###Is not giving money to beggars an immoral act?
This is a moral question. Can science give us an answer to this? Well, it can definitely tell us in what cases it will be beneficial to donate money to the beggar. Blanket statements like “no, its always bad” or “yes, its always morally superior” are never going to be true because there are multiple variables involved. But only scientific information will allow us to recognize those variables and come closer to a favorable choice for a specific case.
So if we have studies that show that giving money to a person in physical pain actually helps us psychologically throughout the week, we would want that information to make a decision. Someone can still argue that they don’t want that psychological benefit and deny the utility of information coming from science in making moral decisions. Here the excuse that person would use(given the knowledge of science), is unlikely to increase the net well being in the universe because we already know of the higher likelihood of reaching maximum wellbeing by giving because both the actors will very likely be happy with the act. The person can still say “well, I know myself. I will never feel happy going against my values even though science tells me otherwise”. But the problem is that argument can be used by anyone who holds personal beliefs that he considers to be morally superior than what science informs. Since it will always will be a matter probability,does it mean we all have to be proficient in Bayesian thinking to be able to achieve maximum morality?
Imagine that not educating a female kid makes her dad and mom happy(still true in third world countries). But knowing what education can do to a child, should we allow the parents to snatch away that opportunity from their daughter’s life? One female won’t necessarily highly decrease the net well being but we would still consider the act of not educating her and marrying her off as objectively immoral. Why? Because we want to reduce the instances of those actions in future if we want to make a better world for humanity and educating women does that.
So the complexities like these can only be really solved with scientific information(and using statistics). It seems to me that subjective feelings of a society or an individual will become less relevant in calling an act moral or immoral.
Yes we will still allow the person to smoke as many cigarettes as they want but knowing they have a family to take care of, we shouldn’t be hesitant in calling that act immoral because once that person is dead, the source of income for the family is gone and we have much lower net wellbeing. Again, one family is not that relevant in the bigger picture but by not criticizing that behavior, we risk allowing those instances to happen in future. So again it seems okay to use scientific information(heavy smoking causes lung cancer) to make a moral statement(heavy smoking is an immoral behavior if people rely on your life.)
Note: There are some great arguments against consequentialist thinking(which is what I seem to be doing here) which I didn’t explore here since this is just a think out aloud post, not an essay.