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hamishspence
2010-10-28, 09:38 AM
If logic is applied to various PHB alignment statements, what logical conclusions can be deduced? And are they valid conclusions?

Assuming that "are willing to" is inserted, in order to account for creatures born with a listed alignment:

"Good characters make sacrifices to help others":
"Good characters are willing to make sacrifices to help others":
Possible conclusions to be drawn:

1: All good characters are willing to make sacrifices to help others
2: All beings that are willing to make sacrifices to help others are good
3: No beings that are unwilling to make sacrifices to help others are good

"Neutral characters have qualms about harming the innocent but are unwilling to make sacrifices to help others"
(revised using the PHB example to:)
"Neutral characters have qualms about harming the innocent but are unwilling to make sacrifices to help strangers"
Possible conclusions to be drawn:

1: All Neutral characters have these two traits
2: All beings with both of these two traits are Neutral
3: No being without both of these traits is Neutral

"Evil characters debase or destroy the innocent, whether for fun or profit"
"Evil characters are willing to debase or destroy the innocent for fun or profit"
Possible conclusions to be drawn:

1: All beings willing to debase/destroy the innocent for fun or profit are Evil
2: No being unwilling to debase/destroy the innocent for fun or profit is Evil

One of the problems with applying this kind of logic though, is the assumption that the statements are absolute rather than general.

For example: Statement: "Birds have feathers" (generally true):
Deductions:

1: All creatures with feathers are birds (refuted by presenting theropods like Dilong or Therizinosaurus).
2: No creature without feathers is a bird (refuted by presenting a plucked chicken)

Applied to the deduction "No being unwilling to debase/destroy the innocent for fun or profit is evil":
(refuted by presenting the MM Skeleton and MM Zombie- since neither are willing to do anything for fun or profit- since they have no initiative or volition of their own- but only do acts they are commanded to.)

Sir Swindle89
2010-10-28, 09:50 AM
(refuted by presenting the MM Skeleton and MM Zombie- since neither are willing to do anything for fun or profit- since they have no initiative or volition of their own- but only do acts they are commanded to.)

The idea of mindless creatures even having alignments is kind of silly.

You could also logically conclude that Zombies are not evil. Assuming that that primary definition of alignment is incorrect doesn't sound like a good start. Additionally you have no idea what goes on in a zombie's head. maby they relish the idea of hurting others but that simply cannot act without commands because of the spell animating them.

Zombimode
2010-10-28, 10:27 AM
Applied to the deduction "No being unwilling to debase/destroy the innocent for fun or profit is evil":
(refuted by presenting the MM Skeleton and MM Zombie- since neither are willing to do anything for fun or profit- since they have no initiative or volition of their own- but only do acts they are commanded to.)

This only shows that there are inconsisties in the description of aligment and its aplication.
Mind you that in 2e zombies and skellies where in fact listed as neutral.

Im not sure if I get your point. Are you searching for necessary or defining qualities of the aligments (like mortality for humans)?

prufock
2010-10-28, 10:35 AM
Even if you assume absolutes, your #2 (good), #2 (neutral), and #1 (evil) are not logically valid. Compare:
"Dentists work with teeth" does not mean all people who work with teeth are dentists. The statement characterizes the subject, not the object. That is "A dentist is one who works with teeth."

Your later point "Birds have feathers" if you provide evidence in #2, doesn't make the conclusion invalid. Two possibilities exist: a plucked "bird" is not a bird, or "birds have feathers" is not accurate (any moreso than "birds fly").

The issue with the logic here is actually that we don't take these statements in a vacuum; alignment is relative. Therefore you should have all three alignment statements as premises, then draw your conclusions. As the statements are somewhat mutually exclusive, you can draw better conclusions, however keep in mind that they aren't necessarily exclusive. For instance:

1. "Good characters make sacrifices to help others"
2. "Evil characters debase or destroy the innocent, whether for fun or profit"
3. "Neutral characters have qualms about harming the innocent but are unwilling to make sacrifices to help others"

You can, technically, have a character that both destroys the innocent for profit, but also makes sacrifices to help others.

Sir Swindle89
2010-10-28, 10:52 AM
1. "Good characters make sacrifices to help others"
2. "Evil characters debase or destroy the innocent, whether for fun or profit"
3. "Neutral characters have qualms about harming the innocent but are unwilling to make sacrifices to help others"

You can, technically, have a character that both destroys the innocent for profit, but also makes sacrifices to help others.

Yes you could, he would be Neutral per the slight variation in wording for neutral given by the OP.

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 11:02 AM
The point I was trying to make is that saying things like

"RAW, no evil being is unwilling to harm the innocent"

is not entirely logically sound.

If "Evil beings destroy the innocent for profit" is equivalent to "all beings that destroy the innocent for profit are Evil" though, then the person who both makes sacrifices, and destroys innocents for profit, would be evil rather than Neutral.

It's not too hard to break two of the Neutral related conclusions though:

"Neutral characters have qualms about harming the innocent but are unwilling to make sacrifices to help others"
(revised using the PHB example to:)
"Neutral characters have qualms about harming the innocent but are unwilling to make sacrifices to help strangers"

1: All Neutral characters have these two traits
3: No being without both of these traits is Neutral

where one of the traits is "has qualms about harming the innocent"- even if you restrict yourself to Int 3+ MM creatures:

Arrowhawk (Int 10): "They attack almost any other creature they meet, seeking a meal or trying to drive away a rival"
Dragon Turtle (Int 12) "generally attack any creature that threatens their territory or looks like a potential meal"
Wyvern (Int 6) "They attack nearly anything that isn't obviously more powerful than themselves"

Doesn't appear like any have "qualms about harming the innocent".

prufock
2010-10-28, 12:42 PM
Yes you could, he would be Neutral per the slight variation in wording for neutral given by the OP.

