• Bob Ross
    1.2k


    First, it is unnecessary to know specifically what a fundamental entity is, only that it is.

    It is necessary to know specifically what a fundamental entity is and which ones are exist within the context in question in order to make the morally relevant calculations.

    It is a really simple dilemma:

    If fundamental entities are morally relevant to calculations, then one must have knowledge of the specific ones at play within the context being morally evaluated; or if fundamental entities are not morally relevant to the calculations, then they are useless for making moral calculations.

    You seem to be trying to avoid accepting one of these lines of thinking, when it is inevitable.

    To be charitable, I think what you are trying to convey is that what is morally relevant for moral calculations is expressions of fundamental entities but not the fundamental entities themselves. In other words, moral calculations are always about expressions, and not fundamental entities. If this is the case, then we are in agreement; and you have chosen the second line of thinking (above)(i.e., that they are useless themselves for moral calculations, since you need to know nothing about them to make the calculations).

    Staging is the idea of setting up a scope of what is morally being calculated to simplify the situation for general moral inquiry.

    It is not at all clear to me within a ‘staging’ (i.e., a context) that calculating, for example, it in terms of molecules is better than calculating in terms of atoms; and it seems like which one a person chooses will have a huge impact on the results of those calculations.

    Same with the piece of paper vs. molecules of paper. It is very clear that 2 pieces of paper is more identifiable ‘existences’ than 1 piece IF we are talking just about pieces of paper; but if we talk about molecules then it isn’t so clear.

    The key for me is "What is an identity"? And I think its having attributes that have unique results when interacting with another existence.

    A piece of paper fits this description.

    Implicit in my notion of identities is grouping. Every atom, even of the same element is different from another atom in some very small way. But I can't very well be looking over the minute individual make up, where each proton and neutron is located as well as the exact place of each electron in orbit can I? And for general discussion and physics, we don't. Hydrogen atoms in a general sense work a particular way. This is a change of staging. There is a limit down that we go in each stating to make calculations when we're talking about atoms in particular.

    That’s why I went with pieces of paper, but you resorted to a much harder, smaller entity to calculate—namely, molecules.

    This becomes a new foundation, though not a material foundation, but a foundational identity. Now that I've worked through it, perhaps it needs to be pointed out with some name. So: Material foundation, expressions, material foundation combinations into new identities, and these new identities follow the pattern of material foundation by being foundational identities.

    By ‘foundational identity’, are you referring here to just the smallest ‘building block’ one is willing to consider within the context? Otherwise, I didn’t really follow this part: a foundational entity is a material entity under your previous definitions.

    I'm not really favoring the molecules over the paper.

    Yes, you absolutely are! You refuse to calculate it with pieces of paper; instead, you insist on using molecules. If you used pieces of paper, then my conclusion would inevitably follow.

    If you aren’t, then please justify why you refuse to use pieces of paper instead of molecules. You still have not provided any reasoning for why we should use one over the other, as they are both expressions under your view and, thusly, at equal par.

    Bob
  • Philosophim
    2.2k
    If fundamental entities are morally relevant to calculations, then one must have knowledge of the specific ones at play within the context being morally evaluated; or if fundamental entities are not morally relevant to the calculations, then they are useless for making moral calculations.Bob Ross

    The later is true. Fundamental material reality cannot be created by us, so its not like we can create more. As such, all the pieces are in play outside of our control. It is more how those fundamental pieces express themselves that is important. You must have a fundamental to express, but we already have all of those and in current theories of science, they cannot be created or destroyed (at least by us).

    In discussing with you and realizing I've been dong staging without thinking about it, my real approach should be to use the fundamental as an example, but then introduce staging to demonstrate how we can evaluate starter points, or origins of calculations depending on our needs.

    To be charitable, I think what you are trying to convey is that what is morally relevant for moral calculations is expressions of fundamental entities but not the fundamental entities themselves. In other words, moral calculations are always about expressions, and not fundamental entities. If this is the case, then we are in agreement; and you have chosen the second line of thinking (above)(i.e., that they are useless themselves for moral calculations, since you need to know nothing about them to make the calculations).Bob Ross

    Your are correct Bob! Well said.

    It is not at all clear to me within a ‘staging’ (i.e., a context) that calculating, for example, it in terms of molecules is better than calculating in terms of atoms; and it seems like which one a person chooses will have a huge impact on the results of those calculations.Bob Ross

    Context, scope, rounding, etc. are the only ways we are able to process the world in quantities. If you've ever had to calculate chemical compounds in a beaker you use moles for molecules. But if its factory processing you may be combining kiloliters where moles are a non-factor. Calculus does not evaluate infinity, it evaluates "the limit" in which an infinite calculation will always get smaller as time goes on but never pass a particular number. Even when stating, "I have three peppermints in front of me", each peppermint is not identical in size, weight, taste, or shape at when measured in detail. But its not needed depending on what we're doing.

    And to measure morality, or existence, we need to follow the same pattern of manageability. Now, if the theory works at a general level, could someone sit down and measure the exact total existence of a particular combinatorial setup? Sure. Would that take a lot of time and math? Yes. We have to find a way to walk before we can run. Debating whether an exact chemical makeup is more moral than another in a very narrow and particular scope is only worth it as a stepping stone to patterns and higher moral issues. Is it worth pursing in some scenarios? Maybe. But for us in the nascent building of a theory? No.

    We're primarily concerned about creating a blueprint for a way to take the idea "Existence should be," and find a way to reasonably measure and rationally demonstrate "This scenario in this context seems more moral than the other scenario." It should fit our general sensibilities of morality without compromising its core tenants, and if it does contradict them, it should be able to rationally demonstrate why. But, to establish patterns and a methodology at the level of humanity, we have to establish patterns and a methodology at the base existential level first. We are doing a bottom up approach, not a top down. This is where this differs from every other moral proposal that I know of currently.

    This unique approach is why its also difficult to have discussions with other people on this as such a formulative level. People have a top down approach ingrained in them. Changing this thought process is difficult, and people generally shy away from difficult thinking. Not you though Bob, for which I am happy. :)

    So, if I were to summarize the theory in a more palatable way at this point, I would write something like this to a person first thinking about the idea.

    1. Material existence is the building block of existence. How they interact in relation to other existences is an expression, or how it exists. The addition of all possible expressions is potential existence. This is the sum total of any one fundamental existence.

    2. I would then demonstrate the fundamental combination using Aristotelian atoms. I still think this is a good and relatable introduction, feel free to disagree if you think its not.

    3. I would then explain how the creation of new identities acts like a new fundamental existence with its own expressions of existence which come about only in combination. These fundamental existences create new actual and potential expressions that their parts alone cannot do.

    4. We establish the pattern that creating new fundamental identities results in more existence than base material 'bumping' and existing in isolation alone. We establish the pattern that the ability to combine and uncombine creates more potential existence than only combining into one big thing.

    5. At that point we go one level higher into chemical reactions. Demonstrate that this changes the scope. When we're at the chemical reaction layer, the calculation of other atoms is not as much of a concentration of existence as the molecules. Thus we can start to establish staging, or steps of fundamental identities as contextual focus.

    6. Demonstrate that life is a series of self-sustaining chemical reactions. Chemical reactions eventually burn out with the material there, but life seeks out its own homeostasis. In theory, effective life will extend its chemical reactions indefinitely which, molecule for molecule, will outlast any regular chemical reactions that are destined to burn out. This elevates life's existence into a whole other section of staging.

    7. Finally introduce how intelligent life creates the most potential and actual expressions of existence out of individual lives, and introduce societies. At this point, we have the established building blocks and general patterns of existence to apply to the scope of humanity and society.

    Implicit in my notion of identities is grouping. Every atom, even of the same element is different from another atom in some very small way. But I can't very well be looking over the minute individual make up, where each proton and neutron is located as well as the exact place of each electron in orbit can I? And for general discussion and physics, we don't. Hydrogen atoms in a general sense work a particular way. This is a change of staging. There is a limit down that we go in each stating to make calculations when we're talking about atoms in particular.

    That’s why I went with pieces of paper, but you resorted to a much harder, smaller entity to calculate—namely, molecules.
    Bob Ross

    That is to make sure the scope did not involve the implicit human use for paper. That's what has you. You have to get rid of that to ensure we're on the very particular scope of, "Should the same type of molecules clumped into a group be divided? Does this create more existence?" That's just molecular separation, no more. If you want to talk about the scope of humanity, a question of molecular separation is completely out of scope. At that point its a much greater existence calculation as to what the person is doing, then the molecules themselves.

    This becomes a new foundation, though not a material foundation, but a foundational identity. Now that I've worked through it, perhaps it needs to be pointed out with some name. So: Material foundation, expressions, material foundation combinations into new identities, and these new identities follow the pattern of material foundation by being foundational identities.

    By ‘foundational identity’, are you referring here to just the smallest ‘building block’ one is willing to consider within the context? Otherwise, I didn’t really follow this part: a foundational entity is a material entity under your previous definitions.
    Bob Ross

    Yes, using a 'foundational identity' is a poor choice of words. I think a 'scope's origin', 'staging origin' etc. would be a much better way to describe it. I wanted to use a calculation of the foundation to establish a pattern of scope and origin, so these are much better words that describe what we're doing here. What do you think?

    I'm not really favoring the molecules over the paper.

    Yes, you absolutely are! You refuse to calculate it with pieces of paper; instead, you insist on using molecules. If you used pieces of paper, then my conclusion would inevitably follow.
    Bob Ross

    I'll clarify. If you had 10 sheets of equal sized paper, and you were wondering whether to destroy one sheet or add one sheet to it, that's a different scope. When you divide a sheet of paper in two, you are simply doing molecular separation. Same as if we could merge all ten sheets of paper into 1 large sheet. That's molecular bonding. And as noted, its the combination and separation of molecules at this scope.

    All the things we can do with paper are out of the scope. "Paper" can simply be replaced with "Abstract molecule combination and bond breaking." We can replace "paper" with "water" for example as well. The separation and recombination of molecules in general is part of the potential expressions of existence, and should be allowed. When you split a piece of paper into two, what you're doing is dividing the molecular bonds in two. Meaning that now we have 20 molecules separated from 20 molecules where there used to be 40 bonded together. Taken alone in this scope, this is in essence the only meaning to "drop of water" or "piece of paper". Its basically, "Splitting the joining of the same types of molecules into different locations". A 40 bonded entity is not the same as two 20 bonded entities, but you seem to intend that a paper cut in half is the same identity of 'paper' as when its 40 molecules bonded together. They are not.

    Hope that answers some points Bob!
  • Bob Ross
    1.2k


    To be charitable, I think what you are trying to convey is that what is morally relevant for moral calculations is expressions of fundamental entities but not the fundamental entities themselves. In other words, moral calculations are always about expressions, and not fundamental entities. If this is the case, then we are in agreement; and you have chosen the second line of thinking (above)(i.e., that they are useless themselves for moral calculations, since you need to know nothing about them to make the calculations). — Bob Ross

    Your are correct Bob! Well said.

    Fair enough!

    And to measure morality, or existence, we need to follow the same pattern of manageability.

    In that case, I think your original counter to my paper analogy is invalid: using ‘pieces’ as opposed ‘molecules’ of paper is more manageable, and thusly my conclusion still holds.

    In your elaboration in the subsection quoted above, I think you just argued in favor of using pieces of paper instead of convoluting the calculation with molecules.

    This unique approach is why its also difficult to have discussions with other people on this as such a formulative level. People have a top down approach ingrained in them. Changing this thought process is difficult, and people generally shy away from difficult thinking. Not you though Bob, for which I am happy. :)

    I completely understand, and I am doing my best!

    1. Material existence is the building block of existence. How they interact in relation to other existences is an expression, or how it exists. The addition of all possible expressions is potential existence. This is the sum total of any one fundamental existence.

    Fair enough.

    2. I would then demonstrate the fundamental combination using Aristotelian atoms. I still think this is a good and relatable introduction, feel free to disagree if you think its not.

    I think this adds more confusion than clarification; because, as noted before, you don’t calculate it this way: if ‘atoms’ are serving the purpose of a ‘material entity’, then in your example you cannot use it to calculate anything, which you clearly end up doing. I think you should use an example that uses ‘atoms’ as a selected, base expression entity; and demonstrate how, from there, one ends up with the particular conclusion you are looking for. This sidesteps any epistemic concerns about ‘material entities’ and demonstrates exactly what you are doing when determining these general patterns.

    3. I would then explain how the creation of new identities acts like a new fundamental existence with its own expressions of existence which come about only in combination. These fundamental existences create new actual and potential expressions that their parts alone cannot do.

    I think you need to clarify the terminology first. By my lights, you were using ‘fundamental’ in the sense of ‘material’ this whole time and not a contextual base: it may be worth it to semantically call them different things, or slap a different adjective on one of them, to avoid ambiguity.

    I would also suggest explaining what, ideally, the contextual base should be for one who is abiding by this ethical theory; so far it is not clear what that is.

    4. We establish the pattern that creating new fundamental identities results in more existence than base material 'bumping' and existing in isolation alone. We establish the pattern that the ability to combine and uncombine creates more potential existence than only combining into one big thing.

    Hmmm...I would like to explore this more; because I am not seeing it. I am assuming by ‘fundamental identities’ you are no longer referring to ‘material identities’.

    Firstly, ‘results in more existence’ is, again, ambiguous. According to your view, it is equally true that existence cannot be created or destroyed which prima facie contradicts your claim here.

    Secondly, depending on what you mean by ‘more existence’, I can get on board with materially bumping < expressions; but it entirely depends on what you mean specifically as opposed to notionally.

    Thirdly, it seems like a false dilemma to compare “one big thing” (exclusively) against the ability to recombine: it seems perfectly plausible (to me) that a thing is comprised of smaller things, and that larger, united thing contains, thusly, smaller things that can recombine. I don’t see why I need to choose one or the other.

    Fourthly, what is the ability to recombine? I don’t think things have such a property but, rather, they can only recombine in accordance to how outwardly things affect them. Are you envisioning a thing comprised of parts that is incapable of being affected (i.e., an immutable thing)?
    6. Demonstrate that life is a series of self-sustaining chemical reactions. Chemical reactions eventually burn out with the material there, but life seeks out its own homeostasis. In theory, effective life will extend its chemical reactions indefinitely which, molecule for molecule, will outlast any regular chemical reactions that are destined to burn out. This elevates life's existence into a whole other section of staging.

    Fair enough.

    7. Finally introduce how intelligent life creates the most potential and actual expressions of existence out of individual lives, and introduce societies. At this point, we have the established building blocks and general patterns of existence to apply to the scope of humanity and society.

    Ok, so I don’t think 6 demonstrates that life > non-life; and 7 (here) doesn’t entail intelligent life > unintelligent life. Perhaps this is what you are going for; not sure.

    That is to make sure the scope did not involve the implicit human use for paper.

    Using pieces of paper with the calculation has nothing to do with whether or not a human being is the one that tears the paper.

    Yes, using a 'foundational identity' is a poor choice of words. I think a 'scope's origin', 'staging origin' etc. would be a much better way to describe it. I wanted to use a calculation of the foundation to establish a pattern of scope and origin, so these are much better words that describe what we're doing here. What do you think?

    Those descriptions don’t make much sense to me either; but it’s better. If I am understanding correctly, then you are talking about the base entity (chosen) within a context, and not the most basic entity within the context.

    E.g., I could ask “is it, all else being equal, better to have two or one pieces of paper” and, within this context, you could choose a plethora of different types of entities as the ‘base entity’ (e.g., atoms, molecules, paper, etc.); so I am not entirely sure what you are going for here.

    I'll clarify. If you had 10 sheets of equal sized paper, and you were wondering whether to destroy one sheet or add one sheet to it, that's a different scope. When you divide a sheet of paper in two, you are simply doing molecular separation. Same as if we could merge all ten sheets of paper into 1 large sheet. That's molecular bonding. And as noted, its the combination and separation of molecules at this scope.

    All the things we can do with paper are out of the scope. "Paper" can simply be replaced with "Abstract molecule combination and bond breaking."

    You did it again: chose to use molecules instead of the paper. Just like you can say cutting paper is molecular separation, I can say it is really atomic separation. This gets us nowhere.

    Bob
  • Philosophim
    2.2k
    And to measure morality, or existence, we need to follow the same pattern of manageability.

    In that case, I think your original counter to my paper analogy is invalid: using ‘pieces’ as opposed ‘molecules’ of paper is more manageable, and thusly my conclusion still holds.
    Bob Ross

    It is manageability combined with relevant accuracy. I noted a while back that when we use a staging level as a base, what is reasonably relevant is one step up, or one step down. Paper is just a combination of molecules one step down (unless there's another name for a 'particle' of paper). In this particular context, we are also dividing a piece of paper, which makes its composition very relevant.

    As noted, we are not creating 'two pieces of paper' we are 'splitting a conglomeration of paper molecules apart'. We can't let the fact that we can casually call it, "Two pieces of paper" override the fact that its really splitting one piece of paper into two smaller pieces of paper. Not including the fact that these are smaller mass is leaving out a huge component of the equation.

    I think you should use an example that uses ‘atoms’ as a selected, base expression entity; and demonstrate how, from there, one ends up with the particular conclusion you are looking for. This sidesteps any epistemic concerns about ‘material entities’ and demonstrates exactly what you are doing when determining these general patterns.Bob Ross

    I appreciate the feedback, and on thinking about it, I agree. I do think fundamental entities are an important part of the overall theory for certain invented scenarios, but I don't want that to detract from the overall point of measuring expressions. It is a complete change in thinking as it is about morality, so the less confusion at the start the better!

    I think you need to clarify the terminology first. By my lights, you were using ‘fundamental’ in the sense of ‘material’ this whole time and not a contextual base: it may be worth it to semantically call them different things, or slap a different adjective on one of them, to avoid ambiguity.Bob Ross

    Yes, this is true. I probably should stop calling them something special and just 'identities'. Why I feel like their needs to be an adjective there is to separate it from a purely subjective identity. 'Identity' in this case is when the combination can potentially express itself in a manner that the combination could not have expressed alone. I suppose I'm trying to find a way of expressing a difference between a new chemical bond and a mixture (as per chemistry). They are both identities, but a mixture generally keeps the same underlying expression of its components with mass being the main difference. When I'm thinking of a 'foundational' identity, I'm thinking of a chemical change. H20 becoming water vs hydrogen and oxygen mushed together as gasses somewhere.

