• baker
    1k
    No, that's quite the opposite. Consider for example recognizing neurodiversity, as in, the non-defectiveness of autistic (etc) experience patterns. Things that please and calm many neurotypical people can be very distressing and displeasing to neurodivergent people. The position you assumed I was arguing would be to call whatever pleases "normal" (neurotypical) people good, and neurodivergent people defective for not finding that good. But what I'm actually advocating is that we say it's good to act one way toward a neurotypical person (the way that they find pleasant and calming), but bad to act that same way toward a neurodivergent person (because they'll find it distressing and displeasing).Pfhorrest
    This doesn't solve anything, it just shifts the whole burden on the neurotypical vs. neurodivergent distinction, taking it for granted and taking for granted that said distnction can always be reliably established for every person at any given time. As if people would be robots with a make, model, and series number.
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    taking it for granted and taking for granted that said distnction can always be reliably established for every person at any given time.baker

    For the sake of that illustration I take it for granted, but that is just an illustration. Whenever it is discovered that a person with such and such characteristics experiences such and such phenomena differently that other people, our models have to be updated to reflect that.
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    Fair to say you're thoughtfully misanthropic & cynical?

    :up:

    As the late John Lewis would say 'Socrates had it coming because he stirred-up some "good trouble"'. As for virtue, the only one that matters which is indispensable for exercising the others is courage: nothing necessary and truly difficult is ever attempted, or gets done, by cowardice or (banal) conformity. Who decides? Who cares? Reason & experience suss-out what matters most; if there's an argument for another virtue that matters more than courage, I'm very interested in considering it. No surprise, though, that the usual ecclesiatical & sophistical suspects, in theory & practice, remain mostly mute on the subject integral to moral and intellectual integrity.

    But you can reject the Church without rejecting the Socratic idea of virtue.Wayfarer
    :100:
    .
    Hedonism (specifically ethical hedonism, the topic of the thread) is about appealing to experiences (of things feeling good or bad) as grounds to call something good or bad.Pfhorrest
    How does 'what feels good is good' work for e.g. sadists, masochists, severe autistics or antisocial sociopaths (e.g. neo-nazi thugs, serial rapists, billionaire ceo union-busters)? :chin:

    As I've pointed out on other occasions, Pfhorrest, ethical naturalism, implemented normatively as 'negative hedonic utilitarianism', is more eudaimonic and less relativist than a "ethical (positive) hedonism" because 'what feels good' is mostly arbitrary and weakly correlated with 'what is good for each person'. Each one decides 'what is good' her own way by 'what feels good to her' but 'what is bad for her' is often so independent of how 'good it feels to her'.

    We're an animal species. As such, each of us is constituted by the same functional defects: physical, affective, social, cognitive, etc which, if not maintained and sustained, lead, often rapidly, to deprivation and on to permanent or fatal dysfunction. I'd say our functional defects inform us as to (1) what harms us as well as (2) what harms other animals like us to the degree they are like us; true this, as you say, "cannot tell us which to choose" but that's because our species-functional defects are constraints on what constitutes homeostasis, affection, eusociality (or sustainability) & adaptivity, respectively ... AND NOT "OUGHTS" THEMSELVES, providing a 'natural' baseline for, or (basic) facticity of, moral judgments & conduct. Thus, negative utilitarianism, etc (vide Philippa Foot + Karl Popper ... + Spinoza).180 Proof
    In other words, informed by e.g. medical sciences, human ecology, moral / cognitive psychology, etc, a baseline of 'what is bad' is readily demonstrable for each and every human animal and, therefore, frames the problematics of anticipating, preventing (net increase of) & reducing harm (misery), both interpersonally and through public policy. The imperative to do so, however, is N O T derivable from scientific data because scientific data only constitute hypothetical explanatory models and, for an ethics to be 'universal' it's insufficient for its grounding to be hypothetical (i.e. relative, or merely possible), therefore it must be categorical. Science, rather, functions as criteria for using empirical data in order to (more) adaptively align judgments & conduct with negating 'what is bad' for human animals. 'Hedonic satisfaction' is just the "pursuit of happiness" treadmill redux, IMO perennially a fool's errand.
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    How does 'what feels good is good' work for e.g. sadists, masochists, severe autistics or antisocial sociopaths (e.g. neo-nazi thugs, serial rapists, billionaire ceo union-busters)? :chin:180 Proof

    We’re discussing this in another thread right now:

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/10539/at-long-last-my-actual-arguments-for-hedonic-moralism

    This is the point of distinguishing between appetites and desires: an appetite is not aimed for any specific state of affairs like a desire is, it’s just a feeling that calls for something or another—and there’s always multiple options—to sate it.

    And it’s also related to the problem of confirmationism and its analogue consequentialism that I’ll go into in the later thread on justice. “If you suffer, I will enjoy it” plus “I should enjoy myself” doesn’t logically entail “you should suffer”; that would be affirming the consequent.

    You should enjoy yourself rather than suffer. Also, I should not suffer but rather enjoy myself. Those are necessary conditions of something being good. You enjoying yourself is not, however, a sufficient condition of something being good; if something causes you enjoyment but me suffering, or vice versa, it’s bad, and something else that brings us both enjoyment rather than suffering must be found if we are to bring about good.

