People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby mike-l » Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:20 pm UTC

addams wrote:This forum has some very well educated people typing away in loops with Sourmilk. He is a lucky Sourmilk.

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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby Greyarcher » Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:23 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Values are means, not goals. Most people share the same goals, e.g. that people should be prosperous and happy and such.
I wouldn't say values are means. They're what's important to persons; many values are basic. One could say that ethical systems are built around them, and that any shared goals are derived from the most widespread and core values. Valuing one's health, valuing one's family, valuing certain forms of freedom, etc., etc.

Emotions are probably tied up with that, to a greater or lesser degree. And while some emotional responses may be unreasonable foolishness, it may be quite hard for someone to distinguish the reasonable from the unreasonable if it's lodged in the "value" part of the mind. If the only way to knock it out of place is with another emotional thump, then so be it.

Emotions can be a bit of an irrational and arbitrary nuisance, but we can't just toss the whole shebang out in aiming to be perfectly rational. In the first place, it's impossible, and in the second place we wouldn't have much need for ethics if we did that. Since we wouldn't care about anything in the first place.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby Panonadin » Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:50 pm UTC

mike-l wrote:
addams wrote:This forum has some very well educated people typing away in loops with Sourmilk. He is a lucky Sourmilk.

Sig'd


Double Sig'd.

We should pass this around.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby Dauric » Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:58 pm UTC

Panonadin wrote:
mike-l wrote:
addams wrote:This forum has some very well educated people typing away in loops with Sourmilk. He is a lucky Sourmilk.

Sig'd


Double Sig'd.

We should pass this around.


Every now and then I adjust the details of the accident reported in my sig. Now seemed as good a time as any.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby userxp » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:36 pm UTC

I... don't understand this thread. I think I must be missing something. What exactly are we disagreeing on?

People have cognitive biases. That is a fact. For example, they might believe that they will finish an essay 10 days before deadline even though every single previous time they have finished just 1 day before, vote for a candidate only because he's more attractive, believe that "A and B" is more likely to happen than "A (and maybe B)", or simply "invest" $1000 in lottery tickets because surely you can't lose if you have a lot of them. Emotions typically take an important place in cognitive biases (see also the affect heuristic).

And no, cognitive biases are (mostly) not because of "insufficient information" and "not enough time to analyze everything", we just have evolved this way (there is no reason to expect us to be rational). There is no such thing as sufficient or insufficient information: you update your Bayesian probabilities (aka confidence) with each observation. Take all your data, use as much time as you can processing it, and then pick the most likely hypothesis and go with it. That is the rational way (and yes you should believe that sourmilk has 5 fingers on each hand).

In short: a properly designed agent (e.g. an AI), with the same processing power and information as a person would get the correct answer (aka The Truth™), and thus the ability to fulfill its goals, quite a few more times than the person.

And a rational person, one that has been trained in identifying his own biases and correcting them, in not flinching from uncomfortable thoughts, in not agreeing by default with what "your side" says, probably will too. Can this be taught to the general public? Would it have any noticeable effects? Maybe.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby lutzj » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:40 pm UTC

Panonadin wrote:
mike-l wrote:
addams wrote:This forum has some very well educated people typing away in loops with Sourmilk. He is a lucky Sourmilk.

Sig'd


Double Sig'd.

We should pass this around.


I dunno about you guys, but I liked this:

addams wrote:42 is the big answer. 41 is go sit by a lake. 41 is a good answer.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:45 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:A definition of "person" is usually a means to the end of benefitting everybody. As for happiness, I know people define it differently, but for the purposes of measuring it with respect to ethics, the only definition that matters are those of the people being affected.
Exactly which entities are included in this "everybody" you speak of? And if two people are being affected by a decision, and they have different notions of what "happiness" means, which notion do we go with?

And see below: ethics doesn't necessarily have an objective answer because of these disagreements.
I wasn't talking about objective answers. I was arguing against your ridiculous claim that people basically all share the same end goals.

