• Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    Although you copied my quote directly, you misquoted me in what you wrote. I said "It involves a complex interaction of societal, governmental, religious, and cultural institutions." Do you really think you created your morality out of nothing but your own self? Your parents had nothing to do with it? Do you really believe you created your mind and heart without being influenced by the society and culture around you. To me, that shows a profound lack of self-awareness.

    I do think, although I didn't mention it, that a lot of our morality does come from "human nature" whatever that means, I guess it means some sort of genetic predisposition, to behave in a way that makes it easier for us to live together. As I've said many times, we are social animals. We are born to like each other.
    T Clark

    Would you say that the Beatles created the White Album by themselves?
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1.2k
    I'm not sure that anyone here has ever unequivocally agreed with me before.T Clark

    That’s a shame.
  • T Clark
    3.2k
    Would you say that the Beatles created the White Album by themselves?Terrapin Station

    Sure, but they didn't develop their musical tastes, knowledge, understanding, and vision by themselves. They heard all kinds of music all through their lives. They've acknowledged the influence other musicians have had. They used standard western chord structure and musical formulations. Their music was played on regular AM radio stations and they had to tailor their music to their listeners.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    Sure, but they didn't develop their musical tastes, knowledge, understanding, and vision by themselves. They heard all kinds of music all through their lives. They've acknowledged the influence other musicians have had. They used standard western chord structure and musical formulations. Their music was played on regular AM radio stations and they had to tailor their music to their listeners.T Clark

    Right, but there's a manner in which it makes sense to say that the Beatles created the White Album themselves, rather than saying that what created it was a complex of societal, cultural, artistic, musical, etc. institutions, as if the complex of societal, cultural, etc. institutions should be getting the royalty/publishing/licensing payments.

    The sense in which people (like me) say that individuals create morality is the same sense. We're not denying influences and such, but the influences aren't the same thing as the stuff we're saying that individuals create.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1.2k
    rather than saying that what created it was a complex of societal, cultural, artistic, musical, etc. institutions that created it,Terrapin Station

    I don’t think he is saying that. That’s a straw man.
  • Mww
    681
    It (morality) is a collective justification determined by social pressures.Noah Te Stroete

    Even if it is, a collective presupposes individuals belonging to it. If morality applies to the collective, what applies to the individual.
    —————————-

    Why should people care about morality if they do not feel the pain of morally wrong behavior?Noah Te Stroete

    People should care about morality only insofar as they care about the conditions which make it possible to even have those feelings to begin with. If feelings come after the behavior, then feelings cannot be causality for them.
    ——————————

    But maybe I misunderstand.Noah Te Stroete

    Feelings are part of our natural human composition; principles we dream up on our own. They do not contradict themselves on that account.
    ——————————

    illustrating how morality works,Noah Te Stroete

    You must be tired. The only way to illustrate is with examples. Theorizing, hypothesizing, or just claiming, how morality works doesn’t require examples, although examples can make the theory or claims clearer after its exposition. One can illustrate moral behavior, but moral behavior says nothing about how the behavior becomes morally authorized.

    Point/counterpoint. Nothing more, nothing less. No right/wrong, good/bad intended.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    I don’t think he is saying that. That’s a straw man.Noah Te Stroete

    You mean that he was saying in conjunction with individuals? Yeah, I meant that. I wasn't being that persnicketty about the wording there, I was just more or less copying the way he phrased it. The point is that we don't say that society, earlier musicians, etc. were just as much the creators of the White Album as the Beatles were.

    That's the same sense in which folks like me are saying that individuals create morality. We're not denying social influence. But social influence isn't the same thing. Just like musical influence isn't the same thing as any particular tune/piece on the White Album.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1.2k
    Point/counterpoint. Nothing more, nothing less. No right/wrong, good/bad intended.Mww

    Okay. I appreciate your viewpoint even if I don’t totally agree with it. I am tired, and I probably shouldn’t be posting right now. I think I will just let it stand there. :smile:
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1.2k
    The point is that we don't say that society, earlier musicians, etc. were just as much the creators of the White Album as the Beatles were.Terrapin Station

    But doesn’t that suppose by the regression of causality that the Beatles created themselves? I’m not saying that society should also be paid for the album, but what does that say about morality?
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    But doesn’t that suppose by the regression of causality that the Beatles created themselves?Noah Te Stroete

