• 3017amen
    704
    I would vote Yes. Consider another analogy:
    A government official authorizes shooting down a plane caring 12 passengers where the pilot is intending to crash into a tall building. The tall building is occupied by 2,000 people. It was later discovered that there were only a 1,000 people in the building. In that case the government official was factually incorrect with his building number count, but morally or ethically ' correct ' in his decision to shoot down the plane of few.

    The original OP premise relative to politics brings to mind another conundrum. A question to the OP : is it 'morally correct' to vote someone out of office based upon the individual's bad character, but yet considered factually incorrect to do so? In other words is a 'protest vote' acceptable?
  • username
    6
    You've essentially created a Gettier problem for morality so no it is not so that he is morally right and factually wrong because as @Taneras stated you can't accidentally be moral in the same way that you can't accidentally have knowledge.

    As for your example I would say that giving the Nazi his rifle and giving him directions is Platonically neither morally or factually correct. I'm a little confused on how you use the term factually to somehow mean justly but I will address it as if they are equals. I believe you are incorrect in saying that it would be the just thing to give the gun to the nazi and tell him where the Jews are because, as far as Plato is concerned, because as you stated his justice is to speak the truth and return what is owed. Plato is also very clear in the dialogue that if you are just then you are promoting the form of the Good and this can never be immoral. It would be just to not give the gun or tell him where they are because you do not owe the Nazi the lives of the Jews and you do not need to tell him where they are. You would therefore be obligated to give them the gun that is theres but then to tell them that you do not think it in anyone's moral interests for you to disclose the location of the Jews. I believe you would even be able to make a reasonable argument for not giving them the gun at all, if you knew their intentions, and thus you would be protecting them from injustice which is in itself a just act.

    The act of lying to the man, regardless of your intentions, is still immoral so while your actions may have a positive outcome, they are still deemed at least somewhat immoral. And my argument is that, even in this very specific scenario you have proposed, it is still possible and necessary to act factually (justly?) and morally. And if it is possible you must, if you are to fit into the Platonic form of the Good.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    1.3k


    You missed the point of my example. I wasn’t saying that it is moral or just to give the Nazi a gun. I was pointing out the issue with the idea that people were putting forward that it’s not possible to be factually incorrect and morally correct simultaneously, and the Nazi example was proof that one could in fact be morally right but factually incorrect. I wasn’t saying that facts = justice either. Not sure how you derived that from what i said. When I say factual, I mean simply stating something that is the case.

    If staying silent leads to suspicion by the Nazi, and the inevitable capture of his victims, and you have no choice but to lie or tell the truth, I think it would be moral to lie (a minor immoral act) in order to prevent murder (a much more major immoral act) and would be a case of undergoing a smaller evil to prevent a larger one. The overall situation being taken into consideration rather than the individual acts in isolation.
  • alcontali
    702
    It's not possible to be morally wrong or right. It is possible to be factually wrong or right.Harry Hindu

    Since being factually right or wrong is always in reference to the real, physical world as a system, it does not require any extra qualification. Still, it is also possible to be morally right or wrong in reference to a particular moral system.

    Without moral system of rules defining morally right and wrong, it is indeed not possible to be morally right or wrong.

    But then again, that amounts -- mutatis mutandis -- to saying that without choosing a theory of arithmetic (Dedekind-Peano, Robinson, Presburger, Skolem, and so on) it is simply not possible to make a calculation error. If is clear that if there are no rules governing arithmetic calculations then it is indeed not possible that a calculation step would be in violation of any of them.

    The only documented moral systems, which are somehow in widespread use, are all supplied by a religion. In all practical terms, systematic morality does not seem to exist outside the context of a religion. Just like arithmetic, morality requires a sufficient number of system-wide regulatory premises to be functional.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    I'm not saying morality doesn't exist, or that the idea of good and bad doesn't exist. I'm saying that morality is subjective, so what is good for one may not be good for others. Morals are based on goals and goals can come into conflict or be shared.
  • alcontali
    702
    Morals are based on goalsHarry Hindu

    Hypothetical imperatives tell us how to act in order to achieve a specific goal and the commandment of reason applies only conditionally, e.g. "I must study to get a degree."

    A categorical imperative, on the other hand, denotes an absolute, unconditional requirement that must be obeyed in all circumstances and is justified as an end in itself.

    Kant expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the popular moral philosophy of his day, believing that it could never surpass the level of hypothetical imperatives: a utilitarian says that murder is wrong because it does not maximize good for those involved, but this is irrelevant to people who are concerned only with maximizing the positive outcome for themselves. Consequently, Kant argued, hypothetical moral systems cannot persuade moral action or be regarded as bases for moral judgments against others, because the imperatives on which they are based rely too heavily on subjective considerations. He presented a deontological moral system, based on the demands of the categorical imperative, as an alternative.


    In his Critique of Practical Reason, Immanuel Kant elaborates at length why a moral system based on hypothetical imperatives is simply not viable. I have got nothing to add to that.
  • Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    Ok, so give a contrasting example between what is a hypothetical and categorical imperative.
  • god must be atheist
    886
    I question being morally wrong. What is the measure of morality? A heartbeat? Your gut reaction? Your feeling about it?

    Morality has no scale, no metric, no deciding measure. I hate it when people use morality or ethics in arguments, because it carries no weight.

    I do not deny morality exists. It is in us. It is just that we ought not to use it as a deciding factor in arguments, because what's moral to you may be immoral to someone else, and there is no way to decide who is right and who is wrong in those instances.

    I reject the value of morality in arguments.
  • god must be atheist
    886
    Hypothetical imperatives tell us how to act in order to achieve a specific goal and the commandment of reason applies only conditionally, e.g. "I must study to get a degree."

    A categorical imperative, on the other hand, denotes an absolute, unconditional requirement that must be obeyed in all circumstances and is justified as an end in itself.

    Kant expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the popular moral philosophy of his day, believing that it could never surpass the level of hypothetical imperatives: a utilitarian says that murder is wrong because it does not maximize good for those involved, but this is irrelevant to people who are concerned only with maximizing the positive outcome for themselves. Consequently, Kant argued, hypothetical moral systems cannot persuade moral action or be regarded as bases for moral judgments against others, because the imperatives on which they are based rely too heavily on subjective considerations. He presented a deontological moral system, based on the demands of the categorical imperative, as an alternative.
    alcontali

    Here, Kant perfectly well describes what he calls morality. But where did he get the very kernel of what it means to be moral? He says moral is to maximize good. I call maximizing good maximizing good, but it may or may not be morality.

    Perfect example of what I said in my one previous post. Kant wrote a book and banged about morality for hundreds of pages; without saying what he is talking about. Morality has no defining substance as an ideal or as a concept. Kant was describing HIS version of what HE called morality; but it is not necessary to accept that what HE called morality is actually the very thing which we feel is morality.
  • alcontali
    702
    Ok, so give a contrasting example between what is a hypothetical and categorical imperative.Harry Hindu

    Well, you can take examples from Kant's commentators:

    Kant argues that the principles of human duty can be justified with reference to the categorical imperative. But moral duties do not bind us in exactly the same way. Kant claims that two sorts of duties may be distinguished: perfect and imperfect duties. Perfect duties are negative and strict: we simply are forbidden from doing these sorts of actions. Examples of perfect duties include “Thou shall not murder” and “Thou shall not lie.”

    Within the framework of Christianity, they also write:

    An analogy with the biblical Golden Rule might help to make the relation between categorical imperatives and the Categorical Imperative somewhat clearer. In Mathew 7:6, Jesus Christ urges that “all things … that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them: this, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean.” In this text Jesus makes two important claims: firstly, he prescribes the Golden Rule as a regulating principle for how we conduct ourselves; secondly, he says that the Mosaic Law and declarations of the prophets may be summed up in terms of this rule. Jesus may be understood here as maintaining that the Golden Rule is to be employed in helping us identify what actions we ought to perform, and also, to justify particular moral rules.

    The "Law and the Prophets" means religious law in second-temple Judaism. So, apparently, Jesus is reported to have said that his followers must keep Jewish law. I am quite confident that something similar also holds true for Islam (the source does not mention an example from Islam, though), and that Muslims are held to keep Islamic law.

    My own opinion is mostly that the distinction (hypothetical versus categorical) is valid and that hypothetical imperatives are not a legitimate foundation for morality. Concerning which categorical imperatives you need to keep, I believe that you need to keep the ones that you believe that you need to keep. There is not one single set of categorical imperatives, and there most likely will never be one. What atheists would need to do, is a complete mystery to me, because atheists do not have a shared, common, and documented understanding on morality. So, they will have to figure that out by themselves, I am afraid.
  • Mww
    1k
    Kant wrote a book and banged about morality for hundreds of pages; without saying what he is talking about.god must be atheist

    “...morality (which is the worth of the person, and his worthiness to be happy)...”
    (CpR, Bk II, Ch II, 1788, in T. K. Abbott, 1889)

    “....law can be directly and of itself a determining principle of the will (which is the essence of morality)...”
    (Ibid)

    “...Thus the respect for the law is not a motive to morality, but is morality itself subjectively considered as a motive...”
    (Ibid)

    “.....Physics will thus have an empirical and also a rational part. It is the same with Ethics; but here the empirical part might have the special name of practical anthropology, the name morality being appropriated to the rational part....”
    (F. P. M. M., Preface, 1785, in T. K. Abbott, 1888, as “Groundwork.....)

    Take it or leave it, as you wish.
  • god must be atheist
    886
    “...morality (which is the worth of the person, and his worthiness to be happy)...”
    (CpR, Bk II, Ch II, 1788, in T. K. Abbott, 1889)

    “....law can be directly and of itself a determining principle of the will (which is the essence of morality)...”
    (Ibid)

    “...Thus the respect for the law is not a motive to morality, but is morality itself subjectively considered as a motive...”
    (Ibid)

    “.....Physics will thus have an empirical and also a rational part. It is the same with Ethics; but here the empirical part might have the special name of practical anthropology, the name morality being appropriated to the rational part....”
    (F. P. M. M. 1785, in T. K. Abbott, 1888, as “Groundwork.....)

    Take it or leave it, as you wish.
    Mww

    Thanks for the quote, @Mww; you further proved my point. I like it when I get support on the Forums.

    You showed these idealists and religionists that there is no humanly widely accepted morality, and at the same time, that the kernel of morality is an elusive substance which humans haven't found yet.

    Your providing me with four different kinds of definition of the kernel of morality shows only one thing: there is not ONE undisputed and undisputable kernel of morality humans have found.

    In fact, the fact that you presented four different kinds of quasi-definitions of what morals are, you opened the gate to thousands of other defitinitions.

    Thanks for your research and knowledge, thanks for the supportive documentation by facts that morality is an elusive thing with no metric, and therefore morality ought not to be used in logical arguments, in reasoned debates.

    Take it or leave it, as you wish.Mww
    Precisely. Right on. Since a person can cherry-pick, cherry picking is not reasonable because someone else may prefer a different cherry.
  • Mww
    1k


    Yeah, morality is like consciousness, as Dennett.....or somebody of the same philosophical generation...said: everybody accepts that they have it but nobody knows what it is. All I was showing with the quotes, on the other hand, is Kant actually does stipulate what he means when he talks about it. Which he would have to do, in order to support his theory regarding it.

    I don’t have a problem with using morality in logical discussions, as long as the sense of morality being used is consistent with the argument itself, whether in affirmation or negation of a particular thesis. Still, because morality is so fundamentally subjective, it follows that the logic in the arguments will be just as subjectively conditioned, and while morality holds objective validity from practical reason, nevertheless can have none of the objective reality of cultural ethics.

    Agreed, on cherry-picking, in principle anyway. Intellectual indifference never wins the day.
  • Pantagruel
    187
    Epistemologically, you can hold a true belief, even if your belief is based on incorrect evidence. Don't see why this ethical case should be any different.
  • god must be atheist
    886
    All I was showing with the quotes, on the other hand, is Kant actually does stipulate what he means when he talks about it.Mww

    Indeed. I just wonder how you missed it that Kant gave nearly four different determinations of what Kant thinks morality is.

    It's an old adage that if you give ten philosophers a question, they will have eleven answers. Immanuel Kant alone gave four different answers to one question. That I know of. (Entirely thanks to you, indeed I am indebted for this knowledge nugget, @Mww.) Probably there are more than four, but who has the time to count them?
  • Judaka
    421
    I think it depends on how you interpret the question because you can be factually wrong in many different ways. OP gives a specific example of someone making moral arguments using incorrect facts and even in this case, what is being morally right? Her intentions may be good but she may do more harm than good since she's in fact wrong. "To do the right thing" and morality usually focuses on intent rather than result, it is not immoral to fail but it immoral to purposely do wrong or not do what is right. Being factually wrong doesn't impact the intention, however, if you are speaking about something you are not educated on and do more harm than good then that could be considered immoral too. So while we usually look at intent, we can't ignore irresponsible behaviour. However, I can think of examples where intent is good, action is necessary/warranted and knowing what we know - a good result can be expected. You may set out to do a good deed, belieivng that you can make a positive impact without having expertise and knowledge in what it is you're doing - but without it being obvious that your actions could backfire - or not having the luxury to think that way.

    The actual example of OP, the politician is preparing to speak about important issues and has continually failed to do her due diligence on the topics. She is expected to have a level of expertise because it's her job to understand the topics that she'll be voting on, talking about and educating others on. I think her attempt at giving herself a pass is pathetic and I think that the context matters when being factually wrong but morally right.
  • Mww
    1k


    Wha...me miss?!?! Nahhh....I saw distinctive nuances for a common conception, that’s all. Yeah, that’s it. And I’m sticking to it.

    Probably should have gone with just one, left well enough alone.

    Lesson learned.
  • Serving Zion
    82

    It isn't immoral to lie in that example, and this is why:

    The Nazi believes the Jew must be put to death because he believes their race is to be exterminated. He does not kill for justice, and his reason for killing is immoral.

    By saying "I can show you where there are Jews", you are effectively saying "I can show you where there are people that you should kill". It is a matter of language, where the Nazi has been conditioned to believe the Word "Jew" is synonymous with "criminal".

    So, essentially, what you think you are saying is not what the Nazi is hearing you say (and you know it, which is why you hesitate to say it).

    Besides that, philosophically, yes it is possible to be morally right even if factually wrong, until the facts come to your knowledge. To be morally right is only to decide based upon available facts. So if the facts change, then it is possible your decision will adjust in order to remain morally justified according to your present knowledge. Only pride would prevent that adjustment (eg: fear of ridicule by opponents for a change of position).
  • Harry Hindu
    2.3k
    Perfect duties are negative and strict: we simply are forbidden from doing these sorts of actions. Examples of perfect duties include “Thou shall not murder” and “Thou shall not lie.”alcontali
    But I can think of situations where it would one should murder or lie. When your life and your family's lives and health are on the line, and resources are scarce, you will kill others to preserve yourselves. When lying causes less stress than telling the truth would, it is better to lie.

    The problem with these types of claims is that they are too broad. It depends upon the circumstances. It depends upon how goals come into conflict or are shared. Goals that don't come into conflict or aren't shared aren't considered moral. Kicking a rock isn't a moral act because the rock has no goals to share or conflict with the human kicking it. Rocks don't have goals of avoiding harm.

    An analogy with the biblical Golden Rule might help to make the relation between categorical imperatives and the Categorical Imperative somewhat clearer.alcontali
    The Golden Rule is a great rule - if only everyone valued the same things. Only if everyone has the same goals and values the same things in the same amount will the Golden Rule actually be relevant.
  • I like sushi
    1.3k
    The OP is a little confusing. Are you basically asking if it’s sometimes better to lie? If so, yes. As a rule of thumb though, certainly not.

    I’m just a little perplexed why you dressed up ‘lie’ with being factually incorrect because it sounds more like you mean ‘mistaken’ rather than purposelessly misleading someone in order to create what you deem to be the best ‘moral’ decision.

    Or did I misunderstand the point of the question?
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