The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics - Deepstash
The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics

The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics

The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics


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An Ethical Fallacy

The Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum physics states that the act of observing reality also changes it.

The (jokingly named) Copenhagen Interpretation of ethics states that when you interact with a problem, you can be blamed for it.

What if we could act on a problem and not feel horrible for making it just a little better, even if it was an action that benefited ourselves as well? If everyone “exploited” opportunities where they could benefit and alleviate people’s suffering at the same time, we’d all be better off.


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NYC was criticized for randomly selecting homeless applicants for an aid program, and tracking those not selected as a control group.

An Austrailian tech entrepreneur and former MP was criticized for telling companies to hire more women to get the same talent as men at a lower cost.

When Detroit shut down people's water due to unpaid water bills, PETA promised to pay their entire bill if they went vegan for a month. They were criticized.


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A Counterpoint

Suppose there is a problem. Organization X offers to help with the problem, but X also benefits in some way.

The reason this seems "exploitative" is because it often is.

Since X receives a benefit, it could be in their interests to continue the status quo, instead of working to fix the problem. 

It's suspicious if X offers their conditional help to people who are already "victimized" and do not have bargaining power. Why didn't PETA extend their offer to pay any family's water bills, not just those suffering from a crisis? Instead of hiring more women to reduce costs, why not pay men less?


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2nd Counterpoint: Moral Discouse is about negotiation

The bargaining model of moral discourse states that public statements of moral approval/disapproval are actions in a game. 

Disapproval is a bargaining chip to get the organization offering only conditional help or partial help to offer more help.

When you interact with a problem, you're signaling that you are ready, willing, and able to help. But, not helping enough can cause public disapproval if the public thinks that disapproval can guilt you into doing more.


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I like math, data, science, programming, and game design.

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Is less innovation actually better in product design?

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