    If that something else is not something that either of us wanted at the outset, that’s fine; we were both wrong about what was good. It’s up to us to figure out what we should both want, that will satisfy both of our appetites.
    Pfhorrest

    I think the above also answers this:

    negative hedonic utilitarianism', is more eudaimonic and less relativist than a "ethical (positive) hedonism"180 Proof

    I am not at all advocating consequentialism and thus no variety of utilitarianism per se, though I broadly agree with utilitarianism on what a good state of affairs is. But I don’t think those ends justify any and all means. Hedonism doesn’t mean anything more specific than that pleasure and pain etc are all that’s morally relevant, that if something is good or bad it is for the reason of some (dis)satisfaction it brings someone. Your negative utilitarianism is still within the scope of that, and very close to the methods that I advocate on pursuit of the ends we’re discussing here.
  • baker
    1k
    For the sake of that illustration I take it for granted, but that is just an illustration.

    Whenever it is discovered that a person with such and such characteristics experiences such and such phenomena differently that other people, our models have to be updated to reflect that.
    Pfhorrest
    Why on earth would anyone want to do that??
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    Why on earth would anyone want to do that??baker

    ...so that their models would remain accurate in light of new information?

    Between this and your say similar question in that atheists thread, you come across as baffled by why anyone would have any concern for truth.
  • baker
    1k
    Between this and your say similar question in that atheists thread, you come across as baffled by why anyone would have any concern for truth.Pfhorrest
    Because it's silly, to say the least! It's not how people generally function!
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    Y'know, it has often seemed to me that far too many people show too much disdain for truth, but it's rare that any of them straight up admit it like this.
  • Janus
    10k
    IOW, it's about training oneself, developing oneself, cultivating oneself into becoming a particular type of person. This is how one "sees for oneself". It's not about verifying whether some claims are true or not. It's about making oneself be such that one comes to see those claims as true, as good.baker

    This is exactly right. Spiritual disciplines are not about coming to see something objectively true for oneself. Adherents may believe, while imaging that they know, that what they take themselves to have come to see is universally and objectively true.

    They believe this on account of the certainty which they have attained through self-cultivation; but this is because they don't have an understanding of the clear distinction between knowing and believing, or the fact that no knowledge is context-independent..
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    I am not at all advocating consequentialism and thus no variety of utilitarianism per se, though I broadly agree with utilitarianism on what a good state of affairs is. But I don’t think those ends justify any and all means. Hedonism doesn’t mean anything more specific than that pleasure and pain etc are all that’s morally relevant, that if something is good or bad it is for the reason of some (dis)satisfaction it brings someone. Your negative utilitarianism is still within the scope of that, and very close to the methods that I advocate on pursuit of the ends we’re discussing here.Pfhorrest
    So your ethical project is abolitionism (or something (transhumanist) like it)? :confused:
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    Transhumanism is a specific technological means, and so is beyond the scope of philosophy, but it sounds like the people behind that site generally have the right goal in mind and if they're working on particular means to attain it that sounds good to me.

    The complete abolition of all pain and suffering doesn't have to be practically feasible for the ethical principles I advocate to hold up. These specific principles here, about hedonism and universalism, are just about establishing the scale against which to measure the comparative goodness of several states of affairs. The complete abolition of all pain and suffering is would be way over at the extreme good end of that scale, but even far from that end of the scale, we can compare two states of affairs and see that one has less suffering than the other, and so is better (or at least, less wrong) than the other.

    That doesn't necessarily tell us specifically what we morally ought to do -- on top of this very simple criterion, we also need a more complete methodology by which to apply it, that I'm doing a thread (or maybe several threads) about soon. But it at least tells us the direction to head, even if not how to get there.
  • fdrake
    4.7k
    Y'know, it has often seemed to me that far too many people show too much disdain for truth, but it's rare that any of them straight up admit it like this.Pfhorrest

    I have a lot of contempt for truth. It's extremely over-rated, it needs a lot of scaffolding to emerge, and whenever it really, truly is what it is - it's so small and marginal that the forceps used to grasp it distort it beyond recognition but usher it into utility (and you can always ask "whose?" there). The truth of something does fuck all about that truth, and it's rarely necessary to know the truth to find one's way about. For the same reason as you don't need to know the exact shape of a car to know you should try not to be hit by them. Truth is a needlessly high standard.
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    For the same reason as you don't need to know the exact shape of a car to know you should try not to be hit by them. Truth is a needlessly high standard.fdrake

    Truth needn’t be absolute. It’s important to know that the car is actually a car and not something to else, even if you don’t need to know all the details of the car perfectly. That’s a degree of truth that matters, even if an absolute degree of it doesn’t.

    Likewise any other kind of truth. If you have any concern at all for avoiding falsehood, even if that’s not an absolute and all-defeating concern, then you have some concern for truth.
  • fdrake
    4.7k
    That’s a degree of truth that matters, even if an absolute degree of it doesn’t.Pfhorrest

    Degree of truth -> truth value is no longer boolean -> doesn't resemble usual conceptions of truth. If you needed to parry the attack on "absolute truth" into a discussion which admits of degrees of truth in its operative concept, we're going to talk cross purposes if I engage without highlighting that. I'm specifically talking about when truth values are being treated as boolean.

