Another attack on moral subjectivism
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29-06-2015, 05:28 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(29-06-2015 04:50 PM)tear151 Wrote:  I have no clue

Yes

Do you ever plan on presenting any sort of "attack" here, or maybe someone could notify people when or if you do ?

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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29-06-2015, 06:03 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(29-06-2015 06:12 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(28-06-2015 05:50 PM)Chas Wrote:  Illusion? No. Mistaken? Yes.

Quote:il·lu·sion
iˈlo͞oZHən/Submit
noun

a thing that is or is likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses.
"the illusion makes parallel lines seem to diverge by placing them on a zigzag-striped background"

a deceptive appearance or impression.
"the illusion of family togetherness"

a false idea or belief.

I think it falls under the definition of an illusion.

You stated they are mistaken in believing that torturing babies just for fun is objectively wrong. Yet this perceptions of objectively is abundant, permeates our moral language and discussion and debates, so much so that it's taken for granted. Only a handful of folks believe morality is subjective, or subscribe to moral nihilism.

Now, if torturing babies just for fun is not objectively wrong, but subjectively wrong. Do you believe right or wrong are a matter of personal preference, like other subjective good and bad? If not, can you please define subjective, in a way that distinguishes it from objective?

You are misusing the word 'illusion'. The word you want is 'delusion'.

An illusion fools the sensory input/interpretation system which may cause a cognitive error. The sensory input must get garbled. No such thing is going on here.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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29-06-2015, 08:49 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(28-06-2015 07:18 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(28-06-2015 06:50 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Either it is possible for a substance to achieve absolute, or it is not possible for a substance to achieve absolute zero. It's either possible or not, are you seriously challenging this claim? These kinds of truths are true by definition. If something is not possible, then it is impossible. Likewise, if something is not impossible, then it is possible. If you won't accept these kinds of truths, there's probably no point in further discussion.

My pardon - I don't think that I meant that response for that post. I'll look back and see what I was trying to respond to.

Well, have you reached resolution on this yet? I think that if we can all agree that every claim is either true or not, then we can start building from that foundation. Again, let me point out that we need not know whether a claim is true or not, to know that the claim is either true or not. This is very simply true by definition. If the word false means anything at all, it means not true. If a claim is not true, it has to be false. It doesn't mean every part of the claim is false, but the claim would have to be modified in order to be true.

Also, are you satisfied with how I explained that Stevil's claim that "this glass of water is hot," is false? How "being hot" isn't a property that a glass of water can have? Can we agree that the "hot" part of the claim is only descriptive of Stevil's experience of the water, not he water itself? We were able to still make a true claim about the water, but we needed to change some wording. I realize that this isn't the way people talk, but when asked for clarification, we need to choose our words carefully.
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29-06-2015, 08:51 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(29-06-2015 05:28 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(29-06-2015 04:50 PM)tear151 Wrote:  I have no clue

Yes

Do you ever plan on presenting any sort of "attack" here, or maybe someone could notify people when or if you do ?

You've probably already stated it, but is there any chance you could explain to me exactly why you reject moral nihilism?
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29-06-2015, 08:56 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(29-06-2015 04:23 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  
(29-06-2015 04:18 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Perhaps it would be best to find what we agree on....

Let's reexamine the very simple claim of "slavery is wrong."

Do we all agree that this claim has to be false?

We can make lots of true claims regarding the morality of slavery, but "slavery is wrong," most definitely isn't one of them.

For example: "most people believe that slavery is wrong." "The majority of Americans believe that slavery is objectively wrong." If these claims are descriptive of reality, then they are true.

But "slavery is wrong," can never be true because the rightness and/or wrongness can only be descriptive of a being's experience or feelings about slavery, not slavery itself.

There is no context in which "slavery is wrong," could be true. At best we could say "the majority of Americans used to believe that slavery was right, but now the majority of Americans believe that slavery is wrong."

Can we all agree to this?

No. You're applying a moral sense of right and wrong in a context that doesn't make sense when you apply it to a past society that didn't view it as morally wrong.

It's morally wrong today. It wasn't a good thing then, but we know that now in hindsight. It takes context and learning to decipher a moral stance.

