• Philosophim
    2k
    Summarized as follows:

    Part 1

    1. What is moral is what “should” or “ought” to be done.
    2. Many arguments believe morality is human-centric. Why “ought” this be the case?
    3. There is nothing inherent in looking at humanity that shows it “ought” to be.
    4. There is nothing inherent in any other identity, race, thing, species etc that “ought” to be.
    5. This leads down to the true question of foundation for morality: “Why “should” existence be?
    6. Looking at existence, it cannot be destroyed. It simply “is”. There is no “ought” or “should”.
    7. Looking at what is, we can come to a conclusion of what “ought” to be. Existence is good.
    8. This conclusion is a choice, not forced. Existence could very well one day “not be”. But since existence “is”, and we are composed of what “is”, we act with the will of existence “to be”.

    Part 2

    1. If existence is good, can some existence be bad?
    2. Existence can be divided into two types.
    a. The material existence
    b. The expression of that material existence when interacting with other existence
    3. There are two maxims:
    a. More existence is better than less existence
    b. Expressions of existence can destroy other expressions of existence, but should not destroy the underlying material existence itself. We can destroy an atom, but not the prime matter and energy that allows the atom to be expressed.
    4. This leads us to a new question: What expressions of existence 'should' be?
    5. If more existence is better, and existence can manifest itself as expressions, then it would seem that expressions of existence which lead to more expressions of existence would be better.
    Ex: Having only hydrogen exist in the universe vs two elements
    6. As matter can express itself in many ways, and the question of ought is how it should express itself, then to answer this question we must consider its potential expressions. This we'll call 'potential existence'.
    7. The value of relative good that a material existence can provide is based off of its potential existence.
    Ex: A material existence can only express itself as itself with every other material interaction, vs a
    material existence that can express itself in multiple ways with other material interactions. The creation
    of this expression that is different from its material existence is an existence that would not exist
    otherwise.
    8. We can use math to calculate the potential existence that flows from an existences expression.
    9. Finally, we can use math in certain situations to demonstrate why certain situations involving people would be more moral than others.

    Primer: @Bob Ross requested some of our long term posters here to give their view points on an "objective" morality. Long ago I had a passion and potential career in philosophy. This is where I stopped. Unlike much of my other work, this is more exploratory from my view point, as I abandoned this once I switched to a new line of work. There is so much to explore and say about this idea of morality, and I feel that will be uncovered in our discussions. I ask all who post here to be pointed with criticism, but also curious. In philosophy it is rare to find something completely original that also could potentially be meaningful. Keep an open mind. Even if you don't agree with it, exploring something like this can be immensely fun and lead to other possibilities down the road. I hope you enjoy!
    - Primer end

    Morality is generally thought of as what “ought” to happen. If given outcome A or B, we would weigh the pros and cons and determine which one should happen. The question of “ought” means that there is some reason behind the decision, a fundamental that ultimately drives why the outcome should happen.

    The problem with morality has been finding that fundamental. First, lets view morality as a human centric issue. While we could analyze all of the myriad of moral theories, we can cut it all short by asking one question. Should humanity be? Should it exist at all? If the answer is no, then all of our theories about human morality are moot.

    So lets assume no, and hope we're proven wrong. If humans shouldn't exist, then what about plants and animals? Is there anything fundamental that they should exist beyond our opinions and feelings? Fundamentally, no. Tons of planets do fine without life. There doesn't seem to be anything innate in life that the universe needs.

    Once again, we're assuming that life does not need to exist and hoping we'll be wrong. What about basic matter and energy then? What if there was simply nothing? Is there something that requires existence of any kind? Outside of existence itself, no. Nothing cannot require or have an opinion on what should be. Only existence itself can.

    So then it is a question to existence itself. Should existence be? The question of ought cannot be decided because 'nothing' has no opinion on the matter. So it is a choice. Exist, or not. Not existing will result in nothing. When there is nothing, there is no morality, no good, no evil, nothing. It is the “decision” or “insistence” of existing that creates a situation of morality. Continue to exist for the next second, or cease to exist.

    So instead of starting with morality as relying on the fundamental “ought”, the fundamental of morality is what “is”. The question of whether to exist or not. If an existence exists, that is the fundamental step of what we might call “good”. For without existence, good cannot exist. For anything that exists, existence is the first fundamental step of being good.

    With this fundamental, perhaps we can build something. If is is the case that existence is what is “good”, we can logically conclude a few points.

    1. If existence is good, then more existence is better.
    2. Any existence which lowers overall existence is evil.

    The second thing we need to think about is to clarify what existence is. First, there is material existence. By material existence, I mean that which exists despite its interactions with other existence. Think of the Aristotelian fundamental of “atom” as the smallest individual spec that can exist in isolation, floating in a void apart from all other material. Material existence is, according to physics at the time of this writing, permanent as matter can neither be created or destroyed.

    The second type of existence is what happens when two separate existences interact in some manner. When existence A collides with existence B, something happens. That something is an existence, but a fleeting one. How each individual material reacts when an interaction happens with another material existence would be the expression of each material existence. Existential expression only occurs as long as the interaction is happening, and is usually temporary.

    If more existence is better, than more expressions of existence are also better. Of course, there are many different ways that material existences can express themselves. What expressions would be better according to our logic? Just like material existence we can propose:

    a. Expressions of existence which can yield more potential expressions of existence are better than those that cannot.
    b. Expressions of existence which destroy material existence, or those that lesson the number of possible expressions of existence would be considered evil.

    We can see this play out with some simple math. To simplify the situation, let us imagine that atoms are 'the smallest' measure of existence. A hydrogen atom would be 1 existence. Two hydrogen atoms makes 2 existence, but now we also have potential expressions of existence in relation to one another. They could be X hydrogen atom lengths apart. Or they could collide can cause something new. This new collision could create a long term expression called dihydrogen.

    So let us take a base measure of the potential existences. 1 bump, infinite X distance, and 1 dihydrogen expression. Thus the 2 material existence of hydrogen has a potential expression of infinite +2. Now lets have the two hydrogen combine into dihydrogen. There are still two material existences. The question is whether this is permanent or temporary. If it is potentially temporary, then no potential existence is lost. If it is permanent with no potential to become two hydrogen atoms again, then potential existence is actually lost, and this would be less good than. For now, we know dihydrogen can break up again, so the expression of two hydrogen atoms as a dihydrogen atom is no loss or gain of existence.

    Now let us introduce a third hydrogen into the mix. The potential existence starts to become factorial. H1 can be X distance from H2 and H3 and so on. H1 can bump into H2, or H3, and H2 can bump into H1 or H3. Finally, H1 could express as dihydrogen with H2 or H3.

    So for distance, we have 3*2*1 = 6X potential
    For for bumps we have 6 potential outcomes.
    And for dihydrogen expression, we have 2.

    Comparative to just two hydrogen's total potential existence of X +2, we now have 6X+8. Not bad! But we haven't factored in the last part, which is when one of the hydrogens interacts with dihydrogen beyond a “bump”, or a chemical reaction. This can happen two times depending on which hydrogen is left out of the initial expression. Meaning a total of 6X+10.