    I would also suggest explaining what, ideally, the contextual base should be for one who is abiding by this ethical theory; so far it is not clear what that is.Bob Ross

    That is at the context of human morality. The context of calculation will be determined by the context of the people involved. We'll get there, but lets satisfy where we're at first.

    Hmmm...I would like to explore this more; because I am not seeing it. I am assuming by ‘fundamental identities’ you are no longer referring to ‘material identities’.

    Firstly, ‘results in more existence’ is, again, ambiguous. According to your view, it is equally true that existence cannot be created or destroyed which prima facie contradicts your claim here.
    Bob Ross

    Correct, I am really referring to identities. And for the initial pass at the theory, new chemical identities. Mixtures generally don't have an overall change in potential expression.

    Secondly, depending on what you mean by ‘more existence’, I can get on board with materially bumping < expressions; but it entirely depends on what you mean specifically as opposed to notionally.Bob Ross

    This would be an interaction that does not result in a chemical bond.

    Thirdly, it seems like a false dilemma to compare “one big thing” (exclusively) against the ability to recombine: it seems perfectly plausible (to me) that a thing is comprised of smaller things, and that larger, united thing contains, thusly, smaller things that can recombine. I don’t see why I need to choose one or the other.Bob Ross

    Let me clarify what I meant by this, as I referenced this incredibly briefly way back that you would not remember. Real quick, it is fun when sharing a philosophy with another person for the first time to see what they consider important and relevant, vs what you think they'll consider important and relevant. When I first wrote the knowledge paper, it was an over 200 page monster that covered all sorts of small scenarios that I found people just never thought of or didn't care about. :) I find the same situation here.

    Recall that potential existence is the possibility of an identities expression. While atoms may combine with molecules, they also have the potential of unbonding and becoming just atoms again. That is overall more existence then if such bonds were permanent. So atoms can combine, uncombine, recombine, etc. They are not permanently locked in thus losing potential existence.

    Ok, so I don’t think 6 demonstrates that life > non-life; and 7 (here) doesn’t entail intelligent life > unintelligent life. Perhaps this is what you are going for; not sure.Bob Ross

    In the most simple terms, imagine baking soda and vinegar. When combined, we have a very excitable chemical reaction. But eventually the vinegar and baking soda all combine and the reaction is finished. Its a short burst of identities forming over time, then a cessation of combinations. A life is baking soda and vinegar that seeks to renew itself indefinitely. Even if a life will perish, it simply creates a new one to take its place. Chemical reactions will always run out, thus there is a shelf life on its existence over time. Life, if given the chance, will never end. Thus this is a higher concentration of reactions and identities localized over indefinite time.

    Life vs intelligent life is another step up because life at its simplest is still very reactionary. Intelligence allows life to be more proactive then reactive. Intelligence allows the creation of self-awareness, and a comprehension of the universe. It is existence which can recognize that it is existence. It can envision and plan for complex constructions, ideas, and impacts within the universe beyond what an unintelligent life can do. Not only is this ability to plan a unique existence of its own, the enactment of the plans of intelligent life is something which cannot happen in any other way. Thus the potential existence of intelligent life is incredible.

    Using pieces of paper with the calculation has nothing to do with whether or not a human being is the one that tears the paper.Bob Ross

    Ok, I'm glad you understand that.

    E.g., I could ask “is it, all else being equal, better to have two or one pieces of paper” and, within this context, you could choose a plethora of different types of entities as the ‘base entity’ (e.g., atoms, molecules, paper, etc.); so I am not entirely sure what you are going for here.Bob Ross

    You just need clarification. "Is it better to have two pieces of paper of equal mass or 1" is different from, "is it better to divide a mass of paper into two smaller pieces".

    You did it again: chose to use molecules instead of the paper. Just like you can say cutting paper is molecular separation, I can say it is really atomic separation. This gets us nowhere.Bob Ross

    I am hoping you'll understand the point that dividing a paper's mass is not the same as creating two pieces of paper of equal mass.
  • Bob Ross
    1.2k


    I apologize for the belated response! I have not found the time to respond adequately until now.

    It is manageability combined with relevant accuracy. I noted a while back that when we use a staging level as a base, what is reasonably relevant is one step up, or one step down.

    Ok, so, correct me if I am wrong, you seem to be going for calculating ‘more existence’ in terms of the nearest scientific measuring unit of a thing: is that correct?

    Paper is just a combination of molecules one step down (unless there's another name for a 'particle' of paper)

    Unless I am correct above, then I don’t see why you would choose to use molecules rather than pieces of paper; nor mass of the paper. It isn’t always clear what “one step down” really is.

    For example, take water. I could say that 2 Liters of water is more existence than 1; or I could equally say 100 molecules of water is more existence than 50. There’s no clear “one step down” here.

    Secondly, let’s say I am correct in that you are trying to use scientific units of measure. Ok, a piece of paper doesn’t qualify then; but, it really doesn’t take away from my point: cutting a piece of paper cleanly into two pieces retains the molecule count and (total) mass. So it is an morally indifferent action under your view?

    If so, then you need to clarify (I think) better in the OP what you mean by “more existence is better”, because it clearly isn’t “more → better”.

    Thirdly, why use only scientific units of measure? It seems perfectly coherent and reasonable to say “two pairs of glasses are better than one pair of glasses”: why eliminate normal and valid units of measure?

    I do think fundamental entities are an important part of the overall theory for certain invented scenarios

    The problem is that it is all-too conjectural. Neither of us know the nature of fundamental entities other than they are the smallest parcel of reality: they may not even be analogous to atoms combining; and, on top of that, it serves no legitimate purpose to your calculations.

    . Why I feel like their needs to be an adjective there is to separate it from a purely subjective identity

    What I was trying to convey, was that you need an adjective to distinguish the too and not htat you should call them both ‘identities’--that would produce even more ambiguity and confusion. The problem is that you are using the phrase “fundamental entity” in to toto genere different ways.

    While atoms may combine with molecules, they also have the potential of unbonding and becoming just atoms again. That is overall more existence then if such bonds were permanent

    I don’t see how this creates more existence; because, again, I don’t know exactly how you calculating this: it is also very vague so far.

    As an example, if the combining of two atoms which produces a molecule (let’s say) is better than those two atoms just being two, separate atoms; then the combining of molecules of two pieces of paper into one piece of paper is better than those two pieces being separate pieces. BUT, it seems like you would reject the unit of measure on the second example, even though it is directly analogous to the example you accept; and, might I add, without further clarification, they both produce one, new expression entity.

    So atoms can combine, uncombine, recombine, etc. They are not permanently locked in thus losing potential existence.

    Ah, so it is because the ability to recombine has more potential for other existences. How do you calculate the comparison between expressions and potentials? For example, what’s better: (1) a process of entities producing expressive entities ad infinitum that has no ability to recombine, or (2) a set of expressive entities equal to the beginning quantity of expressive entities for #1 that have the ability to recombine but are indefinitely idle?

    You just need clarification. "Is it better to have two pieces of paper of equal mass or 1" is different from, "is it better to divide a mass of paper into two smaller pieces".

    Sure, let’s get an answer to multiple of these style of questions:

    1. Is it better to have two pieces of paper of equal mass or 1?
    2. is it better to divide a mass of paper into two smaller pieces than not to?
    3. Is it better to combine two pieces of paper into one big piece of paper than not to?

    I still think it is perfectly reasonable to analyze it in terms of non-scientific units (e.g., is better for there to be one potato or two?); but let’s go with that for now.

    Bob
  • Philosophim
    2.2k
    I apologize for the belated response! I have not found the time to respond adequately until now.Bob Ross

    Not a worry Bob! I was away this weekend myself.

    It is manageability combined with relevant accuracy. I noted a while back that when we use a staging level as a base, what is reasonably relevant is one step up, or one step down.

    Ok, so, correct me if I am wrong, you seem to be going for calculating ‘more existence’ in terms of the nearest scientific measuring unit of a thing: is that correct?
    Bob Ross

    Scientific measurement is a fine way to represent identities at times. When removing the human element and its identities it can bring to paper, we are left with the molecular to consider. The question of 'what is a meaningful identity' is based on when the combination of more than one existence creates an identity which could not exist if the two were separated.

    The degree of this can be described by the change in expressions. A large puddle of water vs a small puddle of water is still just a conglomeration of water molecules. The identity of 'water' does not change. But if an animal drinks water and that water combines with tree pulp and chemicals to become paper, its now become a part of new identity, and thus more potential expressions, then it could as water alone.

    For our purposes, because neither of us are chemists, we're trying to process and develop an overall general measurements of existence that is comprehensible, and attempt to observe patterns which we can build upon. If the there is something to this as a general theory, perhaps 'molecular morality' would be a sub genre to explore. For our purposes, I'm simply trying to demonstrate that identities are different ways of existential expression, and that the marriage of potential and actual interaction between different types of identities allows new identities which can form which would not otherwise.

    Paper is just a combination of molecules one step down (unless there's another name for a 'particle' of paper)

    Unless I am correct above, then I don’t see why you would choose to use molecules rather than pieces of paper; nor mass of the paper. It isn’t always clear what “one step down” really is.
    Bob Ross

    'Paper' without any context of its use, is just a conglomeration of paper molecules into a mostly flat shape. When you split a piece of paper, you are dividing its molecular make up. That's the 'one step down' in this context. As such, dividing a piece of paper in two in this context only has its molecular makeup in consideration.

    For example, take water. I could say that 2 Liters of water is more existence than 1; or I could equally say 100 molecules of water is more existence than 50. There’s no clear “one step down” here.Bob Ross

    Yes, in this isolated context considering nothing else, 2 liters of water is more existence than 1. The one step down from the liters of water, would be the molecules. One step down from the molecules of water would be atoms. Until we find the material foundation I spoke about, there's always one step down.

    Ok, a piece of paper doesn’t qualify then; but, it really doesn’t take away from my point: cutting a piece of paper cleanly into two pieces retains the molecule count and (total) mass. So it is an morally indifferent action under your view?Bob Ross

    It seems to be. Within this context, as long as the actual and potential are there to recombine, there doesn't seem to be any real gain or loss. And within the context of a humane doing it? The molecular separation level is completely irrelevant.

    If so, then you need to clarify (I think) better in the OP what you mean by “more existence is better”, because it clearly isn’t “more → better”.Bob Ross

    More existence is based on the foundation of "More material, more expressions of the material, more potential expressions from the material, and this pattern through the combination of expressions.

    The act of a bunch of paper molecules losing bonds to be separated doesn't seem like much of a difference, at least with the last calculation I made. The context of the dividing of a substance alone gives us very little existential change, and seems meaningless. I never considered it to be morally meaningful myself, and I think looking at it closer after your example hasn't really changed that.

    I do think fundamental entities are an important part of the overall theory for certain invented scenarios

    The problem is that it is all-too conjectural. Neither of us know the nature of fundamental entities other than they are the smallest parcel of reality: they may not even be analogous to atoms combining; and, on top of that, it serves no legitimate purpose to your calculations.
    Bob Ross

    Since it is irrelevant for yourself, then its not necessary to discuss. I know there will be someone who would think its relevant, so it needs to be included in the theory for consistency. But currently our exploration of this is not going down those paths, so no need to address it. It changes nothing for where we are in the discussion at the moment.

    While atoms may combine with molecules, they also have the potential of unbonding and becoming just atoms again. That is overall more existence then if such bonds were permanent

    I don’t see how this creates more existence; because, again, I don’t know exactly how you calculating this: it is also very vague so far.
    Bob Ross

    An atom can express itself in particular ways. However, once it joins as a molecule, it loses certain potential expressions as an individual atom as long as it remains a part of that molecule. As a simple example, we cannot breath water right? We would drown despite there being oxygen in water. It is only when oxygen is in its separated state that we gain the interaction of being able to breathe it.

    If everything joined into one giant blob, the loss of potential existence would be tremendous. My point is that when an atom can combine, but also has the potential to uncombine, this creates more potential existence then a combination which can never break apart again.

    How do you calculate the comparison between expressions and potentials?Bob Ross

    Expressions are what is, potentials are what could be. They are a necessary addition when considering any future change. For example, at any moment a life has the potential to die. That's an important consideration when planning what that life should do in the next moment. The universe in theory has the potential to separate into complete entropy. Could a universe such as that every come together again? There are potentials which if made actual, eliminate other potentials permanently. If a person dies, they can't just be reassembled together. Perhaps the potential is there in theory, but not practically.

    The potential vs actual is a struggle for myself as well. Beyond the general use for it, it can quickly grow in complexity depending on the context we create. The goal here is to see if the established vocabulary and patterns can make sense in a manageable general sense where it is most relevant to people's moral questions. Specific and isolated contexts deserve their own study. If what I'm proposing is viable, this is a field of study, something which cannot be easily covered in an introductory conversation.

    1. Is it better to have two pieces of paper of equal mass or 1?Bob Ross

    2, in this context. This is not necessarily the same context when we introduce other variables.

    2. is it better to divide a mass of paper into two smaller pieces than not to?Bob Ross

    In this context I would say it is mostly meaningless. Depending on how its cut and organized, my intuition is that we could find instances in which some expressions end up creating slightly more or less existence, but not meaningful enough beyond an isolated thought experiment.

    3. Is it better to combine two pieces of paper into one big piece of paper than not to?Bob Ross

    Same answer as point 2.

    I still think it is perfectly reasonable to analyze it in terms of non-scientific units (e.g., is better for there to be one potato or two?); but let’s go with that for now.Bob Ross

    It is, depending on the context. If you've created a context in which the molecular composition as well as small variations of mass are irrelevant, then yes. For example, we're talking about shipping millions of potatoes to Ukraine to feed people. If you create a scenario in which those things are relevant, than no. This would be talking about splitting a potato into two parts.

    I hope this helps a little! I'm happy the conversation has transitioned to this line of thinking as this lets us really explore the foundations of theory first.
  • Bob Ross
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    Sorry for the late response!

    I think it may be beneficial for us to distinguish the unit of measure from the unit being measured. A ‘liter’, ‘gram’, etc. are units of measure, whereas a ‘molecule’, ‘atom’, etc. are units being measured.

    You agreed, in your response, that 2 liters of water is better than 1 liter; and this does not reference any distinction between measuring an ‘atom’, ‘molecule’, or the ‘paper’ (nor does it need to). Same thing with a gram of paper vs. 2 grams of paper.

    I think a way we can sidestep this whole issue of which unit to measure, is to only use discuss what unit of measure to use. The unit of measure does need to specify a unit being measured (viz., a gram of paper is a gram irregardless of one thinking of the paper as simply ‘a paper’ or ‘a glob of molecules’).

    To keep things simple, I denote a unit of measure as a UOM; and I denote a unit capable of being measured as UCOM.

    However, the cost of this is that it also sidesteps most of your means of calculating ‘more existence’; as you have focused heavily on the (actual and potential) relationships between UCOM and very little has been said of UOM.

    If you still would like to evaluate ‘more existence’ in terms of UCOM, then I simply have failed to grasp why you insist on calculating in terms of ‘UCOMs one step down’ as opposed to uses the entity as a whole: why do you prefer calculating in terms of a thing’s composed parts instead of itself?

    You seem to agree with me that there are some legitimate cases where one should use the thing instead of its parts (e.g., ‘one potato or two?’) but I failing to see why you keep insisting on using its parts in other cases (e.g., why use molecules instead of the paper?). If you could please elaborate on this, then that would be much appreciated.

    If you accept using UOM instead of UCOM (or a combination of both), then I would need to know exactly how those are hierarchically organized as well—e.g., do we use liters over grams?

    I look forward to hearing from you,
    Bob
  • Philosophim
    2.2k


    Not a worry Bob!
    I think it may be beneficial for us to distinguish the unit of measure from the unit being measured. A ‘liter’, ‘gram’, etc. are units of measure, whereas a ‘molecule’, ‘atom’, etc. are units being measured.Bob Ross

    It all depends on the context of measurement or 'scope'. A liter is fine when the substance is the same, but it is not if the substance is different. A liter of grape juice is more dense than a liter of water for example.

    I think a way we can sidestep this whole issue of which unit to measure, is to only use discuss what unit of measure to use. The unit of measure does need to specify a unit being measured (viz., a gram of paper is a gram irregardless of one thinking of the paper as simply ‘a paper’ or ‘a glob of molecules’).Bob Ross

    This is fine by me in most cases.

    However, the cost of this is that it also sidesteps most of your means of calculating ‘more existence’; as you have focused heavily on the (actual and potential) relationships between UCOM and very little has been said of UOM.Bob Ross

    Again, it depends on the context. If the scope of what we are examining is so large it doesn't require us to consider atoms or molecules as significant digits, then we don't. If however we create a situation where it is important, than we do.

    If you still would like to evaluate ‘more existence’ in terms of UCOM, then I simply have failed to grasp why you insist on calculating in terms of ‘UCOMs one step down’ as opposed to uses the entity as a whole: why do you prefer calculating in terms of a thing’s composed parts instead of itself?Bob Ross

    In your specific instance your calculation was incorrect. You stated that two pieces of paper was more existence than one piece of paper, but these two pieces of paper were the result of dividing one piece of paper in half. In this case we must take the mass or molecules into consideration because those two pieces of paper are not double the amount of mass of the original piece of paper. That's all.

    You seem to agree with me that there are some legitimate cases where one should use the thing instead of its parts (e.g., ‘one potato or two?’) but I failing to see why you keep insisting on using its parts in other cases (e.g., why use molecules instead of the paper?). If you could please elaborate on this, then that would be much appreciated.Bob Ross

    Certainly! The thing we are demonstrating is, "More existence is good." That's the gold standard that we have agreed upon. Our calculations and identities are all to meet that standard. If an example does not meet that standard, it does not mean the standard is wrong, it means the example or calculation is wrong. The calculations are just ways of measuring, and the question is whether they measure in such a way that serves this purpose, or if there is something incorrect in what they are capturing.

