Objective Morality
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06-12-2013, 09:01 PM
RE: Objective Morality
(06-12-2013 04:45 PM)Stevil Wrote:  The thing is that a person can look to a computer program, read through the code and know, given the state what the computer will do.

I think you are missing BeccaBoo's point. The point was that you appeared to be erroneously implying that intricacy/complexity entail subjectivity.

Quote:But for each person, their subjective context is different. Each person has different goals, different values, different priorities, different experiences.
We aren't all operating off the same rule book.

Yes but any subjective experience that you can have reduces to patterns of activity in your brain. You normally like reduction so I don't understand why you are resisting it here. Regardless of culture, biography, gender, sexuality, intelligence, education whatever, all of your subjective experience resolves to brain activity. That is commonality that Harris is targeting.
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06-12-2013, 09:44 PM
RE: Objective Morality
(06-12-2013 08:37 PM)Chippy Wrote:  Subjective doesn't entail arbitrary. Harris' proposal about suffering/happiness and brain activity is considered and reasonable.

Quote:So given the definition of morality being a distinction of "right" or "wrong". Honour killings are merely actions that some humans do some of the time. Its not "good", "bad", "evil", "moral" or "immoral" it is just something that is possible.

If we do reconceptualise "right" and "wrong" in terms of Harris' Moral Landsacpe then a society that practices honour killings would be on one of the valleys of the Moral Landscape because--Harris would argue--honour killings produce suffering.
I don't agree with Harris. I don't think it is wrong to cause (human) suffering. In some cases it is desired and necessary, depending on the intended goal. E.g Training for a competitive event, Climbing mountains, Boxing, breaking up with a girlfriend etc

(06-12-2013 08:37 PM)Chippy Wrote:  
Quote:I think this shows a contrast from someone's arbitrary belief that something is wrong or has negative value i.e. gay sex, and thus makes that illegal for everyone even though two strangers having sex has no impact on this person (holder of the belief).

If morality is grounded in human well-being then there is no reason why homosexuality should be prohibited. In fact the implication is that it would be morally wrong for a homosexual to suppress their sexuality.
Unless of course a person views homosexuality as a compulsive sickness, a disorder that requires suppression, treatment and a cure.

But if human well-being and reduction of human suffering were the goal then abortion might well be off the cards, (unless of course you can dehumanise a foetus)
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06-12-2013, 09:55 PM
RE: Objective Morality
(06-12-2013 08:52 PM)Chippy Wrote:  
(06-12-2013 08:36 PM)Taqiyya Mockingbird Wrote:  Oh, look at the equivocation going on here. You can certainly test for pleasure or pain and other very basic sensations, but "well-being" is an extremely vague and complex mental construct that is dependent on a great number of factors that are different in each person. You can't point at this or that activity and say "Oh, here it is -- 'well-being'." "Happiness" and "suffering" are the same.

All subjective experience resolve into states of brains--there are no exceptions. What a subjective state causally depends on is irrelevant to whether it has a neurological basis--it always has a neurological basis and is hence objectively measurable.

Um you forgot the part about "well-being" being a vague mental construct.

Quote:Regardless of whether the subjective experience is as primitive as pain or higher-order such as curiosity or gratitude it is still a pattern of neurological activity and neurological activity is objectively measurable.

Um you forgot the part about "well-being" being a vague mental construct.


Quote:Also, as an aside, given that Harris is a neuroscientist don't you think he would be above such a facile error?

Not particularly. He was dumb enough to allow himself to be rooked into "debating" Craig on a topic that assumed the existence of the gawd-character Craig was out to "prove".

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06-12-2013, 09:57 PM
RE: Objective Morality
(06-12-2013 09:44 PM)Stevil Wrote:  But if human well-being and reduction of human suffering were the goal then abortion might well be off the cards, (unless of course you can dehumanise a foetus

I'm going to have to agree with the conclusion. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise but I believe abortion in many cases to be immoral. Anyone care to enlighten me?

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06-12-2013, 10:07 PM
RE: Objective Morality
(06-12-2013 09:01 PM)Chippy Wrote:  I think you are missing BeccaBoo's point. The point was that you appeared to be erroneously implying that intricacy/complexity entail subjectivity.

Let's piece this conversation together so it can stand in context


(06-12-2013 04:19 PM)BeccaBoo Wrote:  
(06-12-2013 03:00 PM)Stevil Wrote:  If morality or moral obligation is contextual then it isn't objective. If the context is open to interpretation by each individual, then it is merely opinion.

/snip

Just to discuss this one claim above...

If a computer can make the decision based on "if, the"n commands--as it very well could based on circumstances--then it is objective, no matter how nuanced or detailed the criteria. Sophisticated and highly detailed structure does not imply subjectivity.

(06-12-2013 04:45 PM)Stevil Wrote:  The thing is that a person can look to a computer program, read through the code and know, given the state what the computer will do.

But for each person, their subjective context is different. Each person has different goals, different values, different priorities, different experiences.
We aren't all operating off the same rule book.

My point above was that given all the same context (everything the same) except for the person. That the outcome is not predictable because each person is different.


(06-12-2013 09:01 PM)Chippy Wrote:  
Quote:But for each person, their subjective context is different. Each person has different goals, different values, different priorities, different experiences.
We aren't all operating off the same rule book.

Yes but any subjective experience that you can have reduces to patterns of activity in your brain. You normally like reduction so I don't understand why you are resisting it here. Regardless of culture, biography, gender, sexuality, intelligence, education whatever, all of your subjective experience resolves to brain activity. That is commonality that Harris is targeting.
Ultimately we are just a collection of atoms obeying physical laws of nature thus no choices can be made.

But as individuals we do not know everything about everyone. We don't know the state of play of all the atoms and forces acting around us. We cannot always predict with accuracy what "decisions" another person will make. I'm just saying here that people (as best as we are able to see them) are unique, and we cannot really say what their values or goals or beliefs are. We cannot make almighty claims as to what other people ought to do.
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06-12-2013, 10:24 PM
RE: Objective Morality
(06-12-2013 09:44 PM)Stevil Wrote:  I don't agree with Harris. I don't think it is wrong to cause (human) suffering. In some cases it is desired and necessary, depending on the intended goal. E.g Training for a competitive event, Climbing mountains, Boxing, breaking up with a girlfriend etc

Harris doesn't claim that it is absolutely wrong to cause suffering. We've already gone over this.

Quote:Unless of course a person views homosexuality as a compulsive sickness, a disorder that requires suppression, treatment and a cure.

Yes.

Quote:But if human well-being and reduction of human suffering were the goal then abortion might well be off the cards, (unless of course you can dehumanise a foetus)

It would be for late-term abortion.
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06-12-2013, 10:31 PM
RE: Objective Morality
(06-12-2013 10:24 PM)Chippy Wrote:  
Quote:But if human well-being and reduction of human suffering were the goal then abortion might well be off the cards, (unless of course you can dehumanise a foetus)

It would be for late-term abortion.
And if your moral beliefs on this matter causes you to support laws against other people performing late-term abortion (thus oblige police to use force on pregnant women) then I disagree with this philosophy. If Harris' philosophy is this way inclined then I disagree with Harris' philosophy, thus his philosophy is subjective.
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06-12-2013, 10:57 PM
RE: Objective Morality
(06-12-2013 09:55 PM)Taqiyya Mockingbird Wrote:  Um you forgot the part about "well-being" being a vague mental construct.

"Many readers might wonder how can we base our values on something as difficult to define as "well-being"? It seems to me, however, that the concept of well-being is like the concept of physical health: it resists precise definitiin, and yet it is indispensable.[18] In fact, the meanings of both terms seem likely to remain perpetually open to revision as we make progress in science. Today, a person can consider himself physically healthy if he is free of detectable disease, able to exercise, and destined to live into his eighties without suffering obvious decrepitude. But this standard masy change...Such a radical transformation of our view of human health would not suggest that current notions of health and sickness are arbitrary, merely subjective, or culturally constructed." (The Moral Landscape; p.12).

Well-being is essentially what the new field of positive psychology is concerned with understanding and defining. Historically this has been a neglected area of study so Harris' is justified in not being able to provide an exact specification of human well-being. It is sufficient for his argument that we are at this stage able to clearly identify human misery--and that we can do.

Quote:Not particularly. He was dumb enough to allow himself to be rooked into "debating" Craig on a topic that assumed the existence of the gawd-character Craig was out to "prove".

You are a fucking idiot. So Harris is "dumb" because he debated someone he disagrees with? Really? Harris is a public intellectual it is expected that he engages in debates. And a debate is--by defintion--a contest between two competing ideas. What are your qualifications genius? Have you even been to university? If you are willing to call Harris "dumb" then your name calling is clearly meaningless--it has no basis in reality. I'm happy to be as "dumb" as Harris. Fucking idiot.
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06-12-2013, 11:11 PM
RE: Objective Morality
(06-12-2013 10:31 PM)Stevil Wrote:  And if your moral beliefs on this matter causes you to support laws against other people performing late-term abortion (thus oblige police to use force on pregnant women) then I disagree with this philosophy.

When the foetus develops a brain that can experience "well-being" then its interests would have to be taken account of in Harris' scheme. But that doesn't entail that the mother's well-being can be ignored. If the birth will harm the mother then obviously there is a moral conflict. We don't yet have from Harris an ethical system that we can use to resolve competing interests.

Quote:If Harris' philosophy is this way inclined then I disagree with Harris' philosophy, thus his philosophy is subjective.

It doesn't follow that if your disagree with something it is subjective. It could be subjective but not because you disagree with it.

Your statement "his philosophy is subjective" is ambiguous. Both DLJ and I have broken down a normative system into its component parts and discussed each part. Now you are reverting to the generalisation you initially made which motivated the "disassemnly". What part is subjective?
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06-12-2013, 11:19 PM
RE: Objective Morality
(06-12-2013 07:48 PM)Chippy Wrote:  Ok, so are you implying that subjective experiences of suffering and happiness are coming from some place other than the brain? All of your subjective experience is reducible to brain activity and brain activity can be objectively measured.
No, it's more along the lines of "If well-being is achieved in different ways by different people, how do we determine that specific brain states universally correlate with well-being?".

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