That's not true at all.

1. "Good characters make sacrifices to help others"
2. "Evil characters debase or destroy the innocent, whether for fun or profit"
3. "Neutral characters have qualms about harming the innocent but are unwilling to make sacrifices to help strangers"

You can still have a character who makes (or is willing to make) sacrifices to help others, even strangers, but still destroys the innocent for profit. They would not fit the Neutral category either, because they DON'T have qualms about helping the innocent and they are NOT unwilling to make sacrifices to help strangers. Therefore, they could be good or evil, or both according to this. Since it's a continuum, we would probably say "meet you halfway" and call it neutral, but by these three statements it isn't logically implied.

The point I was trying to make is that saying things like

"RAW, no evil being is unwilling to harm the innocent"

is not entirely logically sound.

By the statements you have provided, it is.

Arrowhawk (Int 10): "They attack almost any other creature they meet, seeking a meal or trying to drive away a rival"
Dragon Turtle (Int 12) "generally attack any creature that threatens their territory or looks like a potential meal"
Wyvern (Int 6) "They attack nearly anything that isn't obviously more powerful than themselves"

Doesn't appear like any have "qualms about harming the innocent".

However, it wouldn't necessarily fit with "for fun or profit," either. Driving away a rival or protecting territory is not for profit. We aren't given any information on WHY the wyvern attacks, so it's impossible to make a judgment.

Attacking for food could however be seen as "for profit," so I can kind of see your point, there.

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 12:52 PM
Yup- it becomes a case of "which takes precedence"?

In the splatbooks though (particularly Champions of Ruin) there's a strong theme of "willingness to commit evil acts outweighs willingness to commit good acts"

And the splatbook Heroes of Horror ignores the "unwilling to make sacrifices to help strangers" bit of Neutral alignment-

suggesting that a combination of willingness to make sacrifices for strangers + committing evil acts for a good end, make for a "flexible Neutral" character.

In this case it's probably "Has qualms about harming the innocents- but does so anyway given the right circumstances"

the example given was an inquisitor launching an evil-destroying campaign that harms innocents along the way.

By the statements you have provided, it is.

"Evil characters are willing to debase or destroy the innocent for fun or profit"
2: No being unwilling to debase/destroy the innocent for fun or profit is Evil

Conclusion 2 doesn't actually automatically follow from the basic statement.

For a parallel:

"Dentists are willing to perform dental surgery"
"No-one who is unwilling to perform dental surgery, is a dentist"

it fails to take into account that a dentist might not want to perform dental surgery (maybe because their hands have grown shaky with age).

2010-10-28, 12:52 PM
For example: Statement: "Birds have feathers" (generally true):
Deductions:

1: All creatures with feathers are birds (refuted by presenting theropods like Dilong or Therizinosaurus).
2: No creature without feathers is a bird (refuted by presenting a plucked chicken)

Whoa whoa what!? That is, in point of fact, not how deductive logic works, my friend.

"Birds have feathers" does not lead to "creatures with feathers are birds" any more than "dogs have legs" leads to "creatures with legs are dogs."

A valid deductive argument is in the form such that, if its premises are true, its conclusion is necessarily true (This means that you can make a valid deductive argument based on false premises. It just wouldn't be sound). If your deduction does not fit this form, it is not a valid deduction.

There are actually hard and fast rules about exactly what you are allowed to derive from deductive logic, and this breaks them. You know, disjunctive syllogisms and all that noise.

Marnath
2010-10-28, 12:56 PM
I always thought the reason zombies and skeletons are evil is because necromancy is evil, and the powerful necromantic energy radiating from the animated corpse is what makes them detect as evil, not because they themselves are evil.

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 01:01 PM
Whoa whoa what!? That is, in point of fact, not how deductive logic works, my friend.

"Birds have feathers" does not lead to "creatures with feathers are birds" any more than "dogs have legs" leads to "creatures with legs are dogs."

A valid deductive argument is in the form such that, if its premises are true, its conclusion is necessarily true (This means that you can make a valid deductive argument based on false premises. It just wouldn't be sound). If your deduction does not fit this form, it is not a valid deduction.

true- it was just that the argument I was given was both that:

"Evil creatures are willing to do X" leads to "Creatures willing to do X are Evil"

and that:

"Evil creatures are willing to do X" leads to "Creatures not willing to do X are not Evil"

(Where X is "debase or destroy the innocent for fun or profit")

I suspected the logic was flawed, but wasn't sure.

Not only that- but it does not follow that the statement "Evil creatures are willing to do X" automatically means "All evil creatures are willing to do X".

2010-10-28, 01:02 PM
I suspected the logic was flawed, but wasn't sure. Indeed, the logic is flawed. It breaks the hardcoded rules of deductive reasoning.

Kuma Kode
2010-10-28, 02:05 PM
I always thought the reason zombies and skeletons are evil is because necromancy is evil, and the powerful necromantic energy radiating from the animated corpse is what makes them detect as evil, not because they themselves are evil.

Someone else summed it up better than I can...

Skeletons are evil because they literally RUN ON EVIL. They don't have moral values, its they just happen to be powered by the tears of orphans.