    If you have any concern at all for avoiding falsehood, even if that’s not an absolute and all-defeating concern, then you have some concern for truth.Pfhorrest

    I don't really want to play the "pin the assumptions on the philosopher" game. I'm sure we could go around the merry go round for a long time with you portraying that I have some nascent commitment to the truth (in some conception) and me trying to distance myself from it.

    If you're willing to assert that it's "degree of truth" that matters and that how the degree matters depends upon practical/epistemic context, we're already dealing with a notion of truth that is more epistemic and pragmatic, and thus probably agree for practical purposes.
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    we're already dealing with a notion of truth that is more epistemic and pragmatic, and thus probably agree for practical purposesfdrake

    :up:

    But FWIW, I'm not talking about anything like fuzzy logic or such when I talk about "degrees of truth" here. I'm talking about how one can be concerned with the (boolean) truth of a very general proposition, without having to be concerned with (boolean) truths of any of the many more specific cases of that general proposition being true. E.g. even if it matters whether it's true that there's a car heading toward you, it needn't matter whether it's true that car is a Volvo, or that it's a Honda, or... etc. But the truth of the more general proposition still matters.

    Circling back around to the start of this discussion about truth, wherein Baker asked why we should update our ethical models in light of new evidence, or (in a different thread) why I care whether it's true that God exists: in the context of talking about such topics, we're already paying attention to those questions, acting like they matter, at least for the purposes of our discussion here. Since I'm already attending to the question, I care to make sure I don't give a false answer to it.

    Baker's question seemed to be "why do you care not to give false answers to things?", not "why are you talking about that topic?" There are lots of good practical reasons not to care to pay attention to particular things, but given that you're paying attention to something already, it's kind of shocking to see someone so explicitly act like it doesn't matter whether they're right or wrong about it.
  • fdrake
    4.7k
    There are lots of good practical reasons not to care to pay attention to particular things, but given that you're paying attention to something already, it's kind of shocking to see someone so explicitly act like it doesn't matter whether they're right or wrong about it.Pfhorrest

    Maybe?

    Hostility to the frame something is presented in can look a lot like hostility to the truth. I think, based on skim reading and brainfarts, that this is the suspicion @baker is leveraging. If someone'(you, or Wayfarer earlier) seems to be presenting what looks like a totalising system that decides what's right and wrong, and to them the system+person appears to purport that they've found the rational kernel/essence of right and wrong... I mean, they're gonna wanna reject that, it's gonna look absolutely nuts.

    Systematising ethics (right/wrong) like that can have a very "this drunk came up to me on the street and told me the way to find God" feel to it! That seems quite vindicated to me, as any such system is an attempt to reconfigure how values are seen and norms are related to, a lot like our drunken messiah's aspirations.
  • baker
    1k
    Baker's question seemed to be "why do you care not to give false answers to things?", not "why are you talking about that topic?" There are lots of good practical reasons not to care to pay attention to particular things, but given that you're paying attention to something already, it's kind of shocking

    to see someone so explicitly act like it doesn't matter whether they're right or wrong about it.
    Pfhorrest
    This is what you get from my words???!

    I was asking you about your motivations for wanting to know the truth about some particular matters, in this case, "God". That was the cue for you to look within and be clear about your motivations. Perhaps also share them with others. Unless you're into rehashing the same old theism-atheism arguments that have been around for millennia, without ever getting resolved. I figured that if you have a formal education in philosophy and aren't a teenager, it would be safe to assume you know better than to go down that road.
  • baker
    1k
    /.../ Systematising ethics (right/wrong) like that can have a very "this drunk came up to me on the street and told me the way to find God" feel to it! That seems quite vindicated to me, as any such system is an attempt to reconfigure how values are seen and norms are related to, a lot like our drunken messiah's aspirations.fdrake
    Which is what he's doing: Just yet another authoritarian know-it-all with an utopian bent ...
  • fdrake
    4.7k
    Which is what he's doing: Just yet another authoritarian know-it-all with an utopian bent ...baker

    I think that's an uncharitable interpretation of @Pfhorrest, but I do understand the vibe.
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    Thanks fdrake for helping clarify baker's motives/perceptions to me. I don't know how to avoid those misperceptions in the future without just refraining from <sarcasm>daring</sarcasm> to have detailed philosophical views at all. Heck, in this thread it's not even an especially detailed one I'm talking about: it's just "all that matters, morally speaking, is people not suffering" (and consequently, which lead to this discussion, "therefore we should update our idea of what's moral when we discover that something causes someone to suffer"). Which seems like a kindergarten-level "insight", not something that should make me look like an "authoritarian know-it-all".
  • baker
    1k
    I'm pointing out that your views on morality are completely unrealistic. You seem to think that a theory of morality is an anything goes kind of project where one can give free reigns to one's imagination; an indulging in a pipe dream.