    ? No. You mean to tell me that you don't understand what people are referring to when they say that "the Beatles created the White Album"? Hopefully when people say that you understand at least roughly just what they're saying the Beatles did and didn't do, and you don't respond with, "By regression of causality the Beatles created themselves" or "The Beatles didn't create the White Album. It was actually a complex of societal, cultural, musical, etc. institutions interacting with the Beatles that created it."
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1.2k
    You mean to tell me that you don't understand what people are referring to when they say that "the Beatles created the White Album"?Terrapin Station

    I understand what that means, and I agree with it in the conventional sense. But in a metaphysical sense? Never mind. It doesn’t matter much.
  • T Clark
    3.2k
    The sense in which people (like me) say that individuals create morality is the same sense. We're not denying influences and such, but the influences aren't the same thing as the stuff we're saying that individuals create.Terrapin Station

    I don't think you "create" morality. I think you make moral decisions based on a complex set of social and personal psychological factors.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.6k
    Yes, strictly speaking, in a very literal sense, everything is amoral, just like everything is meaningless. But switching back to the ordinary way of speaking, there are things which are moral and immoral, and there are things which are meaningful. A strict interpretation leads to nihilism, but that's not the end point. Nihilism is why you should interpret things pragmatically, like I do. This pragmatic interpretation is why "moral" and "meaningful" are not useless.S

    This is just semantics, but "amoral" really is not the right word. What you're saying is that there's no absolute and universal objective moral truth (the kind of objective truth that must apply in all cases), you're not saying that "there are things which are apart from morality" (which is the etymological meaning). I get how you're using the term, but it's stupendously misleading:

    Rocks are "amoral", but FGM is a human practice which presumably nearly always concerns operant moral values on the part of humans. Under the definition of morality as a strategy or set of strategies, FGM would indeed fall within the realm of morality. The practice itself is amoral in the sense that it is not sentient (like rocks) but we don't usually anthropomorphize things in that way. When I frame the issue of FGM as an inherently moral question, what I'm saying is that it concerns our starting moral values, and can therefore is subject to whichever moral calculus. In every possible case of FGM I can imagine, values-considerations are a part of the decision making process, which is why the "amoral" descriptor fails in practice. If FGM didn't have anything to do with human values, then it might make sense to call it amoral (like flying kites or jogging), but in practice it always does.

    Maybe I'm not a subjectivist-relativist after-all, I'm a full-blown moral pragmatist. "Ultimate moral truth" is incoherent from the get go because moral truth can only come into existence in physically realized circumstances where strategy conforms to extant moral values and the situation it is to be employed in. Just as there is no "best" strategy in Chess, different circumstances may alter the specific action required to bring about the desired outcome. "Moral truth", under this view, only exists as moral frameworks pragmatically serve human values, where more pragmatic frameworks are considered better.

    I guess I'm refusing to even begin to use the language of moral objectivism (by assenting to the phrase that everything is amoral, which rebukes it). In the exact same way people misunderstand the "objectivity" of the scientific method (they equivocate scientific knowledge with objective certainty), people misunderstand the objectivity of moral strategies in general, and in specific cases of its application.

    The issue is not about "moral utility", so your point misses the point. You're just saying that it's useful to brush your teeth every day if you value your dental health. Lots of people value their dental health, so generally, brushing your teeth is useful. Who cares? No one is going to disagree with that, and it doesn't effect the wider issue.S

    The example simplifies the structure of moral truth in practice. The wider question is "in what sense can moral decisions be 'true' or 'objective'". The answer is in whether or not they conform to values and circumstance; this is how we improve our existing moral decisions, and but for mutually exclusive values, this is how we actually reach moral propositions that in practice "no one is going to disagree with": the objectivity of empiricism.

    If you're a subjective moral relativist, you kind of sound like you're weirdly in denial or something. Morality is subjective and relative, but... !

    Cleaning your teeth is objective and matters! It's useful if you value your dental health!

    (There's no need for the "but").
    S

    If we agree on a specific meta-ethical definition, morality is not subjective (though in the case of our definition, moral "values" are subjective). Reason and evidence can sometimes do nothing to sway values where subjective feelings dominate, but feelings about "how best to achieve those values" can be factually inaccurate.

