The point of studying ethics
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28-07-2017, 03:37 AM
RE: The point of studying ethics
(27-07-2017 07:30 PM)Dr H Wrote:  
(26-07-2017 10:46 PM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  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!
Hume asserts (in the Treatise of Human Nature, book 3) that moral impressions can only be considered from a social point of view, because one's actions are only "moral" or "immoral" with regard to how they affect others. How far pure rationality would take you there would, I think, depend on to what extent you were successfully able to objectify human inter-relationships.

Wow. Good luck with that.


Quote:What makes you think an ideal rational person is a possibility?
Quote: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.
I would say that -- lacking evidence of self-aware AI -- the actions of robots may only be judged "rational" or otherwise by human beings -- and hence are judged subjectively.

There exist, for example, robots whose sole purpose when activated is to immediately turn themselves off again. Is that rational? I suppose if one were concerned with infinitesimally increasing the overall entropy of the universe, it might be. But then one might question whether that concern itself were rational. Smile

Quote:There exist, for example, robots whose sole purpose when activated is to immediately turn themselves off again. Is that rational?

The decision of the robot to turn itself off must be rational, the robot is always rational, since its actions can be clearly expressed by logic, unless it's due to a software/hardware error. If the logical inference is based on some objective facts (my battery is low and I need to survive), it will be an objective decision also.

Quote:But then one might question whether that concern itself were rational. Smile
I think our goals, concerns and preferences are neither rational nor irrational. They are either objective or subjective. My concern for survival is objective (it can be scientifically demonstrated that I have this preference), my concern for happiness is subjective.
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28-07-2017, 03:44 AM (This post was last modified: 28-07-2017 03:47 AM by nosferatu323.)
RE: The point of studying ethics
(28-07-2017 02:02 AM)Szuchow Wrote:  
(28-07-2017 01:52 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  I just figured out you are right. I made a claim that "there is nothing wrong with irrationality". This is a moral judgement in itself. In fact I'm trying to show that moral judgements cannot be rationally justified and I'm trying to justify a moral proposition for you. That's inconsistent, my bad, I shouldn't have said that in the first place. Thanks for bringing this up.

No problem.

As for moral judgments which couldn't be rationally justified - killing is wrong cause it put social stigma on one and invites lawful retribution - prison or death row even. Nothing about empathy or suffering here, just appeal to one self interest. Seems quite rational to me, even if this remind me of religion and it's "morality" based on orders from head honcho.
Quote:killing is wrong cause...
If you want to rationally justify your claim, you first need to be clear about your terms. You will need to clearly and coherently define "wrong". For others to be able to accept your justification, your definition must be acceptable for others also. So your will need:

1. A clear, coherent definition for "wrong" that works in all contexts.
2. An objective measure to justify that your definition is "correct" and others should accept your definition

I think historical evidences strongly support such a definition does not exist, without this definition, I think logical justification of your claim is not possible.
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28-07-2017, 04:09 AM (This post was last modified: 28-07-2017 04:13 AM by Szuchow.)
RE: The point of studying ethics
(28-07-2017 03:44 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  
(28-07-2017 02:02 AM)Szuchow Wrote:  No problem.

As for moral judgments which couldn't be rationally justified - killing is wrong cause it put social stigma on one and invites lawful retribution - prison or death row even. Nothing about empathy or suffering here, just appeal to one self interest. Seems quite rational to me, even if this remind me of religion and it's "morality" based on orders from head honcho.
Quote:killing is wrong cause...
If you want to rationally justify your claim, you first need to be clear about your terms. You will need to clearly and coherently define "wrong". For others to be able to accept your justification, your definition must be acceptable for others also. So your will need:

1. A clear, coherent definition for "wrong" that works in all contexts.
2. An objective measure to justify that your definition is "correct" and others should accept your definition

I think historical evidences strongly support such a definition does not exist, without this definition, I think logical justification of your claim is not possible.

I will need nothing - even psychopath would agree that killing is wrong as in non conductive to furthering one goals when said killing invites lawful retribution.

It seems to me that you just don't want such justification to exist. To be honest though I think this is just useless rambling - if one needs rationally convince oneself that killing is wrong then something may be wrong with said person.

