• Mark S
    28
    In biology two kinds of relationships exist:

    1. Parasitic: in a relationship, one gains and the other loses
    2. Symbiotic: in a relationship, both register a gain

    Morality is, by the looks of it, all about symbiosis and reducing parasitism.
    Agent Smith

    Right. You are talking about what is, at bottom, a cooperation problem that symbiotic relationships have solved by gene-motivated behaviors selected for by the reproductive fitness gains both partners obtain. My subject is about how cultural moral norms solve the same cooperation problems. Nice parallel. Thanks.
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    Paradoxically, this just in, morality promotes parasitism because, on the whole, giving is encouraged but taking is discouraged. The point then is for the good person to be the perfect host to be parasitized by others. The classic symbiotic paradigm we seen in other life forms, essentially quid pro quo, is viewed in a poor light in most ethical traditions.
  • Mark S
    28

    I am not making an ethical proposal of the form “You imperatively ought to do such and so” which would require an explanation of where the ought comes from.

    Rather, I am first reporting an empirical observation that virtually all past and present cultural moral norms can be explained as parts of cooperation strategies. It is the nature of empirical observations that is not necessary to explain why they are what they are and not something different (in this case different from cooperation).

    Second, I am arguing that this empirical finding is useful for resolving many disputes about cultural moral norms since:

    With this empirical knowledge:
    • Any perceived imperative oughts are debunked. (Despite our intuitions, the Golden Rule, do not lie, steal, or kill, and other cultural moral norms do not have any innate, mystical, imperative oughtness. They are only heuristics for parts of cooperation strategies.)
    • Agreement on if or when moral norms will be advocated becomes an instrumental choice. If people want the material and psychological benefits of cooperation in their society, they should (instrumental ought):

    o Advocate following cultural moral norms when they will predictably solve cooperation problems and
    o Advocate not following those moral norms when they predictably will create cooperation problems. (Not following the moral norms when, as fallible heuristics, they act opposite to their function.)

    The scientific study of cultural moral norms reveals that, as heuristics for cooperation strategies, advocating or not advocating cultural moral norms can be justified as an instrumental ought.
    Mark S
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    I am not making an ethical proposal of the form “You imperatively ought to do such and so” which would require an explanation of where the ought comes from.

    Rather, I am first reporting an empirical observation that virtually all past and present cultural moral norms can be explained as parts of cooperation strategies. It is the nature of empirical observations that is not necessary to explain why they are what they are and not something different (in this case different from cooperation).
    Mark S

    Yes, but you are making an ought - that there is a way to approach this using empirical observation (and the norm model) which are values which need to be justified to those who believe in moral truths which come from theism or a Platonic realm, or similar.

    Seems to me that your model only works if everyone who comes to a study of ethics shares your initial axiom - which requires a commitment to a particular worldview.
  • SophistiCat
    2.1k
    Thanks for Clarifying your thinking.

    With this empirical knowledge:
    • Any perceived imperative oughts are debunked. (Despite our intuitions, the Golden Rule, do not lie, steal, or kill, and other cultural moral norms do not have any innate, mystical, imperative oughtness. They are only heuristics for parts of cooperation strategies.)
    Mark S

    Yeah, that's a non-starter then. Is does not debunk ought. A naturalistic theory of morality does not have it as a consequence that moral imperatives are false, invalid or obsolete. Strictly speaking, there is no logical coupling between the two. Perhaps entertaining such theories can influence one's moral reasoning in some way, but not via inference.

    Generally, a reductive explanation does not debunk its explanandum. But here we don't even have a reductive explanation. A moral imperative is not reducible to an explanation of its neurochemical mechanism or its social function. To see why, simply note that, as Hume argued, causal explanations neither contain nor imply any oughts, nor do they motivate action on their own, without being supplemented by some imperatives.

    You still have the choice to abandon moral norms and leave only non-moral imperatives (instrumental oughts), but that choice cannot be justified by science. It's no less "mystical" than accepting moral norms in the first place.


