• Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    It seems that there are no moral facts or method for finding them. But a lot of people seem to think that feeling something is wrong is an adequate basis for morality.

    If you read comments under a video on You Tube you can see this phenomenon where people express outrage about something they think is wrong rather than present an argument.

    Some people think that if we just base a society on empathetic feelings this could be morality.

    However I think there is a substantial difference between feeling something is wrong and it being wrong. So for example feeling that child molestation is wrong is not proof that someone has broken a moral code or transgressed a natural or religious law.

    So in what way is something like genocide wrong and to what extent are people just saying they dislike the event? I think it is worrying that something like genocide may not be wrong at all and that our objection to it is just an expression of emotion but the event is not objectively wrong.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.1k
    I would agree that people just "feeling something is wrong" is a very unreliable system of morality. (And what goes on in the comments section under YouTube videos is a good example of feelings being unreliable as a guide to behavior).

    I am not sure whether I think there are moral facts, or not. If we can't have objective moral facts which would be a solid bedrock, we do have other resources at hand. There is belief, and there is thinking. There is acting, and there is observation of consequences. These come into play. David Hume said that "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them." Passions -- emotions, wishes, desires, and so on -- are the foundation of behavior (in all animals) but reason is not a powerless slave. It is reasoning that keeps the passions from flying off the rails like a train gone berserk.

    Each of us has feelings that are in conflict with the feelings of other people. I like sex with other men. Some people have very strong negative feelings about men having sex with each other. I like meat. Some people feel that eating meat is wrong. I don't like the labor involved in having a perfect covering of grass on my yard. I like a variety of plants -- the 'natural' look. Some people consider the natural look to be downright immoral, and demand that other people maintain their lawn so that it is all grass, cut to 3.25 inches high.

    The "moral fact" here is that if we are going to live together we have to find ways of dealing with each others' emotions. So, when the level of hostility is high, gay men have sex in out of the way places, rather than courting each other openly. Carnivores don't force vegetarians to eat meat or go without food (vegetarians don't return that favor, usually). People who like the natural look are at least selective about which weeds they encourage--milk weed, yes -- big thistles, no.

    We all follow similar procedures for supporting what we really want to consider right and wrong. Homosexuality can be found just, wholesome, good, and moral, or contemptible, wicked, bad, and immoral. Murder is desirable in some cases (the fire-bombing of Hanover and Dresden) a capital crime in others (the killing of a convenience store clerk during an armed robbery).

    How much power the killers have has something to do with its rightness. The powerful can define actions in their own favor. The Nazis considered the Holocaust right and justified as long as they had the power to carry it out. When it was clear they were going to lose the war--total loss--they started finding the death camps and crematoria embarrassing. Pearl Harbor was an atrocity, Hiroshima was beneficial.

    The powerful are able to define their passions and actions favorably, and require the less powerful to agree. (The victors write the history of the war.) Only later can the victor's version be challenged. That Europeans conducted a genocide again indigenous North Americans was an unacceptable truth until fairly recently. (The indigenous people, of course, were cognizant of genocide much earlier.)
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    Feeling that something is wrong is what morality is. There is no objective wrong (for values).
  • DingoJones
    895
    Lol, right on cue Terrapin.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    Feeling that something is wrong is what morality is. There is no objective wrong (for values)Terrapin Station

    What about actual harm? For example people have felt repulsed by homosexuality, women and different races etc. But harm is not evident by being one of these things.

    I can differentiate between things I don't like and things I think are immoral. The problem is when something is utterly appalling but not wrong. I can absolutely loathe something without thinking it is harmful or immoral. So what differentiates these feelings?
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    I would agree that people just "feeling something is wrong" is a very unreliable system of morality.Bitter Crank

    I have not read your whole post yet but I am not saying that it is unreliable to feel something is wrong, but rather that it is not evidence that something is wrong. The same goes for feeling something is right.