    All of this may seem meaningless, but we must first assess how morality works at its base foundation before starting to use it at higher levels like humanity. What can we learn from this?

    1. The more ways a material existence can express itself, the more potential existence arises in relation to existence around it.

    The next thing we need to look at is time. When we look at the state of material existence and its expressions in a moment or snapshot, we are taking a slice of time. This slice is the total material and potential existence at that moment. Over time, we can add the snapshots up to look at a meaningful set of statistics. For example, 2, 5, 10, 1 would be a total of 18 existence and average of 4.5 existence per time tick.

    Time measurement can then evaluate the available potential existence within the next time tick. For example, lets say a ball is falling towards Earth. We take a snapshot of it on release, then predict what expression the ball will take next. Taken in terms of infinite time, the material existences that express as the ball have infinite potential. But taken in the next second, the realistic potential is limited. What will happen is the gravity of the Earth will grab the ball and it will begin to accelerate towards the Earth. While we could potentially send the ball to the moon over time, within the next tick of time, that potential does not exist.

    Meaning if we are to evaluate potential, there are two things to consider.

    1. The likelihood of the next expression of existence over a time tick.
    2. The total existence over a collection of time ticks.

    While we could dive deeper into this (and I'm sure this hole has much to discover), I believe there is enough to start to evaluate moral situations of humanity.

    Let us take a situation in which a submarine has crashed to the bottom of the ocean. There is no communication with the outside world, no way for the submarine to recover, and everyone on the submarine will die. No one will ever discover what happens on the submarine, as it will be crushed by gravity into a pulp. There are currently 10 people aboard the ship. There is enough air for 1 person to breath for 10 hours. An explosion could happen which would kill 9 people and leave one alive. Which is more moral, 1 person living 10 hours, or 10 people living one hour?

    In this instance we remove all culture. We remove all appeals to authority. All notion of history. All notion of rewards or punishments. All notion of intention. There is only material existence and its expressions.

    In regards to material existence, we know nothing changes. Matter cannot be created or destroyed. What matters here is the expressions of that material existence, and the potential it creates. As this is a comparison problem, 1 person living 10 hours vs 10 people living one hour, we will eliminate anything that is the same on both sides of the equation.

    The bodies are the same. The key element is the expression of life. To simplify, each body will be a point. Life will be an expression of that point. Lets start with one person living 10 hours. In this time they could interact with the bodies, or not. They could do everything any one of the other lives could in this time. Our time tick will be hours, and what they do with that hour is one expression of that life.

    1 life * 10 hours = 10 unique life expressions.

    It would seem that 10 lives * 1 hour would result in 10 unique life expressions as well. Except we haven't yet included the unique potential expressions. In the case of the crew, each life expression can potentially interact with another life expression. This does not exist in the case of one person being alive. The amount of potential interactions are:

    10! * 1 hours = 3,628,800 unique potential life interactions

    Meaning, while the unique life expressions are the same, the potential existence of what those unique life expressions dwarfs that of the single individual. Meaning that it is equal material existence, but more potential existence for ten people to live on hour that 1 person live for ten hours.

    Finally, let us see the best outcome that can happen.

    Removing once again everything that is the same, the only difference is life interactions. Meaning that in the case of the one life, it cannot interact with another life. While each of the ten can.

    If each life interacted with each other life in that hour, we get: 10(self existence)+9+8+7+6+5+4+3+2+1 = 55 expressions of existence. The single person living would need to live 55 hours to make up for the actualized expressions of existence.

    Taking existence as being good, we can finally calculate an objective measurement of what “ought” to happen. While primitive at this time, we can apply these calculations to several other scenarios. Should a mother hiding with 20 other people smother her crying baby to avoid all of them being discovered and summarily killed by men looking for them? Objectively if each could go about and create more expressed existence than the equivalent potential expressed existence of the baby over its limited life, yes.

    I could write more at this point, but this is already a lengthy post. I will reserve an empty one below in case this gets traction and more needs to be given. Until then, its time to let discussion happen!
  • Bob Ross
    1k


    Hello Philosophim! As always, you never disappoint: your positions are creative, thought-provoking, and substantive. For now, I would like to focus on two key points I think you made in your OP before divulging in the rest.

    I would like to just offer my understanding of these two key points, and inquire of any corrections you may see in my understanding of them before making any critiques.

    I think your metaethics and normative ethics can be boiled down to two fundamental, key points:

    1. Existence is the good; and
    2. The good/right action is the one of which its consequences maximize the good.

    To expand a bit, I inferred #1 from your depiction of what 'the good' is:

    So then it is a question to existence itself. Should existence be? The question of ought cannot be decided because 'nothing' has no opinion on the matter. So it is a choice. Exist, or not. Not existing will result in nothing. When there is nothing, there is no morality, no good, no evil, nothing. It is the “decision” or “insistence” of existing that creates a situation of morality. Continue to exist for the next second, or cease to exist.

    So instead of starting with morality as relying on the fundamental “ought”, the fundamental of morality is what “is”. The question of whether to exist or not. If an existence exists, that is the fundamental step of what we might call “good”. For without existence, good cannot exist. For anything that exists, existence is the first fundamental step of being good.
    ...
    Taking existence as being good, we can finally calculate an objective measurement of what “ought” to happen
    ...

    1. If existence is good, then more existence is better.
    2. Any existence which lowers overall existence is evil.

    However, I also sort of get the notion that you may be saying the first good is existing, and 'the good' is thereby distinct from existence itself. So perhaps I am wrong on #1.

    I inferred #2 from you sections on how to calculate what one ought to be doing, and some of the above quotes, such as:

    1 life * 10 hours = 10 unique life expressions.

    10! * 1 hours = 3,628,800 unique potential life interactions

    Meaning, while the unique life expressions are the same, the potential existence of what those unique life expressions dwarfs that of the single individual

    I am interpreting, so far, your use of 'time ticks', probability, and the like as merely measuring units and tools for maximizing the good.

    Am I on the right track here?

    I look forward to your response,
    Bob
  • Bob Ross
    1k
    @Philosophim

    Another way of thinking about key point #1 (that I described) that I just thought of, in terms of what I am thinking you are saying, is that existence is identical to 'the good'; but re-reading it I suspect I may have misunderstood and you are merely predicating the property of 'goodness' to existence. Which one is correct (in relation to your view)?
  • ssu
    7.9k
    Bob Ross requested some of our long term posters here to give their view points on an "objective" morality.Philosophim
    Wouldn't morality be in the end a subjective issue? Something that either is right or wrong, is usually something that a subject has to decide. For a lot of things there is a vast agreement on it being wrong or right, or that it should be or shouldn't be, but there is still the subjects themselves coming to this conclusion.

    If so, is it then wrong to assume that there could be an 'objective' morality? If there's objective morality, then the subject doesn't have to do anything. Just compute it, look up in a manual what the correct answer is. There's no moral questions with "objective morality", there are only correct (or incorrect) answers.
  • Philosophim
    2k
    Hello Bob! I'm glad the idea is an interesting exploration for you. This has been difficult to write without it exploding into something less manageable than an initial forum post, so please continue to ask the pointed questions and critiques I know you have.