    I want to also push back against this charge of "mysticism":

    Lacking the empirical knowledge that cultural moral norms are heuristics for parts of cooperation strategies:
    • The mysticism of religious and cultural heritage and moral norms’ intuitive imperative oughtness can protect cultural moral norms from rational discussion.
    Mark S

    This implies that moral norms must derive their oughtness from something - if nothing else, then "mysticism." But I don't think that we necessarily derive our oughts. We may rationalize them, but that is optional and done after the fact.

    There is no getting away from norms. We have rational, epistemic norms - those aren't derived either. Moral norms are just a different kind of norm, and they are not derivable from anything non-moral, though many things can influence them.
  • Andrew4Handel
    2.3k
    Rather, I am first reporting an empirical observation that virtually all past and present cultural moral norms can be explained as parts of cooperation strategiesMark S

    What about moral norms such as the prohibition of homosexuality, the acceptance of slavery, the inequality of the sexes, the application of the death penalty and so on.
  • Mark S
    28

    Is does not debunk ought. A naturalistic theory of morality does not have it as a consequence that moral imperatives are false, invalid or obsolete.SophistiCat

    Moral norms are just a different kind of norm, and they are not derivable from anything non-moral, though many things can influence them.SophistiCat

    I am an admirer of Hume and, perhaps like you, have yet to find any convincing argument for how to derive an imperative ought from what ‘is’ – they are different categories of thing.

    The “mysticism” of cultural moral norms that science debunks is the mystery of their origins and why they have the strange intuitive properties (that John Mackie described as queerness) of bindingness and violations deserving punishment.

    By explaining the “queerness” of our intuitions about cultural moral norms as subcomponents of cooperation strategies, science debunks the mysticism that shields cultural moral norms from rational discussion.

    This mysticism is not in the category of imperative oughts.

    Science reveals an objective basis for evaluating cultural moral norms as instrumental oughts. If you want the benefits of cooperation, you ought not follow cultural moral norms when they predictably will create rather than solve cooperation problems. That seems simple to me.

    On the other hand, consider a stoic, a consequentialist (perhaps for flourishing or reducing suffering), and a religious divine command theorist. What implications, if any, does this science have for their answers to “What is good?” and “How should I live?”? There are no necessary implications at all. They are about different categories of thing.

    Past and present cultural moral norms are subcomponents of cooperation strategies. We know this is true in the normal provisional scientific sense based on the hypothesis’ incredible explanatory power for known past and present cultural moral norms, plus meeting other relevant criteria for scientific truth such as simplicity and integration with the rest of science.
  • Mark S
    28


    What about moral norms such as the prohibition of homosexuality, the acceptance of slavery, the inequality of the sexes, the application of the death penalty and so on.Andrew4Handel

    From the OP:

    ...the coherence, diversity, contradictions, and strangeness of past and present moral norms people typically argue about are products of three major norm categories: (There may be other categories of moral norms specific to cooperation by kin-altruism and hierarchies that are less often debated.)

    Partnership moral norms – Parts of strategies that solve cooperation problems between people with equal moral standing. These include heuristics “Do to others as you would have them do to you”, “Do not steal, lie, or kill”, and “Be loyal to your group” which advocate initiating indirect reciprocity. (Cross-culturally moral norms are partnership moral norms.)

    Domination moral norms – Parts of strategies to cooperatively exploit an outgroup to benefit an ingroup. These include “Slaves must obey their masters” and “Women must be submissive to men”.

    Marker moral norms – Markers of membership in and commitment to a more cooperative ingroup. Preferentially cooperating with members of an ingroup can reduce the chances of being exploited and thereby increase the benefits of cooperation. These markers include “eating shrimp is an abomination”, “masturbation is immoral”, and other food and sex taboos.
    Mark S

    1) prohibition of homosexuality – The simple prohibition is a sex taboo marker norm of membership and commitment to a more reliably cooperative ingroup. But the effect of this moral norm on ingroup cooperation can be enhanced by claiming that homosexuals are somehow a threat to the ingroup that all must unite against. Due to our evolutionary history in small groups, we are strongly inclined to increase cooperation when our ingroup is threatened. So claiming that homosexuals are both evil and somehow a threat to society is an example of a domination moral norm which exploits an outgroup, homosexuals, as an imaginary threat to the ingroup (the society).

