• AJJ
    621
    I read this in Stephen R.L. Clark’s God, Religion and Reality. It seems to me to be a sound reason to believe in objective values:

    If there are no objective values then there are no facts (since there’s nothing that we ought to believe). There are facts, therefore there are objective values.

    Any claim that there are no facts (nothing that we ought to believe) can be met with the questions, “Is that a fact? Ought we to believe that?” and so on to infinity.

    Thoughts?
  • Terrapin Station
    12.5k
    If there are no objective values then there are no facts (since there’s nothing that we ought to believe). There are facts, therefore there are objective values.AJJ

    ?? Facts aren't conventionally defined as "things we ought to believe." Many people do feel that we ought to believe facts, but that's not what a fact IS. Facts are ways that the world happens to be. States of affairs.

    This strikes me as a comment that I can't even believe would be published, because the author seems extremely confused.
  • AJJ
    621
    Facts are ways that the world happens to be. States of affairs.Terrapin Station

    Would you say the above is a fact? And would you say we ought to believe it? Is there anything we ought to believe? If you say no to the last two questions, ought we to believe that?

    It goes on forever. It seems to me you’re forced to admit there are things we ought to believe and that those things are facts, unless someone can explain where I’m going wrong.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.5k
    Would you say the above is a fact? And would you say we ought to believe it? Is there anything we ought to believe? If you say no to the last two questions, ought we to believe that?

    It goes on forever.
    AJJ

    It doesn't go on forever. "Fact" does NOT refer to "thing we ought to believe," Period. If one feels that we ought to believe facts, that's fine. But "thing we ought to believe" is not what a fact is. (And you wouldn't say "We ought to believe things we ought to believe" instead of "we ought to believe facts" would you?)

    It's like saying that "automobile" refers to "Thing we ought to periodically change the oil for." Or that "dog" refers to "Thing we ought to take outside for a walk."

    Would you say that there are no dogs if there are no things we ought to take outside for a walk?
  • AJJ
    621


    You’re not actually understanding what I’m saying, and you’ve done that partial quote thing again where you miss off an important part of my reply.

    If anyone else has something to say then cool, otherwise I guess I can continue believing it’s a sound argument.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.5k


    Do you understand the difference between what "fact" refers to and what "thing we ought to believe" refers to?

    It's important that you can grasp something so basic.
  • AJJ
    621
    Do you understand the difference between what "fact" refers to and what "thing we ought to believe" refers to?Terrapin Station

    I’m saying there are things we ought to believe, we ought to believe them because they’re true, and that true things are facts.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.5k
    I’m saying there are thing we ought to believe, we ought to believe them because they’re true, and that true things are facts.AJJ

    That's fine, but it doesn't have anything to do with the problem with the argument you presented.

    The argument you presented went like this:

    "If there are no objective values then there are no facts (since there’s nothing that we ought to believe). "

    That only works if:

    (1) Objective values and facts are supposedly the same thing, or
    (2) "Things we ought to believe" and facts are supposedly the same thing

    OR, if

    (3) "If there's a fact, then necessarily it has objective value" is true, or
    (4) "If there's a fact, then necessarily there's something we ought to believe" is true

    (1) and (2) are not conventional definitions of "fact." As unconventional definitions, that could work, though it would be vacuous (as a tautology--"There is no x if there's no x") and it wouldn't have any rhetorical weight, because the rhetorical weight of the argument is gained by appealing to the conventional sense of "fact."

    Re (3) and (4), there's zero argument for them. The argument would have to argue for one or both of those claims.
  • AJJ
    621
    That's fine, but it doesn't have anything to do with the problem with the argument you presented.

    The argument you presented went like this:

    "If there are no objective values then there are no facts (since there’s nothing that we ought to believe). "

    That only works if:

    (1) Objective values and facts are supposedly the same thing, or
    (2) "Things we ought to believe" and facts are supposedly the same thing

    OR, if

    (3) "If there's a fact, then necessarily it has objective value" is true, or
    (4) "If there's a fact, then necessarily there's something we ought to believe" is true

    (1) and (2) are not conventional definitions of "fact." As unconventional definitions, that could work, though it would be vacuous (as a tautology--"There is no x if there's no x") and it wouldn't have any rhetorical weight, because the rhetorical weight of the argument is gained by appealing to the conventional sense of "fact."
    Terrapin Station

    Number 2. I think it is a tautology. If the conventional sense of fact is “something that is true”, and we ought to believe true things, then it follows that facts are things we ought to believe. So there’s at least something that we ought to do, an objective value, to believe facts.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.5k
    If the conventional sense of fact is “something that is true”, and we ought to believe true things,AJJ
    That's not (2) it's (4). (2) would be "The conventional sense of 'fact' is thing we ought to believe."