I've yet to see a person define "truth" as different from reality. And definitions of "benefit" are usually similar enough that people can agree on most things.
I've yet to see you define either "reality" or "truth" in a non-circular way. I also keep pointing out that "benefit" is often *not* especially similar between people of wildly differing worldviews. For one thing, consider the simple example where one or more of the parties in the discussion believes that costs and benefits can exist after death as well as before it.

Zamfir wrote:Which seems to suggest that the direct means are very important, and abstracted goals not so much.
In what people feel is emotionally right, sure. But as far as logically determining what one should do with respect to ethics, no.
Actually, yes.

"What one should do" obviously includes what one should do to best achieve their end goal, and in particular it hinges on how "best achieve" is evaluated. What short-term costs are acceptable in exchange for long-term benefits? Even if you agree about the most desirable long-term benefits, there's no guarantee whatsoever that you agree about acceptable costs incurred closer to the present.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby moiraemachy » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:49 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
moiraemachy wrote:Sourmilk, would you be comfortable with the assertion that your definition of logic is basically this one?

No, I'm talking about propositional logic.

This one? I thought you would be a fan of first order logic since

wikipedia wrote:The well-known syllogism
-All men are mortal
-Socrates is a man
-Therefore, Socrates is mortal
cannot be formalized in propositional logic, because of the use of predicates like "is a man" and "is mortal". The obvious formalization in first-order logic uses universal quantification to model the use of "All".

But hey, whatever floats your boat. Is that propositional logic good for you? I want to limit the domain of discourse of your logic here, so any rigorous definition will do.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:21 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:A definition of "person" is usually a means to the end of benefitting everybody.

"Everybody" meaning... every person?
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby induction » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:35 pm UTC

moiraemachy wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:
moiraemachy wrote:Sourmilk, would you be comfortable with the assertion that your definition of logic is basically this one?

No, I'm talking about propositional logic.

This one? I thought you would be a fan of first order logic since

wikipedia wrote:The well-known syllogism
-All men are mortal
-Socrates is a man
-Therefore, Socrates is mortal
cannot be formalized in propositional logic, because of the use of predicates like "is a man" and "is mortal". The obvious formalization in first-order logic uses universal quantification to model the use of "All".

But hey, whatever floats your boat. Is that propositional logic good for you? I want to limit the domain of discourse of your logic here, so any rigorous definition will do.


Everybody knows that propositional logic is the real stuff. Predicate logic? Seriously? You go too far, moiraemachy. That shit's for losers.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby moiraemachy » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:55 pm UTC

@induction: misquoting Greenspun's tenth rule: "Any sufficiently complicated application of propositional logic contains an ad hoc, informally-specified, axiom-schema-ridden implementation of half of predicate logic."
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:27 am UTC

Greyarcher wrote:Emotions can be a bit of an irrational and arbitrary nuisance, but we can't just toss the whole shebang out in aiming to be perfectly rational. In the first place, it's impossible, and in the second place we wouldn't have much need for ethics if we did that. Since we wouldn't care about anything in the first place.

I'm not proposing this.

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:A definition of "person" is usually a means to the end of benefitting everybody.

"Everybody" meaning... every person?

Meaning every human. Often this involves the punishment of specific humans who we view as deserving it for whatever reason (the betterment of society, vengeance is fun, etc.). Again, I get that this isn't universal and is why objective ethics is kind of hard, but most people, at least in my experience and probably within at least the first world, have that as their view.

gmalivuk wrote:Exactly which entities are included in this "everybody" you speak of? And if two people are being affected by a decision, and they have different notions of what "happiness" means, which notion do we go with?

See above. And, if a decision affects one person positively and one person negatively no matter who that person is, both choices are ethically equivalent.

I wasn't talking about objective answers. I was arguing against your ridiculous claim that people basically all share the same end goals.