    So, if we create an example that is faulty, or calculates incorrectly, it needs to be adjusted to the proper scope so that it never forgets its underlying purpose: A way to calculate existence correctly, logically, and consistently.
  • Bob Ross
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    Hello Philosophim,

    I am still finding it unclear what principle you are using to decipher when to to use what UOM, but, if I may, I think I can serve a solution: if more existence is better than less, then whatever UOM, and (not to mention) what measuring tool, is most precise is ideal; however, whatever is practical will prevail, which is really just the most precise tool and UOM available in any reasonable manner, because we haven’t created such an ideal tool (yet or perhaps ever, although we would strive towards developing it if your theory is adhered to). If this is something you agree with, then I think we have resolved my confusion about UOMs.

    More generally, I have been reflecting upon your theory and have come to the conclusion that the real issues with this theory are at its core and not in the derived conclusions (contrary to my initial thoughts)—i.e., the problems are with what is, at the core, being derived from and not what ends up being derived itself.

    The two main issues, in summary, I would say, is that (1) “existence” is an entirely too vague an idea in your theory (thus far, I believe it to be roughly equivalent to complexity and not being) and (2) there is not an ounce, if I may be so bold, of proof that more existence being good is not good as a matter of subjective dispositions.

    Nevertheless, if one accepts that “more existence is good”, and understands that “existence” refers here to “complexity”, then it is clear and correct the project which you are working on by denoting ‘material’, ‘potential’, ‘expressive’, etc. ‘existences’ and your conclusions seem pretty, by-at-large, accurate relative to that project.

    The more I have thought about it, your theory starts from bottom-up but, although it is important and necessary to start with that approach, requires an up-bottom approach to determine an ideal state of reality. This is something I was overlooking with my examples, as I think, from an up-bottom approach, this theory, as well as (I am realizing) my theory, requires finding balance. This is why, as you noted before, although more intelligent life is prioritized generally over non-life, each being necessary to maintain the balance is necessary. On this, our theories actually converge; however, we diverge in that for you the balance is just a means towards what is good (which, in turn, for you, is the greatest complexity of being) whereas, for me, the balance (i.e., harmony) is what is good. I say that not to derail our conversation into a comparison of theories; but I have just grown to see the similarities in our views that I had not seen before and wanted to share (:

    So, I think we may be able to dive into more complicated applied ethical dilemmas, like trolly problems, if you would like; or discuss something else pertaining to the theory that you may be digesting or wanting to discuss.

    I look forward to hearing from you,
    Bob
  • Bob Ross
    1.2k


    Here's a good question: how does your theory handle suffering?

    By my lights, suffering is not a relevant factor at all to the complication (or increase) of "existence"; so it would appear, prima facie, to not have any relevance to moral decision making.

    For example, imagine a person who stops or prevents another person from torturing someone else on the grounds that it would cause the victim tremendous, unnecessary suffering: it seems as though, prima facie, your theory would dictate that they have done absolutely no morally relevant calculations (as suffering is not itself a factor in the maximization of potential and expressive existence). So, the question becomes, in your theory, did this person make a morally relevant calculation here? Did they blunder? Did they merely do the right thing by chance (being done for the wrong reasons)?

    Bob
  • Philosophim
    2.2k
    I am still finding it unclear what principle you are using to decipher when to to use what UOM, but, if I may, I think I can serve a solution: if more existence is better than less, then whatever UOM, and (not to mention) what measuring tool, is most precise is ideal; however, whatever is practical will prevail, which is really just the most precise tool and UOM available in any reasonable manner, because we haven’t created such an ideal tool (yet or perhaps ever, although we would strive towards developing it if your theory is adhered to). If this is something you agree with, then I think we have resolved my confusion about UOMs.Bob Ross

    Yes, this is the underlying principle behind the proposed measurements. I agree!

    The two main issues, in summary, I would say, is that (1) “existence” is an entirely too vague an idea in your theory (thus far, I believe it to be roughly equivalent to complexity and not being)Bob Ross

    Its not complexity per say, its about more existence measured in identities and potential per material existence. Higher morality is often times going to be more 'complex' as a result.

    (2) there is not an ounce, if I may be so bold, of proof that more existence being good is not good as a matter of subjective dispositions.Bob Ross

    I'm assuming you're intending to say "There's no proof that its not a subjective matter that existence is good." To my mind you have a different way of viewing subjectivity then most would take, but I have little disagreement with your overall view in how we understand the world. Regardless of this, at best my proposal for morality is based off of the supposition that there is an objective morality. If of course there is no objective morality, than this is wrong. Finally, my stabs in the dark, while done with an underlying guide, are most certainly not objective but educated attempts at grasping the underlying 'objective' push.
    Still, I think this is the best stab at the traditional idea of objectivity I know of in the pursuit of morality, so until something better comes along I'm going to keep exploring this.

    Nevertheless, if one accepts that “more existence is good”, and understands that “existence” refers here to “complexity”, then it is clear and correct the project which you are working on by denoting ‘material’, ‘potential’, ‘expressive’, etc. ‘existences’ and your conclusions seem pretty, by-at-large, accurate relative to that project.Bob Ross

    Thanks! Its nice to see its not completely out there in left field.

    The more I have thought about it, your theory starts from bottom-up but, although it is important and necessary to start with that approach, requires an up-bottom approach to determine an ideal state of reality.Bob Ross

    Agreed. Its difficult to convey the theory because it must start with the basics, but its hard to show others how this is going to lead into the top level of morality that people are actually interested in. Trying to find that blend without confusing people or them losing interest was part of what I'm trying to do here.

    On this, our theories actually converge; however, we diverge in that for you the balance is just a means towards what is good (which, in turn, for you, is the greatest complexity of being) whereas, for me, the balance (i.e., harmony) is what is good. I say that not to derail our conversation into a comparison of theories; but I have just grown to see the similarities in our views that I had not seen before and wanted to share (:Bob Ross

    No worry about divergence, this is good. The step after understanding the theory was to apply it to broadly accepted ideas of morality today and see how if it both fits in with our intuitions, explains why, and if it contradicts our intuitions has solid reasoning. As noted, its not complexity per say, but the existence of the highest number of identities and potential existence over a period of time. I've labeled this homeostasis, but harmony works just as well. To my mind, harmony works as it tries to find an equilibrium between competing existences that allows as much to exist over time as possible without collapse.

    Here's a good question: how does your theory handle suffering?Bob Ross

    We had not gotten to the level of human and social morality in depth yet, but no, at first glance unnecessary suffering would not be moral. Suffering is a state of oppression on life. For life to have its full potential, suffering should be minimized where possible as it prevents life from acting as fully as it could. This makes sense because suffering is a state that lets the body know that there is something that is inhibiting it, harming it, or could destroy it. Suffering as a detection and motivation tool is necessary to ensure life defends itself. Unnecessary suffering is when the detection tool is going off, but there is nothing the life can do to appease it.

    In the case of torturing another person, taken in the vacuum of:
    1. The person doing the torturing is doing it only for pleasure

    Its not moral. First, there's holding a person against their will. Second, one is causing bodily harm in some way to create suffering. So in all ways we are decreasing the potential existence of a human being. The benefit of another being having a pleasant emotion is overall a net negative for existence, and therefore wrong.

    I'll let you answer that and ask about any other moral applications you're interested in. If you have none, I'll address some of the more subjective problems that are better explained through this theory of existential morality such as cross cultural morality.
  • Bob Ross
    1.2k


    Its not complexity per say, its about more existence measured in identities and potential per material existence. Higher morality is often times going to be more 'complex' as a result

    As noted, its not complexity per say, but the existence of the highest number of identities and potential existence over a period of time

    I find this peculiar and a bit confusing. The same amount of existence is there irregardless; so how is it really ever more, other than by the waive of a magic wand?

    It seems like, to me, you are trying to find the most complicated arrangement of being—that is the best interpretation I have been able to conjure. The ideal state of anything for you appears to be the most complicated possible arrangement of entities and composition thereof.

    To my mind you have a different way of viewing subjectivity then most would take, but I have little disagreement with your overall view in how we understand the world.

    By common standards both in metaethics and colloquial discourse, a moral judgment is objective if it is stance-independent and, subsequently, a moral theory is a form of moral realism or, colloquial, of “objective morality” IFF it describes what is stance-independently wrong and right; and the justification you gave for it being objective was merely that any rational agent would agree or, if I remember correctly, that it is internally incoherent to posit otherwise.

    For life to have its full potential, suffering should be minimized where possible as it prevents life from acting as fully as it could.

    This doesn’t seem to imply that it is wrong, though, to torture someone in a manner where they do not benefit from it. For example, it seems quite plausible that in some situation allowing a person to torture someone else would actually total net increase potential existence by “unlocking” the full creativity and potential of the perpetrator.

    An easy example would be the following. Let’s say there is a severely ill person, Billy, and a psychopath, Dave. Billy is terminally ill and is, as a matter of 100% certainty, going to die in 1 hour. Dave was recruited by a major government as a part of their special forces, and, in order to unlock his full potential, wants to torture and kill Billy before that 1 hour is up. Is that immoral for Dave to torture Billy in your view?

    It is not clear at all that Dave torturing Billy will result in less potential existence, all else being equal, as Billy has not much time to live and Dave will increase, arguably, expressive and potential “existence” by torturing Billy.

    I don’t see how “The benefit of another being having a pleasant emotion is overall a net negative for existence, and therefore wrong”.

    Bob
  • Philosophim
    2.2k
    I find this peculiar and a bit confusing. The same amount of existence is there irregardless; so how is it really ever more, other than by the waive of a magic wand?Bob Ross

    Because two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom next to each other are not the same as water. Water only exists when a particular combination happens, and water has aspects that are different then hydrogen and oxygen alone. This base pattern is repeated through molecules, living creatures, intelligent creatures, and societies.

    The ideal state of anything for you appears to be the most complicated possible arrangement of entities and composition thereof.Bob Ross

    While including the observation that sustaining this over time is more more existence overall then something which concentrates too much and causes collapse. Yes, complexity is a result of this, but not at the expense of existential longevity. It is a balance. As a reminder 100 existence over 1 second is not ever going to come close to 1 existence over all time.

    By common standards both in metaethics and colloquial discourse, a moral judgment is objective if it is stance-independent and, subsequently, a moral theory is a form of moral realism or, colloquial, of “objective morality” IFF it describes what is stance-independently wrong and right; and the justification you gave for it being objective was merely that any rational agent would agree or, if I remember correctly, that it is internally incoherent to posit otherwise.Bob Ross

    I'm surprised to see you list that. I generally understood your view of subjectivity to mean the fact we could not ever understand the thing in itself and were therefore 'subjective' in any attempts to capture it. I agree with the portion about being subjective beings, or 'subjects', but do not find that to be what 'subjectivity' describes. We can handle our attempts to define things concurrent with things in themselves objectively or subjectively. But, the act of being a being or a subject which can attempt to attribute identities that are concurrent with things in itself is not 'subjectivity' as usually understood.

    While you may believe the moral theory is subjective, and I do agree that parts of this discussion must be subjective as we do not have the means to elevate certain points to testable objectivity, the more important point is that deciding whether to BE moral, is a subjective act. I can see "X is objectively moral", but there is nothing which necessitates that I care. There is no punishment if I do not follow it. Many times there may not even be any personal reward. Whether this proposal of morality is objective or not, there is nothing in reality that compels a person to evaluate and be objectively moral beyond society and the self.

    For life to have its full potential, suffering should be minimized where possible as it prevents life from acting as fully as it could.

    This doesn’t seem to imply that it is wrong, though, to torture someone in a manner where they do not benefit from it. For example, it seems quite plausible that in some situation allowing a person to torture someone else would actually total net increase potential existence by “unlocking” the full creativity and potential of the perpetrator.
    Bob Ross

    Ah good, I've been waiting for discussions like this. When I first came up with this theory I explored it for a while. But then, I became terrified. I realized that a subjective form of ethics gives people wiggle room. It allows most people to rely on intuitions, and we can rely on a general good in society that usually keeps things together. But then I thought, "What if you could take a little of what is here and turn it into evil?" Either through misunderstanding (which is fixible) or more worrisome, malicious intent to control.

    I feel this is mostly because moral precepts once ingrained in an individual, are incredibly difficult to change. Why that is, I can only speculate. But my observation is that generally such things are core to a person in some special way. Can you imagine a dictator teaching an 'objective' morality to its populace, ingraining the youth from a young age? One that was just enough as a strong start to a theory, but then twisted to their own design? Its hard enough to convince people their subjective morality is wrong, but a rationalized 'objective' morality? I honestly don't know if people can handle it. This is not in regards to this theory alone, but any objective theory of morality in general.

    To this point, we also need some guidelines in discussing this attempt at objective morality that will help the most. If our intuitions tell us its wrong, we need a VERY good reason and clearly proven means to say, "This is still objectively true despite our moral intuitions". So in your case where you invent a scenario that goes against both of our moral intuitions, you need to present a much more specified and provable argument for it to be taken seriously.

    Lets examine your scenario more closely and I think we'll see its not an objective scenario, but an abstract scenario. First, what does it mean to "unlock potential?" Second, is this the 'only way?' Third, is this proven or assumed? I see you making a similar mistake to the "I tear a piece of paper in half therefore I have two pieces of paper now." You're using language that isn't clearly measured to ask about a theory that requires us to clearly measure (or at least follow guidelines from previous measures).

    To really analyze this we need to break it down into pieces. The most easily measured piece is to simplify the scenario into a much simpler one where we can 'measure' one thing at a time. For now, lets start with a very simple scenario. "Hurting others for pleasure". And yet looking at even this, there's an even simpler question: "What is the moral value of emotions in humans?" An objective morality must build itself piece by piece. This is the approach we must make to every moral quandry.

    Of course this is laborious and can easily be bogged down in technicality and as precise measurement as imagined. So we must try our best in this casual conversation on a philosophy board to find a reasonably small measure to discuss that does not require careful calibration, while also not being too abstract.

    With that, lets start on your first piece: "What is the moral value of emotions in human beings?" I'm sure there is entire literature on this topic alone, but let me try to condense this to a few points I think we can both agree on.

    1. Emotions are a way to quickly make judgements that compel action.
    2. Moral actions are those which preserve the current total existence, or create more.
    3. Moral emotions are those which lead to judgements of equal or greater existence to one's current state of being.

    Of course, then there's the question of 'the emotion itself'. In other words, we take the judgement away from it. If i could take a pill which erased all negative or uncomfortable emotions, would that be good? The problem is we are beings that need to make judgements to live. At its most basic, the simple act of eating. If I never made a judgement to eat again, I would die.

    But what if I tracked calories and simply ate because I knew I should? What if I could make judgements correctly in my life without needing any emotion, thus thus I could always be happy and content while still making all the correct judgements in life? As you can see, we are in the rabbit whole of breaking this down. Eventually we could go into the overall chemistry of a person. What would being constantly happy do to you? Do we find we actually need a certain amount of chemical stressors in our lives to live longer? We could spend papers and days going down the scope rabbit hole of questions and building block.

    So as you can see, there is a difficulty of "Where do we stop to have a meaningful conversation and get anywhere?" What if my not addressing the chemistry of emotions actually IS important when we finally get up to the part of torture? This is where we must create some guidelines.

    1. If both parties agree that a claimed moral action seems unintuitive according to the theory, scope must be continually reduced to explain where this comes from.
    2. The more esoteric and unlikely the example, the more specification in the example is needed.
    3. Complex examples should be built out of already understood simpler examples.
    4. If the complexity is too much to explore, both parties can take previous guidelines and agreed upon intuitions as 'good enough for now'.

    So, examining your thought experiment, to me the most simple and common scope I can think to start with is about emotions moral value in relation to judgement. Lets see if you agree with my processes and guidelines above and see where you align with this first proposal about emotions as I've already typed enough for now!
  • Bob Ross
    1.2k


    Because two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom next to each other are not the same as water.

    Different existence isn’t more existence.

    Being is just what is in the sense of the whole; and the whole is not increasing when you combine two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. It is a transformation of parts of the whole into different stuff.

    While including the observation that sustaining this over time is more more existence overall then something which concentrates too much and causes collapse

    I think we are in agreement, then, that your ideal state is the most complicated actually possible state of arrangements of entities in reality with the addition that this state is self-sustaining. I think that amendment covers your concerns here.

    I generally understood your view of subjectivity to mean the fact we could not ever understand the thing in itself and were therefore 'subjective' in any attempts to capture it. I agree with the portion about being subjective beings, or 'subjects', but do not find that to be what 'subjectivity' describes. We can handle our attempts to define things concurrent with things in themselves objectively or subjectively. But, the act of being a being or a subject which can attempt to attribute identities that are concurrent with things in itself is not 'subjectivity' as usually understood

    1. I wasn’t referencing my view of ‘objectivity’, because it is irrelevant to my earlier point (about your view lacking evidence and argumentation for it being, in principle, about objective morality). I was using the standard definitions in metaethics and colloquial settings.

    2. My definition of objectivity is that it is that which exists mind-independently.

    3. My definition only precludes direct knowledge of what is objective—not any knowledge thereof.

    4. My interpretation of the consequences of #3 has slightly changed, although it isn’t relevant to #1 at all: our representative faculties are sufficiently accurate to give us indirect knowledge of the things as they are in-themselves: it is a mistake to confuse the things-in-themselves with absolute truth—and that is what I think you are doing (and so is Kant btw).

    While you may believe the moral theory is subjective

    Do clarify, I am not saying it is subjective because we only have direct knowledge of subjective representations of things: that’s your argument against yourself. My argument is that you have not provided sufficient elaboration how, in principle, “more existence is better” is a moral judgment which expresses something objective; or, in other words, how, in principle, the truth of the proposition “more existence is better” is stance-independent. These are standard ways of thinking about moral objectivity.

    and I do agree that parts of this discussion must be subjective as we do not have the means to elevate certain points to testable objectivity,

    I am just talking about your claim that “more existence is better”.

    realized that a subjective form of ethics gives people wiggle room. It allows most people to rely on intuitions, and we can rely on a general good in society that usually keeps things together.

