• Leftist
    5
    There are no correct moral claims. People only have incorrect opinions on what's good/bad, what should/shouldn't exist.

    To say that torture is bad is to say that moral claims can be true. If moral facts could not ever be true, the torture would not be bad, there would be no reason to prevent torture.

    To say that moral claims can be true is to say that there are inherently true moral claims, claims that by definition are not supported by external evidence. Such claims are needed because extrinsic truths depend on intrinsic truths to be truths. It cannot be that the only moral claims that are truthful are those that depend on other moral claims to be true. Any moral justification that lies outside the thing itself - extrinsic morality - "x is good because it does abc and abc is good" - requires claims outside itself to be truth in order for it to be truth. This creates a never-ending chain of justifications, each new justification passing the problem onto something else. This is moral relativism and subjectivism. They are absurd, literally.

    The problem of needing axioms is not the problem, the problem is that there are no such moral axioms that are true. Valor is only good because of its effects. So is truth, justice, love, peace, etc. The closest any system (that I know of) gets to claiming moral axioms is hedonism. In it, good feelings are good, bad feelings are bad. But they're wrong: they're merely things that evolution created to help us survive. They are not actually inherently good or bad, despite Hedonism's claims. There is no true reason why they should or should not exist.

    Therefore, you have no logical reason to stop me from hammering a toothpick under your fingernail.
  • Michael
    11.8k
    To say that moral claims can be true is to say that there are inherently true moral claims, claims that by definition are not supported by external evidence. Such claims are needed because extrinsic truths depend on intrinsic truths to be truths. It cannot be that the only moral claims that are truthful are those that depend on other moral claims to be true. Any moral justification that lies outside the thing itself - extrinsic morality - "x is good because it does abc and abc is good" - requires claims outside itself to be truth in order for it to be truth. This creates a never-ending chain of justifications, each new justification passing the problem onto something else. This is moral relativism and subjectivism. They are absurd, literally.Leftist

    This kind of reasoning would prima facie appear to lead to the conclusion that there are no correct legal claims. And yet it is the case that, in most countries, it is illegal to steal, to murder, etc.

    Perhaps claims that some X is immoral is similar in kind to claims that some Y is illegal, albeit the "legislature" isn't some official body that follows a defined process; instead the morality of actions is developed over time by the wider community.
  • Isaac
    9.1k
    have no logical reason to stop me from hammering a toothpick under your fingernail.Leftist

    I do. It'll bloody hurt.

    To say that torture is bad is to say that moral claims can be true.Leftist

    No. To say "torture is bad" is to say that the word 'bad' correctly applies to torture. They'd be right. It does.

    Like "the bus is red" just means that the word 'red' applies to the colour of the bus.
  • Benj96
    1.3k
    There are no correct moral claimsLeftist

    There definitely is.

    Moral claim: "I wish to cause the least harm to the greatest number of people possible".

    What is wrong with that moral claim?

    To say that moral claims can be true is to say that there are inherently true moral claims, claims that by definition are not supported by external evidenceLeftist

    There are inherently moral claims. Morality is about avoiding suffering. Torture is not conducive to avoiding harm.

    What external evidence does one need to wish to not harm others? Ones intention to not cause harm is a self sufficient premise not to do so.

    Therefore, you have no logical reason to stop me from hammering a toothpick under your fingernail.Leftist

    The logical reason is that it hurts. It is unpleasant and makes me weep in suffering. And as I wouldnt wish it on anyone esle I can justify that it is not right because it ought not be done to anyone.
  • Benj96
    1.3k
    I do. It'll bloody hurt.Isaac

    Exactly. The experience of suffering is inherently a logical reason not to continue it. Harm is a reason not to harm. If you have empathy that is.

    If you're a sociopathic person that doesn't give two hoots whether others are harmed in your ambition to get what you want, then it wouldnt serve as a reason not to harm. But that only highlights the perversely selfish nature of such a person.
  • NOS4A2
    6.3k


    Trail and error proves the merits and demerits of any moral principle. Slavery isn’t inherently wrong—it could have been used in a charitable way as to avoid the outright murder of one’s enemies—but it has proven itself wrong according a variety of human measures applied over a sufficient period of trial and error.
  • T Clark
    10.3k
    There are no correct moral claims. People only have incorrect opinions on what's good/bad, what should/shouldn't exist.Leftist

    You are clearly just trying to raise a ruckus on your first post on the forum. Not a good sign. Still, welcome to the forum.

