• Bert Newton
    24
    Hi,

    Long ago I came across (I vaguely remember doing, at least) a school of ethics that was somewhat like utilitarianism but instead of favouirng the maximum pleasure it attempted to favour the most just. The reason why I am asking is because I thought up some principles of morality, thought it was cool, then thought it may exist already. It goes like:

    I was trying to think of how morality could be objective because moral relativism (or should I say, moral relativists) make me uncomfortable. I know it's wrong that a religion causes people to throw homosexuals from rooftops because they are homosexual, or throw acid in the face of a child for reading a book, and I know how (the pleasure principle) but I can't justify how to give imperatives without being subjective.

    Then wondered why objectivity wasn't used in subjective morality anyhow? That is, why don't we use science (as much as we can) to resolve moral issues? I know this has been said before and I do like the work of Sam Harris but I'm not sure if he quite nails this point. We do this every day in courthouses. If someone is suspected of murder they are given a trial where as much evidence is given to help find the truth. And while subjectivity will no doubt creep in, it does replicate somewhat the scientific method; at least they are looking for facts, as much as possible. Why not in ethics?

    The reason why I feel uncomfortable with moral relativists is because they generally end up taking one of two stances regarding harm:

      It's all in the eye of the beholder. The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists deserved to die because they offended someones religion

    or

      I believe it's wrong because my society told me so, but they believe it's right because that's what their society told them so, so I can make no objective claims against it.

    What if?.....We use science to find the cause of a harmful action and dismiss highly subjective claims in favour of objective facts?

    In Papua New Guinea it is traditional for tribal men to accuse woman of witchcraft if a village member dies prematurely. They then torture the accused with burning irons for days on end. In Islam they kill homosexuals, apostates, and rape non-believers, in Christianity they circumcise, etc. All these actions can be scientifically proven to be incorrect: The PNG person who died prematurely can have an autopsy (this has actually been done, and of course, they find the man died of natural causes), the Islamists act on a subjective source, and is there any evidence circumcision is beneficial?

    Now I'm not saying we should go and invade those countries and sort them out, but rather, now moral relativists can have the following attitude towards harmful behaviour:

      I don't believe it's correct and it can be objectively proven by science

    ...and I will feel a lot more comfortable around my fellow moral relativists. Anyway, that is a long way of asking: does a system like this already exist or something close?

    Thanks.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    a school of ethics that was somewhat like utilitarianism but instead of favouirng the maximum pleasure it attempted to favour the most justBert Newton

    Possibly you are thinking of rule utilitarianism? Though that doesn’t seem a perfect fit.

    In any case, your approach to morality sounds a lot like mine, and there’ve been a couple of recent threads that went into that in some depth, with others still to come in the future. The recent ones were:

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/8626/the-principles-of-commensurablism

    and

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/8749/meta-ethics-and-philosophy-of-language
  • Bert Newton
    24
    Thanks. I'll check it out.
  • Caldwell
    226
    What if?.....We use science to find the cause of a harmful action and dismiss highly subjective claims in favour of objective facts?Bert Newton

    This is what many societies have been doing already.
    But don't think that just because something can be proven wrong, that it's going to change some people's minds.
  • Bert Newton
    24
    Thanks, I love your thinking. Your question: "what is it about a moral claim that makes it different to any other?" is bang on the money. I found this: The Good Delusion | What's The Closest We Can Get To Objective Ethics? It's very cool, he was inspired by Sam Harris.

    Everyone, and I mean everyone, is a moral relativist. It's unfortunate, especially for Westerners who have been taught empiricism and the scientific method, yet throw it all away when it comes to morality.