    You're developing a theory of morality for which there can be no hope of it ever being implemented by humans.
  • T H E
    147

    FWIW, I think you manifest a 'will-to-system' that's always going to annoy the opposite anti-systematic temperament. This is something like William James' tough-versus-tender-minded thing. As someone perhaps of the opposite temperament, I'm somewhat allergic to ethical theorizing. 'All that matters, morally speaking, is people not suffering' seems gray and abstract to me, as if 'suffering' can be cleanly separated from non-suffering or as if suffering isn't perhaps necessary for personal growth. But I don't mean to attack you. I'm just speculating on your clash w baker and putting my own spin on fdrake's comments.
    Distinction drawn by James, who found it illuminating to classify philosophers into one of these two camps (Pragmatism, Ch. 1). The tender-minded are: rationalistic (going by ‘principles’), intellectualistic, idealistic, optimistic, religious, free-willist, monistic, and dogmatical. The tough-minded are: empiricist (going by ‘facts’), sensationalistic, materialistic, pessimistic, irreligious, fatalistic, pluralistic, and sceptical. — link
    https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803103046172
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    I think I already clarified this earlier, but establishing a scale against which to compare the morality of situations where one end of that scale is nobody suffering and the other end is abject misery for everyone doesn't mean that I expect (who?) to make that good end the case or else (who?) is a criminal or something. It's a scale. It's just how we compare things. Suffering bad. More suffering worse. Less suffering better. No suffering best. It's not a complicated thing.

    Thanks for the insight, though I don't think I fit cleanly into either of James' categories. I'm rationalistic, empiricist, intellectualistic, both or neither idealistic/materialistic in different senses, optimistic in some ways but pessimistic in others, fiercely anti-religious, free-willist inasmuch as that means anti-fatalistic, monistic in some ways but pluralistic in others, and fiercely anti-dogmatic but equally anti-cynical. (I'm not sure what he means by "sensationalistic" there; the usual sense I'm familiar with seems out of place).

    What I probably am above all else is tenacious. My personal motto and the literal foundation of my entire system of philosophy is "it may be hopeless but I'm trying anyway". Which circles back to the first paragraph of this post: it doesn't matter if attaining complete good in the sense I mean it here is not possible, all that matters is that that's the direction to push toward. Further that direction is better, and that we might never get all the way there is entirely beside the point, because some progress is still better than none.
  • T H E
    147
    In other words, informed by e.g. medical sciences, human ecology, moral / cognitive psychology, etc, a baseline of 'what is bad' is readily demonstrable for each and every human animal and, therefore, frames the problematics of anticipating, preventing (net increase in) & reducing harm (misery), both interpersonally and through public policy. The imperative to do so, however, is N O T derivable from scientific data because scientific data only constitute hypothetical explanatory models and, for an ethics to be 'universal' it's insufficient for its grounding to be hypothetical (i.e. relative, or merely possible), therefore it must be categorical. Science, rather, functions as criteria for using empirical data in order to (more) adaptively align judgments & conduct with negating 'what is bad' for human animals. 'Hedonic satisfaction' is just the "pursuit of happiness" treadmill redux, IMO perennially a fools errand.180 Proof

    Whow, that's a shot of espresso. Dense. :up:
  • T H E
    147

    I guess none of fit all that cleanly in such a simple grid, so maybe the issue is the integrative/systematic as opposed to the piecemeal/improvisational approach. I think of the tough-minded type as being more comfortable with a set of facts that haven't suffered too much lossy compression (at the cost of a theory that nevertheless gets something right.) Ethically, I just muddle through. Jokes, anecdotes, aphorisms....

    It's a scale. It's just how we compare things. Suffering bad. More suffering worse. Less suffering better. No suffering best. It's not a complicated thing.Pfhorrest

    Of course I agree that.......suffering is bad. (?) That's suspiciously easy! I guess my objection is that suffering here is being treated like a gray quantity, an unpleasant homogeneous ooze. One ends up a crystal castle of abstractions, devoid of detail. Even if empiricism is theoretically central to the System, the spirit of the thing is to make it all fit together, perhaps by sanding all of the edges off. Frankly, I found the poll absurd. All these categories, categories, categories. Absurd-to-me discrete variables for continuous and ambiguous issues.

    Or that's my temperament's reaction reaction to yours.
  • Isaac
    4.2k
    in this thread it's not even an especially detailed one I'm talking about: it's just "all that matters, morally speaking, is people not suffering" (and consequently, which lead to this discussion, "therefore we should update our idea of what's moral when we discover that something causes someone to suffer"). Which seems like a kindergarten-level "insight", not something that should make me look like an "authoritarian know-it-all".Pfhorrest

    But of course it does, because 'we' don't discover anything, individual people do. So absolutely any method which involves applying some fact about how things are or should be is an attempt to lend authority to one's own version of that. It's never just 'we discovered that X causes A to suffer', it's "I believe that X causes A to suffer - and therefore you should refrain from X no matter what you personally feel about it". One does not simply 'discover' facts, one believes them. There are always competing models and, no non-circular way of choosing between them. The reason it comes across as authoritarian is that we can all see the implication (something you're either blind to or disingenuous about). As a system it absolutely requires some authority to determine what is 'true' about what causes more suffering than what and to use that 'fact' to lend weight to prescriptions based on that. Absent of that it's nothing but of purposeless exchange of 'maybe's.