    Moral claims are statements of value and as such have no truth values. "True" and "false" do not apply.
    "Right," "wrong," "good, and "bad" do. Those terms are human normative judgements. You can disagree with them but, if things work as they're supposed to, the International Criminal Court will incarcerate your ass.
  • Isaac
    9.1k
    Harm is a reason not to harm. If you have empathy that is.Benj96

    Yes, although 'harm' doesn't fully encompass all morality. There's a whole set of characteristics which fall into the definition of 'moral' behaviour. Like the word 'game', there's no one criteria for what constitutes a game, but its still pretty easy to be clear that a tomato isn't a 'game'.

    Most moral sentiment has some biological origin, like empathy, but it's the cultural definition of the word that determines correct use, not biology. That which is 'moral' is that which your language community understands as being included in that term.

    What you propose to actually do, of course is another matter.
  • Benj96
    1.3k
    Like the word 'game', there's no one criteria for what constitutes a gameIsaac

    For me a game is something that doesn't have actual real life consequences. It is a roleplay. In that way harm can be exercised without realising actual persisting real life complications. One can thus learn from a game the consequences of their actions without those actions being relevant to real life. Its a simulation in essence.

    Like monopoly. Family members can Bury one another in debt, crucify them financially, without actually losing the family house. It teaches a lesson in capitalism in a safe environment of knowing the game is not reality and that there isn't really anything truly at stake.

    Games are useful as practise and honing practical skills that are actually useful in real life affairs.
  • Vera Mont
    313
    Therefore, you have no logical reason to stop me from hammering a toothpick under your fingernail.Leftist

    I don't need a logical reason; I need a bigger hammer and a 2" box nail. That's one way logic has been applied throughout history. It's an obviously destructive way, which, taken to its predictable conclusion will lead to the extinction of a species.

    Another reason that someone - not necessarily the victim - might stop you is that our shared community has rules of behaviour based a philosophy or world-view on some fundamental principles. That' too, is the basis of all legal codes, which are enacted to stabilize a society and keep internal conflict within manageable limits.

    Acceptance and rejection of human behaviours are not about about "truth", internal or external. They're about co-existence.
  • Nils Loc
    1.1k
    you have no logical reason to stop me from hammering a toothpick under your fingernail.Leftist

    That might depend on what you project your future circumstances to be in relation to others. Do you foresee consequences to your actions of actually hammering a toothpick under someone's fingernail? Do you have any logical reason to give against hammering a nail into your own hand? Why doesn't the future concern whether such action is reasonable with regard to what you want the future to be like?

    We're social animals, our welfare heavily dependent on complex social exchanges of quid pro quo moral conduct. We're not crocodiles (though you could pretend to be like one to your own probable ruin).

    There may be no ultimate moral facts (sanctified/enforced by a monotheist philosopher God's favor/retribution ) but there are relative moral facts/claims of a consensus or majority.
  • unenlightened
    7.1k
    There are no correct moral claims.Leftist

    Is correct not better than incorrect? If it isn't your claim has no force, and if it is your claim is contradictory.
  • Banno
    19.2k
    There are no correct moral claims. People only have incorrect opinions on what's good/bad, what should/shouldn't exist.Leftist

    A moral claim is an opinion about what is good or bad.

    Morality is not about what is the case, but how we want things to be. Mostly, folk find themselves in agreement on the topic, but they get hung up on the details.

    If you think torture is not immoral, you are faulty.

    No argument from first principles or axioms or final justifications is relevant here. Indeed, thinking that such things are needed is further evidence of something being wrong. If you cannot see that inflicting pain should be avoided, you are faulty.
  • Outlander
    1.5k
    Seems to me you are simply choosing to ignore the definition of a well-known word for some arbitrary- perhaps philosophically provocative- reason. This is not-so-veiled nihilism pure and simple.

    Moral claim: "I wish to cause the least harm to the greatest number of people possible".