2010-10-28, 02:09 PM
Hence the polygraph test model.

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 02:11 PM
Indeed, the logic is flawed. It breaks the hardcoded rules of deductive reasoning.

I'm not sure if this is exactly the post that presented the argument- but it's one of them:

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=8971327&postcount=19

Ditto
2010-10-28, 02:51 PM
Not sure why you'd assume you can replace 'make evil choices' with 'willing to make evil choices'. Evil creatures destroy life. D&D is focused heavily on the ends when it comes to defining alignments. (Paladins get stuck having to rely on good means AND good ends, which is where they get into trouble...)

Also, alignment is a tendancy, not an absolute description of every act that creature makes. "ALL Evil characters GENERALLY debase or destroy the innocent, whether for fun or profit, MOST OF THE TIME."

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 02:56 PM
Not sure why you'd assume you can replace 'make evil choices' with 'willing to make evil choices'.

it's for evil creatures which have not yet made any choices- such as people newly changed by a Helm of Opposite Alignment, or newborn chromatic dragons.

Saying they "debase or destroy the innocent" is a bit of a misnomer when they haven't done it yet.

It derives from the PHB suggestion that "alignment is general personal and moral attitudes" so a person can have "moral and personal attitudes" consistant with evil without having (yet) done something evil.

"ALL Evil characters GENERALLY debase or destroy the innocent, whether for fun or profit, MOST OF THE TIME."

The "not every evil character is willing to do that" argument comes from the fact that many antiheroes with a code against harming the innocent, but a tendency to go way overboard against the "not-innocent" - torturing them, taking pleasure in their sufferings, murdering them for fun, and so on.

Dexter, the Punisher, and so on.

DonEsteban
2010-10-28, 03:19 PM
Whoa whoa what!? That is, in point of fact, not how deductive logic works, my friend.

"Birds have feathers" does not lead to "creatures with feathers are birds" any more than "dogs have legs" leads to "creatures with legs are dogs."

A valid deductive argument is in the form such that, if its premises are true, its conclusion is necessarily true (This means that you can make a valid deductive argument based on false premises. It just wouldn't be sound). If your deduction does not fit this form, it is not a valid deduction.

There are actually hard and fast rules about exactly what you are allowed to derive from deductive logic, and this breaks them. You know, disjunctive syllogisms and all that noise.

This is perfectly true and this kind of mistake (deducting things like "creatures with legs are dogs") is very common.

However, it is quite common practice to state definitions like "a square is a regular quadrilateral", although strictly speaking this sentence doesn't rule out the possibility that there might be regular quadrilaterals that aren't squares. But it is common convention to silently add "and vice versa" to this kinds of definition.

So "Good characters and creatures protect innocent life" probably means: "Good characters and creatures protect innocent life and all creatures who protect innocent life are good". So it is possible that the statement actually does imply both #1 and #2.

I'm not sure, however, if applying classic logic to alignment definition leads very far, because it's such a fuzzy subject.

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 03:29 PM
"Good characters and creatures protect innocent life and all creatures who protect innocent life are good". So it is possible that the statement actually does imply both #1 and #2.

A counterexample might be a character who seeks to protect innocent life (and does so) but does so many evil things (but not against the innocent) that calling them Good becomes a little iffy.

Because Good "respect life" and "respect the dignity of sentient beings" and this character in a sense, doesn't.

If an "act-based" morality (like that in BoVD and Champions of Ruin is used, it could even be said that the character, by doing evil deeds a lot for personal gratification- is evil.

Jayabalard
2010-10-28, 03:34 PM
If logic is applied to various PHB alignment statements, what logical conclusions can be deduced? And are they valid conclusions?

Assuming that "are willing to" is inserted, in order to account for creatures born with a listed alignment:

"Good characters make sacrifices to help others":
"Good characters are willing to make sacrifices to help others":
Possible conclusions to be drawn:

1: All good characters are willing to make sacrifices to help others
2: All beings that are willing to make sacrifices to help others are good
3: No beings that are unwilling to make sacrifices to help others are good#1 and #3 follow from your hypothesis, but #2 does not. The language there says that "good characters" is subset of "people who are willing to make sacrifices to help others" but but there's not enough info there to show whether or not it's a strict subset, or if the two sets are equal.

Same goes for the Neutral example.

Edit: you could also be looking at it as logical implication (the logic lines up for subsets fairly well iirc), ie:
"Good characters" -> "make sacrifices to help others"

true: If the character is good, and it will make sacrifices to help others
false: If the character is good, and not it will make sacrifices to help others
true: If the character is not good, and it will make sacrifices to help others
true: If the character is not good, and not it will make sacrifices to help others

"Evil characters debase or destroy the innocent, whether for fun or profit"
"Evil characters are willing to debase or destroy the innocent for fun or profit"
Possible conclusions to be drawn:

1: All beings willing to debase/destroy the innocent for fun or profit are Evil
2: No being unwilling to debase/destroy the innocent for fun or profit is EvilHere, #2 follows, but #1 does not.

For example: Statement: "Birds have feathers" (generally true):
Deductions:

1: All creatures with feathers are birds (refuted by presenting theropods like Dilong or Therizinosaurus).
2: No creature without feathers is a bird (refuted by presenting a plucked chicken)Here you've shown that your assumption ("Birds have feathers") was false. If you don't start with true assumptions, then you're kind of wasting your time with logic, since F -> T and F -> F both evaluate to true.