    The problem is woven throughout your approach (and that of many others). The conclusions are trivially true given the premises - you want us to focus on the quality of the logic, when that's child's play. The issue is with the premises. People try this sleight of hand different ways, but with you it's forever "That's not what this thread is about, I've dealt with that in another thread" (but when we look to that other thread we just find a whole load of unresolved problems). Basically, the desire to systematise, the neatness of all these analogies and categorisations, just leaves one having to discard or bend out of shape all the stuff that doesn't fit, like packing for camping and leaving the poles behind because they're longer than the box you had for the tent.

    If one excludes the religious, then I think it is indeed plausible (trivially so) that "all that matters, morally speaking, is people not suffering", if you want to frame everything that way, you can. (virtues are such because they lead to less suffering, customs likewise, even many religious edicts could be parsed that way if you include the afterlife), but then you gloss over all the complexities of ethics with "therefore we should update our idea of what's moral when we discover that something causes someone to suffer" - which is not trivially true at all, far from it. It packs within that all sorts of assumptions about how to deal with uncertainty (do we act immediately on every 'discovery', or are we cautious about new knowledge?), how we deal with trust ('we' never discover anything, some group does - do we trust them?), and our socially-mediated concepts (what constitutes 'suffering' changes between cultures and generations, what constitutes a 'cause' is bound up with what we see as immutable and what is not). Once you unpack all that you just end up with all the ethical approaches humans have come up with thus far.

    Almost all of the many ethical approaches are attempts (even if not consciously so) to deal with some of those issues. Sticking to customs and virtues is a way of hedging against the fragility that 'brand new' data often has, so we update more slowly by following traditions and laws. Egoist systems take the most extreme position on trusting others to have 'discovered' facts about what's best. The many relativist approaches are attempts to deal with the cultural mediation of what constitutes 'suffering' and 'cause' etc. So laying it out this way just re-iterates the debate, it doesn't move it forward.

    And before you say "all this is true of empirical studies too", it may or may not be, but that is not an argument in itself. We might well make those compromises for empirical studies, that just shows that we can, not that we ought to in all other situations. Proscriptive domains are about possible states, descriptive domains about actual ones. That's no insignificant difference, the assumption that they should be treated the same just because they can is crazy. Again, I know you've responded in the past that we can make progress this way, 'better try than not', but this begs the question. It's not progress if the wrong approach, it's just movement.

    You create this chain of abandoned threads, littered with unresolved issues, which are then treated as foundations for key structures in some new edifice, with an agenda, fixed from the beginning, without any mutual consideration of the issues others raise, when the end result of all this is supposed to be determining how other people behave. It obviously looks very much as though you're determining how other people should behave according to your own private beliefs without consultation. Is it any wonder it's seen as a little potentially authoritarian?
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    If one excludes the religious, then I think it is indeed plausible (trivially so) that "all that matters, morally speaking, is people not suffering"Isaac

    Excluding the religious (and similar) views on morality is the point of this facet of my ethics. The people who object to this ethical view pretty much just are religious people. They’re the ones I’m arguing against.

    We’ve been over this before. If you trivially agree with my points, great! Others don’t. Let’s talk about why exactly they’re wrong. Not just congratulate each other on being right, but examine just what subtle errors lead (or excuse) others away from being right.

    It packs within that all sorts of assumptions about how to deal with uncertainty (do we act immediately on every 'discovery', or are we cautious about new knowledge?), how we deal with trust ('we' never discover anything, some group does - do we trust them?)Isaac

    It explicitly does not, and this is the point you keep missing about all the different threads that are each focused on one narrow part of the big picture. Endorsing hedonistic altruism doesn’t have to mean endorsing consequentialism or authoritarianism or anything like that. It’s just an answer to one little question: what criteria to use when assessing what is moral. The methods by which to apply that are another topic (and on that topic I’m anti-consequentialist), who is responsible for applying such methods is yet another (and on that topic I’m an anarchist), etc. And those are topics I’m getting to.

    You always seem so bothered that I’m not addressing ALL of the parts of the WHOLE complex of issues all at once in one thread, but do you have any idea how huge of an OP that would be? I was actually going to have a nicely organized thread with an overview of the whole general structure of my big picture argument back at the start of this, and I though all this time that I had, but I recently realized that the way YOU jumped all over me in the thread that was to precede that one screwed up those plans and I never actually did that correctly. (I made a followup post to that thread recently noting that fact, and elaborating on the stuff that I didn't get to posting back then).

    It seems like you want me to start with the big picture conclusion (“hey everyone lets be less authoritarian and hierarchical and work together independently but cooperatively to realize all of our dreams”) and then go into the reasons for that conclusion and the reasons for those reasons etc, going backward through the argument until we get to the deepest premises. I get it, you’re used to psychologically analyzing like that. And that could be a way to do it, sure.

    Except then anyone who doesn’t like that conclusion on the face of it is going to dig in their heels and reject any premise that might lead to it no matter how trivially true those premises. So instead I start with the trivially true premises, and build up from them slowly toward the big conclusion, showing along the way why it had to follow from those very agreeable, trivial premises.