    What is wrong with that moral claim?
    Benj96

    Quantity over quality. Similar to mistaking sound for substance. ie. "I would prefer to destroy the least amount of schools as opposed to the most amount of brothels because destroying buildings is generally considered immoral therefore it is the moral choice to make", etc.
  • Vera Mont
    313
    Moral claim: "I wish to cause the least harm to the greatest number of people possible".

    What is wrong with that moral claim?
    Benj96

    Quantity over quality. Similar to mistaking sound for substance. ie. "I would prefer to destroy the least amount of schools as opposed to the most amount of brothels because destroying buildings is generally considered immoral therefore it is the moral choice to make", etc.Outlander

    The comparison is ridiculous. Deliberately?
  • Outlander
    1.5k
    The comparison is ridiculous. Deliberately?Vera Mont

    Indeed. However it is not about the comparison, what one should make note of are the underlying consistent truths present in both examples. You or I may be able to see them showcased in such an absurd scenario, I'm sure most do. But when blanket claims of morality or any subject for that matter begin to be thrown around and huddled against for intellectual warmth one is inclined to believe said blanket cannot ever harbor or become an incubator for, that which is counterintuitive to its purpose.

    It wasn't a counter-argument or retort more of a request for the views of a poster I admire that may or may not help in clarifying OP's stance on one or more things, which at present seems to be unclear.
  • Bylaw
    301
    A moral claim is an opinion about what is good or bad.

    Morality is not about what is the case, but how we want things to be. Mostly, folk find themselves in agreement on the topic, but they get hung up on the details.
    Banno
    Are you saying this is what people man when they moral claims? Because I don't think most think they are opinions, or, better put, I think they think many of their moral claims are objective claims. Or are you saying that really, despite what they think, they are merely expressing their preferences and desires?
  • Leftist
    5
    Let me re-state and examine the various arguments you all have given.

    • "The community creates moral truths."
    I attribute this argument to Michael and Vera Mont.
    It was not explicitly stated that the community creates moral truths, but that's the implication. If the community merely creates moral falsehoods, false beliefs of good/bad, what should/shouldn't exist and be done, there is no logical reason to act on them, and they are not actually good/bad. For them to actually create morality, they must actually create moral truths, or discover them.
    I would like you to expand on how communities create moral truths. You're giving me an extrinsic moral truth: "morality is what the community decides is moral". Perhaps that is also the axiom. But why is this a correct axiom, or a correct implication? If everyone decided the opposite, would they still be correct? why should the community get what they label good, and not get what they label bad? If the neighboring village decided the opposite, would it then be both good and bad for X to happen/exist? Or only while in X village? I agree that communities create their own cultural opinions of good/bad - but why should anyone believe they're anything more than incorrect beliefs?
    I label this argument "X being stated to be a moral truth, seeming arbitrarily, without justification".
    Unless there is more reasoning I have not found, I do not see why these supposed truths are any more truthful than the moral claim that only toothpicks and paperclips should exist.

    • "Certain things are bad, even though it is true that nothing is bad."
    I attribute this argument to Isaac.
    If there are no moral truths, every moral claim is false. If any moral claims were ever true, it would have to be the case that there do exist moral truths, because such claims would themselves be moral truths.
    In such a world, calling anything "bad" does mean what it otherwise would. To say something is "bad", when bad does not exist, means very little. Perhaps it means you incorrectly believe the thing should not be done - but that would mean you do not believe there are no moral truths, because you'd believe yourself to be wrong if you did. It cannot be the case that nothing is bad but also that some things should not be done. That would mean that nothing is bad, but also that some things are bad. This breaks the laws of logic, specifically the law of noncontradiction, x =/= not-x. Nothing can correctly be called bad if the concept "bad" does not actually exist, for the same reason nothing can correctly be said to be "from the fictional universe of Star Trek". Sure, you can THINK things are from that universe - but you'd be wrong.

    • "X is moral because it is my intention to cause or not cause X"
    I attribute this argument to Benj69.
    Does mere intention make it so something should, or shouldn't, be done? Does it make it a fact that nobody - or just you - should or should not do those things? If it is true that there are no moral truths, it must also be true that moral-based intentions cannot be true claims, merely incorrect claims about morality. If moral truths cannot exist, intentions are illogical and there is no logical reason to act on them. Also, me having the intention to torture as many people as possible would make me torturing people moral, and if I were to consciously decide not to torture it would be immoral.

