Science can answer moral questions
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09-12-2013, 11:28 AM
RE: Science can answer moral questions
(09-12-2013 11:05 AM)nach_in Wrote:  sorry, didn't get much of that Tongue

That's ok - neither did I. Big Grin

I do agree with what you said, though...
Quote:... there is no moral law in reality in the like of natural laws.
Also, being subjective makes it non-universal, and it puts the whole morality discussion back on the table.
I'll just watch from here on. It's for the best. Drinking Beverage

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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09-12-2013, 11:37 AM
RE: Science can answer moral questions
(09-12-2013 10:48 AM)nach_in Wrote:  It is subjective because it's not derived from the objective reality, it may be very reasonable and the whole world could agree, but it would still be subjective. I don't say that in a pejorative way, I'm just using the adjective to point out that there is no moral law in reality in the like of natural laws.
Also, being subjective makes it non-universal, and it puts the whole morality discussion back on the table.

1) You are contradicting yourself here. You say that it is subjective and the whole world could agree. Then you say that being subjective makes it non-universal.
2) More importantly, a subjective statement on which the whole world agrees on ultimately becomes objective.

And even if you don't agree about calling this subjective and that objective...

If you say that his subjective statement is very reasonable and the whole world agrees on it, then according to your own words there is no alternative, making it the only statement there is. It becomes universally true and a solid basis for a philosophy.

(09-12-2013 10:48 AM)nach_in Wrote:  
Quote:I would like to use my formulation, because it is more general, if you don't mind:
Good and bad can be related to the change induced in the well-being of conscious life forms.

Your formulation implies a moral premiss, that's why I don't like it, it's more general because it's two statements in one: "well being on concious life forms is good" and "well being changes (increases or decreases)"

1) No it does not imply that well-being is good. It says it is related, not in which way.
2) well-being is influenced by actions. Well-being is subject to change. We really don't need to argue about that. Well-being changes.


(09-12-2013 10:48 AM)nach_in Wrote:  I think that when Harris uses the word "bad" (answering two comments at once like a boss) he does it with a different meaning than the usual moral meaning.

He clearly states that good and bad are values. He clearly uses those words like everybody else. It would be utterly daft of him to use them in any other, self-determined fashion without making it explicitly clear. If you disagree, find me a passage in one of either videos, where you think he uses them in an outlandish fashion.

(09-12-2013 10:48 AM)nach_in Wrote:  I'm not saying that the well being of conscious beings is not morally good, I'm saying that it is not an objective conclusion we can derive from observation of reality alone.

It is a postulate, a generally acceptable premiss, and does not need to be derived from any observation of reality. It is the first step to any philosophy: a postulate.

(09-12-2013 10:48 AM)nach_in Wrote:  Also (as a side note), the lack of definition of well being makes things harder, who defines what well being is? how is it defined?

There is a very very clear definition: well-being is determined by the mental and physiological health of a conscious being. And again, he makes it very clear that that is his definition of well-being. He repeats it over and over again.

Fun "paradox": The higher the selection pressure, the slower evolution takes place.
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09-12-2013, 11:56 AM
RE: Science can answer moral questions
(09-12-2013 11:37 AM)Youkay Wrote:  
(09-12-2013 10:48 AM)nach_in Wrote:  It is subjective because it's not derived from the objective reality, it may be very reasonable and the whole world could agree, but it would still be subjective. I don't say that in a pejorative way, I'm just using the adjective to point out that there is no moral law in reality in the like of natural laws.
Also, being subjective makes it non-universal, and it puts the whole morality discussion back on the table.

1) You are contradicting yourself here. You say that it is subjective and the whole world could agree. Then you say that being subjective makes it non-universal.
2) More importantly, a subjective statement on which the whole world agrees on ultimately becomes objective.

And even if you don't agree about calling this subjective and that objective...

If you say that his subjective statement is very reasonable and the whole world agrees on it, then according to your own words there is no alternative, making it the only statement there is. It becomes universally true and a solid basis for a philosophy.

Objective has nothing to do with agreement, it means that something is independent of the perception of an individual or a group. If everyone in the world suddenly agrees that hot dogs are tasty, that doesn't make it objective, it only makes it universally enjoyed, subjectively. You can argue that there are specific neurotransmitters related to taste, but that's not the same as saying that it's tasty, as that is a subjective experience.
Statements can't transform from subjective to objective by the power of consensus.

Consensus is indeed a good basis for a philosophy, but that doesn't make it objective.

