Another attack on moral subjectivism
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
12-07-2015, 01:08 PM (This post was last modified: 12-07-2015 01:12 PM by Tomasia.)
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(12-07-2015 12:26 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Personal preference.

Could you elaborate on why though? Even if in your view at end of the day it just amounts to personal preference. What is it that's particularly bothersome or offensive, reproachable, not okay, about your child torturing animals just for fun? Where as it’s fine to eat animals?

Quote: Again, I want to reiterate that empathy reveals no more truth than selfishness or aggression, which is exactly zero.

Expect for the fact that your "empathy" , leads you to not be okay with your children torturing animals just for fun. Having to kill animals for food is okay, where as torturing these same animals just for fun is not okay.

Quote:Do you think that vegetarianism is a goal that all humans should have?

Do you think your children should seek to avoid unnecessary harm on the lives of others including animals?

I don’t think what you might have in mind with the mean of goals here would be one and the same. Where you might imagine goals here to be about what actions should be avoided or not, or taken, where as for me the goal, in a religious sense, in a virtue ethics sense, is to be a certain sort of person, to possess a certain sense of character. Its sort of what lies behind why a suitor for our daughters who tortures animals just for a fun is to be avoided, while a meat eater is not, or why we don’t mind if our children eat meat, but do if they tortured animals.

I think a man can have intuitive knowledge of this, while lacking the sort of reflective knowledge to articulate or express their full meaning and framework. And that this knowledge is more apparent in considering interpersonal relationships, like that between a father and his child, rather than political or societal concerns.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-07-2015, 02:13 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(12-07-2015 06:47 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Maybe it would be easier if we just cut to the chase. Are you suggesting that you don't believe that people based on their empathy, believe that when certain harm is inflicted on someone else besides themselves, they intuitively perceive that as "wrong", as something that shouldn't be done to another person?

I don't believe that empathy is a moral sense.
Case in point, I can feel empathy for the crying mother of a still born, or when watching a cheetah pull down and kill a young antelope. According to most people's moral definitions, nothing immoral occurred and yet however I feel empathy.
Another case in point, some Christians feel that prostitution is immoral and yet I feel no empathy when two consenting adults make a monetary exchange for services rendered.

My empathy has nothing to do with a moral sense.

But your question was with regards to my lack of belief with regards to other people's beliefs based on their own empathy....

I recognise that many people have a belief that their empathy is an indicator to some moral truth (be-it a universal truth or a subjective truth). People believe in all sorts of things, fairies, lochness monster, ghosts, gods, demons... I take nothing important (regarding knowledge) from other people's beliefs. Nothing useful can be derived from what other people believe.


(12-07-2015 06:47 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  This is an obvious and intuitive factor for myself,
I'm not willing to take this approach. Questions are to be asked and potential answers are to be discovered. I am not willing to make assumptions.


(12-07-2015 06:47 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  And I'm not too sure, what you mean when you use the term "altruism" here as opposed to "selfishness". I would assume my suggestion here would be linked to altruism? That this intuitive empathic response shares a kinship with "altruism"? You suggested that the researchers didn't link the views to altruism, but I don't think they particularly deny this, and in fact might even agree that it is.
The authors didn't even explore this, they didn't consider any alternatives, they showed a complete lack of interest in discovery and instead only a focus to find only what they were looking for. It's called confirmation bias.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-07-2015, 02:58 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(12-07-2015 02:13 PM)Stevil Wrote:  The authors didn't even explore this, they didn't consider any alternatives, they showed a complete lack of interest in discovery and instead only a focus to find only what they were looking for. It's called confirmation bias.

Perhaps because the researchers here are psychologist, were the question of altruism, might be a better suited for biologists, as to what altruism means, as opposed to a moral sense, etc…. Confirmation bias would entail ruling altruism out, which the article did not. A biologist, or another researcher could just as adequately use the observation and synthesize it’s conclusions with altruism being an aspect of the underlying behavior and beliefs being observed, without there being an meaningful disagreement between the two parties.

Quote:Case in point, I can feel empathy for the crying mother of a still….According to most people's moral definitions, nothing immoral occurred and yet however I feel empathy.


Feeling empathy for a crying mother doesn't entail a response, other than offering one’s condolences. You can a feel a similar empathy for a young girl being attacked by stranger, and that feeling that’s evoked, can provoke you to respond, to stop the attack. And perhaps if you did nothing, knowing you had the means to stop the attack, some guilt might follow, a sense that you failed in some sort of way. Nothing I said here is profound, or mysterious, you seem just as aware of this common “psychology” as anyone else.