    All moral theories, and all epistemic theories, rely fundamentally on intuitions: that isn’t unique to ‘subjective moralities’. However, I agree that, under ‘subjective moralities’, it is entirely possible for one person to be right that something is wrong (that a normal person would intuit is wrong, such as “torturing babies for fun”) while another person could be equally right that the same thing is right—since the proposition is indexical.

    If our intuitions tell us its wrong, we need a VERY good reason and clearly proven means to say, "This is still objectively true despite our moral intuitions".

    Agreed. The intuition needs to be demonstrated to be sufficiently unreliable; which requires sufficient evidence to support such a claim.

    So in your case where you invent a scenario that goes against both of our moral intuitions, you need to present a much more specified and provable argument for it to be taken seriously.

    Absolutely not! That was a basic, reasonable hypothetical akin to any hypothetical you will find in normative ethics; and, as such, you need to be able to respond and contend with it without trying to shift the burden of proof on the opposition. Now, if you need further clarification because I am overlooking (perhaps) some critical details which will determine whether it is wrong for dave to torture billy, then it is perfectly fine to ask for such and I will be more than happy to provide it; however, your response here is wholly inadequate. That’s like you asking me: “In your theory, how does it handle the 5 vs. 1 trolly problem?”, and my response is “the scenario you have invented needs to be presented in a much more specified and provable argument to be taken seriously”: obviously, that’s a derailment and a shifting of the burden of proof (in an invalid manner).

    Lets examine your scenario more closely and I think we'll see its not an objective scenario

    The conclusion of whether Dave should or should not torture Billy is stance-independent and thusly is objective. I don’t know why you would claim the scenario itself is non-objective: it is an hypothetical.

    First, what does it mean to "unlock potential?"

    It meant, in the scenario, that Dave, through experience, increases his abilities to torture people which is used in the field. Without it, arguably, he will not perform as proficiently in his work nor will he do it as creatively and skillfully as he could have. This, consequently, inhibits the potential existence he could have created throughout his work in the field.

    I think we can both agree that a person gains skill, and increases (all else being equal) potential existence through gaining and mastery that skill, only via experience. My potential as a human being is inhibited, and is thusly not fully reached, if I am not exposed to sufficient opportunities to recognize and realize my full potential.

    If part of Dave’s potential (as a human being) is to be a great torturer (which in this case can be used in the field), then preventing Dave from acquiring sufficient experience to recognize and realize that potential (all else being equal) inhibits potential existence. On top of that, the avoid any derailments, I stipulated that Billy has only an hour left to live, so it isn’t like Dave is significantly inhibiting or decreasing Billy’s overall potential (and subsequent potential existence Billy could conjure with his skills and creativity)(such as if Billy were not to be terminal and suffers tremendously from the after effects of being tortured, and this prevents him from realizing his full potential [as a human being]).

    Second, is this the 'only way?'

    Not a valid question in this case. The question is “in this scenario, would Dave be doing anything immoral by torturing Billy?”.

    Third, is this proven or assumed?

    Doesn’t matter: it is assumed as proven. That’s the whole point of hypotheticals (:

    With respect to your treatise on emotions, I think it derailed the conversation: I would like you to start with the hypothetical and answer it. If I am confused by your answer, then it is on me to ask for clarification. Is it immoral for dave to torture billy or not?

    If so, then elaborate briefly on why; and it is on me to ask for clarification from there.

    I look forward to hearing from you,
    Bob
  • Philosophim
    2.2k
    Different existence isn’t more existence.

    Being is just what is in the sense of the whole; and the whole is not increasing when you combine two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. It is a transformation of parts of the whole into different stuff.
    Bob Ross

    Lets tackle this a minute as I think this is really key to what I'm doing here. I'm not saying I have it figured out, so I really want to look at this more closely. The allowance of different existence is more existence than if it was not there. If hydrogen and oxygen had no potential to combine into water, that would be much less existence in the world. For one, life as we know it would be impossible. So its a fact that there is more existence in the universe that hydrogen and oxygen can combine into water.

    The question is really my measurement. I can calculate potential existence which is all the ways a material existence can express itself in combination with other existences. Those combinations create new identities, which are expressions of existence that could not happen when isolating the individual identities that make up the new one. Thus, one potential existence is "Hydrogen can combine with itself and oxygen to create water." But then there's the potential existence of its reality over time. While hydrogen has an overall potential to become water, does it have the potential to become water in the next second based on what's around it? Basically 'contextual potential' versus overall potential.

    I haven't included contextual potential yet as its hard enough just thinking about and communicating existence as flat potential in combination with expressions etc. We've been implicitly talking about it however when we talk about constrained examples. It comes into the light more with difficult to realize potentials such as a life. While it is extremely easy to end a life, it is relatively much more difficult to build one again. I don't know how to measure that value and may be another form of statistics if dived into deeply.

    So for the most part, I've kept it out of the conversation and decided to keep it as simple as possible. Thus I note that hydrogen and oxygen can bind into water, through I don't measure their statistical likelihood or difficulty in doing so. This is mostly a side consideration though, and the most important thing is that there is something to the potential formation of water. This allows all of life. Eliminate that, you and you eliminate a lot of potential existence.

    I think we are in agreement, then, that your ideal state is the most complicated actually possible state of arrangements of entities in reality with the addition that this state is self-sustaining. I think that amendment covers your concerns here.Bob Ross

    Yes, we haven't explored too much in depth, but the theory in general I feel fits into bits and pieces of other moral theories I've explored. Harmony is often times a higher level of existence than its lack. Nice to see an agreement!

    1. I wasn’t referencing my view of ‘objectivity’, because it is irrelevant to my earlier point (about your view lacking evidence and argumentation for it being, in principle, about objective morality). I was using the standard definitions in metaethics and colloquial settings.Bob Ross

    Ah, I see! I will agree I have not been able to prove there is an objective morality. All I've been able to argue is that if there is an objective morality, 'existence is good' is the only logical thing I can see it being. Thus it is by no means an empirical conclusion, but a logical one. But this is generally what philosophy is. If it was empirically confirmed, it would be a science. From my initial conclusion, what I am building is arguably not objective either, but an attempt at measurement that fits in with the initial conclusion. It is an attempt at building something objective, though this can only be proven with exploration. Its not an easy task, but I feel there's something there in its initial setup.

    All moral theories, and all epistemic theories, rely fundamentally on intuitions: that isn’t unique to ‘subjective moralities’. However, I agree that, under ‘subjective moralities’, it is entirely possible for one person to be right that something is wrong (that a normal person would intuit is wrong, such as “torturing babies for fun”) while another person could be equally right that the same thing is right—since the proposition is indexical.Bob Ross

    I would say intuitions are generally what spark disagreement. An objective morality, if discovered, would transcend intuitions. And I do not mean a claimed objective morality, but a solidly proven one. Our intuitions that the Sun circles around the Earth my exist, but they are objectively wrong. An objective theory of morality would be able to claim, "Your intuition is objectively wrong, and here is rationally why."

    So in your case where you invent a scenario that goes against both of our moral intuitions, you need to present a much more specified and provable argument for it to be taken seriously.

    Absolutely not! That was a basic, reasonable hypothetical akin to any hypothetical you will find in normative ethics; and, as such, you need to be able to respond and contend with it without trying to shift the burden of proof on the opposition.
    Bob Ross

    If this were a subjective claim to morality, I would agree. But this is not. We're trying to be as objective as reasonably possible. I'm not trying to shift the burden of proof or say you can't use the example. I'm noting that examples have to attempt to use the objective theory to be good examples. The key to this theory is that morality is measurable in some way. Where we cannot be precise, we must be able to at least reasonably approximate, estimate, or use previously concluded guidelines.

    That’s like you asking me: “In your theory, how does it handle the 5 vs. 1 trolly problem?”, and my response is “the scenario you have invented needs to be presented in a much more specified and provable argument to be taken seriously”Bob Ross

    No, that's a much more defined problem. In fact, I can answer that now. Taking into consideration that the person does not know the value of the human beings on the tracks, and the statistical likelihood that any one person is going to equal or surpass the impact on existence that 5 people will in total, you should change the track to hit the one person every time.

    In fact, the conversation might go a lot smoother if we stick to well defined and commonly known ethical scenarios before going into our own inventions. But if you wish to keep the example you've given, there are a few things you must clear up for this to be evaluated correctly. This theory is about measurement. If you create a situation with relative measurement, you need to be specific about how much is being gained and lost in the exchange. I'll summarize the problems with your example again.

    a. 'Unlock potential' is not a measurement
    b. You cannot exclude the consideration of alternative ways of 'unlocking potential', or at least give me a reason why. If killing a baby would save millions of lives, but so would clapping my hands, then clapping my hands would be the moral thing to do. If the only way to save millions of lives was to kill a baby, then killing the baby would be the moral thing to do. That doesn't suddenly prove the abstract, "Killing a baby to save millions of lives is objectively the right thing to do." Context is key.
    c. We need to start simple and work our way up to complex problems. If you had set the scenario up as, "If we don't torture this person, then people will die." this would have been something more easy to evaluate. Which is why I broke it down further into the important base question: "What are the moral values of human emotions"?

    Give me some credit Bob, I'm not trying to dodge. :)

    First, what does it mean to "unlock potential?"

    It meant, in the scenario, that Dave, through experience, increases his abilities to torture people which is used in the field. Without it, arguably, he will not perform as proficiently in his work nor will he do it as creatively and skillfully as he could have.
    Bob Ross

    There are still a few problems with this. Why is torturing people good under the theory? You assume it is good, but this must be demonstrated first. Why is torturing this man the only way to become good at torturing? Does a soldier need to kill sick people before they go into the battlefield and kill the enemy? Its an odd scenario.

    On top of that, the avoid any derailments, I stipulated that Billy has only an hour left to live, so it isn’t like Dave is significantly inhibiting or decreasing Billy’s overall potentialBob Ross

    I actually really liked the 'he'll live only an hour'. I think that provides some interesting consideration, you just have a lot of other unclear points and questions that need answering first in your example. In fact, this was the very type of example I gave in the submarine. Everyone is going to die in an hour, one person can kill the other nine to live nine hours. And in the end, its more moral for everyone to live for one hour. But you'll note I eliminated other considerations down to the point we could focus on just the time to live. Try narrowing down all incomplete aspects or variables of your example.

    Second, is this the 'only way?'

    Not a valid question in this case. The question is “in this scenario, would Dave be doing anything immoral by torturing Billy?”.
    Bob Ross

    No, a completely valid question when using the theory of existence. Its a theory about measuring existential gain and loss. Its necessary to discuss about what is relatively being gained and lost. When you enter into this theory, you must present moral scenarios using what the theory requires.

    Third, is this proven or assumed?

    Doesn’t matter: it is assumed as proven. That’s the whole point of hypotheticals (:
    Bob Ross

    To be fair here, I should have detailed what I meant. Do we have a measurable result that can conclusively show "This man will now be able to extract information from an enemy better than he would not have been able to before." Its a theory about measurement, so when we're asking to look at a result we need to have it measured in some way to make a comparison.

    With respect to your treatise on emotions, I think it derailed the conversationBob Ross

    It wasn't intended to derail, only explain some initial thoughts I had when I first started this theory years ago. This theory is not a carefully concocted theory that I've spent years mastering. Its a baby. With babies you like to talk about some of your feelings about them sometimes. But to be fair, you're probably more interested in the theory then my feelings about it. I'll try to keep the commentary down and just focus on the points. :)

    Appreciate the conversation as always Bob!
  • Bob Ross
    1.2k


    If hydrogen and oxygen had no potential to combine into water, that would be much less existence in the world. For one, life as we know it would be impossible. So its a fact that there is more existence in the universe that hydrogen and oxygen can combine into water.

    I think our dispute here requires me to get a bit more specific (to convey it better). It is critical to distinguish ‘Being’ from ‘beings’—which, if you happen to be familiar with Heidegger (although it is not imperative that you are) is the difference between ontology proper and ontics (viz., the difference between studying the nature of ‘to be’ itself vs. the natures of beings). You seem to be conflating these two in a manner that actually matters for this discussion.

    “More existence” is not synonymous with “more entities”, and you seem, so far, to be confusing the two (with all due respect). When you denote something with “more existence”, that is more of Being, not more beings.

    Why is this important? Because, if you are claiming “more entities is better”, then your argument is about finding maximal complexity and number of beings; whereas if you are claiming “more existence is better” then your argument is about the increase of Being itself. These are two very different claims. By my lights, your entire analysis so far is “ontical” and not “ontological” (in that Heideggerian sense)—i.e., it has been about “more entities” and not “more existence”. Perhaps my analytical mind is overcomplicating this, but I genuinely can’t tell which claim you are intending to make; and so far it seems like you intend to provide an “ontological” analysis but then provide an “ontical” one.

    For those reasons, I find your response to that portion of my response to still be plagued by this issue; and thusly it has not been resolved (by your latest response).

    Thus it is by no means an empirical conclusion, but a logical one.

    I would never, nor should anyone ever, demand your to prove via solely empirical tests that morality is objective because that is impossible: metaethics is, and always will be, philosophical. This does not, however, mean that no proof can be provided; nor that metaethics is not a science.

    By proof, I just mean an argument which provides reasonable evidence for, that hopefully I will find sufficient to conclude that, your position at least validly purports that “more existence [or entities] is better” is objectively true.

    It is an attempt at building something objective, though this can only be proven with exploration.

    There is never going to be a way for you to explore your way into proving that “more existence [or entities] is better”: that is a prize sought after in vain—for ethics, at its core, will always be arguments from reason without a definitive scientific test that can be performed to verify it. Viz., you will never run into a phenomena that “more existence is better”, nor any test of phenomena that renders it (definitively) true. Tests and empirical evidence can be, nevertheless, used to provide more credence and credibility to the ethical position—but it will not definitively prove it akin to test gravity.

    I would say intuitions are generally what spark disagreement. An objective morality, if discovered, would transcend intuitions.

    No insofar as, epistemically, all knowledge is predicated, at its core, on intuitions (i.e., intellectual seemings); and this is unescapable. Nothing epistemically transcends intuitions. Yes insofar as ontologically (or, to keep with my Heideggerian usage of the term, I should say ontically) it, yes, would transcend intuitions (being that it is objective).

    "Your intuition is objectively wrong, and here is rationally why."

    This is impossible. Your “rational why” is predicated off of intuitions as well. You are shooting yourself in the foot by trying to argue with an inuitionless perspective.

    Our intuitions that the Sun circles around the Earth my exist, but they are objectively wrong.

    That they are objectively wrong is based off of intuitions of the (overwhelming) evidence that the earth revolves around the sun; and not some sort of epistemically inuitionlessly obtained “objective truth”.

    Again, you are shooting in the foot here.

    Taking into consideration that the person does not know the value of the human beings on the tracks, and the statistical likelihood that any one person is going to equal or surpass the impact on existence that 5 people will in total, you should change the track to hit the one person every time.

    What about the 5 patients thought experiment? Is is moral for the doctor to kill and dissect one innocent, healthy person to save 5 terminally ill patients?

    No, that's a much more defined problem. In fact, I can answer that now.

    I think my example is just as defined, I think you are just fully appreciating that everything else is equal.

    There’s one person on one train track and 5 on another. A train is coming on the track and cannot stop. It is, by default, going to run over the 5, being it is on that track. You have access to a lever that will switch, if pulled, the train to the track with the 1 person instead of the 5. Should you pull the switch?

    There’s a person that is terminally sick, named Billy, that is going to die in 1 hour (from now). Another person, named Dave, is a trainee torturer for a government agency. Is it morally permissible (or obligatory) for Dave to torture Billy to death (up to or prior to that 1 hour ending, when Billy would have died anyways) to practice torturing people?

    They are both easily understandable, and both imply that all else is equal. There is absolutely nothing more I need to add in either case for you to answer.

    b. You cannot exclude the consideration of alternative ways of 'unlocking potential', or at least give me a reason why.

    Because this is exactly analogous to if you were to respond to the 5 to 1 trolley dilemma with “why can’t I consider other ways to save them than just pulling the switch?”. It makes no sense to ask that, when one grasps the hypothetical as all else being equal.

    c. We need to start simple and work our way up to complex problems.

    We do not need to do that in order for you to answer. You can answer “no” or “yes” with a brief elaboration without us sidestepping the hypothetical and derailing into a treatise on emotions.

    Give me some credit Bob, I'm not trying to dodge. :)

    I understand that it is not your intention (and I have no doubt that it is not your intention); but you nevertheless are. I can give a parody of this (invalid sidestepping you are doing) with the 5 vs. 1 trolley problem to demonstrate if you would like (and one example I gave above).

    Second, is this the 'only way?'

    Not a valid question in this case. The question is “in this scenario, would Dave be doing anything immoral by torturing Billy?”. — Bob Ross

    No, a completely valid question when using the theory of existence. Its a theory about measuring existential gain and loss.

    I think that if you understand that it is invalid to ask “what other ways could one save the people that are tied to the tracks besides pulling a switch (and condemning one party to death or letting one party die)?” then you can understand that it is invalid to ask “what other ways could Dave practice torture without torturing someone?”. You are inadvertently trying to smuggle new variables into the equation….not on my watch (:

    "This man will now be able to extract information from an enemy better than he would not have been able to before."

    Oh I see. I would think that it would make Dave better at torturing by practicing torturing: I think that is a pretty uncontroversial point [that practicing a skill makes one better at it].

    It wasn't intended to derail, only explain some initial thoughts I had when I first started this theory years ago. This theory is not a carefully concocted theory that I've spent years mastering. Its a baby. With babies you like to talk about some of your feelings about them sometimes. But to be fair, you're probably more interested in the theory then my feelings about it. I'll try to keep the commentary down and just focus on the points. :)

    I totally understand and am more than happy to discuss! However, I do not want it to be at the expense of sidestepping thought experiments.

    Appreciate the conversation as always Bob!