    2) Moral norms condoning slavery and the inequality of the sexes – Both are examples of domination moral norms.

    3) Acceptance of the death penalty – Moral norms are cultural norms whose violation is commonly felt to deserve punishment. Laws about the death penalty are in a different category. But a relevant moral norm could be “Do not kill people for fun; that merits execution”. Executing people who kill for fun is a punishment component of cooperation strategies. For cooperation strategies (composed of moral norms) to be stable in the face of free-riders and other exploiters, there must be punishment of violations. The relevant insight science provides is that execution can be parts of cooperation strategies encoded in a society’s moral norms. Whether or not to advocate for such norms can be an instrumental choice based on which option will most likely increase the benefits of future cooperation. Of course, this is only an insight into what the moral norm ‘is’, not what the moral norm ‘ought’ to be. We both might advocate that moral norms whose violation merits death also be judged based on a Rawlsian view of justice and minimizing suffering. Remember, science is silent about what moral norms ought to be. Science can only tell us what moral norms ‘are’.
  • Andrew4Handel
    2.3k
    But the effect of this moral norm on ingroup cooperation can be enhanced by claiming that homosexuals are somehow a threat to the ingroupMark S

    What kind of threat though?

    There is something very specific about the continued stigmatisation of homosexuality in various cultures. Why did the writers of the bible care about it?

    It really seems very arbitrary. I don't see the creation in groups and out groups as a moral system as opposed to a hierarchy.
    But I don't see what the benefit in this case is of condemning homosexuals (to the point of neuroticism) If a morality evolved from such irrationality it seems unreliable.
  • Mark S
    28
    There is something very specific about the continued stigmatisation of homosexuality in various cultures. Why did the writers of the bible care about it?

    It really seems very arbitrary. I don't see the creation in groups and out groups as a moral system as opposed to a hierarchy.
    But I don't see what the benefit in this case is of condemning homosexuals (to the point of neuroticism) If a morality evolved from such irrationality it seems unreliable.
    Andrew4Handel

    What kind of threat are homosexuals to society? An imaginary one.

    Being imaginary does not prevent right-wingers in the United States and other places from advocating against the threat of the “gay agenda” to families and children to demonize homosexuality. Why would people do that?

    Demonizing homosexuality can be beneficial for the people doing it. First, among Christian fundamentalists, it marks them as ‘moral’ people worthy of respect at little cost to themselves. It even marks them as leaders fighting to defend innocent families and children.

    Do they know the threats are imaginary? I don’t know. I do know that when it is in someone’s self-interest not to understand something, they are unlikely to ever be able to understand it.

    Why do Christian fundamentalists who are not trying to be leaders believe it, often against the evidence of their own experience? Beyond the religious teachings calling for the execution of male homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13), they can believe it because it feels good. Due to our evolutionary history, cooperating to defend our groups (here families and children) triggers pleasurable emotions of pride, elation, and righteous indignation. There is an emotional feedback system in biology underlying our moral sense that can be hijacked to resist the threat of even imaginary threats.

    Marker strategies are often random. If they don’t make any sense, then people who follow them must be sincere and committed to the ingroup and therefore likely to be good people to cooperate with.

    For example:
    The many food and sex taboos including the execution of male homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13);
    Stoning of those who curse (Leviticus 24:10–16),
    Stoning of those who work on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:15)
    Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material (Leviticus 19:19)
  • Mark S
    28
    Yes, but you are making an ought - that there is a way to approach this using empirical observation (and the norm model) which are values which need to be justified to those who believe in moral truths which come from theism or a Platonic realm, or similar.

