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Posted: 03 October 2011 11:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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joad - 03 October 2011 11:15 AM

  A christian can point to the golden rule and say do this because god (or his son) said so. 

And a Christian can equally say God hates fags etc.

Christians who behave morally, agree with certain morally good passages in the bible.

Just like atheists do.

I can’t see the difference.

Stephen

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Posted: 03 October 2011 06:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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StephenLawrence - 03 October 2011 11:35 AM
joad - 03 October 2011 11:15 AM

  A christian can point to the golden rule and say do this because god (or his son) said so. 

And a Christian can equally say God hates fags etc.

Christians who behave morally, agree with certain morally good passages in the bible.

Just like atheists do.

I can’t see the difference.

Stephen

You seem to say that there is no reason, just personal preference.  So “morally good passages” (someone who agrees with god hates fags would say it is “morally good”) are in the eye of the reader without any grounding in rational thought.

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Posted: 03 October 2011 07:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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joad - 03 October 2011 06:57 PM
StephenLawrence - 03 October 2011 11:35 AM
joad - 03 October 2011 11:15 AM

  A christian can point to the golden rule and say do this because god (or his son) said so. 

And a Christian can equally say God hates fags etc.

Christians who behave morally, agree with certain morally good passages in the bible.

Just like atheists do.

I can’t see the difference.

Stephen

You seem to say that there is no reason, just personal preference.  So “morally good passages” (someone who agrees with god hates fags would say it is “morally good”) are in the eye of the reader without any grounding in rational thought.

Which leads to a different statement of my original question.  Can what is good be reduced to the statement that “I like this and you should too”.

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Posted: 03 October 2011 10:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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joad - 03 October 2011 07:16 PM

Which leads to a different statement of my original question.  Can what is good be reduced to the statement that “I like this and you should too”.

Don’t think so. I think it’s good to be happy and it’s bad to suffer, there’s a problem with defining those things but we all know when we are happy and when we are not.

You might say what about going to the dentist, you suffer but that is good, but I’d say suffering is intrinsically a bad experience but sometimes it’s worth it to avoid something worse.

So fundamentally morality is about the avoidance of suffering.

The problem is moral dilemmas, some have got to suffer who is it going to be? (it really is a horrible game we get forced to play isn’t it?)

Firstly, it’s good to prevent these situations from arising because it is better if nobody suffers.

In the dilemmas it’s about reducing suffering and dividing the suffering fairly but I realise that isn’t telling us much, what is fair and why? Is 10 million mildly miserable people better than 1 person in acute pain?

Dunno

Can’t help thinking an all powerful good God wouldn’t make the world like this though.


Stephen

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Posted: 04 October 2011 04:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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joad - 03 October 2011 07:16 PM

Can what is good be reduced to the statement that “I like this and you should too”.

This is an equivocal question, since everything turns on the meaning of “should”, and the power of the “and”. (Is it a logical “and”, like “and therefore”, or is it simply an additive “and”, like “Here are two true things:”).

A subjectivist will say, “I like this” is all there is to saying “This is good”. All there is to “... you should too” is to say something such as, “If you liked it too, it would make me even happier.”

An objectivist will say that the power of the “should” is what takes precedence: it’s an objective “should” (or at least it purports to be an objective “should”). That is, you should like it because it’s in fact morally correct. And the “and” is merely additive.

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Posted: 04 October 2011 07:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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A tangential thought occurred to me.  To introduce it by example, Hubble gave us lots of pretty pictures, but probably nothing of practical value.  Was it moral to spend all that money on Hubble, or should we have spent it on health care or education etc?

If you’re like me it’s a no-brainer - of course we should have spent in on Hubble!  I think it is literally a no-brainer.  We immediately form an opinion on the matter and then produce a logical argument to justify it, just in case we get challenged(or if you are introspective type, you challenge yourself).  I think philosophy is 99% constructing logical justifications for our intuitions!