    Same to you! (:

    Bob
  • Philosophim
    2.2k
    “More existence” is not synonymous with “more entities”, and you seem, so far, to be confusing the two (with all due respect). When you denote something with “more existence”, that is more of Being, not more beings.Bob Ross

    You bring up an interesting note with Heidegger. I definitely have struggled with the idea of expressions and potential existence. Its a means to measure, but is it a good means? Does it convey the core underlying idea of "Existence is better?"

    Why is this important? Because, if you are claiming “more entities is better”, then your argument is about finding maximal complexity and number of beings; whereas if you are claiming “more existence is better” then your argument is about the increase of Being itself.Bob Ross

    Perhaps my analytical mind is overcomplicating this, but I genuinely can’t tell which claim you are intending to make; and so far it seems like you intend to provide an “ontological” analysis but then provide an “ontical” one.Bob Ross

    No, I don't think you're overcomplicating the issue. Its a key base of the theory, so it really needs to be hammered into and explored. Lets explore from the base and why I'm grouping 'existence' apart from 'beings'.

    It all starts with the idea that "Existence is better than no existence". What is existence? What 'is'. Matter, thoughts, concepts, etc. But how do we separate existences into discretes? The way I do that is to note what I call expressions, or when there is a unique interaction between a 'glob' of existence and another 'glob' of existence.

    Do we call this a being? Thoughts exist, but we would not normally call it a 'being'. Also it seems odd to call an atom a 'being', but maybe so. If "Being" is existence, then "Beings" are just descrete identities within existence. Meaning that from my definition, more discrete identities is equivalent to more existence. The end goal to all of this is to measure the underlying point, "Existence is good." I'm not
    sure "Existences" are innately good; it is the fact that they are part of the glob of existence which is what makes them good. Existences are also not separate from existence. Its just the parceling of a piece of existence into something quantifiable. Its basic, and intended to be as simple of a jump from "Existence" to identities of "Existences" as possible.

    In the end, we are discrete identifiers, and this is how we measure. If we're going to measure existence, this seems to be the best start from my viewpoint. I'll take your thoughts on this.

    By proof, I just mean an argument which provides reasonable evidence for, that hopefully I will find sufficient to conclude that, your position at least validly purports that “more existence [or entities] is better” is objectively true.Bob Ross

    True. I think the best that I can argue is that if there is an objective morality, "Existence is good" must be at the base of it all. Where I'm making a less certain step is stating "More existence is good." Because that means I have to quantify. But how do I quantify existence appropriately? Is my quantification of existence merely a human perception that's easily digestible to us? Or is my quantification something that stands the test against reality? Of this I am unsure.

    Thus it is by no means an empirical conclusion, but a logical one.

    I would never, nor should anyone ever, demand your to prove via solely empirical tests that morality is objective because that is impossible: metaethics is, and always will be, philosophical. This does not, however, mean that no proof can be provided; nor that metaethics is not a science.
    Bob Ross

    Agreed. The question here is can the theory which I'm proposing be applied? Its one thing to claim a logical conclusion, but does it work in practice? As you can tell, this bleeds out from my knowledge theory that something which cannot be applied cannot be applicably known. An objective morality must be something more than an idea. It must be useful with real results that make sense.

    It is an attempt at building something objective, though this can only be proven with exploration.

    There is never going to be a way for you to explore your way into proving that “more existence [or entities] is better”: that is a prize sought after in vain—for ethics, at its core, will always be arguments from reason without a definitive scientific test that can be performed to verify it. Viz., you will never run into a phenomena that “more existence is better”, nor any test of phenomena that renders it (definitively) true.
    Bob Ross

    True. I'm more concerned with the quantization of existence and the theories proposed leading to logically consistent results. Further, I have a concern with things outside of our precision. Estimates and patterns seem to be the best way to discuss this in a general sense of the theory, but I'm not naive enough to think there won't be exceptions. Exceptions can generally be handled as long as the core underlying structure is strong. That's my main concern at this moment.

    "Your intuition is objectively wrong, and here is rationally why."

    This is impossible. Your “rational why” is predicated off of intuitions as well. You are shooting yourself in the foot by trying to argue with an inuitionless perspective.
    Bob Ross

    I'm not talking about "My" rational why at this point, as in no way can I claim its purely figured out. I'm noting in the abstract sense that rational conclusions which are confirmed to be facts trump intuitions. Intuitions are subjective, while facts are objective. If I intuit that eating meat that's been on the counter for 2 days will be fine, food poisoning will demonstrate that intuition to be wrong.

    Our intuitions that the Sun circles around the Earth my exist, but they are objectively wrong.

    That they are objectively wrong is based off of intuitions of the (overwhelming) evidence that the earth revolves around the sun; and not some sort of epistemically inuitionlessly obtained “objective truth”.
    Bob Ross

    Let me define intuition. Intuition is a strong feeling that bends us for or against a decision/conclusion. This is purely subjective and may differ between individuals. The fact that the Earth revolves around the sun is not determined by our feelings, but by the objective conclusions we've made through definitions, observation, and tests. I think we can both agree that 'truth' is something outside of knowledge. A fact however, is objective. No matter my personal viewpoint or opinion on the matter, it still stands.

    Taking into consideration that the person does not know the value of the human beings on the tracks, and the statistical likelihood that any one person is going to equal or surpass the impact on existence that 5 people will in total, you should change the track to hit the one person every time.

    What about the 5 patients thought experiment? Is is moral for the doctor to kill and dissect one innocent, healthy person to save 5 terminally ill patients?
    Bob Ross

    This is a fine follow up. First we've established the solution for the first part which you have no problem with. Now we can go into the second part.

    If we are not considering the complexities of human society, then yes. Let me clarify. Lets replace the human beings on the table with lizards. Lizards don't care about one another, and they don't form societies. No question-dissect the first lizard and save the others if there was no chance of failure or complications.

    Recall earlier when talking about moral issues that scope can go up or down by one. The next scope after individual human beings is society. While killing the one innocent person against their will to save five others might seem fine outside of society, how would that affect society?

    Society would be affected negatively. Society works as a whole because there must be some trust in society as preserving one's personal success in some way. At its lowest its fear that if you leave society you'll starve and die. At its highest ideal its that you trust everyone around you to make completely rational and unselfish decisions for the greater good.

    Human society is not the same as a clump of cells. Each human being has awareness and agency. Societies work in part because there is a modicum of respect for this sense of agency. When you destroy societies trust that it will not respect your agency, they begin to foment rebellion, mistrust, and secrets. This ends up costing and hurting more than the five people saved over time.

    The problem in this case is not the 1 vs five people. If a person volunteers to die for the other five, few would consider this immoral by intuition. They key difference is whether the doctor respects the agency from the human being involved. Volunteering your life is fine, but taking it against your will is not. If you wish me to explore this in more detail I will, but I'll leave it here for now because there's a lot more to cover in my overall response to you.

    I think my example is just as defined, I think you are just fully appreciating that everything else is equal.Bob Ross

    Well, its not. :) I gave you a few reasons why. I had a professor who berated me for my own personal examples when common examples would serve first, so I get your feeling. On further thought I realized he was right. If there is a common example it is better to address because they have been examined by several people over years and have been honed to be clear, concise, and convey the point well. Further, it helps to take and compare something familiar to a brand new theory. If the theory can handle the well honed cases, then you can stretch and get creative.

    Lets see...after looking at all of your objections as to why your thought experiment is valid, let me sum it up the problem as this is already on overall lengthy reply. You are not quantifying values in your example. We are sacrificing a life for...what? What value is returned? "Better torturing" does not tell me value. Why is torturing good? A much better example would be, "If we torture this man 1 hour prior to his death, we absolutely will save five lives." Here we have values that we can consider. If you can't quantify it, then we can't answer it according to the theory.

    This current example just needs to be made more clear and other questions implicit in the example need to be solved first. What value does being a better torturer give? What is the moral value of human emotions? How does torturing a dying man help with getting information from a soldier who wants to go back to his family? Its not as simple or straightforward of an example as you think it is.

    I think that if you understand that it is invalid to ask “what other ways could one save the people that are tied to the tracks besides pulling a switch (and condemning one party to death or letting one party die)?” then you can understand that it is invalid to ask “what other ways could Dave practice torture without torturing someone?”. You are inadvertently trying to smuggle new variables into the equationBob Ross

    I wanted to address this one specifically as a further example of a refined and well known example vs one that needs a second pass. First, for those familiar with the trolley example it already known that you can't stop the train. Part of the problem is, "There's no way to stop the train, the only option is to switch tracks." This is one of the first questions people will ask who are not familiar with the trolley problem. So no, I'm not smuggling variables into the equation. I'm asking you for the limitations of the thought experiment. If you don't explicitly limit it, then people are going to say, "Then have the man practice in a way that doesn't hurt an innocent person."

    Alright Bob, these are getting long again! Let me know what you think.
  • Bob Ross
    1.2k


    It all starts with the idea that "Existence is better than no existence". What is existence? What 'is'. Matter, thoughts, concepts, etc. But how do we separate existences into discretes?

    You conflated them again. “existences” here refers to beings, and ‘existence’ refers to Being.

    If "Being" is existence, then "Beings" are just descrete identities within existence. Meaning that from my definition, more discrete identities is equivalent to more existence

    The first sentence I have no quarrel with; but the second doesn’t follow. More discrete identities equals more beings, and definitely not more Being.

    I am thinking of Being as a substance: that substance, by my lights, is not increasing when you are able to meaningfully separate, through identity, two different things upon one emerging from the other. Are you claiming to the contrary?

    "Existence is good." I'm not
    sure "Existences" are innately good;

    By my lights, your whole analysis or ‘increasing existence’ is actually ‘increasing identities’; so it is confusing me that you are saying that you are unsure as to whether existences (beings) are good.

    it is the fact that they are part of the glob of existence which is what makes them good

    Then, what makes more beings good? Is, somehow, more beings directly correlated to more Being? Is that the idea?

    I think the best that I can argue is that if there is an objective morality, "Existence is good" must be at the base of it all.

    This is, if I remember correctly, because you think it is internally incoherent to posit that non-existence is good; but I don’t think it is.

    Another issue, that I may have failed to mention before, is that just because it is (internally) incoherent to posit X, it does not follow it is thereby (internally) coherent to posit not X; and vice-versa.

    Likewise, even if it were (internally) coherent to posit “existence is good”, this does not entail that the truth of the proposition “existence is good” is stance-independent.

    Intuitions are subjective, while facts are objective.

    Let me define intuition. Intuition is a strong feeling that bends us for or against a decision/conclusion.

    I was meaning ‘intuition’ in the philosophical sense: an intellectual seeming. If by ‘intuition’ you mean ‘a gut feeling’; then I rescind my earlier comments about it. Inuitions, in your sense, are useless to epistemology.

    Nevertheless, you are absolutely correct that intuitions (in both of our senses of the term) are subjective, and facts are objective; and that the latter trumps the former. However, this does not negate my original point, which used my sense of the term, that epistemically all knowledge is predicated on intuitions (about evidence); so the proof that the earth revolves around the sun being a fact is predicated on some set of intuitions—being that it is epistemic. Ontologically (or, I should say ontically) you are absolutely right that facts trump intuitions; but, in reality, from a subject’s point of view trying to know the world, intuitions are king. I cannot prove to you that anything is a fact without appealing to some intuition I have about the evidence I present to you; and you must share a similar intuition to accept it. This is unescapable.

    For example:

    If I intuit that eating meat that's been on the counter for 2 days will be fine, food poisoning will demonstrate that intuition to be wrong.

    That one will likely get food poisoning from eating meat that has been left on the counter for 2 days is predicated on intuitions (about evidence): epistemically, a debate about this would boil down to intuitions vs. intuitions. There’s no way around it.

    think we can both agree that 'truth' is something outside of knowledge. A fact however, is objective. No matter my personal viewpoint or opinion on the matter, it still stands.

    I totally agree here; and I don’t think our points are incompatible with each other.

    No question-dissect the first lizard and save the others if there was no chance of failure or complications.

    I disagree with that.

    The next scope after individual human beings is society.

    Why? That’s entirely arbitrary.

    They key difference is whether the doctor respects the agency from the human being involved. Volunteering your life is fine, but taking it against your will is not.

    Why? How would it, total net, in society, decrease “existences”?

    We are sacrificing a life for...what?

    Dave is torturing Billy to practice torturing.

    What value is returned?

    Dave is better at torturing people, and this increases the “potential beings/existences” he is capable of.

    Why is torturing good?

    That just begs the question: I am asking you whether or not it is immoral for Dave to torture Billy in this scenario. I am surprised you are going to such extents to avoid answering.

    To be completely transparent with you, I think you already know that most people would automatically say “no, it is immoral for Dave to torture Billy, because it is does not respect Billy’s rights” without needing any further elaboration; but I think you equally recognize that your theory doesn’t afford such an easy answer, because the deciding factor, by-at-large, for you in this scenario is going to be potential existences. Quite frankly, I think you are committed to saying it is morally permissible and obligatory all else being equal (but I don’t want to put words in your mouth).

    "If we torture this man 1 hour prior to his death, we absolutely will save five lives."

    I understand that you want me to add in something like “and Dave will only have been able to torture an evil captive effectively in order to save millions of lives from a terrorist attack with the practice he got from torturing Billy”; but I am not going to do that. Right now, the scenario is claiming Dave will increase overall, all else being equal, potential “existence” (as you put it) because he has a new skill, and is better at it.

    If you can't quantify it, then we can't answer it according to the theory.

    This doesn’t make sense. You are saying that you cannot answer if Dave is acting immorally when he tortures Billy for practice; when answer should be an emphatic “yes”.

    This current example just needs to be made more clear and other questions implicit in the example need to be solved first.

    Please ask away, then; and I will do my best to answer adequately.

    What value does being a better torturer give?

    Originally, I was saying it would help him as a member of a government agency; so presumably to save lives by torturing captured opponents. However, to keep this really simple, let’s say it is just for its own sake. Dave is practicing torturing people for the sake of being better at it; just like how one can practice basketball for the sole sake of getting better at it.

    What is the moral value of human emotions?

    That’s for you to decide implicitly with your answer: it begs the question to ask me before answering.

    How does torturing a dying man help with getting information from a soldier who wants to go back to his family?

    Since this is taking much longer for you to answer than I expected, let’s just say, for now, that Dave isn’t working for a government agency but is just torturing Billy for the sake of being a better torturer. Is it immoral?

    If you can answer that, then we will move on to adding in that Dave is working for allegedly the greater good.

    This is one of the first questions people will ask who are not familiar with the trolley problem.

    This is because people don’t generally understand the nature of hypotheticals and don’t get what “all else being equal” means.

    I'm asking you for the limitations of the thought experiment.

    Ask away, then!

    I look forward to hearing from you,
    Bob
  • AmadeusD
    1.8k
    Have either of you read Process and Reality by Alfred North Whitehead?
    You're coming eerily close to his method of trying to ascertain a moral calculation, though the entire book merely sets the 'staging'. Im sure his other works take it further.
  • Philosophim
    2.2k
    It all starts with the idea that "Existence is better than no existence". What is existence? What 'is'. Matter, thoughts, concepts, etc. But how do we separate existences into discretes?

    You conflated them again. “existences” here refers to beings, and ‘existence’ refers to Being.
    Bob Ross

    Apologies for an error in my grammar in this case for sure, but you understood my point that an 'existence' is just a discrete identity of existence right?

    If "Being" is existence, then "Beings" are just discrete identities within existence. Meaning that from my definition, more discrete identities is equivalent to more existence

    The first sentence I have no quarrel with; but the second doesn’t follow. More discrete identities equals more beings, and definitely not more Being.
    Bob Ross

    Take it in reverse then. If we decreased the number of discrete identities, we would have less existence correct? More existences then by proxy are 'more existence'. And I am not using the term 'Being', but my breakdown of existence. You introduce other philosophical terms as if its the argument a lot Bob. :) Take the idea of existence and existences that I am noting, and see what I'm stating first. If "Being" is identical in every way to my definition of "Existence", then we can interchange it. I'm not sure we're there yet though.

    I am thinking of Being as a substance: that substance, by my lights, is not increasing when you are able to meaningfully separate, through identity, two different things upon one emerging from the other. Are you claiming to the contrary?Bob Ross

    The term 'substance' is defined differently between many philosophers. So I don't want to bring connotations I'm not intending into the discussion. Existence is 'what is'. Existences are discrete identities within existence. For the purposes here, what I have deemed a valid discrete existence is that which expresses itself in a unique way. Thus the more expressions there are within existence, the more existence there is.

    "Existence is good." I'm not
    sure "Existences" are innately good;

    By my lights, your whole analysis or ‘increasing existence’ is actually ‘increasing identities’; so it is confusing me that you are saying that you are unsure as to whether existences (beings) are good.
    Bob Ross

    To be clear, it is not so much 'increasing identities' as evaluating how material existences can express on their own and compared to each other. The identity is based in part on something real, not merely taking a random cut out of existence and calling it an identity. I know you don't think 'material existence' is important, but this is why it is. If you wish, you can call it, the 'smallest identity' within the sea of identities to not derail the topic. The key really is at the end of the day finding meaningful discretes within existence, not merely within an observer. The leap from blob to things.

    Whether I'm creating things optimally or not, the only way to evaluate a morality that is based on, "Existence is good," is to observe some means of quantifying which can be standardized in some way. And yet, it shouldn't be about a life's ability to quantify, but something which would still be a reasonable quantification even if living beings did not exist. The idea of "Space" seems to make this easier. There is the status of 'things' not touching or touching. When they touch they behave a different way then when not touching. This would happen whether people were able to observe this or not. Thus an expression is how some 'thing' exists when alone or touching another 'thing'.

    This combination of expressions creates new expressions that can then repeat this pattern. Once again, imagine a universe where no atoms every combined into molecules. Now imagine they do and create the richness of our universe. Do you see how ours is a universe of greater existence than that? Can we honestly say the former universe is as good as ours? No, both my intuitions and the idea of expressions say its not.

    Then, what makes more beings good? Is, somehow, more beings directly correlated to more Being? Is that the idea?Bob Ross

    It is the above idea I'm trying to get at.