    "and we ought to believe true things" is saying (4), that it's necessarily the case that we ought to believe facts.

    In other words, you're not saying that the definition of fact is "thing we ought to believe." You're saying that it follows from something being a fact that we ought to believe it.

    But claiming that something follows requires an argument.

    By the way, does it follow from a fact that we ought to believe it if humans had never appeared?

    Can we not have facts in the absence of humans?
  • AJJ
    621
    In other words, you're not saying that the definition of fact is "thing we ought to believe." You're saying that it follows from something being a fact that we ought to believe it.

    But claiming that something follows requires an argument.
    Terrapin Station

    Did I not give an argument? The one you only partially quoted?

    P1: Facts are true things.
    P2: We ought to believe true things.
    C: We ought to believe facts.

    By the way, does it follow from a fact that we ought to believe it if humans had never appeared?

    Can we not have facts in the absence of humans?
    Terrapin Station

    Yes, that’s what makes them objectively true, which is why we ought to believe them.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.5k


    Sigh--there's no argument for P2. P2 needs an argument.

    (I don't agree with P1, either, by the way. That's not what a fact is. But what's more important at the moment is that P2 would require an argument. As it is, it's just coming out of nowhere. It doesn't follow from anything.)
  • AJJ
    621


    Buddy, if you weren’t so bloody obtuse you’d have realised I addressed in my OP the absurdity of claiming that that facts aren’t things we ought to believe. I can ask the questions, “Is that true? Is that a fact? Ought we believe that?” to infinity.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.5k


    Obtuse? this is as simple and straightforward as we can get while still doing philosophy.

    Imagine the following. Someone gives this argument:

    P1: Facts are true things.
    P2: We ought not to believe true things.
    C: We ought not to believe facts.

    Are there any problems with that argument?
  • AJJ
    621
    Obtuse? this is as simple and straightforward as we can get while still doing philosophy.Terrapin Station

    I know it is mate. That’s why I’m calling you obtuse. Try looking the word up.

    Imagine the following. Someone gives this argument:

    P1: Facts are true things.
    P2: We ought not to believe true things.
    C: We ought not to believe facts.

    Are there any problems with that argument?
    Terrapin Station

    Yes. It’s an argument that fails if it’s true.
  • AJJ
    621


    I should say it’s self-defeating. Because if it’s true that we ought not to believe true things, then we ought not to believe that we ought not to believe true things.
  • AJJ
    621


    So it’s actually a paradox, right?
  • AJJ
    621


    And so the absurdity of your premise 2 was actually my point, you’ve made it again for me.
  • Frank Apisa
    896
    Terrapin Station
    9.2k
    ↪AJJ


    Obtuse? this is as simple and straightforward as we can get while still doing philosophy.

    Imagine the following. Someone gives this argument:

    P1: Facts are true things.
    P2: We ought not to believe true things.
    C: We ought not to believe facts.

    Are there any problems with that argument?
    Terrapin Station

    This could be resolved if we just eliminated the word "believe" from the English language.

    Obviously AJJ is using that word in one of its least desirable, least useful, idiosyncratic forms.

    Just sayin'!
  • AJJ
    621


    Believe it or not, I wasn’t interested in having this type of argument. If there’s a clear objection to the argument in my original post, I would love to here it. So, please could you explain your comment, rather than simply assert it with a “Just sayin’!” on the end.
  • Frank Apisa
    896
    AJJ
    215
    ↪Frank Apisa


    Believe it or not, I wasn’t interested in having this type of argument. If there’s a clear objection to the argument in my original post, I would love to here it. So, please could you explain your comment, rather than simply assert it with a “Just sayin’!” on the end.
    AJJ

    Terrapin has been attempting to do that...to little avail, AJJ.

    What do you mean when you use the word "believe" the way you did in the OP?
  • Terrapin Station
    12.5k
    If there’s a clear objection to the argument in my original post, I would love to here itAJJ

    I already gave you the clear objection. Facts in no way generally hinge on us or anything about us. There would be facts if we never existed. If we never existed, there's obviously nothing we ought to believe. But there are still facts.
  • AJJ
    621
    Terrapin has been attempting to do that...to little avail, AJJ.

    What do you mean when you use the word "believe" the way you did in the OP?
    Frank Apisa

    No mate. Here’s what you said:

    This could be resolved if we just eliminated the word "believe" from the English language.Frank Apisa

    So you should first of all explain that. And...