If someone put together a really good argument for spending the Hubble money on schools, I wouldn’t change my mind (unless it was a very good argument indeed!).  Instead I would just try to make a better argument for my intuition. 

I think I could probably put together a better argument for spending the money on schools than I could for spending it on Hubble - at least in terms of actual, practical utilitarian benefit ‘per dollar’.  An argument for Hubble would probably have to appeal to ‘higher goals’, ‘human aspiration’, ‘knowledge for its own sake’.  Arguing we need bigger close-ups of Andromeda more than we need more teachers wouldn’t be that easy!

Yet my intuition is it was right to spend the money on Hubble, even though I can’t fully justify it logically even to myself.  Am I typical?  What do people think is going on in my mind?

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Posted: 06 October 2011 03:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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keithprosser2 - 04 October 2011 07:11 AM

A tangential thought occurred to me.  To introduce it by example, Hubble gave us lots of pretty pictures, but probably nothing of practical value.  Was it moral to spend all that money on Hubble, or should we have spent it on health care or education etc?

If you’re like me it’s a no-brainer - of course we should have spent in on Hubble!  I think it is literally a no-brainer.  We immediately form an opinion on the matter and then produce a logical argument to justify it, just in case we get challenged(or if you are introspective type, you challenge yourself).  I think philosophy is 99% constructing logical justifications for our intuitions!

If someone put together a really good argument for spending the Hubble money on schools, I wouldn’t change my mind (unless it was a very good argument indeed!).  Instead I would just try to make a better argument for my intuition. 

I think I could probably put together a better argument for spending the money on schools than I could for spending it on Hubble - at least in terms of actual, practical utilitarian benefit ‘per dollar’.  An argument for Hubble would probably have to appeal to ‘higher goals’, ‘human aspiration’, ‘knowledge for its own sake’.  Arguing we need bigger close-ups of Andromeda more than we need more teachers wouldn’t be that easy!

Yet my intuition is it was right to spend the money on Hubble, even though I can’t fully justify it logically even to myself.  Am I typical?  What do people think is going on in my mind?

LOL  You’re probably typical, to put it in more fancy terms,  “the brain wants the money for schools, but the heart wants more pics of the galaxy”.

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Posted: 06 October 2011 04:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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“the brain wants the money for schools, but the heart wants more pics of the galaxy”.

Or it could be the other way around…

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Posted: 14 October 2011 07:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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‘However, Hume found that there seems to be a significant difference between descriptive statements (about what is) and prescriptive or normative statements (about what ought to be), and it is not obvious how we can get from making descriptive statements to prescriptive.’

Even though there is a problem of getting from the ‘is’ to the ‘ought’ - did Hume make a distinction between different types of ‘oughts’ - like conditional vs categorical?

It would seem that a presciptive conditional ethic about what is good for an organism is available as we become more aware of who and what we are as humans and what best facilitates interpersonal actions. We can describe things that have negative consequences for an organism yet we are supossedly unable to prescibe what or how to avoid this outcome. This make no sense - Doctors do it all the time. The problem with catergorical or transcendent ‘oughts’ that take no account of circumstance or cause and effect is that it seems unjustifed to begin with.

Why can’t nature inform us about conditional oughts?

What justification is there to even talk about categorical or transcendent ‘oughts’ - as if they exists in the first to be talked about? Other than metaphysical mind games I do not see any justification for there existence to begin with.

A conditional ethic as such is below mere intellectual musing or social convention and therefore can be objective in a certain sense.

Morals are not that mysterious - they are ‘right actions.’ These actions are in the context of individual human interaction with the external world. Both of which are physical in nature. Therefore the foundation for any ethic is a natural foundation - particualrly the human organism and it’s relationship to the physical world and how the organism is structured (genetically and neuronally by experience) to act in accordance with that world. But nature is not perfect and humans have an ability to idealize, abstract, and infer perfection from the imperfect world - reality. They therefore are mislead to think that such a world ‘should’ exist. Societies will always revolve around the mean of what it is to be a normal human being and so we will never be able to come to an absolute of purely objective morality - and neither should we try.