    I've said this many times before, but humans share a set of fundamental values that are nearly universal to all of us. Most of our moral thinking is concerned with how to mutually serve these basic values in a complex environment. Take socialized healthcare for instance. It might be objectively true that it would greatly benefit the U.S (given the strength of examples set by other nations). We all want to be healthy, just like we want dental health, but there is severe disagreement about how to best achieve the desired end result. Appeals to feelings have no place in the debate about private vs public healthcare systems, which for America is one of the most important moral questions they face.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.6k
    You see, this is the problem I have with your position. You talk accurately about epistemological when pushed (I've bolded the relevant sections), but then you reveal this authoritarian undercurrent with the likes of...

    Some cultural practices are, in fact, morally superior to others in the context of those nearly universal human values which we all share — VagabondSpectre


    We're just going round in circles on this one so I don't see the point continuing, you've brought up vacancies again (despite not even a glancing recognition of my arguments as to why people might legitimately doubt the statistics). You keep insisting that the models held by current academic, research, and government institutions in the developed countries are absolutely beyond question. That there are no legitimate grounds to doubt that they are the best models we have.
    Isaac

    Setting our disagreement about specific social issues aside for a moment, you're misinterpreting the point I'm making. By "in fact" I meant that there is actually an objective truth pertaining to empirical claims, I never said we can or must always have direct access to that objective truth. What I'm trying to say is that we should, with objectivity, try our best to approximate objective truths (akin to science, not "exactly science" (which is incoherent)), because they help us make more effective decisions.

    I only used the examples I did because I thought they would not garner evidence-based resistance (in other words, I thought that the superior values-serving answers to these questions are obvious enough, or, that we are able to gather sufficient data on the matter). You went out of your way to explain why parents might be ignorant of vaccine related statistics and why they might be extorted into carrying out FGM, but you did not make any good argument as to why FGM as a practice could actually net any individual benefit (beyond not suffering from extortion) or why we cannot be reasonably informed by evidence as to whether or not taking vaccines is beneficial to health, and therefore a superior decision. You explained why individuals are forced into perpetuating FGM as a practice (a utility based argument) but you did not defend the utility based argument wielded by those who actually do the extortion. You explained why anti-vax parents can be filled with doubt, but you did not enter into an evidence based debate about the empirical question (good empirical evidence is the best way to convince an anti-vax parent who believes vaccines are harmful to health to believe otherwise; this is where feelings matter less than evidence, reason, and the "truth" they seek to help us approximate). Furthermore, you are conflating my condemnation of FGM as the direct assigning of moral guilt upon individuals who are involved in its perpetuation (and unnecessarily opening up a tangential discussion about whether or not I'm morally/racially insensitive). Personally I think the idea of absolute moral guilt is incoherent (per tentative determinism/lack of hard free will), and that only pragmatic moral guilt is relevant. Pragmatic moral guilt is basically where we intervene to remedy the moral problem. Intervening in the actions of the extorted parents with arguments or force won't do anything (they will be unpersuaded or punished by the community as a result), but by intervening with arguments against the supporting empirical beliefs of the broader community (e.g: that it is healthy for women and society) we CAN actually make a difference.

    Put yourself in the shoes of somebody who believes FGM is good for practical utility reasons (the person who would extort others into doing it). Are you incapable of being persuaded by empirical evidence? How can you say it's merely "subjectively true" that FGM (as a practice, not as an individually extorted act) serves the values of human and social health, when we both know that there is an objective truth to the matter? Yes people have perspective, bias, and ignorance, but if we cannot mitigate their effects through reason and evidence, this whole "philosophy" thing is a big waste of time.

    In order for it to be morally 'right' given shared values about children's health, for a parent to vaccinate a child, they would have to...Isaac

    No, in order for a parent to feel confident that it is morally right, they need to have those things. It is either morally right, or wrong, per the given values, regardless of how they feel about it.

    Re: my faith in scientific consensus. I'm a student of many things, and I have seen so much evidence pertaining to the issues I've mentioned that my trust doesn't spring from faith, which might better frame the point I'm trying to make with these examples. Sacrificing virgins to increase crop yields might be a better example. As a strategy to maximize utility, it absolutely sucks (unless you're performing an inconsiderate calculus, where fewer people means greater shares (which is ostensibly amoral, or more specifically, a breakdown of morality)). It's almost certainly true that sacrificing virgins doesn't have any direct causal relationship with crop yields (maybe it causes farmers to work harder to ensure that their lives aren't wasted, but any placebo could achieve that). Your objection will be that I don't know whether or not gods exist, and that's true, but the probability of a deity intervening on the basis of prayer or sacrifice is so low from an empirical stand-point that we can say with approximate certainty the proposition is false (at the very least, evidence and reason persuade the reasonable away from the proposition).
  • tim wood
    2.4k
    (1) You're treating "morality is relative" in the manner of "everything is relative." The two claims are not the same.Terrapin Station
    Nope, That not everything is relative.