    Obviously AJJ is using that word in one of its least desirable, least useful, idiosyncratic forms.Frank Apisa

    You should explain how I was using the word, since you’ve claimed to know, and then explain what the correct way to use it is, in your view.
  • AJJ
    621
    Facts in no way generally hinge on us or anything about us.Terrapin Station

    I know mate. Again: that is what makes them objective, rather than subjective. That is why we ought to believe them.

    If we never existed, there's obviously nothing we ought to believe. But there are still facts.Terrapin Station

    You’re just getting objective and subjective mixed up here. Whether facts ought to be believed or not doesn’t depend on us if they’re objective.
  • Frank Apisa
    896
    AJJ
    216

    Terrapin has been attempting to do that...to little avail, AJJ.

    What do you mean when you use the word "believe" the way you did in the OP? — Frank Apisa


    No mate. Here’s what you said:

    This could be resolved if we just eliminated the word "believe" from the English language. — Frank Apisa


    So you should first of all explain that. And...

    Obviously AJJ is using that word in one of its least desirable, least useful, idiosyncratic forms. — Frank Apisa


    You should explain how I was using the word, since you’ve claimed to know, and then explain what the correct way to use it is, in your view.
    AJJ

    AJJ...I think even you do not know how you were using it.

    A fact...IS A FACT.

    You do not have to do any "believing." It just is.

    IF matter actually exists (it may not)...then it exists whether we humans "believe" it or not.

    In any case...when you used the word "believe" in the OP...

    ...did you mean it the way it is used in any of these examples of the word being used?

    a) I "believe" I will take a shit before heading out to the golf course.

    b) I "believe" you are just fucking with my head with all that "altruism" nonsense.

    c) I "believe" (in) God.

    d) Do you "believe" in flying saucers.

    e) "Believe" me...this is going to hurt me more that it is going to hurt you.

    f) I "believe" he was lying when he said he loved me.

    g) I "believe" that mother-fucker would kill me before he would ever concede I was right about that thing.

    h) If you "believe" everything and anything is possible.

    g) You gotta "believe" or you will never make it to the top.

    I could go on and on and on and on...but that is enough for now.

    If there are no objective values then there are no facts (since there’s nothing that we ought to believe). There are facts, therefore there are objective values.

    Any claim that there are no facts (nothing that we ought to believe) can be met with the questions, “Is that a fact? Ought we to believe that?” and so on to infinity.



    So...how did you mean it when you used the word "believe" the first time in that OP?

    And how did you mean it when you used it the second time?

    And how did you mean it when you used it the third time?

    Like any of the list (a) to (g) above?
  • Fooloso4
    1k
    If there are no objective values then there are no facts (since there’s nothing that we ought to believe).AJJ

    What is the relation of facts to values and beliefs?

    It is a fact that I am sitting on my deck typing this on my laptop. I do not hold objective values (another fact) but that does not change the fact that I am sitting here typing this. I can think of no reason why you ought to believe that fact and see no value one way or another whether you accept that fact. Whatever your values are, whether you consider them to be objective or subjective, that does not change the fact that I am doing what I said I am doing.

    Facts, factual claims, and claims regarding what I ought to believe are three different things. Since facts do not depend on whether of not I believe them, and since there are countless facts I may never know anything about, the claim that I ought to believe them is questionable. Factual claims may be false and so it is a questionable claim that I ought to believe them. And since we cannot always discern the difference between facts and factual claims, the claim that we ought to believe is problematic, as is often the case when with religious and moral claims dressed up not simply as factual claims but as facts.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.5k
    You’re just getting objective and subjective mixed up here. Whether facts ought to be believed or not doesn’t depend on us if they’re objective.AJJ

    So imagine there are no people. There are facts, of course. What would make it an objective fact in that situation that those facts ought to be believed by people?
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    Stephen R.L. Clark’s God, Religion and RealityAJJ

    I will mention that I googled this book and looked at the Amazon preview, and that I think it looks a good book.

    However I suspect that the peremptory way in which you've summarised this point might not do justice to the argument, if there is one. It's more a play on words.

    It might actually help to reproduce the famous passage in which David Hume articulates the 'is/ought' problem:

    In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remarked, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when of a sudden I am surprised to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is, however, of the last [i.e. 'most important'] consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, 'tis necessary that it should be observed and explained; and at the same time that a reason should be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it. But as authors do not commonly use this precaution, I shall presume to recommend it to the readers; and am persuaded, that this small attention would subvert all the vulgar systems of morality, and let us see, that the distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceived by reason.