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Posted: 15 October 2011 11:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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VeridicusMaximus - 14 October 2011 07:15 PM

It would seem that a presciptive conditional ethic about what is good for an organism is available as we become more aware of who and what we are as humans and what best facilitates interpersonal actions.

Why is that the goal?  What about those individuals for whom this is not their goal?

Why can’t nature inform us about conditional oughts?

I’m sure it can.  But then this is not an area of morality.  It just kicks the question down the road.  ie. how are the conditions to be satisfied to be justified? If you dislike the fact that group X exists, then you ought to kill all people of group X.

What justification is there to even talk about categorical or transcendent ‘oughts’ - as if they exists in the first to be talked about? Other than metaphysical mind games I do not see any justification for there existence to begin with.

I agree.  I’d even say they are non-cognitive.

Morals are not that mysterious - they are ‘right actions.’

This is just a tautology and tells us nothing.

They therefore are mislead to think that such a world ‘should’ exist. Societies will always revolve around the mean of what it is to be a normal human being and so we will never be able to come to an absolute of purely objective morality - and neither should we try.

[my highlighting] This sort of recursive argument makes me dizzy.  If that last bit is not an absolute of purely objective morality then what is it?

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Posted: 15 October 2011 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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the PC apeman - 15 October 2011 11:16 AM
VeridicusMaximus - 14 October 2011 07:15 PM

It would seem that a presciptive conditional ethic about what is good for an organism is available as we become more aware of who and what we are as humans and what best facilitates interpersonal actions.

Why is that the goal?  What about those individuals for whom this is not their goal?

If people want to cure a broken leg by praying for it to heal then by all means - but they would be foolish to do so.

Why can’t nature inform us about conditional oughts?
I’m sure it can.  But then this is not an area of morality.  It just kicks the question down the road.  ie. how are the conditions to be satisfied to be justified? If you dislike the fact that group X exists, then you ought to kill all people of group X.

How are conditional ‘oughts’ not morality - is this not just making sure your definition excludes any possible solution. Morals are just about what is thought to be the right action in a given circumstance. Only Philosophers get duped into operating in a realm where they will never come to any sastifiying answers - because it does not exist in the first place. They are basically glorified emotions.

What justification is there to even talk about categorical or transcendent ‘oughts’ - as if they exists in the first to be talked about? Other than metaphysical mind games I do not see any justification for there existence to begin with.

I agree.  I’d even say they are non-cognitive.

Morals are not that mysterious - they are ‘right actions.’
This is just a tautology and tells us nothing.

This is true. But having them to be actions helps us understand that they are tied to the real world of the physical not some Sky Judge that is transcendently obligating humans to do something according to the spirit world. Morals are wholly related to human interaction - so finding out what is ‘right’ for us in any given circumstance is what we are leaning more and more each day. Getting people to follow those principles are another thing but that does not mean we cannot be informed about what would be best in a given circumstance.

They therefore are mislead to think that such a world ‘should’ exist. Societies will always revolve around the mean of what it is to be a normal human being and so we will never be able to come to an absolute of purely objective morality - and neither should we try.

[my highlighting] This sort of recursive argument makes me dizzy.  If that last bit is not an absolute of purely objective morality then what is it?

I am not using it in a absolute sense -  it is only a principle of action based on the fact that it impossible to arrive at an asolute transcendent moral obligation - well other than creating deductive moral arguments that have no correspondence to the real world - but hey that’s all that metaphysical special langauge games people like to tailer to win an argument - it goes both ways - at least I am trying to keep real - pardon the pun.