    And again, that's certainly the case, as there are people, like you, who believe that morality is not relative.Terrapin Station
    No doubt some morality is relative - although I think the issue of contradictory imperatives is a problem for any so-called relative morality. But all I claim is that it's not and cannot be all relative

    can't be true, because they see truth asTerrapin Station
    Written by someone confident in his understanding of the words "true" and "truth." I'd ask you to define them, but I know you cannot. The best you can do is indicate that there are cases when both words can be meaningful.

    I'm not sure what that would be saying. For one, as you said above that part, "absolute" would need to be defined. That would help in figuring out what you're saying there.
    You might just be asserting identity--A is A (from perspective x, at time T, etc.)
    Terrapin Station
    I think I did define it. And tautologies, often thought trivial, are not, because they predicate.

    So may I ask where you are on boiling babies?
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.6k
    Everyone else not doing it. Same thing as persuades most people to do most things. Have you looked at society lately? See much rational decision making going on? The largest ecomony in the world just voted in a clown for a leader because of a wave of 'popular opinion'. Since when has rational argument made any difference?Isaac

    Rational arguments very well might make zero difference, but whether or not we are able to recognize and accept them does make a difference (because the external reasons-centric "objective" worldis the way it is, not the way we want or believe it to be. Ultimately we learn this by experience.

    To answer your question about when rational argument has made a difference, just look around you. Notice the absence of hay, of candle-light, of the distinct smell of manure, human shit, and body-odor. Notice the many medical institutions that surround and serve you, without which you might be a lot worse off than you are now. Notice your legal rights which we do our best to protect; maybe there is a ginger jester in the hot seat, but notice how it's just a seat and not a gilded throne that claims to own you. Notice the moral progress that the west has made in such a relatively recent period since the enlightenment era; how society is no longer fundamentally driven by superstitious religious beliefs, and how much better off we are for it all.

    Collective thought turns very slowly, but it is inexorably turned by an accumulation individual arguments, and it turns more accurately when more of our arguments are rational and evidence based.

    No, you're not, you're additionally telling us all which ones they are, and telling anyone who disagrees that they are 'objectively wrong'.Isaac

    To be specific, I'm saying that either FGM as a practice does benefit individual and social health, or it doesn't; that either its proponents or their antipodes are "objectively wrong". Again, I chose the example because I thought the answer was as obvious as not gouging your own eyes is useful for retaining your eyesight.

    Saying that someone is morally wrong requires a high standard of certainty, in my opinion. Maybe this is our sole point of contention. You're happy to throw around accusations of immorality on the basis of a belief that your modal is 'probably' better. I'm not.Isaac

    Does it matter if I'm attacking a practice and not a person? It's not as if I'm trying to establish legal culpability by arguing that any reasonable person ought to know better (I'm well aware of how circumstance and inaccess to information can warp perspective).

    Do you at least assent to the statement: "gouging our own eyes out is an objectively morally inferior course of action IF retaining our eyesight is of moral value"? (need I flesh out that specific argument?).

    I don't understand this line of argument. You seem to be suggesting that I should believe something other than what seems to me to be the case, because what I currently believe is not very useful in persuading people to do what I want them to. That seems like a really weird argument. Maybe I've misunderstood so ill wait for some more clarity before going into it.Isaac

    I know it seems strange, and it is: It's essentially a part of my meta-ethical framework states that rationally persuasive arguments are more useful (and that rationally persuasive arguments are more reliably accurate). If we're after a pragmatic moral framework (one that effectively serves the values that matter to us), then being persuasive to others actually becomes a derivative measure of its overall utility (and happens to represent a major component of how moral frameworks are naturally selected in the first place).