    • "The experience of suffering is inherently a logical reason not to continue it."
    I attribute this argument to Benj69.
    This is another "X being stated to be a moral truth, seeming arbitrarily, without justification". This is hedonism. I explain my reasons against it in the OP and in "The community creates moral truths". The experience of pain might seem like it has inherent bad in it, that it makes it worse for you to exist as you and therefore makes it worse for you to exist at all, but that is merely an illusion created by evolution.

    • "Trial and error proves the merits and demerits of any moral principle."
    I attribute this argument to NOS4A2.
    Nothing can have moral merits or demerits if moral truths do not exist. You are acting as if moral truths exist, else nothing could truthfully be a merit or demerit to any given moral system or claim or principle. Moral systems, or claims, must either be self-justifying or be justified by exterior moral systems/claims. It is impossible to justify a moral system or claim using the merit/demerit system without explicit exterior (or interior, if it's a truth that does not require the merit system) moral truths. Otherwise, how would you know what constitutes a merit or demerit? Arbitrarily? By instinct?

    • "That which promotes survival is that which is factually good."
    I attribute this to Nils Loc.
    This is another "X being stated to be a moral truth, seeming arbitrarily, without justification". There is no truthful reason why life should continue to exist, why it should not be wiped out today.

    • "Morality is not about what is the case, but how we want things to be."
    I attribute this to Banno.
    If nothing is truthfully good or bad, there is no logical reason to want anything, therefore there is no logical reason to act on anything you want. There is no logical reason to make the world more like how you irrationally want it to be, the things you want are therefore not actually good. If you believe there are no moral truths, you must also believe there is no valid reason to want anything.
  • Leftist
    5

    Nope! These are my actual beliefs. They're unusual, I know.

    Thanks for the welcome!
  • Tom Storm
    5.4k
    If you believe there are no moral truths, you must also believe there is no valid reason to want anything.Leftist

    Not sure how you get to this. Can you step it out again?

    I generally think that humans create morality to facilitate social cooperation in order to achieve our preferred form of order. Roughly speaking, cultures generally share preferences on right and wrong (usually down to not wishing to harm the wellbeing of others) and most cultures, regardless of religion or dominant philosophy, view murder, rape, theft, torture as wrong. I don't know what morality is except that it seems to be created by the choices we make and how we conduct yourself in relation to others. It makes good intuitive sense to treat others well (what goes around comes around) but this is not a scientifically derived 'fact'.

    To say that torture is bad is to say that moral claims can be true.Leftist

    Saying it is 'bad' is a values statement (which may have no connection to truth). Societies can really only determine these sorts of values by coming to shared agreements about how people would like to behave with each other. Why bring truth into it? Communities can just as readily determine (as they have done historically in the West) that torture has utility in the context of crime and punishment. Such debates seem to spring up from time to time and remind us that values are not unanimous or perpetual. One has to make a choice about how one acts and what values one privileges.
  • Bylaw
    301
    Saying it is 'bad' is a values statementTom Storm
    Do people mean it as a preference, say? Or do they mean it as a truth claim?
  • I like sushi
    4k
    Okay … I guess murder and rape are good then because I say so. If you argue against this then you cannot possibly believe what you just claimed.

    Torture is not something people seek out. It is regarded as ‘bad’ because of this (like setting yourself on fire is not something people do much).

    Of course there are exceptions where under extreme circumstances one could suggest ‘torture’ was the ‘best’ course of action. We do not generally live in a world where extreme situations present themselves … or they would just be called ‘different situations’ rather than ‘extreme’ ones.
  • Tom Storm
    5.4k
    Do people mean it as a preference, say? Or do they mean it as a truth claim?Bylaw

    They may think of it as a truth claim but from what I can see, the best anyone can do is express a preference based on some set of values.
  • zookeeper
    73
    These are my actual beliefs.

    You lie. If I was hammering toothpicks under your fingernails, you would not believe that there's nothing wrong about it and that there's no reason to stop.
  • Benj96
    1.3k
    "X is moral because it is my intention to cause or not cause X"
    I attribute this argument to Benj69.
    Does mere intention make it so something should, or shouldn't, be done? Does it make it a fact that nobody - or just you - should or should not do those things?
    Leftist

    No mere intention doesn't make any following act automatically justifiable. Obviously.