[ Edited: 15 October 2011 12:33 PM by VeridicusMaximus ]
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Posted: 16 October 2011 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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VeridicusMaximus - 15 October 2011 12:16 PM
the PC apeman - 15 October 2011 11:16 AM
VeridicusMaximus - 14 October 2011 07:15 PM

It would seem that a presciptive conditional ethic about what is good for an organism is available as we become more aware of who and what we are as humans and what best facilitates interpersonal actions.

Why is that the goal?  What about those individuals for whom this is not their goal?

If people want to cure a broken leg by praying for it to heal then by all means - but they would be foolish to do so.

Yes, but that’s talking to the second part - how to achieve the goal.  I’m questioning the goals themselves - If people want…  What if what people want is something like to kill all members of group X?

Why can’t nature inform us about conditional oughts?
I’m sure it can.  But then this is not an area of morality.  It just kicks the question down the road.  ie. how are the conditions to be satisfied to be justified? If you dislike the fact that group X exists, then you ought to kill all people of group X.

How are conditional ‘oughts’ not morality - is this not just making sure your definition excludes any possible solution.

Yes, however…  If you want to make meat more digestable, you ought to cook it.  This is a conditional ought but it is not a moral statement.  Where is the line drawn between conditional oughts that are moral statements and those that are not?  I suggest that any answer is open to charges of gerrymandering a definition as the moral component does not have a truth value.

Morals are just about what is thought to be the right action in a given circumstance. Only Philosophers get duped into operating in a realm where they will never come to any sastifiying answers - because it does not exist in the first place. They are basically glorified emotions.

There are philosophers who have come to such an answer - non-cognitivism.  Your last sentence here is an expression of one variety of that philosophical stance.

What justification is there to even talk about categorical or transcendent ‘oughts’ - as if they exists in the first to be talked about? Other than metaphysical mind games I do not see any justification for there existence to begin with.

I agree.  I’d even say they are non-cognitive.

Morals are not that mysterious - they are ‘right actions.’
This is just a tautology and tells us nothing.

This is true. But having them to be actions helps us understand that they are tied to the real world of the physical not some Sky Judge that is transcendently obligating humans to do something according to the spirit world. Morals are wholly related to human interaction - so finding out what is ‘right’ for us in any given circumstance is what we are leaning more and more each day. Getting people to follow those principles are another thing but that does not mean we cannot be informed about what would be best in a given circumstance.

However, we get back to the problem of the initial goals.  The above here assumes everyone has the same goals.

They therefore are mislead to think that such a world ‘should’ exist. Societies will always revolve around the mean of what it is to be a normal human being and so we will never be able to come to an absolute of purely objective morality - and neither should we try.

[my highlighting] This sort of recursive argument makes me dizzy.  If that last bit is not an absolute of purely objective morality then what is it?

I am not using it in a absolute sense -  it is only a principle of action based on the fact that it impossible to arrive at an asolute transcendent moral obligation - well other than creating deductive moral arguments that have no correspondence to the real world - but hey that’s all that metaphysical special langauge games people like to tailer to win an argument - it goes both ways - at least I am trying to keep real - pardon the pun.

So the highlighted ‘should’ is just an expression of your emotions in the current circumstances?  I don’t disagree with your sentiment.  I’m just curious if we see its provenance the same way.

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Posted: 16 October 2011 08:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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the PC apeman - 16 October 2011 07:12 AM
VeridicusMaximus - 15 October 2011 12:16 PM
the PC apeman - 15 October 2011 11:16 AM
VeridicusMaximus - 14 October 2011 07:15 PM

It would seem that a presciptive conditional ethic about what is good for an organism is available as we become more aware of who and what we are as humans and what best facilitates interpersonal actions.

Why is that the goal?  What about those individuals for whom this is not their goal?

If people want to cure a broken leg by praying for it to heal then by all means - but they would be foolish to do so.

Yes, but that’s talking to the second part - how to achieve the goal.  I’m questioning the goals themselves - If people want…  What if what people want is something like to kill all members of group X?