    Seems to me that your model only works if everyone who comes to a study of ethics shares your initial axiom - which requires a commitment to a particular worldview.
    Tom Storm

    Yes, understanding the function of past and present cultural moral norms as solving cooperation problems does require a worldview – one that accepts, rather than rejects, science as a powerful way to understand what ‘is’ in our universe and how it works. But don’t we agree about that?

    If that scientific understanding of past and present cultural moral norms is, like the rest of science, instrumentally useful for achieving our relevant goals (here achieving the benefits of cooperation in our societies), then is not that useful science?

    Note that I am not proceeding to say “This is the benefit of cooperation (flourishing or reduction in suffering) you ought to pursue.” This would be claiming an ought which would have to be justified.

    Identifying an instrumental ought (you ought to do X if you want to achieve Y) from science does not imply any oughts that must be justified. Are you still thinking it does?
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    We probably agree on most matters of morality - not killing, stealing, lying, cheating, etc. Personally I don't think we need a theory of morality. We certainly can't get people to replace their moral thinking (which may be part of a complex web of intersubjective agreements) with evidence based or fact based frames. Morality is often a community and aesthetic response to the world. The best a society can do is use legislation so that small communities don't incorporate child sacrifice or some other egregious human rights violation as part of their faith.

    Yes, understanding the function of past and present cultural moral norms as solving cooperation problems does require a worldviewMark S

    That's your foundational axiom or presupposition, which is not one all people would share. How do you get buy in for this when many people think morality comes from - gods/s, higher consciousness, a Platonic realm, etc?

    The next problem is how to establish what counts as an appropriate cooperative model. Communism?
    Anarcho-syndicalism? Participatory democracy? As soon as you talk about societal cooperation you enter into politics.

    one that accepts, rather than rejects, science as a powerful way to understand what ‘is’ in our universe and how it works. But don’t we agree about that?Mark S

    Sounds to me like this is heading towards scientism. Science can be a useful and powerful tool with which to make interventions in the world. But it does not get us to absolute truth and I think the questions of what our universe is and how it works (along with many others) are open questions.

    You begin with a metaphysical position - that reality can be understood by humans and that science is the chief tool in this enterprise. Not sure about that. Many would not agree. How do you get cooperation about this metaphysics?
  • Janus
    13.2k
    I think there is a general desire in social beings to cooperate, because it is obvious that getting along with others will be more beneficial than not getting along with them. So, I see this as the pragmatic dimension of morality.

    I think there is an equally, if not more, important affective dimension; the moral sense. The moral sense is based on love, for those closest to one, and general compassion for others.
  • neomac
    681
    Partnership moral norms – Parts of strategies that solve cooperation problems between people with equal moral standing. These include heuristics “Do to others as you would have them do to you”, “Do not steal, lie, or kill”, and “Be loyal to your group” which advocate initiating indirect reciprocity. (Cross-culturally moral norms are partnership moral norms.)

    Domination moral norms – Parts of strategies to cooperatively exploit an outgroup to benefit an ingroup. These include “Slaves must obey their masters” and “Women must be submissive to men”.

    Marker moral norms – Markers of membership in and commitment to a more cooperative ingroup. Preferentially cooperating with members of an ingroup can reduce the chances of being exploited and thereby increase the benefits of cooperation. These markers include “eating shrimp is an abomination”, “masturbation is immoral”, and other food and sex taboos.
    Mark S

    Where did you get this classification? Is it yours?
  • Andrew4Handel
    2.3k
    People don't seem to comprehend the lack of truth value in issue in morality.

    Morality may as well be a religion if it is just making up a system of rules and ideas to keep people happy.

    But it has no truth value. No one has discovered a truth value to moral claims or moral instructions.

    So moral systems are a sham at heart but people don't believe that so keep on making moral claims relentlessly.
  • Mark S
    28

    Where did you get this classification? Is it yours?neomac

    I was hoping someone would ask about the nomenclature.

    The sociologist Riane Eisler coined the names of the basic patterns of cooperation in societies as partnership and domination morality in her 1987 book The Chalice and the Blade.