    However, I also sort of get the notion that you may be saying the first good is existing, and 'the good' is thereby distinct from existence itself. So perhaps I am wrong on #1.Bob Ross

    Another way of thinking about key point #1 (that I described) that I just thought of, in terms of what I am thinking you are saying, is that existence is identical to 'the good'; but re-reading it I suspect I may have misunderstood and you are merely predicating the property of 'goodness' to existenceBob Ross

    Predication seems closest. The idea of good here is foundational. The fundamental question of what should be is the question of existence itself. Should there be anything, or not? In a universe of nothingness, if a lone atom appeared, should that exist or not? The question of "should" of course cannot exist with there being something. Meaning the foundational claim of morality is not what "should" be, but what is. The "should" of morality only comes afterwards. What should be as I note later, is the expression of that material existence. Thus the foundation of morality is "is", and then logically leads to "ought".

    1. Existence is the good; and
    2. The good/right action is the one of which its consequences maximize the good.
    Bob Ross

    Just a clarification of 2, intent or actions can be part of the equation, but are unnecessary. It is the results over time compared to the potential expressions of material existence which we can evaluate greater or lesser good.

    I am interpreting, so far, your use of 'time ticks', probability, and the like as merely measuring units and tools for maximizing the good.Bob Ross

    Correct.
  • Philosophim
    2k
    Wouldn't morality be in the end a subjective issue? Something that either is right or wrong, is usually something that a subject has to decide.ssu

    Did you read the entire post? Please comment in terms of what I've expressed in the post and we can discuss. This is not a post about the issue in abstract. For example, do you think the morality I've posited is objective or subjective?
  • ssu
    7.9k
    For example, do you think the morality I've posited is objective or subjective?Philosophim
    Well, assuming I have understood you (which naturally I may have not succeeded in), I think you are looking for objective answers. For example here:

    The question of “ought” means that there is some reason behind the decision, a fundamental that ultimately drives why the outcome should happen.

    The problem with morality has been finding that fundamental.
    Philosophim
  • Philosophim
    2k
    Well, assuming I have understood you, I think you are looking for an objective answer.ssu

    And after seeing my conclusions, do you think it is objective or subjective?
  • Bob Ross
    1k


    Thank you for the clarifications and elaborations! Let me continue down my line of questioning with respect to key point #1 first, and then move on to #2 later.

    Predication seems closest. The idea of good here is foundational. The fundamental question of what should be is the question of existence itself. Should there be anything, or not? In a universe of nothingness, if a lone atom appeared, should that exist or not? The question of "should" of course cannot exist with there being something. Meaning the foundational claim of morality is not what "should" be, but what is. The "should" of morality only comes afterwards. What should be as I note later, is the expression of that material existence. Thus the foundation of morality is "is", and then logically leads to "ought".

    So, to be honest, I am not sure how to wrap my head around this. I also saw similar remarks in your OP, and was unable to parse the argument here. So let me just ask some more questions.

    Firstly, if it is predication and not identity, then ‘goodness’ is a standard which, I would say, you are importing or outsourcing when claiming ‘existence is good’. So, whatever ‘goodness’ is would be a separate question; so, let me ask, under this view, so I can warp my barrings around this better, is ‘goodness’ grounded in some mind(stance)-independent feature in reality (i.e., is it objective) or not? Is there a moral fact-of-the-matter that makes ‘existence good’--or is it just good because you believe it to be, desire it to be, or something similar?

    Secondly:

    The idea of good here is foundational. The fundamental question of what should be is the question of existence itself.

    Would you agree that the fundamental question of ‘what should be’ is separate from the foundational ‘idea of good’?

    Should there be anything, or not? In a universe of nothingness, if a lone atom appeared, should that exist or not?

    This seems like any other normative question to me: is there a moral or normative fact-of-the-matter that you are using to determine the answer to “should there be anything, or not?”?

    In a universe of nothingness, if a lone atom appeared, should that exist or not? The question of "should" of course cannot exist with there being something. Meaning the foundational claim of morality is not what "should" be, but what is.

    This seems wrong to me, although admittedly I haven’t fully grasped what you are saying yet: the fact that morality has no use if there is nothing does not entail that moral claims’ truthity is dependent on there being something. The claims in morality, by my lights, are about what should be, and never what is: what should be is despite what is.

    Imagine there actually is nothing: no universe, no world, no you, no me, etc. This wouldn’t change the fact (if it is a fact) that ‘it is wrong to torture babies for fun’; and it seems like, just upon my initial read here of your quote, that morality is about what is foundationally because the foundational claim of morality is what is: is that correct? It seems like you are saying that it would be perfectly unintelligible whether ‘it is wrong to torture babies for fun’ if nothing existed.

    The "should" of morality only comes afterwards.

    It seems like you may be claiming that morality is about what should be which presupposes something exists, that ‘existence’ itself is presupposed in any possible notion of ‘goodness’, but the truth of the moral claim has no ties to existence itself. For example, I think it is perfectly intelligible to say "nothingness should be, rather than there being something": remove the linguistic limitations (e.g., nothingness should be still seems to linguistically presuppose existence, etc.) and I think it is clear that one can intelligibly convey that nothingness is morally better than existence, even if I don't actually agree with the proposition. Is the proposition "nothingness is morally better than existence", according to your view, incoherent?
  • Philosophim
    2k
    is ‘goodness’ grounded in some mind(stance)-independent feature in reality (i.e., is it objective) or not? Is there a moral fact-of-the-matter that makes ‘existence good’--or is it just good because you believe it to be, desire it to be, or something similar?Bob Ross

    Great question. The question or morality starts from, "should" there be something at all, and arrives at the conclusion that it is the wrong question to start with. The answer is "there is something instead of nothing". We cannot even ask the question, "should" something be, without there first being something. That's the foundation. In the case of material existence, what "should" be, starts with "what is".

    The understanding here is that you must remove all expressions of existence. We are talking about the smallest entities of existence, not their combination. For example, pretend that the smallest block of existence is a quark. We cannot say, "should" they exist, because that would imply some other existence that dictated that they should or should not be. But if there is no existence, there is nothing to dictate such a thing. There is nothing that comes in front of quarks. There is either the existence of quarks, or no existence at all.

    Would you agree that the fundamental question of ‘what should be’ is separate from the foundational ‘idea of good’?Bob Ross

    From the idea that existence as a base is good, then we can enter into the next question, "How should existence express itself?" The answer is of course, that which makes the most existence. Is this separate? If I invent the concept of 1, 1, then 2 as 1+1, each is an evolution of understanding from the primary foundation of 1. Addition cannot be understood or have any use without the foundation of the number 1. Thus you have numbers, then adding numbers to create more numbers. You have good, then doing something with good to create more good.