If I said something that is not true, please point it out and show why it's not true.
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29-06-2015, 09:48 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(29-06-2015 08:51 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  
(29-06-2015 05:28 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Yes

Do you ever plan on presenting any sort of "attack" here, or maybe someone could notify people when or if you do ?

You've probably already stated it, but is there any chance you could explain to me exactly why you reject moral nihilism?

For many reasons. Basically it's not the best we know to produce the least pain.
I don't like pain.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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30-06-2015, 05:28 AM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(29-06-2015 09:48 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(29-06-2015 08:51 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  You've probably already stated it, but is there any chance you could explain to me exactly why you reject moral nihilism?

For many reasons. Basically it's not the best we know to produce the least pain.
I don't like pain.

I also don't like pain. Moral nihilism is 100% compatible with not liking pain.

I guess one has to decide if he wants is beliefs to be true, or if he wants his beliefs to be comforting. For me, truth is really the only thing I care about. I don't want my beliefs to be false.

How do you know that nihilism is not the best we know to produce the least pain?

What is the best we know to produce the least pain?
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30-06-2015, 05:39 AM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
I found a really thorough post on another website that might help some people gain a better understanding of moral nihilism.

http://forums.philosophyforums.com/threa...49703.html

(30-06-2015 05:28 AM)bsad Wrote:  Subject: Moral nihilism –addressing misconceptions

This thread is a culmination of my reflections on the subject of moral nihilism, entailing what moral nihilism is (and isn’t), a rebuttal to common refutations (mostly those which I’ve encounter here on PF), and ultimately, why denying moral realism is relevant to human behavior and conducive to wellbeing and adaptive thinking. I apologize for the length, I wanted to be as thorough as possible as ambiguity is often the reason for misconceptions regarding moral nihilism.



What is moral nihilism?

Moral nihilism is the meta-ethical view that nothing is moral or immoral; nothing is inherently right or wrong. It is the stance that there is nothing indicating that we ought to do any particular thing over another in any non-instrumental/non-conditional sense of the word ought.





What is moral nihilism not?

(1)Moral nihilism isn’t an ought claim. It is not the stance that we ought to act against or differently from what is claimed to be moral behavior.

(2)Moral nihilism isn’t contrary to (disinclined toward) wellbeing, happiness, social cohesion or anything else deemed to be moral (it is not a belief in behaving in line with what are deemed immoral behaviors.) It denies obligation, but not incentive, empathy or compassion.

(3)Moral nihilism isn’t a denial of descriptive moral truths. Moral nihilists recognize that moral beliefs exist and exert influence on human behavior just as other fictitious beliefs do.

(4)Moral nihilism isn’t a denial of instrumental value. Rather, moral nihilism takes instrumental claims to be nothing but scientific claims e.g. If you want to live, then you ought to drink water, amounts to no more than you will die if you don’t drink water. No moral nihilist denies such claims. There is no support --despite the oft attempted deference ad infinitum onto other instrumental claims-- that one ought to do what is claimed in the antecedent of the conditional statement (in this case that one ought to want to live.)

(5)Moral nihilism isn’t the stance that people aren’t inclined toward or against, biased toward or against or otherwise (un)attracted to certain behaviors. In fact, emotivism and expressivism, which are moral nihilist stances, reduce the meaning of moral statements to expressions of liking or disliking.





Common refutations to moral nihilism (and responses):

While it’s obviously true that there is no objective morality, we still each have our own subject morality.

This can mean one of 3 things:

a) People have their own moral beliefs.

If this is the case, then it is a descriptive statement and moral nihilists would agree, but this wouldn’t describe a subjective morality, just a subjective moral belief (of what is objectively right.) *See (3)

b) People are inclined or disinclined toward certain behaviors.

But this isn’t an example of morality, just preference. *See (5)

c) What is right is subjective.

This is just as epistemologically unfounded as the objective morality claim.



Morality doesn’t exist in a physical sense. You’re refuting a strawman.

Moral nihilism doesn’t refute a physical ought or assume that it must be such, it refutes the existence of any type of ought or obligation to act in any particular manner. There is no reason to believe that one ought to behave one way over another in any non-instrumental sense of the word ought.