    Intention is about the end goal - an ideal - not how to get there. How to get there, the journey, is the realm of rigorous reasoning and a broad scope of considerations and then development of a best practice to cautiously proceed.

    And revision of said practice when required (if it is seen to do more harm than good by other interlocutors). In essence never assuming the means to get to an ideal equals the ideal. As that would be dangerous.
  • Benj96
    1.3k
    "The experience of suffering is inherently a logical reason not to continue it."
    I attribute this argument to Benj69.
    This is another "X being stated to be a moral truth, seeming arbitrarily, without justification". This is hedonism. I explain my reasons against it in the OP and in "The community creates moral truths". The experience of pain might seem like it has inherent bad in it, that it makes it worse for you to exist as you and therefore makes it worse for you to exist at all, but that is merely an illusion created by evolution.
    Leftist

    Well, suffering in modération can lead to post-traumatic growth. People coin it "character building", improved resilience. Which is a good thing. Especially when he who suffered reflects on it brightly as something that was a good life lesson or that helped develop skills.

    But there is also suffering that is too overwhelming (pure sadistic torture) which is so damaging that post traumatic growth or positive stress response is unlikely. The type that leads to a broken person, or suicide or murder. And that is a truly harmful harm.

    I think these two very different forms of harm are being conflated from the OP onward.

    I would say that suffering/harm is impossible to abolish and is neccesary as an opposite to peace/pleasure. Otherwise neither exist or have relative meaning. What is good without bad?

    So no, hedonism is not what I'm suggesting. Suffering exists for a reason.

    However the existence of suffering doesn't mean we cannot strive for an ideal because we know that the system will always be flawed. And those flaws grow when not actively suppressed (striving for more ideal conditions).

    You can choose to/accidentally add suffering to the world or work out a way to avoid doing so as much as possible.

    The suffering can be minimised but it isn't ever going to disappear.

    So I am not claiming what the exact moral truth is. Im claiming that I'm simply aware that it does exist in some ill-defined capacity as the simple feeling of good/pleasantness/peace.

    My intention therefore is not to act on what I think the moral truth is. It is to simply point a finger in its vague direction and say "hey have you ever felt safe, happy and at peace?" and if the answer to that is Yes, then my next statement would be "It is my intention that all people are able to feel this feeling we both agree that we have felt before, as much as is naturally possible and healthy for them to feel."

    And if they ask how would you do that? I would say I'm not sure. As I only have the intention. A moral one. But not the reasoning or knowledge to realise it. It is a good starting point though.

    But I would recommend that we ought to probably reason the knowledge of what it is as a collective so we may bring it about on the most sensible and safest way possible.
  • Bylaw
    301
    They may think of it as a truth claim but from what I can see, the best anyone can do is express a preference based on some set of values.Tom Storm
    OK, I agree. When I look at posts like this, I am not quite sure what people are saying....
    A moral claim is an opinion about what is good or bad.

    Morality is not about what is the case, but how we want things to be. Mostly, folk find themselves in agreement on the topic, but they get hung up on the details.

    If you think torture is not immoral, you are faulty.

    No argument from first principles or axioms or final justifications is relevant here. Indeed, thinking that such things are needed is further evidence of something being wrong. If you cannot see that inflicting pain should be avoided, you are faulty.
    I am nodding for a while then ending up not at all sure what position is presented on the objectivity of morals.
  • Benj96
    1.3k
    Moral claim: "I wish to cause the least harm to the greatest number of people possible".

    What is wrong with that moral claim?
    — Benj96

    Quantity over quality. Similar to mistaking sound for substance. ie. "I would prefer to destroy the least amount of schools as opposed to the most amount of brothels because destroying buildings is generally considered immoral therefore it is the moral choice to make", etc.
    Outlander

    I mentioned both the quality and quantity quite clearly and simply in the statement.

    The quality is "least harm/or most" good" and the quantity is "greatest number of people".

    I'm not mistaking anything in that moral claim as I never claimed the specific means to bring it about. I didn't speak of implimentation. Only the end goal (the ideal).

    I simply stated an intention. Which by itself, in isolation, yet un-acted upon, can't commit any error (unintended harm trying to act it out in reality).

