• Moliere
    4.1k
    I'll try to be clearer and shorter.

    Under moral subjectivism, the following is true:

    1. A belief is a (cognitive) stance taken on the trueness or falseness of a proposition; and
    2. Beliefs make moral propositions true or false.

    These two statements are inconsistent with each other, and here’s a quick syllogistic demonstration of why:

    P1: A stance taken on the trueness or falseness of something, is independent of the trueness or falseness of that something.
    P2: A belief is a (cognitive) stance taken on the trueness or falseness of a proposition.
    C1: Therefore, a belief about a proposition cannot make that proposition true or false.

    P3: Beliefs make moral propositions true or false.
    P4: C1 and P3 being true are logically contradictory.
    C2: Therefore, moral subjectivism is internally inconsistent.
    Bob Ross

    P1 isn't begging the question as much as it's how MS is being rendered -- the MS under attack believes that beliefs are true or false, and the value of T/F is not dependent upon another belief (or itself).

    It's 2 that's inconsistent with 1, by the setup. The MS holds that beliefs can and cannot make moral propositions true. But it can be modified pretty easily by noting that 2 can be changed to "feelings/the world make moral propositions true or false", and then there's no contradiction -- at least as I'm seeing it now.
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    I don't like to separate reason from emotion in such a hard-and-fast manner. There's a difference, but it's more of a difference because we've marked it in English -- the Subjective and the Objective -- but I think there's too much philosophical hay made out of the distinction.

    Neither the passions nor the mind are primary -- they form a unity that is the judger.
    Moliere

    I don't hold that reason and emotion map to the objective and the subjective. One way to access Plato's point is to note that an agent can marshal and include emotions within their agency, but someone who is dominated by their emotions is to that extent not an agent at all. They are a patient (hence, "passions"). To grant emotions autonomy in themselves is to have cut oneself off from the ability to distinguish a proper relation to emotion from an improper relation to emotion, and it strikes me as self-evident that there are proper and improper ways to relate to emotion. More generally: we are simultaneously agents and patients; the emotivist excludes the former and the rationalist excludes the latter.
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    When we engage in ethical reasoning, are we inquiring into whether people believe something, or whether something is right or wrong?Leontiskos

    If we are inquiring into whether something is right or wrong then the question of how we know that something is right or wrong is not a derailment.Fooloso4

    • Leontiskos: The activity of ethical reasoning is X; the subjectivist is not doing X; therefore the subjectivist is not engaged in ethics.
    • Fooloso: Prove to me, via ethical reasoning, that abortion is wrong. More generally, how is anything proved to be wrong?

    If you think that ethical reasoning as I have defined it is not possible, that's fine. Maybe the subjectivist also holds that it is not possible. In that case I think they should say, "I don't think ethics is possible, therefore I do this other thing instead."
  • Janus
    15.7k
    If “I should not torture babies” is true, then you are obligated to not torture babies. You can’t affirm that it is true that “I should not torture babies” without conceding it is true that I shouldn’t torture babies: that’s incoherent.Bob Ross

    On the strength of what would I be obligated? And what would it mean for such a claim to be true beyond my feeling or thinking it to be so? Would there need to be a lawgiver who would punish me if I transgressed.

    It follows that I believe it to be a normative claim.

    But it wouldn’t be a normative claim, and that’s the point.
    Bob Ross

    What makes a normative claim a normative claim other than people believing it to be so. You didn't answer my question: if it is people believing it, then how many would be needed? If it is something else, then what is that "something else"? Are you invoking God?

    If the proposition expresses something about how something ought to be. Saying “I believe one ought to ...” is not a proposition about what ought to be: it is about what one believes ought to be.Bob Ross

    You continue to leave out the critical part. If a proposition expresses how something ought to be for some individual, then it is the fact that the individual believes that proposition that "supports the ought", so to speak. If you want to go beyond that you need to discover what "supports the ought"—you need to address that question.
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    If I say, "I believe torturing babies is wrong" then that amounts to saying, "I believe no one should torture babies". It follows that I believe it to be a normative claim. Saying Torturing babies is wrong" is really just shorthand for the former "I believe......"Janus

    1. "Torturing babies is wrong"
    2. "I believe (1)"

    As the thread has taken some pains to indicate, (1) and (2) are not the same thing. (1) is not shorthand for (2), just as "Aliens exist" is not shorthand for "I believe aliens exist" (). Claims about what is true are not shorthand for claims about what one believes to be true. Your idea here is a fantastic variety of relativism.