    I think the best that I can argue is that if there is an objective morality, "Existence is good" must be at the base of it all.

    This is, if I remember correctly, because you think it is internally incoherent to posit that non-existence is good; but I don’t think it is.
    Bob Ross

    I agree it is not incoherent if an objective morality does not exist. If it does, then I believe its incoherent. But we've gone over that and agreed to disagree on this for now. I appreciate you humoring me as if it were so. This means that even if what we're exploring here sounds viable, you get full rights to say, "Eh, but its just a theory." :)

    Intuitions are subjective, while facts are objective.

    Let me define intuition. Intuition is a strong feeling that bends us for or against a decision/conclusion.

    I was meaning ‘intuition’ in the philosophical sense: an intellectual seeming. If by ‘intuition’ you mean ‘a gut feeling’; then I rescind my earlier comments about it. Inuitions, in your sense, are useless to epistemology.
    Bob Ross

    Correct. Generally if I bring up a term and it could be deemed in a philosophical sense versus modern English sense, its going to have a modern English meaning. If I do bring up a particular philosophical lexicon, I will be usually make an attempt to define it clearly. As I've told you before, I find the introduction of many philosophical terms problematic. They are often interpreted differently by people, require an exploration into the philosophers that coined them and debated over them, and generally bog down conversation into debates over terminology rather than 'the idea'. I also want to be able to communicate my ideas with non-philsophers. Cultural lexicons are not useful for such things.

    However, this does not negate my original point, which used my sense of the term, that epistemically all knowledge is predicated on intuitions (about evidence); so the proof that the earth revolves around the sun being a fact is predicated on some set of intuitions—being that it is epistemic.Bob Ross

    You've read my knowledge theory, so you know I don't ascribe to that. :) I believe there is a clear distinction between reasoned and deduced conclusions versus intuitions. But I think this is another debate we could have another time and probably irrelevant to the scope of the thread.

    No question-dissect the first lizard and save the others if there was no chance of failure or complications.

    I disagree with that.
    Bob Ross

    Why? Do you disagree because it doesn't make sense for the theory, or do you disagree because it clashes with another theory? This is why we need to start with simple and clearly defined cases first. If you disagree with something as fundamental as this, its no wonder you're having difficulties with my points that we need to break down more complex arguments. Hammer into this on your next reply, I want to see where you're coming from here.

    The next scope after individual human beings is society.

    Why? That’s entirely arbitrary.
    Bob Ross

    How so? We've already noted that its reasonable that a moral scope can go up or down one within a conversation. As you have not limited societal considerations from the example, its a reasonable consideration. If you want to limit societal examples, use the lizard example so we can ensure any implicit ideas or feelings about human society are removed.

    They key difference is whether the doctor respects the agency from the human being involved. Volunteering your life is fine, but taking it against your will is not.

    Why? How would it, total net, in society, decrease “existences”?
    Bob Ross

    I mentioned a whole portion about society cooperation and unity. I can go deeper into this, I want to make sure you caught that first.

    We are sacrificing a life for...what?

    Dave is torturing Billy to practice torturing.
    Bob Ross

    I'm really trying to get this home Bob, but there needs to be a comparative existence evaluation here. An off the cuff analogy to what you're saying here is, "We're exchanging some liters for a kilogram". I don't know how to compare the two. If you can't construct a proper comparison, we can't do a moral evaluation. We are losing something to get something else. What is the value of what is being lost versus the value of what is being gained? If you don't know, then its a bad example and we need to break it down until we can know.

    What value is returned?

    Dave is better at torturing people, and this increases the “potential beings/existences” he is capable of.
    Bob Ross

    Once again. What is being lost in either quantity, and what is being gained by quantity? Do we have a pattern of return we can reuse with something we've already figured out quantities of? Again, this is an incomplete example to ask.

    Why is torturing good?

    That just begs the question: I am asking you whether or not it is immoral for Dave to torture Billy in this scenario. I am surprised you are going to such extents to avoid answering.
    Bob Ross

    Again, I'm surprised after I've already told you: I'm not trying to avoid the answer. Listen again. You are saying we are going to torture someone. Implicitly, that means you believe there is a value to be gained. What is it, and can we quantify it against the man on the table? What is the context and scope of what is at play here? That's how you use this theory. You can't use a theory of moral evaluation without proper evaluation in your example. Like the trolly problem, 1 life for 5 lives is simple. You're comparing apples and oranges and we haven't decided how valuable a apple or an orange is yet.

    o be completely transparent with you, I think you already know that most people would automatically say “no, it is immoral for Dave to torture Billy, because it is does not respect Billy’s rights” without needing any further elaboration; but I think you equally recognize that your theory doesn’t afford such an easy answer....Bob Ross

    I thought that went without saying. We've established a theory, and now we have to apply this nascent theory to moral examples to see what would come out. I mean, if you came up with a theory of harmony, and I gave you an example that had a question about "what is harmonous about this situation?" we would sit down and try to determine that right? We would have to contextualize an example through the lens of the harmony theory, same here. You're using a theory that quantifies existence, so you need to make sure your examples can be quantified in some way, and ready to be quantified where they aren't yet.

    As I suspected, we're going to be talking about your example for 2-3 more replies aren't we? I suppose you'll take my request to 'use established examples so don't get bogged down and can build your understanding of the theory', is going to be assumed as dodging though. So *sigh* here we go. :P

    ...because the deciding factor, by-at-large, for you in this scenario is going to be potential existences. Quite frankly, I think you are committed to saying it is morally permissible and obligatory all else being equal (but I don’t want to put words in your mouth).Bob Ross

    It is potential and actual expressed existence. We cannot exclude one or the other as that dictates the entire set of existence. No, in the loose case you've presented we're not even close to concluding that its morally permissible. Depending on how it scoped, it might be. We need a proper scope and measurements we can evaluate.

    "If we torture this man 1 hour prior to his death, we absolutely will save five lives."

    I understand that you want me to add in something like “and Dave will only have been able to torture an evil captive effectively in order to save millions of lives from a terrorist attack with the practice he got from torturing Billy”; but I am not going to do that.
    Bob Ross

    You don't have to do that specific example, but you need to do better than what you have now. I need some type of quantified context to compare here.

    Right now, the scenario is claiming Dave will increase overall, all else being equal, potential “existence” (as you put it) because he has a new skill, and is better at it.Bob Ross

    Maybe you're misunderstanding this theory. This theory of moralities only blanket statement is: "More existence is better". But that's all determined by the context and measurement of the situation. My theory cannot state, "Torturing is always wrong." unless I have provided all possible contexts and measurements of torture and its always found to be a total loss of existence. It may be that "Torturing is always wrong," but I can't claim that without working through all the possibilities. Maybe you'll make a context and evaluation where torturing this guy is moral. But I can't make a judgement one way or another until you specify the context and quantities out.

    If you can't quantify it, then we can't answer it according to the theory.

    This doesn’t make sense. You are saying that you cannot answer if Dave is acting immorally when he tortures Billy for practice; when answer should be an emphatic “yes”.
    Bob Ross

    According to my theory, why should it be yes with this little to go on? I hope the above is helping you understand a bit better that this needs more details and context.

    What value does being a better torturer give?

    Originally, I was saying it would help him as a member of a government agency; so presumably to save lives by torturing captured opponents. However, to keep this really simple, let’s say it is just for its own sake. Dave is practicing torturing people for the sake of being better at it; just like how one can practice basketball for the sole sake of getting better at it.
    Bob Ross

    Sure, this one is a little more defined and straight forward. What we need to do is establish the worth and value of human emotions, where I did prior in terms of actions. Self-improvement alone is simply for the emotion of self-satisfaction. There is no other value in honing a skill if one's goal is simply to hone a skill. Taken in comparison of emotion vs emotion alone, one person's satisfaction is not worth another person's horror. Add in bodily degradation and cell damage, and torturing another person for pleasurable self-improvement is definitely not moral. Finally of course there are several other ways to improve one's ability to torture that do not inflict unnecessary harm on another individual.

    An honestly even simpler comparison is bullying a person. Lets say I make fun of another person for pleasure. I decrease their emotions which lowers their health a bit and diminishes them as a person for my self-gratification. The bully also has loss. A lower view of humanity as things opposed to a cooperative entity. A misapplication of use of their feelings. Feelings are supposed to strive to compel us to take action. Emotions which compel us to decrease societal cohesion or hurt other people for fun compel us to lower existence. Not when the option exists for the bully to interact with another person that makes them feel neutral/better while the bully also can feel great about themselves. We could dovetail into moral status, or just moral base emotions again if you wish.

    Anyway, consider the overall points in seeing moral issues through the lens of the theory and lets see if we can focus on that. Good writing as always Bob, I'll catch your reply when I can.
  • Philosophim
    2.2k
    Have either of you read Process and Reality by Alfred North Whitehead?AmadeusD

    No, but I'll check it out. Thanks!
  • Bob Ross
    1.2k



    Then, what makes more beings good? Is, somehow, more beings directly correlated to more Being? Is that the idea? — Bob Ross

    It is the above idea I'm trying to get at.

    I am just uncertain as to if more beings actually creates more of Being itself; so I am going to refrain from commenting on this part.

    I agree it is not incoherent if an objective morality does not exist.

    I am saying it is not incoherent even if an objective morality exists.

    But we've gone over that and agreed to disagree on this for now. I appreciate you humoring me as if it were so. This means that even if what we're exploring here sounds viable, you get full rights to say, "Eh, but its just a theory." :)

    Mhmmm, “its just a theory” is a comment only a person who doesn’t know what a theory is says as a cop-out: not my forte. But I get your point.

    I believe there is a clear distinction between reasoned and deduced conclusions versus intuitions.

    There’s a clear distinction, but they are not distinguishable in the sense you want it to be. Induced, abduced, and deduced conclusions all rest on intuitions. You cannot escape intuitions epistemically: there’s no such distinction whereof one concludes something without the aid of an intuition. Again, I mean “intuition” in the sense of an “intellectual seeming” and not a “gut feeling”.

    Why? Do you disagree because it doesn't make sense for the theory, or do you disagree because it clashes with another theory?

    As an external critique.

    In terms of your theory, I see how sacrificing one for five overall increase “existences”. However, it seems very immoral, by way of an external critique based off of moral intuitions. Also, I would like to mention that, if you accept it in the case of lizards, then I don’t see why you don’t accept it for humans: it is basic consequentialistic calculation you are making here. It is just as clear to me that saving five humans produces more “existence” overall than than if the one being sacrificed were to be preserved.

    In terms of common folk ethics, the vast majority of people think that sacrificing one for five is immoral. It doesn’t seem right to violate one in order to save five, especially (although I know this example is about lizards) with humans.

    In terms of my theory, it does not seem to promote nor progress towards universal harmony by allowing the violation of one member of a species for the sake of five other members. This seems to violate basic, implicit, rights. It gets a little trickier with larger numbers though.

    In other words, the universalization of such a principle as “one ought to sacrifice one to save five” leads to an overall worse world (by way of external critique); but if it is a better world (according to your theory) then it simply seems as though you have blundered somewhere.


    What value does being a better torturer give?

    Originally, I was saying it would help him as a member of a government agency; so presumably to save lives by torturing captured opponents. However, to keep this really simple, let’s say it is just for its own sake. Dave is practicing torturing people for the sake of being better at it; just like how one can practice basketball for the sole sake of getting better at it. — Bob Ross

    Sure, this one is a little more defined and straight forward. What we need to do is establish the worth and value of human emotions, where I did prior in terms of actions. Self-improvement alone is simply for the emotion of self-satisfaction. There is no other value in honing a skill if one's goal is simply to hone a skill. Taken in comparison of emotion vs emotion alone, one person's satisfaction is not worth another person's horror. Add in bodily degradation and cell damage, and torturing another person for pleasurable self-improvement is definitely not moral. Finally of course there are several other ways to improve one's ability to torture that do not inflict unnecessary harm on another individual.

    You answered! Let’s break it down.

    There is no other value in honing a skill if one's goal is simply to hone a skill.

    It increased potential existence, which, according to you, is a valid moral consideration. So this is not irrelevant at all: having a skill increases the potential existence that they could actualize. All else being equal, me knowing how to play (let’s say) basketball increases my capacity to produce “unique existences” by way of engaging in the sport which, in turn, increases potential “existences”.

    Taken in comparison of emotion vs emotion alone

    Firstly, as said above, it is not a comparison solely of the worth of emotions: it is a comparison of actual and potential existence in terms of the consequences of which action one takes.

    Secondly, emotions are irrelevant themselves to your theory: what is good, according to you, is “more concrete entities”. You evaluate this in terms of actual and potential concrete entities.
    The only way emotions are valuable in your theory, is if they contribute overall towards the more total net “existence”.
    The emotional damage inflicted on Billy for that hour does not, total net, contribute more to ‘total existence’ than Dave, who is not terminally ill, acquiring a skill.

    The point is that Dave, by acquiring a skill in torturing Billy, is actually increasing the total net potential “existence”; and the actual nor potential “existence” of Billy being tortured doesn’t seem to outweigh it.

    Emotions which compel us to decrease societal cohesion or hurt other people for fun compel us to lower existence.

    Not necessarily. A psychopath may very well increase potential and actual “existence” by torturing other people. Likewise, many kings historically have committed series atrocities, but total net increased “existence”. This is the problem with pure consequentalism: it only cares about maximizing the goal (in this case, goodness) by way of an outcome.

    Bob
  • Philosophim
    2.2k
    Mhmmm, “its just a theory” is a comment only a person who doesn’t know what a theory is says as a cop-out: not my forte. But I get your point.Bob Ross

    Good. Of course you aren't a cop-out person. It is just way way of saying I understand that you don't agree with some of the underlying premises and have great respect for your humoring me and going along as if they were viable. It is a great credit to your mind and character Bob.

    There’s a clear distinction, but they are not distinguishable in the sense you want it to be. Induced, abduced, and deduced conclusions all rest on intuitions. You cannot escape intuitions epistemically: there’s no such distinction whereof one concludes something without the aid of an intuition. Again, I mean “intuition” in the sense of an “intellectual seeming” and not a “gut feeling”.Bob Ross

    I see. I feel we would need to get down into the brass tacks of the definition to use 'intuitions' as such here. We can table that for another topic for now and just understand that when I use the term 'intuitions' it means 'strong feeling that we are inclined to think is correct' :)

    In terms of your theory, I see how sacrificing one for five overall increase “existences”. However, it seems very immoral, by way of an external critique based off of moral intuitions.Bob Ross

    And that's a very fair critique. As I've noted, anytime the theories conclusions go against our moral intuitions, it needs to have a very good reason why. Part of that why is to ask, "What leads you to that intuition?" So under what other moral precept is this wrong? It of course may be unanswerable or "Just a feeling." Even if we don't have an explicit answer for why this is, its something to keep in the back of our minds as we continue. I value these intuitions, and maybe it will become more clear why they exist as we keep looking at examples.

    Also, I would like to mention that, if you accept it in the case of lizards, then I don’t see why you don’t accept it for humans: it is basic consequentialistic calculation you are making here.Bob Ross

    Because we have human society, and human society is a greater existence than the individual as I noted. Think analogously to your body. If we could destroy a toe to save a foot, that seems good on its own. But if a side effect of saving the foot by destroying the toe was that the person went into a life long coma, that wouldn't be the correct action. Yes, the foot survives, but the greater part of the body, the consciousness, dies.

    In other words, the universalization of such a principle as “one ought to sacrifice one to save five” leads to an overall worse world (by way of external critique); but if it is a better world (according to your theory) then it simply seems as though you have blundered somewhere.Bob Ross

    The problem is this word "universalization". The only universal is, "More existence is good". Everything else is a calculation based on context. The only universal we can conclude is "Sometimes its better for one person to sacrifice for five people, sometimes its not." Its not a helpful universal, but that's about the best we can get.

    There is no other value in honing a skill if one's goal is simply to hone a skill.

    It increased potential existence, which, according to you, is a valid moral consideration.
    Bob Ross

    You must consider actual existence as well. What could the person have been doing instead of torturing the victim? They could have been improving their skill in comforting a dying person, or empathy. And considering they're going to need empathy a lot more in life then torturing, since they're torturing merely as a skill and not application, would be overall more applied existence in the future then now.

    The problem again is this is not restrictive enough. You're still leaving answers which let us, "Derail the tracks" so to say.

    Taken in comparison of emotion vs emotion alone

    Firstly, as said above, it is not a comparison solely of the worth of emotions: it is a comparison of actual and potential existence in terms of the consequences of which action one takes.
    Bob Ross

    Of course. But this is still a consideration.

    Secondly, emotions are irrelevant themselves to your theory: what is good, according to you, is “more concrete entities”. You evaluate this in terms of actual and potential concrete entities.Bob Ross

    No, I never said they were irrelevant. Recall I posted how they were relevant for inspiring actions. Take a look back again. Beyond this, even at a cellular level emotions result in bodily changes such as stress hormones, faster heart beats, etc. While it is a scope down from the conscious mind the body too is a living and existent entity. That which creates better harmony, to use your terms, is going to be more existent that one which puts unnecessary stress on the body and lowers its health.

    Likewise, many kings historically have committed series atrocities, but total net increased “existence”. This is the problem with pure consequentalism: it only cares about maximizing the goal (in this case, goodness) by way of an outcome.Bob Ross

    Again, you're not seeing the full picture. Did they create more existence through those atrocities? Wouldn't society have been better off if the kind enacted policies which grew and supported people? We know that monarchies as a form of government do not create the kind of robust, wealthy, and happy societies like republics for example. A big thing to think about in your examples going forwards is to think, "Was this the only option?"
  • Bob Ross
    1.2k


    Because we have human society, and human society is a greater existence than the individual as I noted. Think analogously to your body. If we could destroy a toe to save a foot, that seems good on its own. But if a side effect of saving the foot by destroying the toe was that the person went into a life long coma, that wouldn't be the correct action. Yes, the foot survives, but the greater part of the body, the consciousness, dies.

    If the toe had a mind of its own (and was a person), then, no, I don’t think it would be moral to cut it off to save the body. The problem with your analogy is that the toe is inert and lifeless; while the individual is a life.