    This seems like any other normative question to me: is there a moral or normative fact-of-the-matter that you are using to determine the answer to “should there be anything, or not?”?Bob Ross

    No. Hopefully I clarified it earlier, but such a question of "should" cannot be asked without there first being a foundation of "is". This is done at the most basic level. This is like asking, "Should oneness exist". It is the base upon which we use to discuss if we should add or subtract one. Addition must have numbers. What "should" be must have an "is" underlying it. The issue of what should be done, or morality, is the addition and subtraction of existence. To add and subtract without existence is impossible.

    Imagine there actually is nothing: no universe, no world, no you, no me, etc. This wouldn’t change the fact (if it is a fact) that ‘it is wrong to torture babies for fun’; and it seems like, just upon my initial read here of your quote, that morality is about what is foundationally because the foundational claim of morality is what is: is that correct? It seems like you are saying that it would be perfectly unintelligible whether ‘it is wrong to torture babies for fun’ if nothing existed.Bob Ross

    This is one of the reasons, yes.

    For example, I think it is perfectly intelligible to say "nothingness should be, rather than there being something": remove the linguistic limitations (e.g., nothingness should be still seems to linguistically presuppose existence, etc.) and I think it is clear that one can intelligibly convey that nothingness is morally better than existence, even if I don't actually agree with the proposition.Bob Ross

    Certainly, its perfectly intelligible to say such a thing. But is there a reason behind the claim? I'm very open to someone claiming this as long as they can back it.
  • Joshs
    5.1k


    1. What is moral is what “should” or “ought” to be done.
    2. Many arguments believe morality is human-centric. Why “ought” this be the case?
    3. There is nothing inherent in looking at humanity that shows it “ought” to be.
    4. There is nothing inherent in any other identity, race, thing, species etc that “ought” to be.
    5. This leads down to the true question of foundation for morality: “Why “should” existence be?
    6. Looking at existence, it cannot be destroyed. It simply “is”. There is no “ought” or “should”.
    7. Looking at what is, we can come to a conclusion of what “ought” to be. Existence is good.
    8. This conclusion is a choice, not forced. Existence could very well one day “not be”. But since existence “is”, and we are composed of what “is”, we act with the will of existence “to be”.
    Philosophim

    Let’s examine point 4 and work backward from it. Is life to be understood as the mere co-existence of separate parts? Is there no ‘ought’ to be found in the organization of living systems? Let me put forth an argument that life is centered around a central ‘ought’. What distinguishes living from non-living things is that the latter predict and maintain a pattern of interchange with an environment under continuously varying conditions. This means that their function is normative in character. The organism has goals and purposes which it either meets or fails to meet. Human cognitive-affective functioning, including our moral oughts , are elaborations of the basic normative oughts characterizing living self-organization. Moral oughts are designed to protect and preserve certain ways of life.

    Form this vantage, for a living thing it is not existence which is good but self-consistent functioning. For cognitive beings like ourselves it is not existence which is moral but intelligible forms of social interaction. The use of truth-apt propositional logic is one particularly narrow way to attempt to achieve moral intelligibility, at the expense of a more expansive and effective understanding of the moral.
  • AmadeusD
    1.3k
    The organism has goals and purposes which it either meets or fails to meet. Human cognitive-affective functioning, including our moral oughts , are elaborations of the basic normative oughts characterizing living self-organization.Joshs

    Can we have some explication of how that connection obtains?It feels intuitively sensible to me, but I can;'t enumerate any kind of necessity between our function and morals - which may just be my failing, hence asking for a hand :P
  • Joshs
    5.1k


    Can we have some explication of how that connection obtains?It feels intuitively sensible to me, but I can;'t enumerate any kind of necessity between our function and morals - which may just be my failing, hence asking for a handAmadeusD

    Socially shared patterns of coordination express cultural ways of life that we aim to preserve.

    Ken Gergen puts it this way:

    “Rudimentary understandings of right versus wrong are essential to sustaining patterns of coordination. Deviations from accepted patterns constitute a threat. When we have developed harmonious ways of relating-of speaking and acting--we place a value on this way of life. Whatever encroaches upon, undermines, or destroys this way of life becomes an evil..centripetal forces within groups will always operate toward stabilization, the establishment of valued meaning, and the exclusion of alterior realities. It is not surprising, then, that the term ethics is derived from the Greek ethos, the customs of the people; or that the term morality draws on the Latin root mos or mores, thus affiliating morality with custom. Is and ought walk hand in hand.”
  • Philosophim
    2k
    Let me put forth an argument that life is centered around a central ‘ought’. What distinguishes living from non-living things is that the latter predict and maintain a pattern of interchange with an environment under continuously varying conditions. This means that their function is normative in character. The organism has goals and purposes which it either meets or fails to meet. Human cognitive-affective functioning, including our moral oughts , are elaborations of the basic normative oughts characterizing living self-organization. Moral oughts are designed to protect and preserve certain ways of life.Joshs

    First, I agree that from the foundation I've developed here, we can come to know and justify that life is highly moral, while intelligent life is some of the most concentrated morality in existence. The difference between my point and yours, is I have a foundation which reasonably leads up to this. Your basis is self-consistent functioning. But isn't that inherently a self-interest? If I can murder a few people to continue to have self-consistent functioning, why not then? Your basis is self-interested without asking if morality can exist apart from human kind. You've given no other foundation of why people should exist besides the fact that you want them to. I'm noting morality extends beyond human self-interest.

    For cognitive beings like ourselves it is not existence which is moral but intelligible forms of social interaction. The use of truth-apt propositional logic is one particularly narrow way to attempt to achieve moral intelligibility, at the expense of a more expansive and effective understanding of the moral.Joshs

    This is an opinion, not a foundational claim. Read the rest of my post with the understanding of finding morality as a basis of reality, not just a human centric position.
  • AmadeusD
    1.3k
    Ken Gergen puts it this wayJoshs
    (for brevity - assume it includes the Gergen quote too)

    Huh, i see. So I suppose thsi is a framework that supposes some universal 'oughts', but this based on a statistical analysis of functioning societies? Or would it just differ between societies? Seems to sort of put a definitive spin on relativism.
  • Tom Storm
    8.1k
    Form this vantage, for a living thing it is not existence which is good but self-consistent functioning. For cognitive beings like ourselves it is not existence which is moral but intelligible forms of social interaction. The use of truth-apt propositional logic is one particularly narrow way to attempt to achieve moral intelligibility, at the expense of a more expansive and effective understanding of the moral.Joshs

    Nicely put and this resonates with me.

    Can I ask you about the expression 'intelligible forms of social interaction?' This might be seen to contain a broad range of behaviors - so when one culture is judged by another, the first may seem shockingly immoral. Is there a useful approach to reconciling differences between cultures, or is this a fool's errand?
  • Philosophim
    2k
    Deviations from accepted patterns constitute a threat. When we have developed harmonious ways of relating-of speaking and acting--we place a value on this way of life. Whatever encroaches upon, undermines, or destroys this way of life becomes an evil..centripetal forces within groups will always operate toward stabilization, the establishment of valued meaning, and the exclusion of alterior realities.

