The point of studying ethics
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25-07-2017, 09:27 PM (This post was last modified: 25-07-2017 11:02 PM by nosferatu323.)
RE: The point of studying ethics
(25-07-2017 04:10 PM)Dr H Wrote:  
(25-07-2017 04:43 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  Fine, I'm saying talking about morality is like talking about unicorns and you are saying we can still have a rational talk about unicorns. I think your point it correct, I will state my propositions as: "an objective and rational person does not talk about ethics". I think it's more accurate, thanks for your notice.
Thank you for clarifying; I still disagree with the proposition.

A lot of people in pretty much every human society are quite concerned with ethics and various points of ethics. Even if one classifies all of them as "irrational", that doesn't preclude someone else, studying the society from within or without, from having a rational discussion about the "irrational" beliefs of the society (ie. ethics), in an effort to better understand the society's functioning.

Indeed, I don't see this as different in essence from a hard atheist (like myself) studying comparative religion (which I do), in an effort to understand the motivations and actions of the religious believers who surround me in the culture in which I happen to be embedded. Studying religion doesn't make me a "theist", any more than studying ethics makes someone "irrational".

Quote:But I think we can claim that "a rational (merely rational) person does not make moral judgements"
That's because moral judgements are inherently inconsistent which goes against rationality. They presuppose subjectivity and objectivity at the same time.
Moral judgments are inherently subjective; that does not neatly set them up as "against rationality".

The idea of rationality itself is a human concept, and therefore a subjective construct in itself.


Quote:When we say "X is wrong in a specific context" we are clearly implying that there is something "objectively undesirable about X",
We are? I don't think so. If it's in a specific context, then the only implication is there is something undesirable about X in that context. That is not an objective claim. It leaves open the possibility that the undesirability might not be a property of X, but a property of the context.

Quote:but a rational person is aware that "there is nothing objectively undesirable about anything", therefore he never makes moral judgements. What do you think about this latter claim?
I have a little trouble with the phrase "objectively undesirable". "Undesirable," stems from the root "desire", and desire is about as subjective as you can get. In effect, the phrase says that something is 'objectively subjectively not wanted', and I'm not quite sure what that would mean.
Quote:Studying religion doesn't make me a "theist", any more than studying ethics makes someone "irrational".
I think I understand your point. Intentions are important, that's a delicate point. Thanks for brining it into attention.

"Studying ethics" usually implies "studying ethics for itself" like there is an objective point in "ethics" as a real entity. But an objective person can study ethics for the sake of attaining knowledge about those individuals who have founded such beliefs. The objective person can scientifically investigate "views on homosexuality through the time", for example.

I think someone who is studying ethics for itself, would get into never-ending language puzzles, someone who is studying ethics to know the founders would use scientific methods to derive knowledge about those individuals. I think these two are very different.

So you are saying the rational person can talk about ethics but his subject is not actually ethics, it's people, who are real entities. Do I understand you point accurately?

A rational person is also very clear about his intentions, that's part of his rationality, so we would need to refine the proposition again,
"A rational and objective person does not study ethics for itself", again, thanks for your notice, what do you think about this one?

Quote:Moral judgments are inherently subjective; that does not neatly set them up as "against rationality".
Right, but I think the notion of "judgement" in "moral judgment" implies objectivity, hence the inconsistency.

Quote:We are? I don't think so. If it's in a specific context, then the only implication is there is something undesirable about X in that context. That is not an objective claim.
I would like you to expand a bit more on your point here. Because I see it very clear that any notion of "moral judgement" implies objectivity. Making the judgement in relevance to a context has nothing to do with objectivity. Context-dependance makes your judgement "relative", but still, by making a judgement you are implying objectivity.

When I'm saying "torturing babies merely for fun is wrong" it IS implying to be an objective assertion. The presence of the context is absolutely irrelevant to the issue of subjectivity/objectivity. Isn't it?
Quote: I have a little trouble with the phrase "objectively undesirable". "Undesirable," stems from the root "desire", and desire is about as subjective as you can get. In effect, the phrase says that something is 'objectively subjectively not wanted', and I'm not quite sure what that would mean.
I just mean what you said, I think moral judgement do not mean anything because they assert "there is something objectively [un]desirable about something". Such statements are nonsensical as you correctly pointed out.
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26-07-2017, 03:24 PM
RE: The point of studying ethics
(25-07-2017 09:27 PM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  I think I understand your point. Intentions are important, that's a delicate point. Thanks for brining it into attention.