    I understand, however, that, according to your view, sacrificing one for the sake of saving the many, all else being equal, is good (because it leads to a maximal quantity of the “entities”); but, as an external critique, that seems immoral (to me).

    The problem is this word "universalization". The only universal is, "More existence is good"

    All I meant, is that “one ought to sacrifice on to save five” as a principle is leads to a worse world (by my lights). Again, this is an external critique. Under your view, if it leads to maximal concrete entities, then it is good: period.

    You are just too consequentialist for me (;

    What could the person have been doing instead of torturing the victim?

    Dave could not have been doing anything better: disregard it for the thought experiment.

    All else being equal, learning a skill increases the potential for concrete entities; and I don’t think you are denying that.

    That which creates better harmony, to use your terms, is going to be more existent that one which puts unnecessary stress on the body and lowers its health.

    Yes, but how does it lower the potential or actual concrete entities? I don’t see a direct causal link between negative emotions and the decrease in potential/actual concrete entities.

    Did they create more existence through those atrocities?

    Yes.

    Wouldn't society have been better off if the kind enacted policies which grew and supported people?

    No (if I view it through the lens of your theory).

    We know that monarchies as a form of government do not create the kind of robust, wealthy, and happy societies like republics for example.

    A monarchy could create, total net, more actual concrete entities than a republic. In fact, it would: if everyone was forced to work non-stop on creating more concrete entities in a sustaining manner, as opposed to doing what they want with their time, then that would be morally better (according to you). Authoritarian regimes would be the best bet at accomplishing that: not goverments that are predicated on providing maximal freedom to individuals, like republics.

    Take napoleon, for example: his dictatorship inflicted much suffering onto people and unnecessary conquest; but he furthered the society in ways, which would not have been done otherwise, by use of force—e.g., higher education, public roads, public sewer systems, central banks, etc. The man was not a good person, but incidentally did good things that were very impactful on society. Total net, he was good for humanity IF one only thinks about it in terms of the consequences of his actual total net; I personally do not, and so I think he was wrong even though he did some good things (accidentally, and implemented them in immoral ways).

    Here’s another scenario for you to digest:

    There are two people: Daisy and John. Daisy is not using her time in an efficient manner (towards maximizing concrete entities in reality): John is. Daisy is not, however, harming anyone by being inefficient in this manner: she is just not taking the actions (out of the possible ones she could take) that would maximize concrete entities in reality. John notices Daisy’s inefficiencies (towards what is [morally] good [according to you]). John cannot convince Daisy to change her ways to be more efficient, and the only other option (by way of me stipulated it right now) is to force her to change her ways: is it moral for him to do so?

    Seems like it would be under your view.
  • Philosophim
    2.2k
    If the toe had a mind of its own (and was a person), then, no, I don’t think it would be moral to cut it off to save the body. The problem with your analogy is that the toe is inert and lifeless; while the individual is a life.Bob Ross

    The toe is not a 'life' but composed of several cellular lives. Same with the foot. The consciousness of the brain is the combination of cellular lives that creates something more than just a mere coexistence of life, but a mind.

    I understand, however, that, according to your view, sacrificing one for the sake of saving the many, all else being equal, is good (because it leads to a maximal quantity of the “entities”); but, as an external critique, that seems immoral (to me).Bob Ross

    I fully accept that there is a desire to say its immoral. It would be helpful if you could explain why its immoral either within the theory, or somehow contradicts the theory. Since we have no objective means of morality to measure, any outside subjective opinion of its immorality can be considered, but ultimately boils down to an opinion.

    The problem is this word "universalization". The only universal is, "More existence is good"

    All I meant, is that “one ought to sacrifice on to save five” as a principle is leads to a worse world (by my lights).
    Bob Ross

    But this is not a principle according to this theory. The outcome of the example is based on particular circumstances and context. In other circumstances and contexts, its immoral for one person to sacrifice to save five.

    You are just too consequentialist for me (;Bob Ross

    I see no other way to judge morality. The problem with consequentialism within subjective morality is the consequent is subject to opinions. In a theoretically objective morality, consequentialism is the only real conclusion. With an objective base it doesn't matter what another person thinks. If true and reasoned through correctly, there should be a clear right or wrong answer. Or if one answer can be correctly concluded, we can use probability, statistics, and reasoned induction. Can you imagine an objective morality that is not consequentialist?

    What could the person have been doing instead of torturing the victim?

    Dave could not have been doing anything better: disregard it for the thought experiment.
    Bob Ross

    Ok, this means that Dave could not have been doing anything else but torturing. He couldn't just be thinking, meditating, talking with the person dying, he had to be torturing. Then there is no moral decision to make either. This is the opposite problem of derailment. You've taken the tracks and said, "This is going to hit five people no matter what you do, is this moral?" Morality has to involve some type of choice. What is the choice the person has Bob?

    All else being equal, learning a skill increases the potential for concrete entities; and I don’t think you are denying that.Bob Ross

    Correct. My problem here is we can imagine alternative things the person could do to improve themselves besides torturing. For this to be a moral dilemma, there must be an alternative scenario.

    That which creates better harmony, to use your terms, is going to be more existent that one which puts unnecessary stress on the body and lowers its health.

    Yes, but how does it lower the potential or actual concrete entities? I don’t see a direct causal link between negative emotions and the decrease in potential/actual concrete entities.
    Bob Ross

    In the case of torture that should be clear. Cells are living things. Torture is putting undue stress or death to many cells of that body. This causes stress responses in the brain which put it in an emergency state of trying to avoid this, but powerless to do so.

    "Long-term psychological problems reported by survivors of torture are usually classified as trauma, anxiety, depression, and, more rarely, problems of a psychotic nature, but health problems including pain are very frequent, and may include serious disease such as tuberculosis or human immunodeficiency virus with a background of poor nutrition and severe and immunocompromising stress."

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4590125/#:~:text=Long%2Dterm%20psychological%20problems%20reported,human%20immunodeficiency%20virus%20with%20a

    Lowered health of a life is less actual and potential existence, not more. When you are pre-occupied with pain you cannot function at your best. You can't work at your job as well, your relationships suffer, and your thoughts are trapped by pain instead of creativity or solving other problems in life.

    Wouldn't society have been better off if the kind enacted policies which grew and supported people?

    No (if I view it through the lens of your theory).
    Bob Ross

    You're going to have to explain this in more detail. I've never claimed this in my theory and I don't understand how you would think this conclusion could come about.

    We know that monarchies as a form of government do not create the kind of robust, wealthy, and happy societies like republics for example.

    A monarchy could create, total net, more actual concrete entities than a republic.
    Bob Ross

    Yes, in specific circumstances I'm quite sure we can imagine a scenario, or even find one in history, where a monarchy was overall more prosperous to its people, rights, and culture than a particular republic elsewhere in the world. But this was speaking in generalities. Generally rule through inheritance by one individual does not create the type of freedoms and integration of its citizens into policies like America for example.

    Take napoleon, for example: his dictatorship inflicted much suffering onto people and unnecessary conquest; but he furthered the society in ways, which would not have been done otherwise, by use of force—e.g., higher education, public roads, public sewer systems, central banks, etc. The man was not a good person, but incidentally did good things that were very impactful on society. Total net, he was good for humanity IF one only thinks about it in terms of the consequences of his actual total net;Bob Ross

    We need to make sure the scenario is crafted correctly. If Napoleon had the option of implementing all of these positives to society without the suffering and unnecessary conquest, that would be better correct?

    You seem to be taking a principled approach to a calculated consequentialist morality that is based on context. In general some things are better than others for creating more existence. That's all we're talking about. In limited situations where these general things are not available, then of course we work with what we have.

    Here’s another scenario for you to digest:Bob Ross

    Lets not. I can see these custom examples seem to miss a lot of what this theory is about show me that you don't quite understand it yet. And Bob, don't take this the wrong way but these are not tight examples. We're debating the examples as much or even more than the actual theory. We need something stable so we can focus what to debate on. Traditional moral examples are good stable examples that we can then debate and learn about the theory. Once we cover those and feel we have a good grasp on the theory, then we can go back to crafting a good custom scenarios.

    Happy Easter by the way! Whether you celebrate it or not, I hope the holiday treats you well. I may be slow in replies this week.
  • Bob Ross
    1.2k


    The toe is not a 'life' but composed of several cellular lives. Same with the foot. The consciousness of the brain is the combination of cellular lives that creates something more than just a mere coexistence of life, but a mind.

    I was referring to a person by ‘life’, not something that is merely alive.

    I fully accept that there is a desire to say its immoral

    It is not a desire, it is an intellectual seeming.

    It would be helpful if you could explain why its immoral either within the theory, or somehow contradicts the theory.

    As internal coherence goes, it is sound: no question there.

    As external coherence goes, even within moral realist circles, it goes against common intuitions—and I mean that in the sense of an intellectual seeming, not a desire or gut-feeling. Most moral realists will completely disagree with you that it is morally good to, all else being equal, sacrifice the one for the many (even though it would increase the actual and potential concrete entities).

    Since we have no objective means of morality to measure, any outside subjective opinion of its immorality can be considered, but ultimately boils down to an opinion.

    That is irrelevant to my external critique: I am saying that it is objectively wrong to sacrifice one for the many, all else being equal. I am outsourcing (i.e., comparing with) another form of moral realism, as well as claiming most forms of moral realism agree with it (on this specific point).

    But this is not a principle according to this theory.

    You affirmed it in your justification: you said you should absolutely sacrifice the one to save the many because it increases, all else being equal, potential and actual concrete entities (e.g., cut of the arm to save the body); and I am absolutely inclined to agree with you that your theory would need to conclude this.

    The outcome of the example is based on particular circumstances and context.

    With all due respect, I don’t think you know what ‘all else being equal’ means. Here’s a link to a blog post about it.

    In a theoretically objective morality, consequentialism is the only real conclusion.

    Absolutely not. If you affirm this, then you are disregarding duty and principles—which are entirely deontological.

    To have a good moral realist theory, or any ethical theory at that, one needs a little bit of both. Personally, I am a virtue ethicist: I don’t affirm consequentialism nor deontology.

    Some actions are wrong merely because they violate an ethical principle, and not because the action’s consequences do not maximize what is good. That one should not, all else being equal, sacrifice one person to save 1000 people is wholly because one has a duty towards upholding a person’s rights, being an object of respect, and nothing to do with whether or not the action would or would not produce, as a consequent, more good.

    According to deontology, the intention is what determines if the action is good, and not the consequences of the action; according to consequentialism, it is the contrary.

    If true and reasoned through correctly, there should be a clear right or wrong answer.

    This is perfectly correct within moral realism; but has nothing to do with consequentialism directly. That there is a right or wrong answer—independent of tastes, desires, preferences, dispositions, etc.—is because morality is objective and NOT because one should determine what is right or wrong relative to the consequences that an action (reasonably) would produce.

    Can you imagine an objective morality that is not consequentialist?

    Yes, many. Kantianism, Aristotelianism, mine, etc.

    The problem with consequentialism is that it makes the evaluation of right and wrong solely a matter of analyzing the consequences of actions; which precludes intentions, duty, principles, etc.

    Likewise, it has absurd results in some cases (e.g., utilitarianism’s enslavement of 1% of the population, sacrificing one for the many, etc.).

    As a very clean example, take the 1 vs. 5 trolly problem (we discussed before). A consequentalist is usually inclined to say “sacrifice the one for the five”; and a deontoligist is inclined usually to say “do not pull the lever”.

    The consequentialist only is thinking about the consequences of the action of pulling the lever in terms of maximizing what is good; the deontologist is thinking about their duties to moral principles, and how best to uphold them.

    A conseqeuentalist will usually say something like “one should sacrifice the one for the five because it increases <well-being, concrete entities, etc.> overall”; whereas the deontologist will usually say something like “one should not pull the lever and let the five die, because they have a duty to respect persons and they would be violating the one person’s rights by sacrificing them for the five”.

    Personally, I am neither: I am a virtue ethicist. I am inclined, in the 1 vs. 5 trolley problem to side with the deontologists.

    Ok, this means that Dave could not have been doing anything else but torturing.

    This is so irrelevant. The question is if Dave is right to torture Billy to acquire the skill of torturing. You are misunderstanding what ‘all else being equal’ is and constantly sidestepping the hypothetical by importing new variables that don’t matter.

    By positing that Dave could have been doing something even better by acquiring a different skill is to completely sidestep the hypothetical; and is no different than adding into the 1 vs. 5 trolly problem that one should not pull the lever because the 1 is a convicted rapist: that wasn’t in the hypothetical when it was presented, and ‘all else being equal’ indicates you need to refrain from injecting new variables into it.

    What is the choice the person has Bob?

    The choice is whether or not to torture Billy to acquire a new skill (of torturing people aptly). Obviously, the hypothetical never postulates that Dave has to torture Billy; which is the conflation you have now made.

    Correct. My problem here is we can imagine alternative things the person could do to improve themselves besides torturing.

    Please see the link I attached for more information on “all else being equal”. Asking what alternative things the person could be doing in this example, is the exact same thing as asking how else one could save the 5 other than by pulling the lever in the trolley example.

    Wouldn't society have been better off if the kind enacted policies which grew and supported people?

    No (if I view it through the lens of your theory). — Bob Ross

    You're going to have to explain this in more detail.

    If only what is good is to maximize the number of concrete entities, then it will not always pan out such that societies which enact such policies (as you described) are morally better.

    Like I already said, the optimal society for you is a totalitarian regime that forces people to contribute maximally to the creation of concrete entities.

    s I'm quite sure we can imagine a scenario, or even find one in history, where a monarchy was overall more prosperous to its people, rights, and culture than a particular republic elsewhere in the world.

    Not at all. My point was that there have been, and theoretically could be, monarchies that produce total net more concrete entities than republics: it is not apparent at all how a republic, all else being equal, would be the best society under your view.

    The point is that you are just thinking about it in terms of “the means justifies the ends”; and you have too, since you have committed yourself to consequentialism. I reject it.

    Happy Easter by the way! Whether you celebrate it or not, I hope the holiday treats you well. I may be slow in replies this week.

    You too, my friend! I hope you enjoy the holiday!
  • Philosophim
    2.2k
    The toe is not a 'life' but composed of several cellular lives. Same with the foot. The consciousness of the brain is the combination of cellular lives that creates something more than just a mere coexistence of life, but a mind.

    I was referring to a person by ‘life’, not something that is merely alive.
    Bob Ross

    Understandable, but in my example, I am referring to a life as something which is merely alive. Anytime I state 'life' that is what I mean in this theory, and I don't believe I've implied anything else.

    I fully accept that there is a desire to say its immoral

    It is not a desire, it is an intellectual seeming.
    Bob Ross

    Without a rationale, I don't see the difference.

    It would be helpful if you could explain why its immoral either within the theory, or somehow contradicts the theory.

    As external coherence goes, even within moral realist circles, it goes against common intuitions—and I mean that in the sense of an intellectual seeming, not a desire or gut-feeling. Most moral realists will completely disagree with you that it is morally good to, all else being equal, sacrifice the one for the many (even though it would increase the actual and potential concrete entities).Bob Ross

    Understood, but why? What is the reasoning and rationale that lead to that conclusion, why does it conflict with the reasoning and rationale of this theory, and why is that superior? I know there are outside theories of morality that would both conflict and agree with what I've noted here. If I'm claiming that this is an objective morality, then is falsifiable. It can be wrong. I'm looking for chinks in the theory that another moral take could point out or demonstrate is a weakness.

    Since we have no objective means of morality to measure, any outside subjective opinion of its immorality can be considered, but ultimately boils down to an opinion.

    That is irrelevant to my external critique: I am saying that it is objectively wrong to sacrifice one for the many, all else being equal.
    Bob Ross

    While you are claiming this is objective, I have not seen on objective reason given so far. What leads us to an inevitable rational conclusion that it is objectively wrong to sacrifice one for the many in any circumstance?

    But this is not a principle according to this theory.

    You affirmed it in your justification: you said you should absolutely sacrifice the one to save the many because it increases, all else being equal, potential and actual concrete entities (e.g., cut of the arm to save the body); and I am absolutely inclined to agree with you that your theory would need to conclude this.
    Bob Ross

    Bob, I'm feeling you're being very straw man here. I've clearly stated several times that this is a contextual theory. I noted that based on the context, sometimes its wrong to kill one for the many, and sometimes its right. Further, I've the said that the only hard principle is, "More existence is good." "Killing one to save five" is not a principle, I've never claimed its a principle, and I've even demonstrated its not. Please review or ask questions if there is any confusion.

    The outcome of the example is based on particular circumstances and context.

    With all due respect, I don’t think you know what ‘all else being equal’ means. Here’s a link to a blog post about it.
    Bob Ross

    Bob, equal respect back, but your example isn't very good, and you're not using the phrase 'all else being equal' correctly for this theory either. I feel like you're constructing a view of my theory that is principled despite me telling you its contextual. And despite me telling you your examples need to be contextual and pointing out where they need improvements, you keep insisting they're good enough. They're not. If you cannot agree with me on this, then we throw the example away and go to tried and true methods that have existed for decades. We should not be debating examples, we should be debating the outcomes of good solid examples.

    In a theoretically objective morality, consequentialism is the only real conclusion.

    Absolutely not. If you affirm this, then you are disregarding duty and principles—which are entirely deontological.
    Bob Ross

    If it is objectively true that duty and principles were real moral precepts, there would be an objective consequence to demonstrate why that is. For example, 1+1=2. That is an objective conclusion. Lets say I claim that 1+2=2, which is wrong. However, I use have principles, or techniques like showing my work, and working proofs out when challenged. Because of this, I'm able to go back through my work and find my error. The 'intention' has value because it allows me to more easily catch my mistakes and come to the right conclusion. Its the consequence of having the intention that makes the intention valuable, not simply the fact of having the intention itself.

    I have no issue with claiming duties and principles could be objective, but this would need to be proven. And I currently don't see in any possible objective attempt at arguing for duties and principles that there would not be some objective consequence, or outcome, that is behind the objective reason for holding them. Maybe you see one, and if so I would like to hear and think about it.