    I'm not actually asking you to change your beliefs, all you really need to do is alter the language of your moral framework. To better persuade someone to assent to your moral views (to stop promoting FGM, for instance) you cannot approach them with language like "however you feel about it defines for you what is morally right, so who am I to insinuate that FGM is an immoral action?". You should be able to tell them that FGM is a morally inferior practice per the values of human and social health even if you're not absolutely certain. Reasonable certainty is certainty enough, and when the stakes are very high we're forced to scramble for the best and most rational evidence/arguments/conclusions we can find (the nature of all dilemmas) If you do believe that FGM does not effectively serve its purported values, how little epistemic respect must you have for your own beliefs/understanding that you object to its moral condemnation on epistemic grounds? The more epistemic doubt you cast on our ability to understand that FGM is harmful to given moral values, the more room you make for it as a morally acceptable/tolerable practice, and that's the over-skeptical mistake I'm challenging. If you are trying to say that FGM isn't actually perpetuated because people believe it has utility, I would understand, but in practice it IS perpetuated because of widespread belief in its utility. Convincing a group of people to change has to start somewhere.

    If your moral framework doesn't help you to realize your values in the world because it lacks the form required to act persuasively on others, then for the sake of what matters to you, learn the common moral tongue. You don't need to compromise your values or specific moral beliefs to forgo the "all moral truth is subjective" rigamarole. We already live in a world dominated by compatible or aligned fundamental values; by focusing on the ontological nature of moral values as subjective (something that is indeed not obvious to everyone), instead of trying to work directly with and on our existing compatible values or the empirical arguments concerning how to serve them, you're just subverting the overall persuasive power of your subsequent arguments. If there is moral truth out there at all to be had, relative to our subjective values though it may be, we need to have an objective discussion about which methods are better than others (and how we should order and consider our own values and the values of others). Once foolish mysticism is eliminated from our moral debates (a largely separate labor to most moral suasion), we're in fact left with a rather straightforward series of propositions. We have moral values, we have an uncertain future, and we have more and less reliable predictive models which indicate "moral" courses of action. FGM isn't your typical calculus, but supporting it does amount to a prediction, an inevitably empirical claim, about how well it serves given values. We might have limited ability to solve these kinds of questions given their complexity, but in many cases we have more than adequate predictive power (I think in the case of FGM you also agree).

    Yes. That is basically the difference between the class of virtue ethics I'm talking about and utilitarian consequentialism. Virtue ethics does not require a fixed point in the future for its calculus, utilitarianism does. With virtue ethics you are comparing the way actions make you feel about yourself right now. With utilitarianism you are comparing the net utility of actions, but to do so you must use a fixed timescale, otherwise one would advise an action which made the whole population ecstatically happy, but wiped out all future generations (not far off our current attitude). The decision you make will depend on the timescale over which you wish to maintain maximum utility.Isaac

    My point was that specific virtue ethics are causally selected for their utility, over any time-span. The longer the time-span the more opportunity there is for specific "virtues" which promote long-term utility to evolve. This is following a different kind of meta-ethical viewpoint: a proponent of virtue ethics might use how they feel immediately about their actions as a guide for decision making, but because they have evolved over given periods of time, how they happen to feel actually tends to correlate with the future utility that their decisions generate. (I.E: at some point we moved away from "eye-for-an-eye" to "do unto others as they would do unto you" because as principles of virtue or deontological codes the latter is more useful). We are emotionally repulsed by death and senseless violence (especially to the innocent) because biological and cultural evolution has deemed it useful, and it has necessary ramifications on any moral framework, including virtue ethics.

    "Exactly. And you think it's obvious enough that one should vaccinate their child, and you think it's obvious enough that we should brush our teeth, and you think it's obvious enough...

    The trouble is, other people disagree, and they do so with perfectly rational arguments of greater or lesser strength"


    Do you see the contradiction in the bolded text? Maybe I'm reading into a colloquial use of the word "perfectly", but it seems like you're undermining the idea that rational arguments can have greater and lesser strength.

    The vaccination issue is exactly the reason why I so strongly disapprove of your approach. It seems to you like it fits right in with not committing FGM, or not killing each other with ice picks, but to me, it stands out a mile as being something which transfers a hell of a lot of trust to organisations which have absolutely shown themselves to be untrustworthy.Isaac

    I get that you have trust issues with government and the pharmaceutical industry, I do too, but the alleged risks of taking "proven" vaccines (vaccine formulas for which there is ample clinical trial data, real world data, and statistical analysis showing the decline of related diseases) are really quite overblown. I'm aware that it's a complicated subject, and I fully understand why people have their doubts, but it's a question that has been asked and answered by the field of medical science at large. It's like climate change due to the greenhouse effect; hard to understand because of the complex physics, and easy to doubt because of widespread misinformation and a lack of physics understanding.