    The problem for me is that morality is only this feeling and that nothing is of value beyond individual emotion. Collective morality can simply be the emotions shared by a majority which is hence completely fallible.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.1k
    I agree that in many instances of humans feeling that something is right or wrong, they are very consistent from instance to instance. They always find gangs beating up old ladies wrong. But the question remains, "how did their feelings arrive at the conclusion that beating up old ladies is wrong?

    Evidence is in the eye of the beholder, but the eye of the beholder is conditioned to perceive certain things as right and certain things as wrong. Our feelings of right and wrong are conditioned too. We don't just wake up and start feeling that theft is wrong and giving to the poor is right (unless you think feelings of right and wrong are inherently human and arise from... genes, or something).

    Our feelings about things develop in our social context. A toddler will feel good about smacking her younger sister with the plastic stick. An adult will (one hopes) intervene and strongly discourage such behavior. The toddlers will eventually internalize these interventions and after a while they will feel it is wrong to hit each other with sticks.

    We learn to feel what is moral, good and right. We learn to avoid actions that resulted in negative feedback--"Naughty girl! Don't hit your little sister." Those are internalized too, and are the basis of guilt feelings.

    Children that are not taught how to behave socially, are not taught what is collectively valued as right and wrong, are going to end up in an institutional setting of some kind, sooner or later. We don't tolerate very deviant childhood feelings about right and wrong.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    I can differentiate between things I don't like and things I think are immoral. The problem is when something is utterly appalling but not wrong. I can absolutely loathe something without thinking it is harmful or immoral. So what differentiates these feelings?Andrew4Handel

    The differentiation is whether is behavior that you don't approve of to an extent that you feel it should be prohibited.

    Re "actual harm," I don't know what you'd be referring to. It seems like again it's the problem I specified in the other thread re facts that you're naming "harm" contra assessments, where there's a conflation etc.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k


    I am distinguishing between separate feelings here. The feeling or experience of something as unpleasant but not immoral (like the taste of food you don't like). And the feeling that someone has done something wrong.

    I don't think they are on the same spectrum. I don't think people think their morality is just preferences.

    I am referring to harm is the basis for a moral judgement as opposed to someones feelings. Something perceived as harmful or shown to be harmful is more likely to arouse morals sentiment.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    I think morality should be a guide for action. But I don't see how it can be a guide for action if there are no right answers.

    I also think that the idea that atrocities are not wrong is disturbing. Humans have usually wanted justice and have an ongoing justice narrative.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    The "moral fact" here is that if we are going to live together we have to find ways of dealing with each others' emotions.Bitter Crank

    Is this pragmatism?
  • Christoffer
    543
    It seems that there are no moral facts or method for finding them. But a lot of people seem to think that feeling something is wrong is an adequate basis for morality.Andrew4Handel

    This is the difference between those who aren't schooled in rational dialectics and those with philosophical methods of reaching conclusions. It's like "system 1" and "system 2" in psychology. Most people live by "system 1", they rarely make time for "system 2" other than organizing their base knowledge into instinctual behavior.

    This is why they cannot grasp the process of deconstructing common knowledge to find out if it's actually wrong or not.

    I don't see morality to be anything we cannot find facts around or not having methods of finding them. The truth is that morality as a concept outside of religion or established institutions of power is a totally new thing historically. We've maybe been discussing this the last hundred years or so for real, with actual detachment from any former established "rules".

    The problem is that people have a problem of detaching themselves from the established morals in order to find rational answers. I.e people aren't really discussing this with philosophical methods. I see it time and time again on this forum; people are not actually making rational arguments, only talking about their feelings on a subject. Many on this forum, maybe even academic philosophers it seems, abandon rational methods in favor of "system 1" irrationality and emotional outbursts.

    Here's a baseline for morality.

    1. Do what is positive for the well-being of yourself and others combined.
    2. Morality is an evolving process and each situation must be assessed carefully according to point 1.
    3. Assessing what is morally good needs to involve current knowledge about human psychology, sociology, and knowledge about human well-being for the individual and larger groups.

    Points can be added, but the foundation is still well-being for the individual, the self and everyone else combined, not separated. Any other model is able to be corrupted.

    This can invite utilitarianism into the picture, killing few to save more. But that is not something that I find morally good or bad, it's just assessing the moral of the situation. If you are in a situation of saving more by killing a few, there is no real good or bad choice, much like many other situations in life. You do not know if treating someone bad might be good for them down the line or not. But that cannot ever be the factor within moral choices since it's an unknown factor unable to be quantified within the calculation.

    Therefore, you can only assess morality according to the things you know, i.e what is good or bad for people in the now. Morality should be about making that calculated choice and even if it turns out bad, the act of the moral choice was still done with good morals in mind. If the calculated choice was done with the points made above in mind, it's hard to make a choice on bad morals.

    Now, of course, people can't walk around and always assess situations according to current scientific findings within psychology and sociology, but we can train ourselves to assess better than how we are doing it right now. Because right now, as you mention about youtube-comments, people make moral choices with "system 1" based on moral truths in "system 2" that has been corrupted by a society that is infantile in its moral system; a system past down from religion and political agendas.

    People don't know how to act, because they have learned truths and ideals by other people who don't know how to act. This circle of anti-intellectualism is the established foundation when the contemporary methods of finding good morals should be a deconstruction of the morals we have established, erasing the fat and bullshit, scale it back to the basics and evolve it.

    It isn't impossible, it's just that people do not do it for real. People do not think, because we act out of comfort, never out of careful thought. This can also be seen on this forum, where we demand careful thought, people write out of "system 1" not "system 2".

    Deconstruct your beliefs and convictions, assume that you are wrong and falsify your opinion. If not, you aren't really making rational arguments or think in a way to evolve your ideas and theories. That is how you find answers and evolve things like morality into a more modern point of view.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    I don't think people think their morality is just preferences.Andrew4Handel

    Sure, lots of people do not think that, but that doesn't make them correct, of course.
  • Christoffer
    543
    The feeling or experience of something as unpleasant but not immoral (like the taste of food you don't like). And the feeling that someone has done something wrong.Andrew4Handel

    Feelings of the one making a moral choice cannot be a foundation for morals, only the concept of what is essentially good for you and others combined can be used. Feelings distort, they're "system 1" in psychology, moral choices should be carefully assessed. If done over a long enough time frame, people can be trained so that "system 1" does these assessments as instincts, connected to our emotions. It's a fine-tuning of empathy that detaches itself from established morals by religion and political agendas into a working model for the well-being of the individual and groups/mankind.

    We can feel something to be wrong, but we can train ourselves to understand and deconstruct that feeling to know if that feeling is justified or just a feeling detached from the logic of the moral choice.

    Euthanasia is a good example of this. It feels awful making such a decision, but deconstructing our feelings shows us that the feeling is irrational to the logic of the choice. We suffer by the choice, they suffer from their sickness. We will suffer after the choice but we will feel good that we relieved them of their suffering. The conclusion is that you do something out of the well-being of both yourself and the one who is sick combined, even though all current emotions scream otherwise.

    Morality is detached from feelings in choices but should generate positive feelings by the result of the choice.

    Of course, sometimes our choices have to be made fast and we rely on "system 1", on instinct, but if we live by carefully assessing our morality based on the well-being of others and ourselves combined, we will train ourselves to have a better balance in those "system 1" instincts, just like we have trained our moral instincts to the moral values we have at the moment.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    Something perceived as harmful or shown to be harmful is more likely to arouse morals sentiment.Andrew4Handel

    How is a "perception" or assessment that amounts to someone agreeing, "Yeah, that's harmful" divorced from their feelings?
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k


    It is not clear on your position what would cause the feeling someone has.