Or to put it differently - it may be that I'm not capable of rationally justify my moral judgments but as long as it is enough to convince me that anything more than being snarky in internet is bad then it's good enough for me; I'm not averse to stealing cause I did costs/benefits analysis, I'm just not a thief. Obviously also law and empathy comes into play but what I mean to say is that I need no specific reason for not stealing.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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28-07-2017, 04:35 AM (This post was last modified: 28-07-2017 05:46 AM by nosferatu323.)
RE: The point of studying ethics
(27-07-2017 07:30 PM)Dr H Wrote:  Hume asserts (in the Treatise of Human Nature, book 3) that moral impressions can only be considered from a social point of view, because one's actions are only "moral" or "immoral" with regard to how they affect others. How far pure rationality would take you there would, I think, depend on to what extent you were successfully able to objectify human inter-relationships.

I do not think morality SHOULD BE based on pure rationality.
I think morality CANNOT BE based on pure rationality.

I think any one who wants to make moral judgements MUST rely on some faculties OTHER THAN reason.
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28-07-2017, 04:55 AM
RE: The point of studying ethics
(28-07-2017 04:09 AM)Szuchow Wrote:  
(28-07-2017 03:44 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  If you want to rationally justify your claim, you first need to be clear about your terms. You will need to clearly and coherently define "wrong". For others to be able to accept your justification, your definition must be acceptable for others also. So your will need:

1. A clear, coherent definition for "wrong" that works in all contexts.
2. An objective measure to justify that your definition is "correct" and others should accept your definition

I think historical evidences strongly support such a definition does not exist, without this definition, I think logical justification of your claim is not possible.

I will need nothing - even psychopath would agree that killing is wrong as in non conductive to furthering one goals when said killing invites lawful retribution.

It seems to me that you just don't want such justification to exist. To be honest though I think this is just useless rambling - if one needs rationally convince oneself that killing is wrong then something may be wrong with said person.

Or to put it differently - it may be that I'm not capable of rationally justify my moral judgments but as long as it is enough to convince me that anything more than being snarky in internet is bad then it's good enough for me; I'm not averse to stealing cause I did costs/benefits analysis, I'm just not a thief. Obviously also law and empathy comes into play but what I mean to say is that I need no specific reason for not stealing.

Ok, so you are saying "I do not need justifications for my claim". That's fine. All I have to say is to point out that I think you are being irrational by refusing to rationally justify your claims. I don't mean that's bad or anything though, I'm just saying you are most likely relying on faculties other than reason to come up with your claim.
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28-07-2017, 05:17 AM
RE: The point of studying ethics
(28-07-2017 04:55 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  
(28-07-2017 04:09 AM)Szuchow Wrote:  I will need nothing - even psychopath would agree that killing is wrong as in non conductive to furthering one goals when said killing invites lawful retribution.

It seems to me that you just don't want such justification to exist. To be honest though I think this is just useless rambling - if one needs rationally convince oneself that killing is wrong then something may be wrong with said person.

Or to put it differently - it may be that I'm not capable of rationally justify my moral judgments but as long as it is enough to convince me that anything more than being snarky in internet is bad then it's good enough for me; I'm not averse to stealing cause I did costs/benefits analysis, I'm just not a thief. Obviously also law and empathy comes into play but what I mean to say is that I need no specific reason for not stealing.

Ok, so you are saying "I do not need justifications for my claim". That's fine. All I have to say is to point out that I think you are being irrational by refusing to rationally justify your claims.

My using of may be somehow eluded you?

What I'm saying is that if you need to "rationally convince yourself" that for example killing is wrong then it seems to me that you have a problem.

Quote:I don't mean that's bad or anything though, I'm just saying you are most likely relying on faculties other than reason to come up with your claim.

Or it may be that we have our moral preferences and all this talk is just rationalization? Wasn't it Haidt who wrote something on the subject in his Righteous Mind?

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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28-07-2017, 05:20 AM
RE: The point of studying ethics
(27-07-2017 07:05 PM)Dr H Wrote:  
(26-07-2017 09:16 PM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  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.
I don't think that "not objective" and "irrational" are necessarily synonymous.

If, for example, someone has a vested interest in the outcome of a particular decision, they may want the decision to go a certain way, but that doesn't preclude them using objective evidence about the situation to inform their judgment. It may, however, influence them to expend more effort seeking evidence which seems to confirm their pre-existing bias, rather than impartially going after any available evidence. Their decision would certainly be subjective, but I don't think it could really be considered "irrational".

Quote: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.
You need to study ethics to some degree to know anything about morals at all, including what they are. There are all sorts of levels of "study", of course. You don't necessarily have to go out and research a doctoral dissertation; you could just ask questions of people around you and put together your own picture.

But to simply pull the statement "morality is subjective" out of the air is anything but objective. And if you don't know what is meant by "morality", such a statement could possibly also be irrational. If there's absolutely no basis -- objective or subjective -- for the claim, what you have is essentially word-salad.

Quote: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.
I think we need to clarify what you mean by "studying ethics for the ethics itself".

I'm trying to imagine what that would mean, and I can come up with only two possibilities. Either one is studying ethics because they are seeking out a system of ethics to adopt in their own life; or one is studying ethics with the intent of formulating a new system of ethics, and seeks to understand what others who have gone before have done, so as to gather ideas and avoid old pitfalls.

I don't know that either of these is a necessarily invalid reason for studying ethics, although, as I said, I think the number of people who do so on this level are few and far between.

But not to wander too far from the point, what do you mean by "studying ethics for the ethics itself"?


Quote:I borrowed it from the other thread about morality.
Ah, ok. I thought I was having some weird kind of deja vu there, for a minute.

Quote: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?
If this "rational person" lived entirely rationally -- ie., basically exclusively within his own mind -- I guess it's possible.

But most people don't live like that; we live in the real world, where we are required to make countless judgments, including moral judgments, every day, just to get through the day without serious mishap. Indeed, most of society at large would probably consider someone who lived exclusively in their own private rationality all the time to be rather irrational -- or at least decidedly odd.

Quote:"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?
It's an interesting point. Making up definitions -- particularly non-standard definitions -- on the fly, to justify one's own claims might be considered irrational in the larger context of human interaction. Yet it might be completely self-consistent to the person making the definitions.

So perhaps we have uncovered at least two different levels of "rationality": one being the completely logical and self-consistent formation of a system of intellectual ideas, which may or many not have any direct real world application; and the other being a sort of practical rationality, which not only makes sense of, but also allows us to function in the world.

Doesn't help us much with ethics, though; I think you can find examples of ethical systems in either category.

Quote:I don't think that "not objective" and "irrational" are necessarily synonymous.
Correct. I didn't mean that. I think they are totally different. A mathematician is absolutely rational in his work but is not objective.

Quote:But not to wander too far from the point, what do you mean by "studying ethics for the ethics itself"?
I gave a thought and I think I myself do not have a coherent idea of what that means. I'm giving up that claim. You said this earlier:

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.

We agree there. I'm abandoning the "ethics for itself" argument.

Quote:If this "rational person" lived entirely rationally -- ie., basically exclusively within his own mind -- I guess it's possible.
Yes, I exactly meant an agent which is entirely rational in all my arguments. I tried to make it clear repeatedly.

Quote:basically exclusively within his own mind
I don't get this. I think we agreed that the agent is objective, which means all his actions are inferred from a set of established facts, ie. scientific facts. I'm not sure what you mean by "exclusively within his own mind", but if you mean some sort of detachment from the objective reality, no, the agent is entirely connected to the objective reality and ALL his actions are inferred from an objectively true proposition.

So again, I'm interested to know whether you see any flaws in this proposition or not:
"An entirely rational and objective agent does not make moral judgments"

The reason is that the agent won't be able to justify any of his claims rationally and objectively, so he would never make such claims.
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28-07-2017, 05:42 AM (This post was last modified: 28-07-2017 05:50 AM by nosferatu323.)
RE: The point of studying ethics
(28-07-2017 05:17 AM)Szuchow Wrote:  What I'm saying is that if you need to "rationally convince yourself" that for example killing is wrong then it seems to me that you have a problem.

Ok. But as long as you do not try to rationally justify your claims, I cannot engage in a reasonable conversation with you. I (as someone who prefers rationality in this discussion) cannot agree or disagree with you.