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 03:40 PM
Here, #2 follows, but #1 does not.

Maybe, but:

"My Neutral character debases and destroys the innocent for fun and profit"

seems to me to be a bit more outrageously against the alignment system than

"My Evil character does not debase/destroy the innocent for fun/profit"

DonEsteban
2010-10-28, 03:43 PM
#1 and #3 follow from your hypothesis, but #2 does not. The language there says that "good characters" is subset of "people who are willing to make sacrifices to help others" but but there's not enough info there to show whether or not it's a strict subset, or if the two sets are equal.

I just argued that this is not the case if the statement "Good characters are willing to make sacrifices to help others" is meant as a definition. In that case "good characters" is not just a subset, but in fact equals the set of "people who are willing to make sacrifices to help others" and #2 does follow.

Jayabalard
2010-10-28, 03:44 PM
Maybe, but:

"My Neutral character debases and destroys the innocent for fun and profit"

seems to me to be a bit more outrageously against the alignment system than

"My Evil character does not debase/destroy the innocent for fun/profit"
perhaps... but the point is #2 is a valid logical deduction given only the assumption "Evil characters are willing to debase or destroy the innocent for fun or profit" ... #1 is not. If you want to add in more assumptions, then you might be able able to show #1 as well, but it requires more information than that single assumption.

DonEsteban
2010-10-28, 03:50 PM
A counterexample might be a character who seeks to protect innocent life (and does so) but does so many evil things (but not against the innocent) that calling them Good becomes a little iffy.

Possibly, but from the definition alone there are no evil things except "debasing and destroying innocent life" and this is the opposite of "protecting innocent life" (moral dilemmas aside). And so your counterexample can't exist.

Jayabalard
2010-10-28, 03:51 PM
I just argued that this is not the case if the statement "Good characters are willing to make sacrifices to help others" is meant as a definition.The language chosen doesn't show equivalence, only logical implication; it's the same as "a character is Good if it is willing to make sacrifices to help others" or "If a character is Good then it is willing to make sacrifices to help others". This is a unidirectional statement. There is not enough information to prove that they are equivalent from that alone.

Now, you could write the sentence so that this is the case; it would need to be: "A character is good if and only if it is willing to make sacrifices to help others" ... but that doesn't match up with what was in the OP. This is a MUCH stronger statement than the one in the OP.

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 03:57 PM
Now, you could write the sentance so that this is the case; it would need to be: "A character is good if and only if it is willing to make sacrifices to help others" ... but that doesn't match up with what was in the OP. This is a MUCH stronger statement than the one in the OP.

I consider the evil counterpart of this statement:

"A character is evil if and only if it is willing to debase/destroy the innocent for fun/profit"

more than a little too strong- but it's hard to give a formal logical reason why.

Possibly, but from the definition alone there are no evil things except "debasing and destroying innocent life"

But there are things stated to be evil (such as rebuking undead) elsewhere in the PHB.
Problem is, that's about the only such act.

Every other source that specifies evil acts, is a splatbook.

DonEsteban
2010-10-28, 04:00 PM
The language chosen doesn't show equivalence, only logical implication; it's the same as "a character is Good if it is willing to make sacrifices to help others" . There is not enough information to prove that they are equivalent from that alone.

Now, you could write the sentance so that this is the case; it would need to be: "A character is good if and only if it is willing to make sacrifices to help others" ... but that doesn't match up with what was in the OP. this is a MUCH stronger statement.
This is true and I understood this the first time you wrote it. But the statement from the PHB is a definition. (Well, probably. There is no way to be absolutely sure.)

kyoryu
2010-10-28, 04:04 PM
I look at those statements more as the common responses of good/neutral/evil characters, rather than the definition of them.

In other words, they're more like saying that dogs bark than anything. Yes, typically dogs bark, but barking does not make one a dog, and if a dog for some reason (no vocal cords? training) doesn't bark, that doesn't make it less of a dog.

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 04:12 PM
In other words, they're more like saying that dogs bark than anything. Yes, typically dogs bark, but barking does not make one a dog, and if a dog for some reason (no vocal cords? training) doesn't bark, that doesn't make it less of a dog.

This. Especially in the case of Neutral and Evil characters.

Rephrasing:

Yes, typically Neutral characters both have qualms against harming the innocent + lack the commitment to help strangers.

But having qualms against harming the innocent + lacking the commitment to help strangers does not make a character Neutral.

And if a Neutral character has the commitment to help strangers for some reason, that does not make them not Neutral.

Yes, typically Evil characters are willing to debase/destroy the innocent for fun/profit.

But if an Evil character is not willing to debase/destroy the innocent for fun/profit for some reason, that does not make them not Evil.

Jayabalard
2010-10-28, 04:21 PM
I consider the evil counterpart of this statement:

"A character is evil if and only if it is willing to debase/destroy the innocent for fun/profit"

more than a little too strong- but it's hard to give a formal logical reason why.That's the relationship necessary to show that #1 follows as a logical deduction.

This is true and I understood this the first time you wrote it. But the statement from the PHB is a definition. (Well, probably. There is no way to be absolutely sure.)I'm not sure where you're getting this. There's nothing that I'm aware of that prevents a definition to be made up of relationships other than logical equivalence. Nor is anything in that section clearly written up as a logical equivalence. Clearly, this is not the case; it is especially clear when you look at it in context: "Good" implies <snip> ... "Evil" implies <snip> ... these are a collection of logical implications, not equivalences. There are also the following two statements in the SRD entry:

Good characters and creatures protect innocent life.
Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.