"Studying ethics" usually implies "studying ethics for itself"
Does it? Not in my experience.

I have studied ethics, inasmuch as I've taken college courses in the topic and read books laying out ethical arguments. If the purpose of the courses had been to promote a particular ethical system or view, that could, I suppose, be construed as "studying ethics for itself". But that was not their purpose, just like it is not the purpose of a course on comparative religion to promote any particular religious viewpoint. So there is, as you note, the question of intention.

To be sure, there are people who do "study ethics" with the intent of forming, refining, or justifying particular ethical viewpoints.
I think, however, that such people are few and far between.

Whether they are all "irrational" is, I believe, a separate question.

Quote:like there is an objective point in "ethics" as a real entity. But an objective person can study ethics for the sake of attaining knowledge about those individuals who have founded such beliefs. The objective person can scientifically investigate "views on homosexuality through the time", for example.
You can attempt to study such things scientifically, for sure. Some things lend themselves to the scientific method more easily than others. In many ways, social sciences are still in their scientific infancy.


Quote:I think someone who is studying ethics for itself, would get into never-ending language puzzles,
Perhaps. Hence the fields of semantics and symbolic logic, which are also a part of philosophical inquiry.

Quote:someone who is studying ethics to know the founders would use scientific methods to derive knowledge about those individuals. I think these two are very different.
Granted.

Quote:So you are saying the rational person can talk about ethics but his subject is not actually ethics, it's people, who are real entities. Do I understand you point accurately?
Yea and no. A rational person can discuss ethics within a particular ethical framework, also. Even if one seeks to dismiss a topic, one needs to know enough about it to decide that it should be dismissed, and also to provide a logical justification for dismissing it.

Quote:A rational person is also very clear about his intentions, that's part of his rationality, so we would need to refine the proposition again,
"A rational and objective person does not study ethics for itself", again, thanks for your notice, what do you think about this one?
I would say this: "a rational person could provide a justifiable reason as to why they are studying ethics (or any topic, for that matter)" "Justifiable" would imply that they could produce some evidential basis or logical argument for their position.

Quote:Dr H: Moral judgments are inherently subjective; that does not neatly set them up as "against rationality".
Quote:N: Right, but I think the notion of "judgement" in "moral judgment" implies objectivity, hence the inconsistency.
I think "judgment" simply indicates a decision point at which some choice is made.

Quote:Dr H: We are? I don't think so. If it's in a specific context, then the only implication is there is something undesirable about X in that context. That is not an objective claim.
Quote:N: I would like you to expand a bit more on your point here. Because I see it very clear that any notion of "moral judgement" implies objectivity. Making the judgement in relevance to a context has nothing to do with objectivity. Context-dependance makes your judgement "relative", but still, by making a judgement you are implying objectivity.
"Making a judgment" simply means "rendering a decision". I don't see anything inherently objective about the process of decision making per se. People can and do make irrational judgments all the time: "I can pass that car before that semi-flattens me"; "if I drive home real slow, the cops won't notice that I'm drunk"; etc.

I agree that "in-context" is not synonymous with "objective", but I do submit that it has a lot to do with rationality. While it may not be impossible to make some judgments with no reference to context, I think that's pretty rare. It certainly wouldn't be strongly rational of me, for example, to jump out of bed one morning and decide "all Republicans are tools of Satan", apropos of nothing. There needs to be context to render a rational judgment.

OTOH, in the context of, say, healthcare, I might reasonably judge some Republicans to not be looking out for the best interests of the populace, when they actively seek to take steps to deprive them of healthcare. Still, while rational, that is a subjective judgment, because the additional context of my own views of the matter enter into the judgment. Were I a fiscal and social conservative who truly believed that people benefit most from having to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps through adversity, I might -- from that context -- rationally render the opposite view.

Since the same circumstances can be judged so differently depending on personal (ie., subjective) context, the judgment itself must therefore be subjective.


Quote:When I'm saying "torturing babies merely for fun is wrong" it IS implying to be an objective assertion.
Did you say something about 'torturing babies'? I seem to have missed that.