    When confronted with either a climate change denier, an anti-vaxer, or an FGM supporter, I will try to dissuade them by introducing them to evidence and rational arguments, thereby generating positive moral ramifications. Under your approach, we linger in moral and epistemic agnosticism with the assumptions that the evidence is too hard to come by and that rationally interpreting it is too difficult.

    What really bothers me is that you're advocating a system which basically gives moral weight to current scientific opinion with no consideration at all for how vulnerable some fields of science are to fashion, government influence, corporate influence, or plain human greed and bias. You're giving over decisions about what is fundamentally 'right' to a system which has proven itself to be morally questionable at times by the very standards you're using it to uphold.Isaac

    I'm not appealing to science as absolute, I'm appealing to science as better or the best we have (and not all science is equal; to know how confident we should be in a given "scientific" truth, we need to be introduced to the specific "science" that underlies it, else our faith in it amounts to black-box induction). The good news is, good science trends toward more and more reliable truth, just as better reasoning, more evidence, and more comprehensive analysis trend toward more reliable conclusions, which is why I'm so stoked to make them a part of moral discussion, debate, and frameworks.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k


    Well, but in the metaphysical sense, the point is that the music you're hearing on the album is a creation of the Beatles and not simply something they're a conduit for, where the identical thing existed outside of them or prior to them. That's not to say, of course, that they didn't have lots of musical influences (and some pieces on the album are pretty clearly kind of a variation on something else, like "Revolution 9" being very similar to John Cage's Rozart Mix), but in a very literal sense, they're creating that music rather than something else creating it.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    I don't think you "create" morality. I think you make moral decisions based on a complex set of social and personal psychological factors.T Clark

    You're creating it for yourself in the sense of you making the judgments or decisions. Morality is those judgments. You can't literally receive them from elsewhere.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    Nope, That not everything is relative.tim wood

    I don't understand this response, unfortunately, especially in context.

    No doubt some morality is relative - although I think the issue of contradictory imperatives is a problem for any so-called relative morality. But all I claim is that it's not and cannot be all relativetim wood

    If it's individual judgments it's going to be relative to the individual making the judgment.

    Written by someone confident in his understanding of the words "true" and "truth." I'd ask you to define them, but I know you cannot. The best you can do is indicate that there are cases when both words can be meaningful.tim wood

    I've posted my truth theory here a handful of times over the years:

    ‘P’ is true for S iff S judges ‘P’ to have relation R to either S’s phenomenal P, and/or S’s stock of previously adjudged true propositions, depending on the relation R. Relation R is whatever truth theory relation S feels is the appropriate one(s)—correspondence, coherence, consensus, pragmatic, etc.

    So in other words, what it is for some proposition, 'P' (quotation marks denoting the proposition literally as a sentence), to be true to some individual, some S, is for the proposition to have the relation R to S's phenomenal P (their phenomenal perception etc. of some state of affairs) or their stock of previously adjudged true propositions, in S's judgment.

    That's all that truth value is.
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.8k


    The point is the moral significance is distinct from our act of judgement.

    It works much the same way as our accounts of empirical objects. Every time we observe a state of the world, we are making a judgement. We judge what we are looking at, how it relates to other things, etc. to from our description or theory of what's occurring.

    Yet, our judgment is not the things we are talking about. The tree isn't in my backyard because I make the judgment its present. My judgments about it are just reporting something else (i.e. not my judgement) present in itself (the object of tree).

    Morality is posited in the same way. When we encounter it, we are always engaged in a judgment (our experience of what is valuable, moral,. etc.), but that judgment is not how the morality true. Like the tree in my backyard, the moral significance is an independent thing my judgement is reporting.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k


    Just as with "opinion," there are different senses of "judgment," and you're conflating them.

    At any rate, we can just ignore that and pretend they're the same sense of the term. So what's any evidence of something extramental matching a moral judgment?
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.8k


    But they aren't different.

    When we make an empirical observation, all the external evidence is only given if our judgements are correct. If the phenomena I point at isn't actually a tree, then it doesn't matter how much a scream about the presence of a tree in my experience, I will be mistaken. We make judgments to form our accounts of external evidence.

    I am not deriving these judgements from an external thing or evidence.