    Thanks for you help.
  • Gnomon
    814
    Long ago I came across (I vaguely remember doing, at least) a school of ethics that was somewhat like utilitarianism but instead of favouirng the maximum pleasure it attempted to favour the most just.Bert Newton
    I don't know what flavor of ethics you are referring to, but one alternative to Bell Curve Ethics and Duty Ethics, is Virtue Ethics, as espoused by Socrates & Confucius. Instead of rigid rules or hypothetical pro-con calculations, VE is adaptable to various circumstances. The moral agent may use rules-of-thumb, or try to predict the consequences, but he may also invent an intuitive pragmatic response on the spot, based on his personal character. Since your concern seems to be Moral Relativism, Virtue Ethics allows the agent to exercise a more nuanced notion of right & wrong, adapted to the current context. Unfortunately, he can't justify his individual choice with numbers or by citing legal authority or precedence. :worry:

    Justice Ethics : "Utilitarianism's primary weakness has to do with justice."
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ethics-everyone/201506/whats-wrong-utilitarianism

    Virtue Ethics : "emphasizes the virtues, or moral character, in contrast to the approach that emphasizes duties or rules"
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-virtue/
    "In the Apology, Socrates says that a man worth anything at all does not reckon whether his course of action endangers his life or threatens death. He looks only at one thing — whether what he does is just or not, the work of a good or of a bad man"
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-ancient/
  • Bert Newton
    24
    Thanks, I'll check them out.

    I just came up with this, it's not perfect as yet but I think it's a good start to my thinking:

      1) Human beings have no choice but to act on the desire that we are convinced will bring us the most pleasure and no human being desires harm without the end of pleasure.
      2) Human beings can be right or wrong about such moral beliefs (what action gives them and others the most pleasure or harm) and such beliefs may be validated with empiricism and reason.
  • Gnomon
    814
    1) Human beings take action on the desire they believe will give them the most pleasurable experience.Bert Newton
    Perhaps the ethical theory you had in mind is the one called Hedonism or Epicureanism. Both rely on the "pleasure principle" as the arbiter of good & evil, which is indeed the basis of egocentric self-interest. But as an ethical principle it lacks the Altruism necessary for the Public Good, and it provides no reason for Deferred Gratification essential for mature human behavior. :smile:

    Pleasure Principle : Specifically, the pleasure principle is the driving force guiding the id
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleasure_principle_(psychology)
  • MadWorld1
    47



    Resolving moral issues through science is totally irrelevant to the topic at hand, namely to provide an objective ground for moral claims. Science can only show us how to best achieve the fulfillment of a moral duty, not prove what that moral duty ought to be.

    For example, although intuitive you will find it very difficult to provide objective proof against the ludicrous claim that "you ought to cause as much pain as possible". What is true, however, is that science could help someone believing in that claim to be more effective in causing pain, analogous to how it can help you achieve what you believe to be just.

    In other words: descriptive truth can help us navigate better in the objective world and thus lets us adhere better by moral truth. Nobody as of yet have proven core moral claims using provable (and proved), descriptive claims.
  • MadWorld1
    47
    What if?.....We use science to find the cause of a harmful action and dismiss highly subjective claims in favour of objective facts?Bert Newton

    1. People will not agree with you what harmful, in this context of morality, of good and evil, means.
    2. Moral claims are not and will never be objective facts.
  • MadWorld1
    47
    in Christianity they circumciseBert Newton

    That’s weird. In my community growing up nobody where circumcised, and we were all Christians (protestant). Judaism is what comes to my mind.
  • Bert Newton
    24
    But as an ethical principle it lacks the Altruism necessary for the Public Good, and it provides no reason for Deferred Gratification essential for mature human behaviorGnomon

    Can you give me an example of an altruistic action or deferred gratification action, or any action at all for that matter that isn't predicated on the belief that it will give you pleasure? (Perhaps substitute "pleasure" with "happiness" or "wellbeing" as they mean the same thing here).

    Science can only show us how to best achieve the fulfillment of a moral duty, not prove what that moral duty ought to be.MadWorld1

    Well, that's what we are pondering. So far, people like Sam Harris have made a compelling argument for objective moral grounds. Harris uses the analogy of putting your hand in fire. Consider Humes Law with this example:

      Your hand IS in the fire therefore you OUGHT to pull it out

    One can see how ridiculous this is, the ought is inherent in nature, an axiomatic ought. Likewise, human beings don't have a choice when it comes to acting on the desire that they believe will give the most happiness, it's a neurological function of the brain; dopamine, serotonin, physiological functions.