    I’ve not seen her nomenclature (or any good alternatives) used in the science of morality literature. But her’s seems wonderfully appropriate, so I thought I would try it out here. Previously, I have referred to these categories as “ingroup” and “exploitation” (cooperation to exploit an outgroup) moral norms but now prefer Eisler’s names. What do you think?

    Nomenclature in the science of morality field is still in flux. Perhaps by having a better name, the domination subset of human morality will get more of the attention it deserves. The present science of morality field’s focus (such as Oliver Curry’s Morality as Cooperation and Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Foundations work) is on partnership moral judgments, with unfortunate neglect of domination moral judgments and norms.

    “Marker moral norms” has been used in the field for some time (and the strategy in game theory they implement has been called the “green beard” strategy). More recently, these norms have been called signaling norms (signaling membership and commitment to a more reliably cooperative ingroup) as in this 2021 paper:
    https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rstb.2020.0294

    Which do you think communicates better, “marker norms” or “signaling norms”?
  • Mark S
    28

    I think there is an equally, if not more, important affective dimension; the moral sense. The moral sense is based on love, for those closest to one, and general compassion for others.Janus

    But our moral sense can also judge domination moral norms as right and even obligatory, such as extreme cases in the middle east of killing one’s daughter to “protect family honor” because she eloped with a neighbor boy the family judged unsuitable.

    The thing to remember is that the selection force for the biology underlying our moral sense is the reproductive fitness benefits of the cooperation it motivates. That reproductive fitness benefit is what encodes the same partnership and domination cooperation strategies in our moral sense as is encoded in cultural moral norms.
  • neomac
    681
    these categories as “ingroup” and “exploitation” (cooperation to exploit an outgroup) moral norms but now prefer Eisler’s names. What do you think?Mark S

    I find Eisler’s names more appropriate:
    - “ingroup” is expected to be the antonym of "outgroup" while in your name convention is unexpectedly contrasted to “exploitation” (which according to your definition presupposes the notion of "outgroup" anyways),
    - besides "ingroup" and "outgroup" seem to refer to "groups", so they seem to suggest relations between groups, while cooperation can simply hold also between "individuals".
    - if we do not stipulate a terminological contrast between "outgroup" and "exploitation" , then when can avoid to inconveniently equate "ingroup" with "partnership", and will leave room for the idea of forms of ingroup's exploitation.

    Which do you think communicates better, “marker norms” or “signaling norms”?Mark S

    "signalling" sounds more appropriate and it may fit well with analogous notions used in animal ethology (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signalling_theory)


    I'm very much interested in this topic and I'm sympathetic to your views so I hope we can discuss it further but I would like to finish to read Oliver Curry’s Morality as Cooperation
  • Mark S
    28

    No one has discovered a truth value to moral claims or moral instructions.Andrew4Handel

    So you find no truth value in the OP? Humm…
  • Agent Smith
    8.9k
    one has discovered a truth value to moral claims or moral instructions.Andrew4Handel

    Moral claims are oughts i.e. from a photgrapher's perspective, how the girl should look, not how she looks. Of course moral claims aren't true; we have to make 'em true. That, I believe, is God's will - we're to turn this world into a paradise.
  • Mark S
    28

    How do you get buy in for this when many people think morality comes from - gods/s, higher consciousness, a Platonic realm, etc?Tom Storm

    Consider getting buy-in for understanding domination moral norms such as “women must be submissive to men” as cooperation to exploit an outgroup.

    Women who are being exploited and are questioning the morality of that exploitation should be easily convinced. The scientific explanation of the shameful reasons such norms exist should be attractive to them. I don’t see a problem with getting them to buy in.

    Men who enjoy the benefits of this exploitation and are not concerned with the morality of it will be resistant if not impossible to convince. But at least those being exploited have some objective reasons for arguing against the normal mysticism of religious and cultural domination norms.