    I cannot use the appearance of an empirical object in my experience to ground this judgements about what it is and how it relates to other things. I only have "external evidence" for it if these judgements are correct.

    External evidence allows me to show the presence of something only if I understand it, only if my initial judgements about it and its relations are correct. Without those, I don't have any account of what something is or what I would encounter if it were present.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1.2k
    Yes, they created the White Album. My original point was that saying that @T Clark was saying that morality was somehow created was a straw man, but then I got confused by your reply to that.
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.8k
    At any rate, we can just ignore that and pretend they're the same sense of the term. So what's any evidence of something extramental matching a moral judgment? — Terrapin Station

    We can further show the issue by examining this question. Anything I encounter in my experience, by virtue of being my mental state, is mental insofar as it is my judgment.

    We can ask exactly the same question of our empirical accounts: where is the external evidence that there is anything extramental matching my judgement of the treeing my backyard? All I have is my experience, my mental judgement, a tree is present. Are we to take this as a reason to conclude there is nothing extramental?
  • Janus
    7.3k
    Again, this is a poor analogy. there is nothing original about morality. About any issue you can have just three basic positions: for, against or indifferent. Music is nothing like that, music, at least good music, consists in creatively original syntheses; so again you use an inapt analogy to try to shore up your inadequate position.

    @Baden already answered your last question to me, and clearly and eloquently said pretty much what i would have said, so i won't go over that again. Of course you didn't take that on board, and I have no doubt the same will happen in regard to what I have written here; any sophistry will do apparently for you to avoid admitting that your position is explanatorily inept.
  • creativesoul
    5.1k
    Morality...

    Everyone has one. The nuance will vary accordingly.
  • Isaac
    714
    What I'm trying to say is that we should, with objectivity, try our best to approximate objective truths (akin to science, not "exactly science" (which is incoherent)), because they help us make more effective decisions.VagabondSpectre

    I would agree with this much, but then, in finding common ground on this we've reduced your claim to something trivially true "finding facts out about the world helps you achieve your goals". True, but who wouldn't agree with that?

    you did not make any good argument as to why FGM as a practice could actually net any individual benefit (beyond not suffering from extortion) or why we cannot be reasonably informed by evidence as to whether or not taking vaccines is beneficial to health, and therefore a superior decision.VagabondSpectre

    I thought I had. I precse them again. I don't know why FGM came about, but I find it unlikely that it was a result of a cabal of child molesters, who the rest of the community had mysteriously put in charge, coming up with a new way of mindlessly injuring innocent children. So I simply presume they had a reason. By what I know it's an aboniable practice, the difference is, I'm prepared to accept that I don't know all the facts. Vaccination has the additional problem that I never can have all the fact, not even a small proportion of them. Every single piece of information I have on the matter comes from sources I have good reason to doubt. I literally listed all the reasons why we "cannot be reasonably informed by evidence", but to save me listed them again, I could summarise them as - we cannot access the evidence we actually need.

    you are conflating my condemnation of FGM as the direct assigning of moral guilt upon individuals who are involved in its perpetuation (and unnecessarily opening up a side tangent about whether or not I'm morally/racially insensitive)VagabondSpectre

    No, that comes from the fact that every example you picked paints non-westerners (or detractors) as stupid and/or immoral. Any reason you didn't pick someone driving a 4 litre car (which objectively hastens damaging climate change). An arms dealer making a profit out of warmongering (which objectively causes thousands to suffer). A banker whose risky investments cause thousands to lose their jobs (objectively making their lives harder). No, you picked examples where modern Western civilisation has some moral superiority to claim over non-westerners. Maybe you didn't even realise you were doing it, but from the middle of a culture whose everyday activities are literally damaging the future of humanity, the fact that you looked further than just out of the window for your examples of objective, scientifically proven moral wrongs is telling.


    I have seen so much evidence pertaining to the issues I've mentioned that my trust doesn't spring from faith, which might better frame the point I'm trying to make with these examples.VagabondSpectre

    So you have personally conducted research? Looked at the actual data set for the trials of the latest vaccine? Personally checked the records on which the epidemiological data is based? Because if not, then your trust in the people delivering you this information is faith.