    They might be wrong or right about such a belief and so we can wander into the field of ethics armed with this fact about the natural world at least and extrapolate from there. Harris is basically saying that it's wrong to harm yourself - that is, you'll only harm yourself because of the erroneous belief that you thought it would give you pleasure, therefore you were objectively wrong. And all human beings are the same on this therefore it's wrong to harm others IF that harm doesn't result in the end of wellbeing.

    Harris argues that if you question this then you may as well question everything else we do in science. Why study physics? Why study biology? Why not walk into an emergency room and ask the surgeon who is doing a life-saving procedure why they are doing that? In other words, what law is there in the natural world that tells us we should study physics or mathematics other than the inherent neurological function of giving us dopamine when we pursue wellbeing?
  • Gnomon
    814
    Can you give me an example of an altruistic action or deferred gratification action, or any action at all for that matter that isn't predicated on the belief that it will give you pleasure? (Perhaps substitute "pleasure" with "happiness" or "wellbeing" as they mean the same thing here).Bert Newton
    I won't get into that tangled can of worms. The ambiguous meaning of such notions as "pleasure", "happiness" or "wellbeing" have been debated for years. But it all boils down to how we choose between Good & Bad. In general it's a Cost vs Benefit analysis, but some human behavior is not rational or analytical. Deferred gratification is not "good" for you right now, but it may allow you to find "pleasure" or "success" later. Some have rationalized Altruism as an ironic or paradoxical form of Pleasure. But most human behavior is assumed to be directed toward "what's good for our genes" and to avoid what's bad. So why do so many people do things that are obviously bad for them, such as smoking tobacco? Do they have "bad" beliefs about what's good for them? Does present pleasure outweigh eventual pain in their analysis, or do they just do "what they d*mn well please"? :cool:

    Altruism Paradox :
    http://yalescientific.org/thescope/2016/11/the-problem-with-altruism/
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13752-013-0120-4
    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01006/full
  • Bert Newton
    24
    why do so many people do things that are obviously bad for them, such as smoking tobacco? Do they have "bad" beliefs about what's good for them?Gnomon

    When the desire to smoke a cigarette arises their mind convinces them that this will give them the most pleasure. It is the crux of giving up, your mind must have the conviction that not smoking at the moment will give you the most pleasure.

    Do they have "bad" beliefs about what's good for them?Gnomon

    At the moment of acting on the desire, yes. They lack the conviction that smoking is bad for them in the long run.

    Does present pleasure outweigh eventual pain in their analysis, or do they just do "what they d*mn well please"?Gnomon

    Yes. They are convinced at that moment the present pleasure outweighs the eventual pain. Again, the only thing that will make a smoker not smoke is the conviction that they will get more pleasure by not smoking.

    Thanks for the example but I think it proves my point. Everything we do is predicated on the belief that such action is the one that will bring us the most pleasure.
  • Bert Newton
    24
    Deferred gratification is not "good" for you right now, but it may allow you to find "pleasure" or "success" later.Gnomon

    So is grueling physical exercise, studying hard for an exam, or throwing yourself on a grenade to save your fellow soldiers, but all actions are done because of the belief that pleasure is at the end. Of course, we can be wrong or right about such beliefs.
  • Pinprick
    335
    Can you give me an example of an altruistic action or deferred gratification action, or any action at all for that matter that isn't predicated on the belief that it will give you pleasure? (Perhaps substitute "pleasure" with "happiness" or "wellbeing" as they mean the same thing here).Bert Newton

    Suicide.
  • Bert Newton
    24
    I think the desire for suicide is still pleasure - it's more pleasurable to end it than to continue suffering into the future.
  • Pinprick
    335
    You can’t experience pleasure if you’re dead. Suicide reduces suffering, but can’t increase pleasure.
  • Bert Newton
    24
    If the person believed there was any sort of pleasure to be had in the future they wouldn't commit suicide. This is the role of serotonin in the brain, it's the pleasure chemical related to thoughts of the future. The suffering in life and hopelessness of attaining any future pleasure is the deterrent to live and so the thought of suicide - ending the suffering - seems more pleasurable in the moment. The belief gives them pleasure, they may be wrong about the outcome.
  • Gnomon
    814
    Thanks for the example but I think it proves my point. Everything we do is predicated on the belief that such action is the one that will bring us the most pleasure.Bert Newton
    That may be true, but it's also why civilized people need some kind of ethical principle that is not based on primitive urges. Utilitarianism was intended to allow an objective rational calculus for good & bad, but some people are not inclined to dispassionate dissection of their urges & motives, or informed calculation of consequences. That's why cultivating a virtuous character in children may allow their Superego to instinctively override the Freudian Id, in the interest of moral behavior in public. :smile:
  • MadWorld1
    47
    Well, that's what we are pondering. So far, people like Sam Harris have made a compelling argument for objective moral grounds.Bert Newton