"Right" and "wrong" are subjective.

Quote:The presence of the context is absolutely irrelevant to the issue of subjectivity/objectivity. Isn't it?
Not given the language you've chosen for that example. You've set up a context with some terms that are linguistically pretty fuzzy. To pin something down as "objective" you'd need to narrow down the definitions of key terms such that you could demonstrate an underlying evidential basis for the claim. Without that, it really can't be taken as more than a -- admittedly emotionally laden and inflammatory -- statement of opinion.

--
Dr H

"So, I became an anarchist, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."
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26-07-2017, 03:39 PM
RE: The point of studying ethics
(21-07-2017 04:54 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  They are circular if you don't go on to define what you mean, and on what scale you mean. At face value, they do look circular, yes. So it requires additional definitions which relate to reality somehow. Even if the dictionary doesn't state this, it's well known and agreed. Things could be clearer, I agree.

Each person can define "good" and "bad" however they want. So it's subjective, as we've already agreed. Subjective does mean useless, at least to most people. As I've already said, if you find discussion of subjective subjects useless, you may as well abandon such discussions. That doesn't mean everyone has to do the same. It doesn't make them delusions, because most people own their moral judgements. You could argue that someone who thinks morality is inherent to reality is deluded.

They are essentially shorthand. Instead of saying, "the judgement of how good or bad an action is" each time, I can say "morality".

If we discarded this language, we'd most likely come up with new language for the same thing. Everyone does have their own morality, whether you talk about it or not (or they have a complete lack of morality, usually accompanying a lack of empathy). You seem to require that everyone agrees on what is good and bad, or else it's useless. This is a false dichotomy, and your own issue. You've made this point several times now so I won't respond to it again if you repeat it.


(Just in case it gets snipped) I think this is a very good point.
Quote:If we discarded this language, we'd most likely come up with new language for the same thing.

That this is correct would indicate that morality/ethics/call-it-what-you-like is a fixture in the landscape of our subjective concerns. To call something subjective is not to say it is just something we make up on a lark. I agree with Rob here.

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
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26-07-2017, 04:08 PM
RE: The point of studying ethics
(25-07-2017 04:43 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  
(24-07-2017 07:51 PM)Dr H Wrote:  That's more than simply rational. That's being rational and having verifiable validity (ie., real world evidence).

But one can also have a rational discussion about, say, the necessary anatomy of unicorns, in the context of a fantasy novel about a world that has unicorns.

I was quoting from your post when I used that phrase.

In truth, "completely objective" is redundant.
It's a phrase akin to "full extent" or "absolutely certain".

Quote:But one can also have a rational discussion about, say, the necessary anatomy of unicorns, in the context of a fantasy novel about a world that has unicorns.
Fine, I'm saying talking about morality is like talking about unicorns and you are saying we can still have a rational talk about unicorns. I think your point it correct, I will state my propositions as: "an objective and rational person does not talk about ethics". I think it's more accurate, thanks for your notice.

But I think we can claim that "a rational (merely rational) person does not make moral judgements"
That's because moral judgements are inherently inconsistent which goes against rationality. They presuppose subjectivity and objectivity at the same time.
When we say "X is wrong in a specific context" we are clearly implying that there is something "objectively undesirable about X", but a rational person is aware that "there is nothing objectively undesirable about anything", therefore he never makes moral judgements. What do you think about this latter claim?


(Again, to guard against having it snipped..) you make me wonder why you say say this:

Quote:But I think we can claim that "a rational (merely rational) person does not make moral judgements"

I think it is actually telling, since whatever else we may be we are certainly not entirely rational. Our actual lived experience would make very little sense if that were so .. your own being a case in point. Obviously moral concerns (not of the abstract academic variety you seem to prefer) are a universal aspect of our humanity (apart from the rare pathological exception).

Rationality is a mode we can access for periods of time and it's been useful. But the needs we serve when in that mode are not decided there. There are some brute facts about who we are and what we seek which are more basic and absolutely essential. Truly without those, there would be no objective which rationality could serve.

