• Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66
    I classify myself as a moral subjectivist. As a moral subjectivist, I am committed to these three propositions:

    1. Moral statements are truth-apt.

    2. Some moral statements are true.

    3. The truth-aptness of moral statements are dependent upon the subject they are indexed to.

    The robust form of moral realism is committed to accepting the following three theses (taken from the Wikipedia article on Anti-realism).

    1. The Semantic Thesis: Moral statements have meaning, they express propositions, or are the kind of things that can be true or false.

    2. The Alethic Thesis: Some moral propositions are true.

    3. The Metaphysical Thesis: The metaphysical status of moral facts is robust and ordinary, not importantly different from other facts about the world.

    As a moral anti-realist, I am committed to denying at least one of these theses. I accept both the semantic and alethic theses, but deny the metaphysical thesis. This makes my position, as a moral subjectivist, seemingly compatible with (at least not contradictory to) moderate to minimalist forms of moral realism. It is worth noting that this contention between the delineating forms of moral realism (robust, moderate, minimal) is a matter of contention between moral realists themselves which has made the task of classifying and defining moral realism quite problematic.

    I am only concerned with the proponents of moral realism who accept the metaphysical thesis, or the proponents of moral realism who are committed to the same theses as proponents of moral subjectivism, but are otherwise operating under a different meta-ethical semantics. In order to elucidate the key differences between these forms of realism and moral subjectivism—a form of anti-realism—I will first flesh out what is meant by the three propositions that I am committed to. Second, offer a proper representation for what a moral realist likely means by the propositions we both accept. Third, analyze the semantic structure of each ethical theory's moral language with an emphasis on identifying any distinctions between the meaning structures therein. Finally, offer my take for why such distinctions matter and what ultimately makes my position more convincing, in my opinion.

    The first proposition is the acceptance of the semantic thesis, which makes my view a form of cognitivism; the view that moral statements express true or false propositions. A large factor here has to do with which theory of truth we have subscribed to. While both moral realists and moral subjectivists agree that moral statements are apt for truth or falsity, moral realists use language that implies such moral statements are apt for robust truth or falsity insofar as the truth-aptness of the statement is based upon how well it refers to the world.

    This comes from subscribing to the correspondence theory of truth; that words and thoughts can only be true if they correspond with empirical reality. It is because of this empirical reference, moral realists say, that many moral statements are found to be objectively true. Whereas moral subjectivists determine the truth-aptness of moral statements based upon indexicals. That moral statements express a belief which is a state of mind that is cognitive and can be determined true or false based upon the coherence between the speaker and the statement and specific context indexed to it. A statement is based upon internal consistency between a network of beliefs and dependent on the time, location, individual, etc, in which the statement is indexed next to.

    The second proposition is the acceptance of the alethic thesis, which makes my view one that opposes error theory, which claims that all moral statements have truth value and that the truth value of each moral statement is false; one which opposes robust forms of moral realism, which claims that moral statements are true insofar as they have a reference-fixing relationship to the objective (mind-independent) facts of the physical world.

    J. L. Mackie was probably the best known moral error theorist, which, similar to a moral realist, would likewise accept the semantic thesis that moral statements are cognitive on the basis of empirical contingencies, such as a reference-fixing relationship to the objective facts of the world. Mackie and other error theorists likely also subscribed to a version of the correspondence theory of truth. Whereas a realist believes moral statements are indeed true based on objective moral values or properties to which we may gain epistemic access to, the error theorist, on the other hand, believes that moral statements indeed have such empirical, objective criteria to meet for them to be considered true, however, they go on to say that no such objective moral values or properties of the world exist—that, therefore, all moral statements must then be false. I agree that objective moral values don't seem to exist, although I disagree that such things are necessary requisites for truth.

    This takes us to the third proposition, whereas moral realism and error theory alike subscribe to the correspondence theory of truth, which defines truth as that which is empirically testable and best corresponds with such empirics; moral subjectivism, on the converse, subscribes to the coherence theory of truth, which defines truth as that which is universally consistent with the whole of a system of beliefs or propositions—such as the ideas and theories contained within a paradigm.

    This makes sense seeing that subjective morality would actually be contained within the system of beliefs of the individual subject, rather than the subjects external environment. While many may push back that such psychological states are reducible to emotions and desires, which are innate processes that arise from the subcortical circuitry of the brain—thus non-cognitive; our lacking moral agency with regards to these primitive states notwithstanding, from which cognitive states of consciousness emerge and are necessarily granted epistemic access to theses otherwise private contents of the mind. In other words, though the subject may not be the author of her desires and primitive emotional attitudes, she is nonetheless cognizant of the truth of her desires and emotions and therefore they are the truth-makers to which her subsequent thoughts and statements—her truth-bearers —are dependent upon.

    So when I make a statement, it stands as the truth-bearer that is dependent upon indexicals which are reducible to the truth-makers of my being, of which I am cognizant of as emergent drivers and motivators of action that are out of my control, but such actions are however restricted and guided based upon my attitude, evaluation, reflexes and beliefs in the total context of a specific place, time, intention, etc. For example, when I make the statement, "Eating meat is immoral," the truth-bearers of this statement are dependent upon the actual existing context. It is dependent upon being indexed to the individual subject ("To me, eating meat is immoral"), the specific attitude of the subject whenever the statement was expressed ("I disapprove of eating meat"), the point in time ("At this moment, I disapprove of eating meat"), the locality of the subject ("In 21st century North America, I disapprove of eating meat"), and a host of contextual effects such as my current set of values, past experiences and future expectations.

    It becomes a principle that holds true within a system of beliefs and values so long as I am consciously aware of consistency and/or ignorant to idiosyncrasies, inconsistencies, cognitive dissonance, etc. I hold the principle for being against eating meat because it is a coherent summary of my beliefs and preferences that I hold. For instance, all of the following propositions are a part of the coherent whole of this belief.

    1. I exist as a subject of experience.

    2. I desire to avoid the experience of suffering.

    3. I desire to maximize the hedonic utility of my experience.

    4. Other beings exist.

    5. Other beings have an experience.

    6. Other beings desire to avoid the experience of suffering.

    7. Other beings desire to maximize the hedonic utility of their experience.

    8. I have a positive attitude towards sentient beings.

    9. I have the ability to relate with sentient beings.

    10. I am able to emphasize with their experience.

    11. Beings are able to synergize their experiences.

    12. Beings who are mutually altruistic maximize their experiences to a greater degree.

    13. If all beings shared similar systems of beliefs and morals, then all beings would synergize to maximize their experiences.

    14. All sentient beings have various levels of moral worth.

    15. Producing meat for my consumption necessitates the suffering of a sentient being.

    16. My consumption of meat creates a demand for more meat production.

    17. There are healthy alternatives that maximally reduce the meat, or products that come from industrial meat production, that I consume as much as practicable.

    Some problems with moral subjectivism include: the inability to disagree with the moral statements of others, moral infallibility, the ability for two subjects to hold contradicting values or beliefs and also both be right, and the ability for any moral act to be justified based upon one individuals attitudes towards it.

    1. The inability to disagree with the moral statements of others.

    It is true that subjective morality would change the meaning structures of evaluative sentences. For example, the statement, "Murder is wrong" would have to consider all of the contexts of surrounding indexicals such as the following.

    1. Murder of the innocent is wrong.

    2. Murder is wrong on Cynthia's view.

    3. Murder based on race committed in the 21st century is wrong.

    4. Painful murder is wrong.

    What this means is that by my assertion that, "Murder is wrong" does in no way dictate that murder is wrong for you. Both you and I can both hold the belief that murder, for me, is wrong and that murder, for you, is not wrong—and both be correct in our descriptions. I fail to see the problem here. It seems that our genetic similarities have given us certain predispositions towards convergence on many moral or evaluative issues. It seems that we both influence are influence by others socially and this has led to patterns of behavior converging on many levels (such as basic human rights).

    If we assume the truth of moral subjectivism for argument, then it would seem counter productive to allow for certain values to be dictated by a few or by one individual—and that is what moral claims would be when erroneously directed to control another moral agent. If we all have different beliefs and values, it does not follow that, therefore, we cannot converge or change our minds. What made such dramatic distinctions between various cultures and people was the geographic isolation and lack of interaction before the reach of communication technology. With a constant flow of interactions between a global network of agents and with such established structures as democracy, there will be synergies and convergence.

    We relate to one another and thus we are able to influence others and become influenced by them. I may not be able to dictate for you what is right or wrong, but I can share my experiences and perspectives with you—as well as make consistency arguments from within your own moral system and/or make reductio arguments that go against the grain of social norms. In other words, we are able to more naturally influence and become influenced by each other rather than by dictatorships and revolutions. We cam use our moral systems and values judgements to influence the construction of society and constrict overall unwanted behavior as well as normalize wanted behavior.

    2. The infallibility of moral agents.

    This is not a problem as it would be with objective moral values because each moral subject has been conditioned both genetically, culturally and societally to adopt certain behavioral proclivities and stiffle others that have not been completely selected out of the gene pools by virtue of being removed from society. We all are necessarily self interested and that pressure overcomes many individuals proclivities towards performing undesirable behaviors. Self preservation being a necessary genetic predisposition for genetic survival and reproduction. We all have the capacity to change, sometimes dramatically depending upon the environmental pressures applied. We possess persuasive forces such as logic and rhetoric and sculpt ourselves from those around us who happen to have the most attractive qualities. This all changes constantly and on all levels. We may possess infallibility when it comes to expressing our personal attitudes and opinions, but we are constantly changing and being changed by our environments.

    3. The ability for two subjects to hold contradicting values or beliefs and also both be right.

    This too is only a problem with objective morals and values. There are no external properties from which to base a standard of ethics or to appeal to for what is ultimately right or wrong. Two subjects of course are able to hold two mutually incompatible values or beliefs and both be right. Just like two people can have to different favorite flavors of ice cream and still accurately describe their favorite one. Aesthetic values and moral values change and influence others to change. No one individual needs to be objectively correct with such regards, but one can be powerfully influential.

    4. The ability for any moral act to be justified based upon one individuals attitudes towards it.

    This is another problem issue that is only a problem with an objective perspective of ethics. The earth isn't flat or round because I believe it to be, such would be the case if morals and values were external properties of the world. If evaluative statements are just expressions of our attitudes and feelings towards things, then they are true by virtue of my belief that they are. The fact that I, right here and right now, hold certain attitudes towards things which includes what beliefs I have, is a description of the contents of my own mind and there is nothing I can be more certain about. As my beliefs are justifications for the truth of me having my beliefs and not a justification for what will be accepted by my social environments or to justify how my behavior affects others, it is not necessarily justified within any other moral system other than my own and therefore carries the same persuasive impact as if it were a fallacious appeal to emotion or appeal to self-athority.

    Source for the comparison between minimal moral realist and moral subjectivism:

    https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2007/entries/moral-anti-realism/

    I appreciate critical feedback so long as arguments are provided.
  • Isaac
    4.3k
    though the subject may not be the author of her desires and primitive emotional attitudes, she is nonetheless cognizant of the truth of her desires and emotions and therefore they are the truth-makers to which her subsequent thoughts and statements—her truth-bearers —are dependent upon...emergent drivers and motivators of action that are out of my controlCartesian trigger-puppets

    This is not strictly true though. What we perceive as desires and emotions are constructions, models we build from physiological inputs and socially mediated expectations.

    https://www.affective-science.org/pubs/2017/barrett-tce-scan-2017.pdf

    It makes it difficult to qualify a truth-maker, as no-one could actually establish what was the case.
  • Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66


    though the subject may not be the author of her desires and primitive emotional attitudes, she is nonetheless cognizant of the truth of her desires and emotions and therefore they are the truth-makers to which her subsequent thoughts and statementsCartesian trigger-puppets

    This is not strictly true though. What we perceive as desires and emotions are constructions, models we build from physiological inputs and socially mediated expectationsIsaac

    I understand that our perceptions are constructed from the nervous system as energy within our environments stimulate the sensory receptors of our neurophysiology which discharge electrochemical signals to our brain that we interpret as sense data. This was not my point.

    My point was that we have desires and that we experience emotions, though we seem to not have much control over these things (e.g., we don't choose to desire things that are pleasing to us, we just naturally do), we are aware of them. We are aware of their presence and of the phenomenological being inside our minds. We are aware of our attitudes and our beliefs and we are sure from moment to moment that we are the subjects of such experiences. If you believe in ghosts, it matters not whether or not you are correct in this belief, my point is that you have the most certain knowledge that you in the moment hold such beliefs because you have private epistemic access to the states of your own mind.

    It makes it difficult to qualify a truth-maker, as no-one could actually establish what was the caseIsaac

    The content of your mind is the very being of your existence. It can be said to be true because it simply is.
  • Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66


    I understand that the human nervous system creates the human mind. Im simply saying that this is not something that we control but we do experience it and therefore know the truth of these experiences. Even if they are all completely delusion, we would know that they are a part of our being.
  • Isaac
    4.3k
    My point was that we have desires and that we experience emotions, though we seem to not have much control over these thingsCartesian trigger-puppets

    That's what the paper disproves.
  • Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66


    What the paper suggests is that the brain organizes emotion concepts from memories of past experiences to guide our actions and give our sense-datum meaning; that instances of emotion are constructed by networks of the brain.

    What it does not say is that we have voluntary control of how and when these experiences emerge. I do concede that we are capable of some emotional control. Emotions are a reflection of reality and desires are an internal driving force within the agent to interact with reality (either altering it, or regulating it in some way). We do not control such things. For example, if you stumble upon a venomous snake, you may experience the emotional state of fear which comes from your desire to live and avoid pain. Now, we can moderate such emotions and desires do change with time, as with everything else, but we do not have the ability to just will fear away or keep it from emerging, nor do we have the ability to simply not desire things or keep desires from emerging.
  • Isaac
    4.3k
    if you stumble upon a venomous snake, you may experience the emotional state of fear which comes from your desire to live and avoid pain. Now, we can moderate such emotions and desires do change with time, as with everything else, but we do not have the ability to just will fear away or keep it from emerging, nor do we have the ability to simply not desire things or keep desires from emerging.Cartesian trigger-puppets

    Again, this is exactly what the paper disproves. We do not necessarily have the emotion 'fear' deriving from our desire to live and avoid pain. We construct the emotion 'fear' as a model of physiological interoceptions and part of the construction of that model will be other experiences (which we obviously can control), social influences (which we obviously can control), upbringing (which we obviously can control - as a society at least) and the cognitive process of construction itself (which we may be able to control - the jury's still out).

    Desire is most likely to be the same thing (although, to my knowledge only a little work has been done on desire, not sufficient to draw any strong conclusions). It's certainly a reasonable theory, given the work on both emotion and perception, that 'desire' is also a constructed model. We don't uniquely 'desire' that ice-cream, we sense a slew of physiological and external data and look for an explanation which makes sense, but since the data underdetermine the theory, 'desiring' an ice-cream is an interactive predictive model, not a 'discovered' state. We don't 'find ourselves' to be desiring of an ice-cream, we create that desire in an interactive process between our desire modelling pathways, our physiology and the external world.

    The point of all this for ethics is that with individual subjectivism, it's not possible to use truth-based models of 'right' and 'wrong' because those feelings are constructed, not discovered. They can't act as truth-makers because a pre-conception about their truth value (which may be situationally mediated) will form part of the construction of the feeling 'this is right'.
  • Bartricks
    3k
    Why do you keep conflating subjectivism with realism?

    Subjectivism in metaethics is the view that moral statements are truth apt and their truth makers are subjective states.

    You can be a subjectivist and believe no moral statement is true. (For instance, one might believe that the relevant subjective states simply do not exist; for an analogy, subjectivism about pain is the view that pain is a subjective state, however one could hold that view consistent with believing that in fact no one is in pain).

    Trust me, I'm an expert (psst, Isaac isn't - he's one of those standard-issue science background people who then arrogantly thinks they can sort out philosophy for those philosophy dummos).

    Individual subjectivism is false. If it was true, then my approving of raping j, would entail that it is right for me to rape j. But that's clearly false - false that my approving of it entails its rightness.. Thus individual subjectivism is false. Indeed, insane.

    You are an individual subjectivist because of a basic error in your reasoning. You are confusing the cause of a belief or impression with its truth conditions.

    Here's what you've done: you've started out with some psychological/biological theory about how we've come to have moral beliefs and feelings, yes? Then, satisfied that our moral beliefs and the statements we use to express then have been fully explained, you conclude that such beliefs and statements must be 'about' their subjective causes and thus have subjective states as their truth makers.

    It's a rookie mistake. You need to recognize it now, as a matter of urgency, or your metaethical theorizing will go nowhere.

    I have little time for contemporary metaethicists, but they do at least recognize the falsity of the kind of view you are defending.
  • Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66


    Why do you keep conflating subjectivism with realism?Bartricks

    I'm not conflating anything. Subjectivism, like realism, can be a form of cognitivism. Just as you describe subjectivism here:

    Subjectivism in metaethics is the view that moral statements are truth apt and their truth makers are subjective states.Bartricks

    Realism in metaethics comes in a few different forms, each with a different set of commitments. The minimalist form of moral realism shares the commitments that moral subjectivisim is committed to and thus minimalist moral realism is compatible with moral subjectivisim. Both agree that moral statements are truth apt and that at least some of these moral statements are true. The difference is that with moral subjectivism the truth-makers are the subjective states of the individual indexed to the moral statements (the moral statements are thus the truth-bearers).

    A robust form of moral realism, on the other hand, has additional commitments such as the truth of moral statements (the truth-bearers) being contingent upon the property of mind-independence or a correspondence with objective facts (the truth-makers) rather than subjective states. This description is not just my personal opinion, but also a reflection of descriptions from the SEP.

    Moral realists are those who think that, in these respects, things should be taken at face value—moral claims do purport to report facts and are true if they get the facts right. Moreover, they hold, at least some moral claims actually are true. That much is the common and more or less defining ground of moral realism (although some accounts of moral realism see it as involving additional commitments, say to the independence of the moral facts from human thought and practice, or to those facts being objective in some specified way).

    You can be a subjectivist and believe no moral statement is true.Bartricks

    I'm aware of the non-cognitivist forms of moral subjectivism.

    Individual subjectivism is false. If it was true, then my approving of raping j, would entail that it is right for me to rape j. But that's clearly false - false that my approving of it entails its rightness.. Thus individual subjectivism is false. Indeed, insane.Bartricks

    Individual subjectivism holds that if the statement, "I approve of raping j," reflects the truth about your attitude towards the raping of j, then the statement is true, thus 'right,' if and only if you are the subject that the statement is indexed to. So, it cannot be the case that you, an individual subject of a specific instance in time, would hold contradicting evaluations with regard to the same act in all the same context (raping of j).

    You could either approve, disapprove, or otherwise withhold any judgement. This of course could change once any contextual variables are changed such as instance of time, epistemic state, the configuration of experiential information, social or physical environment, etc. Even if you have an erratic attitude towards the act of raping j, you would never simultaneously hold a contradictory view in any one instance wherein all contextual variables remain unchanged. One of the following arguments accurately represents your view of raping j, in a specific instance of time wherein all contextual variables are held constant.

    P1. If I approve of the raping of j, then the raping of j is morally justified according to moral subjectivisim.

    P2. I approve of the raping of j.

    Therefore, C. The raping of j is morally justified according to moral subjectivisim.

    Or, as an alternative:

    P1. If I approve of the raping of j, then the raping of j is morally justified according to moral subjectivisim.

    P2. I do not approve of the raping of j.

    Therefore, C. The raping of j is not morally justified according to moral subjectivisim.

    The truth value of each moral statement is dependent upon the subjective state of the individual it is indexed to. Moreover, it is dependent upon the specific subjective state of the individual as it was within a specific arrangement of variables. Therefore it is possible to hold a particular subjective belief in one moment, and then, in the next moment (perhaps after a brief reflection), hold another particular subjective belief—even if the subsequent subjective belief is antithetical to the previous one.

    It would be in violation of the law of identity to state otherwise, because, as I'm sure you would agree, just as our physical form undergoes constant fluctuations with regards to the microscopic materials that make up the whole of our bodies and likewise the whole of our surrounding environment (e.g., electron exchange, or ET reactions in biological terms); in the same way, our subjective states are also undergoing constant fluctuations with regards to the influence that continuous streams of information have on us as we process inputs from moment to moment.

    Just as Heraclitus said, "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man," so too, no moral propositions must necessarily retain the same truth value, for its not the same moral proposition (one that was indexed to a specific subject in a specific subjective state) and the individual has not necessarily the same subjective states (at the moment the proposition was stated).

    You are an individual subjectivist because of a basic error in your reasoning. You are confusing the cause of a belief or impression with its truth conditions.Bartricks

    No, I am an individual subjectivist because I believe that there are cognitive subjective states, such as beliefs, and that these cognitive subjective states are the truth-makers of moral statements because it is the truth of such moral statements to which they are the bearers of. The existence of our subjective states necessitates the truth of such evaluative statements that express our attitudes towards a specific act (of a specific arrangement of contextual variables). Such statements, of a particular context with all variables held constant, have a mereological sum which would be then be the truth-maker with regards to truth conditional semantics; however, as the subject to which these statements are indexed to, the subject to which these statements are but mere linguistic representations that express the subjective state of the individual subject, these statements themselves are the truth-bearers, semantics notwithstanding, because they necessitate the existence of the individuals subjective states that only they have epistemic access to.

    Here's what you've done: you've started out with some psychological/biological theory about how we've come to have moral beliefs and feelings, yes? Then, satisfied that our moral beliefs and the statements we use to express then have been fully explained, you conclude that such beliefs and statements must be 'about' their subjective causes and thus have subjective states as their truth makers.Bartricks

    An individual moral agent possess a certain configuration of subjective states. Some of these subjective states are cognitive evaluations (normative or moral beliefs). When a moral agent forms a concept of a thing (concrete or abstract) that represents an event which affects the phenomenology of the agent itself, it thus provokes a process of introspection within the agent, which is followed subsequently by the agents subjective evaluations of the concept. We have private epistemic access to these subjective states and evaluations both as they emerge and as they evolve over time as the agent adapts to the changing circumstances that form the setting of an event and perceived value an event subjectively entails. Even as our subjective states are undergoing constant changes due to fluctuating contexts, they are nonetheless part of our being—our nature or essence. The existence of our subjective states necessitate the truth of evaluative propositions that describe the contents of our subjective states because it is a part of the essence of such evaluative propositions that they are true if our subjective states exist.

    It's a rookie mistake. You need to recognize it now, as a matter of urgency, or your metaethical theorizing will go nowhere.

    I have little time for contemporary metaethicists, but they do at least recognize the falsity of the kind of view you are defending.
    Bartricks

    This may be true. I am certainly capable of being wrong and it would not surprise me if, in fact, I was in error somewhere within this meta-ethical theory I've constructed. This is precisely why I have given my arguments to support my view as being the case, so that others may analyze my arguments and bring to my attention any inconsistencies found therein. You have done a miserable job at pointing out where my logic has failed because it is not persuasive to simply assert that I am confused, in error, wrong, insane, making a rookie mistake, etc, without providing any elucidation as to where the error is. If you wish to do so then, first accurately represent my views and then, if it is a logical problem, next show me which propositions form the contradiction.

    So far, all that I have been made aware of are problems such as, "No objective moral standards," or, "Morals and values would then be idiosyncratic or arbitrarily determined," or, "Then anything is morally justified so long as I believe it to be"—as if to completely ignore the conditional requisite that any moral status only pertains to the individual subject that the statement is indexed to.

    It may help matters immensely if we could agree on, or at least understand the specific definition of terms that are notorious for their philosophical ambiguity. Such as, what do you mean when you say something is true? What theory of truth are you subscribed to? What form of moral realism are you referring to? Do you not foresee the problems we will have by neglecting to first hash out the semantics here?
  • Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66


    Again, this is exactly what the paper disproves. We do not necessarily have the emotion 'fear' deriving from our desire to live and avoid pain. We construct the emotion 'fear' as a model of physiological interoceptions and part of the construction of that model will be other experiences (which we obviously can control), social influences (which we obviously can control), upbringing (which we obviously can control - as a society at least) and the cognitive process of construction itself (which we may be able to control - the jury's still out).Isaac

    I think we are likely using the term 'construct' to mean very different things. When I hear you say, "An emotion is constructed," what I take that to mean, and what seems to be the psychophysiological and neuroscientific meaning of the term, is that emotions are conceptual constructs; that emotions are concepts that are constructed by the brain.

    I understand that the brain 'constructs' concepts from the integration of different senses into one perceptual experience. I understand that sensations are 'constructed' when a physiological stimulus (which is a detectable change to the physical or chemical structures of our internal or external environments) occurs, which is whenever a sensory organ (a network of sensory cells) responds to a physical signal.

    A physical signal, for instance, could be the information,
    or stimuli, in the form of light emitted from a smartphone or computer screen. The light functions as a detectable change in our environment as it enters the iris and excites the photoreceptor cells located in the retina. As a result, electrical and chemical events (such as depolarization) occur within the cells which trigger nerve impulses through the fibres of the optic nerve to the visual cortex of the brain where the sensory inputs are then processed into visual information.

    Our brain is constantly receiving and processing the energy in a physical stimulus into information in the form of an electrical signal. This process is known as sensory processing: signal detection, collection, transduction, processing, and action. Such as with the above example of the visual system, whereby sensory cells in the retina convert the physical energy of light signals into electrical impulses that travel to the brain and 'construct' our visual experiences.

    The brain processes every stimulation you ever experience. Every visual experience due to light energy stimulating the photoreceptors of your eye; every auditory experience due to sound waves of vibrating air molecules which stimulate the auditory nerves of your ear drum; every olfactory experience due to odors that bind to receptor cells in the nasal cavity; every gustatorial experience due to chemical reactions with taste receptors located in the taste buds of your mouth; and every somatosensorial experience due to receptor cells responding to chemical, thermal or mechanical stimulations, including noxious stimuli that produce the experience of pain. So, experience is ultimately constructed from neuronal stimulation.

    All neurons have the same genetic coding, but as the brain and nervous system develops through our experiences in life (especially in early life), neurons change as they undergo specific gene activations. Our experiences likewise affect the formation of synapses that connect neurons and establish different pathways for brain function. These pathways control how we respond to what we experience each day. So, our experiences are 'constructed' from the stimulation and integration of neurons, which are affected by our experiences by virtue of environmentally specific gene activations, as well as affecting the formation of synaptic pathways which are essential to the transmission of nervous impulses that enable the communication of information between cells, which also play a role in the storage of information resulting in memory.

    What is meant by the term 'construct' is not our conscious building or formation of concepts by putting together parts of our experiences; but rather what it is meant to describe is how our experiences have, since before our birth, 'constructed' our concepts of the world by affecting the development of the brains physiological architecture. Consider the following excerpts from Harvard University.

    "Brains are built over time, from the bottom up. The basic architecture of the brain is constructed through an ongoing process that begins before birth and continues into adulthood. Simpler neural connections and skills form first, followed by more complex circuits and skills. In the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections form every second.* After this period of rapid proliferation, connections are reduced through a process called pruning, which allows brain circuits to become more efficient."

    "The interactions of genes and experience shape the developing brain. Although genes provide the blueprint for the formation of brain circuits, these circuits are reinforced by repeated use. A major ingredient in this developmental process is the serve and return interaction between children and their parents and other caregivers in the family or community. In the absence of responsive caregiving—or if responses are unreliable or inappropriate—the brain’s architecture does not form as expected, which can lead to disparities in learning and behavior. Ultimately, genes and experiences work together to construct brain architecture."

    "Cognitive, emotional, and social capacities are inextricably intertwined throughout the life course. The brain is a highly integrated organ and its multiple functions operate in coordination with one another. Emotional well-being and social competence provide a strong foundation for emerging cognitive abilities, and together they are the bricks and mortar of brain architecture. The emotional and physical health, social skills, and cognitive-linguistic capacities that emerge in the early years are all important for success in school, the workplace, and in the larger community."

    —The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

    The brain 'constructs' emotional concepts on a subconscious level and the feelings associated with each emotion may emerge whether we want them to or not. The brain 'constructs' emotions differently based on a number of factors including past experiences, current context, if your tired or rested, if your hungry or quenched, etc. We don't have direct executive control over our emotions, let alone our desires, but there is a role of executive function in emotion regulation. We cannot control which emotions surface within us, but we can use our conscious control of cognitive processes (i.e., executive function) whereby a deliberate effort with which the brain actively modulates information processing in order to try and regulate our emotions by changing their expression or their trajectory.

    I would say that we are capable of some emotional regulation such as the frequency, intensity, duration or even to a degree which type of emotional responses we have (such as feeling frustrated rather than angry), but that is the limit to any emotional regulation strategies. So it isn't WE who construct the emotion 'fear,' but the subconscious, non-executive states of our brain.

    It is true that a part of the subconsciouses 'construction' of emotion concepts come from other experiences—but we do NOT obviously have control over our experiences. Do you 'construct' which experience you will have from moment to moment so that they are exactly the right ones you planned on experiencing? No, that is absurd and the kind of control in which I was referring to initially.

    It is also true that part of the subconsciouses 'construction' of emotion concepts come from social influences—but we do NOT obviously control these either. Did you have control over which figures were role models for you as a child? Do you control how others influence your feelings on a day to day basis? Do you never-ever-ever feel anger or fear as a result of social interaction?—if no, then why didn't you control it?

    It is also true that part of the subconsciouses 'construction' of emotion concepts come from our upbringing—but it is not only NOT obvious that we can control these things, but NOT obvious that we have any control over these situations at all. We emerge in society and within our families without our consent nor our apprehension to what has or will happen to us therein. Since before our birth, our environment has continously influenced our physiological and neurological development. What is more, our genetic predispositions have been influenced in their development over the entire genetic lifetime of, at least, every ancestor in the evolutionary history of life on this planet.

    And when you add, "As a society at least," it shows that you are not using the term 'construct' in the way that I am. What you mean by saying, 'We construct,' is more or less the same as saying, 'The processes of the brain construct,' or, 'The human race constructs,' or, 'A psychological construct,' etc, not the deliberate efforts of our conscious executive control over our cognitive processes—that I am speaking of.

    Even if I were to grant that we do possess such executive control over our subjective states, it would nevertheless fail to deliver an adequate objection for the premise that our subjective states exist and thus necessitates the truth of our evaluative propositions that describe our subjective states. When I said that we may not have much control over these subjective states, it was to make it clear that irregardless of our lack of understanding with regards to subjective states such as emotions, and especially desires, these subjective states do exist and we know that they do because we have the epistemic access to the content of our own experiences, we know the phenomenological reality of our own qualia (the individual instances of subjective, conscious experience).

    Which is the stronger epistemic state: the reality purported of the theory of constructed emotion, or the fact that you hold a belief of that reality as a cognitive part of your subjective states?
  • Isaac
    4.3k
    What is meant by the term 'construct' is not our conscious building or formation of concepts by putting together parts of our experiences; but rather what it is meant to describe is how our experiences have, since before our birth, 'constructed' our concepts of the world by affecting the development of the brains physiological architecture.Cartesian trigger-puppets

    You're confusing active inference modelling with synaptic pruning, they're not that same thing.

    What you mean by saying, 'We construct,' is more or less the same as saying, 'The processes of the brain construct,' or, 'The human race constructs,' or, 'A psychological construct,' etc, not the deliberate efforts of our conscious executive control over our cognitive processes—that I am speaking of.Cartesian trigger-puppets

    No, many of the processes are deliberate and conscious.

    Have a look at Carmen Morawetz's meta-analysis here - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27894828/ . Out of the nine regions they identified as active in both emotional valence and category control there was consistent activity in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex both of which are associated with conscious control and modulation. In addition, both the cingulate cortex and the temporoparietal junction which also show involvement in a large number of emotional assessments are know to be highly modulated by experience and prior assessment.

    Even if I were to grant that we do possess such executive control over our subjective states, it would nevertheless fail to deliver an adequate objection for the premise that our subjective states exist and thus necessitates the truth of our evaluative propositions that describe our subjective statesCartesian trigger-puppets

    It would, because one of the feedback processes involved through the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, as Morawetz shows, is to modulate emotional valence via our evaluative processes. The very act of attending to emotional valence changes the emotional valence assessment. In fact, as shown only recently by Ralf Wimmer https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26503050/ the PFC can even modulate signals from the thalamus, affecting directly the interoceptive sensations that we use as data of the inference models.

    we know the phenomenological reality of our own qualia (the individual instances of subjective, conscious experience).Cartesian trigger-puppets

    There is no "individual instances of subjective, conscious experience". There's never been any demonstration of the existence of such a thing and every study I've read on the subject has shown the concept to be shaky at best, if not completely fabricated. You construct your 'individual instances of subjective, conscious experience' in the process of introspection by selective attention, what type of experience you come up with will depend on what you're looking for at the time. It's like trying to give a judgement about the quality of piece of equipment - if you're in a good mood, like the manufacturer or want to please them, you'll hit on all the good points, if not you'll hit on all the bad ones. All those elements are there anyway, but you filter them according to your objective. The same's true of introspection. You don't just get an exhaustive and unbiased readout of your subjective mental states at the time, you find what you want to find.
  • Bartricks
    3k
    ↪Bartricks

    Why do you keep conflating subjectivism with realism?
    — Bartricks

    I'm not conflating anything. Subjectivism, like realism, can be a form of cognitivism. Just as you describe subjectivism here:

    Subjectivism in metaethics is the view that moral statements are truth apt and their truth makers are subjective states.
    — Bartricks
    Cartesian trigger-puppets

    Yes you are, because you are saying that a commitment to moral realism is part and parcel of moral subjectivism. That's false. It's no different from, say, conflating incompatibilism about free will with libertarianism (libertarianism being the combination of incompatibilism and realism about free will).

    Subjectivism in ethics is a view about what truth-makers of moral statements are. It is 'not' a view about whether those truth-makers exist.

    Realism in metaethics comes in a few different forms, each with a different set of commitments.Cartesian trigger-puppets

    Well, actually no. But you're missing the point. The point is that realism is distinct from subjectivism.

    There's a theory about what Dodos are. That's a theory about what the truth-maker of "that's a real live Dodo" would be. Then there's whether there are any Dodos. That's a theory about whether any statements of the "that's a real live Dodo" kind are true.

    Subjectivism is a theory of the first kind - it is a theory about what the truth maker of "that's immoral" would be. Realism is the view that "that's immoral" is sometimes true. Again, you are just conflating these two kinds of theory

    You can be a subjectivist and believe no moral statement is true.
    — Bartricks

    I'm aware of the non-cognitivist forms of moral subjectivism.
    Cartesian trigger-puppets

    Er, what? That's really confused. I am not talking about non-cognitivism! I am talking about subjectivism. Why are you not getting this? It's simple.

    I gave you the example of pain to try and show you how painfully simple this is.

    Subjectivism about pain is uncontroversial, right? Pain 'is' a subjective state.

    Does it follow that it exists? No. It is entirely possible that no-one is in pain right now. In which case pain does not exist and no statement of the "I am currently in pain" kind would be true.

    Thus, subjectivism about pain does not entail that pain exists.

    The same applies to subjectivism about morality. It is NOT equivalent to realism. If it were it would be logically impossible for subjectivism to be true, and yet for nihilism to be true. Yet the two are compatible.

    This has nothing - nothing - to do with non-cognitivism. Nothing.

    This may be true. I am certainly capable of being wrong and it would not surprise me if, in fact, I was in error somewhere within this meta-ethical theory I've constructed. This is precisely why I have given my arguments to support my view as being the case, so that others may analyze my arguments and bring to my attention any inconsistencies found therein. You have done a miserable job at pointing out where my logic has failed because it is not persuasive to simply assert that I am confused, in error, wrong, insane, making a rookie mistake, etc, without providing any elucidation as to where the error is. If you wish to do so then, first accurately represent my views and then, if it is a logical problem, next show me which propositions form the contradiction.Cartesian trigger-puppets

    Okay, sod you then. If you find yourself unable to follow my criticisms, then I'm afraid you're simply not very good at metaethics.
  • Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66


    What is meant by the term 'construct' is not our conscious building or formation of concepts by putting together parts of our experiences; but rather what it is meant to describe is how our experiences have, since before our birth, 'constructed' our concepts of the world by affecting the development of the brains physiological architecture.
    — Cartesian trigger-puppets

    You're confusing active inference modelling with synaptic pruning, they're not that same thing.
    Isaac

    I'm talking about consciousness in general. Our external and internal environments affect our conscious experience and the physical structure of the brain. We do not control all of our internal, nor all of our external environmental interactions. That is all I am saying.

    No, many of the processes are deliberate and conscious.Isaac

    The term "many" is ambiguous. If you mean, "A large number of," then I agree; however, if you mean, "The majority of," then I'm not so sure. Either way, as long as we agree that we are not in control of all of them, then my point stands. This is becoming quite tangential to the OP at this point.

    Even if I were to grant that we do possess such executive control over our subjective states, it would nevertheless fail to deliver an adequate objection for the premise that our subjective states exist and thus necessitates the truth of our evaluative propositions that describe our subjective states
    — Cartesian trigger-puppets

    It would, because one of the feedback processes involved through the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, as Morawetz shows, is to modulate emotional valence via our evaluative processes. The very act of attending to emotional valence changes the emotional valence assessment. In fact, as shown only recently by Ralf Wimmer https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26503050/ the PFC can even modulate signals from the thalamus, affecting directly the interoceptive sensations that we use as data of the inference models.
    Isaac

    How does this have anything to do with the premise
    (...our subjective states exist and thus necessitates the truth of our evaluative propositions that describe our subjective states)?

    we know the phenomenological reality of our own qualia (the individual instances of subjective, conscious experience).
    — Cartesian trigger-puppets

    There is no "individual instances of subjective, conscious experience". There's never been any demonstration of the existence of such a thing and every study I've read on the subject has shown the concept to be shaky at best, if not completely fabricated. You construct your 'individual instances of subjective, conscious experience' in the process of introspection by selective attention, what type of experience you come up with will depend on what you're looking for at the time.
    Isaac

    What do you mean there is no individual instances of subjective conscious experience? It is the stream of empirical data that you are constantly receiving in your conscious states. Who denies that? Notice the contradiction formed by your own statements: "There is no individual instances of subjective, conscious experience," and, "You construct your 'individual instances of subjective, conscious experience' in the process of introspection by selective attention, what type of experience you come up with will depend on what you're looking for at the time."

    You do admit that we do not possess absolute control of our conscious states. That is all my point was about. This is tangential to the OP.
  • ghostlycutter
    65
    Evil is not directly punishable, it's the likely path one takes to do something that is.

    If you smoke weed, your mind is very evil, where you have deep thoughts is a slanted torque generated by you 'coming off wrongly'(Excuse me as I struggle to find a word for a clear image I have in my head; coming off wrongly' is what I'm referring to).

    Evil is stupidity concerning a core; where the center of the screen is not this full-stop. Yet, it is considered so, which sometimes generates torque through slanted thought.

    We can be evil freely, but something punishable is achieved that way on most occasions.
  • Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66
    ,

    you are saying that a commitment to moral realism is part and parcel of moral subjectivism.Bartricks

    No, I am saying that the form of subjectivism that I have subscribed to is committed to the statement, "At least some moral statements are true," and that does not necessarily entail that I am a realist.

    Er, what? That's really confused. I am not talking about non-cognitivism! I am talking about subjectivism. Why are you not getting this? It's simple.

    I gave you the example of pain to try and show you how painfully simple this is.

    Subjectivism about pain is uncontroversial, right? Pain 'is' a subjective state.

    Does it follow that it exists? No. It is entirely possible that no-one is in pain right now. In which case pain does not exist and no statement of the "I am currently in pain" kind would be true.

    Thus, subjectivism about pain does not entail that pain exists.

    The same applies to subjectivism about morality. It is NOT equivalent to realism. If it were it would be logically impossible for subjectivism to be true, and yet for nihilism to be true. Yet the two are compatible.

    This has nothing - nothing - to do with non-cognitivism. Nothing
    Bartricks

    That is the problem. I'm saying that some moral statements are true—not that they 'exist'. Same goes for pain, it may not necessarily exist but it is true that I feel pain. The only reason I brought up non-cognitivism is because you mentioned:

    You can be a subjectivist and believe no moral statement is trueCartesian trigger-puppets

    Now, I would have said error theorist if you would have said all moral statements are false, but you instead said that none were true. I take that to mean that they have no truth value, thus non-cognitive.
  • Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66


    I'm sorry, but what does this have to do with the OP? Just to be clear, I don't understand what you are trying to say, but you have mentioned nothing relevant to the OP.
  • ghostlycutter
    65


    You used the word moral a few times incorrectly, I was roughly (very roughly) correcting you. Fret not, I shall create a proper response in short coming.
  • ghostlycutter
    65
    Moral statements are also lie-apt, some moral propositions are false. 'Morality' as prescribed by the OP is false, and thus the OP begets a negative response from someone who is moral.

    Words and thoughts need not correspond with empirical reality to be true, I can say something and your experience of this statement, asks for you to correspond - we do not need a third party - only agreement with our intellects(i.e. we need to be on a similar level intellectually). Intellect itself must correspond to empirical reality.

    Where you are perceiving things negatively(i.e. focusing on truth-aptness and not lie-aptness) when you've tried to take a leap forward, you've took a few steps back.
  • Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66


    You used the word moral a few times incorrectly, I was roughly (very roughly) correcting you. Fret not, I shall create a proper response in short coming.ghostlycutter

    Strange that your comment did not state it as plainly. Could you please show me exactly where I misused the term? I sometimes use moral when I should have used normative or evaluative. I didn't use the word 'evil' either as that is synonymous with immoral but with implies other things as well.
  • Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66


    Moral statements are also lie-apt, some moral propositions are false. 'Morality' as prescribed by the OP is false, and thus the OP begets a negative response from someone who is moral.ghostlycutter

    'Lie-apt', if we really want to use such a term, would be the same as truth-apt because for a moral statement to be false in a deceitful way (concealing or misrepresenting the truth) it would necessarily have to be truth-apt in order to be 'lie-apt' in the first place. Your statement, "Morality as prescribed by the OP is false, and thus the OP begets a negative response from someone who is moral," is not an argument. It's merely an assertion and thus unworthy of consideration. Perhaps you would like to provide an argument to back up your assertion and then I will consider your logic.

    Words and thoughts need not correspond with empirical reality to be true, I can say something and your experience of this statement, asks for you to correspond - we do not need a third party - only agreement with our intellects(i.e. we need to be on a similar level intellectually). Intellect itself must correspond to empirical reality.ghostlycutter

    I agree. I do not subscribe to the correspondence theory of truth, but rather to the coherence theory of truth. Perhaps you are confusing my arguments for those of one of my interlocutors since I argue against the notion of an empirical standard for truth. Analyzing each others statements is more of a form of logical truth rather than empirical. Experiencing patterns of human scribbling does nothing without any semantic correspondence between you and I, and such semantic correspondence requires a particular syntactic conformity as well in order to be mutually intelligible.

    Where you are perceiving things negatively(i.e. focusing on truth-aptness and not lie-aptness) when you've tried to take a leap forward, you've taken a few steps back.ghostlycutter

    How is truth-aptness negatively connotated and lie-aptness not? Why do you speak in riddles? It is as if you speak to me from the shadows and fear to step into the transparency and light.
  • ghostlycutter
    65
    Lie aptness is important, so you, technically, are the one speaking riddles. Instead of addressing both sides, which you should, as you have not merely implied lie aptness through truth aptness, you have consequently subserved through the truth-apt side, only, justly 'coming off wrongly'' as I put off earlier.

    Whether meant or not, it's not clearly speaking it's half jibberish to me(though understandable and if I repair some of it, shows your intellect).

    I'm glad you agree, perhaps I misread.

    Basically, how can you use the term moral without directly associating morality (good and evil)? If we're to engage in discussion about anything to do with morals, surely it's wise to understand them properly.

    I defined good as beneficence concerning a core, and evil as stupidity(or maleficence) concerning a core. The center of vision is where it is callibrated to be originally, evil is purposely misjudging the center. Is it punishable? No. Yet, if we are to do something bad, it's the only way to do it.

    Imagine laws are a core, if we are to break them, what exactly are we doing if not purposely misjudging the core?

    So evil is not punishable but it is the way to do something which is. Evil can also be something petty such as a monster in a game or generating torque from disalignment - I dunno.

    Now that I have shown you proper interpretation of good and evil, are the standards of this discussion still the same or have they improved?
  • Bartricks
    3k
    No, I am saying that the form of subjectivism that I have subscribed to is committed to the statement, "At least some moral statements are true," and that does not necessarily entail that I am a realist.Cartesian trigger-puppets

    And I'm telling you that if you include that claim then you are a 'subjectivist realist' about morality.

    Two points then, that you seem incapable of understanding.

    Point 1: nobody, but nobody, uses 'subjectivism' about morality to include a commitment to realism. It is 'compatible' with realism, but it does not include a commitment to it. Of course, you are free to use words however you like, but it is misleading and silly to use the term in the way you are and it just makes you seem confused (and you are, clearly).

    Point 2: if you think some moral statements are truth apt and some of them are true, then you think their truth conditions obtain. And so you are therefore a moral realist. For you believe morality exists. For by your own lights, morality itself is the truth conditions of moral statements.

    You don't think that if you're a non-cognitivist. But you do if you think moral statements are about the world. Which you do if you're a subjectivist. They're 'about' subjective states. They don't 'express' them, they 'describe' them.

    And the view is patently absurd, as I have already explained to you using arguments you have said nothing about and don't seem to understand.

    As for your attempts to defend the view - you presented two arguments, both question begging and clearly unsound, and one not even for your kind of view!
  • Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66


    Lie aptness is important, so you, technically, are the one speaking riddles.ghostlycutter

    I don't remember making the claim that, "Lie-aptness is unimportant," as you are implying here.

    Instead of addressing both sides, which you should, as you have not merely implied lie aptness through truth aptness, you have consequently subserved through the truth-apt side, only, justly 'coming off wrongly'' as I put off earlier.ghostlycutter

    Let's just cut through the gibberish and state an intelligible proposition. I know that you are capable of doing so. As far as I know, 'lie-aptness' is a term unique to you—or, at least alien to me—so it does little to move the conversation forward. Could you please just isolate the propositions that I have made that form any false claims and provide an argument (reasons to believe that they are false) to support your own claim.

    Basically, how can you use the term moral without directly associating morality (good and evil)? If we're to engage in discussion about anything to do with morals, surely it's wise to understand them properly.ghostlycutter

    This is, again, not an argument. I understand your claim, namely that, " used the word moral a few times incorrectly," but you offer no examples, no supporting evidence, and no line of reasoning for me to analyze and assess the logical pattern of. This is a question. And to answer it; yes, you can use the term moral without directly associating morality. For example, the interrogative statement, "What does moral mean?". We do not yet understand morals properly, let alone the meaning of moral terms. This is why we are engaging in meta-ethical discussion right now. Now, could you show me which propositions I have made that are false?

    I define morality as a system of principles and values used to determine the goodness or badness of an outcome, or the rightness or wrongness of an act or behavior.

    I defined good as beneficence concerning a core, and evil as stupidity(or maleficence) concerning a core.ghostlycutter

    What does 'beneficence concerning a core' mean to you?

    Now that I have shown you proper interpretation of good and evil, are the standards of this discussion still the same or have they improved?ghostlycutter

    No. Your language is esoteric. This conversation has just gotten even more confusing because instead of providing much-needed elucidation and disambiguation to your previous comments, you have otherwise provided additional terms that are unintelligible to me.

    You keep bringing up laws and I don't understand why. I understand that laws have a moral purpose but they are not a part of moral philosophy. Moral philosophy is usually a discussion of either metaethics, applied ethics, and normative ethics. The former being the case with the OP.
  • Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66


    No, I am saying that the form of subjectivism that I have subscribed to is committed to the statement, "At least some moral statements are true," and that does not necessarily entail that I am a realist.
    — Cartesian trigger-puppets

    And I'm telling you that if you include that claim then you are a 'subjectivist realist' about morality.
    Bartricks

    So, these sources are wrong?

    Ethical subjectivism or moral non-objectivism is the meta-ethical view which claims that:

    1. Ethical sentences express propositions.

    2. Some such propositions are true.

    3.The truth or falsity of such propositions is ineliminably dependent on the (actual or hypothetical) attitudes of people.
    Wikipedia

    Ethical Subjectivism holds that there are no objective moral properties and that ethical statements are in fact arbitrary because they do not express immutable truths. Instead, moral statements are made true or false by the attitudes and/or conventions of the observers, and any ethical sentence just implies an attitude, opinion, personal preference or feeling held by someone. Thus, for a statement to be considered morally right merely means that it is met with approval by the person of interest.
    Philosophybasics

    To deny both noncognitivism and the moral error theory suffices to make one a minimal moral realist. Traditionally, however, moral realism has required the denial of a further thesis: the mind-dependence of morality. There is no generally accepted label for theories that deny both noncognitivism and the moral error theory but maintain that moral facts are mind-dependent; here I shall use the term “non-objectivism.” Thus, “moral non-objectivism” denotes the view that moral facts exist and are mind-dependent (in the relevant sense), while “moral objectivism” holds that they exist and are mind-independent. (Note that this nomenclature makes the two contraries rather than contradictories; the error theorist and the noncognitivist count as neither objectivists nor non-objectivists — Joyce, Richard,
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

    Two points then, that you seem incapable of understanding.

    Point 1: nobody, but nobody, uses 'subjectivism' about morality to include a commitment to realism. It is 'compatible' with realism, but it does not include a commitment to it. Of course, you are free to use words however you like, but it is misleading and silly to use the term in the way you are and it just makes you seem confused (and you are, clearly).

    Point 2: if you think some moral statements are truth apt and some of them are true, then you think their truth conditions obtain. And so you are therefore a moral realist. For you believe morality exists. For by your own lights, morality itself is the truth conditions of moral statements.
    Bartricks

    Regarding point one, I am not necessarily committing myself to moral realism. I do not think that moral statements can be immutable truths, nor do I think that they exist (at least in an empirical or objective way), but rather I think they can nonetheless be true, and that such moral statements are made true by the attitude of the subject they are indexed to. I think that 2 + 2 = 4 is a true mathematical statement. I do not necessarily think that 2 + 2 = 4 exists as a natural, or otherwise supernatural property. As I made clear many days ago, we are fundamentally arguing past one another because we are operating under different assumptions about the nature and definition of truth. You obviously hold to the correspondence theory, I to the coherence theory, and you have yet to address this point, btw.

    Regarding point two, no, I am not a moral realist, though I see how one could see me as a minimalist realist. I'm not even sure if a minimalist realist even counts as a realist. I think the truth conditions obtain, yes. However, I think that the truth conditions of moral propositions obtain by virtue of its coherence with a specified set of propositions, not that the truth conditions of moral propositions obtain by virtue of corresponding with objective features of the world. Is it true that you have thoughts? Is it true that you have individual instances of subjective, conscious experience? Is it true that you hold subjective states such as beliefs and emotions? Do these things have to necessarily exist to be true?

    I hope to get past this notion that I believe that morality exists. Perhaps we should disambiguate the term 'existence' as well as the term 'truth'.
  • Bartricks
    3k
    So, these sources are wrong?

    Ethical subjectivism or moral non-objectivism is the meta-ethical view which claims that:

    1. Ethical sentences express propositions.

    2. Some such propositions are true.

    3.The truth or falsity of such propositions is ineliminably dependent on the (actual or hypothetical) attitudes of people.
    —Wikipedia
    Cartesian trigger-puppets

    That source is wrong, yes. Wikipedia is not peer reviewed. It's written by people like you: non-experts who only half-understand what they're writing about.

    Ethical Subjectivism holds that there are no objective moral properties and that ethical statements are in fact arbitrary because they do not express immutable truths. Instead, moral statements are made true or false by the attitudes and/or conventions of the observers, and any ethical sentence just implies an attitude, opinion, personal preference or feeling held by someone. Thus, for a statement to be considered morally right merely means that it is met with approval by the person of interest.
    —Philosophybasics
    Cartesian trigger-puppets

    That one is a bit confused (the bit where it talks about immutable truths is the confused bit). Note, though, that it does not assert that realism is an essential component of moral subjectivism. That you think otherwise doesn't bode well for your comprehension skills. So, ignoring the first sentence - which is confused - the second and third sentences just say what I said, namely that subjectivism in ethics is the view that the truth-makers of moral statements are subjective states. It doesn't say that subjectivism is the view that some moral statements are true. Learn to read more carefully!

    To deny both noncognitivism and the moral error theory suffices to make one a minimal moral realist. Traditionally, however, moral realism has required the denial of a further thesis: the mind-dependence of morality. There is no generally accepted label for theories that deny both noncognitivism and the moral error theory but maintain that moral facts are mind-dependent; here I shall use the term “non-objectivism.” Thus, “moral non-objectivism” denotes the view that moral facts exist and are mind-dependent (in the relevant sense), while “moral objectivism” holds that they exist and are mind-independent. (Note that this nomenclature makes the two contraries rather than contradictories; the error theorist and the noncognitivist count as neither objectivists nor non-objectivists
    — Joyce, Richard,
    —Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    Cartesian trigger-puppets

    I have no issue with what Joyce has said there. It's absolutely right. And he has not contradicted anything I have said or confirmed anything you have said.

    If one is not a non-cognitivist and not a moral error theorist, then one is a moral realist.

    That's correct. Another way to put it: if you think moral statements are truth apt and some of them are true, then one is a moral realist.

    What you seem singularly incapable of grasping is that one can be a moral subjectivist and an error theorist. Once more: that would be impossible if 'realism' was an essential commitment of subjectivism. Yet it is possible. I have described how. If one is an individual subjectivist, then the systematic absence of the relevant subjective state would suffice to make one a moral error theorist; if one is an inter-subjectivist, then the absence of the relevant community would make one an error theorist; and if one is a divine command theorist - so, one identifies the truth-makers of moral statements with the subjective states of a god - then one would be an error theorist if one thought the god did not exist.

    So, once more, metaethical subjectivism is 'not' a form of moral realism. One can be a subjectivist and a realist, but the two are distinct: one is a view about morality's ingredients, the other is a view about whether morality exists.
  • Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66


    I understand that Wikipedia is not academically peer-reviewed, but those particular statements were cited by two academic sources:

    1. Richard Brandt (1959). Ethical theory; the problems of normative and critical ethics. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

    2. Harrison, Jonathan (2006). Borchert, Donald M. (ed.). Encyclopedia of philosophy (2nd ed.). Detroit: Thomson Gale/Macmillan Reference USA.

    The reason I referenced the SEP article was because it highlights the problems we are having. And how does this not contradict you: "To deny both noncognitivism and the moral error theory suffices to make one a minimal moral realist. Traditionally, however, moral realism has required the denial of a further thesis: the mind-dependence of morality," this implies that traditional moral realism does not merely state that some moral statements are true, but must be true independent of human thought or opinion. In other words, mind-independent or objective. This is why I was attracted to a subjective view because I find it more plausible that morality lie within our subjective states rather than as a property of the external world.

    Perhaps I am making a mistake in using the term 'truth' and I did admit as much to you much earlier. I am still trying to figure out which theory of truth best fits my moral outlook and which ones I may adopt to discover a more satisfying one. If by making a statement of fact about my attitude toward a thing makes the truth of my moral judgments depend on a natural, however subjective, fact about the world, then maybe I am committing to a minimalist form of realism, or subjective naturalism, or something. Or, perhaps, I should just say that my attitude is what makes my statements express a moral goodness or other such evaluations within a subjective framework, rather than statements which are true.

    You have succeeded in getting me to seriously doubt the consistency of my moral theorizing, or perhaps the meta-ethical position that best describes my views. You haven't given me any ideas for a better alternative theory, which would have been most convincing. I think my problems lie in my ignorance of the various theories of truth. I accept a correspondence theory in some contexts, coherence in others and have even considered some pragmatic theories of truth, but I find none completely satisfactory.

    If I am in error here, it certainly was no aid to persistently insist upon misrepresenting me. If by saying that, "At least some moral statements are true," does indeed necessarily commit me to realism, it still is not an accurate representation of what I was saying. You could have been much more effective by using the terms that I was using. I never made the statement that I am committed to realism so why would I give credence to any point you make asserting just that? If you would have said that subjectivism is not committed to the statement that some moral propositions are true (and I'm aware that you have said that, but disproportionately so) it would have stuck with me a bit better. It was with such thought in mind, as I read more strictly academic sources that I have access to, that I began to form greater uncertainty.

    Not that it is your duty to correct me, just that you seemed to be genuinely trying to and your approach is unnecessary antagonistic insofar as it doesn't explicitly represent the interlocutors actual words, uses small minded and defamatory language such as 'stupid,' 'insane,' and so on, merely makes—or restates—an assertion, all of which make you seem much less like you know what you are talking about and much more like the troll that some accuse you of being. It is hard to really consider what someone is saying whenever you think (or are suffering from confirmation bias) that they may be a troll.

    I will have to reassess my position here and find more academic sources to do more reading with. If you have any suggestions, I would appreciate it and prioritize them first.
  • Bartricks
    3k
    I understand that Wikipedia is not academically peer-reviewed, but those particular statements were cited by two academic sources:

    1. Richard Brandt (1959). Ethical theory; the problems of normative and critical ethics. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

    2. Harrison, Jonathan (2006). Borchert, Donald M. (ed.). Encyclopedia of philosophy (2nd ed.). Detroit: Thomson Gale/Macmillan Reference USA.
    Cartesian trigger-puppets

    That is incredibly dishonest of you. They did NOT say such things. Someone who wrote that wikipedia entry said those things - someone who is clearly NOT a professional philosopher. It is not something anything either of those philosophers said. Christ! I just went to the shoddy wikipedia article from which you seem to be getting your information (again: wikipedia is not written by professional philosophers....it's written by people like you, who lack any concern to get things correct!)

    This is the quote from Brandt:

    "[Objectivism and subjectivism] have been used more vaguely, confusedly, and in more different senses than the others we are considering. We suggest as a convenient usage, however, that a theory be called subjectivist if and only if, according to it, any ethical assertion implies that somebody does, or somebody of a certain sort under certain conditions would, take some specified attitude toward something."

    Okay? Nowhere there does he conflate subjectivism with realism.

    This is the quote from Harrison:

    "A subjectivist ethical theorist is a theory according to which moral judgements about men or their actions are judgements about the way people react to these men and actions - that is, the way they think or feel about them."

    Same again. No conflation of subjectivism with realism. So a) stop dishonestly pretending that what you're quoting is coming from professional philosophers. It isn't. It's wikipedia - which is shite where philosophy is concerned because virtually everything on it is written by non-philosophers who only half understand what they're saying.

    And how does this not contradict you: "To deny both noncognitivism and the moral error theory suffices to make one a minimal moral realist. Traditionally, however, moral realism has required the denial of a further thesis: the mind-dependence of morality,"Cartesian trigger-puppets

    How on earth does that contradict what I said???

    Moral subjectivism is a view about the truth-makers of moral statements. It is the view that they are subjective states.

    It is NOT the view that some moral statements are true. That's a distinct claim.

    There's what would make "Here is a live Dodo" true, and then there's whether it is true.

    I do not know how you can not see the difference.

    As for what to replace these views with: divine command theory. Which is a form of subjectivism, but one that does not succumb to the criticisms that refute individual and collective forms of subjectivism.

    When we judge an act to be wrong, we are not simply describing our own negative attitude towards it. After all, if we were, then if I approved of Xing, it would necessarily be right for me to X. Yet it isn't.

    Our judgements are not, then, about our own subjective states. Our subjective states are 'not' the truth-makers of our moral beliefs.

    Nevertheless, when we judge an act to be wrong we are judging that there is a proscription against doing it; and when we judge an act to be right we are judging that there is a prescription enjoining us to do it.

    Only subjects - minds - can issue prescriptions and proscriptions.

    Thus, the subjectivist is correct in thinking that subjective states are the truth makers for moral propositions. But the individual and collective subjectivists are wrong in thinking that it is 'our' subjective states that are those truth makers.

    No, the subjective states that are the truth makers of moral propositions are the subjective states of someone other than any of us.

    That subject - the subject whose subjective states are the truth-makers of all moral propositions - would be God.

    Note, that too is not a form of moral realism, for it is once more a claim about what it would 'take' for any moral proposition to be true and does not incorporate the additional claim that some 'are' true.

    Obviously some are true and thus God exists. But one could agree with everything I have said above and conclude that as God does not exist, no moral propositions are true.
  • Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66


    That is incredibly dishonest of you. They did NOT say such things.Bartricks

    I meant that Wikipedia cited these authors. The citations are right there on the page if you don't believe me. I'm not being dishonest, perhaps I could have written that a little more clearly. Wikipedia clearly cited these authors, whether or not these citations are accurate representations of what these authors actually said is another issue.

    people like you, who lack any concern to get things correctBartricks

    If I lacked any concern to get things right, then why would I tolerate interacting with you? Your rhetoric is hardly tolerable, but there is at least a smidge of knowledge somewhere in you and it is that reason alone that I even read your comments. I am quite concerned about getting things right, even if I must endure such impudence.

    No conflation of subjectivism with realism. So a) stop dishonestly pretending that what you're quoting is coming from professional philosophers.Bartricks

    I agree that the citation seems questionable at best but if you would actually read what I was saying, then you would see that I merely stated that they are used as a citation. I said 'they' cited, as in Wikipedia cited these authors. Notice that I won't assume intellectual dishonesty here with you, but that you could have done a better job of reading what I said and I probably could have been more clear. I did clearly say that the authors were cited, though.

    How on earth does that contradict what I said???Bartricks

    Realism also makes the claim that moral statements have a truth value, and that some of those truth values are true, but, in addition, realism also claims that such truth values exist objectively, as in a mind-independent property of the world.
    — Cartesian trigger-puppets

    No, you're conflating moral realism with objectivist moral realism.
    Bartricks

    I'll consider your suggestions when I'm less irritated by your demeanor. As of now, I'm starting to think that you really are just a troll. Note that I didn't bother to carefully read your arguments, a symptom of sharing dialogue with an insufferable interlocutor, so I will withhold any comments until I have the energy and patience to assess them critically.

    My previous comment should be read in the context of a capitulation. I was explaining myself more than I was criticizing you.
  • Bartricks
    3k
    I meant that Wikipedia cited these authors. The citations are right there on the page if you don't believe me. I'm not being dishonest, perhaps I could have written that a little more clearly. Wikipedia clearly cited these authors, whether or not these citations are accurate representations of what these authors actually said is another issueCartesian trigger-puppets

    Well, you're clearly very sloppy: the authors are referenced for claim 3, not claim 2. And if you'd taken the trouble to read the relevant quotes from the authors that were given in support of that claim, you'd have noticed that they in no way make realism a commitment of subjectivism. Why? Because it isn't. And I've explained why umpteen times.
  • Cartesian trigger-puppets
    66


    Yes, I admit that was sloppy of me. I am doubtful that the second claim is true because im not entirely sure what im committed to by saying that some moral statements are true. I have to explore a few questions more thoroughly. Questions such as: "Can some moral statements be considered true under a coherence theory of truth, or under a pragmatic theory of truth?" for example.

    If I maintain the view of moral subjectivism by retracting the second claim (that some moral statements are true) but leaving all else the same, what other objections would you raise? You seemed to be more interested in showing how my philosophical language was erroneous rather than refuting the overall thesis of my theory. Perhaps it would be easier to just ask you a few questions.

    On your view:

    Are beliefs considered to be a part of an individual's subjective states? If so, can such beliefs be cognitive?

    Can there be facts about an individual's subjective states? (Consider the following excerpt from Dwayne H. Mulder, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.)

    b. Objectivism, Subjectivism and Non-Cognitivism

    Philosophical theories about the nature of morality generally divide into assertions that moral truths express subjective states and assertions that moral truths express objective facts, analogous to the fact, for example, that the sun is more massive than the earth.

    So-called subjectivist theories regard moral statements as declaring that certain facts hold, but the facts expressed are facts about a person’s subjective states. For example, the statement “It is wrong to ignore a person in distress if you are able to offer aid” just means something like “I find it offensive when someone ignores a person in distress….” This is a statement about the subject’s perceptions of the object, not about the object itself (that is, ignoring a person in distress).

    Do you find anything wrong with this author's description here?

    I remember you offering one such objection that went something like: 'If moral subjectivism is true, then my belief that raping J is good would make raping J a moral thing to do. Raping J is not a moral thing to do. Therefore moral subjectivism is false.' Forgive me if I have misrepresented your argument here.

    The problem with the above argument is that it fails to acknowledge the metaethical semantics of subjectivist moral theories (such as Dwayne H. Mulder acknowledged in his article). With this in mind, the statement, "Raping J is good," simply means something like "I find it morally acceptable to rape J" which is simply a description of the authors subjective states. This description seems to be truth-apt, and at least a psychological fact, but I suppose im uncertain whether or not it is true.
  • Bartricks
    3k
    I am doubtful that the second claim is true because im not entirely sure what im committed to by saying that some moral statements are true.Cartesian trigger-puppets

    You're missing the point. Subjectivism and realism are different kinds of theory. Subjectivism is a theory about what something - in this case, morality - is 'made of'. It's not an existential theory. Realism is an existential theory. They're different kinds of theory.

    Once more: there's no logical inconsistency between being a subjectivist and a nihilist. This seems to be something you're not grasping. You think the issue here is about truth and what it consists in. No, that's not the point. The point is that subjectivism is not a theory about what exists!!

    This: 'banana cakes are made of flour and bananas and eggs' is not a theory about what exists, right? I have literally just expressed that theory. Do you now conclude that I own a banana cake? No, that'd be nuts. Why would it be nuts? Because saying 'banana cakes are made of flour and bananas and eggs' is not equivalent to saying "i have a banana cake" or banana cakes exist. I mean, how can I make this clearer? I used Dodos earlier, precisely because no-one thinks they exist. We can still talk about one is, right? How do you not see this?

    Likewise, subjectivism is a theory - or family of theories - about what morality is made of. it is not - not - a theory about what exists. So you are like someone who, when asked about the ingredients of banana cakes, keeps replying "banana cakes are made of bananas and flour and exist".

    I literally do not see how you cannot see the difference. Theories about what exist: morality exists (realism); morality does not exist (nihilism). And morality isn't in the business of existing, as it's a practice we engage in (expressivism).

    Theories about what morality is made of: subjectivism (morality is made of subjective states); naturalism (morality is made of natural objects, properties and relations); non-naturalism (morality is made of non-natural objects, properties and relations).

    On your view:

    Are beliefs considered to be a part of an individual's subjective states? If so, can such beliefs be cognitive?
    Cartesian trigger-puppets

    Yes, beliefs are subjective states. Only subjects - minds - can believe things. A belief is a state of mind - a state of a subject. Beliefs are subjective states.

    I do not know what you mean by 'cognitive'. Can you ask the question again without using the word cognitive?

    Can there be facts about an individual's subjective states?Cartesian trigger-puppets

    Yes, of course.

    Philosophical theories about the nature of morality generally divide into assertions that moral truths express subjective states and assertions that moral truths express objective facts, analogous to the fact, for example, that the sun is more massive than the earth.

    So-called subjectivist theories regard moral statements as declaring that certain facts hold, but the facts expressed are facts about a person’s subjective states. For example, the statement “It is wrong to ignore a person in distress if you are able to offer aid” just means something like “I find it offensive when someone ignores a person in distress….” This is a statement about the subject’s perceptions of the object, not about the object itself (that is, ignoring a person in distress).

    Do you find anything wrong with this author's description here?
    Cartesian trigger-puppets

    Yes and no. Those two paragraphs do not say quite the same thing.

    First, however, some philosophers would classify non-cognitivism as a kind of subjectivism. That author may be one of those, however the way they have expressed themselves is actually quite clumsy.

    There is a difference between describing a subjective state ("I am excited") for instance, and 'expressing' a subjective state ("Yippee!").

    Now, what does it mean to say that "moral truths express subjective states"? If the claim is that moral truths are 'about' subjective states such subjective states will operate as their truth makers, then the claim is correct. However, then 'express' wasn't really the right word (why not 'describe' or 'are about' - that would be clearer). If, on the other hand, the author is saying that 'moral truths' (and the inverted commas are now needed) are disguised expressions of attitude, then no. For now their definition of subjectivism would make expressivism a form of subjectivism - which, like I say, is not objectionable in itself, it is just not how I and many other philosophers would use the term).

    What the second paragraph says is approximately correct, although again, poorly expressed.

    For example, the statement “It is wrong to ignore a person in distress if you are able to offer aid” just means something like “I find it offensive when someone ignores a person in distress….” This is a statement about the subject’s perceptions of the object, not about the object itself (that is, ignoring a person in distress).Cartesian trigger-puppets

    The statement in question, if it means what the author has just said it means, is not "about the subject's perceptions of the object", but the subject's 'attitudes' towards it.

    Anyway, I have already said what subjectivism means. Subjectivism is the view that a) moral propositions are truth-apt and b) their truth makers are subjective states.


    I remember you offering one such objection that went something like: 'If moral subjectivism is true, then my belief that raping J is good would make raping J a moral thing to do. Raping J is not a moral thing to do. Therefore moral subjectivism is false.' Forgive me if I have misrepresented your argument here.Cartesian trigger-puppets

    That was an objection to individual subjectivism. (Subjectivism is the name of a family of views, that includes my own - divine command theory). So, I am a subjectivist. My objection was to 'individual' subjectivism.

    If individual subjectivism is true, then the truth makers of any moral utterance you make is some of your own subjective states. That's just true by definition.

    So, let's just say - for the sake of argument - that 'wrongness' describes a certain attitude of disapproval (perhaps universal disapproval) and rightness approval (a certain universal approval, say).

    Okay, well then by definition if Tim universally approves of rape, it will be right for Tim to rape.
    That's clearly not true. Therefore that kind of subjectivism is false.

    And we can run the same argument for any other of an individual's subjective states.

    The problem with the above argument is that it fails to acknowledge the metaethical semantics of subjectivist moral theories (such as Dwayne H. Mulder acknowledged in his article). With this in mind, the statement, "Raping J is good," simply means something like "I find it morally acceptable to rape J" which is simply a description of the authors subjective states. This description seems to be truth-apt, and at least a psychological fact, but I suppose im uncertain whether or not it is true.Cartesian trigger-puppets

    I haven't the faintest idea what you're on about. You're clearly confused - you're confusing non-cognitivism and subjectivism. Stop that.

    Which premise is false in this argument:

    1. If what makes a moral statement "Xing is right" true is my having attitude Y towards X, then if I have attitude Y towards the act of raping Jane, then the staement "Raping Jane is right" will nessarily be true if I say it.
    2. If I have attitude Y towards the act of raping Jane, then the statement "raping Jane is right" will not necessarily be true if I say it
    3. Therefore, what makes a moral statement "Xing is right" true is not my having attitude Y towards X.

    Don't try and be clever. Just say which premise is false.
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