    This again is nothing more than self-interest. This is not an argument for why humanity ought to even exist apart from its own desire from the reasoning you've given.
  • Joshs
    5.1k

    This again is nothing more than self-interest. This is not an argument for why humanity ought to even exist apart from its own desire from the reasoning you've given.Philosophim

    This isn’t self-interest, its shared interest, which is not simply the sum of selfish drives. Oughtness doesn’t precede the feeling of oughtness, and the feeling of oughtness derives from what is perceived as coherent. To the extent that the idea of non-existence is repugnant , it is because non-existence is associated with a kind of chaos or meaninglessness. To say we prefer coherence over chaos is a kind of circularity. The sense of identity disintegrates in chaos and incoherence, so of course we perceive existence as ‘good’.
  • Philosophim
    2k
    This isn’t self-interest, its shared interest, which is not simply the sum of selfish drives.Joshs

    Then what if two separate cultures or civilizations want different things? Are we saying the victor is in the right? No, this is still not a very good argument, just nice language.

    To say we prefer coherence over chaos is a kind of circularity. The sense of identity disintegrates in chaos and incoherence, so of course we perceive existence as ‘good’.Joshs

    Read the post again. I am not saying existence is preferred. It has nothing to do with our preferences. I'm saying existence is the foundational good.
  • Tom Storm
    8.1k
    Then what if two separate cultures or civilizations want different things? Are we saying the victor is in the right?Philosophim

    Interesting. Not sure why it would be about a 'victor'. Isn't the point that morality grows out of a sense making process? Morality will vary in detail and scope across cultures and history. Isn't that how humans work? And perhaps this does mean that subject to some criteria of value, the 'bad guys' win. This perspective will likely be anathema if you are looking for a morality that transcends the human process - a type of moral Platonism.
  • Joshs
    5.1k
    . I'm saying existence is the foundational goodPhilosophim

    I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who still believe in quaint notions like ‘foundational good’. I wouldn’t say they are simply wrong. I would say that if you delve into the presuppositions such a notion relies on you recognize that what appears as eternal is only eternal within the context of a relative cultural context. Any good implies a choice, and any choice only makes sense within a framework of intelligibility. Change the framework and what is good and what is bad need to be redefined. There is no ultimate frame, so no ultimate substantive content can be attached to a concept like goodness.
  • Bob Ross
    1k


    The question or morality starts from, "should" there be something at all, and arrives at the conclusion that it is the wrong question to start with. The answer is "there is something instead of nothing". We cannot even ask the question, "should" something be, without there first being something. That's the foundation. In the case of material existence, what "should" be, starts with "what is".

    This seems like a non-sequitur to me. Essentially (as far as I am understanding) you arguing:

    P1: If there is something instead of nothing, then there should be something.

    P2: there is something instead of nothing.

    C: TF, there should be something.

    P1 is a non-sequitur. Just because there is something it does not follow that there should be something. Imagine there's no apple on the table, and I say "there should be an apple on that table" and you go "ahhh, but there has never been an apple on a table, and we cannot even ask the question 'should there be an apple on that table' without there first having been an apple on at least one table!". Just because there has never been something, it doesn't follow that it shouldn't be or that it is an unintelligible question. Likewise, just because there has never been 'being', it does not follow that it should or shouldn't be. Of course, I grant we presuppose in our language existence, but I think we can intelligibly get around this.

    Let's say that we cannot formulate a normative judgment without presupposing something exists, there's still the unanswered question of: why is existence good? Just because we need it to perform moral contemplation it doesn't follow that it is good, moral, righteous, morally permissible, morally impermissible, etc.

    . We cannot say, "should" they exist, because that would imply some other existence that dictated that they should or should not be

    I don’t see why this would be true. The question ‘should they exist’ is despite whether there is anything that could exist more fundamentally than them: it could be the case that there is nothing more fundamental than a quark and it be immoral that they exist—no?; just like how I can validly ask ‘should this baby have been tortured for fun’ even if there is no actual way in which reality could have been such that the baby wouldn’t have been tortured for fun. What is is despite what ought to be.

    But if there is no existence, there is nothing to dictate such a thing.

    Again, why would there have be some sort of actual state-of-affairs in reality such that an action (or what not) could be performed for someone to rightfully claim it should be performed? These seem like two separate highways to me.

    Likewise, it seems like you are saying existence dictates what is good, which would imply that it is not itself predicated as good but rather is identical to 'the good'. It seems to be a standard of morality for you, but then you also say it isn't because there is nothing factual which makes it 'the good'. I am sort of confused about that.

    You seem to be saying that what should be the case is tied to what is actually the case.

    Hopefully I clarified it earlier, but such a question of "should" cannot be asked without there first being a foundation of "is"

    I totally agree that normative judgments cannot exist without something factual to judge about, but* I am failing to see how the normative judgments themselves are grounded in something factual, including how existence is non-subjectively good. By my lights, something that ought to be the case is a separate consideration from how things are currently arranged or how they exist. To me, if ‘existence is good’, I would say that is true subjectively and if it is not, then I am not sure how that is the case (yet).

    * I actually don't see how this is the case either. Imagine I am contemplating whether or not it is morally permissible to breath magic syrup on a unicorn: this doesn't entail, in any meaningful sense, any facts--it is the imagination.

    This is like asking, "Should oneness exist". It is the base upon which we use to discuss if we should add or subtract one.

    I agree that you need the number one to make prescriptions which involve math, but this is no way (as far as I can tell) implies nor entails that those prescriptions are themselves derived from math; and think this is what you may be doing with ‘existence’. You are essentially saying (as far as I understand) that we need something to exist to create prescriptions, therefore there is a true moral judgment that states ‘existence is good’. In other words:

    P1: If morality presupposes existent entities (to derive them from), then it is true that ‘existence is good’.

    P2: morality presupposes existent entities.

    C: TF, it is true that ‘existence is good’.

    I don’t think it is true that ‘existence is good’ because morality presupposes existent entities: I just don’t see how that inference is being made. Same thing with your math example:

    P1: if normativity pertaining to math presupposes math (to derive them from), then it is true that ‘oneness should exist’ (or ‘math is good’ or something like that).

    P2: …

    C: …

    You get the point. If I am missing the mark and you agree with me here, then I would like to know what makes existence good? It seems like you are saying it is good solely because we need it to engage in morality and normativity—but that is the syllogism I gave above.

    The issue of what should be done, or morality, is the addition and subtraction of existence. To add and subtract without existence is impossible.

    I would say morality is just ‘the study of what one ought to be doing’. Someone might believe that what they ought to doing is to ‘subtract existence’ (e.g., anti-natalism, etc.) or something completely unrelated.

    For example, I think it is perfectly intelligible to say "nothingness should be, rather than there being something": remove the linguistic limitations (e.g., nothingness should be still seems to linguistically presuppose existence, etc.) and I think it is clear that one can intelligibly convey that nothingness is morally better than existence, even if I don't actually agree with the proposition. — Bob Ross

    Certainly, its perfectly intelligible to say such a thing. But is there a reason behind the claim? I'm very open to someone claiming this as long as they can back it.

