Is there anything objective about morality?

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:12 am UTC

doogly wrote:But they really don't seem to have a type difference to me, at all. Literally nothing suggests that to me.

You'd be the expert how things seem to you. But to me they seem quite different. Giving to effective charities is good; that's what makes Bob's view right. In contrast, it's not clear that it even makes sense to talk about whether Alice's view is right; and, if it does, then what makes it right are just Alice's desires. (If Damian thinks that the sun goes around the earth, my views about geocentrism play a role in my reasoning about whether Damian is right. So to do my views about the rightness of charity play a role in my reasoning about Bob's view. With Alice, what I think of chocolate is irrelevant. She could like some food I'd never heard of and the line of thought would be exactly the same.)

These seemings could be defeated, but they aren't going to be defeated by just baldly stating that nobody can be correct or incorrect about what's good.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Wed Aug 05, 2015 12:50 pm UTC

Cres wrote:I'm also not (currently) arguing for the claim that there are true 'x is good' statements. I'm arguing for the related but separate position that there are true statements of the form 'x is right'.
... and you are doing so without defining what "right" means, beyond the musings of an 8-year-old, (while at the same time bandying about a bunch of ten dollar philosophical jargon words). This has predictable results. Nyah nyah nyah.

Cres wrote:(1) If moral facts do not exist, then epistemic facts do not exist.
It is this statement that needs support.

Cres wrote:They are both 'should' statements - that is what normativity means.
Only by misusing the string of characters 's', 'h', 'o', 'u', 'l', 'd'. That string of characters means something different in each clause.

Cres wrote:Which 'intrinsic property' of the universe does 'weeds' pick out?
Weeds are a classification of plant; we may disagree on just which plants are weeds and which plants are crops, but that is just our use of the word - to classify; the weeds don't care. They exist (or not) anyway. In that sense their existence is a "property of the universe" (as opposed to a property of our minds). You may play with the words such that there are no plants that have the properties you (now) ascribe to weeds; that doesn't make the plants themselves disappear. That just makes them disappear from your classification system. What we call weeds is subjective, but the plants themselves exist in an objective sense.

Cres wrote:My point is that moral facts can be about thoughts as well.
And my point is that they cannot.

This is similar to the argument between speech and action, where one is disguised as the other - shouting "fire" in a theater vs burning the American flag.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby doogly » Wed Aug 05, 2015 1:31 pm UTC

My positive argument for why 'objective morality' is nonsense goes like this:

Eh, I'll spoiler it, it drags on and says little new. Basically, I consider subjective morality to be the only compatible metaethical position compatible with physicalism, and I consider physicalism to be the only not bullshit available. The metaethical position is just an obvious byproduct. Philosophers clinging to objective morality without explicit invocation of religious justification are just getting a bit more savvy in how they talk about it, but the kinds of things they are appealing to are not distinct at all; it is supernatural foolishness and I ain't got no time.*
Spoiler:
We have a few kinds of existence that are easy to organize. We can define the categories by what we put in them rather than category-first, because this is just a better way to do business. So we have rock-reality, and we think that things like trees and electrons are similar to rocks. We might get a little finicky and say that composite things like a tree or meson have a somewhat different level of existence than the smallest components (and how confident are we that quarks aren't composite?), but either we consider composite and fundamental subcategories of the physical, or we consider composite things to be convenient linguistic constructs (wholly different ontological type) but with a collection of physical type things as their antecedent.

Then we have things we've clearly thought up. Math has got some type, and tastes have some type. The details of these types are ripe grounds for discussion, but I think it's manifestly fair to say that we can group them, and that these groups aren't the same.

We might want to try ranking our ontologies into some hierarchy, and we might wonder if we have left any things out. Moral facts might get a new type, for example, or they might be like tastes or like math (they're definitely not like rocks though, eh? don't be difficult about this.)

In the history of thought, we've definitely had some ontological categories that were hierarchically above / logically prior to the physical world. Middle Plato had forms, which were not concepts people came up, but were "more real" than the particular instantiations in the physical realm. Neoplatonists held onto the forms even after Plato was done, and then have layers of decreasingly pure and divine and increasingly particular and immanent.

You can come up with similar nonsense without crimping from Greeks, this sort of thing is really popular. Evidence wise there is really nothing. In fact, from my looking it at it, it's really all justified by appeals to taste! Which people had "de-privileged" pretty harsh. There's just a strong taste for universal and objective truth... and taste is neither of those things. So it's awkward.


Punchline is like this: all of the idea or thought ontological types are in a strong sense "post" physical, because they are constructed out of our thoughts, and our thoughts are just neurons and hormones doing some very tricksy dance. If anything they seem like a unique type with features of the taste and mathematical types: we have a taste for certain framework of values, and within that we engage in rational deliberation of how we / others ought to behave. We can cultivate communal tastes and logical systems by which to reason. It could also just be entirely like taste and not at all like math though, which I strongly suspect. It seems to me like there is much more rationalizing than rationality within moral systems, and it is all just narratives we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel less arbitrary in our tastes. Holding strong moral convictions but feeling like they have the type of arbitrary taste makes us feel internal discomfort, and we have psychological defense mechanisms to keep us from feeling awkward about this conflict.

So, probably nothing in morality is any different from wanting a chocolate bar. Definitely our values are like that, and maybe our rational navigating within a moral framework is a little more rules and reason based. Doubtful.

*I do have time; I can't play any go games until after my second cup of coffee without embarrassing myself, but this sort of shit is way less complicated than go so I can be bold.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Wed Aug 05, 2015 4:31 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Giving to effective charities is good; that's what makes Bob's view right.
But why can't Bob's view be left? Or left over? Seriously, that's the problem with the word "right" - it does not mean what it seems like it means.

"right" (correct - in accordance with reality) is different from "right" (morally preferred), which is different from "right" (a universally agreed-upon permission) or "right" (opposite of "left", irrespective of the fact that "left" and "sinister" are also synonyms in the... er... right context.)

That's what you're playing with here, albeit subtlety.

And if the "rightness" of Bob's view depends on the "Goodness" of charity, then "Good" needs to also be defined without playing the same game of "Good" (tasty) vs "Good" (well done) vs "Good" (morally approved) vs "Good" (enough; completely).

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:These seemings could be defeated, but they aren't going to be defeated by just baldly stating that nobody can be correct or incorrect about what's good.
Nor are they supported by baldly stating that charity is good, and therefore Bob's desire is right.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 05, 2015 5:22 pm UTC

How can you ever have a "morally preferred" that is not in accordance with reality and have such a thing be meaningful?

Yes, good is vague shorthand. This has already been covered. Resorting to ambiguity over and over again does not make TGB wrong. He's just using shorthand to avoid a stupidly long post wherein each word is painstakingly defined. When he discusses effectiveness of charity, he is obviously discussing how well they meet objectives, something that can be measured, and isn't intrinsicly different from discussing geocentricism.

Here's the part where you circle back around to "but the things you MEASURE are ambiguous". And then people painstakingly define that. Again. Repeat as necessary.

This is merely dodging the points. It is not impossible to measure the effectiveness of a charity. Nor is said measurement entirely subjective, unless you wish to discount ALL measurements as subjective.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Wed Aug 05, 2015 5:48 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Resorting to ambiguity over and over again does not make TGB wrong.
No, it makes him (or her) unconvincing.

Tyndmyr wrote:How can you ever have a "morally preferred" that is not in accordance with reality and have such a thing be meaningful?
"Reality" does not have a moral component. If you (subjectively) choose a moral goal, actions can be effective towards that goal or not. You could consider them "Good" or "not so Good", but those who do not share your goal would likewise not share your judgments about those actions.

Tyndmyr wrote:It is not impossible to measure the effectiveness of a charity.
But that's not the part that's in question. Whether the goal of the charity is worth accomplishing in the first place is, and that's the part that's subjective. Everything on top of that is thus subjective too.

Jose
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:01 pm UTC

ucim wrote:But why can't Bob's view be left? Or left over? Seriously, that's the problem with the word "right" - it does not mean what it seems like it means.

"right" (correct - in accordance with reality) is different from "right" (morally preferred), which is different from "right" (a universally agreed-upon permission) or "right" (opposite of "left", irrespective of the fact that "left" and "sinister" are also synonyms in the... er... right context.)

That's what you're playing with here, albeit subtlety.

I think it's quite clear that I mean that Bob's view is true. If you want to say that I am equivocating, then you will have to point out where the equivocation happens and what role it plays in my argument. Simply pointing out that I've used a word with more than one meaning is not an argument.

ucim wrote:And if the "rightness" of Bob's view depends on the "Goodness" of charity, then "Good" needs to also be defined without playing the same game of "Good" (tasty) vs "Good" (well done) vs "Good" (morally approved) vs "Good" (enough; completely).

Again, I think it's quite clear that I am talking about moral goodness.

@doogly, which part is the argument? You give this typology of different sorts of thing, and then you point out that moral facts are not the same kind of thing as rocks. Fair enough, moral facts are presumably not physical objects. Then you talk about Neoplatonits and math and shit, but I missed where you explain why, since moral facts aren't the same kind of thing as rocks, they can't be objective. (That hardly looks to be the case with math, which is "clearly" a different sort of thing from claims about rocks.)
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:22 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Resorting to ambiguity over and over again does not make TGB wrong.
No, it makes him (or her) unconvincing.


Allow me to clarify.

YOU resorting to ambiguity over and over again...

Tyndmyr wrote:How can you ever have a "morally preferred" that is not in accordance with reality and have such a thing be meaningful?
"Reality" does not have a moral component. If you (subjectively) choose a moral goal, actions can be effective towards that goal or not. You could consider them "Good" or "not so Good", but those who do not share your goal would likewise not share your judgments about those actions.


Why not? If your morals do not overlap with reality, are they not utterly meaningless? Are they not, by definition, unreal?

Tyndmyr wrote:It is not impossible to measure the effectiveness of a charity.
But that's not the part that's in question. Whether the goal of the charity is worth accomplishing in the first place is, and that's the part that's subjective. Everything on top of that is thus subjective too.

Jose


Ah, so we're on this part of the loop again, as I predicted. Joy.

Goals for charity can be measured too, but if the conversation is between two people who both believe charity has value, we can skip the pedantic proof of that. Communication is for transmission of ideas. There's no need to dredge tediously over the thing that you both already know. If he and I both value people in Africa not starving, we'll skip over "why people starving in Africa is bad", and go straight to measuring ways to mitigate that.

That does not mean it's impossible to discuss why people starving in Africa is bad.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby infernovia » Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:50 pm UTC

Nobody is saying it's impossible, all we are saying is that it would depend on perspective of the person. Just because something is classified as "subjective" doesn't mean you cannot discuss it. Just because something is subjective does not mean you cannot convince another person that your viewpoint is correct. However, if someone doesn't care about poverty/suffering and really doesn't care about anything other than themselves, it might really be impossible:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihLBCbNIDbI

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby doogly » Wed Aug 05, 2015 8:36 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:@doogly, which part is the argument? You give this typology of different sorts of thing, and then you point out that moral facts are not the same kind of thing as rocks. Fair enough, moral facts are presumably not physical objects. Then you talk about Neoplatonits and math and shit, but I missed where you explain why, since moral facts aren't the same kind of thing as rocks, they can't be objective. (That hardly looks to be the case with math, which is "clearly" a different sort of thing from claims about rocks.)


The argument was what I did not put into the spoiler, to let you know that is where the point was happening. The best you can hope for with moral statements is to have the type of mathematical statements, where there is still a subjective dependence: moral values / logical frameworks ~~ mathematical axioms / logical frameworks. You cannot discover the "right" moral values or logical rules any more than you can discover whether we should be using PA vs ZFC and 1st order vs constructivist logic. Or, fuck, time cube math.

But my suspicion is that morality is even more arbitrary and subjective, because the rules for reasoning within a moral framework seem to be mostly about post hoc rationalization in order to justify our tastes with some non taste based language.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Wed Aug 05, 2015 9:09 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:If your morals do not overlap with reality, are they not utterly meaningless?
No, but they are utterly non-objective. They have no reality apart from the opinions of the people holding them. They are thus subjective.

Tyndmyr wrote:Goals for charity can be measured too...
... against what? It is nothing more than opinion whether or not thus-and-such charitable goal is "worthwhile".

Tyndmyr wrote:Allow me to clarify.

YOU resorting to ambiguity over and over again...
No, I am pointing out the ambiguities...
Spoiler:
Nothing is better than complete happiness.
A ham sandwich is better than nothing.
Therefore, a ham sandwich is better than complete happiness.
...being used in the arguments for objectiveness as an intrinsic property of morality.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Cres » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:35 am UTC

ucim wrote:
Cres wrote:They are both 'should' statements - that is what normativity means.
Only by misusing the string of characters 's', 'h', 'o', 'u', 'l', 'd'. That string of characters means something different in each clause.

You're going to have to do better than just putting words in italics. What is the difference in meaning?

(A) 'We should do action x'
(B) 'We should accept account x'

'Should' seems to play the same role in both sentences: your distinction between thought and action can be entirely captured by the different subject, with the predicate - the 'We should ... ' - unchanged. And it's not the string of characters that matters. If you like, you can use a different word - 'ought', for example - and end up with the same concept.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:50 am UTC

Cres wrote:What is the difference in meaning?
(A) 'We should do action x'
(B) 'We should accept account x'
The speaker has their own thoughts that they are trying to convey with these words; I can't read their mind. In informal usage the meanings of both "shoulds" can overlap (We should totally do this - it would be so much fun!"). But in a discussion such as this, I draw the distinction that...

(A) "Should" is a call to action, with the implication that to not do this action is morally wrong.

(B) "Should" is a passive statement about objective truth, and the likelihood that a subjective account matches it. It's dressed in the guise of action (the accepting of an account) but it is fundamentally about the account, not the accepting. Truth and Falsity are about the account. The use of "should" is a false parallel.

The thoughts behind the words are better expressed thus:

(A) Action x is Good.
(B) Account x is TRUE.

Unlike the objective truth or falsity of a fact (which doesn't have anything to do with what we think of it), morality is fundamentally about how we treat others, and how we want and how others have a right to expect to be treated. Thus, it is about actions, specifically actions that affect others. The thing that makes something moral or not has its origins in the sentience of others and in the sentience of the one with the moral system. So, it is very dependent on what we think of it.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:46 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:When he discusses effectiveness of charity, he is obviously discussing how well they meet objectives, something that can be measured, and isn't intrinsicly different from discussing geocentricism.

This is where the equivocation happens. Your measurements may be objective, but unless you're measuring the goodness of φ, they are entirely irrelevant.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Aug 06, 2015 11:43 am UTC

Thus, it is about actions, specifically actions that affect others. The thing that makes something moral or not has its origins in the sentience of others and in the sentience of the one with the moral system. So, it is very dependent on what we think of it.
Actions imply outcomes which is why the question exists. And the desire to quantify morality arrives from our ability to reason. No one, in so far as I know, has shown that animals couldn't have some base form of morality, and simply lack the ability to talk about it. Certainly chimps practice deception and Elephants are believed to experience sadness and grieving. In humans those things give rise to things we see as both moral and immoral.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:56 pm UTC

@morriswalters, above: All true. None questioned. And I accept that higher animals think. But none of that makes morality objective ("independent of the thinking about morality").

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:33 pm UTC

I don't know, but if an act can be moral without reasoning it asks the question, can that be true unless some acts are inherently moral? For instance is child nurturing inherently moral, or mere instinct? Certainly among humans it is considered moral to nurture your children. And elephants nurture their offspring. So is moral behavior exclusively in the domain of reasoning beings?

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:41 pm UTC

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:When he discusses effectiveness of charity, he is obviously discussing how well they meet objectives, something that can be measured, and isn't intrinsicly different from discussing geocentricism.

This is where the equivocation happens. Your measurements may be objective, but unless you're measuring the goodness of φ, they are entirely irrelevant.


Goodness is a generic term, that also means different things in different contexts. If you're both discussing the same thing(ie, effectiveness of this charity here) as good, you can definitely measure it.

The fact that "this charity is good at helping people" has a different meaning than "this ice cream tastes good" is unimportant to the example.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby doogly » Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:48 pm UTC

"This charity is good at doing good" is the issue.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:03 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:I don't know, but if an act can be moral without reasoning it asks the question, can that be true unless some acts are inherently moral? For instance is child nurturing inherently moral, or mere instinct? Certainly among humans it is considered moral to nurture your children. And elephants nurture their offspring. So is moral behavior exclusively in the domain of reasoning beings?
An act is neither moral nor immoral without reasoning behind it. Although unreasoned acts may accidentally lead to desirable (or undesirable) outcomes, they are not moral or immoral.

We do not ascribe morality to a rock falling and hitting a child in the nose.
We do ascribe morality to a person punching a child in the nose.
We do not ascribe morality to the accidental punching of a child in the nose due to an involuntary spasm.

Reasoning is what makes actions moral or not.
Spoiler:
This extends to planning - we ascribe morality to knowingly placing yourself in a situation where an involuntary spasm is likely to punch a child in the nose. There is no loss of generality here - the part that's moral or immoral is the act of planning this, not the ultimate punch.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby infernovia » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:16 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:When he discusses effectiveness of charity, he is obviously discussing how well they meet objectives, something that can be measured, and isn't intrinsicly different from discussing geocentricism.

This is where the equivocation happens. Your measurements may be objective, but unless you're measuring the goodness of φ, they are entirely irrelevant.


Goodness is a generic term, that also means different things in different contexts. If you're both discussing the same thing(ie, effectiveness of this charity here) as good, you can definitely measure it.

The fact that "this charity is good at helping people" has a different meaning than "this ice cream tastes good" is unimportant to the example.

YES, if you have the same goals, you can "objectively" compare what will give you your goal the best/quickest (in the sense that you could potentially have all the relevant data). The SUBJECTIVITY comes before you both decide on the goal.

In other words "That does not mean it's impossible to discuss why people starving in Africa is bad." With some people, like the girls in the YouTube video, yes yes it is. Some people can only care about themselves and not others. Or the one group of people and not others.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:19 pm UTC

doogly wrote:The argument was what I did not put into the spoiler, to let you know that is where the point was happening. The best you can hope for with moral statements is to have the type of mathematical statements, where there is still a subjective dependence: moral values / logical frameworks ~~ mathematical axioms / logical frameworks. You cannot discover the "right" moral values or logical rules any more than you can discover whether we should be using PA vs ZFC and 1st order vs constructivist logic. Or, fuck, time cube math.

It might be true* that there's no fact-of-the-matter about, say, CH vs. ~CH. But what reason is there to think that there's no fact of the matter about, say, whether there are are an infinite number of primes, or whether 2 + 2 = 4? Or whether time cube math is wrong? This does not look like the sort of thing that's just obvious as soon as you think about it. On the contrary, it's deeply counterintuitive to say that it's a subjective matter how many primes there are.

Further, if math is all subjective, what do you make of metamathematics? It's just as much a mathematical question whether "2+2=4" is a theorem of PA as it is whether 2+2=4. Is it axioms all the way down?

*On the other hand, if physicalism is so hard to reconcile with objective math or morals, I don't know how it could be reconciled with the claim that there's no fact of the matter about CH. This claim looks to be no more about the physical universe than "2+2=4" or "Some amount of selfishness is too much."

ucim wrote:No, I am pointing out the ambiguities...being used in the arguments for objectiveness as an intrinsic property of morality.

No, you're simply pointing out words that have more than one meaning and asserting that they are somewhere involved in an equivocation. Even though you've been pressed on it, you've so far declined to say where the equivocation actually happens.

Tyndmyr, read Cres's response to morriswalters here.
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Tyndmyr
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:32 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Tyndmyr, read Cres's response to morriswalters here.


I was part of the conversation back then, too. I will, however, repeat my objection rather than simply copy/paste a link again.

If what you call "morality" does not, at any point, map back to reality, it is meaningless garbage. It contains no more information than random babbling.

Whatever the particular definition of "good" you use is unimportant. Either that definition can be defined or not. If not, it's useless garbage. If it can be, then you can definitively apply that same definition repeatedly and study that thing.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:47 pm UTC

How is that a response?

Cres: "The question of the objectivity of morality is not about XYZ."
You: "You don't understand, I'm talking about XYZ."
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:58 pm UTC

Using this definition.
Moral Realism (or Moral Objectivism) is the meta-ethical view (see the section on Ethics) that there exist such things as moral facts and moral values, and that these are objective and independent of our perception of them or our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes towards them.
Make an objective moral statement that you believe is true. That is if you want to. And then justify it.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby doogly » Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:01 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote: whether 2 + 2 = 4

Are you working in the reals, or Z_3? These are both perfectly cromulent frameworks and it is a subjective choice which one you want to work in. That is my point. Maybe (if we are charitable, and I am not, but I can be for the purposes of this discussion) moral facts can exist once you have chosen some values, but the universe imposes no framework or value system. Proof theory in math is very clear on things only being true within the context of some formal system. Some have acquired considerable privilege because they are useful to us, but that's all there is to it.

*On the other hand, if physicalism is so hard to reconcile with objective math or morals, I don't know how it could be reconciled with the claim that there's no fact of the matter about CH. This claim looks to be no more about the physical universe than "2+2=4" or "Some amount of selfishness is too much."

Because that is what objective means. It cannot be a subjective matter whether morality is objective or subjective.

Here's another phrasing that might help? Physicalism implies that morality is fundamentally contingent.

Do you seriously believe there is some objective morality?
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:43 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:No, you're simply pointing out words that have more than one meaning and asserting that they are somewhere involved in an equivocation. Even though you've been pressed on it, you've so far declined to say where the equivocation actually happens.
I have pointed out many times exactly where the equivocation happens. I've even pointed out where I pointed it out. You either don't see it, don't see that that's what it is, or simply disagree.

Fine.

Going back to the OP, the question you asked is "What can be said for objectivism?" I think that pretty much everything that can be said for it has been said. If you are looking for proof, there will be none, any more than there can be proof that there exists an objective reality (of stuff that we think of as rocks and trees and electrons).

I leave it at reasoning is what makes actions moral or not. This, by itself, convinces me that morality is subjective.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:20 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:If what you call "morality" does not, at any point, map back to reality, it is meaningless garbage. It contains no more information than random babbling.

Whatever the particular definition of "good" you use is unimportant. Either that definition can be defined or not. If not, it's useless garbage. If it can be, then you can definitively apply that same definition repeatedly and study that thing.

The whole point of anti-realism is that we don't think that morality maps back to reality.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:57 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:How is that a response?

Cres: "The question of the objectivity of morality is not about XYZ."
You: "You don't understand, I'm talking about XYZ."


Ah, it can't be objective. Because it's been defined that way. Because it's not about arbitrary definitions.

Is this, then, objective truth regarding morality?

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Aug 06, 2015 6:37 pm UTC

The whole point of anti-realism is that we don't think that morality maps back to reality.
Then what use is it?

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Aug 06, 2015 6:52 pm UTC

doogly wrote:Are you working in the reals, or Z_3? These are both perfectly cromulent frameworks and it is a subjective choice which one you want to work in.

You can certainly choose whether you want to talk about the integers or about congruence classes of the integers, or whether you want to use "+" to refer to addition modulo 3 or just ordinary addition. That's not the same thing as choosing, given that you are talking about one thing or another, what will be true of it.

doogly wrote:Proof theory in math is very clear on things only being true within the context of some formal system.

No, this is mistaken. Things are true within some model, a universe of discourse and interpretation of non-logical symbols. In other words, a formalization of what I just said about the difference between Z and Z_3. Formal systems themselves are said to be sound or unsound relative to some model - an absurdity if the truth of a system's theorems were simply a matter of their derivability in the system.

doogly wrote:Because that is what objective means. It cannot be a subjective matter whether morality is objective or subjective.

My question is how you reconcile this claim with what you say about the implications of physicalism. Moral and mathematical matters are supposed to be non-physical in a such a way that they cannot be objective. What principle licenses this inference without also licensing the inference that meta-ethical matters cannot be objective?

doogly wrote:Do you seriously believe there is some objective morality?

Is it seriously this hard for you to imagine someone disagreeing with you about this?

Tyndmyr wrote:Ah, it can't be objective. Because it's been defined that way. Because it's not about arbitrary definitions.

How on earth are you getting this out of what I've been saying? I think that morality is objective, but I think that you are confused about what people are talking about when they talk about whether morality is objective.

Morality has not been defined as being objective or subjective. The question of whether morality is objective has been defined not to be the question of whether there are objective facts about happiness or survival or whatever.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:24 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Ah, it can't be objective. Because it's been defined that way. Because it's not about arbitrary definitions.

How on earth are you getting this out of what I've been saying? I think that morality is objective, but I think that you are confused about what people are talking about when they talk about whether morality is objective.

Morality has not been defined as being objective or subjective. The question of whether morality is objective has been defined not to be the question of whether there are objective facts about happiness or survival or whatever.


Essentially, this is calling morality subjective by definition. Saying "morality isn't about objective facts" is defining it as subjective.

But in practice, decisions that are commonly labeled moral decisions are very, very much about happiness, survival, etc. In short, ya'lls definition is wrong.

morriswalters wrote:
The whole point of anti-realism is that we don't think that morality maps back to reality.
Then what use is it?


Right here with Morris. What separates it from an arbitrary fictional tale, then? Or glossolalia? Or metaphysics as promised by a religion?

Soliphism and it's brethren are utterly pointless, unfalsifiable drek that do not serve any function. If your morality is no different than this, what good is it?

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:29 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Essentially, this is calling morality subjective by definition. Saying "morality isn't about objective facts" is defining it as subjective.

Again, not what I'm saying.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:38 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Essentially, this is calling morality subjective by definition. Saying "morality isn't about objective facts" is defining it as subjective.

Again, not what I'm saying.


You are, instead of arguing against my argument, simply defining it as invalid.

I define that as invalid. What now?

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Aug 06, 2015 8:00 pm UTC

I reposted the relevant part of TGB's post. For clarity and because I was tired of looking back. I'm trying in this case to understand an apparent conflict that I have highlighted in blue.
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Moral subjectivists say that all there is to moral judgments is the attitudes of the person making the judgment. Moral relativists say that there are many moral frameworks, and a moral judgment is valid only relative to a certain framework (most often, the framework of the person making the judgment).

Moral objectivists disagree. They say that moral judgments can be valid not relative to a framework, but full stop, and that there's more to this than the person's own attitudes.

Let's distinguish moral objectivism from a few other things. First, moral objectivists do not have to say that people's attitudes play no role in the validity of moral judgments. For example, part of why it's OK for me to use my roommate's baking pan is that my roommate is OK with it. This is a perfectly mundane point about consent, and it doesn't require subjectivism or relativism. Second, moral objectivists do not have to say that moral obligations are independent of cultural circumstance. For example, maybe it's the case that it's permissible to eat meat in times and places where there isn't enough plant-based food to go around, but impermissible in modern-day America. (What the objectivist can't say is that it would be permissible to eat meat just because people in the surrounding culture found it permissible.) Third, moral objectivists do not have to say that moral obligations are independent of individual cirumstances, consequences, etc. For example, maybe it's wrong to lie most of the time, but OK (or even obligatory) to lie if it would save a life.

What moral objectivists do have to say is something like this: there is a privileged, correct moral framework, and the validity of a moral judgment depends on how it fits with that framework, regardless of how that framework fits with the attitudes of the individual or the society.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 06, 2015 8:31 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:I reposted the relevant part of TGB's post. For clarity and because I was tired of looking back. I'm trying in this case to understand an apparent conflict that I have highlighted in blue.
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Moral subjectivists say that all there is to moral judgments is the attitudes of the person making the judgment. Moral relativists say that there are many moral frameworks, and a moral judgment is valid only relative to a certain framework (most often, the framework of the person making the judgment).

Moral objectivists disagree. They say that moral judgments can be valid not relative to a framework, but full stop, and that there's more to this than the person's own attitudes.


This is the part that's wrong. Moral objectivists still tie moral judgments to a framework. They simply believe that a best framework exists. Moral relativists do not.

That's it, there is no more. If you're chasing objectivity due to religion or whatever, you believe there is one best framework. Not just for you, but in general. You may not agree with other objectivists as to which is correct. Shit, you may not even believe you KNOW which is correct. Consider a religious person who is fairly new to the faith. They think the system is correct, even though they may not wholly know it, and admit personal fallability.

Relativists usually accept that there are better and worse frameworks, but not a best(and presumably not a worst, though that seems to come up quite a bit less).

Objective morality almost invariably assumes objective reality. Subjective morality can go either way.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Thu Aug 06, 2015 8:53 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
The whole point of anti-realism is that we don't think that morality maps back to reality.
Then what use is it?

Who said something has to be useful? That being said, objective goodness not existing does not imply that all moral discourse is false. People can believe whatever the hell they like about morality, and can use those beliefs to further their goals.

Honestly, this is like asking what use money has
Tyndmyr wrote:This is the part that's wrong. Moral objectivists still tie moral judgments to a framework. They simply believe that a best framework exists. Moral relativists do not.

What exactly makes a given framework superior in the objectivists eyes, if not morality simpliciter?
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:17 pm UTC

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:People can believe whatever the hell they like about morality, and can use those beliefs to further their goals.
Did you give any thought to what is implied by this? Which is not to say that people don't operate in exactly that fashion. But the answer is straight forward, thanks.

Edit
Money runs on trust, however abstract money is. Religions do just this type of sleight of hand. Trust me. Kings used just this type of thing to give credence to their reign.
Last edited by morriswalters on Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:35 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:21 pm UTC

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:This is the part that's wrong. Moral objectivists still tie moral judgments to a framework. They simply believe that a best framework exists. Moral relativists do not.

What exactly makes a given framework superior in the objectivists eyes, if not morality simpliciter?

My guess is Tyndmyr answers this with something about "corresponding to reality", and continues not to elaborate in any informative way.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby doogly » Fri Aug 07, 2015 1:23 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
doogly wrote:Do you seriously believe there is some objective morality?

Is it seriously this hard for you to imagine someone disagreeing with you about this?

No, it's not hard, a lot of people do. It's just disappointing.
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