Quote:
(09-12-2013 10:48 AM)nach_in Wrote:  Your formulation implies a moral premiss, that's why I don't like it, it's more general because it's two statements in one: "well being on concious life forms is good" and "well being changes (increases or decreases)"

1) No it does not imply that well-being is good. It says it is related, not in which way.
2) well-being is influenced by actions. Well-being is subject to change. We really don't need to argue about that. Well-being changes.

ok I see your point, agreed. But now you need a moral premiss that serves as the criterion to define in which way they're related.

Quote:
(09-12-2013 10:48 AM)nach_in Wrote:  I think that when Harris uses the word "bad" (answering two comments at once like a boss) he does it with a different meaning than the usual moral meaning.

He clearly states that good and bad are values. He clearly uses those words like everybody else. It would be utterly daft of him to use them in any other, self-determined fashion without making it explicitly clear. If you disagree, find me a passage in one of either videos, where you think he uses them in an outlandish fashion.

Then he makes a non sequitur, because there's no connection between well being and moral values by default, we need something that translates well being into a moral value

Quote:
(09-12-2013 10:48 AM)nach_in Wrote:  I'm not saying that the well being of conscious beings is not morally good, I'm saying that it is not an objective conclusion we can derive from observation of reality alone.

It is a postulate, a generally acceptable premiss, and does not need to be derived from any observation of reality. It is the first step to each philosophy: a postulate.

The fact that it is a postulate doesn't make it objective, and it negates the central idea that science can answer moral questions. Without the moral postulate science is useless for morality, if we just include moral postulates at will, it is a truism that science is a good tool to understand reality and make better moral decisions.

Quote:
(09-12-2013 10:48 AM)nach_in Wrote:  Also (as a side note), the lack of definition of well being makes things harder, who defines what well being is? how is it defined?

There is a very very clear definition: well-being is determined by the mental and physiological health of a conscious being. And again, he makes it very clear that that is his definition of well-being. He repeats it over and over again.

True true, I got carried away from the video on that one Tongue

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09-12-2013, 11:56 AM
RE: Science can answer moral questions
(09-12-2013 09:56 AM)Youkay Wrote:  
(09-12-2013 08:00 AM)nach_in Wrote:  I could say that the worst scenario is one in which everyone has their needs satisfied, because it leads to stagnation and it prevents adaptation and survival.

You could say that but you couldn't use it as a postulate because there is plenty of room to speak against it. A postulate needs to be a hypothesis, which is generally accepted to be true. Hence, you can not build an argument or a moral landscape on that statement.
Couldn't it be argued that increasing the well being (or survivability) of everyone works contrary to evolution's "survival of the fittest". That evolution is necessarily brutal and requires the destruction (prior to replication) of less fit individuals. That given enough time this strategy (increasing the well being of everyone) is weakening, even destroying the human race.

It is an objective fact that humans cannot avoid the evolutionary process.
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09-12-2013, 12:16 PM (This post was last modified: 09-12-2013 12:24 PM by Youkay.)
RE: Science can answer moral questions
(09-12-2013 11:56 AM)nach_in Wrote:  Objective has nothing to do with agreement, it means that something is independent of the perception of an individual or a group.

That is highly arguable, but not necessary for this discussion. Maybe private mails or another thread?

Previously you said:
Quote:As you can see, he uses a normative premiss at first, and it's a subjective one, it could be any other and it will have the same result on the definition of the moral code, it would only change the core value.

Now you must withdraw this central statement of yours, because his premiss is universally acceptable and therefore can not be replaced by any other subjective premiss.

(09-12-2013 11:56 AM)nach_in Wrote:  But now you need a moral premiss that serves as the criterion to define in which way they're related.

The premiss is:
If you have a moral spectrum from absolutely bad to absolutely good, the worst possible misery for everyone is absolutely bad.

(09-12-2013 11:56 AM)nach_in Wrote:  Then he makes a non sequitur, because there's no connection between well being and moral values by default, we need something that translates well being into a moral value

Worst possible misery is connected with well-being. That would be the next step, but we need to agree on the points above first.

(09-12-2013 11:56 AM)nach_in Wrote:  The fact that it is a postulate doesn't make it objective, and it negates the central idea that science can answer moral questions. Without the moral postulate science is useless for morality, if we just include moral postulates at will, it is a truism that science is a good tool to understand reality and make better moral decisions.

No it doesn't make it objective (as you say), but it doesn't have to make it objective. It is a very reasonable postulate, that everyone would agree on. And to reason is to be scientific. In the lab, we don't do anything else but to reason. Later we design experiments according to our reasoning. And after getting results from our experiments, we reason on the results and design new experiments. Science is reasoning, and reasoning is science.