Nosferatu, I have admired the energy and efforts you have made in this discussion. I just wonder if you're operating on a different conception of what we are and the place of rationality. Don't get me wrong, I'm neither anti-rational nor pro irrational. It is only a matter of correctly appraising our own nature. Perhaps you have a VulcanXhuman-ity in mind in this discussion?

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
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26-07-2017, 04:13 PM
RE: The point of studying ethics
(26-07-2017 03:24 PM)Dr H Wrote:  
(25-07-2017 09:27 PM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  I think I understand your point. Intentions are important, that's a delicate point. Thanks for brining it into attention.

"Studying ethics" usually implies "studying ethics for itself"
Does it? Not in my experience.


I agree. That was never the case in my experience studying philosophy. I would think an emphasis on delineating right from wrong would more often be the focus of religion, well, those of a fundamentalist bent in particular.

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
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26-07-2017, 09:16 PM (This post was last modified: 26-07-2017 10:12 PM by nosferatu323.)
RE: The point of studying ethics
(26-07-2017 03:24 PM)Dr H Wrote:  
(25-07-2017 09:27 PM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  I think I understand your point. Intentions are important, that's a delicate point. Thanks for brining it into attention.

"Studying ethics" usually implies "studying ethics for itself"
Does it? Not in my experience.

I have studied ethics, inasmuch as I've taken college courses in the topic and read books laying out ethical arguments. If the purpose of the courses had been to promote a particular ethical system or view, that could, I suppose, be construed as "studying ethics for itself". But that was not their purpose, just like it is not the purpose of a course on comparative religion to promote any particular religious viewpoint. So there is, as you note, the question of intention.

To be sure, there are people who do "study ethics" with the intent of forming, refining, or justifying particular ethical viewpoints.
I think, however, that such people are few and far between.

Whether they are all "irrational" is, I believe, a separate question.

Quote:like there is an objective point in "ethics" as a real entity. But an objective person can study ethics for the sake of attaining knowledge about those individuals who have founded such beliefs. The objective person can scientifically investigate "views on homosexuality through the time", for example.
You can attempt to study such things scientifically, for sure. Some things lend themselves to the scientific method more easily than others. In many ways, social sciences are still in their scientific infancy.


Quote:I think someone who is studying ethics for itself, would get into never-ending language puzzles,
Perhaps. Hence the fields of semantics and symbolic logic, which are also a part of philosophical inquiry.

Quote:someone who is studying ethics to know the founders would use scientific methods to derive knowledge about those individuals. I think these two are very different.
Granted.

Quote:So you are saying the rational person can talk about ethics but his subject is not actually ethics, it's people, who are real entities. Do I understand you point accurately?
Yea and no. A rational person can discuss ethics within a particular ethical framework, also. Even if one seeks to dismiss a topic, one needs to know enough about it to decide that it should be dismissed, and also to provide a logical justification for dismissing it.

Quote:A rational person is also very clear about his intentions, that's part of his rationality, so we would need to refine the proposition again,
"A rational and objective person does not study ethics for itself", again, thanks for your notice, what do you think about this one?
I would say this: "a rational person could provide a justifiable reason as to why they are studying ethics (or any topic, for that matter)" "Justifiable" would imply that they could produce some evidential basis or logical argument for their position.

Quote:Dr H: Moral judgments are inherently subjective; that does not neatly set them up as "against rationality".
Quote:N: Right, but I think the notion of "judgement" in "moral judgment" implies objectivity, hence the inconsistency.
I think "judgment" simply indicates a decision point at which some choice is made.

Quote:Dr H: We are? I don't think so. If it's in a specific context, then the only implication is there is something undesirable about X in that context. That is not an objective claim.
Quote:N: I would like you to expand a bit more on your point here. Because I see it very clear that any notion of "moral judgement" implies objectivity. Making the judgement in relevance to a context has nothing to do with objectivity. Context-dependance makes your judgement "relative", but still, by making a judgement you are implying objectivity.
"Making a judgment" simply means "rendering a decision". I don't see anything inherently objective about the process of decision making per se. People can and do make irrational judgments all the time: "I can pass that car before that semi-flattens me"; "if I drive home real slow, the cops won't notice that I'm drunk"; etc.

