• Philosophim
    2.3k
    This is a simplification and rewrite of https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/14834/a-measurable-morality/p1 Posted originally for one of our fantastic forum members, Bob Ross, we had a great conversation where I feel this could be narrowed down to a more focused conversation here.

    Is there an objective morality? If there is, it hasn't been found yet. But maybe we don't need to have found it to determine fundamental claims it would necessarily make.

    The point I will make below: If there is an objective morality, the most logical fundamental aspect of that morality is that existence is good.

    Definitions:
    Good - what should be
    Existence - what is
    Morality - a method of evaluating what is good

    For me, the problem with most approaches to finding an objective morality is that they are top down. They start with moral premises that are generally understood in society and look at them as the starting point. Instead, I want to start with a bottom up approach. It is about finding the fundamentals of morality, then working up to examples of generally understood morality.

    1. All moral questions boil down to one fundamental question that must be answered first, "Should there be existence?"

    Starting with human centric morality, a question might be asked, "Should I lie to another person for personal gain?" But to truly answer this objectively, I must first have the answer to the question. "Should I exist at all?" Yet this goes further. until we arrive at a fundamental question of morality that must be answered before anything else can. "Should there be existence at all?"

    2. It is unknown whether there is an objective morality

    Morality is the way that we evaluate the goodness of a state. A subjective morality is based on our own feelings and intuitions. An objective morality would be something that could be evaluated apart from our feelings and intuitions using logic and objectively measurable identities. If there is an objective morality, no one has discovered it yet. But are there some things that we could still answer? While we don't know if an objective morality exists, we can know the fundamental question, and know that there are only so many answers to this question. If that is the case, perhaps we can argue that one answer is more reasonable than the others.

    The argument:
    a. Assume that there is an objective morality.

    If there is not an objective morality, then of course this is moot.

    b. This leaves two answers to the question, "Should there be existence?". They are, "Yes", or "No".

    Now we have a binary. If one is true, the other is false.

    c. Assume the answer is yes. There is no innate contradiction.

    This is not a proof, just a note that there is nothing contradictory in the answer, "Yes".

    d. Assume the answer is no.

    e. If it is the case that there is something objective which concludes there should be no existence, that objectivity must exist.

    f. But if it exists, then according to itself, it shouldn't exist.

    g. If it shouldn't exist, then the answer "No" objectively shouldn't exist thus contradicting itself.

    Conclusion: If there is objective morality, "No" as the answer to "Should there be existence" leads to a contradiction. Therefore the only answer which does not lead to a contradiction is, "Yes".

    Thus, logically, if an objective morality exists, then "There should be existence" is the most fundamental moral tenant from which all other morality is built on. I would like to build on this in another post, but as a fundamental claim of what an objective morality must entail, I wanted to see people's thoughts first.
  • 180 Proof
    14.3k
    existence is goodPhilosophim
    – for what?

    "There should be existence"
    This statement doesn't make sense (i.e. is a category mistake) because "existence" in not an action or practice and therefore cannot be prescribed.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    existence is good
    — Philosophim
    – for what?
    180 Proof

    If we are to take that good is, "What should be", then we can take at a base level that there should be existence over nothing. This is because any morality which proposed that existence should not be would contradict itself.

    "There should be existence"
    This statement doesn't make sense (i.e. is a category mistake) because "existence" in not an action or practice and therefore cannot be prescribed.
    180 Proof

    Existence can be an action or a state. Actions are states over time. States are what existence looks like within a snapshot of time. A person who runs or the picture of someone mid run. We can imagine a button that could eliminate all of existence. Is it objectively moral to press it, or not? Any objective moral approach must answer this fundamental question. While I can't prove that an objective morality exists, if it does exist, the only non-contradictory answer is that existence is better than there being nothing.
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    If we are to take that good is, "What should be", then we can take at a base level that there should be existence over nothing.Philosophim
    Why?
    Because existence already is, we're in it, and we want it going?
    But by what standard is an "is" a "should be"?
  • 180 Proof
    14.3k
    Existence can be an action ...Philosophim
    Explain how.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    If we are to take that good is, "What should be", then we can take at a base level that there should be existence over nothing.
    — Philosophim

    Why?
    Because existence already is, we're in it, and we want it going?
    But by what standard is an "is" a "should be"?
    Vera Mont

    I'll focus on that part of the OP for you.

    a. Assume that there is an objective morality.

    b. This leaves two answers to the question, "Should there be existence?". They are, "Yes", or "No".

    c. Assume the answer is yes. There is no innate contradiction.

    d. Assume the answer is no.

    e. If it is the case that there is something objective which concludes there should be no existence, that objectivity must exist.

    f. But if it exists, then according to itself, it shouldn't exist.

    g. If it shouldn't exist, then the answer "No" objectively shouldn't exist thus contradicting itself.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    Existence can be an action ...
    — Philosophim
    Explain.
    180 Proof

    Sure. Actions only happen over time. This apple on a tree at exactly 1.23 seconds after existence is an apple. An apple over time is aging. It is not just an existence, it is existing.
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    b. This leaves two answers to the question, "Should there be existence?". They are, "Yes", or "No".Philosophim

    Why would moral theories be required to answer this question? I think most moral theories simply do not answer the question at all.
  • 180 Proof
    14.3k
    This apple on a tree at exactly 1.23 seconds after existence is an apple.Philosophim
    I do not understand this sentence.

    Also, "existence" =/= "existing" (i.e. ground =/= grounding).

    Again:
    Existence can be an action ...
    — Philosophim
    Explain how.
    180 Proof
  • Kizzy
    83
    Is there an objective morality? If there is, it hasn't been found yet. But maybe we don't need to have found it to determine fundamental claims it would necessarily make.Philosophim
    Finding an objective morality? We dont start with an objective morality because we must determine them/an. How about we first moralize objectively....? That is almost surely possible, to what degree? It depends.

    It is about finding the fundamentals of morality, then working up to examples of generally understood morality.Philosophim
    Finding the fundamentals of morality to build a general understanding of morality. Are those examples then compared to the basis built from the fundamental findings or other understandings and examples? The how and TO WHAT we compare a general understanding of morality to is important for objective moralizing, I believe.

    If it is the case that there is something objective which concludes there should be no existence, that objectivity must exist.

    f. But if it exists, then according to itself, it shouldn't exist.
    Philosophim

    NOT ACCORDING TO ITSELF, IT SHOULDNT EXIST. OBJECTIVITY ISNT EXISTING, WE ARE AND WHAT WE DECIDE IS OBJECTIVE, IS. WE WILL NEVER KNOW IF IT IS FOR OURSELVES, AS OF /IN PRESENT TIME. BECAUSE IT CAN HAPPEN DOESNT MEAN IT EXISTS CURRENTLY...IT CAN EXIST, DOES (I believe), YET, WE ARE STILL HERE! *tick-tock* THIS ARGUMENT SEEMS INVALID, NOTHING TO ARGUE.

    I DO like the direction this discussion is taking, though! I should note, that I type in CAPS for no good reason...however, I think there is good reason for the making of this post. I applaud your work, Philosophim and also Bob's, in the specific area of "morality" you both frequently discuss on the forum . You two are dedicated, thorough, and well spoken! Taking notes! I am pleased to find myself commenting on another thread and I appreciate all the effort that goes in to your posts!

    BUT anyways, where was I......

    LITERALLY NO ONE: "SHOULD THERE BE EXISTENCE"
    My inner voice: "nO"
    EXISTENCE: "TOO BAD."

    Maybe if I truly believed it, when I allowed my mind and inner voice to go there (answering "nO" to question B of the argument) I would have more justification or explanation and I WOULD BE HAPPY TO EXPLAIN IT, except...I cant, because I think and believe there SHOULD be existence. If I thought otherwise, well, tough shiz! Explain WHY it shouldnt and feel LOVE at the same time. Can you? That alone is good enough for why it should...LOVE! And any/the explanation that one could come up with, for why it SHOULD NOT, will be lost by those of it! At the most, a nod, smile, and wave good bye! Agree to disagree...because that question should not be asked, period. If the answer actually is objectively no, to the question "should there be existence" then its over my dead body and guess what...I'm fine to go down for that!

    I dont know, I feel these questions in the argument is opinion based questions, and no argument is to be HAD. We cant argue opinions. Well, I usually wont unless I am bothered by the opposing stances and cant move on without carrying frustrations, issues...Or we can if we are really bored and/or of hidden agendas/intentions from the act. For ex. when one indirectly posits stances and takes on the likeness of what they think the one of/with/ that has those beliefs and takes those stances and portrays outward that air in communication, to sway, to seem agreeable, to seem sure, to distract and soothe the self?...boo!


    b. This leaves two answers to the question, "Should there be existence?". They are, "Yes", or "No".Philosophim
    Should there be? THERE IS!

    i can get on board with what you are saying here, though. Existence "was" an action...it can be, again! Until we cant. Maybe, It's being an action.


    Existence is not good or bad inherently to itself, we are inherently existing with both the good and the bad, all together- we all get the same time in one day...it just hits us differently. The good and the bad are how we can be moral agents, i think. It is not on the scale or the basis to be either/or...we need both. Morality is undefined objectively, because people are still confused. I am guilty of it myself, at times. But not about this...morality is and ALSO is when it can be objective.
  • Kizzy
    83
    b. This leaves two answers to the question, "Should there be existence?". They are, "Yes", or "No". — Philosophim


    Why would moral theories be required to answer this question? I think most moral theories simply do not answer the question at all.
    Leontiskos
    thats right, it is not a real question...if it is, i would like to observe that convo in real time being had between an asker (out of curiosity, lack of better words/understanding/clarification for self -NOT- if asker is only asking, not because they care about the actual answer from the giver (true or not), but for their own reasons/needs. If the ask is done indirectly for other intel (without knowledge of observations being had, of course) then I believe within that ask, is an observer seeking something other than "the answer" but "thee answer" that works and can be accepted to proceed with discussing for them....if this is an actual question, no judgement, I genuinely want to know WHO is ASKING WHO or WHAT and WHAT they get from the answer and how to carry on from there...do they want to just "ask" to bring up discussion that can incorporate their ideas further surrounding the topic? Probably, most likely...AND thats fine with me, people have to bounce ideas around for feedback, I totally get that but when/if it is other than that, its pretty bleak. I am not sure if the will exists in me to even want to try and wrap my head around what is or might be going on wherever that question takes/lands us...if its an actual real question, that is! I find it SUS!
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    Why would moral theories be required to answer this question? I think most moral theories simply do not answer the question at all.Leontiskos

    Because most moral theories cannot answer that question. There is currently no accepted objective moral theory. They are all subjective at this point in time.

    But why are they required to? If they are objective, they need to answer that question because it is the question that underlies all moral questions. How can you claim how one should exist before you can claim that they should exist at all? Subjective moral theories stop at this point because it gives up the game, or they just aren't deep enough to go that far.

    Regardless, the question has now been pointed out, shown its importance, and answered.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    This apple on a tree at exactly 1.23 seconds after existence is an apple.
    — Philosophim
    I do not understand this sentence. Also, "existence" =/= "existing" (i.e. ground =/= grounding).
    180 Proof

    I'm trying to demonstrate a snapshot versus existence over time. Existing only happens over time, as actions only happen over time. Do you have a counter proposal for existence 180 Proof? Seeing what you're thinking might help me understand your questions more, or let me explain in terms you think in.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    .if this is an actual question, no judgement, I genuinely want to know WHO is ASKING WHO or WHAT and WHAT they get from the answer and how to carry on from thereKizzy

    Me. Its not what I get, its that we get a foundation for an objective morality. How do we carry on from there? We build from there. That's what I do in the other paper if you want a hint. I'm planning on writing a follow up that breaks the build up down a bit more as that first post was a discussion draft for really one person. But first, that there is a fundamental question, that this is the fundamental question, and this is the answer to that question need to be established and explored first.

    I totally get that but when/if it is other than that, its pretty bleak.Kizzy

    I did not find the answer bleak, but incredibly hopeful! This lets us develop a tool and measurement system to evaluate if certain situations are more moral than others. This will eventually build into human morality, but demonstrates morality at a molecular level, animal level, and eventually high intelligence level. It will help us actually answer the moral questions we have apart from social norms, culture, and personal opinions.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    How about we first moralize objectively....?Kizzy

    Because we must first objectively establish what morality is. Then, after we do so we can examine objectivity itself and ask whether it is moral or not.

    Finding the fundamentals of morality to build a general understanding of morality. Are those examples then compared to the basis built from the fundamental findings or other understandings and examples?Kizzy

    This will build into our general questions about morality. Should we lie? Should we steal? Should we murder? Also common philosophical moral dilemmas like killing a crying baby while hiding from Nazis to save all the other people hiding under the floorboards from being discovered. Some will have final answers without much debate, while other debates may arise.

    NOT ACCORDING TO ITSELF, IT SHOULDNT EXIST. OBJECTIVITY ISNT EXISTING, WE ARE AND WHAT WE DECIDE IS OBJECTIVE, IS.Kizzy

    I don't think this is correct. We will die if we don't get oxygen. No matter of definitions, subjective viewpoints, or beliefs will change this.

    I think there is good reason for the making of this post. I applaud your work, Philosophim and also Bob's, in the specific area of "morality" you both frequently discuss on the forum . You two are dedicated, thorough, and well spoken!Kizzy

    Such a nice comment! Thank you. If you hate me after this discussion though, its ok. :) Not that I'll try to hurt your feelings, but I may conclude things you disagree with. It is my experience that often times the admiration of another person only lasts as long as that person delivers what one desires. As long as we can still respect each other despite differences or working through them, its a win for both of us. I appreciate your points here as well! They are something to look at and explore together.

    LITERALLY NO ONE: "SHOULD THERE BE EXISTENCE"
    My inner voice: "nO"
    EXISTENCE: "TOO BAD."
    Kizzy

    Ha ha! What you're stating is that the question of whether there should be existence is irrelevant because there its going to be here at the end of the day. But morality is not about what is. Morality at its core is understanding that states of reality can change. I reach a fork in the road and I ask myself, "Should I go left, or right?" Implicit in this is that there might be a 'better' outcome depending on what I choose.

    As a very simple example that most people agree on, we don't kill babies for fun. There is one future in which a person kills a baby for fun, and another where they do not. Almost everyone agrees that the existence of a future where a baby dies for someone's amusement is not as moral as a future where the baby lives. If we have an objective measurement that can prove this, that would be a start. But to get there, we have to start with the fundamentals.

    Maybe if I truly believed it, when I allowed my mind and inner voice to go there (answering "nO" to question B of the argument) I would have more justification or explanation and I WOULD BE HAPPY TO EXPLAIN IT, except...I cant, because I think and believe there SHOULD be existence.Kizzy

    And there is nothing wrong with that. When we don't have objective answers, all we can go on is our subjective understanding. We don't have to understand the mechanics behind why we walk to walk after all. Not understanding how we walk does not deny the objective reality that we do walk. Morality is the same.

    But in the case in which a person loses their leg and we want to make an artificial replacement, its helpful to know how we walk right? Subjective moral values are typically good enough in many day to day actions. Its when we hit the edge cases, subjective moral value conflicts, or a subjective loss of moral evaluation entirely that we need an objective methodology that helps ground us.

    The good and the bad are how we can be moral agentsKizzy

    True, this is where we will build to. This foundation and our moral actions are inclusive of one another, not exclusionary. My question to you now is if the initial logic I've noted above seems sound. If I can get a general consensus that this seems like a logical start, I can build from here. Yes, your initial impression might be an emotional rejection or not understanding what the point is. But ignoring that, does the logic hold?
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    a. Assume that there is an objective morality.Philosophim

    You can't assume anything unless you already exist.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    You can't assume anything unless you already exist.Vera Mont

    No disagreement there, but how does that effect the discussion in any way? This seems irrelevant.
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    No disagreement there, but how does that effect the discussion in any way? This seems irrelevant.Philosophim
    That was the burden of my comment.
    1. All moral questions boil down to one fundamental question that must be answered first, "Should there be existence?"Philosophim
    How is there a "discussion" without the given that preexists any possible question of "shoulds" ?
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    How is there a "discussion" without the given that preexists any possible question of "shoulds" ?Vera Mont

    I'm not sure I follow. "Should" is a question of whether a state should be. Its irrelevant to whether that state currently is. If a baby has been killed for someone's amusement, should it have been done? No. What is, is not necessarily what should be if there are alternatives.
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    I'm not sure I follow. "Should" is a question of whether a state should be.Philosophim
    Where "should not" isn't an option, there no alternatives; therefore the question is meaningless and pointless.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    Where "should not" isn't an option, the question is meaningless and pointless.Vera Mont

    Not at all. If you are chained to a wall watching helpless as a person kills a baby for their amusement, it doesn't mean they shouldn't have done that. Your ability to affect an outcome has no bearing on the question of whether it should be an outcome. That is a subjective self-inserting form of thinking. Your ability to affect or have an opinion on an outcome does not change the objective reality of whether that outcome should be or not.
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k

    Not about outcome. About precondition for question. Question chases own tail. Therefore question silly.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    Not about outcome. About precondition for question. Question chases own tail. Therefore question silly.Vera Mont

    I fail to see how this is chasing its own tail. If you're going to start typing like the Hulk, I think you've run out of justification and simply don't like that the question is being asked.
  • Fire Ologist
    234
    Therefore question silly.Vera Mont

    Therefore question should not be asked, or else “silly” is meaningless.
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    Why would moral theories be required to answer this question? I think most moral theories simply do not answer the question at all.Leontiskos

    But why are they required to? If they are objective, they need to answer that question because it is the question that underlies all moral questions.Philosophim

    I see little evidence for such a claim. As a theist I agree that existence is good, but there are non-theological forms of ethics.

    How can you claim how one should exist before you can claim that they should exist at all?Philosophim

    Those who take existence as a given can still do ethics.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    I see little evidence for such a claim. As a theist I agree that existence is good, but there are non-theological forms of ethics.Leontiskos

    Simply present an ethical question that does not inevitably resolve to the underlying fundamental question I noted and you will have successfully refuted my claim.

    Those who take existence as a given can still do ethics.Leontiskos

    I never said they couldn't. That wasn't my point. My point was that the base underlying question of, "Should there be existence?" exists under every moral question. If you can't answer that fundamental objectively, can you objectively answer anything built upon that fundamental objectively? Not likely.

    I am to assume at this point you don't have any issue with the argument's conclusions in answering the fundamental, only whether this is a fundamental question for any objective ethics?
  • petrichor
    318
    I don't understand how "I exist, but I should not exist" is a contradiction. The 'is' and the the 'ought' here are two different things. A contradiction takes the form "A AND NOT A". Since the 'is' and the 'ought' here are not the same, we have something of the form "A AND NOT B", which is not a contradiction.

    If there is any kind of morality at all, it seems it needs to be possible that states of affairs can obtain that should not be. For example, a man is torturing a child. This shouldn't be! But it is! Not a contradiction. Happens all the time! There are all sorts of things that, if morality means anything, are the case in spite of their badness. If states of affairs that ought not exist simply cannot exist, by virtue of the 'ought not', then moral prescriptions would be pointless.

    If it were the case that states of affairs that should not exist actually therefore cannot exist, then only what should be the case could be actually real. There would therefore be no evil at all in the world. Whatever happens, then, is proved to be good simply by virtue of its actuality.
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    I don't understand how "I exist, but I should not exist" is a contradiction.petrichor

    Its not. That's not the argument. The argument is not about "I".

    e. If it is the case that there is something objective which concludes there should be no existence, that objectivity must exist.

    f. But if it exists, then according to itself, it shouldn't exist.

    g. If it shouldn't exist, then the answer "No" objectively shouldn't exist thus contradicting itself.
    Philosophim

    We aren't talking about a subjective viewpoint. We're talking about an objective fact, like the existence of gravity. We're not even claiming that we're proving that an objective morality exists. What we're noting is that if an objective morality exists, the fundamental question of, "Should there be existence?" can only be "Yes" to avoid contradiction.
  • Vera Mont
    3.5k
    I don't understand how "I exist, but I should not exist" is a contradiction.petrichor

    Not I; everything.
    The alternative to your personal existence is your never having been born, which was an option for the universe. You can contemplate what that might have been like in the context of all the non-you things that exist.
    Should the universe exist? has no alternative state for the universe to contemplate.
  • Bob Ross
    1.3k


    I am glad to see you are more active again on the forum! I am guessing the new job has settle down a bit (:

    We have discussed a lot of this in depth, so I just have one objection worth adding (that we didn't discuss):

    Good - what should be

    I don't think this is internally coherent for your position: you use the term 'good' to denote things which you do not thereby concede should exist. Let's take it by example.

    Imagine you could combine two elements (in the periodic table) to formulate another element and, let's stipulate, this would produce "more existence" than if the combination were not done. This combination would be, then, "good".

    Imagine, though, that you could combine those two elements with two other elements to formulate another element and, let's stipulate, that would produce "more existence" than if the combination were not done. This combination, likewise, would be, then, "good".

    However, imagine that the first combination doesn't produce as much existence as the second combination: they are both "good", when considered in themselves, but the second one is more "good".

    Let's say you can only perform one of the combinations (as performing one eliminates the possibility of performing the other): obviously, you would choose the second one (because it is more "good"). However, if you what you mean by "good" is merely "what should exist" then both combinations should exist; but it seems perfectly coherent for you to say "the first combination is good, but it should not exist because the second combination is better (i.e., 'more good')".

    Gradations, or degrees, of goodness are eliminated if one accepts that goodness is identical to 'to ought to exist'.

    As an external critique, the other issue is that defining goodness in this manner eliminates many commonly accepted usages of the concept; e.g., by saying that this clock is good for telling the time, one is not at all implying that the clock should exist.

    Just food for thought (:

    Bob
  • Philosophim
    2.3k
    I am glad to see you are more active again on the forum! I am guessing the new job has settle down a bit (:Bob Ross

    It has! I haven't had much energy to think about much else until about now.

    I don't think this is internally coherent for your position: you use the term 'good' to denote things which you do not thereby concede should exist.Bob Ross

    I hesitate to go more than what is currently in the OP at this time as I am trying to focus it to be more approachable. The warning about what is to come are well appreciated, though I think it will be ok.

    Let's say you can only perform one of the combinations (as performing one eliminates the possibility of performing the other): obviously, you would choose the second one (because it is more "good"). However, if you what you mean by "good" is merely "what should exist" then both combinations should exist; but it seems perfectly coherent for you to say "the first combination is good, but it should not exist because the second combination is better (i.e., 'more good')".Bob Ross

    Good as defined here is like "tree". Its describing a general concept. When we dive into more specifics, this is after directly defining what existence is, and how we can create situations that have more or less existence. Gradations still exist, because there are different combinations which result in more existential or less existential outcomes.

    This of course relies on the context. If both combinations can co-exist without issue, then lets have both. But if we only have a choice of making one or the other, then that which creates more existence, is the better one. So yes, "Existence is good" at first glance does not appear to have gradations, but that's because we haven't set existence yet into a measurable quantity yet.

    As an external critique, the other issue is that defining goodness in this manner eliminates many commonly accepted usages of the concept; e.g., by saying that this clock is good for telling the time, one is not at all implying that the clock should exist.Bob Ross

    I think this is fine. The same words are used within different contexts normally, and I don't think that most people will confuse the definition of good when talking about existential morality versus describing the effective and pleasing functionality of a clock. Or maybe they will and I'll have to cross that road when I get there!

    Just food for thought (:Bob Ross

    It is always well cooked and appreciated!
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