There’s some intuitive knowledge here, that’s not reliant on social conditioning as you imagine, just like there is for child a knowing the a square peg fits into a square hole. No one needs to really suggest to you that you should offer condolences to the grieving mother, that something you can intuitively know on your own, without instructions from others, just like intervening in that attack on a young girl, elicited by a similar empathetic sentiment.

While there might not be any real obligation, any real wrong, at the very least you’d have the illusions of one, the makeup of those illusions.

Quote:I recognise that many people have a belief that their empathy is an indicator to some moral truth (be-it a universal truth or a subjective truth).

I don’t think the questions I propose are in regards to the beliefs about empathy per se, but rather the sort of beliefs empathy provokes in people. If a variety of people felt empathy for someone in similar context, there responses, and beliefs would likely reveal a great deal of similarities.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-07-2015, 04:23 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(12-07-2015 02:58 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  If a variety of people felt empathy for someone in similar context, there responses, and beliefs would likely reveal a great deal of similarities.
Just the ability to imagine themselves in that person's shoes.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
12-07-2015, 09:05 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(12-07-2015 01:08 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Could you elaborate on why though? Even if in your view at end of the day it just amounts to personal preference. What is it that's particularly bothersome or offensive, reproachable, not okay, about your child torturing animals just for fun? Where as it’s fine to eat animals?

I think it's a combination of nature and nurture. We can never escape our nature, which I believe gives most of us a predisposition to be empathetic, but if I were to guess, I would say that social conditioning and environment are probably the biggest factors. I think it's fairly well known that the social conditioning and environment of children, especially in the first 5 years, is absolutely a critical factor in shaping brain and personality development. One example is that, here in America we eat cows, some other cultures eat dogs. I would guess that most Americans are repulsed by dog eating, while some cultures are repulsed by eating cows, and others by pigs. If a person or culture finds something repulsive, it doesn't follow that there is something wrong with that which is found to be repulsive. The only truth that can be found is that some people/cultures are repulsed by certain things. That's it.

(12-07-2015 01:08 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Expect for the fact that your "empathy" , leads you to not be okay with your children torturing animals just for fun. Having to kill animals for food is okay, where as torturing these same animals just for fun is not okay.

You're right. In some regard we have no choice in the matter. That is, even though we feel like free agents acting on free will, we aren't really free to choose our desires. We don't choose the things that we like, we discover them. We can't choose to be gay or straight. We don't choose the foods that we like. I don't like black licorice, and I can't just decide to like it. Likewise, we really can't choose how much empathy we have. Sure, we can do mental exercises in attempt to increase or decrease our level of empathy, but at some level, nearly all of us at least appear to be limited on how much we can shape our desires. Another great example is sexual desire. When our sexual desire is in conflict with our desire to not get pregnant, we use contraception because we know we aren't free to simply turn off our libido. Even though we don't choose our desires, it still doesn't lead us to any kind of moral truth.

(12-07-2015 01:08 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Do you think your children should seek to avoid unnecessary harm on the lives of others including animals?

No. It's not necessary to eat animals, but if I had kids I'd be perfectly fine with them eating animals.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Matt Finney's post
12-07-2015, 10:25 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(12-07-2015 09:05 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  ...
No. It's not necessary to eat animals, but if I had kids I'd be perfectly fine with them eating animals.

How about animals eating your kids?

Just kidding (or animalling?)

I liked you post ... mainly because you didn't use the word 'preference'.

Thumbsup

Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
13-07-2015, 03:01 AM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(12-07-2015 02:58 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Perhaps because the researchers here are psychologist...
I don't think there is logic in trying to come up with a term such as moral prescription. It will boil down to rules that are required to make a society safe and functioning which equates to survival. Since these rules are important they will be documented, governed and enforced which makes them law and not morality.

If you want to discover or even to support morals your really need there to be a choice rather than a governed law. This means that morals will need to appear to be arbitrary.
If breaking an arbitrary rule(i.e. don't lie, don't masturbate, don't pay for sex, don't ridicule gods, etc) makes a significant amount of people (or children) uncomfortable and we can show that people haven't been taught or conditioned to react/think that way, then we might be onto something (regarding moral sense).