I agree that "in-context" is not synonymous with "objective", but I do submit that it has a lot to do with rationality. While it may not be impossible to make some judgments with no reference to context, I think that's pretty rare. It certainly wouldn't be strongly rational of me, for example, to jump out of bed one morning and decide "all Republicans are tools of Satan", apropos of nothing. There needs to be context to render a rational judgment.

OTOH, in the context of, say, healthcare, I might reasonably judge some Republicans to not be looking out for the best interests of the populace, when they actively seek to take steps to deprive them of healthcare. Still, while rational, that is a subjective judgment, because the additional context of my own views of the matter enter into the judgment. Were I a fiscal and social conservative who truly believed that people benefit most from having to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps through adversity, I might -- from that context -- rationally render the opposite view.

Since the same circumstances can be judged so differently depending on personal (ie., subjective) context, the judgment itself must therefore be subjective.


Quote:When I'm saying "torturing babies merely for fun is wrong" it IS implying to be an objective assertion.
Did you say something about 'torturing babies'? I seem to have missed that.

"Right" and "wrong" are subjective.

Quote:The presence of the context is absolutely irrelevant to the issue of subjectivity/objectivity. Isn't it?
Not given the language you've chosen for that example. You've set up a context with some terms that are linguistically pretty fuzzy. To pin something down as "objective" you'd need to narrow down the definitions of key terms such that you could demonstrate an underlying evidential basis for the claim. Without that, it really can't be taken as more than a -- admittedly emotionally laden and inflammatory -- statement of opinion.

Quote:Whether they are all "irrational" is, I believe, a separate question.
That's what I'm concerned about. I think these people can be labeled as "not objective and/or irrational". Because they can't justify what they do using factual evidences.

Quote:A rational person can discuss ethics within a particular ethical framework, also.
I didn't get that part. How the rational and objective person can justify this without having any intention beyond the ethics itself? Do I need to study ethics to know morality is subjective? I don't think so.

Quote:I would say this: "a rational person could provide a justifiable reason as to why they are studying ethics (or any topic, for that matter)" "Justifiable" would imply that they could produce some evidential basis or logical argument for their position.
I agree, how ever I think your propostition is stronger than the one I claimed. Do you think "studying ethics for the ethics itself" can be justified for the rational and objective person? If yes, please elaborate on it.

Quote:Did you say something about 'torturing babies'? I seem to have missed that.
I borrowed it from the other thread about morality.

I accept what you say about moral judgments here and I'm no longer claiming moral judgements imply objectivity.

However, the objective and rational person is aware that his moral judgements cannot be supported by any evidences. Isn't it enough to prevent him making judgments, or at least declaring his judgments?
"A rational and objective person does not make moral judgement, as he doesn't claim anything that cannot be supported by evidences"
I think it's obvious. If we assume the rational person makes subjective claims, he can say any kind of nonsense, which goes against his objectivity (not his rationality). e.g.
Rational Person: I think all politicians are wrong.
-: Why?
Rational Person: Because that's my definition of wrong.

It's rational, but since the person is also "objective", he won't make moral judgments or any subjective claims. What do you think?
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26-07-2017, 09:23 PM (This post was last modified: 26-07-2017 10:11 PM by nosferatu323.)
RE: The point of studying ethics
(26-07-2017 04:08 PM)whateverist Wrote:  
(25-07-2017 04:43 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  Fine, I'm saying talking about morality is like talking about unicorns and you are saying we can still have a rational talk about unicorns. I think your point it correct, I will state my propositions as: "an objective and rational person does not talk about ethics". I think it's more accurate, thanks for your notice.

But I think we can claim that "a rational (merely rational) person does not make moral judgements"
That's because moral judgements are inherently inconsistent which goes against rationality. They presuppose subjectivity and objectivity at the same time.
When we say "X is wrong in a specific context" we are clearly implying that there is something "objectively undesirable about X", but a rational person is aware that "there is nothing objectively undesirable about anything", therefore he never makes moral judgements. What do you think about this latter claim?


(Again, to guard against having it snipped..) you make me wonder why you say say this:

Quote:But I think we can claim that "a rational (merely rational) person does not make moral judgements"

I think it is actually telling, since whatever else we may be we are certainly not entirely rational. Our actual lived experience would make very little sense if that were so .. your own being a case in point. Obviously moral concerns (not of the abstract academic variety you seem to prefer) are a universal aspect of our humanity (apart from the rare pathological exception).