If you make the argument that these are logical equivalence, then (transitive property): "Protect innocent life" is logically equivalent to "make personal sacrifices to help others."

Which is false, since it is possible to protect innocent life without making personal sacrifices and it is possible to make personal sacrifices without protecting innocent life.

Therefore, that statement cannot be a logical equivalence.

kyoryu
2010-10-28, 04:22 PM
This. Especially in the case of Neutral and Evil characters.

I actually agree with this. Self-sacrifice is kind of what makes a Good act Good. If self-sacrifice is not involved, the act is really Neutral.

Rescuing kids from a burning orphanage is a Good act, as you are sacrificing your safety for that of others.

Doing so because you're paid to is Neutral - you're exchanging your safety for money.

You could probably come up with game theory-centric definitions of Good, Evil, and Neutral acts if you wanted to. That might be kind of fun.

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 04:25 PM
That's the relationship necessary to show that #1 follows as a logical deduction.

Is it possible for #1 to be True but #2 to be False?

That is, the set of people "willing to debase/destroy the innocent for fun/profit"

is a subset of the larger set "people who are Evil-aligned"?

I actually agree with this. Self-sacrifice is kind of what makes a Good act Good. If self-sacrifice is not involved, the act is really Neutral.

Rescuing kids from a burning orphanage is a Good act, as you are sacrificing your safety for that of others.

Doing so because you're paid to is Neutral - you're exchanging your safety for money.

I'm not entirely sure about this one- even if "protecting innocents" is not synonymous with "make personal sacrifices" a case can be made that such acts are at least a little good.

kyoryu
2010-10-28, 04:27 PM
Is it possible for #1 to be True but #2 to be False?

That is, the set of people "willing to debase/destroy the innocent for fun/profit"

is a subset of the larger set "people who are Evil-aligned"?

I believe it is. Dexter was brought up in other threads, and I'd certainly say that he's both unwilling to debase/destroy the innocent, as well as being Evil-aligned.

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 04:34 PM
I mused on whether a Good person could have only one of the two traditional Good traits in an earlier thread:

Some arguments were that each trait implies the other, but that's not necessarily true- as is pointed out here:

Good characters and creatures protect innocent life.
Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.

If you make the argument that these are logical equivalence, then (transitive property): "Protect innocent life" is logically equivalent to "make personal sacrifices to help others."

Which is false, since it is possible to protect innocent life without making personal sacrifices and it is possible to make personal sacrifices without protecting innocent life.

Jayabalard
2010-10-28, 04:35 PM
Is it possible for #1 to be True but #2 to be False?

That is, the set of people "willing to debase/destroy the innocent for fun/profit"

is a subset of the larger set "people who are Evil-aligned"?
That requires a different assumption than "Evil characters debase or destroy the innocent, whether for fun or profit" ... as long as is a given, #2 is always true. And it's possible for #1 to be true, even though it can't be derived from that assumption.

Don't get me wrong, I'm talking strictly about logic, and what you can derive from the text, not how I feel about how good and evil work or whether certain acts are evil or good.

kyoryu
2010-10-28, 04:37 PM
That requires a different assumption than "Evil characters debase or destroy the innocent, whether for fun or profit" ... Don't get me wrong, I'm talking strictly about logic, and what you can derive from the text, not how I feel about how good and evil work or whether certain acts are evil or good.

By RAW, that is true. However, I find a morality system that would paint the character Dexter as anything *but* evil to be lacking.

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 04:41 PM
Yup- for the statement to work the other way, it would have to have been worded differently, something like:

"All characters who debase/destroy innocent life for fun/profit, are Evil"

The big question is whether this is what the PHB writers intended it to mean.

I'd say yes- but a lot of people might not.

Maybe a larger statement "Characters who disrespect the dignity of sentient beings are Evil" would have worked- allowing the Dexter- type characters to be Evil aligned without problems.

A Dexter-type, (but both nicer and nastier) might be a volunteer doctor by day and a serial torturer/murderer by night.

They have the two good traits "protect the innocent" and "make personal sacrifices to help others"- yet have the Evil trait "disrespect the dignity of sentient beings" turned up to eleven.

2010-10-28, 04:53 PM
This is perfectly true and this kind of mistake (deducting things like "creatures with legs are dogs") is very common. It is common, but it's not actually a deduction at all.

I'm not sure, however, if applying classic logic to alignment definition leads very far, because it's such a fuzzy subject.

No, logic applies to every kind of reasoning. That most definitely includes moral reasoning. While there are certainly things that you cannot evaluate with deductive logic, when there are, you need to follow the rules of deductive logic. Just like in math... you can't evaluate all math problems with simple algebra, but that doesn't mean you get to ignore the rules of addition. We're not talking something as fuzzy as "the theory of gravity" here. When it comes to deductive logic, we're talking about hard-coded rules, just like if you're talking about math.

If your position is logically inconsistent, you don't have any argument at all.

Part of the problem is that a lot of people don't actually know what the word logic actually means anymore because most western schools don't teach it to kids. If you want to learn it, you either have to investigate it yourself or you get taught it in college if you want to become a computer scientist or something.

Jayabalard
2010-10-28, 04:54 PM
Yup- for the statement to work the other way, it would have to have been worded differently, something like:

"All characters who debase/destroy innocent life for fun/profit, are Evil"

The big question is whether this is what the PHB writers intended it to mean.