    Now, occasionally in everyday speech we assert in the form, "I believe such-and-such" (i.e. "Such-and-such is true"). But in this informal speech what is being asserted is such-and-such, not the note of belief. Or else what this indicates is that one thinks such-and-such is probably true.
  • Janus
    15.7k
    We know what would make "aliens exist" true. We don't know what would make torturing babies wrong, other than that it is (presumably) deeply felt to be so by most people. What else do you have?
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    - Are you conceding that (1) and (2) are different? Or are you ignoring your mistake and running to try a new argument?
  • Janus
    15.7k
    I haven't anywhere said the two sentences are semantically equivalent. Are you going to answer the question, which is exactly the same question I've been asking Bob?
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    I haven't anywhere said the two sentences are semantically equivalent.Janus

    You literally claimed that one is shorthand for the other. :roll:
  • Janus
    15.7k
    No I didn't, I asked what could make something wrong beyond it being believed to be so. If I believe something is wrong, then that belief is sufficient to make the something wrong for me. I might believe it to be wrong for others too, but my believing that does not make it so for them: they also need to believe it. If I want to claim something is wrong tout court, then I need to be able to say what it is that makes it so, otherwise it is mere hand-waving.
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    No I didn'tJanus

    Yes you did:

    Saying Torturing babies is wrong" is really just shorthand for the former "I believe......"Janus

    but my believing that does not make it so for themJanus

    And that is exactly why Ross is distinguishing (1) from (2):

    1. Torturing babies is wrong
    2. I believe torturing babies is wrong

    The point is that (2) does not entail (1).

    If I want to claim something is wrong tout court, then I need to be able to say what it is that makes it so, otherwise it is mere hand-waving.Janus

    No one is asserting that something is wrong tout court. That's not what this thread is about. You haven't understood the OP. I would suggest finding one of the many threads on moral realism and asking your questions there. This thread is about claims of the sort, < 2 1 >. See P1 of the OP.
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    On the strength of what would I be obligated?

    The obligation towards a moral proposition, is its truth-binding nature. If you deny this, then you are saying that you can affirm that it is true that “you should not torture babies” without affirming that it is true that you should not torture babies.

    That’s it: there nothing more that needs to be said.

    And what would it mean for such a claim to be true beyond my feeling or thinking it to be so?

    It would mean that propositions like “one should not torture babies for fun” can be evaluated as true or false; just like how propositions like “1 + 1 = 2” can be evaluated as true or false.

    PS: again, “one should not torture babies for fun” cannot be true or false relative to a belief. See the OP for more on that.

    Would there need to be a lawgiver who would punish me if I transgressed.

    Are you invoking God?

    This is a completely separate question from what you were asking: an investigation of the nature of normativity does not require anyone to answer what exactly is (objectively) morally good.

    A normative proposition is any proposition about what ought to be: that answers your original question.

    Now, if you want, I can delve into what I think is (objectively) morally good; but I will refrain for now. I don’t think it involves God, and I don’t think moral obligation has anything to do with a law giver.

    If a proposition expresses how something ought to be for some individual, then it is the fact that the individual believes that proposition that "supports the ought", so to speak

    I have no clue what you mean by “support” here: a belief an individual may have about a proposition which references themselves certainly does not make that proposition true or false.

    If you want to go beyond that you need to discover what "supports the ought"—you need to address that question.

    I can think of two ways of interpreting this statement: either what you are asking about is “what is morally good?” or “what makes a moral proposition binding?”. I cannot tell which one you are intending to ask.
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    But it can be modified pretty easily by noting that 2 can be changed to "feelings/the world make moral propositions true or false", and then there's no contradiction -- at least as I'm seeing it now.Moliere

    The same sort of inconsistency would arise as follows:

    P1: A stance taken on the trueness or falseness of something, is independent of the trueness or falseness of that something.
    P2: A feeling is a (cognitive) stance taken on the trueness or falseness of a proposition.
    C1: Therefore, a feeling about a proposition cannot make that proposition true or false.