Moral truths exist in the form of institutional facts. Murder is wrong is true the same way that a touchdown yields six points is true, or a king can only move one space in chess is true.

When someone says that murder is wrong they are not claiming that society X deems it so, or that society X is disinclined toward it. They are claiming that it is wrong. Being deemed wrong or against the rules or taste of a society is just descriptive, and therefore not contrary to moral nihilism. For it to be a moral claim one must declare that because it is deemed wrong or against the rules or taste of society X, one ought not do it. It is not implicit by the fact that a group of people have beliefs or conventions against the behavior that one ought not do it. It is not a prescriptive claim that a group of people have beliefs or conventions against the behavior, which moral claims necessarily are (prescriptive) by definition.

To compare back to the game analogy, there is no reason why one ought to play the game in the first place, or stay in the game by continuing to obey the rules of the game. If the ought is only as strong as the agreement to play by the rules of the game, then, following from the analogy, one only ought to act morally if they wish to obey the conventions of society (not really an ought if you ask me.) But there’s no reason why they ought to wish to do so (other than an instrumental value deference ad infinitum claim, *see (4).) So this argument is un-compelling if intended to imply an unconditional ought claim, and confused and irrelevant/inapplicable if not.



Moral realism is incoherent, therefore so is its denial.

Moral nihilists deny that anything is moral or immoral. Each camp of moral nihilism disagrees with aspects of moral realism (which entails more than one claim), but moral nihilism in toto doesn’t claim that moral realism in toto is false (cognitivist nihilists couldn’t.) Besides, to deny is to claim something is not true, which entails incoherent, false etc. Many camps of moral nihilism don’t claim that moral claims are false. Non-cognitivist moral nihilists, as an example, say that ethical sentences cannot be true or false because they are not even truth-apt. If we are to take ethical sentences at face value, however, I would say that moral claims are false. Take this (non-moral) statement as an example:

My candy loves me.

The previous statement is confused, but not incoherent. It applies an emotion to something which is incapable of having any. Seeing as we have a clear conception of candy and love, though, we can safely deny (and declare false) the claim that my candy loves me. That is a perfectly coherent/intelligible stance, as anyone with the capacity to observe can safely say that the emotion of love does not apply to the object candy. Being absurd or having all evidence to the contrary is different from being incoherent. The more something is absurd or has evidence to the contrary, the stronger its denial, not the other way around. A statement’s credibility does not determine its meaningfulness.

Calling a moral claim false is no different when taking it at face value. We have a clear understanding of what it means for something to be an obligation, as expressed in instrumental claims (e.g. if you want to live, then you ought to drink water.) We can then see if it applies to the actions referred to in any moral claim. All evidence is that this is not the case, so it is safe to say that it is false that there is such a thing as a moral or immoral behavior. So claims like one ought to study music and one ought not study music are both false, as all evidence shows that obligation applies to neither studying music nor not studying music.

It is once one responds to this by saying that they are using ought in a way that in no way resembles its traditional use that I go from viewing their claims as false to viewing them as incoherent, if cognitive. And I’m no less a moral nihilist for doing so.





So nothing is moral or immoral, how does this inform behavioral decisions and does it in any way help us effectively reach our desired goals of happiness and wellbeing? Why is moral nihilism relevant?

Human beings have the capacity to live in harmony with each other -to have mutually beneficial relationships. So why is it sometimes not the case that we live in the most enjoyable, adaptive manner?

Firstly, why is it sometimes the case that we have the sensation of obligation/duty (compulsion toward or against certain behaviors) in cases where there is clearly no obligation? Originally, our animal ancestors developed via natural selection these sensations because negative sensations in reaction to life threatening situations more often guided one toward life preserving decisions (from the fear of heights to the loneliness of isolation) and positive sensations in reaction to life preserving decisions more often motivated one toward life preserving decisions (from the pleasure of sex to the perception of cuteness in and high value of children.) Moral claims appeal to these sensations of obligation by making one fear doing contrary to their claim. This fear is of either social unacceptance or the punishment implied in the moral claim, such as religious punishment, or simply the implicit memory of parental punishment when acting against their desires. Likewise, sometimes one is motivated toward behaviors by being convinced of its reward (piety, heaven, etc.) And which behaviors the claims claim to apply to are unsurprisingly often in line with evolutionarily advantageous behaviors or evolutionarily advantageous impulses. Unfortunately, natural selection only requires that one live, not that one necessarily live happily, and the very emotions that kept our ancestors alive and eventually led to our lives today, also happen to be a great hindrance to our wellbeing at times.

