The science of morality
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19-12-2011, 03:03 PM
RE: The science of morality
(19-12-2011 01:41 PM)AbdelZ Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 01:00 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 12:25 PM)sy2502 Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 12:01 PM)Chas Wrote:  I would agree to a large extent, but not the exclusive conclusion. We have cognition and consciousness and free will. We can base our morality on anything we want, but the further that is from its evolutionary roots, the harder it is to justify it or adhere to it. That's a little fuzzy - I'll work on that.
I don't want to misrepresent or misunderstand your argument here, but it seems to be along the lines of "we should set moral rules because we can". The fact we can think of moral rules isn't a good justification for doing so. We can also think of a god and an entire theology behind it, does that make god real?

That's not quite what I meant. There is convincing evidence that a moral or ethical sense is a product of evolution. It is simply that consciousness allows us to reflect on it, analyze it, channel it, and rationalize it.


Can u then explain to me how we supposedly hypothetically have evolved from a-moral animals to moral ones ?

& how our consciousness was the product of evolution ? = that emergent property theory regarding human consciousness as something that was the product of the so-called evolutionary complexity of the brain ,does not convince me much

How can consciousness evolve from its own abstract apprehending of reality= evolution ? = a paradox

The brain or intellect can evolve but i do not see how the material brain could "give birth " to the immaterial consciousness ; explain it to me , make my day , even though i know very well what u are gonna say , repeating what neo-darwinists have been saying in that regard without being able to prove it , even thought they consider consciousness as just yet another evolved ...material process

To be more precise :

If consciousness was just a survival strategy that did not exist as such = just an illusion like love is that's just chemistry like materialists say , then all the rest is illusions = our knowledge , our perception of reality , of the truth , morality ethics , feelings , emotions, love , free will, freedom, values , justice ....including our own existence

For a compelling argument for the emergence of consciousness and intelligence, I once again refer you to The Mind's I by Douglas Hofsteder and Daniel Dennett.
And morality may be evolved by it being advantageous to survival.
Read up on evolution in, for instance, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins
Just because you can't see how it occurs doesn't mean that it doesn't.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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19-12-2011, 03:13 PM
RE: The science of morality
(19-12-2011 03:03 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 01:41 PM)AbdelZ Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 01:00 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 12:25 PM)sy2502 Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 12:01 PM)Chas Wrote:  I would agree to a large extent, but not the exclusive conclusion. We have cognition and consciousness and free will. We can base our morality on anything we want, but the further that is from its evolutionary roots, the harder it is to justify it or adhere to it. That's a little fuzzy - I'll work on that.
I don't want to misrepresent or misunderstand your argument here, but it seems to be along the lines of "we should set moral rules because we can". The fact we can think of moral rules isn't a good justification for doing so. We can also think of a god and an entire theology behind it, does that make god real?

That's not quite what I meant. There is convincing evidence that a moral or ethical sense is a product of evolution. It is simply that consciousness allows us to reflect on it, analyze it, channel it, and rationalize it.


Can u then explain to me how we supposedly hypothetically have evolved from a-moral animals to moral ones ?

& how our consciousness was the product of evolution ? = that emergent property theory regarding human consciousness as something that was the product of the so-called evolutionary complexity of the brain ,does not convince me much

How can consciousness evolve from its own abstract apprehending of reality= evolution ? = a paradox

The brain or intellect can evolve but i do not see how the material brain could "give birth " to the immaterial consciousness ; explain it to me , make my day , even though i know very well what u are gonna say , repeating what neo-darwinists have been saying in that regard without being able to prove it , even thought they consider consciousness as just yet another evolved ...material process

To be more precise :

If consciousness was just a survival strategy that did not exist as such = just an illusion like love is that's just chemistry like materialists say , then all the rest is illusions = our knowledge , our perception of reality , of the truth , morality ethics , feelings , emotions, love , free will, freedom, values , justice ....including our own existence

For a compelling argument for the emergence of consciousness and intelligence, I once again refer you to The Mind's I by Douglas Hofsteder and Daniel Dennett.
And morality may be evolved by it being advantageous to survival.
Read up on evolution in, for instance, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins
Just because you can't see how it occurs doesn't mean that it doesn't.


My friend , i read a lot about your buddies Dennet , Dawkins , Harris & co , i watched a lots of their videos .....i have been interested in evolution since i was a teenager , not so long ago .....but , materialism is not my cup of tea or coffee where both descriptive as well as prescriptive interpretative speculative ideological matters go hand in hand

materialism that does have some elements of truth, especially at the level of matter : its own level , but we are not just biology & ecology, we are not just material processes as materialism explicitly tries to 'prove ", in vain, we are not

So, you gotta try to come up with something more challenging than that redcutionistic ideological materialism in science

Thanks, appreciate , Good luck : impress me , make my day ...morning, evening or night haha
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19-12-2011, 03:17 PM
RE: The science of morality
(19-12-2011 03:13 PM)AbdelZ Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 03:03 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 01:41 PM)AbdelZ Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 01:00 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 12:25 PM)sy2502 Wrote:  I don't want to misrepresent or misunderstand your argument here, but it seems to be along the lines of "we should set moral rules because we can". The fact we can think of moral rules isn't a good justification for doing so. We can also think of a god and an entire theology behind it, does that make god real?

That's not quite what I meant. There is convincing evidence that a moral or ethical sense is a product of evolution. It is simply that consciousness allows us to reflect on it, analyze it, channel it, and rationalize it.


Can u then explain to me how we supposedly hypothetically have evolved from a-moral animals to moral ones ?

& how our consciousness was the product of evolution ? = that emergent property theory regarding human consciousness as something that was the product of the so-called evolutionary complexity of the brain ,does not convince me much

How can consciousness evolve from its own abstract apprehending of reality= evolution ? = a paradox

The brain or intellect can evolve but i do not see how the material brain could "give birth " to the immaterial consciousness ; explain it to me , make my day , even though i know very well what u are gonna say , repeating what neo-darwinists have been saying in that regard without being able to prove it , even thought they consider consciousness as just yet another evolved ...material process

To be more precise :

If consciousness was just a survival strategy that did not exist as such = just an illusion like love is that's just chemistry like materialists say , then all the rest is illusions = our knowledge , our perception of reality , of the truth , morality ethics , feelings , emotions, love , free will, freedom, values , justice ....including our own existence

For a compelling argument for the emergence of consciousness and intelligence, I once again refer you to The Mind's I by Douglas Hofsteder and Daniel Dennett.
And morality may be evolved by it being advantageous to survival.
Read up on evolution in, for instance, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins
Just because you can't see how it occurs doesn't mean that it doesn't.


My friend , i read a lot about your buddies Dennet , Dawkins , Harris & co , i watched a lots of their videos .....i have been interested in evolution since i was a teenager , not so long ago .....but , materialism is not my cup of tea or coffee where both descriptive as well as prescriptive interpretative speculative ideological matters go hand in hand

materialism that does have some elements of truth, especially at the level of matter : its own level , but we are not just biology & ecology, we are not just material processes as materialism explicitly tries to 'prove ", in vain, we are not

So, you gotta try to come up with something more challenging than that redcutionistic ideological materialism in science

Thanks, appreciate , Good luck : impress me , make my day ...morning, evening or night haha

You can't simply dismiss a whole lot of arguments with a wave of your hand and hope that will make them go away. If you have specific criticism to those arguments, you are welcome to state it. Just saying "I don't like what they say" doesn't cut the proverbial cheese.

PS: your question of "how could the material brain give birth to immaterial consciousness" is begging the question. What immaterial consciousness? You need to show there exists an immaterial consciousness before you can ask the question above.

English is not my first language. If you think I am being mean, ask me. It could be just a wording problem.
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19-12-2011, 03:21 PM
RE: The science of morality
(19-12-2011 03:13 PM)AbdelZ Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 03:03 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 01:41 PM)AbdelZ Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 01:00 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 12:25 PM)sy2502 Wrote:  I don't want to misrepresent or misunderstand your argument here, but it seems to be along the lines of "we should set moral rules because we can". The fact we can think of moral rules isn't a good justification for doing so. We can also think of a god and an entire theology behind it, does that make god real?

That's not quite what I meant. There is convincing evidence that a moral or ethical sense is a product of evolution. It is simply that consciousness allows us to reflect on it, analyze it, channel it, and rationalize it.


Can u then explain to me how we supposedly hypothetically have evolved from a-moral animals to moral ones ?

& how our consciousness was the product of evolution ? = that emergent property theory regarding human consciousness as something that was the product of the so-called evolutionary complexity of the brain ,does not convince me much

How can consciousness evolve from its own abstract apprehending of reality= evolution ? = a paradox

The brain or intellect can evolve but i do not see how the material brain could "give birth " to the immaterial consciousness ; explain it to me , make my day , even though i know very well what u are gonna say , repeating what neo-darwinists have been saying in that regard without being able to prove it , even thought they consider consciousness as just yet another evolved ...material process

To be more precise :

If consciousness was just a survival strategy that did not exist as such = just an illusion like love is that's just chemistry like materialists say , then all the rest is illusions = our knowledge , our perception of reality , of the truth , morality ethics , feelings , emotions, love , free will, freedom, values , justice ....including our own existence

For a compelling argument for the emergence of consciousness and intelligence, I once again refer you to The Mind's I by Douglas Hofsteder and Daniel Dennett.
And morality may be evolved by it being advantageous to survival.
Read up on evolution in, for instance, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins
Just because you can't see how it occurs doesn't mean that it doesn't.


My friend , i read a lot about your buddies Dennet , Dawkins , Harris & co , i watched a lots of their videos .....i have been interested in evolution since i was a teenager , not so long ago .....but , materialism is not my cup of tea or coffee where both descriptive as well as prescriptive interpretative speculative ideological matters go hand in hand

materialism that does have some elements of truth, especially at the level of matter : its own level , but we are not just biology & ecology, we are not just material processes as materialism explicitly tries to 'prove ", in vain, we are not

So, you gotta try to come up with something more challenging than that redcutionistic ideological materialism in science

Thanks, appreciate , Good luck : impress me , make my day
You've " ... read a lot about your buddies Dennet , Dawkins , Harris & co ..."
Reading about them is not reading their works. Try thinking for yourself - read them and make your own conclusions, don't just parrot someone else's.

No, I don't have to come up with something else. This methodology gave us the material basis for civilization - nothing else did. Science works.

If all the scientists disappeared tomorrow, the people who are left would be in deep shit.
If all the post-modernists disappeared tomorrow, nothing would change. Well, it might be a little quieter.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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19-12-2011, 03:35 PM
RE: The science of morality
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19-12-2011, 04:00 PM
RE: The science of morality
(19-12-2011 03:35 PM)AbdelZ Wrote:  Oh, man, when u quote someone in this forum : whole other contents come into display = unpractical : i just wanna see displayed what i wanna quote , not the whole page haha
Oh cry me a river!

Quote:proof ? i just told u about Harris i agree with some aspects of his plea , the same goes for Dawkins, Dennet .....= they have some elements of truth , but they are wrong when they try to cross the material barrier of science :
I don't particularly care that you agree or not with certain writers. I am asking you to qualify whether you find any of their arguments to be wrong and why. Opinions are like belly buttons, we all have one, which means none of them is special. Your agreement isn't so special that we should all stand up and take notice of it. Provide arguments.

Quote:If u want me to criticize some of their sayings , where can i start ? haha
Start from wherever you like. haha

What were we laughing about btw? Dodgy

Quote:Well, i perfectly expected u to say that : but : i cannot prove it scientifically simply because science is all about material processes , so
This has already been addressed in this thread. Read the pertinent posts, then see if you can come up with a suitable argument.

Quote:But , if u would consider the existence of other sources of knowledge than reason , logic, empiricism , like intuition, feeling , revelation, then we can talk

Reason and logic sound good too. Intuition and feeling are again like the belly button, having one doesn't make one special. If my feelings are different than yours, who's right? See the problem?

Quote:The religious experience can sometimes even stand above the scientific one

& intuitive insights or heart can stand higher than intellect
Provide justification for these assertions.

English is not my first language. If you think I am being mean, ask me. It could be just a wording problem.
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19-12-2011, 04:50 PM
RE: The science of morality
(19-12-2011 04:00 PM)sy2502 Wrote:  
(19-12-2011 03:35 PM)AbdelZ Wrote:  Oh, man, when u quote someone in this forum : whole other contents come into display = unpractical : i just wanna see displayed what i wanna quote , not the whole page haha
Oh cry me a river!

Quote:proof ? i just told u about Harris i agree with some aspects of his plea , the same goes for Dawkins, Dennet .....= they have some elements of truth , but they are wrong when they try to cross the material barrier of science :
I don't particularly care that you agree or not with certain writers. I am asking you to qualify whether you find any of their arguments to be wrong and why. Opinions are like belly buttons, we all have one, which means none of them is special. Your agreement isn't so special that we should all stand up and take notice of it. Provide arguments.

Quote:If u want me to criticize some of their sayings , where can i start ? haha
Start from wherever you like. haha

What were we laughing about btw? Dodgy

Quote:Well, i perfectly expected u to say that : but : i cannot prove it scientifically simply because science is all about material processes , so
This has already been addressed in this thread. Read the pertinent posts, then see if you can come up with a suitable argument.

Quote:But , if u would consider the existence of other sources of knowledge than reason , logic, empiricism , like intuition, feeling , revelation, then we can talk

Reason and logic sound good too. Intuition and feeling are again like the belly button, having one doesn't make one special. If my feelings are different than yours, who's right? See the problem?

Quote:The religious experience can sometimes even stand above the scientific one

& intuitive insights or heart can stand higher than intellect
Provide justification for these assertions.


Talk to u tomorrow, buddy , no time left , sorry

Just know first that i do accept only the scientific descriptive facts no one can deny as such , not the prescriptive interpretative speculative materialistic matters


Bye
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19-12-2011, 05:44 PM
RE: The science of morality
(19-12-2011 04:50 PM)AbdelZ Wrote:  Just know first that i do accept only the scientific descriptive facts no one can deny as such , not the prescriptive interpretative speculative materialistic matters

What does this mean? Those words do not make it at at all clear what you accept and what you reject.

You are using terms from post-modernism that you haven't defined for us.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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19-12-2011, 07:58 PM
RE: The science of morality
(18-12-2011 07:52 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(18-12-2011 07:38 PM)Mr.Samsa Wrote:  Evidence is basically anything which can be used to support a proposition. 'Scientific evidence', on the other hand, is specifically the kind of evidence which is empirical (and usually used to support scientific theories).

Since the topic is morality, let's bring it right back to the original topic. What kind of evidence do you think ethicists use to support different moral systems? Do they do empirical tests, employ falsificationism, etc? Of course not, because morals are not something which can be determined scientifically*. But this doesn't mean that we can just accept any old assertion, or that we can reject the entire field as a whole because it doesn't have any "(scientific) evidence" to support it. Instead, we collect evidence in the form of logic, rational arguments, consistency, etc, in the same way mathematicians find evidence for their work (i.e. mathematicians obviously don't collect scientific evidence).
We agree on the existence of morality, so we are not talking about evidence of its existence, so the above is not applicable to the evidence discussion.

Firstly, I don't think it's accurate to claim that "we" (assuming for now everyone in the world) accept the existence of morality. Ignoring for now the question of whether it's accurate to say that an abstract concept "exists", there are many people who reject the concept as meaningless.

Secondly, the evidence for moral claims is entirely pertinent to the question of whether "evidence" is interchangeable with "scientific evidence". If you agree that they are not the same, as you don't believe that moral arguments can be made using solely scientific evidence, then we can at least agree that claims can be supported by non-scientific evidence.

(18-12-2011 07:52 PM)Chas Wrote:  
Quote:Metaphysics (materialism, dualism, etc) is something, like ethics, which is outside of the scope of science.
Again I say that if you are making the claim that something (in this case, a non-material basis for consciousness, I think) then the burden of proof is on you making the claim. What constitutes proof of existence?

And people do. There have been numerous arguments over the years suggesting why dualism might be true. For example, Descartes' arguments, or Chalmer's philosophical zombie argument.

These constitute evidence towards a proposition. Whether we accept the validity or soundness of their evidence is another matter.

(18-12-2011 07:52 PM)Chas Wrote:  
Quote:This is because, as I mentioned above, science is predicated on the assumption of methodological naturalism. This means that it can only ever find evidence in 'favour' of naturalism and can never find evidence of supernaturalism, or dualism, etc.
If these things exist, they are by definition part of the natural world.

This makes no sense, I think you're confusing "supernatural" with concepts which have been thought of as supernatural. For example, psi phenomena is often considered supernatural, but if Daryl Bem's studies were valid then psi phenomena would be considered natural (although of course his studies weren't valid). This isn't because it is now a part of science, or part of the 'natural' world, it's because the phenomena in question weren't supernatural to begin with.

Supernatural entities are, by definition, impossible to be studied by science. They are unorderly, immeasurable, unobservable and so on, and science has no method for dealing with such entities. So it's important to understand the distinction between phenomena mistakenly thought of as supernatural now becoming part of natural study, and phenomena which truly are supernatural which can never become part of the natural world.

(18-12-2011 07:52 PM)Chas Wrote:  
Quote: This isn't a problem with science, it's actually one of its strengths in that it limits its scope to only that which can be studied, that which is useful and meaningful to us. The problem is only when people try to misuse the tool to try to support their own agenda. So to say that science finds evidence "for" naturalism and finds no evidence for dualism is a circular argument - of course it doesn't find any evidence for dualism because, by its very nature, it cannot ever find evidence for dualism.
Your argument separates reality into natural and supernatural - a false dichotomy.
If these things exist, they are natural. If they are natural, they are within the purview of science.

Again, this is untrue.

(19-12-2011 11:58 AM)sy2502 Wrote:  
(18-12-2011 07:38 PM)Mr.Samsa Wrote:  Since the topic is morality, let's bring it right back to the original topic. What kind of evidence do you think ethicists use to support different moral systems? Do they do empirical tests, employ falsificationism, etc? Of course not, because morals are not something which can be determined scientifically*.
Interestingly, that's part of why I started this thread in the Science section rather than the Philosophy section even though morality is usually considered a philosophical matter. Part of my objective with the thread was in fact to show that science CAN and SHOULD have a saying in moral matters and the saying is, in the argument I am presenting, that morality as is usually conceived is a form of special pleading, and is baseless given the scientific knowledge we currently have. I am trying to suggest we look not at what is "morally right or wrong" as it has been done until now, but at what is advantageous for the species. This is NOT what Harris does. Harris doesn't do away with the concept of morality altogether as I am suggesting. His argument "morality is that which maximizes happiness and well being" is a form of begging the question, because all one has to ask is "why is maximizing happiness and well being morally good?" and the argument comes crashing down. The argument I am presenting is that since the very reason we evolved the capacity for "morality" is survival advantage, then the only possible non arbitrary definition of "morally good" must be "that which gives survival advantage". .

You've done the exact same thing Harris has done. In other words, your argument comes crashing down when we simply ask, "Why is what is advantageous for the species morally good?".

To address your argument more specifically, just assume for the moment that it was discovered or decided that rape would be advantageous to our survival. Would you accept rape as a common behavior in society?

(19-12-2011 11:58 AM)sy2502 Wrote:  Basically, to make an example, we don't refrain from killing random members of society because it is morally wrong, but because a society in which its members randomly kill each other off will, obviously enough, extinguish itself off

I'm not sure if this is true. I agree with the first part, we don't avoid killing people because it's morally wrong, but I'd argue that we don't do it because the benefits of doing so are outweighed by the negative consequences of doing so. If someone pisses me off, and so I kill them, then I can get arrested, I could be disowned by my family, I could have friends avoid me in case I snap again, I could suffer from retaliation from their friends or family, etc.

However, imagine that the guy had killed my child. Suddenly the 'benefits' might outweigh the negatives, where I don't care what consequences I face because I don't think a person like that should exist in the world. The fact that killing another human might result in the population level reaching zero wouldn't affect my behavior at all.

(19-12-2011 11:58 AM)sy2502 Wrote:  
Quote:This is because, as I mentioned above, science is predicated on the assumption of methodological naturalism. This means that it can only ever find evidence in 'favour' of naturalism and can never find evidence of supernaturalism, or dualism, etc.
I beg to disagree. Anything that interacts with the physical can be observed and studied. You should be able to observe the supernatural through its interaction with the natural. In the case of dualism, if a supernatural component can affect the electro-chemistry of the brain, then we should be able to study it through those effects.

Untrue. Tell me how we'd observe and measure the invisible gremlins I mentioned earlier that control gravity.

Believing in the idea of invisible gremlins is of course ridiculous, but this doesn't change the fact that we couldn't observe and measure them if they did happen to exist. With the dualism example, I'm not sure how you're imagining we could measure an immaterial force affecting the electro-chemistry of the brain? Dualists don't argue that the brain doesn't do anything, they argue that the brain is like a conduit for the 'mind'. No study of the brain could prove or disprove dualism because when it comes to brain processes they make the exact same predictions as materialism.

(19-12-2011 11:58 AM)sy2502 Wrote:  Moreover, if we can formulate a satisfactory explanation of the processes in the brain without need to resort to external influence, then that should be enough to discount such external influence. In other words, yes I do believe science can have a say in the matter.

But, again, science only studies the natural world, so discounting a supernatural element because a tool designed to study the natural world can't find evidence for it, is a circular argument.
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19-12-2011, 08:19 PM
RE: The science of morality
(19-12-2011 07:58 PM)Mr.Samsa Wrote:  
(18-12-2011 07:52 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(18-12-2011 07:38 PM)Mr.Samsa Wrote:  Evidence is basically anything which can be used to support a proposition. 'Scientific evidence', on the other hand, is specifically the kind of evidence which is empirical (and usually used to support scientific theories).

Since the topic is morality, let's bring it right back to the original topic. What kind of evidence do you think ethicists use to support different moral systems? Do they do empirical tests, employ falsificationism, etc? Of course not, because morals are not something which can be determined scientifically*. But this doesn't mean that we can just accept any old assertion, or that we can reject the entire field as a whole because it doesn't have any "(scientific) evidence" to support it. Instead, we collect evidence in the form of logic, rational arguments, consistency, etc, in the same way mathematicians find evidence for their work (i.e. mathematicians obviously don't collect scientific evidence).
We agree on the existence of morality, so we are not talking about evidence of its existence, so the above is not applicable to the evidence discussion.

Firstly, I don't think it's accurate to claim that "we" (assuming for now everyone in the world) accept the existence of morality. Ignoring for now the question of whether it's accurate to say that an abstract concept "exists", there are many people who reject the concept as meaningless.

Secondly, the evidence for moral claims is entirely pertinent to the question of whether "evidence" is interchangeable with "scientific evidence". If you agree that they are not the same, as you don't believe that moral arguments can be made using solely scientific evidence, then we can at least agree that claims can be supported by non-scientific evidence.

(18-12-2011 07:52 PM)Chas Wrote:  
Quote:Metaphysics (materialism, dualism, etc) is something, like ethics, which is outside of the scope of science.
Again I say that if you are making the claim that something (in this case, a non-material basis for consciousness, I think) then the burden of proof is on you making the claim. What constitutes proof of existence?

And people do. There have been numerous arguments over the years suggesting why dualism might be true. For example, Descartes' arguments, or Chalmer's philosophical zombie argument.

These constitute evidence towards a proposition. Whether we accept the validity or soundness of their evidence is another matter.

(18-12-2011 07:52 PM)Chas Wrote:  
Quote:This is because, as I mentioned above, science is predicated on the assumption of methodological naturalism. This means that it can only ever find evidence in 'favour' of naturalism and can never find evidence of supernaturalism, or dualism, etc.
If these things exist, they are by definition part of the natural world.

This makes no sense, I think you're confusing "supernatural" with concepts which have been thought of as supernatural. For example, psi phenomena is often considered supernatural, but if Daryl Bem's studies were valid then psi phenomena would be considered natural (although of course his studies weren't valid). This isn't because it is now a part of science, or part of the 'natural' world, it's because the phenomena in question weren't supernatural to begin with.

Supernatural entities are, by definition, impossible to be studied by science. They are unorderly, immeasurable, unobservable and so on, and science has no method for dealing with such entities. So it's important to understand the distinction between phenomena mistakenly thought of as supernatural now becoming part of natural study, and phenomena which truly are supernatural which can never become part of the natural world.

(18-12-2011 07:52 PM)Chas Wrote:  
Quote: This isn't a problem with science, it's actually one of its strengths in that it limits its scope to only that which can be studied, that which is useful and meaningful to us. The problem is only when people try to misuse the tool to try to support their own agenda. So to say that science finds evidence "for" naturalism and finds no evidence for dualism is a circular argument - of course it doesn't find any evidence for dualism because, by its very nature, it cannot ever find evidence for dualism.
Your argument separates reality into natural and supernatural - a false dichotomy.
If these things exist, they are natural. If they are natural, they are within the purview of science.

Again, this is untrue.

(19-12-2011 11:58 AM)sy2502 Wrote:  
(18-12-2011 07:38 PM)Mr.Samsa Wrote:  Since the topic is morality, let's bring it right back to the original topic. What kind of evidence do you think ethicists use to support different moral systems? Do they do empirical tests, employ falsificationism, etc? Of course not, because morals are not something which can be determined scientifically*.
Interestingly, that's part of why I started this thread in the Science section rather than the Philosophy section even though morality is usually considered a philosophical matter. Part of my objective with the thread was in fact to show that science CAN and SHOULD have a saying in moral matters and the saying is, in the argument I am presenting, that morality as is usually conceived is a form of special pleading, and is baseless given the scientific knowledge we currently have. I am trying to suggest we look not at what is "morally right or wrong" as it has been done until now, but at what is advantageous for the species. This is NOT what Harris does. Harris doesn't do away with the concept of morality altogether as I am suggesting. His argument "morality is that which maximizes happiness and well being" is a form of begging the question, because all one has to ask is "why is maximizing happiness and well being morally good?" and the argument comes crashing down. The argument I am presenting is that since the very reason we evolved the capacity for "morality" is survival advantage, then the only possible non arbitrary definition of "morally good" must be "that which gives survival advantage". .

You've done the exact same thing Harris has done. In other words, your argument comes crashing down when we simply ask, "Why is what is advantageous for the species morally good?".

To address your argument more specifically, just assume for the moment that it was discovered or decided that rape would be advantageous to our survival. Would you accept rape as a common behavior in society?

(19-12-2011 11:58 AM)sy2502 Wrote:  Basically, to make an example, we don't refrain from killing random members of society because it is morally wrong, but because a society in which its members randomly kill each other off will, obviously enough, extinguish itself off

I'm not sure if this is true. I agree with the first part, we don't avoid killing people because it's morally wrong, but I'd argue that we don't do it because the benefits of doing so are outweighed by the negative consequences of doing so. If someone pisses me off, and so I kill them, then I can get arrested, I could be disowned by my family, I could have friends avoid me in case I snap again, I could suffer from retaliation from their friends or family, etc.

However, imagine that the guy had killed my child. Suddenly the 'benefits' might outweigh the negatives, where I don't care what consequences I face because I don't think a person like that should exist in the world. The fact that killing another human might result in the population level reaching zero wouldn't affect my behavior at all.

(19-12-2011 11:58 AM)sy2502 Wrote:  
Quote:This is because, as I mentioned above, science is predicated on the assumption of methodological naturalism. This means that it can only ever find evidence in 'favour' of naturalism and can never find evidence of supernaturalism, or dualism, etc.
I beg to disagree. Anything that interacts with the physical can be observed and studied. You should be able to observe the supernatural through its interaction with the natural. In the case of dualism, if a supernatural component can affect the electro-chemistry of the brain, then we should be able to study it through those effects.

Untrue. Tell me how we'd observe and measure the invisible gremlins I mentioned earlier that control gravity.

Believing in the idea of invisible gremlins is of course ridiculous, but this doesn't change the fact that we couldn't observe and measure them if they did happen to exist. With the dualism example, I'm not sure how you're imagining we could measure an immaterial force affecting the electro-chemistry of the brain? Dualists don't argue that the brain doesn't do anything, they argue that the brain is like a conduit for the 'mind'. No study of the brain could prove or disprove dualism because when it comes to brain processes they make the exact same predictions as materialism.

(19-12-2011 11:58 AM)sy2502 Wrote:  Moreover, if we can formulate a satisfactory explanation of the processes in the brain without need to resort to external influence, then that should be enough to discount such external influence. In other words, yes I do believe science can have a say in the matter.

But, again, science only studies the natural world, so discounting a supernatural element because a tool designed to study the natural world can't find evidence for it, is a circular argument.

I guess you missed the part where I denied the existence of what you define as supernatural.
If it exists, it's natural. If it exists, you can't simply declare it off-limits by calling it beyond the ken of science.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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