    Yes, it's a really interesting question. If anyone solves it it would be truly revolutionary.

    Harris uses the analogy of putting your hand in fire. Consider Humes Law with this example:

    Your hand IS in the fire therefore you OUGHT to pull it out

    One can see how ridiculous this is, the ought is inherent in nature, an axiomatic ought. Likewise, human beings don't have a choice when it comes to acting on the desire that they believe will give the most happiness, it's a neurological function of the brain; dopamine, serotonin, physiological functions.
    Bert Newton

    That's just it; it's a function of the brain, it's not in the sphere of morality. Take the deduction you mentioned. Firstly, I can't see how it's a valid deduction in the traditional sense, I can't see how it necessarily follows from the premise that you ought to pull it out. Secondly, why not go all the way? It's not just a neurological function of the brain to strive for happiness, that's a tool evolved to incentivize survival and reproduction in order to spread our genes. Isen't that, then, the real axiomatic ought?

    I just can't shake the feeling that we're talking about why people act a certain way on average, or why we seem to have a kind of universal, intersubjective sense of at least obvious right and wrong, and conflate it with what we ought to do. To me these are different questions.

    Very interesting topic.
  • Bert Newton
    24
    Exactly. We might be wrong about what gives us the most pleasure. As per your example of a child. A child may steel another child's lollypop because of instant gratification but if the child is shown that they can derive more pleasure by not stealing it (avoiding a fight, empathy born of reason, potential sharing in the future, etc.) then they will not steal. Hence, back to Harris' ethics, that right and wrong behaviour is predicated on pleasure.

    It's not just a neurological function of the brain to strive for happiness, that's a tool evolved to incentivize survival and reproduction in order to spread our genes. Isen't that, then, the real axiomatic ought?MadWorld1

    Yes, but the tool the selfish genes adopt to do so is the pleasure reward. I think they're linked, if the purpose is to survive then it's wrong to kill (according to the gene). Pleasure means survival, harm means death. The only problem with the selfish gene though is that it carries this wacky and seemingly unnecessary thing called consciousness. We are not just "survival machines" as Dawkins puts it but conscious ones at that.

    That's just it; it's a function of the brain, it's not in the sphere of moralityMadWorld1

    But the functions of the brain map on to the conscious state - and consciousness is everything, to us. A wave of dopamine is the feeling of pleasure. A wave of cortisol is the feeling of anxiety. A wave of dopamine tells us that the belief we hold about our action is the right course. Brain states affect behaviour, right or wrong behaviour. Aren't we now in the field of ethics?

    I just can't shake the feeling that we're talking about why people act a certain way on average, or why we seem to have a kind of universal, intersubjective sense of at least obvious right and wrong, and conflate it with what we ought to do. To me these are different questions.MadWorld1

    Because the why is involuntary, it forces the ought. There is no "what we ought to do", we are forced to act on pleasure, then the question arises, is this the best way to seek pleasure? Is spanking your children the best way to seek pleasure? Numerous studies have found increased risk of impaired child development from the use of corporal punishment. If a parent is given all the information about this then they change their beliefs, they change their behaviour. They derive more pleasure by not spanking their children. How is this not ethics?
  • MadWorld1
    47
    Yes, but the tool the selfish genes adopt to do so is the pleasure reward. I think they're linked, if the purpose is to survive then it's wrong to kill (according to the gene). Pleasure means survival, harm means death. The only problem with the selfish gene though is that it carries this wacky and seemingly unnecessary thing called consciousness. We are not just "survival machines" as Dawkins puts it but conscious ones at that.Bert Newton

    Yes, that's exactly what I said; pleasure is a tool created by evolution with the primary purpose of proliferating our genes. But wait a minute! Accepting the survival and proliferation of our genes as the real axiomatic ought has huge implications. Then pleasure is indeed a tool, comparable to science although more woven into our reptilian complex, at our disposal. Then pleasure has instrumental worth, not intrinsic, and even a bad one at that. We could do much better through science.