    So it's a solid starting point and ironically it describes the end goal simultaneously.

    So I'll repeat my question: what's wrong with simply saying in essence:

    "I don't want to harm people."

    Is that an unacceptable statement to make?

    And what say you of the characteristics of those that deem such a notion as unacceptable and try to argue it away? Is that moral of them? Is any argument with the statement not a way to rationalise why you should or do harm people?
  • Down The Rabbit Hole
    457


    Okay … I guess murder and rape are good then because I say so. If you argue against this then you cannot possibly believe what you just claimed.I like sushi

    Are you not misunderstanding what @Leftist is saying? Their position would be that murder and rape is neither good nor bad, and your say so doesn't make it good or bad.

    Any justification you give for it being bad, such as "it causes suffering" would beg another question "why is suffering bad", if you keep asking the question of the previous answer, eventually all you'll have is "because I feel it is bad". Is truth (truth of it being good or bad) determined by your feelings? What about if your feelings conflict with another (such as a consequentialist and a deontologist) - which of you determines what is true? Wouldn't it be easier to admit there is no right and wrong answer to moral questions?
  • Benj96
    1.3k
    Any justification you give for it being bad, such as "it causes suffering" would beg another question "why is suffering bad", if you keep asking the question of the previous answer, eventually all you'll have is "because I feel it is bad".Down The Rabbit Hole

    Oh please. Literally every answer begs another question. All of them. How then is that a useful basis for your argument against

    Why is the sky blue, because of light scattering, why does light scatter, because of different air densities, why do they happen, why does the atmosphere work that way, why does light happen, how fast does it move, why does it go at that speed, etc etc and on and on and on.

    Kids do this "why" stage of constantly begging questions.

    So if every question has an answer or multiple possible answers - some of which may be more correct or absurd than others, and they also have their own string of questions.
    Then where ought we start?

    We start with what we are most certain of. Ones ability to come to harm and die. That's as fundamental and core to us as evolution and survival instinct.

    We justify that this is bad by the very fact that we are still alive.

    It is justified, quite obviously in fact, by the person who hasn't committed suicide because they fundamentally think death is worse than surviving.
    The assertion that harm is bad and leads to death is demonstrated by the continued existence of the person who wrote it.

    There's your justification in a sphere of endless begging the question and answer.

    "Why is life good? Because we are still here."

    You can then argue as to why life is good, and what harm is, and how to deal with harm to preserve the goodness of life and avoid murdering others or committing suicide. One can develop a solid intention which is self justifying.
  • Leftist
    5
    Not sure how you get to this. Can you step it out again? — Tom Storm
    The only thing that should be done are things which are good. Good things should be done. If anything should be done, it is by definition good. If you believe there are no moral truths, you believe nobody can make a true claim of "good", meaning nobody can make a true claim of what should be done or exist. To want something is to say the thing should exist. It is impossible to want something without thinking it should exist, or should be had by you, or whatever other "Should", because that is what is meant by "wanting something". This is especially clear when talking about wanting goals. If you know there's nothing good about accomplishing the goal, that there's no logical reason why the goal should be achieved, why would you want the goal to be achieved? Every possible justification, every possible "it should be achieved because abc", would be wrong, and you'd believe it to be wrong. Therefore, you cannot want anything for logical reasons if there are no moral truths.

    I agree with the rest, with the note that all their views and claims regarding good/bad are false.

    Value judgements have connection to truth in that value judgements can be correct or incorrect. You can't just randomly decide something actually should be done, or shouldn't be done, and be correct. It's not imaginary, or if it is, it's therefore not real and shouldn't logically be acted upon. They must all always be incorrect claims, if it is true that no claims made of value can be true. Otherwise, there must be an actual system in place that determines actual morality, much more than just "x people think y should be done, therefore y should actually be done". Even if morality were real, and there were moral facts, it'd have to be more than sometimes-completely-arbitrary opinion. Otherwise, conflicting beliefs would be true at the same time, and every single possible justification for anything being good/bad would be equally potentially valid, the only thing making them actually valid being if a person happens to believe it at the right time in the right place. Then there's the question, why should people have their personal desires fulfilled, and why should things they consider bad not happen? How is it that those things actually should not, and actually should, happen - just because somebody thinks they should?
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