    P3: Feelings make moral propositions true or false.
    P4: C1 and P3 being true are logically contradictory.
    C2: Therefore, moral subjectivism is internally inconsistent.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    \

    P2 would be "A belief is a cognitive stance taken..."

    and P3 would be "Feelings make moral propositions true or false"

    The feeling is the non-cognitive truth-maker of the cognitive belief.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    I don't hold that reason and emotion map to the objective and the subjective.Leontiskos

    Cool. I should have said that I don't think of reason and emotion in opposition -- I don't see reason or emotion as primary with the other secondary, although where you end that seems like we might agree there.

    One way to access Plato's point is to note that an agent can marshal and include emotions within their agency, but someone who is dominated by their emotions is to that extent not an agent at all. They are a patient (hence, "passions"). To grant emotions autonomy in themselves is to have cut oneself off from the ability to distinguish a proper relation to emotion from an improper relation to emotion, and it strikes me as self-evident that there are proper and improper ways to relate to emotion.

    I would think that the Moral Subjectivist could agree that being dominated by emotions is a bad thing, though.

    Rendering Plato's point in MS for someone who struggles with temper, say: The MS beleives "One ought not act on anger" which means "I feel disgust with myself when I act angry, and I want to be a better person", and if they do, in fact, feel disgust with themselves in that moment and want to be a better person then "One ought not act on anger" is true when that speaker says it.

    Given that it's an ought-statement usually the implication is that the speaker holds this advice for others as well, though I don't think that part is truth-apt since it seems to be more of an imperitive than a statement; but I see the rendition of ought-statements as statements about one's feelings about oneself and what they like to be as being plausible interpretations of moral statements, so it seems like I can see a plausible version of MS.
    (EDIT: Comically, this reducing ought-statements to the conjunction of an is-statement of a specific domain and an imperative means that while we cannot get an ought from an is, we can get an is from an ought)
    More generally: we are simultaneously agents and patients; the emotivist excludes the former and the rationalist excludes the latter.

    I like your general statement. It seems to get along with the notion that reason and emotion aren't at odds, except you'd say that agents and patients aren't at odds.

    I think we only become patients upon seeking a cure. Before that we may be sick, but we're not patients -- and I think that desire for a cure is an important part of any rational path to self-improvement. At the very least in terms of actually being successful in changing rather than listing things that we should be doing (but won't).
  • AmadeusD
    1.9k
    but someone who is dominated by their emotions is to that extent not an agent at all
    we are simultaneously agents and patients; the emotivist excludes the formerLeontiskos

    Could you maybe elucidate this? I think this is a completely wrong statement. I see nothing in it.

    Emotivists (to my knowledge) don't claim that you are beholden to your emotions to act. Just that emotions inform moral proclamations. One can simply act against their emotions. I do this constantly. To me, one of the biggest benefits of emotivism is that it explains moral disagreement, even intrapersonally. I can have conflicted moral standpoints, because the views done rest of logical predicates (i.e confirming/disconfirming conclusions regardless of their valence).
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    P2 would be "A belief is a cognitive stance taken..."

    and P3 would be "Feelings make moral propositions true or false"

    The feeling is the non-cognitive truth-maker of the cognitive belief.
    Moliere

    Okay, I thought you were classing your form of feeling-subjectivism as a variety of cognitivism. Regardless, the point is that P1 is not restricted to beliefs. Presumably the feeling-subjectivist is saddled with the same tension that feelings both can and cannot act as truth-makers for (moral) propositions. So we could rewrite P2 as something like, "P2: A feeling is a non-cognitive stance taken towards the trueness or falseness of a proposition." Again, I don't see how feelings have any more power to make moral propositions true or false than beliefs have.
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    Emotivists (to my knowledge) don't claim that you are beholden to your emotions to act. Just that emotions inform moral proclamations. One can simply act against their emotions. I do this constantly. To me, one of the biggest benefits of emotivism is that it explains moral disagreement, even intrapersonally. I can have conflicted moral standpoints, because the views done rest of logical predicates (i.e confirming/disconfirming conclusions regardless of their valence).AmadeusD

    I think that tracks what I said in the edit <here>. In the quote you gave I was admittedly using "emotivist" in a looser sense to capture the family of views to which Moliere has been speaking. On this view one is justified in acting on the basis of emotion, even to the point where "The feeling is the non-cognitive truth-maker of the cognitive belief" ().
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    "P2: A feeling is a non-cognitive stance taken towards the trueness or falseness of a proposition." Again, I don't see how feelings have any more power to make moral propositions true or false than beliefs have.Leontiskos

    A feeling isn't a non-cognitive stance taken towards the trueness or falseness of a proposition. I think the concrete example I gave showed that -- since we're speaking in terms of meta-ethics "Feelings" can take on many interpretations within a particular ethic.