    You begin with a metaphysical position - that reality can be understood by humans and that science is the chief tool in this enterprise.Tom Storm

    No. The metaphysical position I take is not a premise. It is an empirical provisional truth from science. Science has empirically shown it is a powerful means for understanding what ‘is’ and how it works. Science has not shown it is a suitable means for understanding what ought to be or what we imperatively ought to do. They are different categories of things.
  • Mark S
    28


    Which do you think communicates better, “marker norms” or “signaling norms”?
    — Mark S

    "signalling" sounds more appropriate and it may fit well with analogous notions used in animal ethology (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signalling_theory)
    neomac

    I am moving to agreement that, in part because of its increasing usage in the science of morality literature, "signaling norms" may be preferrable to "marker norms".


    I'm very much interested in this topic and I'm sympathetic to your views so I hope we can discuss it further but I would like to finish to read Oliver Curry’s Morality as Cooperationneomac

    I'm glad to hear of your interest! Proposing the potential relevance of the science of morality to questions in moral philosophy and practical ethics can be a lonely business on philosophy websites.
  • Joshs
    4.2k
    I'm very much interested in this topic and I'm sympathetic to your views so I hope we can discuss it further but I would like to finish to read Oliver Curry’s Morality as Cooperation
    — neomac

    I'm glad to hear of your interest! Proposing the potential relevance of the science of morality to questions in moral philosophy and practical ethics can be a lonely business on philosophy websites.
    Mark S

    The problem I have with Oliver Curry’s scientific model
    of moral cooperation is the same problem I have with his embrace of a Popperian approach to philosophy of science. Curry believes his approach bypasses philosophy by using Popperian science to treat moral questions. However , rival views of the role of science (Kuhn, Feyerabend, Rouse, Rorty) reveal Popperian science (as Curry calls his approach) as stuffed with philosophical presuppositions that lead to a reductive treatment of human motives. For instance , the concept of innate modules directing cooperative as well as competitive behavior is disputed by enactivist neuropsychological perspectives, which argue that organisms are self-organized on the basis of normative goals of sense-making that originate in neither a bottom-up nor top-down manner. Curry’s reductive evolutionism slights the inseparable reciprocal interaction between embodiment and interpersonal relations in the determination of moral issues in favor of a one-way determinism.
  • Mark S
    28

    Curry believes his approach bypasses philosophy by using Popperian science to treat moral questions. However , rival views of the role of science (Kuhn, Feyerabend, Rouse, Rorty) reveal Popperian science (as Curry calls his approach) as stuffed with philosophical presuppositionsJoshs

    I understand Curry’s two main claims for Morality as Cooperation to be that cross-culturally universal moral judgments 1) solve cooperation problems (an empirical claim about what ‘is’ that I agree with) and 2) cross-cultural moral judgments solving cooperation problems are also somehow(?) normatively moral (a position about normative moral oughts that Curry does not adequately defend IMHO).

    I try to be careful to only rely on Curry’s empirical observations which appear to be good scientific data. I have not been able to follow Curry’s arguments for Morality as Cooperation’s normativity and in no way rely on it.
  • Janus
    13.2k
    But our moral sense can also judge domination moral norms as right and even obligatory, such as extreme cases in the middle east of killing one’s daughter to “protect family honor” because she eloped with a neighbor boy the family judged unsuitable.

    The thing to remember is that the selection force for the biology underlying our moral sense is the reproductive fitness benefits of the cooperation it motivates. That reproductive fitness benefit is what encodes the same partnership and domination cooperation strategies in our moral sense as is encoded in cultural moral norms.
    Mark S

    This is nothing but a groundless assumption. If we have evolved to be loving and compassionate, then why are we not all loving and compassionate?
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    Sorry Mark, I am unconvinced and the arguments seem nebulous.

    Women who are being exploited and are questioning the morality of that exploitation should be easily convinced.Mark S

    Not if they think this is god's will or the natural order. Chances are they won't even be seeing the same empirical 'reality' you think you see.

    Science has empirically shown it is a powerful means for understanding what ‘is’ and how it works.Mark S

    This is taking the view that reality can be understood - a metaphysical position. I think a lot of people might dispute science's capacity here as @Joshs has outlined.