While most people today won’t argue the merits of evolutionary psychology, most will perceive their morality as more civilized than the aggressive conditioning animals use on each other. After all, human moral theories are sophisticated and thoughtful. But however complex or thoughtful one’s method of deriving which actions or thoughts morality applies to, they are claiming one ought to behave that way, which is to say that they are appealing to the emotional center of the brain that relates to the sensation of obligation. It’s this appeal that I’ll be examining here in order make my case against the efficacy of moral doctrine toward even its own intended goal.

I don’t think I need to refer anyone to psychological research done on the desire for liberty, as everyone knows what it is like to not want to have to live according to another’s will (for the sake of it being their will.) Even if it is done with the best of intentions, clearly people don’t react positively to the notion of conforming to another’s will and so any obligation-based attempt to modify people’s behavior often fails, or worse, motivates the person to act in accordance with what is being forbidden just for the sake of declaring one’s independence (i.e. rebellion.)

On top of that, everything relating to intrinsic superiority and inferiority, including every cognitive bias (the desire to be right), desire for acceptance, or ego driven decision (note that these account for the vast majority of maladaptive behaviors) is necessarily morally informed. Why do I say this? I say this because these claims necessarily go above and beyond efficacy claims, as efficacy claims don’t tell us that because John is more intelligent than Nancy he is a superior person, they only tell us that he can more effectively solve problems. To declare anything more would require the belief that certain qualities are intrinsically (morally) superior.

And while moral claims often have good intentions, such as to work against other morally informed claims like those I mentioned above, solving the problem in moral terms only treats the symptom of the overarching problem which is the moral presupposition which such remedies share. Why validate morality in the process of condemning morally informed behaviors when you could work against the behaviors in non-moral ways and be less likely to have such morally informed claims to arise and be given credence in the future?

Wisdom and insight sell themselves. They don’t need to be enforced upon others; this is counter productive, as I’ve shown above. The best way of inspiring positive behavior is by giving reason for optimism (loving, expressing beauty e.g. art.) That is teaching. Showing the benefits of acting or perceiving a certain way, rather than enforcing it. Declaring things moral or immoral doesn’t solve problems, it just points fingers
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30-06-2015, 05:40 AM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
I find this thread continually bizarre because I don't think the term Moral Nihilism is means what you are claiming it to mean. The way it's been used is to me liking to calling Atheism a stance of anti-theists instead of simply, not believing in any deities.

I'm glad it finally took some time for someone to bring out a thread post that wants to clarify it but as written there, that doesn't still fit the terms that are often stated in this thread.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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30-06-2015, 05:56 AM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(29-06-2015 08:49 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  
(28-06-2015 07:18 PM)Chas Wrote:  My pardon - I don't think that I meant that response for that post. I'll look back and see what I was trying to respond to.

Well, have you reached resolution on this yet?

No.

Quote:I think that if we can all agree that every claim is either true or not, then we can start building from that foundation.

I already pointed out that we cannot.

Quote:Again, let me point out that we need not know whether a claim is true or not, to know that the claim is either true or not. This is very simply true by definition. If the word false means anything at all, it means not true. If a claim is not true, it has to be false. It doesn't mean every part of the claim is false, but the claim would have to be modified in order to be true.

There are claims that are, by their very nature, neither true nor false.
There are claims that have, by their very nature, no answer.

And morality is not about the truth value of claims.

Quote:Also, are you satisfied with how I explained that Stevil's claim that "this glass of water is hot," is false? How "being hot" isn't a property that a glass of water can have? Can we agree that the "hot" part of the claim is only descriptive of Stevil's experience of the water, not he water itself? We were able to still make a true claim about the water, but we needed to change some wording. I realize that this isn't the way people talk, but when asked for clarification, we need to choose our words carefully.

The claim that the glass of water is hot is neither true nor false, and is simultaneously both true and false.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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