    So an attachment to duty, for instance, may cultivate a desire to restrain oneself, or an attachment to family may cultivate a desire to be loyal and fulfill your family role. In each of these scenarios feelings will come into conflict with these moral feelings, but that doesn't change the meta-ethical frame -- any meta-ethical frame worth considering should be able to consider persons who are less inclined to be dutiful and persons who are more inclined to be dutiful, and everything else that's out there in the wild world of humanity.

    The Moral Subjectivist would just claim that the truth of the moral statements will come from those who speak those statements and their truth or falsity of their various commitments: you can spot rational inconsistencies in any creed (the cognitive part), but the reason people enact them is due to some attachment, which can include a moral attachment like the example of the person who wants to get over his anger to become better. These sorts of feelings are just as much feelings as the ones which are more commonly named, in this broad use of "Feelings"
  • AmadeusD
    1.9k
    Ah okay, fair enough. Thanks. I am back to following the exchanges now :P
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    I would think that the Moral Subjectivist could agree that being dominated by emotions is a bad thing, though.Moliere

    At this point I disagree. Let me continue to class your variety of subjectivism as feeling-subjectivism (or emotion-subjectivism). Now if the emotion-subjectivist is to temper emotion, then they will need some non-emotion-based authority to step in to do that tempering. One cannot rely solely on emotions to underwrite the prohibition against being dominated by emotions. I can expand on this, but let's look at your example:

    Rendering Plato's point in MS for someone who struggles with temper, say: The MS beleives "One ought not act on anger" which means "I feel disgust with myself when I act angry, and I want to be a better person", and if they do, in fact, feel disgust with themselves in that moment and want to be a better person then "One ought not act on anger" is true when that speaker says it.Moliere

    The premise here is an implicit emotion hierarchy, where disgust is worse than anger (or some level of disgust is worse than some level of anger). What establishes the hierarchy? What determines when the level of disgust is too high to be tolerated? If what are at stake are truly cognitive truths, then emotion itself cannot establish hierarchies or determine thresholds. It is reason which does all of this, and therefore reason is implicitly assumed in the background. The person who has a hierarchy of emotions has already gone beyond appeal to emotions.

    I like your general statement. It seems to get along with the notion that reason and emotion aren't at odds, except you'd say that agents and patients aren't at odds.

    I think we only become patients upon seeking a cure. Before that we may be sick, but we're not patients -- and I think that desire for a cure is an important part of any rational path to self-improvement. At the very least in terms of actually being successful in changing rather than listing things that we should be doing (but won't).
    Moliere

    Ah, let me clarify. I am using the term "patient" in a more classical-etymological sense. An agent is one who acts. A patient is one who is acted upon. The opposite of an action is a passion, for an action is something that we do and a passion is something that we undergo (or something that is done to us). The points in my last post were presupposing this definition. Colloquially we have phrases to represent this, such as, "Do not be carried away by your emotions!" When we become pure patients, at the whim of our emotions, something has gone wrong. E-motions are moving forces which are meant to coordinate with our agency, not to override and destroy our agency.
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    A feeling isn't a non-cognitive stance taken towards the trueness or falseness of a proposition.Moliere

    Well I tend to agree, but you are the one claiming that feelings are truth-makers for moral propositions. :wink:

    The Moral Subjectivist would just claim that the truth of the moral statements will come from those who speak those statements and their truth or falsity of their various commitmentsMoliere

    I don't really know what a sentence like this means, and because of that I dislike the word "just." :razz:

    but the reason people enact them is due to some attachment, which can include a moral attachment like the example of the person who wants to get over his anger to become better. These sorts of feelings are just as much feelings as the ones which are more commonly named, in this broad use of "Feelings"Moliere

    I would say that to judge something good or worth doing is not a feeling. Adverting to my thread, a feeling is analogous to a hypothetical 'ought', and rendering a non-hypothetical ought-judgment requires taking into account the various hypothetical 'oughts' (including feelings) and then rendering a judgment. That judgment is not a feeling; it is the thing that takes feelings into account.

