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Science and a twist on the is ought gap
Posted: 12 March 2011 01:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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the PC apeman - 12 March 2011 12:53 PM
StephenLawrence - 12 March 2011 12:31 PM
the PC apeman - 12 March 2011 12:20 AM

I guess I am not understanding you either.  What is the function and what is the aim in your earlier example? Why are there two oughts?

So If I ought to fill a bucket of water (using a non moral example) then when I go to the tap I ought to take the bucket with me.

There is no function in the example.

In more ways than one.

cheers PC.

The point of the example is simply, if we know what the aim ought to be, then science can help with what to do, to achieve the aim.

And I think that was clear.

Stephen

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Posted: 12 March 2011 04:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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StephenLawrence - 12 March 2011 01:53 PM
the PC apeman - 12 March 2011 12:53 PM
StephenLawrence - 12 March 2011 12:31 PM

There is no function in the example.

In more ways than one.

cheers PC.

The point of the example is simply, if we know what the aim ought to be, then science can help with what to do, to achieve the aim.

And I think that was clear.

Stephen

Knowing the aim, the ought part of the is-ought problem, is what normative ethics is all about.  Starting with an assumed resolution there certainly isn’t contributing to the area of ethics.  That’s why I found the example lacking function.

How is it that you think science might be useful in telling us what the aim ought to be?  How do you avoid the naturalistic fallacy when mapping functions to oughts/aims?  What might an example of a bridged “function————-> aim gap” look like?

[ Edited: 12 March 2011 04:39 PM by the PC apeman ]
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Posted: 12 March 2011 05:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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the PC apeman - 12 March 2011 04:35 PM
StephenLawrence - 12 March 2011 01:53 PM
the PC apeman - 12 March 2011 12:53 PM
StephenLawrence - 12 March 2011 12:31 PM

There is no function in the example.

In more ways than one.

cheers PC.

The point of the example is simply, if we know what the aim ought to be, then science can help with what to do, to achieve the aim.

And I think that was clear.

Stephen

Knowing the aim, the ought part of the is-ought problem, is what normative ethics is all about.  Starting with an assumed resolution there certainly isn’t contributing to the area of ethics.  That’s why I found the example lacking function.

How is it that you think science might be useful in telling us what the aim ought to be?  How do you avoid the naturalistic fallacy when mapping functions to oughts/aims?  What might an example of a bridged “function————-> aim gap” look like?

Perhaps science cannot tell us what the aim should be, but it can point to a problem from which an ought to can be fashioned.

Burning natural fuels pollutes the atmosphere and depletes a limited non-renewable resource (as recorded by science), therefore we ought to try and find alternative non-polluting and non-exhaustible fuels (i.e. solar, wind, thermal sources)

[ Edited: 12 March 2011 05:07 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 13 March 2011 03:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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the PC apeman - 12 March 2011 04:35 PM

Knowing the aim, the ought part of the is-ought problem, is what normative ethics is all about. 

Ok.

Starting with an assumed resolution there certainly isn’t contributing to the area of ethics.

There is no assumed resolution, it’s a question of can science do this and how might it go about it. The thoughts are prompted by the discussions about Sam Harris’ book the moral landscape.

In any inquiry one needs to start like this, come up with an idea that may just be a dead end and see it through.

How is it that you think science might be useful in telling us what the aim ought to be?

Well, if not science what else? And can it is the question and how might it. I don’t know if Sam Harris addresses this at all, it seems to me that if he doesn’t the book doesn’t have much to add, because of course science can help once we have the aim.

  How do you avoid the naturalistic fallacy when mapping functions to oughts/aims?  What might an example of a bridged “function————-> aim gap” look like?

Moral behaviour can be observed in ants, this is clearly just functional. through evolution there has been a gradual move from function to aim.

If science explains that transition it might have something to tell us.

I think the link between survival and happiness and suffering would be part of the solution.

(On avoiding the naturalistic fallacy, I’d need you to fill in a bit of detail to answer.)

Stephen

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Posted: 13 March 2011 11:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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StephenLawrence - 13 March 2011 03:27 AM

There is no assumed resolution

Yes, when you said “if we know what the aim ought to be” you were assuming, for the purposes of that discussion, that there is or can be a resolution to the problem of knowing what the aim ought to be.  That is what I was referring to. 

How is it that you think science might be useful in telling us what the aim ought to be?

Well, if not science what else?

Nothing, if the question of ‘what the aim ought to be’ isn’t coherent.

Moral behaviour can be observed in ants

This is interesting and ties into the bucket/tap example which you characterized as non-moral.  What is the distinction you are using in these examples?  What makes something moral or non-moral (ie. demonstrative or not of the concept of morality - not to be confused with being morally good or bad)? 

through evolution there has been a gradual move from function to aim.

