Another attack on moral subjectivism
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23-07-2015, 03:35 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(23-07-2015 05:03 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(22-07-2015 05:46 PM)Stevil Wrote:  You'd think, if moral sense really exists and can be observed by observing behaviours in infants and if objective moral truths really do exist then we have a method of discovery.

No, I never claimed this. Moral senses can exist, without there being any objective right or wrong.
Well then what is it that these senses are sensing?
If they are sensing something other than morals then wouldn't it be inappropriate to call them moral senses?
(23-07-2015 05:03 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  A moral nihilist can accept that there’s a moral core, as Rosenberg does.
Please don't name drop. I don't care what Rosenberg does.
Instead, explain to me the concept of moral core and how there can be a moral core when morals are make believe.
Perhaps again this is an unfortunate and misleading label for something that has nothing to do with morals.
(23-07-2015 05:03 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  That what’s being implied by a moral prescription can be recognized, while acknowledging the various parts of it as merely an illusion, like those who believe the self, consciousness, etc… are illusions.
Sure, some people take an abstract concept and assume it is a tangible thing because they are unable to think it through. They appeal to their own incredulity. So what?
I have pointed out that the experiment/report you referenced was faulty because it didn't distinguish harmfull things from moral indescressions. It conflated the two, and ignored the harmful side and instead labelled in as "moral" which gives it a more mystic aire than the more mundane alternative based on harm.
You choose to use the mystical approach calling it "moral prescription" where as I would use the mundane approach calling it "harm prescriptions" rules that are important because without them the self is in danger and the society with wich the self participates within is in danger.
Calling it "moral prescription" is misleading and in my opinion dishonest.
(23-07-2015 05:03 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
Quote:We could discover if same sex marriage is immoral or not merely by observing the behaviours of infants at the various types of weddings. We could discover if it is immoral to work on the sabbath by observing the behaviours in infants in the presence of a working person, based on what day of the week it is.

An infant is quite unlikely to make any of these distinctions at all. One wedding being no different than any other wedding. Thursday being no different than Saturday.
That's why the experiment would be excellent.
You ridiculed my take on the report because you suggested that the infants arent able to think things through, that they don't disturb the outcome by injecting their own interpretation, that instead they had an innate intutive moral perception.
Well, I would still like to know why this innate intutive moral perception (this moral sense) doesn't trigger at a gay wedding or when someone is working on the sabbath. If it is innate and intuitive the little infants don't need to understand it, all they need to do is feel their little spidey moral senses tingling. This is your explaination, that they just sense it is wrong, not that they have the ability to describe why it is wrong.
But now you are back tracking and twisting to suggest that they actually need to think through why it is wrong. You ridiculed me when I suggested that infants can think things through.
Please be consistent.
(23-07-2015 05:03 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
Quote:…results and you will come up with some convoluted reason as to why the infants behaviour didn't reflect what their moral senses where innately telling them.

I don’t think there is something that innately tells them that Saturdays are different than Thursdays.
Exactly my point. There is no innate intuitive moral sense. Evolution has not given it to us and neither has any god.
(23-07-2015 05:03 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
Quote:, I have pointed out that it seems there has been no distiction between actions which are percieved as immoral vs actions which are dangerous to the self or the society and hence it seems these two (morality vs danger) are conflated.


I’ve pointed out the equivocation aspect here, when it came to slavery, which you ignored even responding to.
I saw no point in your slavery example.
Slavery is another dangerous and harming thing. Let's focus on things that you believe to be immoral that don't relate to harm. I have given many examples of these things i.e. gay marriage, working on sabbath, blashpeme, recreational sex...

(23-07-2015 05:03 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Two actions can be the same, and often entail similar results, yet motivated by entirely different reasons. The same way two people can oppose a law, or action for entirely different reasons. Just because acts appear the same, doesn’t mean there aren’t any underlying distinctions, when in fact there are. I might only drink milk because it taste good, with no regard for it’s health benefits (he might still drink it even if it were harmful to his health). Another man might drink milk exclusively for it’s health benefits (he could in fact detest the taste of it). Just because they both drink milk, and they both gain the same health benefits from doing so, to claim the reasons for why they do, are one and the same is engaging in a equivocation fallacy.
Exactly, so there is no point to the experiment with the infants where the puppet interfers with a ball because we can't know if the infant see the danger of a puppet that steals toys or sees the immorality of it. So we need to adjust the experiment and use something that offers no danger to anyone, blaspheme for example.
(23-07-2015 05:03 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Your argument boils down to claiming that since both actions result in health benefits, that there's no distinction between the two. A claim that is obviously false.
No, my argument says that the experiment is flawed because it doesn't distinguish between the two causes. The experiment assumes one cause and ignores the other as a possibility.
It claims that the results prove an intutive moral sense but ignores that the kids think a rule is necessary to avoid the dangers when other kids are allowed to hit each other or when a puppet is predisposed to stealing toys.
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23-07-2015, 04:00 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(22-07-2015 08:47 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  
(22-07-2015 11:48 AM)DLJ Wrote:  What stops you from murdering the rich (or the poor or anyone else)?

I'm an American, we are the rich lol! Sadcryface

I live in Asia, we are the even richer Big Grin

(22-07-2015 08:47 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  As for why I don't like murder in general, I would have to again go back to some combination of nature and nurture. I was raised with traditional American values in a world of good and evil, right and wrong, heaven and hell, God, Satan, Jesus, and Santa Claus. I took pride in doing the right thing. I placed extreme high value on truth and honesty. I found pleasure in helping friends, acquaintances, and strangers. There is no doubt in my mind that my upbringing played a vital role in shaping my personality and desires. However, we can never escape our biology. Take sexual desire for example. Most of us have sexual desire even when we don't want kids, hence the huge contraception industry. I believe that our biology might play a larger role, but that sometimes nurture can "over-rule". Take for example someone who might have been badly sexually abused. It's not hard to imagine how that could have an enormous effect on the sexual desires of the victim. In the case of contraception, biology wins. In the case of sexual disorders due to sexual abuse, nurture wins. I believe that all of our desires work this way, and with each of us having different nature and nurture, we each have our own palette of desires and values.

Cool. So, through a combination of innate and environmental factors, you have arrived at a state of having a set of personal ethics.

One of these is in regard to taking a human life which will be, in ordinary circumstances, unacceptable yet acceptable under certain conditions.

This set of personal ethics is, no doubt, sometimes in alignment with and other times at odds with the organisational ethics of societies to which you attach yourself (family, work, sports club, state, nation etc.).

How do you deal with situations where other people's beliefs / desires / values or other group's beliefs / desires / values are at odds with your own?

Obviously, unlike Tomasia, you have no divine book of lore to fall back on and no doubt you see natural processes at work but do you see it purely from a genetic / memetic perspective whereby fitness will prevail (whether you like it or not) or do you see sense in battling (verbally / physically / biologically / culturally) so that your preferred set of ethics prevails?

As you can see from these questions, there are quite a few potential 'shoulds' and 'shalls' implying 'oughts'.

Even the 'do nothing and let nature take its course' position, implies an ought.

By the way, these are some of the questions I have been throwing at my students this week. They have been learning about methods / techniques to change other people's behaviour. I can never resist asking them if burning people at the stake should still be an option (and if not, why not?).

Big Grin

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23-07-2015, 05:48 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(23-07-2015 04:00 PM)DLJ Wrote:  Obviously, unlike Tomasia, you have no divine book of lore to fall back on and no doubt you see natural processes at work but do you see it purely from a genetic / memetic perspective whereby fitness will prevail (whether you like it or not) or do you see sense in battling (verbally / physically / biologically / culturally) so that your preferred set of ethics prevails?

As you can see from these questions, there are quite a few potential 'shoulds' and 'shalls' implying 'oughts'.

Even the 'do nothing and let nature take its course' position, implies an ought.

By the way, these are some of the questions I have been throwing at my students this week. They have been learning about methods / techniques to change other people's behaviour. I can never resist asking them if burning people at the stake should still be an option (and if not, why not?).
I know this was directed at Matt, but I thought it a genuinely interesting set of questions that I thought I'd like to see how my own outlook applies to it.

Ignore at your discretion :-)


" do you see it purely from a genetic / memetic perspective "
Great that you are including "memetic" and not assuming genetics is always the cause.
"do you see sense in battling (verbally / physically / biologically / culturally) so that your preferred set of ethics prevails?"
If it is something that isn't a threat to myself or society, for example, caged chickens, if I was passionate enough about the plight of these chickens then I might personally choose free range products at the supermarket.
Or perhaps if I wanted to influence beyond my own personal actions then I might bring to people's attention a documentary or expose that might be screening on TV, perhaps if I were so passionate I might join an organised group which focuses on promoting information to the public about this topic.

But ultimately I would respect that it is each person's own decision and not something for me to aggressively force onto them, not for me to ostracise people or to shame them. It would be my personal challenge for myself not to project my passion for the topic into hate or anger towards other people that don't share the same passion. Ultimately my own opinion is not greater than theirs, my emotions do not tap into universal truths, I do not assume that they are dumber than me or that they have a corrupt moral compass and need me to correct it for them. I am not out to control other people.
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24-07-2015, 10:00 AM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(23-07-2015 04:00 PM)DLJ Wrote:  Cool. So, through a combination of innate and environmental factors, you have arrived at a state of having a set of personal ethics.

I would say that I have arrived at a state of having "likes" and "desires". You can call it ethics as long as you understand that there is no implication of "shoulds" and "oughts" in my case.

(23-07-2015 04:00 PM)DLJ Wrote:  One of these is in regard to taking a human life which will be, in ordinary circumstances, unacceptable yet acceptable under certain conditions.

Hard to say. Is abortion ordinary circumstances? What about partial birth? I don't see much difference between partial birth abortion and infanticide.
http://www.mrctv.org/videos/warning-grap...ion-filmed

I don't have a problem with capital punishment.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, even though I don't like black licorice, I wouldn't call eating it unacceptable.

For the most part, if people aren't affecting me, then I leave them to their own devices, but one of the beautiful things about nihilism, is that I can also choose to interfere with anything that's going on anywhere for any reason. For example, if I want to try to stop someone from abusing their child, I can do so. I don't believe that "we should leave people to their own devices," even though I often do.

(23-07-2015 04:00 PM)DLJ Wrote:  This set of personal ethics is, no doubt, sometimes in alignment with and other times at odds with the organisational ethics of societies to which you attach yourself (family, work, sports club, state, nation etc.).

How do you deal with situations where other people's beliefs / desires / values or other group's beliefs / desires / values are at odds with your own?

That's pretty vague, it depends on the topic, but conversation, debate, threats, whatever it takes, same as everyone else

(23-07-2015 04:00 PM)DLJ Wrote:  Obviously, unlike Tomasia, you have no divine book of lore to fall back on and no doubt you see natural processes at work but do you see it purely from a genetic / memetic perspective whereby fitness will prevail (whether you like it or not) or do you see sense in battling (verbally / physically / biologically / culturally) so that your preferred set of ethics prevails?

I do like the concept of government and laws. Again, I'm fine with interfering in the lives of others. For example, I would support efforts to stop a genocide taking place on the other side of the globe from me, not because I think it might have an effect on me, but only because I don't like genocide. Perhaps that makes me a bit of a hypocrite though, because I'm fine with killing animals for food even though no one needs to eat meat.

nihilism = nothing is wrong (nor right) - even interfering in other peoples lives

(23-07-2015 04:00 PM)DLJ Wrote:  As you can see from these questions, there are quite a few potential 'shoulds' and 'shalls' implying 'oughts'.

Potential, sure. You might even catch me making a slip of the tongue like "man that's fucked up," or "that's really terrible," after all, that's just the way people talk. If you ask me to clarify though, I will gladly explain that it's only my experience/opinion of the phenomena, not the phenomena itself that is "fucked up" or "terrible".

(23-07-2015 04:00 PM)DLJ Wrote:  Even the 'do nothing and let nature take its course' position, implies an ought.

Agreed. It's my understanding that some moral relativists take the stance that, "everyone has a different morality, therefore we shouldn't interfere." Not me.

Nihilism = not wrong to interfere (neither is it right)
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24-07-2015, 02:23 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(24-07-2015 10:00 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  For example, I would support efforts to stop a genocide taking place on the other side of the globe from me, not because I think it might have an effect on me, but only because I don't like genocide. Perhaps that makes me a bit of a hypocrite though,
Yes, it does make you a hypocrite.
The system you are describing is a "might makes right" scenario.
You are endorsing the use of force based on likes. This means you are supportive of whomever is in power using force/violence etc to coerce others according to the likes of the person or group in power.

Most likely it won't be you that is in power.
You can complain,of course, if you are being forced to do something, or forced not to do something, at the whim of the person in power, but you will be a hypocrite because if you were in power then you would do the same thing.

That's why my approach is to treat law and use of force from a government perspective as needing to be justified based on safety and stability of society so that whimsical wants, likes and dislikes are less likely to be used to control me.

It ultimately becomes an amoral society, one based on tolerance and which grows diversity. People won't always be happy about what others are doing, however they will come not to expect it to be their right to judge or interfere in the affairs of others.

(24-07-2015 10:00 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  
(23-07-2015 04:00 PM)DLJ Wrote:  Even the 'do nothing and let nature take its course' position, implies an ought.

Agreed. It's my understanding that some moral relativists take the stance that, "everyone has a different morality, therefore we shouldn't interfere." Not me.

Nihilism = not wrong to interfere (neither is it right)
This is correct.
A nihilist can be a hypocrite, they can interfere, they can choose not to interfere, they can be inconsistent, they can be illogical, they can be dangerous, they can be generous but they can never be right or wrong, good or bad, not in their own eyes anyways. But their is nothing to stop other people judging them as such.
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24-07-2015, 03:10 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(24-07-2015 02:23 PM)Stevil Wrote:  Yes, it does make you a hypocrite.
The system you are describing is a "might makes right" scenario.
You are endorsing the use of force based on likes. This means you are supportive of whomever is in power using force/violence etc to coerce others according to the likes of the person or group in power.

If someone had the goal to rape and kill your wife, and you interfered with their goal, would that make you a hypocrite?

(24-07-2015 02:23 PM)Stevil Wrote:  Most likely it won't be you that is in power.
You can complain,of course, if you are being forced to do something, or forced not to do something, at the whim of the person in power, but you will be a hypocrite because if you were in power then you would do the same thing.

"forced to do something, or forced not to do something, at the whim of the person in power"

Isn't that the current system of government we see all over the world? Don't people complain all of the time?

(24-07-2015 02:23 PM)Stevil Wrote:  That's why my approach is to treat law and use of force from a government perspective as needing to be justified based on safety and stability of society so that whimsical wants, likes and dislikes are less likely to be used to control me.

Isn't a safe and stable society merely a "like"? Couldn't someone desire a chaotic and violent society?

(24-07-2015 02:23 PM)Stevil Wrote:  It ultimately becomes an amoral society, one based on tolerance and which grows diversity. People won't always be happy about what others are doing, however they will come not to expect it to be their right to judge or interfere in the affairs of others.

The problem with this is that we all have unlimited rights, and we are all vulnerable to having all of our rights removed. I don't really believe in the concept of rights.

George Carlin said it best.



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24-07-2015, 06:39 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(24-07-2015 02:23 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(24-07-2015 10:00 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  For example, I would support efforts to stop a genocide taking place on the other side of the globe from me, not because I think it might have an effect on me, but only because I don't like genocide. Perhaps that makes me a bit of a hypocrite though,
Yes, it does make you a hypocrite.
The system you are describing is a "might makes right" scenario.
You are endorsing the use of force based on likes. This means you are supportive of whomever is in power using force/violence etc to coerce others according to the likes of the person or group in power.

Most likely it won't be you that is in power.
You can complain,of course, if you are being forced to do something, or forced not to do something, at the whim of the person in power, but you will be a hypocrite because if you were in power then you would do the same thing.

That's why my approach is to treat law and use of force from a government perspective as needing to be justified based on safety and stability of society so that whimsical wants, likes and dislikes are less likely to be used to control me.

It ultimately becomes an amoral society, one based on tolerance and which grows diversity. People won't always be happy about what others are doing, however they will come not to expect it to be their right to judge or interfere in the affairs of others.

(24-07-2015 10:00 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Agreed. It's my understanding that some moral relativists take the stance that, "everyone has a different morality, therefore we shouldn't interfere." Not me.

Nihilism = not wrong to interfere (neither is it right)
This is correct.
A nihilist can be a hypocrite, they can interfere, they can choose not to interfere, they can be inconsistent, they can be illogical, they can be dangerous, they can be generous but they can never be right or wrong, good or bad, not in their own eyes anyways. But their is nothing to stop other people judging them as such.

After further thought, I think you're just flat out wrong. I think that a nihilist almost always escapes hypocrisy for the simple reason that he never claims anything to be wrong. The hypocrite is he who claims "x" to be wrong, and then does "x" in private. In other words, the hypocrite actually likes x, but says otherwise. It's really a form of dishonesty. If your definition of hypocrisy is to include simply not liking x, the it would be very hard for anyone to escape it, and the word would become all but meaningless. Think of it this way. Is a man who hunts a deer a hypocrite? The man certainly doesn't want to be hunted himself. Does it make him a hypocrite if he hunts for deer? How about if he hunts for other people? I would say the only way he could be a hypocrite is if he says "thou shall not hunt deer," but then does it himself. He doesn't have to enjoy being hunted himself.
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24-07-2015, 07:25 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(24-07-2015 06:39 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  After further thought, I think you're just flat out wrong. I think that a nihilist almost always escapes hypocrisy for the simple reason that he never claims anything to be wrong.
I wasn't talking about from the perspective of labeling something right or wrong.
I was talking about from the desire not to have a government force their likes and dislikes onto you.

If you admit that you want to force your dislikes onto others. i.e. let's say you dislike caged chickens so you make it against the law for farmers to have caged chickens. You are forcing this onto people, making some farmers go out of business, making the price of chicken go up so now poor people can't afford to eat chickens or eggs.

But now, lets say you aren't in the power seat. The person who is, doesn't like interratial marriage. They force you to split up with your Spanish wife. They state that the reason for the law is because the prime minister or president doesn't like interracial marriage. How can you complain if you agree that it is fine for the governing power to force their own likes and dislikes onto the populus?
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24-07-2015, 07:32 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(24-07-2015 03:10 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  
(24-07-2015 02:23 PM)Stevil Wrote:  Yes, it does make you a hypocrite.
The system you are describing is a "might makes right" scenario.
You are endorsing the use of force based on likes. This means you are supportive of whomever is in power using force/violence etc to coerce others according to the likes of the person or group in power.

If someone had the goal to rape and kill your wife, and you interfered with their goal, would that make you a hypocrite?
Rapping and killing is unsafe for members of society, it leads to an unstable society, where people will seek bloody vengence, will create gangs and gang warefare.

In contrast, caged chickens isn't unsafe for members of society. Society continues peacefully even when chickens are caged, even when interracial marriages occur, even when gay marriages occur, even when prostitution occurs.

(24-07-2015 03:10 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  "forced to do something, or forced not to do something, at the whim of the person in power"

Isn't that the current system of government we see all over the world? Don't people complain all of the time?
Yes in most places it is the current system. I disagree with the current system.

(24-07-2015 03:10 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Isn't a safe and stable society merely a "like"? Couldn't someone desire a chaotic and violent society?
Not really, no.
A government is merely a representative of a society, charged with helping the society to persist and thrive.
If the government valued a chaotic and violent society then the society won't last and they will lose their throne.
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24-07-2015, 07:47 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(24-07-2015 07:25 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(24-07-2015 06:39 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  After further thought, I think you're just flat out wrong. I think that a nihilist almost always escapes hypocrisy for the simple reason that he never claims anything to be wrong.
I wasn't talking about from the perspective of labeling something right or wrong.
I was talking about from the desire not to have a government force their likes and dislikes onto you.

If you admit that you want to force your dislikes onto others. i.e. let's say you dislike caged chickens so you make it against the law for farmers to have caged chickens. You are forcing this onto people, making some farmers go out of business, making the price of chicken go up so now poor people can't afford to eat chickens or eggs.

But now, lets say you aren't in the power seat. The person who is, doesn't like interratial marriage. They force you to split up with your Spanish wife. They state that the reason for the law is because the prime minister or president doesn't like interracial marriage. How can you complain if you agree that it is fine for the governing power to force their own likes and dislikes onto the populus?

That's a fallacy.

You don't have to like every government and every law, to like having a government and laws.
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