    My point was that it can’t be intelligible under your view because existence is presupposed for moral contemplation; so it wouldn’t make sense to say “yeah, it would be better if there wasn’t anything at all”. I am not saying that statement is true, I am just saying it would make no sense under your view because you would be committed (as far as I can tell) to “better” presupposing something exists—thusly presupposing that existence is better than nothingness and this is incoherent with the claim that nothingness is better.

    My point is not to make a case for nothingness being good: I am merely pointing out that, to me, it isn’t incoherent to claim this because I don’t see why normative claims presuppose that existence is good. I see how they presuppose some content to contemplate, but not that content itself is thereby good.

    Also, if there is no fact that makes existence good, then in virtue of what makes that true? Is it true because you desire it to be true, approve of it, etc.?
  • Philosophim
    2k
    Isn't the point that morality grows out of a sense making process?Tom Storm

    No. I think this is getting too far away from the topic as well. Please relate it to what is posted. This is not an abstract discussion, this is a discussion about the specific post.
  • Philosophim
    2k
    I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who still believe in quaint notions like ‘foundational good’. I wouldn’t say they are simply wrong. I would say that if you delve into the presuppositions such a notion relies on you recognize that what appears as eternal is only eternal within the context of a relative cultural context.Joshs

    Please relate this to the OP. Its not a 'quaint notion', its a step by step process. Please demonstrate why it is incorrect.
  • Philosophim
    2k
    P1: If there is something instead of nothing, then there should be something.

    P2: there is something instead of nothing.

    C: TF, there should be something.
    Bob Ross

    No. I am saying there is something instead of nothing. I say that existence is what is good. If existence is what is good, then the more existence there is, the more good there is.

    I say "there should be an apple on that table" and you go "ahhh, but there has never been an apple on a table, and we cannot even ask the question 'should there be an apple on that table' without there first having been an apple on at least one table!".Bob Ross

    No, it is more that for us to discuss whether there should be an apple on that table, an apple must first exist and a table must first exist. The relation is a "should", the apple and the table in isolation are what exist.

    . We cannot say, "should" they exist, because that would imply some other existence that dictated that they should or should not be

    I don’t see why this would be true. The question ‘should they exist’ is despite whether there is anything that could exist more fundamentally than them: it could be the case that there is nothing more fundamental than a quark and it be immoral that they exist—no?
    Bob Ross

    No, because you would need to give a reason why it is immoral for a quark to exist. If the quark is the only existence, what other existence dictates that it is immoral? The discussion of what the quark does in its expressed existence is the moral issue. And the only way for a quark to express its existence is for there to be something else that exists that it can relate too.

    just like how I can validly ask ‘should this baby have been tortured for fun’ even if there is no actual way in which reality could have been such that the baby wouldn’t have been tortured for fun. What is is despite what ought to be.Bob Ross

    This was a little wordy and too far out there. Lets try to focus on the fundamentals. Why is existence good?

    Likewise, it seems like you are saying existence dictates what is good, which would imply that it is not itself predicated as good but rather is identical to 'the good'. It seems to be a standard of morality for you, but then you also say it isn't because there is nothing factual which makes it 'the good'. I am sort of confused about that.Bob Ross

    I do not want to say identical. I want to say an attribute of existence is its goodness. It is in relation to other existence, that is of course also existence itself, that we can state there are varying degrees of goodness. If you are having trouble understanding this, reread the parts where I cover expressed and potential existence.

    You seem to be saying that what should be the case is tied to what is actually the case.Bob Ross

    What should be the case is completely dependent on what is the case.

    I totally agree that normative judgments cannot exist without something factual to judge about, but I am failing to see how the normative judgments themselves are grounded in something factual, including how existence is non-subjectively goodBob Ross

    Because the foundation of good is what is. How it can express itself is what is. How it should express itself is the second step of what is good. Is there a better term for this? I don't know.

    By my lights, something that ought to be the case is a separate consideration from how things are currently arranged or how they exist.Bob Ross

    True. The situation is thus: X is good. Therefore more X is more good. Thus we should have more X.
    Perhaps the language would be better if I stated this:

    Existence is good. Morality is the question of how we should obtain the most existence possible.

    To me, if ‘existence is good’, I would say that is true subjectively and if it is not, then I am not sure how that is the case (yet).Bob Ross

    Actually, yes, you can claim that existence is bad. You can claim, as an existence, that nothingness is better than existing. All of my previous philosophy is tying in here now Bob. We as people can label any 'thing' anything we want. The question is whether that label works in application.

    If existence is bad, then existence should not be. Which means we should work to destroy all of existence including ourselves. Do we have any justification that existence is bad? We cannot use any other existence to compare to, as we are speaking about any existence. Perhaps we could find a situation of relational existence which is bad, but when compared to nothing, there is 'nothing' which implies that existence itself is bad.

    In other words, feel free to propose that non-existence is good, then see if you can reasonably apply it.

    You are essentially saying (as far as I understand) that we need something to exist to create prescriptions, therefore there is a true moral judgment that states ‘existence is good’. In other words:Bob Ross

    What I'm trying to do is answer the foundational question: "Why should there be something over nothing?" That has to be answered first before we discuss about how individual existences should express themselves in relation to others.

    The answer is there should be something over nothing, because there is. Because without something, there is no question of what should be. To have nothing, is to have no morality. Nothing cannot imply that it should 'be'. Only existence can. Without existence, there is no good. Therefore it is better for there to be something rather than nothing. Therefore as a fundamental, existence is good.

    I don’t think it is true that ‘existence is good’ because morality presupposes existent entities: I just don’t see how that inference is being made.Bob Ross

    Then presuppose there is no existence. Can that be good? If so, how and why? The question of this fundamental is difficult to grasp because it is foundational. We cannot look to something beyond existence itself to justify why it should exist. We can only relate it as something vs nothing.

    My point is not to make a case for nothingness being good: I am merely pointing out that, to me, it isn’t incoherent to claim this because I don’t see why normative claims presuppose that existence is good.Bob Ross

    But you must when the only question is whether it is good for there to be existence, or good for there to be nothing. It isn't incoherent to make any claim. It is whether one can justify that claim in application. Can you justify that nothing is good, while something is not? If you cannot, then we take what little justification we can that 'something' is good and see if we can build something else from that.
  • Bob Ross
    1k


    Thank you for the clarifications! I think I have my little bit more of my bearings, so I would like to hone in on one issue at a time and work our way through it.

    The first issue I have is you are claiming ‘existence is good’, where ‘is good’ is predication, and do not seem to offer any account of (1) why it is good nor (2) what goodness actually is.

    With respect to #1, you seem to be arguing:

    P1: If there is something instead of nothing and moral judgments cannot pertain to nothing, then existence is good.

    P2: there is something instead of nothing and moral judgments cannot pertain to nothing.

    C: TF, existence is good.

    If this isn’t what you are claiming, then please write a basic syllogism like the above for why ‘existence is good’ so I can understand better exactly what is being inferred from what. I will vaguely say, for now, that P1 is not valid, as per Hume’s Guillotine.

    With respect to #2, I am failing to see anywhere where you outline metaethically what goodness is. If you are predicating ‘existence’ with ‘is good’, then goodness, as a moral property or set of properties, originates and subsists in something else other than existence: what is it? I know you said that there are no facts that make ‘existence good’, so I would say, if that is true, then this lands this view in anti-realist territory. Perhaps you are also a moral subjectivist, like me—not sure yet.

    The reason it is important to adequately outline #2 in an ethical theory is because moral anti-realism comes with its own share of challenges. E.g., if ‘existence is good’ as a matter of fact purely of your own psychology (and thusly a moral non-fact), then it isn’t factual that ‘existence is good’--it is a preference you have...so why should anyone care?

    I know you don’t like ‘isms’, but I am being careful not to attribute claims which are not directly implied of your view. If I do make that mistake, then please let me know.

    I will stop there for now because I want to go point-by-point through everything here, instead of having multiple conversations about different but related disputes.

    Bob
  • Philosophim
    2k
    Good points Bob, this is what I need to hone the idea down.

    The first issue I have is you are claiming ‘existence is good’, where ‘is good’ is predication, and do not seem to offer any account of (1) why it is good nor (2) what goodness actually is.Bob Ross

    Certainly. The initial idea of good is what should be. So we go down the line. Should humanity exist? Animals? Minerals? Until finally we get to the most regressive question of all. Should there be existence at all?

    We are then faced with a binary. To exist, or not to exist, that is the question! But I realized something at that point. "Should" is not a possible word at that point. Should implies some other factor behind why something happens. But there is no underlying reason for existence being. It simply is. We are at the foundation level of an issue. And a foundation issue has nothing underneath it to support it. It is the support upon which everything else rests. Morality has often been about how we should set the state of existence, but it has ignored the foundation. Is existence itself good?

    Thus the question of what should be, comes to a foundation issue. Either existence should be, should not be, or simply is. If it should be, then there must be an underlying reason why it should be. But there is no underlying reason behind existence. There is no other to point to. It either is, or it isn't. Should existence not be? Once again, that would imply there is something behind that reason, some other that notes it should not be. But that too would be an existence.

    So what are we left with? What is. The foundational good. By existing, we have something that underlies all 'shoulds'. Morality is how we can judge relative good. And what is that relative good based on? What is. Existence.

    I know you don’t like ‘isms’, but I am being careful not to attribute claims which are not directly implied of your view. If I do make that mistake, then please let me know.Bob Ross

    Its not that I dislike isms per say. I dislike them if they are not clearly and consistently used in a useful manner for discussion. In case you haven't noticed, there is a pattern in all of my philosophy. Foundationalism. There comes a point in every question in which a foundation must be reached. That foundation has no other reason for its being, because it is the foundation. It is the recognition and proof that it is a foundation which allows us to then build upon it. The discrete experience. The notion that there is no external reason for existence being.

    When faced with a foundation, we cannot use certain methods that do have foundations behind them. The idea of 'should' rests on there being a foundation that provides the 'why'. I'm noting that in the question of what should be, we come to the foundation of existence itself. I call it "good", but it is really the foundational good. It is what all 'shoulds' reference, but itself needs no underlying reference for why it should be. It simply is.

    This of course is difficulty to wrap one's head around. There is on first glance the notion of 'choice'. After all, we still want to say it should or shouldn't be. But we can't ask that question of a foundation. It is where all questions of 'should' come from. It is not that I am completely satisfied with how its worded or approached either. As I noted, this is a much more exploratory idea than my other work. Basically in the chain of "why should something be", I arrived at this foundation which had no 'should' prior.

    I call it "good" because what else can I call it? To say it is not good means it should not be. And yet there is nothing behind it that states it should be either, it simply is. Thus the foundational good.

    I'm heading out for the holidays and won't be online again until Monday at minimum next week. Sorry Bob if this didn't address everything, but I'm out of time. I look forward to answering more questions then!
  • Bob Ross
    1k


    I'm heading out for the holidays and won't be online again until Monday at minimum next week. Sorry Bob if this didn't address everything, but I'm out of time. I look forward to answering more questions then!

    No worries at all.

    I don’t think your posts quite addressed my questions: you seems to be overlooking the metaethical, which foundational to ethics, considerations of a normative ethical theory. Firstly, the question of moral realism vs. anti-realism. Just to provide ample clarity, by moral anti-realism I mean ‘not moral realism’, and by moral realism I mean a three-pronged thesis:

    1. Moral judgments are propositional [moral cognitivism]; and
    2. Moral judgments express something objective [moral objectivism]; and
    3. There is at least one true moral judgment.

    I am assuming you affirm #1 and #3, but I am inquiring about #2. You still have not provided what ‘goodness is’ in the sense of what those moral properties subsist in or of or are reducible to. E.g., is goodness identical to ‘well-being’, ‘happiness’, ‘existing’, ‘psychological approval’, ‘societal approval’, ‘conative emotions’, etc. ?

    The closest I believe you have gotten to answer this is when you said ‘The initial idea of good is what should be’; but this doesn’t answer the above. If you claim ‘goodness’ is identical to ‘what should be’, but where do properties of ‘what should be’ subsist in or of? E.g., are they identical to ‘well-being’, <...>, etc.? However, you also said ‘initial idea’ and not ‘idea’, so I am presuming you mean goodness isn’t just ‘what should be’--so what is it?

    Moreover, I think ‘existence is good’ is pretty vague: is it ‘existing is good’, ‘preserving existence is good’, or/and ‘creating more existence is good’ (I’ve read you claiming things similar to all three)? For now, I will continue using ‘existence is good’ because the worry I am expounding isn’t really contingent on getting that clarification.

    If the property of goodness is being predicated of ‘existence’, then ‘the good’ is not ‘existence’ because it is not identical to it: so what it is? Is it sentiments, preferences, facts, etc.? I remember you saying there are no facts that make ‘existence good’, so that would entail either (1) you affirm #2 but there is no such fact for ‘existence being good’ (and so your theory has only subjective justification for it being good) or (2) you are denying #2 and your justification for anything being good is an expression of something subjective. Which one is it? I am trying to get my bearings on your metaethical commitments, because that’s the underlying foundation of normative ethics and applied ethics (and ethics in general).

    There’s other things you noted that I would like to contend with, such as normativity needing to pertain to something that exists, but I want to hone in on the metaethics first before I move on to the normative ethics.

    Bob
  • Philosophim
    2k
    Thank you for your patience Bob. I'm back from vacation!

    I am assuming you affirm #1 and #3, but I am inquiring about #2. You still have not provided what ‘goodness is’ in the sense of what those moral properties subsist in or of or are reducible to. E.g., is goodness identical to ‘well-being’, ‘happiness’, ‘existing’, ‘psychological approval’, ‘societal approval’, ‘conative emotions’, etc. ?Bob Ross

    Goodness is simply material existence and its expressions. It has nothing to do with culture, intention, emotions, and would be whether humanity had opinions about it or not.