I don’t follow you here.  Can you give an example?

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Posted: 14 March 2011 01:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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the PC apeman - 13 March 2011 11:09 AM

Nothing, if the question of ‘what the aim ought to be’ isn’t coherent.

Ought only seems to make sense in relation to an aim.

Moral behaviour can be observed in ants

This is interesting and ties into the bucket/tap example which you characterized as non-moral.  What is the distinction you are using in these examples?  What makes something moral or non-moral (ie. demonstrative or not of the concept of morality - not to be confused with being morally good or bad)? 

The distinction is between function and aim. Aim is to do with having a future target being aimed at, something only intentional agents do.

There is nothing an ant should do because an ant has no aim. Intentional agents have an aim and perhaps there is something they ought to aim for.

Without something we ought to aim for there can be nothing that we ought to do, or so it seems to me.

through evolution there has been a gradual move from function to aim.

I don’t follow you here.  Can you give an example?

It’s the difference between function, what behaviour was selected for, and aim.

There is no target being aimed at in the future in the former and there is in the latter.

Stephen

[ Edited: 14 March 2011 01:35 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 14 March 2011 08:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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StephenLawrence - 14 March 2011 01:20 AM
the PC apeman - 13 March 2011 11:09 AM

Nothing, if the question of ‘what the aim ought to be’ isn’t coherent.

Ought only seems to make sense in relation to an aim.

Okay, but is ought a coherent idea? Can you explain to me what an ought is without resorting to a synonym like “should”?  I gather you see a distinction between aim and ought.  Otherwise that peculiar construction would be ‘what the ought ought to be’ or ‘what the aim of the aim is’.  What is the difference between the two terms?

Moral behaviour can be observed in ants

This is interesting and ties into the bucket/tap example which you characterized as non-moral.  What is the distinction you are using in these examples?  What makes something moral or non-moral (ie. demonstrative or not of the concept of morality - not to be confused with being morally good or bad)? 

The distinction is between function and aim. Aim is to do with having a future target being aimed at, something only intentional agents do.

There is nothing an ant should do because an ant has no aim. Intentional agents have an aim and perhaps there is something they ought to aim for.

Without something we ought to aim for there can be nothing that we ought to do, or so it seems to me.

So how is it that moral behavior can be observed in ants?  Isn’t some kind of aim or at least an ought necessary for a behavior to be morality-related?

through evolution there has been a gradual move from function to aim.

I don’t follow you here.  Can you give an example?

It’s the difference between function, what behaviour was selected for, and aim.

There is no target being aimed at in the future in the former and there is in the latter.

So the “function————->aim gap” is about intentionality?  I think it uncontroversial that intentionality is an evolved behavior and intentionality is a component of morality and aims are all about intentionality.  The controversial issue is ‘what is an ought?’  Is it more than an emphatic expression of an aim?

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Posted: 14 March 2011 01:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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the PC apeman - 14 March 2011 08:21 AM
StephenLawrence - 14 March 2011 01:20 AM
the PC apeman - 13 March 2011 11:09 AM

Okay, but is ought a coherent idea?

It’s a coherent idea in relation to an aim.

Can you explain to me what an ought is without resorting to a synonym like “should”?  I gather you see a distinction between aim and ought.

That’s easy, I aim to rob the bank, I ought not to.

So how is it that moral behavior can be observed in ants?  Isn’t some kind of aim or at least an ought necessary for a behavior to be morality-related?

I don’t think so, ants aren’t moral agents, there is nothing an ant ought to do. But we can see ants reacting in certain ways, to certain behaviour.

through evolution there has been a gradual move from function to aim.

I don’t follow you here.  Can you give an example?

We are intentional agents, we are an example, intention is evolved behaviour.

So the “function————->aim gap” is about intentionality?

I guess so. But the way I put it is fine, Function has no goal, the very idea of aim is that there is a future being aimed for.

If that is all you mean by intention, then yes.


 

I think it uncontroversial that intentionality is an evolved behavior and intentionality is a component of morality and aims are all about intentionality.  The controversial issue is ‘what is an ought?’  Is it more than an emphatic expression of an aim?

I think it must be related to aim, that’s my first point, so there is nothing an ant ought to do, although we can see ants morality.

So ought is related to aim, aim is related to function.

If there is a way to bridge the is ought gap, that seems the best line of inquiry to me.

Do you have a better idea?

Stephen

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Posted: 14 March 2011 01:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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StephenLawrence - 14 March 2011 01:09 PM
the PC apeman - 13 March 2011 11:09 AM

Okay, but is ought a coherent idea?