    Yet when I do that, YOU nevertheless jump as uncharitably as possible straight to what you think my conclusion will be, take reaching that conclusion to be the reason to hold the premises rather than the other way around, and so try to twist those premises, that are MEANT to be trivial uncontroversial starting points, into a hidden form of the conclusion you think I’m going for, and when I clarify that that’s all unwarranted reading-into what I’m actually saying, you call what I’m actually saying “trivial” as though that was a bug rather than a feature.

    Bertrand Russell wrote "The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it."

    I started off with things you think are not worth stating. Good! That's where we're supposed to start! The point is to first get agreement with those no-duh obvious things, and then build up to things nobody wants to believe (like the rejection of all religions and states), on the grounds of those very same trivial obvious things.

    So to have you constantly complaining either that those things are trivial and obvious (duh) or else a hidden attempt at authoritarianism (quite the opposite)...


    ETA: I wanted to give a brief recap of the series of threads you insist are all on the same topic, and your disruptive influence on them.

    - First I did a series of threads on meta-philosophical topics.

    Those all went pretty fine and as far as I can remember you didn't participate in them.

    - Those were to culminate on a thread about taking a systematic and principled approach to philosophy generally, in which I gave, as an example of the kind of thing I meant, my core principles (just stated, not argued for) and a list of some other positions that I think they imply (again, just stated, not argued for; these were only examples of the kind of thing I wanted to get other people's examples of too).

    That got completely derailed into a long argument with you about the implications you assumed must follow from one half of one of those four principles (the moral side of the principle I then called objectivism, now universalism), so I made a different thread to continue the topic that that one was supposed to be about, and turned that one instead into...

    - A thread about my basic philosophical principles in general and how they relate to each other in a big-picture kind of way.

    Because I was already just trying to get out of the fruitless loop of argument with you, I actually never got around to properly presenting arguments for adopting those principles, or relating them to each other in a big-picture way, as I had planned. (I returned to that thread recently to do so, when I realized that). That completely threw off everything else that was to come.

    - I was going to do a series of four other threads, each one on one of those four core principles, elaborating on what I do or don't mean by it, and giving more extensive arguments for it.

    But I was so fucking burnt out from you in that previous thread that I just skipped those entirely.


    - Instead I moved on and started a thread on philosophy of language generally, including but in no way limited to moral language.

    You took that opportunity to pick up the same damn argument against moral objectivism/universalism (because, yeah, my general philosophy of language implies that both factual and normative types of claim can be equally true) and turned that entire thread into more of the same shit again.

    - Then I did a few threads each about rhetoric and the arts.

    - And a few more threads eachabout logic and mathematics.

    - I did a thread about the criteria by which to judge what is real, and implications of that on ontology more generally.

    - I did a thread about philosophy of mind.

    As I recall, you didn't participate in any of those (the last of which really surprises me), and they all went pretty fine.

    - I did a few threads about different sub-topics within epistemology, i.e. about the methods by which to apply the aforementioned criteria by which to judge what is real, because every thought I have on epistemology would be way too long for one OP.

    And you showed up to the first one to attack things I wasn't even arguing for yet, but I had implied I believed since the next thread was going to be about that, and then complained when I dropped that thread to start the one in which I was actually going to give arguments for the thing you were already attacking, and that turned into another shit show because of you. (Yes, others were also participating, but you were the only one being a pissant there.) You thankfully didn't show up for the remaining few sub-topics of epistemology, or if you did I managed to ignore you.

    - Then a thread about philosophy of education, sorta crossed with philosophy of religion.

    You didn't show up there as I recall, and it generally went well.

    - A thread about my approach to the sub-fields of ethics generally, and how that differs from the usual organization of ethics into different sub-fields.

    I think you maybe showed up there briefly but I managed to ignore you.

    - A few threads about the criteria by which to judge what is moral, and how that's sort of the moral analogue to ontology, which field I refer to as "teleology".

    Despite the fact that this is finally the topic that you kept making so many of the earlier threads about, you didn't show up, thankfully.

    - I'm currently doing a thread on free will and moral responsibility.

    And I'm surprised you haven't shown up there, but please, don't change that.

    - Next up will be a thread (or maybe a series thereof) about the methods by which to apply the aforementioned criteria by which to judge what is moral, and how that's sort of the moral analogue to epistemology, which field I refer to as "deontology".

    - Then, almost finally, a thread (or maybe a series thereof) about the social institutions to apply such methods, i.e. about governance.

    Those are the topics you claim I'm ignoring the implications on, when I'm explicitly not implying anything about them yet, because I'm planning to talk about them each on their own, soon.

    - And lastly will be some meaning of life type of stuff you probably don't give a shit about.

    So yeah, I guess I just keep on ranting about the same thing over and over again, eh? Or maybe you're just not paying attention?
  • Isaac
    4.2k
    Excluding the religious (and similar) views on morality is the point of this facet of my ethics. The people who object to this ethical view pretty much just are religious people. They’re the ones I’m arguing against.Pfhorrest

    Well, since religious people accept their ethics on faith, not rational argument, I can't understand why you would put such effort into it. Your argument seems to hinge on "...because X said so" being a conclusion we would want to avoid, yet for the religious, that's exactly the conclusion they have faith in.