I would say and think they are free to do so - nothing is stopping them in an obligatory absolute sense (all things are literally permissable - that seems to be the reality). I mean where is God - it would seem we are the authority (I just do not mean our reason and will but what our subconscious and biology has dealt to us as what we seek as means and ends). What would stop them is either reason (wouldn’t God have these same reasons?) and the fact that the majority of people will not tolerate such sensibilities - why has nature given us such sensibilities? It would seem that only abnormal people have such goals as wanting to kill group X - unless power has given them the abiltiy to resist the majority and go with thier risky behavior. But we can inofrm them, not just on personal preferences, that cooperation is actually better off in long term for BOTH parties - not only do we emotionally gravitate toward this as individuals but socially this is true. But like I said getting people to agree and accept this, even if they are the minority, is another thing but that is just the point even if they do not it’s not what the majority of humanity seek as a goal therefore it is not and will not be something that is normal - even if, as history has dealt us, people like a Hitler gain mass control - at least for awhile. Even Hitler did not think it right to kill just to kill or because he felt like it - he rationalized the Jews and others to a lower status than that of human - his mind and emotions repelled the idea that you can just kill and want to go and kill someone. But his power and idealism increased his risk taking - he took the chance and lost - precisely because it is so risky for humans to act this way - we were not made (in a natural sense) to do so. He was a fool and he knew that if he had similar feelings about Germans that would be wrong - why? Because Jews and others were not human or worthy of those actions. Furthermore, as a human he would not ascent to being treated as such therefore if the Jews were human he would have a conflict with himself. Reason is both a helper and a hinderer in this regard. That is why methodologies (scientific method for example) coupled with reason go alot farther than just reason or feelings. People may choose to ignore them but that does not mean they have no ‘moral’ weight or content, regarding means and ends, which can be shown to have a better way and a better goal. 

Also, Are you a non-cognitivist?? Do you grant that ‘morality’ is about what is right in an absolute Philosophical sense but do not accept that it is real or worth trying to figure out? Do I read you right? I am open to that - I am just playing with the ideas about how nature (particularly our own) can inform us to an appoximation of ubiqutious objective ‘morals’ (disregarding the special metaphysical definitions) about our goals and the means to achive them. If our sense of morality is below the cognitive and social construct levels then there is something human nature + reason can inform us (by using methodologies that minimize rational error and bias) about human actions particularly how we act toward one another and their consequences. Which is better and more efficient - even for an individual who decides to take a chance. A basic law of economics would teach that person that he would be better off if he did not act that way. Cooperation is not a zero sum game and since he is a outlier in a society that does not think about taking such a risk he himself is taking a huge risk - and usually this is true - most people are not better off to act in such a way - not to mention all those who get caught-up in the middle of his attempts. Certainly it is fair to say that it is wrong in a conditional sense whether he gets it or not or gets it and does not care. There are neurobiological, social, economic, and other reasons why such an action as ‘kill group X’ whould be stupid not just because we repel the idea of Group X getting anililated but because it is objectively (conditionally speaking) foolish for him to do so - even if we fail to convince him otherwise. The reason is in the way we arrived at that conclusion - not just a cognitive methodology but a scientific one, not just a social convention (the majority vs minority rule) but but a biologiclly/emotionally driven sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ actions - actions that have been instantiated into are very genes and nervous system (conscious and non-conscious). 

I just order a new Book on Phiosophy of the mind - I am going to go over it intensely - soon I will have all the answers :)

P.s - I forgot ot briefly comment on this point of yours - ‘However, we get back to the problem of the initial goals.  The above here assumes everyone has the same goals.’

I would say it shows that although people have different goals there are goals that people can be genuinely informed about as to what they should (not in a categorical but conditonal sense) have and what the best means is to obtain them - goals that entail things that we call morals.

VM

[ Edited: 16 October 2011 08:47 PM by VeridicusMaximus ]
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