    However , rival views of the role of science (Kuhn, Feyerabend, Rouse, Rorty) reveal Popperian science (as Curry calls his approach) as stuffed with philosophical presuppositions that lead to a reductive treatment of human motives.Joshs

    science has not shown it is a suitable means for understanding what ought to be or what we imperatively ought to do.Mark S

    You keep coming back to this and I am not sure why. I haven't raised Hume's is-ought problem.
  • Andrew4Handel
    2.3k
    So you find no truth value in the OP? Humm…Mark S

    I view moral claims as "oughts". I don't see the point of moral claims that can be ignored.

    You could call them moral laws.

    The laws of physics impose themselves and impose limitations and boundaries.

    You can impose any system of belief on a society or on someone and that doesn't resolve its truth value. It will result in people subjectively rejecting your system but you imposing it on them anyway not through reason.

    We all have different goals and values they are not all compatible.
  • Mark S
    28
    ↪Mark S Sorry Mark, I am unconvinced and the arguments seem nebulous.

    Women who are being exploited and are questioning the morality of that exploitation should be easily convinced.
    — Mark S
    Tom Storm

    It is Ok with me that you are not convinced. We can simply disagree.

    Science has empirically shown it is a powerful means for understanding what ‘is’ and how it works.
    — Mark S

    This is taking the view that reality can be understood - a metaphysical position.
    Tom Storm

    The idea that reality can be understood is a metaphysical position.

    I took your implication to be that I was improperly basing the empirical observation "past and present cultural moral norms are parts of cooperation strategies" on an unjustified metaphysical premise. I am not.

    Science has empirically shown it is a powerful means for understanding what ‘is’ and how it works. That means the idea that important aspects of what is in our reality and how it works can be understood is a provisionally true, highly robust, scientific hypothesis - not a premise.

    Again, if you want to disagree, that is fine with me.

    But I must ask. Do you then conclude that there is no point in doing science at all? And if some science is worthwhile, how do you distinguish what is worthwhile from what is not? Perhaps just how you feel about the answers provided?
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    No worries about disagreeing at my end. I am simply trying to understand where you are coming from. :up:

    But I must ask. Do you then conclude that there is no point in doing science at all?Mark S

    I've not said science is useless. Science can be a very useful tool and can be a consistently reliable approach to making useful interventions in our world - especially through technology.

    That means the idea that important aspects of what is in our reality and how it works can be understood is a provisionally true, highly robust, scientific hypothesis - not a premise.Mark S

    What do you mean this is 'not a premise'? I said nothing of premises. I am saying yours is a metaphysical presupposition that science in some magical way has access to reality as it really is. 'Reality' is one of the big unresolved questions of philosophy.

    This conversation might be better served if you can demonstrate in clear dot points how your approach works on a particular moral question.

    Let's take slavery is wrong as a starting point. Can you work though this?
  • Mark S
    28

    We all have different goals and values they are not all compatible.Andrew4Handel

    You are correct that people have different moral goals that they feel everyone should conform to. How does that contradict what the science of morality reveals - the subject of this thread?

    As I said in the OP about the science of morality:
    It is silent about what our ultimate moral goals either ‘are’ or ought to be and what we imperatively ought to do. It is silent about who should be in our “circle of moral concern” (as Peter Singer describes it) and who (or what) can be ignored or exploited. And except regarding cooperation with other people, the observation is silent concerning:

    1) How should I live?
    2) What is good?
    3) What are my obligations?
    Mark S

    When the science of morality explains that "past and present cultural moral norms are parts of cooperation strategies", it explains what moral ‘means’ are, not what moral ‘ends’ (goals) are.

    And there is nothing “imposed” on people by this science except a better understanding of reality. Like the rest of science, this science is useful when it reveals instrumental oughts.

    Here, that instrumental ought can be expressed as “If you want to increase the benefits of cooperation in ways that will better achieve your goals, then you ought to follow your cultural moral norms when they will predictably solve cooperation problems and abandon them when they will create cooperation problems”.
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