    If I dislike the taste of bacon it is eating bacon that caused that sensation. If I dislike seeing someone getting beaten that is what triggered a feeling in me. (some people might call the feeling an intuition)
  • Tzeentch
    265
    Intuition can be a great source of moral wisdom, or at least a grounds for further investigation. However, it requires a developed personality to be able to distinguish between intuition, wishful thinking and projection.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    If I dislike the taste of bacon it is eating bacon that caused that sensation.Andrew4Handel

    It's not eating bacon that causes that sensation. It's your brain states relative to eating bacon that causes it. Someone else eating bacon can love the taste. Something has to account for the difference.

    Ethical stances are likewise brain states.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    It's not eating bacon that causes that sensation. It's your brain states relative to eating bacon that causes it. Someone else eating bacon can love the taste. Something has to account for the difference.

    Ethical stances are likewise brain states.
    Terrapin Station

    It is not clear what brain and mind states are in relation to experience. But the mind has representational qualities so that they can be about something.

    So If I think about The Empire State Building I have to represent that in a brain state giving it its "aboutness" or mental content.

    I would account for the different response to bacon by referring to differences in peoples sensory receptors. But moral statements have conceptual content as opposed to just immediate sensation.

    Now compare mental content about mathematics to mental content about the taste of bacon. We can use our mind to assess mathematical and logical statements for validity.

    I don't think brain states are just deterministic uncontrolled reactions.
  • S
    10.6k
    However I think there is a substantial difference between feeling something is wrong and it being wrong.Andrew4Handel

    Any supposed difference seems ultimately to amount to nothing other than a difference in feeling. When someone tries to give an example of, say, someone feeling that something is wrong, but it not being wrong, they seem to just be comparing one feeling with another, but presenting one of them as a "moral fact" or whatever you want to call it.

    So in what way is something like genocide wrong and to what extent are people just saying they dislike the event? I think it is worrying that something like genocide may not be wrong at all and that our objection to it is just an expression of emotion but the event is not objectively wrong.Andrew4Handel

    I'm not a moral nihilist. I think that things are right and wrong. The question is, given what we know, what sense of right and wrong is a better reflection of reality.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    Feeling that something is wrong is what morality is. There is no objective wrong (for values).Terrapin Station

    What would class as objectively wrong? What is the value of a morality based on fluctuating feelings with no truth value beyond how one individual feels?

    I am concerned with moral nihilism being reality where no one can do anything wrong and all actions have equal status. I think if this is the case we should acknowledge it and decide where to go from their in justifying moral sentiments.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k


    Re mathematics and logic, I'm an antirealist. I buy a combo of social constructivism and subjectivism.

    Concepts are brain states, too.

    What would class as objectively wrong?Andrew4Handel

    As I explained in the other thread, you can get facts wrong by failing to match what the external world is like. So you can get right or wrong that Joe premeditatively killed Pete for $10,000, and you can get right or wrong that Pete's family subsequently went on welfare, etc. but you can't get right or wrong whether it was morally right or wrong to kill Pete, or whether it's morally right or wrong for Pete's family to wind up on welfare, etc., because there are no facts regarding whether such things are morally right or wrong.

    What is the value of a morality based on fluctuating feelings with no truth value beyond how one individual feels?Andrew4Handel

    Value is subjective, so it depends on the individual we ask, what they value and why.

    I am concerned with moral nihilism being reality where no one can do anything wrong and all actions have equal statusAndrew4Handel

    Only that's not at all what follows. No one can do anything objectively wrong, but the objective realm is a category error for morality. What makes something right or wrong is how people feel about the actions in question, and people feel particular ways, with everyone on Earth making moral judgments. No one values all actions equally. So they don't all have equal status.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    Feelings of the one making a moral choice cannot be a foundation for morals, only the concept of what is essentially good for you and others combined can be usedChristoffer

    Isn't what someone thinks is good for them based on feelings?

    The problem is that moral philosophy has failed to reach a consensus about morality or resolve moral issues. Materialism or the scientific don't appear to leave room for moral or value claims.

    So now thinkers are resorting to the idea we should just go with our feelings of what is appropriate or harmful.

    I think reason can be a useful tool and moralizing but it does not seem to resolve moral disputes.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    (..)but you can't get right or wrong whether it was morally right or wrong to kill Pete, or whether it's morally right or wrong for Pete's family to wind up on welfare, etc., because there are no facts regarding whether such things are morally right or wrong.Terrapin Station

    What if there was a law giver like a deity or innate moral rules in reality (a la the laws of physics)?
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    No one values all actions equally. So they don't all have equal statusTerrapin Station

    But you said values are brain states. So the actions are the same but the brain states are different.

    I think it is problematic if some actions causes intense suffering but someone does not believe it is wrong.

    But people have caused intentional immense suffering and believed they were not doing wrong which seems nihilistic to me. I think we should hope for an objective standard by which to have justice and a deterrent and rationale for justice framework.
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    Any supposed difference seems ultimately to amount to nothing other than a difference in feeling. When someone tries to give an example of, say, someone feeling that something is wrong, but it not being wrong, they seem to just be comparing this other person's feeling with their own feeling, but presenting their own feeling as a "moral fact" or whatever you want to call it.S

    But someone can base their morality on harm assessment. So they can refer to objective suffering and harm in making a moral claim and their objection to another persons moral intuition can be based on the persons failure to take into consideration harm.

    Like I said in another post this is how I differentiate between things I dislike and thinks I morally object to.

    I had a long discussion about this in my "quality of life" thread and I think that facts about the world can cause feelings and these feelings can be predicted from facts about the world. So that it is unlikely that feelings completely severed from what actually happened like can happen with a random emotional bout of sentiment.
    This correlation between external facts and predictable emotional responses makes certain emotions seem inappropriate or absurd in response to certain scenarios. It is as if the scenarios demand certain responses.
    Then again a lion can eat a deer alive without negative emotions. Natural examples of this kind make nature seem quite amoral. :chin:
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    But you said values are brain states. So the actions are the same but the brain states are different.Andrew4Handel

    Right, which is one of the things that results in people not valuing everything equally.

    I think it is problematic if some actions causes intense suffering but someone does not believe it is wrong.Andrew4Handel

    It's something worth coming to terms with, because the only way to avoid this situation is to do something like engineer brains to only think/feel particular things . . . which we're nowhere near technologically, and which a lot of people would also morally object to (at least until you engineer that moral objection out of them, haha)

    I think we should hope for an objective standard by which to have justice and a deterrent and rationale for justice framework.Andrew4Handel

    We do have standards, a la views, principles, etc. that a large number of people agree on, or that a smaller number of influential or powerful people agree on, but they can't be made objective. And arguing that the views or principles are correct just because those folks agreed on them is an argumentum ad populum and/or argument from authority fallacy.

    Re antinatalism, which I know is one of your primary concerns, you're not going to have anything like an antinatlist standard anytime soon, because far more people disagree with antinatalism than agree with it.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    What if there was a law giver like a deity or innate moral rules in reality (a la the laws of physics)?Andrew4Handel

    If there were innate moral rules built into reality somehow, then there would be objective morality, although that still wouldn't imply that anyone should conform to it rather than simply go by how they feel.

    People could get statements about those innate moral rules wrong, though.

    At any rate, there's zero evidence of there being moral rules built into the world somehow.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    Like I said in another post this is how I differentiate between things I dislike and thinks I morally object to.Andrew4Handel

    Do you think it would make sense to say, "I don't dislike this, but I morally object to it"?
  • Andrew4Handel
    1.3k
    Do you think it would make sense to say, "I don't dislike this, but I morally object to it"?Terrapin Station

    I don't want to be too crude but what about rape representation in pornography? Or maybe pornography in general? People can probably have opposing drives especially with the sex drive and the drive to respect other people.

    War is something some people enjoy or war games.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    I don't want to be too crude but what about rape representation in pornography? Or maybe pornography in general? People can probably have opposing drives especially with the sex drive and the drive to respect other people.Andrew4Handel

    So you think it would make sense for someone to say, "I don't dislike rape representations in pornography, but I feel that rape representations in pornography are morally wrong"?
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