However, if we can reason a rule as necessary based on various consequences (such as danger or instability) then we demean our intelligence by suggesting it as being an innate moral sense. It is no such thing, it is instead our ability to reason through and foresee the consequences and the impact with regards to our safety and survival and ability to survive within a environment where we need to interact with others and compete for limited resources.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
13-07-2015, 07:35 AM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(12-07-2015 04:23 PM)Stevil Wrote:  Just the ability to imagine themselves in that person's shoes.

And you think the line between this ability to imagine one selves in another person shoes, and the sense in which harm inflicted upon this other person should be avoid, is one dependent on social conditioning to be drawn out?

Or do you recognize that ability to imagine oneself in another person shoes, and that sense in which inflicting harm on this person should be avoided, is no more dependent on social conditioning than the other? Even if this perception is merely an illusion, created by this ability to empathize?

Do you acknowledge that these sort of beliefs, perceptions, arise out of this basic ability to empathize in such a way, rather than being dependent on social conditioning? As if the social conditioning factor wasn't there, these perceptions wouldn't be drawn?
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
13-07-2015, 08:10 AM (This post was last modified: 13-07-2015 08:22 AM by Tomasia.)
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(12-07-2015 09:05 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  I think it's fairly well known that the social conditioning and environment of children, especially in the first 5 years, is absolutely a critical factor in shaping brain and personality development. One example is that, here in America we eat cows, some other cultures eat dogs. I would guess that most Americans are repulsed by dog eating, while some cultures are repulsed by eating cows, and others by pigs. If a person or culture finds something repulsive, it doesn't follow that there is something wrong with that which is found to be repulsive. The only truth that can be found is that some people/cultures are repulsed by certain things. That's it.

Well, when it comes to disgust, which is common among adults, it's fairly absent in young children. “Young children will put almost anything into their mouths, including feces” (Haidt). Children perceiving it wrong to hurt others, is not particularly a matter of disgust. If we were to reduce the perception along the lines of Haidt’s moral foundation theory, it would likely fall under “care/harm, fairness/cheating foundations more so than arising out of disgust.

To reduce this perception as a matter of socially engineered repulsion, would be empirically false, in my view.

If someone harms my child, no social or cultural influence needs to be there, for me to be bothered by it, so why imagine that when this perceptions gets extended to others, including strangers, that it’s a matter of cultural influence? I think yours and stevil views are more dependent on confirmation bias, than you might care to admit.

I also don’t think your answers is really reflecting on the reasons in which you’re averse to your daughter dating a man who tortures animals just for fun, as opposed to a man who eats meat. If you daughter dated a man from a different cultural in which it was acceptable to eat monkeys, or worms, or snakes, you might be repulsed by his dietary habits, while not be particularly averse to your daughter dating such a man. Where as if the man tortured animals just for fun, you would likely be quite averse to this, for reasons that are not entirely reducible to a matter of disgust. There’s something about the character of a man who tortures animals just for fun, which is not particularly there for a man who merely eats animals one’s culture is disgusted at the thought of eating.


Quote:You're right. In some regard we have no choice in the matter.

While there might not be any real rational basis for why we avoid eating certain animals, other than merely disgust. I think there is quite a good deal of intuitive knowledge in place when we’re averse to our daughter dating men who torture animals just for fun, just like if the man were a repeated rapist, or had a violent history with women. We perceive something likely to be harmful in her relationship with such a man, something depraved being brought into it, by a man who derives pleasure from the act of torturing other animals.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
13-07-2015, 08:17 AM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(13-07-2015 03:01 AM)Stevil Wrote:  I don't think there is logic in trying to come up with a term such as moral prescription. It will boil down to rules that are required to make a society safe and functioning which equates to survival. Since these rules are important they will be documented, governed and enforced which makes them law and not morality.

They're not coming up with the term "moral prescription". There merely defining the characteristics of what goes into "moral prescriptions" made by most people, who unlike you subscribe to one form or another of morality.

When those same features are present in other prescriptions, they would also be labeled "moral" as well. And it's these features that are present in every day moral prescriptions, that distinguishes them from non-moral prescriptions. This might not be readily recognized by you since you don't believe in morality at all, but you're more of a rare exception, than the rule here.

A way to think of the question, is what are people implying when they refer to a rule as moral? Are there seemingly universal components at place here, like implying an ought, even if the actual rules are not one and same with each other? Are there features in which the implications of moral prescription are distinct from non-moral ones? I think the answer here is yes, even if one were a moral nihilist.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: