Is there anything objective about morality?

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morriswalters
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jul 16, 2015 6:32 pm UTC

I'll respect your wishes after this post. That you can't stop from hitting the post button isn't my problem however, it is solely yours.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jul 16, 2015 7:45 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:I'll respect your wishes after this post. That you can't stop from hitting the post button isn't my problem however, it is solely yours.
Agreed. You can't really get upset about someone replying to a post they had no way of knowing you would be deleting later.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby PeteP » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:00 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
morriswalters wrote:I'll respect your wishes after this post. That you can't stop from hitting the post button isn't my problem however, it is solely yours.
Agreed. You can't really get upset about someone replying to a post they had no way of knowing you would be deleting later.

Well of course and I am not, asking somebody to only not reply to posts you intend to delete again would be silly and impossible. I just thought I should re post it since he tried to reply. But I saw his pronouncement in the post before as a positive thing and didn't want that he goes back on that, so I made it clear that I would like him to do that.

Edit: Thinking back did the angry assumption come from thinking that I meant "please don't answer this particular post I just made" which would be silly? That wasn't my intention I meant ignore me in general/ foe me, which is also what I assumed he meant with his comment about ignoring be because that is what I would mean with the words. Edit: Though I still probably shouldn't have requested it even if I was thinking it since it's rude

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby infernovia » Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:17 am UTC

"Morality is the herd-instinct in the individual."

What a wreck of a thread, I guess scientism is still in vogue with all of this talk about objectivity and absolute refusal for any clear and practical answer.

"Might is right" might not sound fair to a lot of people, but it probably sounds fair to the mighty. Genghis Khan is the hellspawn to the conquered territory but to his mongolian tribesman he is their greatest leader. Some people view abortion as murder and others view infanticide as murder and some other people consider neither murder. That line depends on what each person values and has a lot of cultural, socio-economic baggage.

Consider that even if we have all the data in the world to find the right demarcation line between crime and acceptable behavior to achieve whatever society we wanted, it still doesn't prove objectivity. All it says is for the specific goal that a person wants for a society with the data that is available to a person. That is not "objective" that's subjective, because if the person doesn't WANT that society in the first place, there is no reason to prefer it.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Cradarc » Sat Aug 01, 2015 4:51 am UTC

Infernovia,
If you put it that way, then what does "objectivity" even mean? Any claim is inherently subjective under your given perspective. Someone we consider "irrational" is just as subjective as the rest of us. Anything referred to as "objective" is simply a consensus among the majority. What's stopping us from just making that the definition of "objectivity"?

It's like saying there is no universal way to determine if a food is pasta. Well, if "pasta" exists and has meaning, then there must be some defining characteristics that allow it to be identified.
If I decided what you think is a banana is pasta, am I equally correct as you are?
Suppose everyone you meet thinks banana is "pasta", even though the dictionary still defines pasta as you know it. Who is more objective?
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Sat Aug 01, 2015 1:55 pm UTC

Cradarc wrote:If you put it that way, then what does "objectivity" even mean?
Objectivity means existing on its own, without regard to thoughts, wishes, opinions, desires, or any other cogitations about the thing in question. If something is objectively TRUE, it is true no matter what anybody thinks or wants. Similarly, if something is "objectively GOOD", it is good no matter what anybody thinks or wants. It is inherently contradictory, because "GOOD" has to do with what people want.

What does "objectivity" mean to you?

Jose
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sat Aug 01, 2015 5:02 pm UTC

Ways that goodness can "have to do with" what people want:
  1. If something is good, then people should want it.
  2. If someone believes that something is good, then she will want it (at least a little bit).
  3. If something is good, then people want it.
There certainly seems to be a contradiction in the notion of objective goodness, if (3) is what goodness has to do with what people want. But you don't say why we should believe that.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Sat Aug 01, 2015 5:59 pm UTC

I know there is a way of flying an airplane. It is an objective fact. Watch the airplanes fly through the sky. But until airplanes were invented no one knew that. And they only developed that skill set through trial and error. Yet the rules haven't changed.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Moniker Pending » Sat Aug 01, 2015 6:10 pm UTC

Hello, everyone! I was provided the link to this thread by ucim, after some discussion on http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=112350. I haven't had the time to read through all 15 pages of this thread, but seeing ucim's post, I know I have a great opportunity to post right now.

ucim wrote:
Cradarc wrote:If you put it that way, then what does "objectivity" even mean?
Objectivity means existing on its own, without regard to thoughts, wishes, opinions, desires, or any other cogitations about the thing in question. If something is objectively TRUE, it is true no matter what anybody thinks or wants. Similarly, if something is "objectively GOOD", it is good no matter what anybody thinks or wants. It is inherently contradictory, because "GOOD" has to do with what people want.

What does "objectivity" mean to you?

Jose


I'll agree with some of the premises here, but your conclusion is false. Your definition of objectivity is accurate enough, except when it comes to how it applies to "good," and your definition of "good" isn't accurate. Don't worry; even though I disagree with you, this is actually one of the more intelligent arguments for subjective morality that I've seen (You would not believe the stupidity I got from someone else I've debated this subject with; then again, that guy eventually turned out to be a manipulative psychopath, anyway. For clarification, the guy I just mentioned isn't John Fontes, who is mentioned later).

See, psychologically speaking, "wants" are actually expressions of "needs." That is, you need to eat food, but you want to eat, for example, pizza. In addition, the whole idea of "need" is often misunderstood. Most people would say you "need" to eat in order to live, but if they were to apply their actual definitions of "need" that they reveal elsewhere, technically speaking, they'd say that you wouldn't need to eat in order to live until the very instant you die of starvation. After all, before you die of starvation, you can continue to live for some time without simultaneously eating. The reason I've mentioned this is because, in previous discussions on Facebook, people have questioned why humanity needs objective morality.

The fact is, morality as it has been understood and designed so far fails to be objective, since it fails to work from a logical perspective, but it still does something to take care of our needs. The reasons for which previous systems were made is because there is an objective need for humanity to have a moral system, because we need self-governance. Non-sapient species have gotten by with the self-governance they get from their instincts, but we as a specie have mostly outgrown those instincts, and yet, at the same time, we haven't really grown into our sapience. That's why we need law enforcement, because only some of us can really be trusted to govern ourselves, and those who can't be trusted as such need to be forced into obedience and regulated, so that they can be productive members of society, instead of being (for example) hedonistic, murderous outlaw types who prey on the weak and ruin the lives and livelihoods of each other and of more civilized folks, like raiders from a Fallout game. However, even those who are more able than such folks to govern themselves will still cause problems, such as (for example) the wars we have with other nations over arbitrary cultural differences. Either way, morality is our system of governing ourselves, so that we can (hopefully) avoid such things, and make the world a place worth living in.

However, these systems are flawed on such a fundamental level that the world we live in today, with greedy businessmen slowly destroying the world for personal gain, tyrants who abuse their power to rule with an iron fist, and terrorists who would destroy the world for a religious cause (or just for fun), is really as good as it's going to get, as long as we keep with the designs of the current systems. These systems aren't just illogical; they have no defined goals to move toward. These systems define a whole lot of things as being "bad," but there's really no exploration of "why" we call these things "bad," and that's why we define things as bad based on face-value observations like "what action was performed." That's why a lot of people think that it's always bad to kill another person; yet, these same people find it hard to object to the hypothetical killing of Adolf Hitler. The fact that people have only looked to their emotional reactions to the face value of something happening when making a moral decision is the reason for which many believe that morality is subjective, but really, all it means is that morality is handled subjectively. Hypothetically, if everyone suddenly forgot how to do basic arithmetic, and they only concluded that 2+2=4 was true because it "feels right," would that mean that the object of mathematical study was subjective? You might say "no," so why, then, when moral judgments are made because they "feel right," would you say that the object of moral study is subjective?

What moral systems so far have failed to do is define what "good" is, and so they have no purpose other than to avoid things felt to be "bad." The best that has been done in that regard is a collection of vague descriptions of things that "feel like they are good things" based on nothing more than vacuous sentimental fluff and/or the glorified guesses of our intuition, but ultimately, these things contradict each other sooner or later. The fact is, if you have a definition of "good," you don't need to include contradictory definitions, because you already have a definition of "good." Anyway, if you don't know what "good" is, how can you actually figure out when something has violated "good," thus making it "bad?" As far as I can tell, very few people before me have actually tried to figure out what "good" is (the rest just kind of tag along), and no one before me has ever tried to figure out "good" from any logical perspective that would actually work for an objective moral system. With definitions that define "good" as "what feels right," "good" would indeed be subjective, but the definitions we have for things are limited by what we understand of such things. If we had a better understanding of "good," we could come up with a definition of "good" that is independent of subjective feelings, and we could then define it objectively.

I have actually come up with such a system myself, though while the concepts work, I don't really have it compiled into a presentable format (see the linked thread at the top of this post for some more information on why). I've discussed it a lot on many Facebook posts over several months, and I might be able to discuss it here soon enough, but the closest I got to defining the whole thing was in a discussion with the infamous troll John Fontes, who was since banned from the page I debated him on (you might say "don't feed the troll," but I was the troll-slayer that he feared the most; he was effectively unable to bully anyone else, once I showed up in a discussion with him in it), thus making me unable to access what I had typed. It wasn't perfect, either; though it was a more thorough explanation of the system itself than I have typed since, I had intentionally inserted a slight flaw in it (it was a simple change between boolean variables and trinary logic variables, which would be easy enough to fix if I still had access to it), just to see if he would notice (he didn't). Anyway, I'll have to get to work on typing that up, though I might be able to discuss it some here before I finish.

By the way, does anyone know of any good (and free) programs that can be used to design truth tables, and that can accommodate trinary variables? I've tried finding some to help me design the presentation of my system, but all I've found among freeware is stuff that can only handle the usual binary boolean variables. I could try to "simulate" the trinary variables by using extra boolean variables (for example, simulating "true, false, and inverse-true," representing "good neutral, and bad," respectively, by having both "good" and "bad" have their own variables, and "true" for "bad" would simulate "inverse-true" in the trinary variable), but that would clutter up the tables a lot, not to mention some of the confusion that might result from terminological inconsistency.

EDIT: Also, ucim, in response to something you said in my thread:

I don't think there is anything "objective" about morality. Morality is about how we choose to behave, and what we think about those choices. It's not something that "exists" in the sense that an electron or a rock does.


The physicalist perspective, that nothing exists which is not governed by the universe's physical laws, is proven false, even outside of morality. Granted, anything that physically exists in our universe must be governed by such laws, but things like logic and concepts (including morality) are not physical. They can still exist, and they can still be governed by a set of laws that define their existence, but the laws that govern them are not the same as the laws that govern an electron or a rock, which is why they don't exist in the same sense as an electron or a rock. However, that does not mean that these things do not exist, or are not objective. For example, numbers do not physically exist, but they still exist, and they are still governed by a working system. Two plus two will always equal four, and it couldn't possibly equal anything else, because the laws that govern math have allowed for two plus to to equal four, and nothing else.

I'm not going to accuse you of thinking with the same mentality as John Fontes, the aforementioned troll, but his position was that non-physical things don't exist (except, of course, for God, since he was a religious troll, always causing trouble on Atheistic sites; he claimed he was a Catholic, yet in debates, his definition of God was more Deistic or Pantheistic), and he argued that numbers are nothing but the symbols we write, existing physically as markings on the paper we write on, and in no other way. I don't remember using this counter-argument against him at the time (I had a different counter-argument, which, IIRC, was less effective than this one would be), but now, I would ask him to tell me how the mathematical statement "2+2=4," taken only as the symbols you see there, and not the concepts represented by the symbols, would be accurate, and why "2+2=3" would be inaccurate, again as the symbols, without considering the concepts that the symbols represent. If mathematical concepts only existed as symbols, neither would be accurate nor inaccurate, because they would just be a meaningless bunch of marks, just being there for no reason, without anything to say that could be accurate or inaccurate. Similarly, the words of this post, or any words that have ever existed in any form, would be just a bunch of meaningless markings, or noises if spoken. This, of course, is all assuming a hypothetical scenario in which physical things could somehow exist, without physical laws to define them, because while those physical laws define that which is physical, the laws themselves are not physical things. More realistically, in a situation in which nothing non-physical exists, as John Fontes claimed our reality to be, nothing would exist at all, because there would be no laws governing how anything exists.

Granted, you didn't explicitly state that non-physical things don't exist at all, but I just wanted to get that out of the way.

FURTHER EDIT: Anyway, as far as my objective definition of "good" goes, "good" is basically "the state in which all are treated appropriately as they are." In other words, if you wanted to be "good" in your treatment of another person, you would treat that person in a way that fits the person that they are. If that other person is a good person, and you were to treat that person in a good way, you would treat that person positively. If that person is an evil person, you would treat that person negatively. So far, what I've said should be obvious in its meaning. You should also note that your actions rarely effect just one person; you might treat an evil person negatively as an intended effect, but if you have to treat a good person negatively in the process, you would be violating "good" as the ideal for the moral system in doing so. Note: the system describes ideals, but many situations are not ideal; in such situations, you just have to do the best you can, but the lack of a feasible option for fulfilling the ideal "good" doesn't mean that the ideal of "good" doesn't exist.

Otherwise, there are other axioms for the variables, such as "who a person is" and "whether an effect is positive, neutral, or negative," but for now, the axiom which defines "good," and which the system operates on as a whole for its purpose, has been provided.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby infernovia » Sat Aug 01, 2015 8:45 pm UTC

Cradac wrote:Infernovia,
If you put it that way, then what does "objectivity" even mean? Any claim is inherently subjective under your given perspective. Someone we consider "irrational" is just as subjective as the rest of us. Anything referred to as "objective" is simply a consensus among the majority. What's stopping us from just making that the definition of "objectivity"?

It's like saying there is no universal way to determine if a food is pasta. Well, if "pasta" exists and has meaning, then there must be some defining characteristics that allow it to be identified.
If I decided what you think is a banana is pasta, am I equally correct as you are?
Suppose everyone you meet thinks banana is "pasta", even though the dictionary still defines pasta as you know it. Who is more objective?

Ucim's explanation is great, but I am going to clarify this in another way.

If someone says "pizza" and you think "burrito", all that has happened is a failure of communication. You have not communicated properly, so if you both learned each other's diction, then you might come to the same conclusion. And a lot of people think that is how we can eliminate differing morality. This is naive, but its easy to imagine. Some people's moral values are decided by due to bad communication/lies. This isn't the same thing when we are arguing about emotionally and legally charged words like "murder." What they are trying to do is stick all the social and cultural stigma that comes with being a killer to someone who has an abortion because they really view a fetus as a person.

On top of which, there are quite a lot of scenarios where the situation is conveyed EXACTLY the same to two people, and they have different reaction due to their temperment, their outlook, their culture, their genetics, etc. The gun debate is a good example, some people priotize safety by taking away potential threats and some people do it by making it legal for them to defend themselves (with a wide amount of tolerance in between). There is no "right" here, because we are in a situation where both people aren't right 100% of the time. And even if one side could convince everybody from the other side that it's a good thing now, what happens in 200 years when we become cyborgs? etc.

Moniker Pending wrote:Anyway, as far as my objective definition of "good" goes, "good" is basically "the state in which all are treated appropriately as they are." In other words, if you wanted to be "good" in your treatment of another person, you would treat that person in a way that fits the person that they are.

Your post is too long, but I will harp on this point. The problem is that the mongols think civilized people/any people that cannot withstand their assaults as basically cows made to be slaughtered. They consider this appropriate. Do you see where that could be a problem?

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Cradarc » Sat Aug 01, 2015 9:24 pm UTC

My definition: Objectivity describes the process in which logic is used to arrive at decisions, which I deem indisputable.

ucim wrote:Objectivity means existing on its own, without regard to thoughts, wishes, opinions, desires, or any other cogitations about the thing in question.

There's no way to demonstrate something fits that definition. It holds as much meaning as "Objectivity means something nobody knows". While you technically can define objectivity this way, you might as well replace it with a nonsensical word.

Infernovia,
In the analogy, the term given to the food item IS the reaction to a moral situation. So what I'm taking away from your post is that the banana could be a "banana" and a "pasta", depending on who you ask. Both are completely valid in their own way.
But that food item is also intrinsically something! Whether you react to it with "banana" or "pasta", it's still made out of the same stuff. That is, the label we give to the item is variable, but the item itself is not.

You say "banana", I say "pasta", but the object we are pointing at is not shape shifting. Looking for objective morality is equivalent to fully defining the object, not coming up with a label that we all agree to.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sat Aug 01, 2015 9:24 pm UTC

Why is that a problem? I'm sure the Mongol Empire was wrong about a lot of things.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Moniker Pending » Sat Aug 01, 2015 9:54 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:Your post is too long...


Unfortunately, that's the way it is. When I talk about my own moral system, I have to type up a bunch of text. What you've just seen is more like a casual, unofficial introduction to the context one would need to understand before trying to consider the system itself. I don't remember if I've mentioned this on the thread I started (I know I haven't mentioned it here), but my comments on Facebook often have preambles for that same purpose.

The thing is, this is a completely different system from the "codex of declarations" that has been used exclusively by human civilization since humans first made civilizations. With that in mind, I'll have to explain what is wrong with the current system, how a system that is different from the only type of system whose use was ever documented could possibly exist and work, and all sorts of other things about the concepts used by my system, such as "what is a highest-order axiom," just so people can understand what I'm talking about when I finally bring up the system in a discussion focused on what my system addresses. I remember that the informal description of the system itself, before the discussion was deleted when John Fontes was banned, was "only" long enough that it would take up several pages in an OpenOffice document, and that was without all of the extra stuff that needed to be explained.

I hope this impression I have of you is wrong, but this sort of thing has happened far too many times for me to not address this: if you think it's not important to consider the things people say before addressing the things they say, then what are you doing here?

Sorry for the hostility, but one of only few things that makes me truly angry in a discussion is when people are "active non-participants" in an otherwise meaningful discussion, meaning that they communicate, declare positions, and declare positions that contradict their own to be false, but do not want to actually consider what is being said or otherwise have any honest mental participation in the discussion. The hostility I have shown so far is actually relatively small, compared to some other discussions I've been in, where others have done far worse than you have here. On another forum (not to be named in polite conversation), for example, I had to go through several pages of trolls responding to what I said with nothing but a combination of straw men and ad lapidem arguments; they mostly pretended to "refute" my claims by (unsuccessfully) refuting other claims that I hadn't made, when I hadn't really made any claims at all (after all, the thread was made to ask for copyright advice, not to debate with a crowd of people who turned a narrow purview of science into the dogma of a new religion that completely missed the point of science in the first place). The thread was finally closed, after I had decided that I'd take the whole site as seriously as the people there took the site's stated purpose of being a place for intelligent discussion, and thus I made my posts on the last couple of pages in the form of cryptic allegories that only hinted at my actual position. Ironically, the moderator who closed the thread was one of the two people I've encountered there who are respectable people, as I had learned in the following private conversation...

There's also the aforementioned manipulative psychopath, and his associates, who would just sanctimoniously lambaste me with a barrage of accusations that I had repeatedly proven false, all while stopping just shy of admitting that they were guilty of everything they accused me of, whenever there was a hint of disagreement with them in anything I said. Also, there was a particularly vacuous troll (again, not John Fontes; there are a lot of trolls I've encountered) on Facebook, for whom I had come up with the term "active non-participant" in the first place...

As I've already stated, you haven't done nearly as bad as those people have, but please: if you're going to address something, make sure you've considered what you're addressing. Honestly, you could have done a lot better, just by not dismissing the rest of my post with a complaint about how long my post was, and not assuming that you already knew what I hadn't explained about my position yet. You could have simply asked me how I would have avoided the problem you described; for future reference, you should try to confirm what another person's position is, so you know what you will need to address, before you assume that your counter-arguments have already refuted anything that the other person would say. I will explain that eventually, but right now, I have a huge headache, and I can only hope the aspirin kicks in soon. For now, I'll just have to say that my system would not have enabled the Mongols to slaughter civilized folks based on such arbitrary standards.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby infernovia » Sun Aug 02, 2015 12:31 am UTC

Cradac wrote: Objectivity describes the process in which logic is used to arrive at decisions, which I deem indisputable.

You say "banana", I say "pasta", but the object we are pointing at is not shape shifting. Looking for objective morality is equivalent to fully defining the object, not coming up with a label that we all agree to.

"I deem indisputable." Your definition is completely arbitrary and really arrogant. Here is the dictionary definition:

objective:
not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased:

Honestly, I imagine you as that annoying kid that thinks all of his/her opinion is objective. Read what I said again, and then read what ucim said. And again. And if you don't understand, I honestly think you might be SoL. I thought ucim's response was really lucid (I think mine is too but I am a bit biased ;) ).

The problem isn't the word! You and I might have the same exact description of the event, but we might come to completely different reactions due to our experience/culture/temperment/genetics. It's completely naive to think just if you agreed on the definitions, the personality and the outlook of the individual would change. That's because morality is about values built up by experience and education, what a specific individual/society holds as important. It isn't just a description, it's a judgement.

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Why is that a problem? I'm sure the Mongol Empire was wrong about a lot of things.

LOL. I laughed. I don't know your actual position, but I thought this line was particularly funny.

Moniker Pending wrote:Honestly, you could have done a lot better, just by not dismissing the rest of my post with a complaint about how long my post was, and not assuming that you already knew what I hadn't explained about my position yet. [...] For now, I'll just have to say that my system would not have enabled the Mongols to slaughter civilized folks based on such arbitrary standards.

Clearly.

I am sorry you took so much offense to my commentary about the length of your post, but I don't really have the time to read a 5+ paragraph commentary detailing your past history. I will just ignore you going forward.
Last edited by infernovia on Sun Aug 02, 2015 1:06 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Sun Aug 02, 2015 1:05 am UTC

infernovia wrote:The problem is that the mongols think civilized people/any people that cannot withstand their assaults as basically cows made to be slaughtered. They consider this appropriate. Do you see where that could be a problem?
For who? Not for the Mongols certainly.


Edit,
The person I quoted, seems to think I took him out of context. Perhaps I did.
Last edited by morriswalters on Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:04 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Moniker Pending » Sun Aug 02, 2015 1:32 am UTC

Clearly. I am sorry you took so much offense to my commentary about the length of your post, but I don't really have the time to read a 5+ paragraph commentary detailing your past history. I will just ignore you going forward.


Hey, it's all right. Like I said, you weren't as bad as some of the others; you made a simple mistake, and you haven't demonstrated yourself to be a troll, or a psychopath, or anything like that. That's why I put more effort into challenging you at that point than I would with a troll, at this point in the interaction; I don't mean to sound condescending or anything, but trolls don't have nearly as great of a capacity to better themselves as non-trolls, after all. It's why I try to challenge myself so much, though the people here wouldn't really know much about that, since I just got here, and most of my more strict "self-discovery and improvement" threads are already on other sites. Anyway...

I was also a bit frustrated, 'cause of how hard it is to find anyone who will take a discussion on the topic of the possibility for objective morality seriously, or be willing to actually put in the work necessary to figure out stuff like this. I was kind of hoping that I'd have a bit more luck on a thread that's actually dedicated to the topic in question than, say, while I'm slaying trolls on Facebook, with the hope that some random commenter (other than the troll) will be interested enough in an in-depth exploration of the topic in question to do some reading, instead of just saying "tl;dr." I've actually found at least two such people over a period of several months of doing the latter, by the way, but then there were too many comments to keep track of, and Facebook really wasn't designed for such a discussion, so then the others just lost track of things, and stopped coming back to the discussion...

I'll still need time to get the other stuff typed up, but if this is the reaction I get from the people here after 5 short paragraphs, I might have to find somewhere else to post. Does anyone have any suggestions for where I can go with this?

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Aug 02, 2015 2:23 am UTC

You come into this thread, as a poster most of us have never seen before, and you admit to not reading most of it, and then you post a multipage screed that doesn't seem to be responding to much of anything specific that has already been discussed. Then when someone comments that your post is long you start throwing around the word "troll" every couple of sentences.

It reeks of a kind of self-important sense of entitlement that few people here have the patience to engage with.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:08 am UTC

To put it another way: nobody cares about you or whatever it is you do outside of this thread. Stop padding your posts with lengthy asides about your personal life and how gosh-darned clever you are.
Moniker Pending wrote:The physicalist perspective, that nothing exists which is not governed by the universe's physical laws, is proven false, even outside of morality.

I'm a mathematical platonist, so I agree with you about the mind-independence of mathematics to some extent, but the debate has hardly been settled.
Moniker Pending wrote:Hypothetically, if everyone suddenly forgot how to do basic arithmetic, and they only concluded that 2+2=4 was true because it "feels right," would that mean that the object of mathematical study was subjective? You might say "no," so why, then, when moral judgments are made because they "feel right," would you say that the object of moral study is subjective?
Moral judgements have more in common with aesthetic judgements than mathematical statements. Are you proposing that aesthetic judgements are also objective? If not, what distinguishes moral judgements from other value judgements?
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Moniker Pending » Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:32 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:You come into this thread, as a poster most of us have never seen before, and you admit to not reading most of it, and then you post a multipage screed that doesn't seem to be responding to much of anything specific that has already been discussed. Then when someone comments that your post is long you start throwing around the word "troll" every couple of sentences.

It reeks of a kind of self-important sense of entitlement that few people here have the patience to engage with.


Yeah, well, it's not like I accused anyone here of being a troll. I actually mentioned that I wasn't accusing infernovia of being a troll, and that I challenged infernovia more from the beginning because I didn't think infernovia was a troll. And, I admit, it is somewhat hypocritical of me to criticize someone else for a "tl:dr" response, after I hadn't read through the whole thread before posting. At the same time, it's not nearly as hypocritical as you think; I wasn't making my post to address the entire thread, but rather, I was addressing ucim's post in particular, and I was going to read the rest of the thread later, when I had the time to do so. I was trying to make the response to ucim's post more applicable to the topic being discussed in a more general way, but the point is, I didn't try to address anything specific that anyone else said, without trying to get a sense of their whole point with what they're saying. I read ucim's post, and the post he quoted, and so on, until I went far back enough that the posts I was looking at had nothing to do with specifically what ucim was talking about, and I tried to make sure I accounted for all of that before I responded; but again, I was responding specifically to what ucim said in one post. I made an effort to ensure that I wasn't just bothering him with a counter-argument he had already addressed, and that I wasn't making assumptions on something he hadn't explained yet, but already said he was going to explain later.

What infernovia did was just skim through my post for something that he could address, without getting any sense of my overall position, without making sure he wasn't making a counter-argument I had already addressed, and without bothering to read or understand the single-sentence paragraph at the bottom, in which I reiterated that I hadn't given my whole position yet. After getting such a small amount of information, he just assumed the worst about the rest, and used that assumption to address what little he bothered to read, basically using the somewhat obscure "weak man" fallacy. After all of that, he's looking more like a troll than he was, but he's not "confirmed" yet; he's indicated laziness and other problems, but he's lacking the display of "intentional malice" that would make him a troll.

Furthermore, when I do read the whole discussion, do you really think anyone's going to appreciate me posting a response on page 15 to something said on, say, page 3?

... Either way, you're the second person to address me on this thread, and the second person to criticize me for making long posts; your post even brings up your skimming for key words without any attention paid to the context in which those words appear. Your wording suggests hostility and support for such lazy discussion, as opposed to merely trying to explain where someone else is coming from. The people posting to the thread I made when I first came to this forum are much more considerate of the contents of the posts that they address, so at least I know that this forum as a whole isn't nearly as intellectually stifling as the other "intellectual-focused" forum I've mentioned before... however, with the lazy, uninterested attitudes I'm seeing on this thread, I'm really doubting the usefulness of any attempt to have an in-depth discussion on the possibility that morality might be objective, on this particular thread made specifically for the purposes of that exact discussion. It's a shame, too, since I've already started reading the rest of the thread, and TheGrammarBolshevik, who originally made the thread, seems to have wanted a more serious and in-depth discussion himself.

Anyway, since The Mighty Thesaurus has asked me a question, without assuming anything in the question, and discussing something I've only implicitly addressed already, I'll stay at least long enough to address that; I might stay longer, if people can get serious on a thread in the "Serious Business" subforum.

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:Moral judgements have more in common with aesthetic judgements than mathematical statements. Are you proposing that aesthetic judgements are also objective? If not, what distinguishes moral judgements from other value judgements?


Actually, I'm proposing that it's possible for us to handle moral judgments in an objective manner, and the fact that we haven't is just an unfortunate coincidence. We could be making value judgments of many types in an objective manner, for that matter, but no matter how much things would be better if we determined values based on objective rationales, we just... don't. Even aesthetic judgments could be handled in a somewhat objective manner, if we have a more honest look at why we are making the decisions.

When choosing colors, for example, you could say that you picked a certain color because it's the "best" color, defining "best" with no objective criteria, and ultimately going with how you feel and nothing else, thus deciding something based on subjective criteria... or, you could say that you picked a certain color because the emotional impact it has on you contributes in the best way for what you are trying to accomplish with your choice. With the latter, you actually have a goal, and if the goal is defined in a way that allows the fulfillment of that goal to be objectively measured, qualitatively or quantitatively, you can thus determine whether or not it is true that the goal has been reached to satisfaction. The presence of defined criteria whose fulfillment can possibly be fulfilled (even if we can't measure such a thing with our current capabilities) and thus give a true/false statement to answer the question "is this criteria met," makes the question a question of facts, and thus making the topic a matter of fact. "Objective," as ucim implied, but did not explicitly[/] state in his post, and also as defined by dictionary, refers to matters "considering and representing facts." The definition also includes "not influenced by personal feelings or opinions," and even though the fact [i]concerns what a person feels, a person cannot influence the fact that something makes them feel a certain way just by having feelings about that fact (which feelings they feel about that fact would actually be a different fact, in and of itself).

Also, as for your criticism of me at the top of your post, the fact is that the laziness of the people here is interfering with the discussion, far more than my explanation of my reasoning for anything I do is, or my explanation of who is doing more right or wrong merely by debating in a certain way. This is, after all, a discussion on the objectivity of morality; if we are to ignore the reasons for which people choose to do things, we won't be able to address whether or not those reasons are objective. The connection may not be as direct as it would be if the thread was limited to the question "is morality objective," and all answers were limited to either a "yes" or "no," but any intelligent discussion will have a significant focus on "why is the answer what it is," not just "what is the answer," and in addressing "why," there are bound to be explorations of things that are somewhat removed from, but still relevant to, the question.
Last edited by Moniker Pending on Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:26 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby infernovia » Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:26 am UTC

You seem to be really young so I will give you a hint for these topics, especially if you really want a deep discussion. I don't care about your history. I don't care about all the background information. Get to the point. If you spent half as much time trying to get your idea clearly across, this battle of ideas would progress. If you can't get it, why not read some philosophy? Why not read Socrates/Plato? Why not read some Nietzsche? There are some really great books out there.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:33 am UTC

Moniker Pending wrote:Actually, I'm proposing that it's possible for us to handle moral judgments in an objective manner, and the fact that we haven't is just an unfortunate coincidence.

I understand that. What I'm asking is why are moral judgements special? So far, the only thing you have posted that comes close to an argument for objective morality can also be used for all other value judgements, and it's not clear how you justify the distinction (or if you do distinguish them).
Anyway, as far as my objective definition of "good" goes, "good" is basically "the state in which all are treated appropriately as they are." In other words, if you wanted to be "good" in your treatment of another person, you would treat that person in a way that fits the person that they are. If that other person is a good person, and you were to treat that person in a good way, you would treat that person positively. If that person is an evil person, you would treat that person negatively

How do we get from here to first order ethical judgements? How would a person using your definition of objective good handle competing ideas of desirable world-states? Is it immoral for me to treat somebody based on a mistaken idea of their being?
Moniker Pending wrote:The connection may not be as direct as it would be if the thread was limited to the question "is morality objective," and all answers were limited to either a "yes" or "no," but any intelligent discussion will have a significant focus on "why is the answer what it is," not just "what is the answer," and in addressing "why," there are bound to be explorations of things that are somewhat removed from, but still relevant to, the question.

  • I am proposing that your asides are in fact irrelevant to the question, and actually detract from your arguments by drawing attention away from them.
  • Professional philosophers manage to talk about meta-ethics without repeatedly ranting about the fools and trolls who just won't listen
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Moniker Pending » Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:54 am UTC

infernovia wrote:I don't care about your history. I don't care about all the background information. Get to the point.


That background information is part of my rationale. It's part of how I back up my point. If I merely stated my point, I'd just be declaring my conclusion, and not backing it up in any way.

If you spent half as much time trying to get your idea clearly across, this battle of ideas would progress.


If I spent half as much time trying to get my idea clearly across, I wouldn't be accurately representing my idea, and then, I'd only have myself to blame when no one else can do the same in their counterpoints.

If you can't get it, why not read some philosophy? Why not read Socrates/Plato? Why not read some Nietzsche? There are some really great books out there.


Already done. I'll PM you the rest of what I'd otherwise type here, since that's actually getting into background information that really doesn't have any apparent connection to the discussion.

..........

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:I understand that. What I'm asking is why are moral judgements special? So far, the only thing you have posted that comes close to an argument for objective morality can also be used for all other value judgements, and it's not clear how you justify the distinction (or if you do distinguish them).


I've edited that post several times since I've first posted it. I've "briefly" addressed that question in the edits, though my idea of "brief" probably isn't what you'd think of as "brief." I could explain why I edit things so much, but that's more of a compensation for neurological things, not something I do differently because I choose to.

How do we get from here to first order ethical judgements?


Actually, a system using first-order judgments wouldn't work, according to Gödel's incompleteness theorems. You'd need something "higher-order"... a lot "higher-order." As in, something I like to call "highest-order," as I've mentioned before, a single axiom that can accurately answer the question that the system addresses, no matter the situation. It's basically a "unified theory," like what physicists look for to explain the apparent conflict between classical vs. quantum mechanics. In this axiom, you'd need to account for every relevant variable, and you'll also need to be able to figure out if a variable that was previously thought relevant is actually arbitrary, i.e. if it's only correlated, as opposed to causally linked. You may have lesser axioms to define the variables used by the "highest-order" axioms of a system, but ultimately, those axioms cannot serve the same purpose that the "highest-order axiom" serves for the system.

The thing is, in order to have such a "highest-order" axiom, you'd need a single definition for the purpose for which the system exists at all, and thus, for morality, you'd need to define "good" in and of itself.

How would a person using your definition of objective good handle competing ideas of desirable world-states?


My definition, if used, would replace those competing ideas. I have tried coming up with alternative ideas that satisfy the properties of a logical system; I have found none. If someone else finds a different idea that satisfies the properties of a logical system, I'd be very interested in hearing it.

Is it immoral for me to treat somebody based on a mistaken idea of their being?


Yes, it would be. However, whether or not you are a bad person, and thus whether or not you warrant negative effects for yourself, is a separate situation, and thus would require axiom to be re-applied. The answer could be found mostly by examining why the mistake was made, and what your reaction was to the knowledge that you were mistaken. Ultimately, anyone who would judge you would have to figure out who you are.

After all, we all make mistakes, and this does not make us bad people. People who act upon the world without concern for the effects their actions cause, or who the effects are given to, are effectively evil people; if a person's intent is to treat others wrongly, that's an even worse form of evil (I've met people with such intentions, in case you think it's ridiculous to account for such a situation).

Moniker Pending wrote:
  • I am proposing that your asides are in fact irrelevant to the question, and actually detract from your arguments by drawing attention away from them.
  • Professional philosophers manage to talk about meta-ethics without repeatedly ranting about the fools and trolls who just won't listen


I wasn't aware that "philosopher" was still a profession. Either way, accounting for why trolls and fools, as well as less malevolent - yet still possibly, though not necessarily, abnormal - types, do or don't do anything is necessary when trying to explain morality, at least in the same way I am trying.
Last edited by Moniker Pending on Sun Aug 02, 2015 5:49 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Sun Aug 02, 2015 5:46 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Ways that goodness can "have to do with" what people want:

1. If something is good, then people should want it.
2. If someone believes that something is good, then she will want it (at least a little bit).
3. If something is good, then people want it.

There certainly seems to be a contradiction in the notion of objective goodness, if (3) is what goodness has to do with what people want. But you don't say why we should believe that.

(1) and maybe (2)...
Spoiler:
Although (2) might be read the way (3) is, the issue of believing something makes it even cloudier.
...are little more than a statements of opinion. They fail to define "good" (except perhaps to suggest it is "something people should want"), and fail to use or rely on an external definition of "good". OTOH, (3) can be read as a definition of "want", or as the definition of a property of "good", but either way, it requires the definition of the other word before it's useful. Assuming you're not trying to define "want", the property being proposed for "good" is not very useful, as things that are "bad" are also things (some) people want.

Cradarc wrote:There's no way to demonstrate something fits [ucim's] definition. It holds as much meaning as "Objectivity means something nobody knows". While you technically can define objectivity this way, you might as well replace it with a nonsensical word.
Something being objectively true or false is different from something being proven to be one or the other, and the fact that we can't objectively tell whether something is objectively true or objectively false does not bear on whether, being true or false, it is objectively so. It's not the true or false part that's under discussion, but the objective or subjective nature of the fact in question.

Moniker Pending wrote:I'll agree with some of the premises here, but your conclusion is false. Your definition of objectivity is accurate enough, except when it comes to how it applies to "good," and your definition of "good" isn't accurate.
With which premises do you agree? What is your definition of "good"?* What is your definition of "objective"? The answers to those three questions will give us plenty to work with.

* Your proposal: "Anyway, as far as my objective definition of "good" goes, "good" is basically "the state in which all are treated appropriately as they are." is too fuzzy. "Treated appropriately as they are" is hardly objective ("independent of what people think") - the mapping of "how they are" to any specific action depends a lot on a person's opinion of what "what they are" is.

an aside:
While "wants" may be expressions of "needs", the tie-in is not always simple. I may need to eat in order to live
Spoiler:
Never mind the "not until the moment of death" part - it's a red herring easily fixed by recognizing "live" in that sentence as an abbreviation for the idea of "remain strong and healthy".
but I want to eat because it makes me feel good. Our bodies are like that; teenage pregnancies are a common result. I want to eat chocolate because it tastes good, even though broccoli is better for my health. Seeing the desire for chocolate as an extension of a need is fine, but it's not the need to eat that's being extended, but more akin to the need to feel good.
end aside: // it's an aside because it doesn't help me understand your idea of "good"

Your argument that morality is a result of needing self governance is a reasonable idea for why and/or how morality evolved, but does not bear on its objectivity (at least not the way I use the word).

Moniker Pending wrote:The physicalist perspective, that nothing exists which is not governed by the universe's physical laws, is proven false, even outside of morality. Granted, anything that physically exists in our universe must be governed by such laws, but things like logic and concepts (including morality) are not physical.
There are two kinds of things: Concrete and Abstract. For a concrete thing to "objectively exist" it has to exist no matter what I think of it - I mentioned this upthread. For an abstract thing to exist (noting that, as an "idea", it exists at least in a platonic sense even if nobody is thinking it at the moment), it has to be self-consistent, and consistent with any ideological structure it is presumed to exist in. This is the sense in which it is "objectively true" that parallel lines never meet. It is the logical result of a set of self-consistent axioms. But it is only "objectively true" in that axiomatic system.

The thing about morality is that, while it deals in "should", which is an abstract concept, it is not a concept that arises from a set of axioms. And even if a set of axioms could be constructed for it, "objective morality" would only be true within that system. But "should" itself deals with the real world. It is a statement about the "behavior" of people in the real world. "Should" cannot be contained in any axiomatic system.

edited by ucim to focus on one aspect, Moniker Pending wrote:When choosing colors, for example, you could say that you picked a certain color because the emotional impact it has on you contributes in the best way for what you are trying to accomplish. [Thus] you actually have a goal, and if the goal is defined in a way that allows the fulfillment of that goal to be objectively measured, and thus give a true/false statement to answer the question "is this criteria met," [it makes] the question a question of facts, and thus [makes] the topic a matter of fact [and thus "objective"].
The goal may have objectively been met, but which goal to select is not itself an objective fact of the universe: "Contributes in the best way" is a statement of opinion (of the artist), and "what you are trying to accomplish" is similarly an aesthetic opinion.

===
Please, let's all try to keep our focus on the ideas at hand (objective/subjective morality) and not get sidetracked by opinions on posting style or references to outside discussions. I think we'll all be (at least subjectively) happier. :)

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Cres » Sun Aug 02, 2015 5:47 am UTC

Moniker Pending wrote:As far as I can tell, very few people before me have actually tried to figure out what "good" is (the rest just kind of tag along), and no one before me has ever tried to figure out "good" from any logical perspective that would actually work for an objective moral system.


To take just one example, this is a berserk thing to believe. Can I suggest that spending a bit of time on the SEP (even on reddit), or working your way through a good undergrad ethics reading list (a quick Google turned up this Cambridge one, which looks decent), might be a worthwhile investment of time. (Even if, and I think this is highly unlikely, you come away with your views unchanged, it will help you to present them more succinctly and in a way that others can get their head around easily, and to better address objections to your position).

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Moniker Pending » Sun Aug 02, 2015 6:50 am UTC

ucim wrote:With which premises do you agree?


I agree with some of the criteria met by something that is "objective," as far as you've described, though I don't think your definition really focuses on what objectivity actually is. If you define objectivity itself, you could use that definition, and account for any situation-specific criteria as they are brought up.

What is your definition of "good"?* What is your definition of "objective"?


I've already given my definitions of both, and you seem to have noticed both definitions already, looking over the rest of your post.

* Your proposal: "Anyway, as far as my objective definition of "good" goes, "good" is basically "the state in which all are treated appropriately as they are." is too fuzzy. "Treated appropriately as they are" is hardly objective ("independent of what people think") - the mapping of "how they are" to any specific action depends a lot on a person's opinion of what "what they are" is.


That's because I haven't given the axioms with which to define such things, yet. I'm still looking for a post of mine on Facebook to use as a reference, because I still have a headache, and some lost focus from some things in my life, and so I'd rather not have to re-type my list of "basic rights and privileges," though I doubt the people here would want to look at it anyway, given the reaction so far to "long posts" (it's actually not that long, compared to other lists that already exist; when I say "basic," I mean basic). Essentially, judging someone requires looking at their motivations, their standards, etc., regarding the "basic rights and privileges" of others. I briefly described something like that in my previous post, which you didn't address, and so I wouldn't imagine you had seen it.

the tie-in is not always simple.


Things are never as simple as we want them to be. However, if we try to force simplicity by cutting corners, we end up making things far more complicated in the end, because in order to come up with an accurate answer to a "forced-simple" question, we'd have to account for every possibility that the question failed to specify by cutting corners. It's reminiscent of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy": if you want a satisfactory answer, you'll need a better question.

In fact, having a good enough "question" of morality is key to having an accurate, objective, and ultimately satisfactory answer. The question I've come up with is "for the given effect, do those receiving it get that which they warrant, based on who they are?" In order for that to work, however, you'd need to explore not only the question itself, but also every variable in that question, with the same amount of scrutiny, until you've come up with an accurate and objective understanding of every relevant detail. That's why I bring up all of those other things; in order to accurately answer the question of "is morality objective," you'd have to explore the answers to all of those other questions, in order to answer the question you started with. Really, if people were willing to do that, much (or even all) of this debate would be settled already.

Your argument that morality is a result of needing self governance is a reasonable idea for why and/or how morality evolved, but does not bear on its objectivity (at least not the way I use the word).


It has to do with whether or not the need is objective, and whether or not the system satisfies the need; that is necessary in determining the objectivity of the moral system. The moral system is really just a tool, a system that defines how to fulfill a goal. The goal for non-sapient animals is pretty simple - "ensure the survival of the species" - and so they can just use that, without needing anything more for their moral systems. Our own needs, as a sapient specie, have become more complex, which is why we can't just have the same goal that the non-sapient animals have. We haven't fully grown into our sapience, as I said, which is why we haven't figured out the goal to use instead.

The thing about morality is that, while it deals in "should", which is an abstract concept, it is not a concept that arises from a set of axioms. And even if a set of axioms could be constructed for it, "objective morality" would only be true within that system. But "should" itself deals with the real world. It is a statement about the "behavior" of people in the real world. "Should" cannot be contained in any axiomatic system.


Morality doesn't need to deal in "should," though. It can define "good" as a state to achieve by necessity, not by desire. As in, if you don't desire "goodness," then you don't desire the fulfillment of your needs; if that's the case, then you probably don't care much about anything, anyway.

edited by ucim to focus on one aspect, Moniker Pending wrote:When choosing colors, for example, you could say that you picked a certain color because the emotional impact it has on you contributes in the best way for what you are trying to accomplish. [Thus] you actually have a goal, and if the goal is defined in a way that allows the fulfillment of that goal to be objectively measured, and thus give a true/false statement to answer the question "is this criteria met," [it makes] the question a question of facts, and thus [makes] the topic a matter of fact [and thus "objective"].
The goal may have objectively been met, but which goal to select is not itself an objective fact of the universe: "Contributes in the best way" is a statement of opinion (of the artist), and "what you are trying to accomplish" is similarly an aesthetic opinion.


I'd propose that goals are tiered; ultimately, the moral system defines a single goal at the top, and individual people would define their own goals, which are more like objectives (as in for a mission, not as in objective/subjective) that one thinks would need to be accomplished achieving that goal.

..........

Cres wrote:To take just one example, this is a berserk thing to believe.


What do you mean by this?

Can I suggest that spending a bit of time on the SEP (even on reddit), or working your way through a good undergrad ethics reading list (a quick Google turned up this Cambridge one, which looks decent), might be a worthwhile investment of time. (Even if, and I think this is highly unlikely, you come away with your views unchanged, it will help you to present them more succinctly and in a way that others can get their head around easily, and to better address objections to your position).


What makes you think I haven't looked into these things already? As I've stated in a post above, and slightly elaborated on in a PM to infernovia, I've looked into plenty of these things. I've already stated that my moral system is something entirely new, because everything else doesn't work. The things you've linked to are things I've already researched, even if from a different source. Granted, I haven't been able to look over each and every individual moral system, but I've been able to identify what sort of moral system would work (it would need to work logically in order to really work at all), and I've searched many sources for anything that even resembles such a system; I've found nothing.

I've even come up with an allegorical collection of descriptions, explaining the failures of many other systems in terms of bad decisions when designing applications on a computer; given my troubles described in the thread I started, I wasn't able to get very technical, but a lot of the failures are describable in terms of failures so extreme and absurd that they doom a project to failure before any code is ever typed, so that wasn't really a problem. Given the reaction to posts I've made so far, I don't think people would like to see the allegories I've made, no matter how helpful they would potentially be in explaining relevant details.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Cres » Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:18 am UTC

Moniker Pending wrote:
Cres wrote:To take just one example, this is a berserk thing to believe.


What do you mean by this?


Moniker Pending wrote:
What makes you think I haven't looked into these things already?


You state that you are the first person who has even tried "to figure out "good" from any logical perspective that would actually work for an objective moral system".
This is plainly false, and you would know this if you had done even enough reading to avoid a failing grade on a first year philosophy paper. To take a very select few examples only from modern analytic philosophers, David Enoch, Michael Huemer, Peter Railton, Tim Scanlon and Derek Parfit have all attempted to provide logical, workable accounts of objective morality (to further make the point, searching for 'moral realism' on Google Scholar yields 424,000 results).

EDIT: you make my point for me better than I can myself:
Moniker Pending wrote:I wasn't aware that "philosopher" was still a profession.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Moniker Pending » Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:44 am UTC

Cres wrote:You state that you are the first person who has even tried "to figure out "good" from any logical perspective that would actually work for an objective moral system".
This is plainly false, and you would know this if you had done even enough reading to avoid a failing grade on a first year philosophy paper. To take a very select few examples only from modern analytic philosophers, David Enoch, Michael Huemer, Peter Railton, Tim Scanlon and Derek Parfit have all attempted to provide logical, workable accounts of objective morality (to further make the point, searching for 'moral realism' on Google Scholar yields 424,000 results).


Logic is part of formal science. Looking at logic from a philosophical perspective is like looking at any other form of science from a philosophical perspective. Ultimately, philosophy ran its course, and when humans developed the scientific method, we had something better than philosophy. Surely, you're aware of Aristotle's explanation of the force later known as "gravity?"

My point is, the "logic" of philosophy isn't good enough to be considered "logic" itself. We've come a long way, since the days when "earth, fire, water, and wind are the elements, and they are attracted to larger bodies of themselves" was thought to be true.

EDIT: you make my point for me better than I can myself:


I actually joked about that on the thread I had made, as far as what my psychological traits would qualify me for, as a career. The key word is profession - in modern times, you can't make money by being just a philosopher (I've looked around, too, because formal science is unfortunately too underrated for "formal scientist" to be a career, unless you're looking strictly at math). You could incorporate philosophy into another career, such as "teacher" or "religious leader," but ultimately, no one's going to pay you just to sit around and think. Even people in think-tanks have to come up with solutions to specific problems; they can't just think in a general sense!
Last edited by Moniker Pending on Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:50 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:50 am UTC

You're pretty much philosophically illiterate. I am done with this discussion.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Moniker Pending » Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:55 am UTC

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:You're pretty much philosophically illiterate. I am done with this discussion.


Why do you say this, that I am illiterate in any way? You're one of several who can't be bothered to read anything longer than a few small paragraphs. Besides, now others, yourself included, are creating tangents far worse than I've ever gone on, and while we could certainly do a lot better in this discussions with a system that has succeeded philosophy, and has higher standards of objectivity than philosophy, this discussion was dead from the beginning if the people here don't have those standards of objectivity to begin with. It's a shame, too; the OP really seemed to want an objective discussion, about objectivity no less.

I never wanted to cause any trouble, here, but it seems there's little room left for anything to get worse!

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Quercus » Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:59 am UTC

Moniker Pending wrote:in modern times, you can't make money by being just a philosopher (I've looked around, too, because formal science is unfortunately too underrated for "formal scientist" to be a career, unless you're looking strictly at math). You could incorporate philosophy into another career, such as "teacher" or "religious leader," but ultimately, no one's going to pay you just to sit around and think. Even people in think-tanks have to come up with solutions to specific problems; they can't just think in a general sense!

Here is the faculty list at the first philosophy department that came up when I googled for one. All of the people on the list get paid for being "just a philosopher". They also teach philosophy, but that's been true of philosophers since ancient times. Most major universities have a department of philosophy.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Moniker Pending » Sun Aug 02, 2015 8:03 am UTC

Quercus wrote:Here is the faculty list at the first philosophy department that came up when I googled for one. All of the people on the list get paid for being "just a philosopher". They also teach philosophy, but that's been true of philosophers since ancient times. Most major universities have a department of philosophy.


Would they have jobs, if they were being paid to think, and not to teach? The job title is just a label; the job is more than the label. See, even someone stuck with philosophy would have asked the question of "why" they get paid; a scientist, especially a formal scientist, would have everything from philosophy that works, and then some.

Really, though, I'm contacting a moderator. I'm surprised one wasn't contacted already; this thread was ruined long before I got here.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Cres » Sun Aug 02, 2015 8:06 am UTC

Moniker Pending wrote:
Cres wrote:You state that you are the first person who has even tried "to figure out "good" from any logical perspective that would actually work for an objective moral system".
This is plainly false, and you would know this if you had done even enough reading to avoid a failing grade on a first year philosophy paper. To take a very select few examples only from modern analytic philosophers, David Enoch, Michael Huemer, Peter Railton, Tim Scanlon and Derek Parfit have all attempted to provide logical, workable accounts of objective morality (to further make the point, searching for 'moral realism' on Google Scholar yields 424,000 results).


Logic is part of formal science. Looking at logic from a philosophical perspective is like looking at any other form of science from a philosophical perspective. Ultimately, philosophy ran its course, and when humans developed the scientific method, we had something better than philosophy. Surely, you're aware of Aristotle's explanation of the force later known as "gravity?"

EDIT: you make my point for me better than I can myself:


I actually joked about that on the thread I had made, as far as what my psychological traits would qualify me for, as a career. The key word is profession - in modern times, you can't make money by being just a philosopher (I've looked around, too, because formal science is unfortunately too underrated for "formal scientist" to be a career, unless you're looking strictly at math). You could incorporate philosophy into another career, such as "teacher" or "religious leader," but ultimately, no one's going to pay you just to think. Even people in think-tanks have to come up with solutions to specific problems!


I'm clearly wasting my time here, but all of the people I listed are full-time, professional academic philosophers, as are the faculties of philosophy departments at universities around the world. And logic is an integral part of the analytic philosophy tradition: most of the important contributions to formal logic across its history have been made by individuals who are both philosophers and mathematicians (Russel and Frege being prime examples). Many of the ethicists you so blithely dismiss are themselves accomplished logicians (TM Scanlon's first papers, for example, were in mathematical logic). And if you think science replaces or exists in opposition to philosophy, then you understand neither.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Moniker Pending » Sun Aug 02, 2015 1:57 pm UTC

I have notified Azrael of the problems in this thread, noting two users, TheGrammarBolshevik and ucim (yes, even though he disagrees with me; it's clear that he has actually read my posts, and actually tried to account for the things I say, before challenging my position), as the two who have stood out to me so far as taking the topic of the thread seriously (it's not a complete list, which I mentioned to him).

Until whatever administrative action deemed appropriate is taken, it's clear we're going to get nowhere without resolving the ad hominem arguments against me, and addressing to solution the many fallacies among the people here.

Spoiler:
To infernovia: Even though you were making an ad hominem argument, I was criticizing you for something else in the PM, which is why I didn't actually say "ad hominem." I could point out plenty of logical fallacies you've used, but given your adamant refusal to give any honest consideration to the things I say, despite your insistence on finding some little thing with which to fallaciously respond to anyway, it seems to me that you've got a case of Invincible Ignorance, which combines multiple fallacies in order enable those who have it to not consider any idea different from what they already believe. To quote yourself, "You are just too mired too deep for me to pull you out." Unlike yourself, even if I don't know why, I at least know how you are so "mired" as such.


Cres wrote:I'm clearly wasting my time here, but all of the people I listed are full-time, professional academic philosophers, as are the faculties of philosophy departments at universities around the world.


Another user had stated this point in a more direct sense in a PM to me (unlike you, however, that person only addressed what they had actually taken the time to understand of my position); your post didn't really back up your claim, so it wasn't clear to me what you were saying at first, but then again, I just got up a few minutes ago after less than two hours of sleep, so I'll be much more aware of things one I wake up a little. The problem with philosophy at universities, as far as I've seen, is that there's not much of anything "new" going on. It's just the same old stuff that's already been discussed time and time again; the so-called "philosophers," at most, really just end up rehashing the old stuff, putting some of it together, and coming up with something completely obvious. I wouldn't call that a philosopher... I'd call that a hack.

And logic is an integral part of the analytic philosophy tradition: most of the important contributions to formal logic across its history have been made by individuals who are both philosophers and mathematicians (Russel and Frege being prime examples).

...

And if you think science replaces or exists in opposition to philosophy, then you understand neither.


As I've already stated, science is the successor to philosophy. Academia even has relics of philosophy's attempts at figuring out what we now use science for today, in its terminology, which have not been updated, since there was never any perception that the need to update the terminology given to degrees and such outweighed the cost of doing so.

Perhaps you haven't noticed, but natural science isn't the only type of science out there. I've specifically mentioned formal science in the post you've quoted, and formal science includes every form of logic that actually works, including all the good stuff from analytic philosophy (that stuff is included under the "propositional logic" label), and everything that came later. While I'm reluctant, given what little understanding of science you've demonstrated so far, I'll let you look up more about formal science on your own, at least for now. There's also social science, such as sociology, psychology, etc., and there are even interdisciplinary studies combining formal and social science, such as Game Theory, which studies how large groups of people react to abnormal situations. Such things are important to at least consider in any meaningful discussion had with the intent of exploring morality, especially one exploring the possibility of any objectivity in morality.

Also, the reason I had mentioned Aristotle is that a lot of philosophers, even with their logical knowledge, weren't very good at applying the logic they knew about, as is evident in the Aristotelian philosophy that dominated Western thought for much of history. Even the central idea in Chaos Theory, which was originally laughed at and considered absurd by the more "traditional" colleagues of its earliest proponents, is an obvious conclusion one could inevitably reach just by giving adequate consideration to the "if P, then Q" formula that's central to propositional logic. That's my response to the your mentioning of the fact that many philosophers knew about logic, in case it wasn't obvious to you.

Many of the ethicists you so blithely dismiss are themselves accomplished logicians (TM Scanlon's first papers, for example, were in mathematical logic).


The thing is, I've seen the papers you've tried linking to, and they're among the aforementioned works where nothing new is discussed (your first two links don't work for me, by the way; I gathered what information I could from the urls and the things you mentioned, and searched for the things myself, to confirm whether or not I knew what you were talking about). Since you have TM Scanlon fresh in my mind, I'll say this: social contracts as a system of morality have been discussed in Plato's Republic, and Scanlon didn't really do anything to make social contract-based morality logically work in any objective manner. In fact, his idea of such a system is less objectively-minded than that of Plato, since he talks about mutual agreements based on rationales that are ultimately based on subjective value placed on things considered in the agreement, whereas Plato (and by Plato's account, Socrates) discussed the need for social justice, regardless of the value that the people in the contract subjectively feel that it has. Scanlon has started out with a subjective goal for his system's application to fulfill, and as such, no matter what reason he would suggest in fulfilling that goal, his system would ultimately be a system of subjective morality. If Scanlon had intended to use logic to make an objective moral system, then he has produced an even greater failure than what was already out there, regardless of whatever he thought he would accomplish with his mathematical logic.

As I've already stated in a reply to ucim, moral systems so far handle morality subjectively partly because they discuss value in a subjective manner. There's no overall ideal goal for those adhering to the moral systems to work toward; there is only "acceptable for some situational purpose," and "bad," but there is no objectively-defined "good," and so, there's no objective criteria to measure when judging the morality of any given occurrence.

You should really learn the importance of actually understanding someone's claims, before you dismiss the claims outright and attack the person making the claims. This goes for many of you. The rest of you, who have addressed nothing that you did not first make an honest attempt to understand enough to accurately address, deserve applause; such honesty in discussions seems to be quite rare these days.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Aug 02, 2015 2:08 pm UTC

The thing is, working to understand your claims about philosophy is about as useful as working to understand a relativity-denier's claims about physics. You've repeatedly demonstrated that you're not willing to understand any of the claims made against you (preferring instead to object to their tone), and that you are profoundly ignorant of the state of modern philosophy, especially as it relates to logic and science. You also seem unaware that there are professional philosophers today in exactly the same sense there have always been professional philosophers. No one is paid just to think, they're paid to share the ideas they think of with others. They're paid to teach and publish, in other words.

There's some novelty in engaging with someone like you in a philosophical discussion, since the cranks I usually encounter are more of the math and science variety, but that novelty has since worn off.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Sun Aug 02, 2015 2:32 pm UTC

Moniker Pending wrote:I agree with some of the criteria met by something that is "objective," as far as you've described, though I don't think your definition really focuses on what objectivity actually is.
It seems we disagree on what objectivity is, and thus, are talking past each other. Your focus seems to be on axioms, to wit, the axioms that determine what "the state in which all are treated appropriately as they are" actually means. But it doesn't matter, because morality is not a pure axiomatic system, like (for example) geometry. And even in geometry, it is not "objectively true" that (for example) parallel lines never meet. The meeting of parallel lines is not an independent objective fact (or falsity)". Why? Because it depends on which axioms are chosen, and there is no "objectively correct" choice of axioms.

This is the problem you'll run into.

Moniker Pending wrote:...I haven't given the axioms with which to define such things, yet. I'm still looking for a post of mine on Facebook...
It doesn't matter.

I have no doubt that you have come up with a moral system. It may even be one that I agree with and would enthusiastically support. It might even be 100% logically consistent. But it will still depend on the choice of goal. Answering the question of whether it is morally wrong to walk across the street in the nude to pick up my mail is not something that can be done in isolation; the "goal" has to be chosen first. And my goal may differ from my neighbor's goal, in which case there is no objective way to choose between them, any more than there is an objective way to choose between plane and spherical geometry.

Moniker Pending wrote:It has to do with whether or not the need is objective, and whether or not the system satisfies the need; that is necessary in determining the objectivity of the moral system.
I'll grant that the need to eat (for example) is objective. (Even if not everyone has it; being false it can still be objectively false.) The chicken needs to eat too though. I may need to eat, but I don't need to eat the chicken. Whether or not to kill and eat the chicken has some moral aspects to it, but irrespective on how you answer the question, what would make the morality (and thus the answer) absolute and objective? Does the chicken's opinion matter? Does my neighbor's opinion matter? These are the things that put morality squarely in the "subjective" camp for me.

Moniker Pending wrote:Morality doesn't need to deal in "should," though.
That's a new one on me.

What is morality that doesn't deal in "should"? That's the whole point of it.

Moniker Pending wrote:I'd propose that goals are tiered; ultimately, the moral system defines a single goal at the top...
Chicken - egg. Why not select a different moral system that defines a different goal at the top? This is, again, the plane vs spherical geometry issue.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Moniker Pending » Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:13 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:The thing is, working to understand your claims about philosophy is about as useful as working to understand a relativity-denier's claims about physics.

...

and that you are profoundly ignorant of the state of modern philosophy, especially as it relates to logic and science.


Really? The way I see it, the people here can't understand my claims about philosophy because they don't want to. I've already addressed philosophy, and I've addressed and critically analyzed (albeit briefly, for the lazy folks here) the claims brought up that were made by "professional philosophers." The others here have not been able to address my positions. The only thing they've even tried to address is my claim about the modern state of the profession, and they are sorely mistaken of my actual position, which I've tried clarifying, but as was already established, they don't want to read about it.

In order to explain the misconceptions they have of my actual position, I'd have to get into the actual distinction between an extrovert vs. and introvert (hint: the layman's idea of that distinction is as accurate as the layman's idea of what a scientific theory is). For if and when you figure that out, I'll say right now that I'm an introvert, and the rest of you are perceiving the ideas discussed like extreme extroverts. If you want to tell me that you're not outgoing, or that you don't like to associate with people a lot, and that you are therefore an introvert, I'll refer you back to what I wrote in parentheses, earlier in this paragraph.

You've repeatedly demonstrated that you're not willing to understand any of the claims made against you (preferring instead to object to their tone)


I objected to the fact that infernovia used fallacies and completely failed to address my position in his counter-argument; his "tone" merely hinted at why he was willing to use such fallacious arguments, which is why it was brought up, but it was ultimately not what I objected to. I informed him that he wasn't putting in the effort warranted by an intelligent discussion, and then the rest of you attacked me, making the same lazy fallacies that he made.

Either way, if we were to treat your claim deductively and test it (which we'd need to, in order to determine whether or not it's true), you'd see that I have been much more willing to understand what ucim was saying. Perhaps I misinterpreted what he said, and if so, I'd like for him to clarify what he said, as I have make the effort to when he had questions, or otherwise demonstrated an unclear understanding of what I had said; I would want to know what his position is, because I am willing to understand his claims.

This is proof that what you have said is false.

You also seem unaware that there are professional philosophers today in exactly the same sense there have always been professional philosophers. No one is paid just to think, they're paid to share the ideas they think of with others. They're paid to teach and publish, in other words.


See my response to the first quote box above.

There's some novelty in engaging with someone like you in a philosophical discussion, since the cranks I usually encounter are more of the math and science variety, but that novelty has since worn off.


See above (and before this post) for my response to your idea of what "variety" I am in. If you're too lazy, I'll reiterate: None of you have any idea of what the positions described by my claims are, because you are unwilling to give my claims any honest consideration. You have proven this every single time you thought you had addressed my position in any way, because you were ultimately unable to accurately represent my position in your attempts to address it. This is straw logic, which is fallacious, and your responses after every time I mention this demonstrate that you simply don't care about whether or not you are being rational here, and you don't care about the integrity of this discussion, at all.

..........

To ucim: I would definitely prefer to take our conversation elsewhere; perhaps to a PM or group conversation, or another forum entirely...? You're more familiar with this forum than I am, so you might have a better idea of where to go than I would. You're not like the others posting here (I'd actually place you, and a handful of other less-frequent posters to this thread, in a group that's entirely separate from the others, in case you're wondering about the blanket statements above), and it would be a shame for the others' fallacies to continue to distract from our own discussions. If I wasn't so busy trying to deal with their stifling refusal to consider things beyond (or even to the point of) face value, I might have been able to give you some more satisfactory responses, and perhaps even address things that have been left unaddressed so far. I'm still dealing with some "real life issues," so those might still get in the way of my freedom to respond, but some of them are actually relevant to the discussion of morality and the potential objectivity thereof, so perhaps I'll have even more to respond with as time goes on.

I don't know what TheGrammarBolshevik is thinking right now, but I'd imagine that he's rather disheartened by the intellectual laziness and inconsiderate frivolity of the others here.

EDIT: Either way, I'm unsubscribing from this thread. I might check back, in case ucim (or another one of the more thoughtful people here) responds to my statement that I'd rather talk about this elsewhere with another post to this thread, but given what I just said, anyone with such a response would probably PM me anyway...

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Azrael » Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:34 pm UTC

Moniker Pending wrote:Until whatever administrative action deemed appropriate is taken...

You do not yet have sufficient currency here for your subjective judgements on the behaviors of other posters to have any bearing on ... well, anything.

If you don't want to participate, don't.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:22 pm UTC

ucim wrote:(1) and maybe (2)... are little more than a statements of opinion. They fail to define "good"...

They were never meant to. You said that "good" has to do with what people want, and that this means it cannot be objective. I identified three ways in which "good' can have to do with what people want, only one of which has any clear conflict with objectivity. Defining "good" is well beside the point.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby infernovia » Sun Aug 02, 2015 8:53 pm UTC

Eh, all of these statements are strictly meaningless to me.

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:1. If something is good, then people should want it.
2. If someone believes that something is good, then she will want it (at least a little bit).
3. If something is good, then people want it.

Good... for what? Good for hedonism? Good for thrill seeking? Good for safety? Good for a supremacy? Good for avoiding conflict?

I obviously have desires for the future, but there are probably plenty of people who disagree with the future I imagine. I think people SHOULD want the future I imagine, but this doesn't make my preferences objective.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Sun Aug 02, 2015 11:40 pm UTC

Good, as in there being a future, to search for the meaning of good in. The longer mankind exists the more possible kinds of good there can be, however you define it.

Three has two possible meanings, the first being, feeling good, the second, in being good for you. People will almost certainly want the first but not necessarily the second.


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