Quote:Or it may be that we have our moral preferences and all this talk is just rationalization?
I'm not sure I understand your point and I haven't read Righteous Mind. If you claim there is anything rational about your preferences (for example wrongness of killing), you should be able to express the rationalization using clear language, I think. Or if you rely on some factual evidences which is not known to me, you should be able to show me those evidences, so I can also accept your position.
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28-07-2017, 06:55 AM (This post was last modified: 28-07-2017 06:59 AM by Szuchow.)
RE: The point of studying ethics
(28-07-2017 05:42 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  Ok. But as long as you do not try to rationally justify your claims, I cannot engage in a reasonable conversation with you. I (as someone who prefers rationality in this discussion) cannot agree or disagree with you.

We are of too different opinion to be able to discuss this - I just decided to add my two cents when you said that there is nothing wrong with irrationality. Wasn't really planing on having another fruitless discussion.

Quote:I'm not sure I understand your point and I haven't read Righteous Mind. If you claim there is anything rational about your preferences (for example wrongness of killing), you should be able to express the rationalization using clear language, I think. Or if you rely on some factual evidences which is not known to me, you should be able to show me those evidences, so I can also accept your position.

My point is simple - perhaps we're "wired" to think x is bad and reasons we give for why x is bad are at least partly rationalizations. As for Righteous Mind I read it some time ago so I can't really make quick summary, it would be best if you would read it for yourself if you're interested.

Here I found small taste of Haidt book - http://www.theemotionmachine.com/6-moral...-morality/

Also it's you that constantly mention rationality in this discussion - for me it does not really come into play. I'm just trying to not be a dick and respect others freedom - whether this is rational or not I don't much care.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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28-07-2017, 02:06 PM (This post was last modified: 28-07-2017 02:30 PM by nosferatu323.)
RE: The point of studying ethics
(28-07-2017 06:55 AM)Szuchow Wrote:  
(28-07-2017 05:42 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  Ok. But as long as you do not try to rationally justify your claims, I cannot engage in a reasonable conversation with you. I (as someone who prefers rationality in this discussion) cannot agree or disagree with you.

We are of too different opinion to be able to discuss this - I just decided to add my two cents when you said that there is nothing wrong with irrationality. Wasn't really planing on having another fruitless discussion.

Quote:I'm not sure I understand your point and I haven't read Righteous Mind. If you claim there is anything rational about your preferences (for example wrongness of killing), you should be able to express the rationalization using clear language, I think. Or if you rely on some factual evidences which is not known to me, you should be able to show me those evidences, so I can also accept your position.

My point is simple - perhaps we're "wired" to think x is bad and reasons we give for why x is bad are at least partly rationalizations. As for Righteous Mind I read it some time ago so I can't really make quick summary, it would be best if you would read it for yourself if you're interested.

Here I found small taste of Haidt book - http://www.theemotionmachine.com/6-moral...-morality/

Also it's you that constantly mention rationality in this discussion - for me it does not really come into play. I'm just trying to not be a dick and respect others freedom - whether this is rational or not I don't much care.

Quote:My point is simple - perhaps we're "wired" to think x is bad and reasons we give for why x is bad are at least partly rationalizations.
This is a good point, I think we are "wired' for everything we do and think. But I don't think it's related to rationality. Hitler was also wired to do everything he did, that was his "nature" to do it. It doesn't mean he was rational.

We are natural phenomena, therefore all of our thoughts and actions are governed by natural laws, we are all completely "wired" by nature. Natural does not mean rational though. One can argue that everything that is natural is "right", and reason is irrelevant to morality, therefore everything is right and nothing is wrong. In fact I think this is an interesting position. But I don't think you mean this. Many use this sort of justification, but they are not aware of the wider implications. "Homosexuality is right, because it's natural, some of us are "wired" to be like that", everything is natural, everything is "wired" to be the way it is.

Quote:Here I found small taste of Haidt book - http://www.theemotionmachine.com/6-moral...-morality/
I checked it out. The way the author tries to derive morality from evolutionary facts is interesting. I'd be interested to see how far this can go.

Quote:I'm just trying to not be a dick and respect others freedom - whether this is rational or not I don't much care.
This is great and I think this is the only sensible approach to morality. But when you want to impose your own moral standards on others, telling them what's right and wrong, it won't work, you will need rationality. That's the part I'm focused on, if people want to assert strong moral positions and publicly judge other people, they would need rationalizations to make any sense, and such rationalizations do not seem to exist.
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