    It's almost certainly true that sacrificing virgins doesn't have any direct causal relationship with crop yields (maybe it causes farmers to work harder to ensure that their lives aren't wasted, but any placebo could achieve that).VagabondSpectre

    Yes. Which is why no one sacrifices virgins anymore (or at least does not do so to increase crop yields). Because broadly everyone agrees that it doesn't work. Hopefully, with some good luck and sensitive influencing, we'll be in a place where no one thinks FGM is in their culture's best interests too (things certainly seem to be heading that way). This is a constant refrain from the moral absolutist - "but isn't boiling babies obviously wrong", "isn't it obviously wrong to gouge one's eyes out", isn't it obviously wrong to sacrifice virgins". No one is dealing with those moral questions. We're dealing with much harder ones where the facts of the case or the complex social/political circumstances make the way forward difficult to see. It doesn't help to come along claiming to have the answer like it was a maths sum.

    To answer your question about when rational argument has made a difference, just look around you. Notice the absence of hay, of candle-light, of the distinct smell of manure, human shit, and body-odor. Notice the many medical institutions that surround and serve you, without which you might be a lot worse off than you are now. Notice your legal rights which we do our best to protect; maybe there is a ginger jester in the hot seat, but notice how it's just a seat and not a gilded throne that claims to own you. Notice the moral progress that the west has made in such a relatively recent period since the enlightenment era; how society is no longer fundamentally driven by superstitious religious beliefs, and how much better off we are for it all.VagabondSpectre

    And here we go again with the tiresome flag-waving for Western civilisation. Have you noticed the continued reliance on fossil fuel despite the fact that scientific consensus is that it is destructive to our society? Have you noticed that micro-plastics are now in every environment in the world and the scientific consensus is that they could be harmful? Have you noticed that careers continue to become more stressful despite the fact that the World Health Organisation consider stress to be a major factor in 80% of all disease? Any of that sound particularly rational?

    We've got where we are because of a series of improvements whose short-term benefits could be directly seen and whose long-term consequences were barely given a moment's thought. That's not rational argument, that's seeing money in the minefield and going to pick it up and hang the consequences.

    Do you see the contradiction in the bolded text? Maybe I'm reading into a colloquial use of the word "perfectly", but it seems like you're undermining the idea that rational arguments can have greater and lesser strength.VagabondSpectre

    No, this goes back to what I said above about certainty. I completely agree that rational arguments have greater or lesser strength (for those who have already agreed to use rationality as a thinking tool). But I strongly disagree with the granularity, the exactness, you claim is possible when such arguments become complex. My position can be summed up as;

    Given the complexity of the physical and social environment in which decisions have to be made, the vast majority of calculations can only be assessed so broadly that we end up with a very large group of options for all of which the most we can say is "yes, that broadly makes sense".

    Your argument is like claiming to judge which is the higher mountain to the micrometer without any measuring equipment. We can all see the difference between a mountain and a hill, but from there it's just guesswork as to which is tallest.
  • S
    10.2k
    Although you copied my quote directly, you misquoted me in what you wrote. I said "It involves a complex interaction of societal, governmental, religious, and cultural institutions." Do you really think you created your morality out of nothing but your own self? Your parents had nothing to do with it? Do you really believe you created your mind and heart without being influenced by the society and culture around you. To me, that shows a profound lack of self-awareness.T Clark

    Of course not. I'm not denying any outside influence whatsoever. I'm rejecting any suggestion that factors such as the prevalent religion in my society are a primary determinant in my morality. They're simply not. And I know that better than you or anyone else, because I know myself better than you or anyone else. My morality is, as I say, determined primarily by my moral feelings, and not those of society, or of the Tory government, or of the Anglican Church. I am not a sheep, I am an individual.

    And it's "parent" - singular. My biological father hasn't earned that title. He deserted me before I was even born and has played no role in my life. He certainly didn't play the role of a sort of "moral tutor".

    I do think, although I didn't mention it, that a lot of our morality does come from "human nature" whatever that means, I guess it means some sort of genetic predisposition, to behave in a way that makes it easier for us to live together. As I've said many times, we are social animals. We are born to like each other.T Clark

    Yes, we are animals: humans. And we don't have to resort to the mindset of sheep. We don't have to give herd morality pride of place.
  • Terrapin Station
    9.1k
    But they aren't different.TheWillowOfDarkness

    Yeah, they are. And just in the same way. One refers to making an evaluation--stating how you feel about something, whether you like or dislike it, whether you prefer one thing to another, etc.

    The other amounts to trying to get right, via stating a proposition, some state of affairs.

    I'll leave it at that for the moment.
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