    More simply, I don't think feelings are truth-makers for moral propositions. "I should smash this guy across the face." "Why?" "Because I have a feeling of anger." This is incomplete. The feeling of anger does not in itself make the moral proposition true. It may be true, and the anger may signal its truth, but it may also be false, and the anger may be a consequence of stupidity or error. The anger itself is not a truthmaker.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    What establishes the hierarchy? What determines when the level of disgust is too high to be tolerated?Leontiskos

    I don't think we know that -- if so the statements would belike Hume's passions which come across as a sort of calculus.

    But we don't have the calculus of attachment just yet. Your question is like asking people before Newton "What makes the planets turn like that?", where I'd be totally unqualified to even guess at it :D


    Some people want to be better, some don't, some ethics don't even talk in terms of these hierarchies of disgust. In terms of meta-ethics I think that the particular articulation of an ethic is what will determine the hierarchy, though in reality I think the hierarchies are established by the clash of attachments, however that cashes out.

    As a kind of story-example to get a gist across:

    a person who is surrounded by people who shame them can feel guilt for that particular thing and want to change, or they can feel anger and define themselves against that group, and perhaps they can feel both at the same time in roughly similar proportion (and this is where the sense of free will comes from). Each leads to a kind of articulatable ethic that justifies the choice, so it really would depend upon whether or not the person is attached to this or that ethic if they speak the truth (under the rendition that ought-statements are nothing more than this reduction to an is-statement of attachment, and an imperative, which is what my next chunk is on) -- the MS would only have to find some way to attach any ethical statement's truth or false value necessarily to the attitudes of people.

    If what are at stake are truly cognitive truths, then emotion itself cannot establish hierarchies or determine thresholds.

    That depends upon what truly cognitive truths are.

    If the truth of all moral language just is the day-to-day operations of living, though, then I think emotions are exactly how hierarchies are established. Fear, guilt, and shame are powerful motivators in moral codes, and they are reinforced by social hierarchies established by emotional attachments.

    In our example the man wouldn't say "One ought not lose their temper" -- that's goofy as hell for someone to say when they are contrite or angry or whatever genuine expression towards an ethic, and a real person's utterance would express this proposition differently. "One ought not lose their temper" is the proposition which the utterance can be reduced to, for the purposes of making the MS position philosophically palatable, "I feel disgust when I lose my temper and I want to be a better person and everyone else shouldn't either" -- the creed after this can include things like "Because anger hurts others, and we are commanded to love others"

    The redemption story is one of recognition, shame, anger, and relief. The cognitive part is all the philosophy, but the reason people seek redemption isn't because of the cognitive part.

    It is reason which does all of this, and therefore reason is implicitly assumed in the background. The person who has a hierarchy of emotions has already gone beyond appeal to emotions.

    How do you know?

    I don't really know what a sentence like this means, and because of that I dislike the word "just." :razz:Leontiskos

    Sorry.

    Looking at the wiki definition ---

    Ethical subjectivism (also known as moral subjectivism and moral non-objectivism)[1] is the meta-ethical view which claims that:

    (1) Ethical sentences express propositions.
    (2) Some such propositions are true.
    (3) The truth or falsity of such propositions is ineliminably dependent on the (actual or hypothetical) attitudes of people.[2][3]



    3's the proposition under dispute for you, I believe.

    So for any true ethical proposition the MS would try to demonstrate that its truth is dependent upon the attitudes of people, and the same with any false ethical proposition.

    I think that the dependency could even include communal dependency -- resolving conflict would be an interesting place to explore for counter-examples of 3. I think the plausible part of the meta-ethic is that statements of ethics have practical, relational components when they are being followed so there is a sense, if all ethical statements are social creeds and nothing else, then the truth of them, if ethical statements are cognitive, would have to depend upon the attitudes of people because what else is there?