It’s a coherent idea in relation to an aim.

I’m not convinced.  What is an ought in relation to an aim?

Can you explain to me what an ought is without resorting to a synonym like “should”?  I gather you see a distinction between aim and ought.

That’s easy, I aim to rob the bank, I ought not to.

That’s an example but it doesn’t help me to understand or generalize what an ought is so that it can be applied in other situations. 

Moral behaviour can be observed in ants

ants aren’t moral agents

I cannot reconcile these two statements.  How can moral behavior be observed in ants who are not moral agents?

But we can see ants reacting in certain ways, to certain behaviour.

What makes the ant’s reaction moral behavior rather than just behavior?

we can see ants morality.

How do you know this?

So the “function————->aim gap” is about intentionality?

I guess so. But the way I put it is fine, Function has no goal, the very idea of aim is that there is a future being aimed for.

If that is all you mean by intention, then yes.

Okay, the nature of aim/intentionality seems to be a subject for philosophy of mind rather than the branch of philosophy called ethics.  The nature of function seems to belong to biology.  My intuition is that science can potentially explain how intentionality evolved from non-intentional behavior.  If that is all you meant by “can science bridge the Function—————>Aim gap” then I was mistaken in thinking you wanted to address ethics.  Aims alone do not explain morality, or do they?  You keep slipping an ought into the equation without explaining what it is.

The controversial issue is ‘what is an ought?’

I think it must be related to aim, that’s my first point, so there is nothing an ant ought to do, although we can see ants morality.

So ought is related to aim, aim is related to function.

If there is a way to bridge the is ought gap, that seems the best line of inquiry to me.

Do you have a better idea?

My idea is that the is-ought gap cannot be bridged if one doesn’t start with a coherent notion of what an ought is.  There needs to be a firm foundation for that end of a bridge.

[ Edited: 14 March 2011 01:58 PM by the PC apeman ]
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Posted: 14 March 2011 02:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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the PC apeman - 14 March 2011 01:55 PM

I’m not convinced.  What is an ought in relation to an aim?

What to do in order for the aim to be a result.

Stephen

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Posted: 14 March 2011 02:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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StephenLawrence - 14 March 2011 02:01 PM
the PC apeman - 14 March 2011 01:55 PM

I’m not convinced.  What is an ought in relation to an aim?

What to do in order for the aim to be a result.

Stephen

So if ones aim is to rob a bank they ought to go to the bank and wave a gun?

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Posted: 14 March 2011 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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the PC apeman - 14 March 2011 02:03 PM
StephenLawrence - 14 March 2011 02:01 PM
the PC apeman - 14 March 2011 01:55 PM

I’m not convinced.  What is an ought in relation to an aim?

What to do in order for the aim to be a result.

Stephen

So if ones aim is to rob a bank they ought to go to the bank and wave a gun?

Yes grin

That’s an example of an ought in relation to an aim.

Next step is what the aim ought to be.

Stephen

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Posted: 14 March 2011 02:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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StephenLawrence - 14 March 2011 02:11 PM
the PC apeman - 14 March 2011 02:03 PM
StephenLawrence - 14 March 2011 02:01 PM
the PC apeman - 14 March 2011 01:55 PM

I’m not convinced.  What is an ought in relation to an aim?

What to do in order for the aim to be a result.

Stephen

So if ones aim is to rob a bank they ought to go to the bank and wave a gun?

Yes grin

That’s an example of an ought in relation to an aim.

Next step is what the aim ought to be.

Stephen

When you ask ‘what the aim ought to be’ aren’t you introducing yet another aim via the definition of an ought as ‘what to do in order for the aim to be a result’?  It doesn’t make sense to me if both “aim"s refer to the same thing.  Can you sensibly substitute your definition of ought for the word “ought” into phrase ‘what the aim ought to be’ for me?

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Posted: 14 March 2011 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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the PC apeman - 14 March 2011 02:35 PM

When you ask ‘what the aim ought to be’ aren’t you introducing yet another aim via the definition of an ought as ‘what to do in order for the aim to be a result’?  It doesn’t make sense to me if both “aim"s refer to the same thing.  Can you sensibly substitute your definition of ought for the word “ought” into phrase ‘what the aim ought to be’ for me?

*Head explodes*

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Posted: 14 March 2011 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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the PC apeman - 14 March 2011 02:35 PM

When you ask ‘what the aim ought to be’ aren’t you introducing yet another aim via the definition of an ought as ‘what to do in order for the aim to be a result’? 

No, I’m trying to see the relationship between aim (reduction of suffering and increase of happiness) and function (survival)
and see if there is a way to get from one to the other.

What we ought to aim for would fit with that and so an ought would be derived from an is.

Stephen

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