Rationality is a mode we can access for periods of time and it's been useful. But the needs we serve when in that mode are not decided there. There are some brute facts about who we are and what we seek which are more basic and absolutely essential. Truly without those, there would be no objective which rationality could serve.

Nosferatu, I have admired the energy and efforts you have made in this discussion. I just wonder if you're operating on a different conception of what we are and the place of rationality. Don't get me wrong, I'm neither anti-rational nor pro irrational. It is only a matter of correctly appraising our own nature. Perhaps you have a VulcanXhuman-ity in mind in this discussion?

Quote:Perhaps you have a VulcanXhuman-ity in mind in this discussion?
Yes, I have assumed we are talking about an absolutely rational human being. I tried to make it clear that it cannot be generalized to all human beings.

I think absolute rationality is the only sensible way to talk about what humans should do. Since a human who is not absolutely rational can do anything, because he can prefer irrationality at any time and do whatever he wants without any reason to justify it. So I think the assumption of absolute rationality is necessary.

I also think this assumption of absolute rationality is practical. It's important for us to know what an ideal rational person would do, so we would try to do the same it if it's not very uncomfortable for us. So I think this assumption is not realistic but it can yield useful results nevertheless.
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26-07-2017, 10:05 PM
RE: The point of studying ethics
(26-07-2017 09:23 PM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  
(26-07-2017 04:08 PM)whateverist Wrote:  (Again, to guard against having it snipped..) you make me wonder why you say say this:


I think it is actually telling, since whatever else we may be we are certainly not entirely rational. Our actual lived experience would make very little sense if that were so .. your own being a case in point. Obviously moral concerns (not of the abstract academic variety you seem to prefer) are a universal aspect of our humanity (apart from the rare pathological exception).

Rationality is a mode we can access for periods of time and it's been useful. But the needs we serve when in that mode are not decided there. There are some brute facts about who we are and what we seek which are more basic and absolutely essential. Truly without those, there would be no objective which rationality could serve.

Nosferatu, I have admired the energy and efforts you have made in this discussion. I just wonder if you're operating on a different conception of what we are and the place of rationality. Don't get me wrong, I'm neither anti-rational nor pro irrational. It is only a matter of correctly appraising our own nature. Perhaps you have a VulcanXhuman-ity in mind in this discussion?

Quote:Perhaps you have a VulcanXhuman-ity in mind in this discussion?
Yes, I have assumed we are talking about an absolutely rational human being. I tried to make it clear that it cannot be generalized to all human beings.

But I think this is the only sensible way to talk about what humans should do. Since a human who is not absolutely rational can do anything, because he can prefer irrationality at any time and do whatever he wants without any reason to justify it. So I think the assumption of absolute rationality is necessary.

I also think it's practical. It's important for us to know what an ideal rational person would do, so we would try to do the same it if it's not very uncomfortable for us. So I think this assumption is not realistic but it can yield useful results nevertheless.


Perhaps it was Hume who said something to the effect that the chief use of rationality is to discover the limits of rationality - or was it reason and not rationality. I guess it works either way.

What makes you think an ideal rational person is a possibility?

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
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26-07-2017, 10:46 PM (This post was last modified: 27-07-2017 03:28 AM by nosferatu323.)
RE: The point of studying ethics
(26-07-2017 10:05 PM)whateverist Wrote:  
(26-07-2017 09:23 PM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  Yes, I have assumed we are talking about an absolutely rational human being. I tried to make it clear that it cannot be generalized to all human beings.

But I think this is the only sensible way to talk about what humans should do. Since a human who is not absolutely rational can do anything, because he can prefer irrationality at any time and do whatever he wants without any reason to justify it. So I think the assumption of absolute rationality is necessary.

I also think it's practical. It's important for us to know what an ideal rational person would do, so we would try to do the same it if it's not very uncomfortable for us. So I think this assumption is not realistic but it can yield useful results nevertheless.


Perhaps it was Hume who said something to the effect that the chief use of rationality is to discover the limits of rationality - or was it reason and not rationality. I guess it works either way.

What makes you think an ideal rational person is a possibility?