    More simply, I don't think feelings are truth-makers for moral propositions. "I should smash this guy across the face." "Why?" "Because I have a feeling of anger." This is incomplete. The feeling of anger does not in itself make the moral proposition true. It may be true, and the anger may signal its truth, but it may also be false, and the anger may be a consequence of stupidity or error. The anger itself is not a truthmaker.Leontiskos

    I think any particular ethic can parse attachments into the good ones and the bad ones, and can parse any emotion into the positive and the negative. So in order for "Because I have a feeling of anger" to be judged as incomplete we have to have some basis of evaluation (which could be a system, or a creed, or a vague desire to be something else, or...)

    But most ethics don't justify violence on the basis of anger at an individual. The attachments preached are love, loyalty, and so forth. Striking out of anger is usually shamed, unless there is some justification for the anger, so of course -- due to our attachment to "One ought not strike out of anger" we will follow that to its logical implication and also say to our risible friend "That's not a good reason, let's go cool off outside"
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    Thanks - I will come back to the rest of your post but let me speak to this before signing off for the night:

    But most ethics don't justify violence on the basis of anger at an individual. The attachments preached are love, loyalty, and so forth. Striking out of anger is usually shamed, unless there is some justification for the anger, so of course -- due to our attachment to "One ought not strike out of anger" we will follow that to its logical implication and also say to our risible friend "That's not a good reason, let's go cool off outside"Moliere

    I don't think the a priori guarantee that, "any particular ethic can parse attachments into the good ones and the bad ones," is redeemable, and this is especially true if moral subjectivism doesn't add up to a bona fide moral theory. (I don't think it does, in part because it doesn't seem to possess representation at a professional level.)

    For example, "striking out of anger is usually shamed," but it does not follow that emotion-subjectivism is capable of such a prohibition. We can't assume that emotion-subjectivism will be able to do all of the things that normal ethical theories are able to do. If we assumed that then we could never make a case against emotion-subjectivism.

    The interesting thing about, "One ought not strike out of anger," is that it is purely negative. "If this emotion tells you to strike, don't do it." If emotions are the things by which we are to know what to do, then what is the thing that tells us to not act on an emotion? It's not an emotion, because emotions don't persuade, they overpower or incline. What I am assuming here is that the experience of the emotion is what constitutes the truth-maker. Of course the emotion-subjectivist could draw up an extrinsic map about which truths are "made" by which emotions, and that map might include, "Anger do not strike," but this is pretty weird given the fact that the experience of anger tells us to strike. Such a map apparently cannot be emotion-based if it is telling us to act contrary to emotion. (Anger is relevant because I do not think an emotion-based ethic would be able to restrain anger nearly as much as our common, rational ethics do.)

    But I will come back to the rest...
  • Janus
    15.7k
    Saying Torturing babies is wrong" is really just shorthand for the former "I believe......"
    — Janus

    but my believing that does not make it so for them
    — Janus
    Leontiskos

    I'm saying that for me to say torturing babies is wrong is equivalent to me saying I believe torturing babies is wrong. Og course the two sentences are not semantically equivalent, what I'm talking about is my own intentions my own meaning when I say that.

    It's like if I say to you "Your wife is having an affair" when I don't have hard evidence for it but I believe it very strongly for whatever reason; what I'm really saying is I beleive your wife is having an affair if I am honest,

    I can't make sense of the claim "torturing babies is wrong" if I take that to be saying it is wrong tout court, because I can't imagine anything that could make that true, apart from what most people would feel and believe. Which means that the proposition is inextricably tied to belief, mine, someone else's, even most peoples'.

    Torturing babies is wrong
    I believe torturing babies is wrong

    The point is that (2) does not entail (1).
    Leontiskos

    As I explained in the absence of any other truthmaker belief is all we've got. I'm opting for intellectual honesty.

    The obligation towards a moral proposition, is its truth-binding nature. If you deny this, then you are saying that you can affirm that it is true that “you should not torture babies” without affirming that it is true that you should not torture babies.Bob Ross

    You are talking about committing a semantic contradiction. That has nothing to do with what may or may not be morally binding. Really nothing is morally binding: people can believe something is wrong, even feel terrible shame in doing it, and yet do it, nonetheless.

    In general, when I say I believe something is morally wrong I mean that it is morally repugnant to me, it feels wrong because I don't want to hurt another or whatever.