    Also, even if pleasure means survival (which it dosen't - survival means survival), that doesn't deduce that it's wrong to kill. Actually, you'll want to kill to ensure that your selfish genes proliferate - it's just another tool at our disposal. If earth has limited resources and our axiomatic ought is to proliferate our selfish genes, then inevitably there will be conflicts between different genes. There's a reason hate and we-and-them mentality has survived the test of time.

    Even if we disregard the fact that genes (and therefore our axiomatic ought) are selfish and not altruistic we have serious issues. Let's complete the (not so valid) deduction we did before:

    I We ought to proliferate our genes.
    II Being on fire destroys and therefor hampers our genes.
    Conclusion: We ought not to be on fire.

    Now that's a proper deduction! The first premise is the axiomatic ought, so that one we don't have to prove. The second one can be proved through common sense as well as science. Our conclusion is valid.

    Now let's try a hypothetical:

    I We ought to proliferate our genes.
    II Force impregnating women will proliferate our genes.
    Conclusion: We ought to force impregnate women.

    If you grant the plausibility of the second premise you see how irrelevant pleasure becomes, given that the women impregnated against there will will suffer. Even if you don't accept that premise in particular it should be obvious how proliferating our genes the most could (and inevitable will) be on the cost of pleasure.

    A wave of cortisol is the feeling of anxiety. A wave of dopamine tells us that the belief we hold about our action is the right course. Brain states affect behaviour, right or wrong behaviour. Aren't we now in the field of ethics?Bert Newton

    No, I don't think so. Brain states affect behavior, not right or wrong behavior. If it does I feel like it needs further proof; extraordinary claims demands extraordinary proofs. I mean, right or wrong in contrast to what? What metric are you using? Pleasure? Why? We're coming back to the question of the axiomatic ought, which seems to be the proliferation of our selfish genes, not pleasure.
  • MadWorld1
    47
    Because the why is involuntary, it forces the ought. There is no "what we ought to do", we are forced to act on pleasure, then the question arises, is this the best way to seek pleasure?Bert Newton

    It dosen't force the ought, it forces our behavior. But I mostly agree, maybe I misunderstood you before.

    Are you arguing for objective morality or a subjective one? Because I accept most of the framework you're putting worth, obvious issues aside, but I also understand that there's no real reason - other than being programmed to think in that way by evolution - for me doing so. And when I realize that I could deny it, and people would have a hard time convincing me in the sphere of ethics that I really ought to do what evolution has programmed me to believe that I ought to do, I have a hard time buying the theory.

    Really interesting topic btw. You seem knowledgeable on the topic, so do you mind if I ask for other books that I can read on the topic, other than the one by Sam Harris? I really think that if someone proved this theory it would be truly revolutionary - even more so then the scientific or industrial revolution.
  • Bert Newton
    24
    I think you have misunderstood me somewhat. I haven't explained it too well because we're straying off topic (my fault) and I didn't mean this thread to be about this idea, just if a system existed already like it. But if no one minds, I will continue.

    No, I don't think so. Brain states affect behavior, not right or wrong behavior.MadWorld1

    This is where you are misunderstanding.

    Behaviour, or "doing something", or "acting on a desire", is motivated by the belief that such action will give you the most pleasure (as opposed to other actions). Here's the point you need to grasp: Just because it's what your brain convinces you is good for you (the most pleasurable course of action) doesn't necessarily mean it's right or even good for you. You could be wrong about the action you took. For example, you eat a pizza because the desire for pizza outweighed all other desires in pleasure. However, it turns out the pizza gave you food poisoning, so in the end it wasn't the right or best action you could have taken. You may be wrong about it being the activity that would give you the most pleasure NOT wrong because it was immoral. Important point to grasp.

