• Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    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:Gnomon

    Hedonism isn’t egotism. Utilitarianism is a hedonistic and altruistic moral theory.

    Also, even egotistic hedonism can support delayed gratification out of enlightened self-interest.
  • MadWorld1
    47
    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)Bert Newton

    But that makes no sense. That's not the moral sphere in a traditional sense. The statement that "humans beings value wellbeing" is a descriptive statement, not a normative one. One still has to give reasons for why one ought to value what humans happens to value. To my knowledge Sam Harris has not been able to transcend an "is" to an "ought", and Alex O'Connor in the video you provided explicitly says that this can't be proven.

    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?Bert Newton

    I have yet to be convinced by objective morality, so my answer is: there are no objective moral reasons to do that. We're doing it because evolution (through pleasure) says so. Gives existential angst, dosen't it? :)

    It's like O'Connor's argument that we can say that it's objectively "right" for someone to do what brings them maximum pleasure, if you by "right" mean to stay internally coherent given that you're determined to act on your desires and what you ultimately desire is pleasure. It's still not objectively right to do so from a moral point of view. O'Connor seem to think that morality in that sense (aka the one that virtually everyone have used up until this whole ordeal) dosen't exist, or at least isen't meaningful. He says so about 35:00 into the clip. He wants to redefine morality to this new standard, and I think that's cheating.

    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.Bert Newton

    You're using descriptive statements about what humans value (and must value given their faculties) and then implying that that means that one ought to value that. It's not about not being able to grasp it, it's about there not being any evidence for your claim. It even seems to dictate that morality would disappear if all life disappeared, given that its origin is the faculties of sentient creatures being driven by pleasure, which of course would mean unequivocally that it's not objective - it may be universal for life, but it's still subjective.

    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?Bert Newton

    I have a problem with Harris' claim of objective morality. Hume's Law seems to do the trick of disproving Harris' claim of objective morality.

    No objective moral reason has ever been proved, therefore my answer is that there dosen't seem to be any objective moral reason. If you want subjective reason I have plenty! :)


    My main arguments:

    1. Still no way of getting around Hume's law without redefining morality.
    2. Even if we do so there seems to be no reason to stop at pleasure in particular - we desire pleasure to proliferate our genes, so instead of redefining morality to mean right by pleasure we could redefine it to mean right by proliferation of our genes.
    3. Even if we concluded that one is better it wouldn't be objective morality, given that it depends on the form of sentient creatures that exist right now.
  • MadWorld1
    47
    Our behaviour is relevant to ethics and what causes us to behave (that is, take an action) is desire.Bert Newton

    Here, for example, you seem to be implying the redefinition of ethics into something entirely is-based instead of the traditional question of ought.
  • Bert Newton
    27
    So why ought you take medicine when you are sick?
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    Just here to note that keeping is and ought separate doesn’t have to mean rejecting the objectivity of oughts. They can be addressed entirely separately, but still equally.
  • Caldwell
    231
    Nobody as of yet have proven core moral claims using provable (and proved), descriptive claims.MadWorld1

    They've done this for claims about pain. Also, primal fear is real and provable.
  • Bert Newton
    27
    I'm going to make a new thread very soon, just writing it all up now. In it I will outlay a new way of looking at morality, similar to what has been discussed here. I'll state my position a lot clearer there so if you want to continue the discussion there that would be dandy. Should be up soon :)
  • Bert Newton
    27
    Thank you all for answering my initial question and apologies for derailing the thread.

    If you want to discuss this idea further I made a new post: https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/8862/rubbos-bridge

    Thanks again!
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