• Marty
    222
    Tis not contrary to reason to imagine us being motivated by reason alone, or, if you like, to be motivated for good reasons!

    So, why is it that people multiple entities beyond their necessity and say that all actions need to be related to some desire or disposition for us to be able to act? Such a statement cannot be established as a relation of ideas, nor a matter of fact. Obviously, there is no logical necessity to talk of actions without desires, and no inductive statement can show us its necessity. It can presumably show us that some motivations are like that, but the way some people act is as if it's all of our motivations.

    So, why do people do this? It seems completely more parsimonious to think we act for good reasons, simplicter. That, in some rare cases, a person can act such and such a way despite them not wanting to (by some prior disposition or prior desire). When these good reasons are divorced from our desires, we can begin ethics properly.

    Always perplexes me why people want to add something more to the picture.
  • T Clark
    5.1k
    So, why is it that people multiple entities beyond their necessity and say that all actions need to be related to some desire or disposition for us to be able to act? Such a statement cannot be established as a relation of ideas, nor a matter of fact.Marty

    The science is pretty strong on this issue. Here is a link to an article about decision making in people with a certain kind of brain damage.

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15134841/

    The studies of decision-making in neurological patients who can no longer process emotional information normally suggest that people make judgments not only by evaluating the consequences and their probability of occurring, but also and even sometimes primarily at a gut or emotional level. Lesions of the ventromedial (which includes the orbitofrontal) sector of the prefrontal cortex interfere with the normal processing of "somatic" or emotional signals, while sparing most basic cognitive functions. Such damage leads to impairments in the decision-making process, which seriously compromise the quality of decisions in daily life.

    Beyond that, I can speak from personal experience. I try to be self-aware of my mental processes relating to motivation and decision making. For me, the process is not rational at all, at least not at the basic level. For me, motivation arises from within. I picture it as a spring bubbling up from underground. As I said, it's not rational, but it's not irrational either. It's non-rational. Rationality comes in later and acts more as a brake than a driver. It may stop an action or at least mold it to the requirements of responsible behavior. Then again, it may not. Later I might wish that it had.

    I recognize that different people experience this differently.
  • csalisbury
    2.8k

    Long time, Marty

    So, to answer your OP, I think it's the good part of 'good reason' that is the sticky point. I know you know your german idealists, and your Nietzsche, so I'll quickly play the card I think apt here: there is no 'good reason' without some form of valuation, and valuation is inseparable from living and from desire.

    Now if you're acting in some space where everyone is in agreement about the relevant values, then, yes, for all intents and purposes, you can parse whats happening with a 'good-reason' lens, no remainder. The desire is already 'priced-in' so to speak, and needn't be laboriously pointed-to every step of the way.

    In any circumscribed domain, you can use a model, and describe how agents act accordingly. Nothing wrong with that, I think. But it's a carved out space.
  • Possibility
    2.1k
    Tis not contrary to reason to imagine us being motivated by reason alone, or, if you like, to be motivated for good reasons!

    So, why is it that people multiple entities beyond their necessity and say that all actions need to be related to some desire or disposition for us to be able to act? Such a statement cannot be established as a relation of ideas, nor a matter of fact. Obviously, there is no logical necessity to talk of actions without desires, and no inductive statement can show us its necessity. It can presumably show us that some motivations are like that, but the way some people act is as if it's all of our motivations.

    So, why do people do this? It seems completely more parsimonious to think we act for good reasons, simplicter. That, in some rare cases, a person can act such and such a way despite them not wanting to (by some prior disposition or prior desire). When these good reasons are divorced from our desires, we can begin ethics properly.

    Always perplexes me why people want to add something more to the picture.
    Marty

    This is a good question. Any action requires energy, distributed as both attention and effort throughout the organism over a duration. How reason influences this distribution of energy is notoriously unclear.

    I agree that when we imagine ourselves motivated by reason alone, divorced from our desires, we can arrive at a system of how we ‘should’ act. But we cannot determine the truth of this system in relation to why we act the way we do without an understanding of affect: namely the organism’s ongoing interoception of valence (pleasant/unpleasant) and arousal (high/low).