Quote:Perhaps it was Hume who said something to the effect that the chief use of rationality is to discover the limits of rationality - or was it reason and not rationality. I guess it works either way.
I agree with that. In fact I'm trying to see whether morality is within the boundary of rationality or not, I'm trying to use reason to find the limits of reason concerning morality. If we infer that morality lies outside the boundaries of reason, maybe we can say we should avoid talking about it, with all the considerations that we are figuring out in this discussion. I personally think there is not much that can be talked about, and I find figuring out those things that can't be talked about to be the most interesting thing to discuss!

Quote:What makes you think an ideal rational person is a possibility?
Ideal is subjective, I meant "an absolutely rational person". This would be a rational agent who infers his actions based on a formal system e.g., any kind of robot.

Robots are absolutely rational, aren't they? They may not be well informed about the reality, but they always have a rational justification for what ever they do and say.

ETA: I understood your point after posting this. You are in fact asking about the possibility of AI, since a perfect rational person is equivalent to a human level AI. This is clearly an open question. Scientists still are not sure whether it's possible or not. So the ideal rational person might not exist at all. But a rational agent which is closest to a human being exists nevertheless. Considering this, I think I should remove the notion of "rational person" from all my arguments and replace it with "rational agent". I think the rational agent can be a great source of inspiration for us anyway, Thanks for brining this up.
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26-07-2017, 11:37 PM (This post was last modified: 26-07-2017 11:43 PM by Robvalue.)
RE: The point of studying ethics
(26-07-2017 04:08 PM)whateverist Wrote:  
(25-07-2017 04:43 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  Fine, I'm saying talking about morality is like talking about unicorns and you are saying we can still have a rational talk about unicorns. I think your point it correct, I will state my propositions as: "an objective and rational person does not talk about ethics". I think it's more accurate, thanks for your notice.

But I think we can claim that "a rational (merely rational) person does not make moral judgements"
That's because moral judgements are inherently inconsistent which goes against rationality. They presuppose subjectivity and objectivity at the same time.
When we say "X is wrong in a specific context" we are clearly implying that there is something "objectively undesirable about X", but a rational person is aware that "there is nothing objectively undesirable about anything", therefore he never makes moral judgements. What do you think about this latter claim?


(Again, to guard against having it snipped..) you make me wonder why you say say this:

Quote:But I think we can claim that "a rational (merely rational) person does not make moral judgements"

I think it is actually telling, since whatever else we may be we are certainly not entirely rational. Our actual lived experience would make very little sense if that were so .. your own being a case in point. Obviously moral concerns (not of the abstract academic variety you seem to prefer) are a universal aspect of our humanity (apart from the rare pathological exception).

Rationality is a mode we can access for periods of time and it's been useful. But the needs we serve when in that mode are not decided there. There are some brute facts about who we are and what we seek which are more basic and absolutely essential. Truly without those, there would be no objective which rationality could serve.

Nosferatu, I have admired the energy and efforts you have made in this discussion. I just wonder if you're operating on a different conception of what we are and the place of rationality. Don't get me wrong, I'm neither anti-rational nor pro irrational. It is only a matter of correctly appraising our own nature. Perhaps you have a VulcanXhuman-ity in mind in this discussion?

I'm wondering how he manages to interact with humans without making any moral judgements.

You don't even have to directly interact. Every time you put a piece of rubbish in a bin instead of throwing it on the floor in public, you're making a moral judgement. Even deciding not to get involved in a situation is a moral judgement.

Like you say, he's either just using completely different language to describe the same thing; or else he truly doesn't understand how/why people can care about anyone but themselves. Maybe he has no empathy. That's not an insult, some people just don't, for one reason or another. And for them, morality just reduces to pragmatism. So for him, morality may not apply.

But the fact remains that most of us do care, it's demonstrable. We've evolved that way. And it is a rational way to behave, because treating others well has an impact on them treating you well in return. So it is pragmatic, even if we're driven by instincts that make us feel good simply for doing a moral act. If you act like a selfish prick, there will be negative consequences for you. And unless you don't even care about yourself, that matters.

Of course we're not entirely logical, we have emotions. Someone can call emotions "irrational" if they want, but it's rather pointless. Emotions ultimately drive us. Without them, they'd be no point in ever doing anything. Mere rationality cannot tell us what to do. We must develop goals, and our emotions guide us.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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