easily provide a meal to a young child but fails to do so. Has Wendy done anything wrong? It depends on who the child is. If she’s failing to provide a meal to her own child, then absolutely she’s done something wrong! But if Wendy is a restaurant owner and the child is not otherwise starving, then they don’t have a relationship that creates special obligations prompting her to feed the child.”

According to Crockett, being a moral agent has become trickier for us with the rise of globalization, which forces us to think about how our actions might affect people we’re never going to meet. “Being a good global citizen now butts up against our very powerful psychological tendencies to prioritize our families and friends,” Crockett told me.

Utilitarians would say that we should overcome those powerful psychological tendencies, but many others would beg to differ. Philosopher Patricia Churchland once told me that utilitarianism is unrealistic because “there’s no special consideration for your own children, family, friends. Biologically, that’s just ridiculous. People can’t live that way.”

But just because our brains may incline us to care for some more than others doesn’t necessarily mean we ought to bow to that, does it?

“No, it doesn’t,” Churchland said, “but you would have a hard time arguing for the morality of abandoning your own two children in order to save 20 orphans. Even [Immanuel] Kant thought that ‘ought’ implies ‘can,’ and I can’t abandon my children for the sake of orphans on the other side of the planet whom I don’t know, just because there’s 20 of them and only two of mine. It’s not psychologically feasible.”

If you ask me, that’s fair enough. While I’d respect the decision of those who choose to save the 20 orphans, I certainly wouldn’t fault someone for acting in line with an impulse that is hardwired into them.

So ... am I the asshole?”


I agree with the part in bold - 100%. Am I the asshole?

Discuss.
Hardly worth the effort of any discussion.

So, application denied.

Edit: cool thread headline all the same.
 
Just read an interesting article and thought it was worthy of further discussion:

Am I The Asshole?

“Philosophers are studying Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole?”​

In which philosophy tries to understand how normal people think about morality.

By Sigal Samuel May 1, 2024, 9:00am EDT

Philosophers, bless them, are trying to understand how normal people think about morality.

Normal people, as you may have heard, hang out on the internet. And what is the internet’s biggest trove of everyday moral dilemmas? Why, it’s Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole?” forum!

So, why not comb through millions of comments there to find out how people make moral decisions?

This might sound like a joke, but it’s actually been the past four years of Daniel Yudkin’s life. As he was doing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, Yudkin thought about how moral psychology and moral philosophy — his fields of research — mostly focus on hypothetical, contextless scenarios involving strangers.

For example, the famous “trolley problem” asks if you should actively choose to divert a runaway trolley so that it kills one person if, by doing so, you can save five people along a different track from getting killed.

That’s a pretty weird way to study moral decision-making. In real life, the trade-offs we face often involve people we actually know, but the trolley problem imagines a world where you have no special relationship to anybody. It doesn’t ask whether you should make a different decision if one of the people tied to the tracks is, say, your mother.

Yudkin, now a visiting scholar at Penn, hypothesized that this style of investigating morality overlooks an important aspect of real life: the relational context.

And Yudkin worried about that omission. Philosophy doesn’t only matter for the ivory tower — it can shape how we set up our societies. “If we’re living in a society that omits the importance of relational obligations,” he told me, “there’s a risk that we see ourselves as atomic individuals and we aren’t focused enough on what we owe each other.”

So, together with a group of co-authors on a recent preprint paper, he set about studying the popular subreddit where people describe how they acted in a moral conflict — whether with a spouse, a roommate, a boss, or someone else — and then ask that all-important question: Am I the asshole?

What studying morality on Reddit reveals​

Yudkin and his co-authors scraped roughly 369,000 posts and 11 million comments written between 2018 and 2021 on “Am I the Asshole?” (AITA for short). Then they used AI to sort the dilemmas into several categories. Those include procedural fairness (like “AITA for skipping the line?”), honesty ( “AITA for saying I don’t speak English in awkward situations?”), and relational obligations ( “AITA for expecting my girlfriend to lint roll my jacket?”).

The researchers found that the most common dilemmas had to do with relational obligations: dilemmas about what we owe to others.

A categorization of posts on Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole?” according to their moral themes: fairness, feelings, harm, honesty, relational obligation, and social norms.

With the help of AI, Yudkin and his co-authors categorized posts on Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole?” according to their moral themes. Courtesy of Daniel Yudkin

Next, they wanted to find out whether certain types of dilemmas were more likely to pop up in certain types of relationships. Will some dilemmas arise more often with your sister, say, than with your manager?

So the researchers examined how often each dilemma popped up in 38 different relationships. Surprise, surprise: The likelihood of encountering different dilemmas, they found, does depend on whom you’re dealing with. If you’re hanging out with your sister, you’re more likely to be worrying about relational obligations, while interactions with your manager are more likely to get you thinking about procedural fairness.

The truth is, you don’t need a fancy study to tell you this. If you’ve ever had a sister or a manager — or if you’ve ever had the experience of being, you know, a human — you probably already know this in your bones.

It’s probably obvious to most of us that relational context is super important when it comes to judging the morality of actions. It’s common to think we have different moral obligations to different categories of people — to your sister versus to your manager versus to a total stranger.

So what does it say about modern philosophy that it’s largely ignored relational context?

Uncovering philosophy’s blind spots​

Let’s get a bit more precise: It’s not as though all of philosophy has ignored relational context. But one branch — utilitarianism — is strongly inclined in this direction. Utilitarians believe we should seek the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people — and we have to consider everybody’s happiness equally. So we’re not supposed to be partial to our own friends or family members.

This ethical approach took off in the 18th century. Today, it’s extremely influential in Western philosophy — and not just in the halls of academia. Famous philosophers like Peter Singer have popularized it in the public sphere, too.

Increasingly, though, some are challenging it.

“Moral philosophy has for so long been about trying to identify universal moral principles that apply to all people regardless of their identity,” Yudkin told me. “And it’s because of this effort that moral philosophers have really moved away from the relational perspective. But the more that I think about the data, the more clear to me it is that you’re losing something essential from the moral equation when you abstract away from relationships.”

Moral psychologists like Princeton’s Molly Crockett and Yale’s Margaret Clark have likewise been investigating the idea that moral obligations are relationship-specific.

“Here’s a classic example,” Crockett told me a few years ago. “Consider a woman, Wendy, who could easily provide a meal to a young child but fails to do so. Has Wendy done anything wrong? It depends on who the child is. If she’s failing to provide a meal to her own child, then absolutely she’s done something wrong! But if Wendy is a restaurant owner and the child is not otherwise starving, then they don’t have a relationship that creates special obligations prompting her to feed the child.”

According to Crockett, being a moral agent has become trickier for us with the rise of globalization, which forces us to think about how our actions might affect people we’re never going to meet. “Being a good global citizen now butts up against our very powerful psychological tendencies to prioritize our families and friends,” Crockett told me.

Utilitarians would say that we should overcome those powerful psychological tendencies, but many others would beg to differ. Philosopher Patricia Churchland once told me that utilitarianism is unrealistic because “there’s no special consideration for your own children, family, friends. Biologically, that’s just ridiculous. People can’t live that way.”

But just because our brains may incline us to care for some more than others doesn’t necessarily mean we ought to bow to that, does it?

“No, it doesn’t,” Churchland said, “but you would have a hard time arguing for the morality of abandoning your own two children in order to save 20 orphans. Even [Immanuel] Kant thought that ‘ought’ implies ‘can,’ and I can’t abandon my children for the sake of orphans on the other side of the planet whom I don’t know, just because there’s 20 of them and only two of mine. It’s not psychologically feasible.”

If you ask me, that’s fair enough. While I’d respect the decision of those who choose to save the 20 orphans, I certainly wouldn’t fault someone for acting in line with an impulse that is hardwired into them.

So ... am I the asshole?”


I agree with the part in bold - 100%. Am I the asshole?

Discuss.
For the bolded parting comment... No. You aren't the "asshole". You are the potential next generations participants. Humans aren't wired to, nor obligated to treat all other hominids as "equal". Your job as a living organism is to survive, and reproduce; thus relaying your ancestors genetics into the future of competiton called life.
 

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