    .
  • wonderer1
    1.8k
    E-motions are moving forces which are meant to coordinate with our agency, not to override and destroy our agency.Leontiskos

    "Meant to" by whom?

    It looks to me like evolution resulted in us having emotions which act as 'interrupts' to our rational consideration, and which tend to redirect our thinking.
  • DifferentiatingEgg
    21
    I do not wish to read through the whole discussion, so my apologies if this has already been addressed:
    1. A belief is a (cognitive) stance taken on the trueness or falseness of a proposition; and
    2. Beliefs make moral propositions true or false.
    Bob Ross
    1 is your bias of the word belief, and certainly not mine, nor does it account for the history of the word, merely your own understanding of it.
  • Fooloso4
    5.6k
    Leontiskos: The activity of ethical reasoning is X; the subjectivist is not doing X; therefore the subjectivist is not engaged in ethics.Leontiskos

    Your premise that the activity of ethical reasoning is like mathematical reasoning is an opinion, a belief. It is shared by some but rejected by others. The term 'subjectivism' is used in different ways. To pick one from Wikipedia and treat it as if this is the only thing that those who defend some form of subjectivism must mean goes against the idea of free and open inquiry and discussion.

    The irony is that you use own beliefs regarding morality to argue that morality is not about beliefs.

    Prove to me, via ethical reasoning, that abortion is wrong. More generally, how is anything proved to be wrong?Leontiskos

    After responding to this several times it now looks as if you are no longer arguing in good faith. I have not asked you to prove that abortion is wrong or right. Abortion is a clear example of what is at issue, namely, the claim that ethics like mathematics is objective. The unresolved moral controversies surrounding abortion clearly demonstrates that ethical deliberation is not like adding 2 plus 2.

    If you really think that I am asking you to prove anything then you have not understood what I am saying. Moral problems are not like mathematical problems. They are not subject to proof.
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    I'm saying that for me to say torturing babies is wrong is equivalent to me saying I believe torturing babies is wrong.

    That’s fine; but it makes no comment on whether or not “torturing babies is wrong” is (1) propositional nor (2) true: you would need to abandon moral subjectivism to get there.

    It's like if I say to you "Your wife is having an affair" when I don't have hard evidence for it but I believe it very strongly for whatever reason; what I'm really saying is I beleive your wife is having an affair if I am honest,

    The difference is that you agree that “your wife is having an affair” is (1) propositional and (2) expressing something objective; and your belief is, thusly, formulated as best you can to the facts. All you are noting, is that someone can have varying credence levels about whether or not a proposition is true.

    If you make it so that “your wife is having an affair” is true relative to your belief about it, then you have committed something patently incoherent: now you have stripped out the original proposition, replaced it with “I believe your wife is having an affair”, and conflated the two.

    I can't make sense of the claim "torturing babies is wrong" if I take that to be saying it is wrong tout court, because I can't imagine anything that could make that true, apart from what most people would feel and believe.

    Then you can’t say “torturing babies is wrong”…

    All you can say is that “you believe that torturing babies is wrong”; and this is not normatively binding nor is it a moral proposition.

    Which means that the proposition is inextricably tied to belief, mine, someone else's, even most peoples'.

    NO. You cannot deny that “torturing babies is wrong” can be evaluated as true or false (which can only be done objectively) and then turn around and say it can be if we just evaluate people’s beliefs about it. You have now transformed the propositions into one’s about belief...which are not the original propositions nor are they normatively binding.

    As I explained in the absence of any other truthmaker belief is all we've got.

    Belief is not a truth-maker: the facts that demonstrate that the statement corresponds with reality is the truth-maker.

    It is nonsensical to think a belief makes statements true.

    Me: “cucumbers are yellow” is true.
    You: “Why? It seems quite false.”
    Me: “Because I believe cucumbers are yellow, and beliefs are truth-makers”.

    You are talking about committing a semantic contradiction

    Please see my OP: it is not a semantic contradiction—it is a conceptual contradiction that arises out of a gross misunderstanding of the nature of a belief and proposition.

    Really nothing is morally binding: people can believe something is wrong, even feel terrible shame in doing it, and yet do it, nonetheless

    That something is morally binding, has absolutely nothing to do with how motivated a person is in abiding by it.
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    That is the standard way of thinking about a belief, see:

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