    Some actions are wrong merely because they violate an ethical principle, and not because the action’s consequences do not maximize what is good.Bob Ross

    Which is fine, but what is the objective foundation for this ethical principle? Is it the opinion of people, or is there a solid rational argument behind that principle that can hold up?

    Can you imagine an objective morality that is not consequentialist?

    Yes, many. Kantianism, Aristotelianism, mine, etc.

    The problem with consequentialism is that it makes the evaluation of right and wrong solely a matter of analyzing the consequences of actions; which precludes intentions, duty, principles, etc.
    Bob Ross

    Don't take the general philosophical summary of 'consequentialism' in subjective moral theories and apply it to this theory. This theory does not exclude intentions, duties, principles, etc. All of that is existence. The consequence that we are shooting for is to create more existence. Thus nothing that exists is excluded.

    Likewise, it has absurd results in some cases (e.g., utilitarianism’s enslavement of 1% of the population, sacrificing one for the many, etc.).Bob Ross

    This is because these consequentialist theories are top down. They don't rely on a foundation and work up, they rely on subjective isolated outcomes that don't work when you take it down to a foundational level.

    As a very clean example, take the 1 vs. 5 trolly problem (we discussed before). A consequentalist is usually inclined to say “sacrifice the one for the five”; and a deontoligist is inclined usually to say “do not pull the lever”.Bob Ross

    I understand this. But why is the deontologist objectively correct in relation to the theory I've proposed?

    Ok, this means that Dave could not have been doing anything else but torturing.

    This is so irrelevant. The question is if Dave is right to torture Billy to acquire the skill of torturing. You are misunderstanding what ‘all else being equal’ is and constantly sidestepping the hypothetical by importing new variables that don’t matter.
    Bob Ross

    What is the choice the person has Bob?

    The choice is whether or not to torture Billy to acquire a new skill (of torturing people aptly).
    Bob Ross

    Do you see the contradiction I'm seeing here? I'm asking you what the person could do except torture Billy, and you tell me they have a choice. But then in the following you say its a question of whether they should or should not torture Billy. If they do not torture Billy, that means he does something else. This is a contextual comparative existence theory of morality. There has to be another option. Within my theory, you're telling me this guy is on a train about to hit five people, and there's no lever to push. That's not a moral question, that's a bad example. This isn't working Bob. Lets drop the example for now and go to traditional moral examples. We need as little to debate over as possible, and this thought experiment isn't cutting it. We can revisit this down the road, but for now we need to debate outcomes, not thought experiment examples.

    If only what is good is to maximize the number of concrete entities, then it will not always pan out such that societies which enact such policies (as you described) are morally better.Bob Ross

    Bob, either you are misunderstanding the theory despite my explaining, or have constructed a straw man in your head that you will not let go. I have said repeatedly, that it is actual and potential existence. It is not 'more concrete entities'. Concreate entities are a base material existence, and new identities can be created by their expressions. We evaluate not only the numerosity of the expressions, but how they can also potentially express with one another over time. We could create a million identities that permanently destroy themselves over 1 second, and the superior moral existence would be one entity that lasts for years. Look, I like when you bring attacks and critiques.

    Second, once again this theory is contextual. If we're speaking 'generally' that means, 'not always, but most of the time'. History has shown that generally, Republicans have done better than monarchies, and this is because there are few, if any, modern day successful states that run on a classical monarchist system.


    The point is that you are just thinking about it in terms of “the means justifies the ends”; and you have too, since you have committed yourself to consequentialism. I reject it.
    Bob Ross

    The entire theory is based on the one consequentialist point, "More existence is good." If you reject that, then there's no conversation. We have to assume that's true to discuss the theory as is. If you don't want to assume that, that's fine, but that's an end to the discussion, not a debate.

    Also, once again, you're claiming things I have never stated nor implied. I have never claimed the means justify the ends. This is once again a contextual existential evaluation theory of morality. My theory claims, "The means are part of the ends." You need to analyze everything.

    I feel you are looking to outside philosophies to understand this philosophy, instead of taking your understanding of this philosophy and comparing it to outside philosophies critically. We're exploring a theoretically objective morality Bob with a bottom up approach. This is new stuff. I enjoy your criticisms and points, but I feel this time you're not fully grasping the theory I'm showing you, and when I try to explain, you seem to dismiss or ignore points that I feel are key to the theory. Lets try again!
  • Bob Ross
    1.2k


    So understand better your response, I would like to ask a quick question: are you a moral particularist?
  • Bob Ross
    1.2k


    Although you have not responded yet to my question, I decided to just respond.

    I will note that, if you are a moral particularist, then we will have to pause our discussion, discuss that, and then resume: it will remove the possibility of positing standard ethical thought experiments. I am assuming that we are both moral generalists for this response.

    I also want to note that I try my best, although I know you claim I am straw manning your position, to use your terminology when I can; but I will not refrain from importing terms when I think your schema is lacking for purposes of conveying a point. For example, I refuse to use the term ‘identities’ to refer to what you clearly mean as ‘concrete entities’: you simply are using a more ambiguous word here than me (which is completely your prerogative to do so).

    Firstly, is ‘one must sacrifice the one to save the five’ a general moral principle under your view? You say not, I say it is. Going back over the comments, I do have to concede that I was mistaken in thinking we were completely congruent on this point. in this comment, you partially accepted it; but disaffirmed it when one considers societal factors:

    If we are not considering the complexities of human society, then yes. Let me clarify. Lets replace the human beings on the table with lizards. Lizards don't care about one another, and they don't form societies. No question-dissect the first lizard and save the others if there was no chance of failure or complications. Recall earlier when talking about moral issues that scope can go up or down by one. The next scope after individual human beings is society. While killing the one innocent person against their will to save five others might seem fine outside of society, how would that affect society?

    With lizards, as well as everything else considered in isolation, it is true (and I think you agree with me on this) that ‘one must sacrifice the one to save the five’; for it plainly follows that saving the five contributes (total net) more potential and actual concrete entities than sparing the one at the cost of the five.

    Where you begin to disagree, and correct me if I am wrong, is when it comes to humans specifically because they are a part of a society and that society cannot function properly if there is no reassurance of at least basic rights.

    I would remark multiple things:

    1. I don’t see how sacrificing one to save five, even if it were institutionalized, would result in overall less potential and actual concrete entities; and so I think you are miscalculating by your own theory’s standards.

    2. If I were to grant that when one includes society into the calculations that it maximizes potential and actual concrete entities, then it does not (still) follow from that that people should be granted rights. An easy example is if we were to change the thought experiment from 1 vs. 5 to 1 vs. 1,000,000: sacrificing the one now, even when considering society, maximizes potential and actual concrete entities, and this would violate that person’s rights. So rights are not something you can adequately account for, as legitimate, in your ethical theory. Remember, rights are not privileges: they cannot be rightly refused or violated.

    3. So, if #2 is right, then your justification only gets us to privileges; and the privilege of ‘being alive’ is, apparently, unless you deny the 1 vs. 1,000,000 example, only valid when the disparity between the number of people sacrificable and the number savable is small (enough). Then, we loop back to #1: it doesn’t seem to help maximize potential and actual concrete entities by having society have fake rights.

    Secondly,

    Its the consequence of having the intention that makes the intention valuable, not simply the fact of having the intention itself

    I completely disagree. The intention is valuable if the intention is for doing good: it does not matter if the foreseeable or actual consequences when actualizing the intention turn out to be good.

    An example may suffice to explain the difference between our views here: imagine I intent to help a person who is choking, and I end up, in actuality, contributing (on accident) to their suffocation (and death).

    In your expounded view of intentions, the intention is only good IFF its consequences bring about maximal (or sufficient) good (which is, in your case, potential and actual concrete entities). This means that my intention here was bad.

    On the other hand in my (and a deontologist’s) view of intentions, the intention is only good IFF it is about duty towards what is good; and this means that my intention in the example was good.

    I think you may be thinking about deontology a bit wrong in this part:

    And I currently don't see in any possible objective attempt at arguing for duties and principles that there would not be some objective consequence, or outcome, that is behind the objective reason for holding them

    Consequences can inform intentions, but the intention is not good or bad, in deontology, due to the consequences its actualization brings about.

    I am expecting, based off of that quote, for you to respond to my example (above) with something along the lines of: the intention is good because it is meaning to perform an action which would, if it actualized correctly, produce more potential and actual concrete entities. This kind of answer is false if you are a pure consequentialist, because the intention cannot be good if its consequences are bad and one is must analyze its worth relative to its consequences.

    Thirdly:

    I'm asking you what the person could do except torture Billy, and you tell me they have a choice. But then in the following you say its a question of whether they should or should not torture Billy.

    They have a choice to torture or not torture Billy; but the reason Dave should not torture billy is certainly should not be relative to what else they could be doing. If it is under your view, then you are conceding that it is not immoral, excluding all other factors, to torture someone for the sake of acquiring the skill of torture. Philosophim, you cannot have the cake and eat it too.

    Also, there’s no contradiction in what I said: I did not, in what you quoted of me, say that Dave has no choice but to torture Billy and has a choice to. I simply never indicated that; instead, I indicated that you should exclude from consideration the other possible skill Dave could accomplish instead of the skill of torture.

    Fourthly:

    “Also, once again, you're claiming things I have never stated nor implied. I have never claimed the means justify the ends. This is once again a contextual existential evaluation theory of morality. My theory claims, "The means are part of the ends." You need to analyze everything.”

    I apologize, that was supposed to say “the end justifies the means”, and you are certainly affirming that. It is not a straw man, but simply follows from what you have said. The end is ‘maximizing potential and actual concrete entities’ and the means is whatever is needed to achieve it. If it maximizes the good, then it is the right thing to do under your view; since it is consequentialist.

    Fifthly:

    There was an interesting question you asked of (essentially): why are these competing moral realist theories, of which I have been citing and using as a part of my critiques, objectively correct, as opposed to yours, pertaining to the various conclusions I have outsourced therefrom?

    Two things. Firstly, I mention that most moral realists disagree fervently about some of your conclusions, and so does the vast majority of the west (at least), simply to demonstrate that it goes completely against the predominant moral intuitions. this does not mean that your conclusions are false. Secondly, I say, and many others, that some of your conclusions are objectively wrong because they are incoherent with the moral facts. However, I cannot substantiate this claim without importing my own ethical (moral realist) theory—so I refrain for now, unless you want me to.

    Sixthly:

    I fully accept that there is a desire to say its immoral

    It is not a desire, it is an intellectual seeming. — Bob Ross

    Without a rationale, I don't see the difference.

    A desire, a gut-feeling, an emotion, is conative and unreliable; whereas an intellectual seeming is cognitive and reliable.

    I can feel very strongly that 1+3=1, but, upon intellectually grasping the proposition ‘1+3=1’ (which requires me to contemplate it as unbiased as possible), it does not (intellectually) seem right that 1+3=1; in fact, it seems perfectly right that 1+3 != 1. I can still feel, upon understanding it is false, as though it is right, because my emotions have not wavered, but that doesn’t make it right.

    A gut-feeling, a desire, etc., is not reliable because it is emotion based—not rationality based.

    Bob
  • Philosophim
    2.2k
    I would like to ask a quick question: are you a moral particularist?Bob Ross

    All I'm doing is thinking through the consequences of this theory to arrive at what seems most logical. I have no commitment to anything but that. :) Lets review:

    1. We determine that if there is an objective morality the least contradictory conclusion to the base moral question of whether there should be existence, is that there should be.

    2. If there should be existence, then to make a theory or morality that can be evaluated, we need a way to measure existence. Thus, material existence, its identity expression, and its potential existence all over time.

    3. It is discovered that some combinations of expressed existence lower potential existence, and in the future, would destroy expressed existence as well. For example, everything joins together permanently into a ball or spreads out into the vacuum of space forever isolated. Thus we want to create states that preserve or increase existence, not diminish.

    4. In any calculation, the goal is the same: Find a situation in which there is equal or more existence. From this, we can find a few patterns. First, homeostasis. 10 existence over millennia is greater than 1,000,000 existence over one second that then burns out to nothing. At this point we have proof of patterns that can help us shortcut tedious measurement and work on calculating things beyond just 'atoms'.

    So what then would be a 'principle"? Calculating morality, like any science or rigorous proof, requires a lot of effort and work. There will be many times in our lives where we will not have the skill or capability to calculate out how the situation will unfold. Principles should be based on a data driven hierarchy of induction, probabilities, and possibilities.

    First there are probabilities ascertained by data. For example, the majority of smokers get lung cancer, therefore it is better not to smoke. If we could calculate your DNA and body perfectly, perhaps we would see that you are one of the exceptional bodies that would not get cancer from smoking. But because we do not know this, the proper moral principle would be not to smoke to begin with. This again is not based on subjective opinion, but objective data.

    Second, possibilities should be considered. Its possible that if we spy a wild bear in the woods, it won't maul us. We don't have probabilities in front of us, but we can consider the possibility that it does, vs the possibility that it doesn't. In the case that it does not, we could have a delightful interaction with a bear that could very well create more actual and potential existence then if not. But, if we're wrong, we die. That's an end to our lives, a counter to the pattern of homeostasis and a potentially tragic loss of existence compared to what little bump we would have gained by 'petting a wild bear'. Thus we should take the principle of not approaching wild bears in the woods.

    Where you begin to disagree, and correct me if I am wrong, is when it comes to humans specifically because they are a part of a society and that society cannot function properly if there is no reassurance of at least basic rights.Bob Ross

    1. I don’t see how sacrificing one to save five, even if it were institutionalized, would result in overall less potential and actual concrete entities; and so I think you are miscalculating by your own theory’s standards.Bob Ross

    It would help if you could point out how it does not create less existence overall, but I also understand I did not go too far in specifics. Here are a few considerations to start. Everyone is someone's son/daughter. How many parents would want justice or revenge? Society runs on trust. If I went to the hospital for cancer treatment, and it was found my body could be harvested against my will to save 5 people, how many people would go to the hospital? How many people would simply suffer or die from lack of treatment because of this? This would cascade into an avoidance of medicine in general, destroying or diminishing an entire industry and service. At the point we say, "You can be sacrificed against your will at any time," you create far more problems in society than solutions.

    If I were to grant that when one includes society into the calculations that it maximizes potential and actual concrete entities, then it does not (still) follow from that that people should be granted rights.Bob Ross

    Lets define rights first under this theory. As we know, there is an interplay between individuals and society. Societies are 'more existence' than an individual alone. But, just because something is more existence overall than something else, it doesn't meant it can go on a purely destructive rampage for its own temporary gain. Society can only function because it has the trust/compliance of individuals within it. Thus a society which has maximum trust/compliance for its goals can be the most successful.

    A 'right' would be a limitation on society that has been deemed to be of greater benefit for the individual to have for the benefit of society. Looking at the writing and reasoning behind the bill of rights, this is easy to see. Free speech is important for the exchange of thought and ideas for a productive society. Rights are not 'innate'. They are limitations on society that society has put into place for its overall benefit.

    So, if #2 is right, then your justification only gets us to privilegesBob Ross

    A privilege is different from a right. A right is a self-constraint on society over the individual. A privilege is a societal allowance to the individual. For example, free speech is a right, speaking at a closed venue is a privilege. Voting is a right, mail in voting is a privilege.

    I completely disagree. The intention is valuable if the intention is for doing goodBob Ross

    Why is the intention, not the result, good? Can this be proven?

    it does not matter if the foreseeable or actual consequences when actualizing the intention turn out to be good.Bob Ross

    How so? We have all had situations in our lives where our intentions did not align with reality through ignorance. "How is an intention good in itself?" is the key here and I won't comment more until that's explored.

    the intention is good because it is meaning to perform an action which would, if it actualized correctly, produce more potential and actual concrete entities.Bob Ross

    The intention is good if it is a principle. If applied correctly through probability or possibility, then it is reasonable. For example, if I picked a result that had a 70% chance of happening, but it didn't happen, no one would fault my intention.

    They have a choice to torture or not torture Billy; but the reason Dave should not torture billy is certainly should not be relative to what else they could be doingBob Ross

    Under this theory, it certainly is. Can you explain in this moral theory why its not?

    I indicated that you should exclude from consideration the other possible skill Dave could accomplish instead of the skill of torture.Bob Ross

    And I've let you know that this theory must consider the alternative. Refusal to give an alternative is an incomplete moral quandery under this theory.

    I apologize, that was supposed to say “the end justifies the means”, and you are certainly affirming that.Bob Ross

    All good! Yes, this is correct.

    The end is ‘maximizing potential and actual concrete entities’ and the means is whatever is needed to achieve it.Bob Ross

    Here's the difference. We do not disregard the means for the ends. The means ARE part of the ends. Every part is meaningful.

    Firstly, I mention that most moral realists disagree fervently about some of your conclusions, and so does the vast majority of the west (at least), simply to demonstrate that it goes completely against the predominant moral intuitions. this does not mean that your conclusions are false.Bob Ross

    Which is fine. If these are offered as points to ask me how my theory would handle this, its a great starter.

    Secondly, I say, and many others, that some of your conclusions are objectively wrong because they are incoherent with the moral facts. However, I cannot substantiate this claim without importing my own ethical (moral realist) theory—so I refrain for now, unless you want me to.Bob Ross

    Oh, please do! I understand the respect here, and yes, feel free to give your own moral conclusions and why you believe they are objectively true.

    A desire, a gut-feeling, an emotion, is conative and unreliable; whereas an intellectual seeming is cognitive and reliable.Bob Ross

    The word 'seeming' implies its an inductive reason. I would rather we use that because then we can classify whether the induction is based off of probability, possibility, or plausibility.

    I can feel very strongly that 1+3=1, but, upon intellectually grasping the proposition ‘1+3=1’ (which requires me to contemplate it as unbiased as possible), it does not (intellectually) seem right that 1+3=1;Bob Ross

    I don't think there's any 'seeming' to it. 1+3=1 is just objectively wrong. This phrase seems confusing at best and unnecessary at worst. Is there anything this phrase serves that cannot be conveyed using common language?
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