    I We ought to proliferate our genes.
    II Force impregnating women will proliferate our genes.
    Conclusion: We ought to force impregnate women.
    MadWorld1

    ...I would argue that we don't actually want to survive, we want to experience pleasure, survival just allows it. What about suicide? The selfish gene has failed there, but pleasure has dictated once again. Also, the selfish gene isn't actually selfish according to Dawkins, it can be very altruistic, it does whatever it can to survive. Dawkins actually regrets calling it that and prefers to call it "the immortal gene".

    The tricky thing is using pleasure to "make" (ought) people behave more morally. That is, the most pleasurable course of action "should" (ought) also be the right one (that is, it doesn't harm others). This is the part of the theory that gets wacky and is hard to understand for people. It's also the part where it becomes difficult to surmount the subjectivity. I have some ideas that aren't quite developed yet so I won't share but for now...

    Are you arguing for objective morality or a subjective one?MadWorld1

    We are trying to find an objective approach to morality. I'm not sure if we are quite there yet. Pfhorrest, the first person to respond to me in this thread has a great approach of accepting the subjectivity of morality but putting any moral claims to empirical testing. It's a great idea, but it would be good to find something completely objective.

    You seem knowledgeable on the topic, so do you mind if I ask for other books that I can read on the topic, other than the one by Sam Harris?MadWorld1

    I'm very new to this, no expert. If you have read The Moral Landscape then you have a firm foundation, however I think Alex O'connor and Steven Woodford take it to a new level. Watch this presentation by Alex The Good Delusion if you're really interested in this, and will no doubt explain it better than I have.
  • MadWorld1
    47
    This is where you are misunderstanding.

    Behavior, or "doing something", or "acting on a desire", is motivated by the belief that such action will give you the most pleasure (as opposed to other actions). Here's the point you need to grasp:
    Bert Newton

    I think I just disagree with you, if that makes a difference. And the point that people can be wrong in what they believe to be right - that seems noncontroversial. It's not so much that I don't grasp that particular point, it's that I don't see how it's relevant to the question of the axiomatic ought. That's what needs to be proven.

    I would argue that we don't actually want to survive, we want to experience pleasure, survival just allows it. What about suicide? The selfish gene has failed there, but pleasure has dictated once again. Also, the selfish gene isn't actually selfish according to Dawkins, it can be very altruistic, it does whatever it can to survive. Dawkins actually regrets calling it that and prefers to call it "the immortal gene".Bert Newton

    Here then is the real part we're disagreeing on - I think you got it backwards. I mean, who's pulling who? The carriage or the horse?

    I think the kind of pleasure you're talking about is an instrument for the proliferation of our genes, and I don't see how the opposite would be compatible with what we know of evolution. That's why I was confused, you seemed to agree with that point before.

    If you by "surviving" mean our genes than that goes against what we know in modern biology. I wouldn't use science in that way in philosophical discussions if it wasn't for the fact that science seems central to the theory at hand. And in all do respect, Dawkins wanting to rename his book doesn't change the fact that genes are selfish in a very real way. For example, there is no denying that humans, like chimps, have innate tendencies to be hostile against foreign tribes. One can talk about how hostile we are versus how altruistic, but evolution is still the tale of particular collectives of beings (aka sequences of genes) fighting each other (even within themselves) and the challenges of nature for survival and proliferation.

    Why then should pleasure be the axiomatic ought and not that, given that the latter gave birth to the former? It seems to me that one must prove not only the validity of the axiomatic ought but also its nature.
  • MadWorld1
    47
    I'm very new to this, no expert. If you have read The Moral Landscape then you have a firm foundation, however I think Alex O'connor and Steven Woodford take it to a new level. Watch this presentation by Alex The Good Delusion if you're really interested in this, and will no doubt explain it better than I have.Bert Newton

    That's interesting, because I share Alex O'connor's critique of Sam Harris on this topic. I'll look at the presentation though! Thanks!
  • Bert Newton
    24
    Oh, be prepared, he has since changed his mind on that and is now in more agreement with Harris, as you will see.

    I mean, who's pulling who? The carriage or the horse?MadWorld1

    It's irrelevant. Our behaviour is relevant to ethics and what causes us to behave (that is, take an action) is desire. What causes desire is the conviction of pleasure-at-the-end, what causes that is irrelevant as then you are going down a causal chain that has no meaning to the conscious experience: dopamine, nervous system, genes, egg and sperm, grandparents, chimpanzees, unicellular organism, the big bang. Yes, the reason why we do anything is determinism but in ethics we are dealing with conscious states, good and bad, right and wrong behaviour, and for that we only need to look so far as pleasure being the prime mover.

    Are you looking for evidence of the aximoatic ought being pleasure? Just ask yourself why you do anything. You will have your answer.
  • MadWorld1
    47
    Oh, be prepared, he has since changed his mind on that and is now in more agreement with Harris, as you will see.Bert Newton

    He's not arguing an objective morality standpoint. He is arguing for the existence of an universal, inter-subjective morality. That's why I asked you before:

    Are you arguing for objective morality or a subjective one?MadWorld1

    *

    What causes desire is the conviction of pleasure-at-the-end, what causes that is irrelevant as then you are going down a causal chain that has no meaning to the conscious experience: dopamine, nervous system, genes, egg and sperm, grandparents, chimpanzees, unicellular organism, the big bang.Bert Newton

    Sure. I never said that the axiomatic ought is valid, I just raised issues with the theory even when it's assumed to exist. And no, you can't just say "that's irrelevant" when it's obviously not. Why are you stoppning at pleasure? You could've stopped at desire in general, or at our innate drive to spread the genes in our genom. How has the latter no meaning to the conscious experience?! It's more of a prime mover than pleasure will ever be, it encompasses pleasure. It sounds totally arbitrary. That's why I wrote:

    It seems to me that one must prove not only the validity of the axiomatic ought but also its nature.MadWorld1

    *

    yes, the reason why we do anything is determinism but in ethics we are dealing with conscious states, good and bad, right and wrong behavior, and for that we only need to look so far as pleasure being the prime mover.Bert Newton

    You can't just redefine ethics and expect people to agree. You have to have reasons. As we've gone through you claiming that pleasure is the prime mover has no grounding. One must not forget that this theory makes gigantic claims that are very controversial, so one must give reasons proportionate to that. I'm not the one saying I've solved morality.

    If you're interested in hearing critique of Sam Harris's view, and I think that's wise if we are to prove this theory, then I can recommend https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxalrwPNkNI
  • Bert Newton
    24
    1) You can't help but act on what you believe will give you the most pleasure (axiomatic ought)
    2) You may be right or wrong about that belief
    3) What will give you the most pleasure will be the right, moral action (not necessarily the one you believe to be) [this is hard to understand, and hard to demonstrate without subjectivity]
    4) If you want the greatest pleasure (which you do) then you ought to know what will give you the greatest pleasure (moral behaviour).

    That's really it in a nutshell. I can't keep repeating myself. Watch The Good Delusion, it might be clearer.

    If you're interested in hearing critique of Sam Harris's view, and I think that's wise if we are to prove this theory, then I can recommend https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxalrwPNkNIMadWorld1

    Will watch.
  • Bert Newton
    24
    Ah yes, 3 minutes into the video and Cuck Philosophy brings up Hume's Law. In defence of Harris I do believe he has a compelling argument against this. When pressed, Harris replies that, "human beings value wellbeing" and goes on to say that therefore we can have a science of wellbeing (the moral sphere). Harris adds that this is no different to our approach to any other science. Why study medicine? You have a headache therefore you ought to take pain relief medicine. But why? Why ought a human being take pain relief medicine?

    There IS a universe therefore we OUGHT to study physics
    There IS a gene therefore we OUGHT to study genetics
    There IS a chemical therefore we OUGHT to study chemistry
    There IS an illness therefore we OUGHT to study medicine

    No, there is no law in the universe compelling us to do those things (if you wish) and even if we removed them all and went back to living in caves still, the most fundamental value we would have left then is wellbeing. Making Harris' argument even stronger. If you look deeper you will find that wellbeing is inherently implied in the is-ought of these examples but few seem to be able to grasp the axiomatic ought.

    I would ask you, if you take an issue with Harris' claims and Hume's Law: WHY ought you take medicine when you are sick?
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