Fun "paradox": The higher the selection pressure, the slower evolution takes place.
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09-12-2013, 12:20 PM
RE: Science can answer moral questions
(09-12-2013 11:56 AM)Stevil Wrote:  Couldn't it be argued that increasing the well being (or survivability) of everyone works contrary to evolution's "survival of the fittest". That evolution is necessarily brutal and requires the destruction (prior to replication) of less fit individuals. That given enough time this strategy (increasing the well being of everyone) is weakening, even destroying the human race.

It is an objective fact that humans cannot avoid the evolutionary process.

No. By no stretch of imagination could be argued that reverting to the primitive and brute laws of selection contains any form of morality.

Fun "paradox": The higher the selection pressure, the slower evolution takes place.
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09-12-2013, 12:50 PM
RE: Science can answer moral questions
(09-12-2013 12:20 PM)Youkay Wrote:  No. By no stretch of imagination could be argued that reverting to the primitive and brute laws of selection contains any form of morality.
Not even if the premise was to produce "fit" genes?
Not even given the understanding that most mutations are destructive rather than beneficial? So keeping destructive gene mutations alive and replicating is detrimental to the fitness of the human race.

Anyway, I tried.
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09-12-2013, 01:25 PM
RE: Science can answer moral questions
(09-12-2013 12:16 PM)Youkay Wrote:  
(09-12-2013 11:56 AM)nach_in Wrote:  Objective has nothing to do with agreement, it means that something is independent of the perception of an individual or a group.

That is highly arguable, but not necessary for this discussion. Maybe private mails or another thread?`

lets finish this one first Wink
Quote:Previously you said:
Quote:As you can see, he uses a normative premiss at first, and it's a subjective one, it could be any other and it will have the same result on the definition of the moral code, it would only change the core value.

Now you must withdraw this central statement of yours, because his premiss is universally acceptable and therefore can not be replaced by any other subjective premiss.

Why do you say it's universally acceptable? I doubt it is. I only said that about universally acceptable premisses to make a point about subjectivity, not about the validity of the premiss.
Quote:
(09-12-2013 11:56 AM)nach_in Wrote:  But now you need a moral premiss that serves as the criterion to define in which way they're related.

The premiss is:
If you have a moral spectrum from absolutely bad to absolutely good, the worst possible misery for everyone is absolutely bad.

That part in bold is a normative premiss, it's not derived from anything in nature.

Quote:
(09-12-2013 11:56 AM)nach_in Wrote:  Then he makes a non sequitur, because there's no connection between well being and moral values by default, we need something that translates well being into a moral value

Worst possible misery is connected with well-being. That would be the next step, but we need to agree on the points above first.

Instead of "worst misery" I'd use "least well-being". To keep things well organized.

Quote:
(09-12-2013 11:56 AM)nach_in Wrote:  The fact that it is a postulate doesn't make it objective, and it negates the central idea that science can answer moral questions. Without the moral postulate science is useless for morality, if we just include moral postulates at will, it is a truism that science is a good tool to understand reality and make better moral decisions.

No it doesn't make it objective (as you say), but it doesn't have to make it objective. It is a very reasonable postulate, that everyone would agree on. And to reason is to be scientific. In the lab, we don't do anything else but to reason. Later we design experiments according to our reasoning. And after getting results from our experiments, we reason on the results and design new experiments. Science is reasoning, and reasoning is science.

That's kind of a mess what you said there.
It is a reasonable argument, but I wouldn't say everyone would agree on, that's kind of a leap.
The fact that it's reasonable doesn't make it scientific, you're loading reason with things that it doesn't have.
And science is not just to use reason, it requires a method and it only deals with objective reality.
Moral values are not objects of reality, are abstractions of the mind. So if a postulate is subjective, then it is not an object for scientific research, because there's not objective phenomena to analyse.

Again, my issue is with the assertion that science can find moral rules by observing reality, making any moral agent unnecessary to make moral judgements.

Found this wikipedia article that explains more in detail my position: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is%E2%80%93ought_problem

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09-12-2013, 01:35 PM
RE: Science can answer moral questions
I think I'm having a déjà vu.

Confused

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09-12-2013, 01:42 PM
RE: Science can answer moral questions
(09-12-2013 01:35 PM)DLJ Wrote:  I think I'm having a déjà vu.

Confused

it's just a glitch in the matrix

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