    If you trivially agree with my points, great! Others don’t.Pfhorrest

    You've not quoted a single philosopher who doesn't agree with the basic points you take as premises here. That suffering (when assessed hedonically at the affect level, and in the long term, recognising that it might change over time, and including future generations, plus an afterlife if there is one, including any 'higher' senses like art and music and love...) that long and complicated definition of 'suffering' is a bad thing and we shouldn't impose it on others. Find me a philosopher, scientists, any public academic who disagrees with that. It's just the definition of the 'suffering'. If anything within 'suffering' wasn't bad it wouldn't be called 'suffering'. Anyone who can speak English agrees that 'suffering' (in that long sense) is a bad thing, it's part of knowing what the word means.

    Endorsing hedonistic altruism doesn’t have to mean endorsing consequentialism or authoritarianism or anything like that. It’s just an answer to one little question: what criteria to use when assessing what is moral. The methods by which to apply that are another topic (and on that topic I’m anti-consequentialist), who is responsible for applying such methods is yet another (and on that topic I’m an anarchist), etc. And those are topics I’m getting to.Pfhorrest

    It means having an answer to those questions (otherwise you wouldn't even be starting the process).

    I'll keep this short because I know how much you dislike my involvement. Humans have been dealing with the question of how we should act toward one another for upwards of 200,000 years, since before complex language even. It's deeply ingrained in our language, culture and possibly even genetics. It's woven so tightly into everything we do that you can't even discuss it without using words, the meaning of which, involves an already present ethical framework.

    Thousands of pages have been written about it, with probably in excess of 10 billion people involved in greater or lesser ways. The idea that you out of all of them, have come up with a system finally, after 200,000 years of trying which is not just a re-framing, or restatement of the issues already known, is ludicrous to the point of being messianic. Maybe you have, maybe you are, indeed, the smartest person ever to have lived (in regards to this topic), but for that to be the case you'd surely be unsurprised by the amount of 'pushback' you get from people struggling to believe this fact, yet it seems to constantly alarm you.

    It seems like you want me to start with the big picture conclusion (“hey everyone lets be less authoritarian and hierarchical and work together independently but cooperatively to realize all of our dreams”) and then go into the reasons for that conclusion and the reasons for those reasons etc, going backward through the argument until we get to the deepest premises. I get it, you’re used to psychologically analyzing like that. And that could be a way to do it, sure.

    Except then anyone who doesn’t like that conclusion on the face of it is going to dig in their heels and reject any premise that might lead to it no matter how trivially true those premises.

    ...The point is to first get agreement with those no-duh obvious things, and then build up to things nobody wants to believe (like the rejection of all religions and states), on the grounds of those very same trivial obvious things.
    Pfhorrest

    You're working with people's intuitions only here. No actual physiological facts. So how are you distinguishing a 'conclusion' from a 'premise'? Our intuitions don't go around with little labels on them. If I have a feeling that everyone should "be less authoritarian and hierarchical and work together independently but cooperatively to realize all of our dreams" and I also have a feeling that "imposing suffering on others is bad", and maybe also a feeling that "some divine being must have made this universe and so whatever He says is right must be right"... What properties of each of those feelings are you using to judge that one is a 'premise' and the others 'conclusions'. Why should one not take one's feeling about God as a premise and one's feeling about suffering as a conclusion - realising that they must be wrong about the whole suffering thing because God can be a bastard sometimes in that respect?

    As we've been over already in your thread about epistemology, all you have if some beliefs which seem inconsistent. You can change any one of them to match, or re-frame them so that they're consistent, or postpone doing so (assuming they're all right but you haven't worked out how yet), or treat the whole thing as confusion of language...

    ...all of which is essentially what ethical philosophers have been doing all these years.

    You've chosen one of those feeling to be your starting point and worked logically to support others from there (and thereby argue against those other feelings in other people). But all this does not carry any normative weight. All it does is reflect which of your beliefs you're going to label 'premises' (spoiler alert - it's the ones which make all your other beliefs right and your opponents wrong).
  • Pfhorrest
    4.4k
    Well, since religious people accept their ethics on faith, not rational argument, I can't understand why you would put such effort into it.Isaac

    Because there are supposedly rational people (thousands of years of professional philosophers) who give arguments for why that's supposedly the right way to do things, who get copied by the amateurs who use those arguments as cover for their irrationality. The point is to shoot down that cover, and give ammunition for others to do so, to expose irrationality as irrationality and not let it hide behind a veneer of rationality. If people want to stand by irrationality openly as such, then there's nothing more to do.

    You've not quoted a single philosopher who doesn't agree with the basic points you take as premises here.Isaac

    Plato is the first obvious example, and consequentially pretty much all Platonists, Neoplatonists, and so also most Christian philosophers. Plato in general rejects the importance of pretty much anything experiential, whether that be empirical experience to tell us about reality, or hedonic experience to tell us about morality. To Plato, experience is pretty much all deception and vice, and both truth and goodness can only be found introspectively, by contemplating the Forms, all of which are subsumed within the Form of the Good, the highest form (equated by later Christian philosophers with God himself), which is the source of all goodness and all truth.

    Lots of supposedly smart, reasonable people believe some really wacky shit.

    SEP also has a list of arguments against hedonism with names if you like.