    Whenever we do act, the structure of reality in which the organism distributes attention and effort (ie. acts) is ultimately determined neither by reason nor ethics, but by affect. This ‘map’ of valence and arousal interacts with conceptual structures to generate an ongoing prediction of attention and effort requirements that achieve allostasis.

    That is not to say that reason and ethics have no influence. On the contrary, our conceptual reality is often structured according to reason and ethics. But the language and logic of human action is written in affect, and so a conceptual reality that cannot easily translate back and forth from affect is going to make inaccurate predictions about attention and effort requirements in themselves and in others.
  • Marty
    222


    I'm not really sure how that article proves that all of our decisions require prior desires/ some prior disposition or emotive backing. I'm also apprehensive of any identity claim in neuroscience.
  • Marty
    222

    I'm not sure what you mean by "determining the truth of this system." And why that has to be done after the fact. If I'm acting based on ethical reasons, then the good will enables me to act on those reasons. Why should we smuggle in a motivated reason retroactively? It seems perfectly fine to imagine that I help someone out who I dislike, and after doing it, I feel unpleasant because I just didn't like them. There could be no possible prior incentive to help the person outside of my ethical vocation. And that may have been enough to act.

    I'm also not sure why I'd reduce human agency to causal explanations alone.
  • Marty
    222

    I don't think I'm quite following which part you've disagreed with.
  • Joshs
    1.4k
    I'm also not sure why I'd reduce human agency to causal explanations alone.Marty

    What else is there except causal explanations? Of course, one can speak of different kinds of causation. Husserl grounded material causation in the motivational
    principle of intentionality.
  • Marty
    222
    Epistemic justification/explanations.
  • Joshs
    1.4k
    Epistemic justification/explanations.Marty

    How are these grounded? In some idealist a priori?
    Are you appealing to revelation?

    As you may know, Husserl didn’t consider epistemic justification to be self-grounding , but a constituted product of motivated associative acts.
  • T Clark
    5.1k
    I'm not really sure how that article proves that all of our decisions require prior desires/ some prior disposition or emotive backing. I'm also apprehensive of any identity claim in neuroscience.Marty

    I provide pretty definitive evidence that your philosophical position is wrong, and you shrug your shoulders and say "science/schmience." It's hard to take your argument seriously.
  • Possibility
    2.1k
    I'm not sure what you mean by "determining the truth of this system." And why that has to be done after the fact. If I'm acting based on ethical reasons, then the good will enables me to act on those reasons. Why should we smuggle in a motivated reason retroactively? It seems perfectly fine to imagine that I help someone out who I dislike, and after doing it, I feel unpleasant because I just didn't like them. There could be no possible prior incentive to help the person outside of my ethical vocation. And that may have been enough to act.

    I'm also not sure why I'd reduce human agency to causal explanations alone.
    Marty

    Determining the truth of an ethical system is about the relation between how we should act and how we do act. It seems perfectly fine to imagine any possibility at all in terms of how anyone might feel about what I could do, and to make ethical judgements based on this. What determines whether an act is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is the track record of affect in our relative experience, both directly and indirectly informed.

    How do you think ‘the good will’ enables you to act on ethical reasons? What is enough ‘ethical vocation’ to act? How does knowledge translate into action? There’s more to this than causal explanation alone - there is a predictive distribution of attention and effort based on a perception of potential and/or value.
  • Marty
    222
    They are the tools for grounding. I don't understand why ideal relations/inferences need to be grounded, either. Presumably, if we make judgements, we necessarily use inferences. We have judgements, therefore we necessarily use inferences. I know that I make judgements from first-hand experiences, even though they rely on external sensibilities to supply the content of my beliefs. However, there's no distance between myself and myself when I weigh in whether I have inferences.
  • Marty
    222


    All it shows is that sometimes we use emotions to make judgements. That's not controverisal.

    The studies of decision-making in neurological patients who can no longer process emotional information normally suggest that people make judgments not only by evaluating the consequences and their probability of occurring, but also and even sometimes primarily at a gut or emotional level
  • Marty
    222


    I think another conclusion you can reach is that empirical evidence underdetermines our actions, and empirical evidence can never give us justification for how to reason correctly about ethics.
  • T Clark
    5.1k
    All it shows is that sometimes we use emotions to make judgements. That's not controverisal.Marty

    No. It shows that without emotions, we are unable to make any decisions of any sort; what to eat for dinner, whether to eat dinner, what socks to wear. People frozen into immobility by indecision. None of this is controversial. This is controversial - "Tis not contrary to reason to imagine us being motivated by reason alone..." Actually, that's not controversial either, it's just wrong.

    This is not a philosophical question. You say it's right, but science says it's wrong. Reason says it's wrong. Rationality says it's wrong. Logic says it's wrong. T Clark says it's wrong.
  • Possibility
    2.1k
    I think another conclusion you can reach is that empirical evidence underdetermines our actions, and empirical evidence can never give us justification for how to reason correctly about ethics.Marty

    Sure, but this doesn’t change the fact that reason cannot determine our actions free from affect. So reason alone can never give us justification for how to reason correctly about ethics.
  • Marty
    222


    Where does it say that in the article?
  • Marty
    222


    An affect isn't the explanation for our action, just a consequence.
  • T Clark
    5.1k
    Where does it say that in the article?Marty

    Here's another link, to an article in the Harvard Business Review - "Decisions and Desire:"

    https://hbr.org/2006/01/decisions-and-desire

    Here's some text from the article:

    Damasio and his colleagues have since studied over 50 patients with brain damage like Elliot’s who share this combination of emotional and decision-making defects. And researchers have found that patients with injuries to parts of the limbic system, an ancient group of brain structures important in generating emotions, also struggle with making decisions. There’s something critical to decision making in the conversation between emotion and reason in the brain, but what?

    Call it gut. Or hunch. Or, more precisely, “prehunch,” to use Damasio’s term. In a famous series of experiments designed by Damasio’s colleague Antoine Bechara at the University of Iowa, patients with Elliot’s emotion-dampening type of brain damage were found to be unusually slow to detect a losing proposition in a card game.

    In the game, players picked cards from red and blue decks, winning and losing play money with each pick. The players were hooked up to lie-detector-like devices that measure skin conductance response, or CSR, which climbs as your stress increases and your palms sweat. Most players get a feeling that there’s something amiss with the red decks after they turn over about 50 cards, and after 30 more cards, they can explain exactly what’s wrong. But just ten cards into the game, their palms begin sweating when they reach for the red decks. Part of their brains know the red deck is a bad bet, and they begin to avoid it—even though they won’t consciously recognize the problem for another 40 cards and won’t be able to explain it until 30 cards after that. Long before they have a hunch about the red deck, a subconscious prehunch warns them away from it.

    Though the brain-damaged patients eventually figured out that the red decks were rigged against them, they never developed palm-dampening CSRs. And, even though they consciously knew better, they continued to pick red cards. What were they missing? The injured parts of their brains in the prefrontal cortex seemed unable to process the emotional signals that guide decision making. Without this emotion interpreter pushing them in the right direction (toward the winning decks), these patients were left spinning their wheels, unable to act on what they knew. They couldn’t decide, apparently, what was in their own best interest. You could say they lacked good judgment.
  • Possibility
    2.1k
    An affect isn't the explanation for our action, just a consequence.Marty

    The brain distributes attention and effort (energy) based on interaction between an ongoing interoception and conceptual prediction of affect (valence and arousal) in relation to allostasis. So, no - not just a consequence. Affect refers to the internal language and logic of action.
  • csalisbury
    2.8k
    I don't think I'm quite following which part you've disagreed with.Marty
    Most of it. In my experience people are basically always motivated by emotion. They can act for good reasons, in a space of reasons - but that's only if that space already aligns with their emotions. I think people - like me, often, for example- tend to 'zoom in' into the space of reasons, and pretend it's sufficient in-and-of-itself, when they're trying to disavow their emotions. Especially if they're unpleasant emotions which don't sync up with one's idea of oneself.

    I think we think probably differently about ethics. I think its more about tuning in to subtler emotional frequencies rather than climbing out of affects into reason. But I'd rather leave that as a difference between us than debate it.
  • Adam Hilstad
    45
    Acting out of emotion does not necessitate consciously acting with motivation. However, we take other actions prior to this which do affect the outcome. We reinforce and overcome habits, we train ourselves for restraint, we prepare for certain reactions, and so on. These entail implicit motivation in all action.
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