I'm talking about very abstract goals. If this weren't the case, nobody could have any conversation on ethics. It would just be people stating their values and then claiming they were axiomatic.

I've yet to see you define either "reality" or "truth" in a non-circular way. I also keep pointing out that "benefit" is often *not* especially similar between people of wildly differing worldviews. For one thing, consider the simple example where one or more of the parties in the discussion believes that costs and benefits can exist after death as well as before it.

So then we can ascertain whether there is reason to believe that costs and benefits exist after death. Assuming perfectly rational arguers (which I recognize is not ever true), they can come to a consensus on what we can know to be true and then, given the similarity between people's most simple ethical goals, come to an agreement based on what the best course of action is to achieve those goals.

"What one should do" obviously includes what one should do to best achieve their end goal, and in particular it hinges on how "best achieve" is evaluated. What short-term costs are acceptable in exchange for long-term benefits? Even if you agree about the most desirable long-term benefits, there's no guarantee whatsoever that you agree about acceptable costs incurred closer to the present.

Sure there is, to within the degree that you can quantify these costs and benefits. Then you just weigh them by your preference and you get an appropriate action for you to take to achieve that goal.

Also:
addams wrote:This forum has some very well educated people typing away in loops with Sourmilk. He is a lucky Sourmilk.

You hit the nail on the head, addams.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:35 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:A definition of "person" is usually a means to the end of benefitting everybody.

"Everybody" meaning... every person?

Meaning every human.

And "human" meaning ...?
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:37 am UTC

Homo Sapiens? I'm not a biologist so I'll trouble giving the exact definition.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:41 am UTC

So if I ask whether a fetus is a person, what help is it to change the question to whether it's a member of Homo sapiens?
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:43 am UTC

I'm pretty sure most pro-choicers would prefer the health of fetuses. We just make the ethical calculation (IMO, the logical one) that it is better to value the rights of already born women.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:49 am UTC

I don't see how that answers my question at all. Gmal was originally asking about the definition of "person." Saying that its definition is tied to the definition of a term that's vague in exactly the same way adds nothing.

Also:
sourmìlk wrote:
I wasn't talking about objective answers. I was arguing against your ridiculous claim that people basically all share the same end goals.

I'm talking about very abstract goals. If this weren't the case, nobody could have any conversation on ethics. It would just be people stating their values and then claiming they were axiomatic.

It's a mistake to think that everyone views ethics as goal-directed in the first place. If you read Kant, for example, he doesn't say "Ethics are meant to do X" and then figure out the best way to achieve X. He says "Ethics must have categorical imperatives as their basis" and then tries to figure out a) what the content of categorical imperatives is and b) whether humans are rationally committed to categorical imperatives. No abstract goal there... or if it is, it doesn't seem like one that non-Kantians have in common with him. Are all the discussions between ethicists of these different streams just "stating their values and then claiming they [are] axiomatic"?

...Have you read anything in the field that you're talking about?
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:02 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:I don't see how that answers my question at all. Gmal was originally asking about the definition of "person." Saying that its definition is tied to the definition of a term that's vague in exactly the same way adds nothing.

Where is the vagueness in defining it biologically?

Also:
=
It's a mistake to think that everyone views ethics as goal-directed in the first place. If you read Kant, for example, he doesn't say "Ethics are meant to do X" and then figure out the best way to achieve X. He says "Ethics must have categorical imperatives as their basis" and then tries to figure out a) what the content of categorical imperatives is and b) whether humans are rationally committed to categorical imperatives. No abstract goal there... or if it is, it doesn't seem like one that non-Kantians have in common with him. Are all the discussions between ethicists of these different streams just "stating their values and then claiming they [are] axiomatic"?

No, they aren't, that's my point. Anyways, the categorical imperative is, I think, what I mean when I talk about an abstract goal. It's the fundamental motivator behind ethical actions.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:08 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Where is the vagueness in defining it biologically?
The same place it was before defining it biologically. You can't determine whether a fetus is a person any more now that you've defined person as human being and human being as H. sapiens than you could before.

No, they aren't, that's my point. Anyways, the categorical imperative is, I think, what I mean when I talk about an abstract goal. It's the fundamental motivator behind ethical actions.
Yeah... so obviously you'd answer "no" to TGB's other question, I take it?

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:...Have you read anything in the field that you're talking about?
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:10 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:Where is the vagueness in defining it biologically?
The same place it was before defining it biologically. You can't determine whether a fetus is a person any more now that you've defined person as human being and human being as H. sapiens than you could before.

For the purposes of "who we want to benefit", sure a fetus is a person, in that we want to benefit them. I don't even think pro-choicers like us would say that fetuses don't weigh into ethical consideration.

What exactly is your argument anyways? I'm having trouble telling any of your points besides "you're wrong", and that's making it difficult for me to address what you want addressed.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:16 am UTC

I'd like to benefit animals as much as possible, too. Does that make them suddenly count as persons now, as well?

If you're changing your claim so now the alleged common goal has become "benefit all and only human persons", I'm inclined to think you're even more wrong than you were before, in your assertion that this is what most people want.

(And yes, my point pretty much is that you're wrong, though the specific wrongness I'm targeting has changed a few times over the course of the discussion. I mean, I am only one man, after all, and there's a lot of wrongness to go around. The current bit of discussion, unless you've gone and changed it, is still about your absurd claim that almost everyone has the same abstract goals, and that disagreements over what constitutes "person" and "benefit" and "happiness" can just be hashed out by logicking at them hard enough or something.)
Last edited by gmalivuk on Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:20 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:17 am UTC

I was keeping animals out of it for the purposes of simplification, but sort of? How would you like "beings in order of sentience"?
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:28 am UTC

That's not a particular improvement, because now you've got to define sentience and a way to rank it. Plus, I assure you that this is an abstract goal held by even fewer people than your previous versions, what with all the messiness and disagreement about what differences there are between humans and animals, and what moral relevance those differences have.

I mean, do you seriously think that an average pig farmer and a typical vegan have anything like the same notion of how heavily we should weigh the happiness of pigs?
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:36 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:That's not a particular improvement, because now you've got to define sentience and a way to rank it. Plus, I assure you that this is an abstract goal held by even fewer people than your previous versions, what with all the messiness and disagreement about what differences there are between humans and animals, and what moral relevance those differences have.

Those are specifics, not the overriding goal. Specifics can be worked out via how well they work towards the overriding goal.

I mean, do you seriously think that an average pig farmer and a typical vegan have anything like the same notion of how heavily we should weigh the happiness of pigs?

No, see above.

What point are you trying to prove, exactly? I've made my point, but you're sort of leading me on indefinitely here and I'd like to have a sense of where so that I can maybe get there quicker.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:42 am UTC

I'm trying to get you to acknowledge that people do not have the same overriding goals, and that even if they state their goals using the same words they may not assign those words the same meaning, and that they can't always come to meanings they agree on simply by logicking at it.

TGB has additionally made the point that not everyone sees ethics as goal-oriented in the first place, but you seemed to dismiss that point on account of you apparently haven't actually read what any real philosophers think about this stuff.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:46 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:I'm trying to get you to acknowledge that people do not have the same overriding goals, and that even if they state their goals using the same words they may not assign those words the same meaning, and that they can't always come to meanings they agree on simply by logicking at it.

You're assigning some absolutes to my statements that I don't have. I recognize that people will sometimes have different ethical premises, but that, in general, ethical consensus can be reached because, in general, people share common goals. This is evidenced by the fact that we have a large body of laws consistent across virtually all cultures, and a larger body consistent across Western cultures.

TGB has additionally made the point that not everyone sees ethics as goal-oriented in the first place, but you seemed to dismiss that point on account of you apparently haven't actually read what any real philosophers think about this stuff.

Honestly, I don't quite get the distinction between "goal-oriented" and "imperative-driven".
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:56 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:This is evidenced by the fact that we have a large body of laws consistent across virtually all cultures, and a larger body consistent across Western cultures.
Consistency in laws could as easily mean simply that many legal systems are derived from other ones, particularly in the West. Furthermore, laws are typically designed to make society function smoothly, an immediate practical goal which may or may not line up with anyone's ultimate overriding ethical end-goals. There are tons of different paths to justify a law prohibiting murder, including the wholly selfish realization that I myself would prefer not to be murdered, and will give up my ability to easily murder other people in exchange for some level of assurance that no one will murder me.

The fact that many laws are consistent with every end-goal from "the greatest likelihood of personal benefit for myself" all the way to "benefit for all sentient beings" isn't evidence for the similarities of our end goals.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 5:00 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:This is evidenced by the fact that we have a large body of laws consistent across virtually all cultures, and a larger body consistent across Western cultures.
Consistency in laws could as easily mean simply that many legal systems are derived from other ones, particularly in the West.

And seeing as, in the West, the populace overall agrees with the structure of the legal systems (as these are democracies where the systems would be changed were they vastly unpopular), we can infer from that that people have common ethical premises.
Furthermore, laws are typically designed to make society function smoothly, an immediate practical goal which may or may not line up with anyone's ultimate overriding ethical end-goals.

Ethical goals are practical goals. We don't do the right thing because of some abstract rightness, we do the right thing because it helps people.
There are tons of different paths to justify a law prohibiting murder, including the wholly selfish realization that I myself would prefer not to be murdered, and will give up my ability to easily murder other people in exchange for some level of assurance that no one will murder me.

The fact that many laws are consistent with every end-goal from "the greatest likelihood of personal benefit for myself" all the way to "benefit for all sentient beings" isn't evidence for the similarities of our end goals.

That's actually a good point. However, it still means that we can reach a logical consensus on ethics because the same actions benefit various kinds of goals.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:53 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
TGB has additionally made the point that not everyone sees ethics as goal-oriented in the first place, but you seemed to dismiss that point on account of you apparently haven't actually read what any real philosophers think about this stuff.

Honestly, I don't quite get the distinction between "goal-oriented" and "imperative-driven".

Kant starts with the assumption that the moral law has to be a categorical imperative. From there you can derive certain ends as holding objectively for rational agents. But those ends aren't independently valuable: if we weren't bound to categorical imperatives, there would be no moral commitment to them. Also, the ends involved aren't "goals" in the sense of decision theory, like you sometimes seem to be using the word. Rational willing, for Kant, is a mandatory ends, but that doesn't mean that we need to go about maximizing cases of rational willing.

In contrast, the way you describe goal-oriented ethics seems to involve, as its basic assumption, that people's goals ought to be achieved to the greatest extent possible. From there you look at what those goals are and how to achieve them in order to derive particular duties. So the goals have intrinsic value from which you derive the moral ought (I say intrinsic because, if the value lies somewhere else, then either that somewhere is the real goal, or the system isn't goal-driven after all).

Perhaps an analogy to non-moral imperatives would be useful for explaining the imperative-driven view. Besides the categorical imperative, Kant also has hypothetical imperatives (actually instances of the Hypothetical Imperative), imperatives that direct particular action only insofar as an agent is already committed to some end. Let's take "If you don't want to die, you should drink water" as our example. The important thing to understand is that there's no goal of this imperative. There's no particular motivation that makes "If you don't want to die, you should drink water" an objective principle, any more than there's a goal that makes "2 + 2 = 4" an objective fact. Just the facts about what it takes to survive and the normative association between having a goal and taking the means to it are enough to tell you that, if you want to live, you should drink water.

Kant's ethics work like this. He doesn't suppose that there's a goal behind our principles, such that we develop principles that suit those goals. Rather, he argues that there are objective, categorical principles that bind rational agents regardless of what anyone thinks is valuable (something like how even a person who wanted to die would agree that "If you want to live, you should drink water" is an objective principle). So the important thing is that Kant's overall project is not directed at achieving any particular goal.

*Yes, there's the goal of not dying. But that's internal to the principle, not part of its motivation; the imperative is not "If you don't want to die, then 'If you don't want to die, you should drink water' is a good principle to hold."

sourmìlk wrote:Ethical goals are practical goals. We don't do the right thing because of some abstract rightness, we do the right thing because it helps people.

Debatable, not to mention a false, or at least vague, dichotomy. But in the context of what gmal said, the important thing is not about whether ethics are practical. The important thing is that the law is a very information-destructive way of describing people's preferences. Within a jurisdiction, you have to take everyone's preferences, apply a complex function called representative democracy (if you can even get that), and end up with one law for everyone. You have to have one law. There are two related consequences of this. The first is that the law does not guarantee unity of the views of people responsible for it; if only two thirds of people think that it is wrong to torture children for fun, then it will be illegal, but a whole third of the population will still disagree. The second is that a unity of laws between different jurisdictions does no better; if two thirds of people everywhere think that it is wrong to torture children for fun, then it will be illegal, but there will still be a profound disagreement between the two-thirds majority and the rest.

And other laws might be popular not because they're widely-agreed-upon, and not even because there's a majority anywhere who would have them as their first choice, but simply because they're the most common compromises between the positions that people actually hold. I think that this is what gmal was getting at in the first place.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby Greyarcher » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:57 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
Greyarcher wrote:Emotions can be a bit of an irrational and arbitrary nuisance, but we can't just toss the whole shebang out in aiming to be perfectly rational. In the first place, it's impossible, and in the second place we wouldn't have much need for ethics if we did that. Since we wouldn't care about anything in the first place.
I'm not proposing this.
Of course, it's an absurdity--that was the point. It was raised since, as I recall, you've criticized the presence of emotions in ethical contexts but haven't indicated what the proper role of emotions in argumentation and ethics should instead be.

Also, I'll generally disagree on this "shared goals" bit--for reference, this was partially set up by the section of my post you didn't quote. Insofar as shared goals are generalized from basic core values, there is actually no necessity for any individual to generalize their values in this way. Placing worth beyond themselves, or beyond their family group, or their religious group, or ethnic group, or national group--there's no logical necessity to it. Moreover, they may naturally weight the more immediate group over the most general group--whom they may only acknowledge on the most abstracted level if at all. Taking this weighting into account tends to undermine the whole "shared goal" element (i.e. the goal is only shared insofar as there is no pressing concern that pits them against other people who supposedly share that goal).
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:07 am UTC

Thanks Bolshevik, that was helpful. There's still one thing I don't quite get though: aren't imperatives and goals practically the same? That is to say, if I am being driven by an imperative (for example, "you want to live") or working towards a goal ("to continue living"), the actions are the same ("drink water").

EDIT: wait, I think I get it. give me a moment to think about it.

Greyarcher wrote:]Of course, it's an absurdity--that was the point. It was raised since, as I recall, you've criticized the presence of emotions in ethical contexts but haven't indicated what the proper role of emotions in argumentation and ethics should instead be.

In argumentation, it shouldn't exist. Argumentation is supposed to be the application of valid logic to true premises in order to prove a point. There's no emotion there.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:11 am UTC

"You want to live" isn't the imperative. The imperative is the whole thing: "If you want to live, drink water."

For hypothetical imperatives, the hypothetical part is going to be a goal. But hypothetical imperatives aren't ethical imperatives; ethical imperatives are categorical, which is to say that they aren't conditional on any willed end.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:13 am UTC

But they necessarily lead to a specific end, right? If we're starting on the same premise (the imperative), then aren't logical extrapolations from that imperative going to be the same?
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby Jplus » Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:41 am UTC

From only the imperative you can't make any logical extrapolation, only the imperative itself.
If you want to live, drink water.
ergo... If you want to live, drink water.


To derive anything else, you'll need at least one additional premise. Obviously you can be sure that not everyone will get the same logical "extrapolations".

Person A finds upon introspectian that they want to live.
Person A wrote:If you want to live, drink water.
My goal is to live.
ergo I must drink water.


Person B finds upon introspection that they don't want to live.
Person B wrote:If you want to live, drink water.
My goal is not to live.
ergo I don't have to drink water.

Note that with even more premises, person B might find a reason to drink water afterall. The opposite is true of person A as well.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:43 am UTC

Well, Kant thinks that humanity (with some particular sense that I can't do a good job of describing) is the end of the Categorical Imperative. But it looks like when he talks about this kind of end, it's a different kind of end from the kind that you have in goal-directed behavior. Admittedly, the terminological overloading isn't helpful: when Kant talks about the ends of maxims, he's not talking about anything that's substantially different from a goal. The end of a maxim is a valuable state of affairs that you try to bring about: "I'll drink water in order to stay alive" is a maxim, and its end, your life, is a state of things that you're trying to preserve. It's a goal.

On the other hand, the status of humanity as the end of the Categorical Imperative looks like a different kind of thing. Here's an example I'll steal from Allen Wood: say I'm at a parade, and I like to stand up when the flag goes by out of patriotism. There are a couple of assholes sitting across the street, who won't stand up because they're assholes. But they're actually so committed to pissing me off that, if I don't stand up, they will in order to show that they're better than me. So do I stand up? If I had a goal of having people stand up around flags, it would make sense for me to stay seated. If I do that, there will be more people standing up! But that isn't what I'm after. The goal isn't to have people standing up. In fact, it doesn't look like there's a goal as such at all. Instead, there's a point: I stand up because it's patriotic, even though the amount of patriotism is just the same whether I stand up or not.

This is the sense, or at least close to the sense, in which Kant views humanity as the end of moral imperatives. It has a distinct value. But it's not so much the kind of value that you create as the kind of value that you respect.

That being said I guess Kant probably would say the CI requires that people attend to certain goals. But they don't make up most of his ethics. For example, the reason it's wrong to make a false promise is not because false promising interferes with a categorically-derived goal.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:07 am UTC

I'm sorry, this just isn't getting through to me. There's some fundamental linguistic barrier blocking you from successfully communicating this idea to me and I don't know what it is. I'll have to take some times on this one.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:16 am UTC

It's probably the same barrier that's prevented you from using precise metalogical terms the way actual logicians do throughout this entire discussion.
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Mar 10, 2012 4:05 am UTC

Perhaps, yeah. My whole perception of this conversation has been that it's about some communication barrier and I couldn't quite put my hand on what.
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Re: People choose logic over reason, no one is surprised

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Mar 10, 2012 4:13 am UTC

Word filtering for Mod Madness has just started, so now any communication difficulties are about to get a whole lot worse.

Especially considering that I think most mods tend to filter words that improve (i.e. make unintelligible) the threads they've been participating in most...
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Re: People choose emotions over reason, no one is surprised

Postby addams » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:35 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-gay-marriage-20120304,0,1129155.story

Apparently, trying to provide evidence that gay marriage isn't harmful doesn't work, but a handful of emotional stories can change everything.

This is still interesting.
Yes. We are emotional beings. We are strongly effected by warm and cuddly feelings.
Yes. We are emotional beings. We are strongly effected by fear and out rage.

The fear and anger reactions are strong. We have been living on that for more than ten years. It is nice to see warm and cuddly make a little bit of a come back.
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I think gay couples have better divorce parties. Oh me yarm. Gay men could, so totally, make divorce parties a new competitive fashion.
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Or, call off the divorce. I see romantic comedies in our near future. Yeah!
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