I'd say yes- but a lot of people might not.The problem with wording them that way...
"All characters who debase/destroy innocent life for fun/profit, are Evil"
"All characters who make sacrifices to help others, are Good"

and then you have a character who debase/destroy innocent life for fun/profit and make sacrifices to help others. That character is both Evil and Good, but would not meet the requirements to be neutral ... both extremes at the same time is kind of silly, eh?

The intent, i think, is that it's not supposed to be logical, or cut and dry. The writers intended for there to be overlap between the alignments.

No, logic applies to every kind of reasoning. Always.It can be applied to anything... but it's a bad fit for anything with fuzzy definitions.

kyoryu
2010-10-28, 04:58 PM
The intent, i think, is that it's not supposed to be logical, or cut and dry. The writers intended for there to be overlap between the alignments.

Completely agreed. There's no reason we should assume that a Good character can never, ever commit an Evil act, or that an Evil character can never, ever perform a Good act. Trying to take generalized descriptions of behavior and turn them into a formal rule system is going to result in some logical problems.

2010-10-28, 05:01 PM
It can be applied to anything... but it's a bad fit for anything with fuzzy definitions.

No, it's not. Logic is an essential fit to reasoning.

Logic is the science of evaluating arguments. You can't actually reasonably evaluate an argument without using one form or another of logic.

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 05:01 PM
Maybe the "Neutral characters are X, but X characters are not always neutral" principle could be used.

Characters who have qualms about killing the innocent are not always Neutral.

Characters who lack concern for the dignity of sentient beings are implied to not be good.

Therefore those few non-Neutral characters who both have qualms about killing the innocent, and lack concern for the dignity of sentient beings, are Evil, by process of elimination. (What makes them non-Neutral could be that they make personal sacrifices to help strangers).

This is however based on the assumption that a character who tortures the non-Innocent, and takes pleasure in it, proves their own lack of concern for the dignity of sentient beings.

and then you have a character who debase/destroy innocent life for fun/profit and make sacrifices to help others. That character is both Evil and Good, but would not meet the requirements to be neutral ... both extremes at the same time is kind of silly, eh?

the "evil acts trump good personality traits" principle from Champions of Ruin can resolve this.

that- and have the statements worded differently- because Good isn't an exact mirror of Evil.

What sort of character would have both evil and good traits in this way? Maybe a person indoctrinated by hatred against, say, elves, who debases/destroys innocent elves for fun/profit- but would make personal sacrifices to help strangers who are not elves.

2010-10-28, 05:07 PM
It can be applied to anything... but it's a bad fit for anything with fuzzy definitions.

To elaborate...

You don't get to ignore logic just because it's a discussion about morals any more than you can ignore that 2 paladins is a different number of paladins than 1 paladin in said discussions. Logic doesn't become wrong when you change the subject of discussion any more than Math does.

Principles like "what a disjunctive syllogism is" still matter a lot for saying anything sensible.

Mind, you can't use logic to ultimately prove a moral position right, because you have no way of absolutely verifying the truth value of premises. This is why, for example, you have the theory of gravity instead of the theorem of gravity.

But what you can do is prove something wrong with logic. You can falsify things with logic. Basically, the way you prove things wrong is by showing them to break one of the rules of logic. In the case of the theory of gravity, we keep that theory because it provides a strong, useful working model with few flaws which has not been falsified despite extreme scrutiny. Same for any other scientific theory.

You can also better understand things like what actually supports an argument (as opposed to being irrelevant to it, or even falsifying it) with logic.

What is logic? Well, to put it quite succinctly, logic is the science that is used to evaluate arguments. It allows us to separate valid from invalid, convincing from unconvincing, rational from irrational. This invaluable tool empowers one to separate good arguments from bad arguments, and thus better determine which ideas should be believed, and which should be rejected. Without logic, people only are going on hunches, emotional reactions, or otherwise unreliable systems of evaluation. The utility of logic in a discussion forum is thus obvious. Without logic, you cannot really be expected to properly evaluate discussions, nor form a particularly persuasive argument of your own. Discussions will grind to a stalemate simply because if a person does not understand logic, they can't recognize when they are wrong, nor take the necessary measures to revise and strengthen their arguments when one fails. With logic, you can be a much more progressive forum participant. You will be able to strengthen your arguments, recognize flaws when they are pointed out to you, and expand your awareness.

DonEsteban
2010-10-28, 05:07 PM
That's the relationship necessary to show that #1 follows as a logical deduction.

I'm not sure where you're getting this. There's nothing that I'm aware of that prevents a definition to be made up of relationships other than logical equivalence. Nor is anything in that section clearly written up as a logical equivalence. Clearly, this is not the case; it is especially clear when you look at it in context: "Good" implies <snip> ... "Evil" implies <snip> ... these are a collection of logical implications, not equivalences.
You have a point there. I was getting this from the fact that the two sentences directly following the big fat headline "Good vs. Evil" sound like definitions. The rest of the section would then consist of illustrating examples. I admit that this is not the only interpretation. But then why would they spend a whole section on describing what doesn't define good, evil, and neutral people, instead of just saying what does? :smallconfused:

where one of the traits is "has qualms about harming the innocent"- even if you restrict yourself to Int 3+ MM creatures:

Arrowhawk (Int 10): "They attack almost any other creature they meet, seeking a meal or trying to drive away a rival"
Dragon Turtle (Int 12) "generally attack any creature that threatens their territory or looks like a potential meal"
Wyvern (Int 6) "They attack nearly anything that isn't obviously more powerful than themselves"

Doesn't appear like any have "qualms about harming the innocent".

