Another attack on moral subjectivism
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15-07-2015, 02:43 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(15-07-2015 12:57 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  I think the problem I see for individuals such as yourself, is all the features of moral prescriptions are present, all the implications are in place, that you just attempt to encapsulate it in a different language, in this case as expressions "likes and dislikes", without particularly realizing how the new terminology is not entirely accurate, and leaves out the implications of moral language.

Do you mean that you think that deep down I must believe in an objective morality, and that my denial of it is a kind dishonesty with myself or others?

(15-07-2015 12:57 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  If you tell your child you don't like torturing animals just for fun, you're not really saying the same thing as if you were to state that you don't like rap music. In the case of animal torture, your conveying a rule, an ought, and obligation, to your child, some prescriptive, regardless if you believe your obligated in the same way, as you require him to be. Where as when state you don’t like rap music, you’re merely stating something descriptive about yourself.

Some parents won't let their kids date outside their race. Is it wrong for people to date outside their race? All parents have different goals for their kids. That doesn't lead us to any truth.

(15-07-2015 12:57 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  You seem unable to articulate why you impart this rule on your child, but I think we might be on the same page here. The reason is that we desire our children to be of a certain character, embody certain virtues and values. Virtues and values most of us would associate with the meaning of a good person. We see something unwholesome about a character that finds enjoyment in torturing animals just for fun, which is not particularly there in a relationship to a child that doesn’t.

You could use the word unwholesome if you like, but I'll continue to regard animal torture as something that I just don't like.

(15-07-2015 12:57 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Theses values you impose, are not one's you chose, but conditioned to cherish, and impose on them, whether by nurture or nature, or a combination of the two, as you seem to suggest. There is a sense in which the sort of character we want our children to embody, is one we feel nudged to embody as well, even if we don’t particularly embody those values all that well. A philandering father, likely doesn’t wish his children to imitate him.

Fair enough.

(15-07-2015 12:57 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Morality is an easy thing to escape when we consider it in a consequentialist perspective, where it’s easy to conflate with political concerns, but not so easy to escape when we close the walls a bit, into that interpersonal space, like that of a family, where the problems of morality being reduced to matters of likes and dislikes become more apparent.

I still say it's easy to escape all the time. I used to believe in an objective morality, and I used to believe that Christianity was true. I'm grown up now and realize that those are only products of human imagination.
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15-07-2015, 02:46 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(15-07-2015 02:27 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(15-07-2015 02:05 PM)Stevil Wrote:  For something to be considered evidence for it, we need the evidence to distinguish it from the null hypothesis (in this case, rules necessary for survival of the individual and stability of the society within which the individual participates.

What renders a rule, "a rule necessary for survival"?

Does the rule have to be explicitly prescribed for the sake of survival? Or is any rule even if it indirectly benefits the survival and stability of society classify as a rule of survival in your view?

Matt wants his children to be kindhearted, embody the values he holds, and therefore would prohibit them from torturing animals for fun, even if it were perfectly legal to do so. Matt structures the rules regarding his children to foster the sort of character he wants his children to embody. This is likely to produce children who add to the stability and survival of society, though that's not really Matt's reasons for the rules in the first place. In your view do these rules classic as non-moral rules, but survival rules? Since the rules at least indirectly affect that in a positive way.

How about the sort of common refrain about the immorality of slavery by the abolitionist? Since the prohibition of slavery benefited the survival and stability of society, does it mean the "wrongness" was not an expression of a moral transgression, but rather one harmful to survival, therefore negating any moral overtones?

Disclaimer, I don't have kids. Maybe we should refer to them as hypothetical kids?
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15-07-2015, 03:18 PM (This post was last modified: 15-07-2015 04:42 PM by Tomasia.)
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(15-07-2015 02:43 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  ome parents won't let their kids date outside their race. Is it wrong for people to date outside their race?

While you may find many parents who oppose their children dating outside their race, if you asked them why, they would provide a variety of different reasons, none of them would likely respond that it’s because “they don’t like it”. I belong to an ethnic community which strongly frowns upon marrying other races. Some of the reasons provided, are beliefs that other races are more inclined to divorce, higher rates or marital failure, etc.., usually based on antidotal accounts, and rarely ever based on any real facts. Some reasons are more pragmatic, such as the it would harder for everyone to relate to someone outside the race, harder for that individual to fit in, and understand the sort of unique experiences of the community, etc…etc…

Quote:All parents have different goals for their kids. That doesn't lead us to any truth.

Except of course this notion of goals, which we haven’t particularly chosen, but endowed upon us from one source or the other, which we cannot escape, in which we try to instill, and enforce in our children as well.

Quote:You could use the word unwholesome if you like, but I'll continue to regard animal torture as something that I just don't like.

But not merely something you don’t like, but something you would impose rules on your children to prohibit them from doing so. And something in which you would keep them from potential mates who derived pleasure from doing so.

You don’t like a variety of things, but this thing that you don’t like, you dislike in a very special sort of way, that perhaps is inadequately described as "not liking". We are talking about something you want to restrict your own children from liking as well, something that would make you averse to individuals that like it. If you run across a man who enjoys torturing animals just for fun, you’d probably think to yourself, that there’s something not quite right about this man. Something you might not say about your friend who eats meat from time to time.

Quote:I still say it's easy to escape all the time

I guess that depends on what you mean by escape. I don’t think you escape the man holding you captive, by just throwing a different dress on him. Cleary you can’t escape the sort of values you aim to embody, nor can your escape that sense in which you raise your children to embody them either. We’re just a cog in the wheel in that regard.
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15-07-2015, 03:19 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(15-07-2015 02:46 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Disclaimer, I don't have kids. Maybe we should refer to them as hypothetical kids?

Or we can just refer to a hypothetical Matt. Smile
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16-07-2015, 05:50 AM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(15-07-2015 03:18 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(15-07-2015 02:43 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  ome parents won't let their kids date outside their race. Is it wrong for people to date outside their race?

While you may find many parents who oppose their children dating outside their race, if you asked them why, they would provide a variety of different reasons, none of them would likely respond that it’s because “they don’t like it”. I belong to an ethnic community which strongly frowns upon marrying other races. Some of the reasons provided, are beliefs that other races are more inclined to divorce, higher rates or marital failure, etc.., usually based on antidotal accounts, and rarely ever based on any real facts. Some reasons are more pragmatic, such as the it would harder for everyone to relate to someone outside the race, harder for that individual to fit in, and understand the sort of unique experiences of the community, etc…etc…

Quote:All parents have different goals for their kids. That doesn't lead us to any truth.

Except of course this notion of goals, which we haven’t particularly chosen, but endowed upon us from one source or the other, which we cannot escape, in which we try to instill, and enforce in our children as well.

Quote:You could use the word unwholesome if you like, but I'll continue to regard animal torture as something that I just don't like.

But not merely something you don’t like, but something you would impose rules on your children to prohibit them from doing so. And something in which you would keep them from potential mates who derived pleasure from doing so.

You don’t like a variety of things, but this thing that you don’t like, you dislike in a very special sort of way, that perhaps is inadequately described as "not liking". We are talking about something you want to restrict your own children from liking as well, something that would make you averse to individuals that like it. If you run across a man who enjoys torturing animals just for fun, you’d probably think to yourself, that there’s something not quite right about this man. Something you might not say about your friend who eats meat from time to time.

Quote:I still say it's easy to escape all the time

I guess that depends on what you mean by escape. I don’t think you escape the man holding you captive, by just throwing a different dress on him. Cleary you can’t escape the sort of values you aim to embody, nor can your escape that sense in which you raise your children to embody them either. We’re just a cog in the wheel in that regard.

Nothing you said here makes me question my position of nihilism.

Some parents murder their children, some beat them severely, some force their children to go to religious schools, etc.

I still don't learn anything about ought's. All that I learn is that all parents approach parenting differently. Still no right and wrong.
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16-07-2015, 06:26 AM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(16-07-2015 05:50 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Nothing you said here makes me question my position of nihilism.

And I'm just saying your case for moral nihilism is rather weak, and I think more of a result of lacking a belief in God, than as product of taking into account the various facts, the components of moral perceptions.

Let's say the God questions was entirely absent here, and a man went around observing people moral prescriptions and beliefs, and the various component that they go into this, this individual would be unlikely to hold your moral nihilistic views. He may in fact be a moral nihilist, but he'd have to make a number of concession that many nihilist here won't. I think moral nihilism, stems from a corner created by disputes about moral philosophy, a concession to theistic criticisms of subjective morality, while ignoring morality as it's perceived by the average person, that moral prescription don't break down to a matter of likes a dislikes, at the very least the amount to false beliefs, in fact illusory, that are not particularly escapable.

If you want to make an argument for nihilism that's persuasive, that would lead other atheists to side with you, you'd have to take all this into account, rather brushing everything under the rug, and imagine there's nothing under the rug.

A position like Michael Ruse's would be a good start, it doesn't require the sort of denial of facts for it's case:

"Morality is just a matter of emotions, like liking ice cream and sex and hating toothache and marking student papers. But it is, and has to be, a funny kind of emotion. It has to pretend that it is not that at all! If we thought that morality was no more than liking or not liking spinach, then pretty quickly it would break down. Before long, we would find ourselves saying something like: "Well, morality is a jolly good thing from a personal point of view. When I am hungry or sick, I can rely on my fellow humans to help me. But really it is all bullshit, so when they need help I can and should avoid putting myself out. There is nothing there for me." The trouble is that everyone would start saying this, and so very quickly there would be no morality and society would collapse and each and every one of us would suffer.

So morality has to come across as something that is more than emotion. It has to appear to be objective, even though really it is subjective. "Why should I be good? Why should you be good? Because that is what morality demands of us. It is bigger than the both of us. It is laid on us and we must accept it, just like we must accept that 2 + 2 = 4." I am not saying that we always are moral, but that we always know that we should be moral.

Am I now giving the game away? Now you know that morality is an illusion put in place by your genes to make you a social cooperator, what's to stop you behaving like an ancient Roman? Well, nothing in an objective sense. But you are still a human with your gene-based psychology working flat out to make you think you should be moral. It has been said that the truth will set you free. Don't believe it. David Hume knew the score. It doesn't matter how much philosophical reflection can show that your beliefs and behaviour have no rational foundation, your psychology will make sure you go on living in a normal, happy manner."

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree...philosophy
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16-07-2015, 08:52 AM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(16-07-2015 06:26 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  And I'm just saying your case for moral nihilism is rather weak, and I think more of a result of lacking a belief in God, than as product of taking into account the various facts, the components of moral perceptions.

You're going to have to give me something more than nature and nurture to convince me otherwise.

Some people's nature and nurture leads them to be serial killers, and other's nature and nurture lead them to be charitable people. This doesn't tell me that people ought to be charitable any more than they ought to be serial killers. It would be absurd to believe that people ought to be serial killers, and likewise, it's absurd to believe that people ought to be charitable. A nihilist can say "I prefer charitable people to serial killers," but not that one is objectively better than the other.

(16-07-2015 06:26 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Let's say the God questions was entirely absent here, and a man went around observing people moral prescriptions and beliefs, and the various component that they go into this, this individual would be unlikely to hold your moral nihilistic views. He may in fact be a moral nihilist, but he'd have to make a number of concession that many nihilist here won't.

Which concessions?

(16-07-2015 06:26 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  I think moral nihilism, stems from a corner created by disputes about moral philosophy, a concession to theistic criticisms of subjective morality, while ignoring morality as it's perceived by the average person, that moral prescription don't break down to a matter of likes a dislikes, at the very least the amount to false beliefs, in fact illusory, that are not particularly escapable.

I don't think I'm ignoring morality as it's perceived by the average person. Actually, I think I used to perceive morality in the same way as the average person. That is, I thought there was an absolute and objective morality, and I also believed in god. What led to the deterioration of both of those beliefs was learning how the world really works. When bears kill other bears, or chimps kill other chimps, no one claims immorality. It doesn't make sense to me that oughts would only apply to humans. Did oughts apply to Neanderthals? Do oughts apply to chimps? Exactly where on the evolutionary chain do oughts suddenly pop into the picture?
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16-07-2015, 02:09 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(16-07-2015 08:52 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  It doesn't make sense to me that oughts would only apply to humans. Did oughts apply to Neanderthals? Do oughts apply to chimps? Exactly where on the evolutionary chain do oughts suddenly pop into the picture?
Once Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of right and wrong LOL.
Sin then entered the world because Adam and Eve knowingly choose to do wrong from then on.


It's all bullshit, as you know. Neither you nor myself see a question such as "is X wrong" as coherent because the question is incomplete. It assumes much and hence is up for interpretation and hence is personal and likely different for various people at various times.

Neither you nor myself eat from the tree of knowledge of right or wrong. We are incapable of sin, making Jesus death a silly irrelevant idealistic dream.

A Christian cannot accept that we are not part of their convoluted ideas and concepts. Tomasia is backed into a corner, he must insists that we know the difference between right and wrong because otherwise his religious beliefs are null and void.

It is perfectly reasonable to not believe in rights and wrongs, not believe in moral obligations. We have reasoned a possible scenario to explain human behaviour without the existence of rights and wrongs. This makes an argument for god and/or an argument for moral rights and wrongs on the ground of being out of necessity to be invalid.
As you are well aware, we have no obligation to prove that morals don't exist, the burdon of proof in on those that support the idea of morality. They cannot prove it, they cannot even define it. At best they tell us it is too complicated and that the answer is innate or intuitive. This approach fails intellectually and is emotional pleading.
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16-07-2015, 03:49 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(15-07-2015 02:27 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  What renders a rule, "a rule necessary for survival"?
I define survival as things that threaten your own survival and freedoms (and extended especially to those you care about e.g. wife, kids, parents, friends)
Since we are social creatures rather than loners in the bush, we also require a safe and stable society within which to interact.
In this way I need an enforced rule for this society that people don't go around killing each other.
Also need a rule that people don't steal stuff as our possessions directly impact our survival and hence we will fight over these things.
Need a rule against physical assaults, a rule against fraud etc. All these tie into survival rather than an idealistic view of what is right and wrong.
I couldn't care less about whether people are behaving righteously or not. People do not need my permission or support regarding the way they live their lives. But I do care if their actions endanger me. Inevitably there are limited resources so there will be a degree of competition.

(15-07-2015 02:27 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Does the rule have to be explicitly prescribed for the sake of survival? Or is any rule even if it indirectly benefits the survival and stability of society classify as a rule of survival in your view?
It's hard to survive in a dangerous and unstable society. I personally don't want a governing body with too much power, so I will not support laws which do not focus on things that endager or threaten my society.
Laws regarding sanctity (e.g. sanctity of marriage, of sex etc) I will not support.

(15-07-2015 02:27 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Matt wants his children to be kindhearted, embody the values he holds, and therefore would prohibit them from torturing animals for fun, even if it were perfectly legal to do so.
This is an interesting point. At what point does the way we treat other animals cause instability to our society?
We can take away the freedoms of cows, fence them in and they do no revolt against us. We can send them off to the meat works and they do not revolt against us. Other people do not revolt on behalf of the cows, society remains safe and stable.
We can raise chickens in cages, and they do not revolt, people do not revolt, society remains safe and stable.
We can throw live crayfish into a pot of boiling water and they do not revolt, people do not revolt, society remains safe and stable.
Now I don't personally feel happy for the crayfish, I can feel empathy for them, I can feel empathy for the chickens, for the cows killed in Halal methods, but my emotional response doesn't equate to rights and wrongs. I can't logically reason that my emotional response is more important than the emotional response of other people. I can't then justify forcing other members of society to conform to my opinions on this matter without first conceeding that it is OK for my government to force other people's opinions onto me.
But an approach I could take, is to personally seek free range foods and non halal meats. Personally I could seek to campaign and educate other people, attempt to convince them to choose to do the as me. Would I do this out of moral obligation? No. If I did do it, I would do it out of personal selfish inteterest, because it pleases me if we avoid harming these animals.
So at what point would I support government in forcing others to comply? Certainly if the actions make society unsafe. If enough people are willing to risk their own freedoms and safety to violently fight for the animals, then we need an enforced law to prevent this revolt.
Not because it is right or wrong, but because the reaction of a significant amount of people will cause society to become unsafe.
(15-07-2015 02:27 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  Matt structures the rules regarding his children to foster the sort of character he wants his children to embody.
It's his kids, his perogattive. But at what degree would he be willing to go in order to force my kids against their will, against my will to conform to his opinions?
(15-07-2015 02:27 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  In your view do these rules classic as non-moral rules, but survival rules? Since the rules at least indirectly affect that in a positive way.
As long as society is safe and stable without the enforced rules then these rules (IMO) have the potential to qualify as moral rules.
The next step is to ascertain if he is doing it for himself. If it makes him feel good that his kids aren't being mean to other animals. If we took away that "feel good" would Matt still be interested in enforcing this rule with his kids?
Does Matt empathise with insects? Is he fine with his kids spraying insects with insect spray, having them wriggle and twitch for a day as their slow death plays out?

(15-07-2015 02:27 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  How about the sort of common refrain about the immorality of slavery by the abolitionist? Since the prohibition of slavery benefited the survival and stability of society, does it mean the "wrongness" was not an expression of a moral transgression, but rather one harmful to survival, therefore negating any moral overtones?
Slavery is a matter of survival rather than morality, especially given the globally integrated world that we currently live within. Country borders aren't a separation of races anymore and mixed race people are common place. How can we draw the lines now days?
The state of the world hasn't changed due to moral beliefs, it has changed due to advancing technology and our ability to now quickly travel great distances. It means we aren't just a tribe anymore, we are forced to be more inclusive.
Organisations that promote exclusive borders (such as religious organisations) are an outdated model and will die off.
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16-07-2015, 05:29 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
It's one of those never ending debates.
Where the topic or terms are loosley defined and there is no way to validate. Differing "intuitive" assumptions are made, semantic differences ensue and everyone talks past each other.

The position of moral nihilst is unique to the other positions because instead of saying we can know that "X is immoral" because "Morality is based on Y" as all the other moral positions say.
Nihilism instead asks
"What do you mean when you say X is immoral?"
"What is morality?"
"How can we verify this?"
"When you say that morality is based on Y, what do you mean by Y?, how can we verify that Y exists?"

For example, a person whom believes in "Moral Sense Theory" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_sense_theory.
They might say that morality is based on our emotional responses to events, calling this our intuitive moral sense. For them, Y = empathy.
But if a nihilist points out that a person can experience empathy even in an event which most people would consider as non morally significant e.g. a still born. The "Moral Sense Theory" proponents still insist that morality is based on empathy. I presume this is because they consider Y not to be the entirety of a moral sense, but only part of the equation. Of course it comes down to an undefined personal interpretation. "I have experienced empathy and in this situation I have interpreted my empathy as being a response to a moral transgression".

Trying to get the proponent to articulate how they are able to distinguish between non moral transgression empathy and moral transgression empathy, the answer is, "I'll tell you it when I see it" rather than offering some documented criteria.
A moral nihilist doesn't accept "It's innate, it's intuitive, I'll just know at the time and then I'll give you the answer" this is an appeal to authority.

If they say, but you should know too because it is innate and intuitive, then this is appeal to objective morality.

If they say but you have interpreted it incorrectly, your moral compass is broken/corrupt, then this is an appeal to the no true Scotsman.
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