    Underline added. Notice that, in keeping with Hume's overall philosophy, he is questioning whether on the basis of the understanding the 'distinction of vice and virtue' can be considered grounded in fact; for, he says, it is not discernable in the relations of objects, nor perceivable, like deductive proofs, on the basis of reason. This set out the 'is/ought' problem which has occupied subsequent philosophy.

    I think the key point that this throws into relief is the problematic nature of such ideas as 'objective morality' or 'moral facts'. It is actually at the crux of many debates about the relationship of science and ethics. For example. behaviourism and positivism both want to give an account of human activities without any recourse to beliefs or moral stances. Others say that moral stances are perfectly fine, but that they're fundamentally personal, social or civic; that they're grounded in evolutionary biology; and so on. That leads to the kinds of moral relativism and subjectivism which is the de facto philosophy of secular culture.

    I suppose for a theist to argue otherwise, there has to be a compelling argument for the reality of a value system and so some real grounding for the ethical stance, other than the personal, social or biological. It's hard to see how you can get from objective facts to that perspective, and I don't think the one-sentence 'argument' given above does the job (even though I personally believe that there is a real basis for ethical stances.)
  • AJJ
    621


    Thanks for the cordial replies. I’ll try to respond to both here.

    Facts don’t depend on whether or not we believe them, sure, but I don’t see how that has a bearing on whether we ought to believe them. Neither do I see what bearing all the facts we do not know has on this, since it can simply be the case that we ought to believe once aware of them. And how we come to know facts is a separate issue. The reason I agree with the OP argument is that it seems absurd to deny that facts are things that we ought to believe, for the reason described in the OP and my other posts.

    Really the key is that last point. We ought to believe facts because it’s absurd to say either that we ought not to believe facts (which creates a paradox), or that facts aren’t things we ought to believe (which creates an infinite regress until you accept that there are things we ought to believe - which are true things, which are facts).

    If for those reasons facts are things we ought to believe, then you have there a basis and proof for objective values.
  • Wayfarer
    8.3k
    Facts don’t depend on whether or not we believe them, sure, but I don’t see how that has a bearing on whether we ought to believe them.AJJ

    It has a bearing, because not accepting facts has consequences. If you're an engineer, and you measure something wrongly, or enter a wrong value, then your bridge will collapse. It has nothing to do with belief - belief doesn't even come into it. And I don't know if 'accepting a fact' is the same as believing that such and such is the case; matters of empirical fact are simply thus, whether you believe it or not.

    I suppose you can say that you ought to accept facts on the basis that not accepting facts has deleterious consequences. But I still don't see much of an argument here. Should I cheat in this exam? Should I take that office stationary for my own use? Should I give this stranger a ride? These are all questions which involve what you ought or ought not to do, but which don't necessarily resolve neatly to matters of fact. You can't say that as a matter of fact, you should never pick up strangers; a lot depends on the circumstances. And there are innumerable such instances in day to day life.
  • AJJ
    621
    It has a bearing, because not accepting facts has consequences. If you're an engineer, and you measure something wrongly, or enter a wrong value, then your bridge will collapse. It has nothing to do with belief - belief doesn't even come into it. And I don't know if 'accepting a fact' is the same as believing that such and such is the case; matters of empirical fact are simply thus, whether you believe it or not.Wayfarer

    Your bridge example is a practical illustration of why it is we ought to believe facts, but I’m simply saying we ought to believe facts because they’re true, because it’s absurd to say otherwise. In practice the things we believe may or may not actually be facts, but I’m talking abstractly - that it is abstractly the case that we ought to believe facts.

    I suppose you can say that you ought to accept facts on the basis that not accepting facts has deleterious consequences. But I still don't see much of an argument here. Should I cheat in this exam? Should I take that office stationary for my own use? Should I give this stranger a ride? These are all questions which involve what you ought or ought not to do, but which don't necessarily resolve neatly to matters of fact. You can't say that as a matter of fact, you should never pick up strangers; a lot depends on the circumstances. And there are innumerable such instances in day to day life.Wayfarer

    This key point keeps being passed over:

    It is absurd to say facts are not things we ought to believe. Because every denial invites the question, “Well ought we to believe that? Ought we to believe that facts are not things we ought to believe? If the answer is no, well ought we to believe that? And so on. It’s really just this I’m appealing to to demonstrate that facts definitely are things we ought to believe, because we ought to believe true things, which are facts.
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