    If you claim ‘goodness’ is identical to ‘what should be’, but where do properties of ‘what should be’ subsist in or of? E.g., are they identical to ‘well-being’, <...>, etc.?Bob Ross

    No, remove humanity from the equation for now. This is about morality first from a foundational level of pure existence. I can build up to human morality, but without the foundation established first, anything we say about human morality will fail.

    Moreover, I think ‘existence is good’ is pretty vague: is it ‘existing is good’, ‘preserving existence is good’, or/and ‘creating more existence is good’ (I’ve read you claiming things similar to all three)? For now, I will continue using ‘existence is good’ because the worry I am expounding isn’t really contingent on getting that clarification.Bob Ross

    "Existence is good" is the foundational morality. That's the material existence as a concept. Think of this like a dot on a line. A dot contains no mass, no attributes, or anything but the representation of a point in an infinite plane. When we introduce another dot, we have the existential expression of that dot compared to another dot. The most basic is "a distance of five dots". We now have a dot as relational to another dot. It has a length now and a comparative mass. It is now the expression of existence, not simply the material. With expressions of existence through relation, there now comes the question of, "How should existence express itself?" This is the question of morality.

    First we must have the foundational good of existence itself. Then we need an expression of existence between another existence. Now we can ask the question "Why should one expression of existence manifest itself over another potential expressed existence?"

    If the property of goodness is being predicated of ‘existence’, then ‘the good’ is not ‘existence’ because it is not identical to it: so what it is?Bob Ross

    It is the necessary logical foundation for good. It is the end result we come to when we ask the question, "Why should X exist?" This is because it all reduces to the ultimate question of "Why should anything exist?" This leads us with the binary of existence, or non-existence. I cannot justify non-existence as what should be without there being existence to make the justification. I cannot justify existence without there being existence to make the justification. As the justification of existence being better is a contradiction, the only remaining conclusion is that existence is necessary for me to state that anything 'should' be, and is the foundational good. The foundational good is not a question of the expression of existence in relation to another existence, but the fact of there being existence instead of nothing.

    Can we build from here to questions of morality within humanity? Absolutely. But we must settle the foundation first. If it helps to see where we are going, simply see if you can justify that non-existence is preferable to no existence at all. If you cannot, then what I've stated is the only alternative, and what we have to build on.
  • Bob Ross
    1k


    Thank you for your patience Bob. I'm back from vacation!

    Absolutely no worries! I hope you had a good vacation!

    Goodness is simply material existence and its expressions. It has nothing to do with culture, intention, emotions, and would be whether humanity had opinions about it or not.

    Thank you for the clarification: I think I understand your claim better now. Unfortunately, I don’t see why goodness is reducible to ‘material existence and its expressions’: I don’t see why that would be the case at all. Let me see if I can elaborate on that.

    It is the end result we come to when we ask the question, "Why should X exist?" This is because it all reduces to the ultimate question of "Why should anything exist?"

    I would like to point out that the answer to this is subjective (by my lights) and if it isn’t then I would need to know how you know that moral properties subsist in something mind-independent and what that is. I think you are claiming that the moral properties subsist in ‘existence’ itself, but what justification do you have for that? It is a normative question to ask “why should anything exist?” and the answer is a normative claim, and if it is a moral fact that justifies the normative claim, then there is a fact out there about some mind-independent state-of-affairs that in virtue of which makes it true that ‘yes’ ‘something should exist’--I don’t see what fact you are exactly pointing to that would justify this...however, I think perhaps it is this:

    This leads us with the binary of existence, or non-existence. I cannot justify non-existence as what should be without there being existence to make the justification. I cannot justify existence without there being existence to make the justification.

    I think this is the underpinning of your reasoning for saying that it is a moral fact that ‘there should be something existing’. My quarrel is primarily with:

    I cannot justify non-existence as what should be without there being existence to make the justification.

    Two problems I see with this:

    1. It is entirely possible to affirm that ‘nothing should exist’ without presupposing that anything exists, and I am not sure why you think this is false. Saying ‘nothing should exist’ entails that there shouldn’t be anything, and this certainly does not presuppose anything existing.

    2. Even if, for the sake of argument, one could not affirm ‘nothing should exist’ without presupposing something exists, this doesn’t entail that one should affirm that ‘something should exist’: there’s a hidden normative premise that you are not explicating. For example, you would have to argue along these lines if you put it into a valid syllogism:

    P1: One should abide by the law of noncontradiction.
    P2: Affirming ‘nothing should exist’ entails a contradiction.
    C: TF, one should not affirm ‘nothing should exist’.

    From there, you could then use the law of excluded middle to affirm that ‘something should exist’. Notice that the normative conclusion (C) is grounded in P1 and not P2, which is another normative claim. Why is P1 expressing something objective (that is also normative)? If it isn’t, then ‘nothing should exist’ would have to be morally factually false; otherwise, you are just using moral judgments which express something subjective to ground your claim that there are moral judgments which express something objective. By my lights, both ‘nothing should exist’ and P1 are expressing something subjective. Once explicated in this manner, it is clear (at least to me) that you haven’t demonstrate any sort of normative statement which expresses something objective (even if I grant your argument). Just because we cannot claim “nothing should exist” without accepting a contradiction it does not follow that there are any moral properties which are reducible to existence nor that any exist (mind-independently) at all.

    This is why I was asking you to write your argument for ‘existence is good’ in a form of a syllogism, because I would be willing to bet it doesn’t have any normative facts in it (; Of course I could be wrong though.

    If it helps to see where we are going, simply see if you can justify that non-existence is preferable to no existence at all. If you cannot, then what I've stated is the only alternative, and what we have to build on.

    I don’t think this is good epistemology: if you have two exhaustive options, A and B, and A cannot be justified as true, then it is not justified thereby to affirm B as true. B needs support for why it should be regarded as true or A needs to be demonstrated as false.

    So, my first point, is that if I couldn’t justify ‘non-existence is good’ to you, it would not entail any support for your thesis that ‘existence is good’. From my perspective, I would say that ‘existent being good’ is subjective, so it could be good to one person and not good to another and they both would be right.

    Moreover, I could just makeup a reason for saying that ‘non-existence is good’--e.g., it ends suffering, I just like the sound of it, etc.--and even if it was a convincing reason it wouldn’t explain whether or not the property of goodness is reducible to ‘non-existence’. I think you may be conflating metaethical judgments with normative judgments: the former is an analysis of the properties of morality and the latter is an assessment of what meets those standards. If I argued, let’s just say, ‘successfully’ and convince you that ‘non-existence is good’ that would be a normative claim we both agree on, but it would still be an open question whether or not that normative judgment expresses something objective (i.e., the metaethical claim is still open-ended).

    I think it may be best if you give me a syllogism for your argument that ‘existence is good’ in the sense that ‘goodness’ itself is reducible to it, and then I can give a much more precise elaboration on what I am talking about here as it specifically relates to your theory.
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