Well, maybe those creatures are "incapable of moral action" (see SRD) and thus neutral. Similar to a psychopath who cannot (I believe) be sentenced for murder for "diminished responsibility" in most countries.

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 05:13 PM
Well, maybe those creatures are "incapable of moral action" (see SRD) and thus neutral. Similar to a psychopath who cannot (I believe) be sentenced for murder for "diminished responsibility" in most countries.

it's true that Arrowhawks are "always hungry" despite not actually having to eat (since they are outsiders without the Native subtype) but normally (excepting undead and fiends) a creature with an Int of 3 or more can be considered a moral agent.

kyoryu
2010-10-28, 05:13 PM
You have a point there. I was getting this from the fact that the two sentences directly following the big fat headline "Good vs. Evil" sound like definitions. The rest of the section would then consist of illustrating examples. I admit that this is not the only interpretation. But then why would they spend a whole section on describing what doesn't define good, evil, and neutral people, instead of just saying what does? :smallconfused:

Because in actual play, Good and Evil are subject to a lot of judgement calls due to circumstances, intent, and weighing of multiple factors? And because they deliberately didn't want to set out a list of rules so that players could rules-lawyer their way into having "Good" characters that, really, acted like Evil characters but skipped by on technicality?

At least, that's why I'd do it that way.

DonEsteban
2010-10-28, 05:19 PM
It is common, but it's not actually a deduction at all.
Yes, that was my point.

No, logic applies to every kind of reasoning.[...]
Part of the problem is that a lot of people don't actually know what the word logic actually means anymore because most western schools don't teach it to kids. If you want to learn it, you either have to investigate it yourself or you get taught it in college if you want to become a computer scientist or something.
I believe I know reasonably well what the word logic means. What I was trying to say (quite clumsily) was that if you don't apply the right kind of logic (i.e., formal logic to informal statements) you don't arrive at any useful conclusions.

2010-10-28, 05:21 PM
I believe I know reasonably well what the word logic means. What I was trying to say (quite clumsily) was that if you don't apply the right kind of logic (i.e., formal logic to informal statements) you don't arrive at any useful conclusions.

Misapplying logic is the same thing as not being logical to begin with.

*Shrug*

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 05:23 PM
And because they deliberately didn't want to set out a list of rules so that players could rules-lawyer their way into having "Good" characters that, really, acted like Evil characters but skipped by on technicality?

At least, that's why I'd do it that way.

Unfortunately, it's still possible for a Dexter-like character to be a "good" character with a very literal reading of the PHB.

Something like:

"my character does not lack the commitment to make sacrifices to help strangers- so they don't fit Neutral"

"my character does not harm the innocent, so they don't fit Evil"

"my character protects innocent life, and makes personal sacrifices to help others- so they do fit Good"

"respect for life" and "concern for the dignity of sentient beings" do not apply to evil-aligned enemies that are "not innocents" (and have committed crimes that would merit a death sentence anyway)"

"So, torturing them to death for pleasure does not move my alignment out of Good"

And the only way to refute them outright, requires recourse to the splatbooks.

The redeemed Mord-Sith, in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series (especially Faith of the Fallen) fit the above character very neatly.

hamishspence
2010-10-28, 06:00 PM
Is it the case that, when a logical deduction is valid, if the premise it's based on is not an absolute, a wrong answer can be deduced?

Like if "Evil characters will debase and destroy the innocent (for fun/profit)" is only true, say, 99% of the time,
the statement "a character who won't debase and destroy the innocent for fun/profit is not Evil", can be incorrect?

2010-10-28, 06:03 PM
Is it the case that, when a logical deduction is valid, if the premise it's based on is not an absolute, a wrong answer can be deduced?

Alright, let me try to explain how it works.

In a VALID logical deduction: IF your premises are TRUE, then all conclusions are TRUE.

This does not actually say that the premises are true, just that if they are the conclusions are too.

"Validity" refers to the chain of reasoning, the logical part of the argument. An argument is valid only if it is impossible for all of the premises to be true and for the conclusion to be false. It does not rely on the truth of the premises or of the conclusion.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SoundValidTrue

Like if "Evil characters will debase and destroy the innocent (for fun/profit)" is only true, say, 99% of the time,
the statement "a character who won't debase and destroy the innocent for fun/profit is not Evil", can be incorrect?

Indeed, that statement can be incorrect 1% of the time. It is not a deductive argument. If it's a deductive argument, a True premises necessitates a True conclusion.

That said, there are inductive arguments. Not everything is deductive.

But when it is a deductive argument, there are pretty ironclad rules about exactly what conclusions you can draw from premises. I actually have a list of them around here somewhere.

hamishspence
2010-10-29, 02:44 AM
That makes sense.

Might be interesting to see some of the weirder variants of aligned characters:

Player: I want to play an Evil character who never harms the innocent for fun or profit.
DM: Okaaay- what makes the character evil?
Player: The fact that they are extremely and excessively cruel toward evil Non-Innocent villains that fall into their power, while still protecting the innocent.

Player: I want to play a Neutral character who does not lack the commitment to protect strangers.
DM: And what makes the character Neutral?
Player: The fact that they do acts defined as evil and their class requires they be Neutral at best- they are a Dread Necromancer, who regularly raises skeletons/zombies, but only in defense of others.

Player: I want to play a Good character who does not make personal sacrifices for others.
DM: And what makes them Good?
Player: The fact that they never do evil, and protect the innocent at every opportunity- but because they are extremely emotionally empathic, and allowing harm to come to the innocent, causes them unacceptable emotional pain- so for them helping the innocent is never a personal sacrifice.

Eloel
2010-10-29, 02:56 AM
On the logic topic:
The only thing you can derive from
x => y
is that
!y => !x
There's nothing else that you can prove.

Zen Master
2010-10-29, 03:44 AM
"Evil characters debase or destroy the innocent, whether for fun or profit"
"Evil characters are willing to debase or destroy the innocent for fun or profit"
Possible conclusions to be drawn:

1: All beings willing to debase/destroy the innocent for fun or profit are Evil
2: No being unwilling to debase/destroy the innocent for fun or profit is Evil

I never liked alignments at all. To me, the above translates into 'only the criminally insane are evil.'

My definition of evil is: Someone willing to set aside all concerns of morality and ethics in the pursuit of personal gain.

Anyways - that's somewhat beside the point, and I do consider this topic to be very interesting.

Oh - another thing: It's highly debatable if a zombie or skeleton has any fun, ever - or profits from anything (except possibly it's own destruction).

hamishspence
2010-10-29, 04:12 AM
My definition of evil is: Someone willing to set aside all concerns of morality and ethics in the pursuit of personal gain.

That's the "evil beings debase/destroy the innocent for profit" bit.

I like the idea of an evil character who doesn't so much have no moral compass, as they have a catastrophically warped moral compass- they will flatly refuse to do some evil deeds (like harming the innocent)- but eagerly and joyfully do other evil deeds- like causing excessive suffering to the not-innocent.

Oh - another thing: It's highly debatable if a zombie or skeleton has any fun, ever - or profits from anything (except possibly it's own destruction).

I mentioned this- can be solved by two ways- making the statement about Evil only apply to beings with moral capacity, and making the statement general rather than specific.

It does mean that skeletons/zombies break the statement that beings without moral capacity are Neutral though.

On the logic topic:
The only thing you can derive from
x => y
is that
!y => !x
There's nothing else that you can prove.

So, in this case, the conclusion would be:

"Not-evil beings do not debase/destroy the innocent for fun/profit"?

Eloel
2010-10-29, 04:21 AM
So, in this case, the conclusion would be:

"Not-evil beings do not debase/destroy the innocent for fun/profit"?
Nope
If
X implies Y
Then
Not Y implies Not X

If "Evil characters" implies "willing to debase or destroy the innocent for fun or profit"
Then
Not "willing to debase or destroy the innocent for fun or profit" implies Not "Evil characters"

If "Birds" usually implies "have feathers"
Then
Not "have feathers" usually implies Not "Birds".

hamishspence
2010-10-29, 04:25 AM
Oh- I didn't spot the order had been reversed.

Still, there's always the chance that the statement is itself flawed, as the statement

"Bird" implies "has feathers"

is flawed-

(since live plucked birds don't have feathers).

Lev
2010-10-29, 05:21 AM
The way I see alignment is sliding scale.
You do one almost always? You are that.
Do both a lot? Neutral

Good and Evil are as such:
A good character has respect for life, an evil character does not.
This simply means a person's INTENT dictates their alignment for the good or evil variables.

This is why Miko lost her powers, her gods deemed her actions as unfitting as "good" because she upheld her own code above the value of a dottering old man's life, which is both self centered and selfish regardless of why she was doing it, she was focusing on her wants.

How does the alignment system measure intent? The DM chooses the intent of NPC's and the players show it through their attitudes and actions, therefore there are very few things outside of alignment affecting magics such as reading the book of vile darkness or casting an evil descriptor spell or creating undead that could be considered as evil.

In terms of a magicless godless universe, killing someone or something is NOT an evil act, the intent of killing someone while not making it a part of a moral decision that truly respects that person's life makes it an evil act.

Therefore, logically:
Killing, even killing innocent people is not inherently evil.

Zen Master
2010-10-29, 05:33 AM
That's the "evil beings debase/destroy the innocent for profit" bit.

You can certainly be evil without debasing or destroying any innocents. For instance, it's very much possible, and no less evil, to treat neutrals or evils with a lack of morals and ethics - and just as evil.

Of course, there is juicier evil to be had from the actual destruction of innocents. But then we're back at 'only the criminally insane are evil.'

hamishspence
2010-10-29, 05:58 AM
"Innocent" is not necessarily synonymous with "Good" though- you can have Innocent Neutral characters, and with a little stretching of the definition, you could even have Innocent Evil characters.

A Evil, greedy thief has just served their time and is back on the street. While they are "willing to harm the innocent for profit"- they have nothing outstanding against them, and they are not yet planning a crime. Nor were any of their past crimes of such magnitude as to warrant death.

A character- knowing the thief's past history, casts Detect Evil on them, they ping- the character gets paid 100 gp by their organization for every Evil being they kill, so the character kills them.

Have they just "destroyed an innocent for profit"?

Therefore, logically:
Killing, even killing innocent people is not inherently evil.

The phrase in the PHB has "for fun or profit" in it.

You can certainly be evil without debasing or destroying any innocents. For instance, it's very much possible, and no less evil, to treat neutrals or evils with a lack of morals and ethics - and just as evil.

There's also the reinterpretation to be "willing to do it"- so the person hasn't done it, but if the opportunity came up and they thought it was fun enough (or profitable enough)- they would.