    It means having an answer to those questions (otherwise you wouldn't even be starting the process).Isaac

    It really doesn't. I have thoughts on the answers to those other questions, sure, but someone who was philosophically unsure could agree in general that people feeling good rather than bad is probably the only thing that really matters, as an end in itself, but be undecided about whether the ends justify the means, or whether we should trust authority, etc.

    The idea that you out of all of them, have come up with a system finally, after 200,000 years of trying which is not just a re-framing, or restatement of the issues already known, is ludicrous to the point of being messianic.Isaac

    I'm very open about how most of the parts of my views are not new things that have never been espoused before. I think my novel contribution to the problem is mostly in taking parts from those different well-known views and connecting them together into a form that escapes their common arguments against each other; basically, agreeing with their best arguments against each other, in every direction, and keeping only what's left of each side. And also, in grounding the resultant structure in the basic pragmatism (itself also not entirely my own invention) I'm about to elaborate on below.

    for that to be the case you'd surely be unsurprised by the amount of 'pushback' you get from people struggling to believe this fact, yet it seems to constantly alarm you.Isaac

    What surprises me is not that some people disagree, but that it seems like nobody at all agrees. I expect a certain type of person (like all those descended from Plato above) to disagree out the gate, but I also expect there to be plenty of people who haven't had their minds ruined by bad philosophy to think it's obviously right, and to be interested in a new line of attack against those who think it's wrong. It was the utter lack of the latter (until this poll showed they were just hiding in the woodwork) that shocked me.

    You're working with people's intuitions only here. No actual physiological facts. so how are you distinguishing a 'conclusion' from a 'premise'. Our intuitions don't go around with little labels on them. if I have a feeling that everyone should "be less authoritarian and hierarchical and work together independently but cooperatively to realize all of our dreams" and I also have a feeling that "imposing suffering on others is bad", and maybe also a feeling that "some divine being must have made this universe and so whatever He says is right must be right"... What properties of each of those feelings are you using to judge that one is a 'premise' and the others 'conclusions'. Why should one not take one's feeling about God as a premise and one's feeling about suffering as a conclusion - realising that they must be wrong about the whole suffering thing because God can be a bastard sometimes in that respect?Isaac

    Answering questions like this is the most novel individual point of my entire philosophical system (as opposed to the structural things relating pieces of already well-known positions together). Even this has precursors though, in a lot of pragmatists and proto-pragmatists, going way back to Blaise Pascal.

    And that answer is basically to suppose a starting point of absolute radical doubt where you don't even know what there is to know, or how to know it, or if we can know it at all, or if there is even anything at all to be known, and then recognize that in any case you can't help but act on some tacit assumption one way or the other, and ask which of the possible assumptions among those you've got to blindly make in this epistemic darkness are most likely to lead you to figuring out the answers to things, in case it should turn out that there actually are any answers that can be figured out.

    The first two such assumptions I argue for from that position are that there is some such answer or other to whatever question is at hand (because if you assumed instead to the contrary, you'd have no reason to try out any potential answers), but that it's always uncertain whether any particular thing is that answer (because if you assumed instead to the contrary, you'd have no reason to check if any other potential answer is better than your present guess).

    From there I then rule out other things that run contrary to those pragmatic assumptions, anything that would give reason to give up the investigation in either of those two ways, and run with whatever is left. Elaborating the chain from those core pragmatic assumptions to every other specific position is what all the text I've already written in all those other threads is for, so I'm not going to repeat it all here. But on the topic of this thread about hedonism specifically, I'll give an abbreviated version of that chain:

    If you are to remain always uncertain whether any particular thing is the correct answer, you can't just take anyone's word without question; you have to be able to check supposed answers. To check supposed answers, we have two things to test: their own basic internal logical self-consistency, and their accordance with external phenomenal experience. And phenomenal experiences of things seeming good or bad are what is meant by hedonic experiences. So any claim of something being good or bad must be in light of the hedonic experiences associated with it, or else you'd have to just take someone's word on it without question, in which case you'd never find out if you were wrong, which leaves you much more likely to be wrong, which you presumably care to avoid. (And if you don't care to avoid it, okay, go ahead and be probably-wrong.)
  • SophistiCat
    1.6k
    If one excludes the religious, then I think it is indeed plausible (trivially so) that "all that matters, morally speaking, is people not suffering", if you want to frame everything that way, you can.Isaac

    Actually, it is trivially false that all commonly held moral beliefs can be construed as being aimed at minimizing suffering. (I am including the "commonly held" qualification in deference to your social/semantic take on ethics.) Take, for example, the imperative to punish offenders. While it can be argued that just punishment, on the whole, tends to reduce suffering (by way of deterrence, for example), this is not so in every particular case. And in any event, minimizing suffering is not what motivates the imperative in the first place, even if it happens to have that side effect - on the contrary, what matters to those who adhere to it is that the offender does suffer.

    If we survey current and past moral attitudes, we can find plenty of examples of moral imperatives that are not aimed at the reduction of suffering. I take it that @Pfhorrest and a number of others would not support such attitudes. So people disagree about right and wrong. What else is new? What are we discussing here? What's the point of all these threads and polls? To identify like-minded members?
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment