• ChrisH
    174
    No, I wouldn't want to make that case and nor would anyone nowadays, but that's not because an objective morality exists for all moral dilemmas, it's because an objective morality exists for this particular moral dilemma.Isaac

    What sense of "objective" are you using here? I may be mistaken but I get the impression (not just from you) that overwhelming intersubjective agreement is regarded by many as convincing evidence of 'objective morality".
  • Isaac
    2.8k


    The use of 'objective' is complicated and gets into long arguments about realism, but roughly...

    By 'objective' I just mean something outside of any individual's mind which can act as a truth-maker for propositions about it. That we all need to inter-subjectively agree that thing exists outside of our minds is secondary - everything that exists in the human linguistic world does so because we agree it does to a sufficient extent that we can use it to cooperatively get stuff done, so it is trivial to concern oneself with the categorisation of what 'really' exists unless one is involved in something like neuroscience, or perhaps cognitive psychology where such a distinction might be useful to one's investigations.

    What's important, I think, is that there are things which we agree are outside of individual's minds, and there are things which we agree are within (or properties of) people's minds, even though all such agreement is fuzzy and it slightly underdetermines. The source, or reason, for such agreement need not always be a concern.

    So, in morality-talk, 'objective' would be a fact about something which that group of language users agree is outside of individual's minds, and in this case, the structure and function of our brains is a property of objects outside of individual's minds.

    Everyone agreeing on some moral imperative, by this definition, would still not make it objective because those same people would still all agree that the only place that imperative could possibly be was within the minds of each individual, and if it arrives, or varies with culture, then it cannot be an innate property of those minds as objects (brains).

    Basically, agreement is not sufficient for objectivity. Imagine if, for a time, all trains were green. The fact that, at that time, all trains happen to be green wouldn't make 'greeness' an innate property of trains. For that to be the case we'd need some necessary connection to some property already defininitive of trains. Having wheels, for example, is not just something all current trains just happen to be similar on right now, it's integral to the definition of the object (remembering that definitions are always fuzzy, so integral here is not universally the case - think Wittgenstein's example of Moses - 'greeness' is not one of the props, wheels is).

    So with opinions or beliefs, it just happening to be the case that everyone in some group has the same, or similar, one is insufficient to assume having such an opinion is a property of the object (in this case, the brain). Them having such beliefs from birth, universally across cultures and a plausible mechanism by which they're propogated, is sufficient to assume objectivity.
  • ChrisH
    174
    Everyone agreeing on some moral imperative, by this definition, would still not make it objective because those same people would still all agree that the only place that imperative could possibly be was within the minds of each individual, and if it arrives, or varies with culture, then it cannot be an innate property of those minds as objects (brains).Isaac

    This looks a little circular. How do we determine what is an "innate property" of minds other than by observing overwhelming intersubjective agreement?
  • Isaac
    2.8k
    This looks a little circular. How do we determine what is an "innate property" of minds other than by observing overwhelming intersubjective agreement?ChrisH

    We check to see if it's present from birth, we see if it changes in response to cultural changes, we see if we can find a plausible neurological mechanism whereby it would be necessitated. Not an exact science, of course, but better than nothing, I think.
  • praxis
    2.5k
    If our goal is human flourishing, we must defend individual liberty, but not past the point where it threatens human flourishing.Thomas Quine

    How do you define human flourishing? Sorry if I’ve missed it, the topic is long. In the materialistic sense it could be said that Americans, for example, are flourishing, so things are good the way they are.
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    To uphold that claim we would need a falsifiable scientific theory about the correct relative values and a controlled trial to test that hypothesis.Isaac

    To the question, "Does mask-wearing during a pandemic serve human flourishing?", science can indeed tell us the answer. I provided evidence from scientific experts to support this claim, and saw no evidence to the contrary.

    To the question, "Does defending individual liberty through mask refusal serve human flourishing?" likewise. One need only compare the current states of success fighting the pandemic between states whose leadership fought mask-wearing on the grounds of individual liberty - i.e. the U.S. and Brazil - and states whose leadership and citizens largely adopted it.

    Popper's approach can be very useful in such matters. Popper recognized that the absolute truth of a scientific claim was almost always impossible to prove. His great insight was that falsifiability should be the grounds for evaluating whether a claim was scientific or not.

    My claim that "Mask-wearing during a pandemic serves human flourishing" is falsifiable, and is therefore a scientific claim. There is lots of evidence supporting this claim from experts (otherwise I would not have made the claim), and I have yet to see valid evidence to contradict it.

    This is in fact my argument; that all moral claims can be held to the standards of science, judged to be falsifiable or not, and if they are genuine scientific statements, they can be tested against reliable evidence.

    The implication of Popper's argument is that since one cannot prove absolute truth, one must make decisions on the basis of probability. This is why Bayesian probability theory has come to play a central role in modern science. And as a Pragmatist I love it, because it is eminently pragmatic.

    If one had to conduct a controlled trial to resolve every fleeting moral question, such as "does mask-wearing during a pandemic spread by respiratory emission serve human flourishing?", such questions would be irresolvable. However, if we take the Bayesian approach, and gather the best available evidence, we can make a valid scientific claim - this is how science does its work every day.

    Practical science usually starts from intuition, but only as a starting point for work that needs to be done. A scientist has an intuition, formulates a hypothesis, and sets about to uncover evidence and test the hypothesis against the evidence. But I think we should reject approaches to resolving moral questions that stop on intuition alone.

    Any scientific claim, by Popper's definition any claim which is falsifiable, can be tested against the evidence, and found to be true, which by the definition of Pragmatism means can reliably achieve its objective, or false, meaning it fails to do so.

    My argument is that moral claims are claims about the best way to achieve human flourishing, and can be put to the same standards as any scientific claim: do they achieve their objective or not?
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    How do you define human flourishing?praxis

    I said in an earlier post that the simplest definition of "to flourish" I could find in online dictionaries is "to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way."

    It is hard to argue that what America is currently experiencing can in any way be described as "flourishing". Growth has taken a historic step backwards and as to health...

    Certainly Amazon is flourishing, but even if we take standard measures of business success, such as GDP or average corporate profits, the U.S. has taken a massive hit, like all countries but on many measures by far the worst of any developed country. This is in part because of a pervasive fetishization of individual liberty which makes containing the pandemic that much harder.
  • praxis
    2.5k
    I said in an earlier post that the simplest definition of "to flourish" I could find in online dictionaries is "to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way."

    It is hard to argue that what America is currently experiencing can in any way be described as "flourishing". Growth has taken a historic step backwards and as to health...
    Thomas Quine

    Steven Pinker makes a pretty convincing argument in Enlightenment Now. In any case, your definition is still foggy and how wise is it to aim for an unclear target?

    Flourishing could mean that basic needs are met, including healthcare and education, and be measured by indicators like sustainability, relative level of happiness, having a sense of meaning, etc., none of which depend on economic growth.

    Certainly Amazon is flourishing, but even if we take standard measures of business success, such as GDP or average corporate profits, the U.S. has taken a massive hit, like all countries but on many measures by far the worst of any developed country. This is in part because of a pervasive fetishization of individual liberty which makes containing the pandemic that much harder.Thomas Quine

    Strange that you equate GDP growth with flourishing. Climate change, the mass extinction of species, and other environmental degradations aren't usually considered conducive to human flourishing. Your own dictionary definition of flourishing includes, "..., especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment." Also, there are currently cultures that don't fetich individual liberty as we do, such as China and India, that are currently experiencing GDP growth that's lifting millions out of extreme poverty. But like other developed economies the growth will eventually decline. The point being that there's no apparent reason to conclude that the rugged individualism of the West has anything to do with economic decline.

    Pinker argues that Enlightenment values lead to flourishing. I imagine that you would agree with that. This centers on values, however, and how can anyone be the judge of cultural values, much less force our own onto others?
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    Strange that you equate GDP growth with flourishing. Climate change, the mass extinction of species, and other environmental degradations aren't usually considered conducive to human flourishing.praxis

    Praxis, you are quite right to question the value of GDP, lots of work has been done on this to prove that economic growth can sometimes produce results that are harmful to human flourishing. I mention GDP as just one indicator among many, and I would defend that by pointing out that an annualized decline in GDP of over 30% is an indicator of immense human suffering in the U.S., millions out of work, millions losing health insurance, millions in danger of eviction, I am staggered when I read about it.

    I like the word "flourishing" because it does suggest the human need for a healthy environment.

    The economic downturn as a result of the pandemic has smashed the global economy, but I would point out that in Germany, where I lived for eight years, "...the unemployment rate has increased from 5% to 5.8% from March to April. In the U.S., it surged from 4.4% to 14.7%." (https://bit.ly/3k1WOC3)

    Let me share with you a little story about German cradle-to-grave health care. A co-worker of mine there went through a difficult divorce with two young children, was under tremendous stress, got pneumonia and was laid out for six weeks, all of course on full sick pay covered by the health care system. As she recovered, her doctor decided she needed some stress relief, so sent her on a three-week holiday at a German seaside resort, with her children, all meals and daycare provided, fitness classes, pool, hobby classes, walks on the beach, all paid for in full by the health care system. She told me she had not taken a sick day since. Can you imagine that in the U.S.?

    I am a big fan of Stephen Pinker, actually I went to McGill at the same time he did, though we never met. You say:

    Pinker argues that Enlightenment values lead to flourishing. I imagine that you would agree with that. This centers on values, however, and how can anyone be the judge of cultural values, much less force our own onto others?praxis

    You provide the answer yourself. Just like Stephen Pinker, one can be the judge of cultural values based on how well they serve human flourishing. I would argue that the American value of so-called "rugged individualism", a value that leads some to think it is virtuous for the poor to struggle and their own damn fault if they fail, is one of the values that has led to opposition to universal health care.

    I remember the libertarian Rand Paul being asked by Wolf Blitzer what should happen to someone who can't afford medical insurance, should we just let them die? Rand's supporters in the audience shouted out "Yeah!" https://lat.ms/34WapDX

    Will anyone argue that values like that serve human flourishing?
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    Hasnt science already settled the matter for human flourishing, in terms of eugenics and population control?Pussycat

    No, Eugenics assumes we know which human qualities best serve human flourishing, and it turns out, who could have guessed, the people who want to make these sorts of decisions tend to conclude their own qualities, even their own race, are the best. But for sure there is a lot of promise in gene therapies.

    There's a lot of disagreement about population control, I tend to think we need to leave these decisions to the individual, and as it turns out countries with an adequate social safety net, so people don't have to rely on the support of children in their old age, show a falling birth rate.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    I will argue that some of our moral instincts are the result of evolutionary adaptation, such as the mothering instinct, and I will argue that the grounding of all morality - the motivation to go forth in the world and flourish - is the result of evolutionary adaptation, is instinctual, and is embedded in the code of life.Thomas Quine

    I think you’re conflating evolutionary biology with ethical philosophy. Your ‘flourishing’ is only ‘surviving with style’, to paraphrase Buzz Lightyear. The human situation is also a predicament, in that humans alone can fully realise the fact of their own mortality and the transient nature of all existence. A philosophy that doesn’t at least try and reckon with this, is not truly a humane philosophy.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    Only humans can weigh things up, make choices, act better or worse.
    — Wayfarer

    Have you never owned a dog?
    6 days ago
    Thomas Quine

    Indeed, two, one of whom died about 6 weeks ago. And, no, dogs cannot speak or reason or weigh up courses of action, except in the most rudimentary way. They can fret about being neglected or hungry or in pain, but they can’t fret about whether they really are ‘a good boy’ or what that actually means.
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    I think you’re conflating evolutionary biology with ethical philosophy.Wayfarer

    You are right, I am trying to marry ethical theory to biology. My critique of traditional ethical theory is that it has little or no objective grounding. For the most part it is "I think we should do things THIS way," accompanied by some made-up story like God wants us to do it this way. Or more commonly people will say there is no objective foundation to morality, we need to make it up as we go along.

    Well yes, we create rules and norms, but we do so on a solid biological footing. I think pragmatically human beings are active agents and create rules and norms in the service of objectives. The objective of moral rules and norms are, it seems to me, to create conditions that are conducive to the instinctual biological imperative to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, in short to flourish.

    I'm not trying to propose a set of new norms, as I stated in the original post. I am talking meta-ethics. I am proposing that the universal root of all moral systems adopted by any community larger than the fingers on one hand is an attempt, not always a successful attempt, but an attempt to answer the question, "What best serves human flourishing?"

    Now let me call down the wrath of the trolls upon me and say that it seems to me, as an empirical observation and not as an ideal, that the purpose of life, all life top to bottom, is to flourish.
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    dogs cannot speak or reason or weigh up courses of action, except in the most rudimentary way. They can fret about being neglected or hungry or in pain, but they can’t fret about whether they really are ‘a good boy’ or what that actually means.Wayfarer


    Sorry about your dog!

    I have said, and this as far as I know has not been remarked upon by anyone else, that the main difference between humans and animals is that humans store their memories outside of their bodies.

    Animals run mainly on instinct. Of course they have memories of a greater or lesser capacity depending on the species. But mainly they rely on instinct. Therefore all their memories and all their learning is inside their bodies.

    We know about short-term memory, long-term memory, but I see instinct as reeeaaallly long-term memory, species memory, memory of countless previous generations. Instinct is the species-learning of the organism.

    What does instinct do for an animal? Provide a ready-made set of heuristics for how to solve the problem, "How best can I flourish?"

    Instinct is a set of Swiss Army knife modules designed by evolution to equip the animal with the tools it will need to flourish in life, based on the experience of countless generations before it.

    The instincts tell the animal what is the right way to behave if it wants to flourish, and what is the wrong way. Therefore I argue that every species has its own innate morality. The lion knows instinctively what is right for the lion, the wolf, average lifespan a mere four years, knows instinctively what is right for the wolf and for the wolf pack, and what is wrong for it.

    The dog, after millennia of breeding, knows instinctively to please its human master, because to do so is vital to its flourishing. Therefore the dog knows very well what an "attaboy" from its master means, and it quickly picks up how to behave in the "pack" in which it lives.

    https://youtu.be/uuumHb8yUvk

    Human beings of course store memories not even in our brains, but on the Internet, in photos and videos and books, in text and image, and therefore human beings can do much more on the basis of the experience of all of humanity than they could hold in their own limited capacity brains. Language itself is human knowledge and memory that is stored outside the brain and can be accessed by any speaker of that language.

    We therefore have a much greater capacity and resources to draw upon when trying to answer the question, "What best serves our own flourishing and the flourishing of our species?"

    But the grounding is the same.
  • Wayfarer
    9.9k
    My critique of traditional ethical theory is that it has little or no objective grounding. For the most part it is "I think we should do things THIS way," accompanied by some made-up story like God wants us to do it this way. OThomas Quine

    But, in so doing, you're actually relegating what has always been understood under the heading 'philosophy'. Yours is a great, if unwitting, example of 'biological reductionism', which is precisely the attempt to explain everything about the human condition in biological or evolutionary terms.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not a ID proponent. I know that Biblical myth is exactly, that - myth. But under the umbrella of Christian doctrine was included almost everything of worth from pre-modern culture, including a great many ideas that are fundamental to any kind of real culture and philosophy (like, dealing with loss and death and not flourishing). In the emergence of modernity, much of that was rejected in the emergence of so-called Enlightenment values. But implicity, all that remains is a form of utilitarianism or pragmatism - whatever works, the greatest good for the greatest number, and so on.

    I have been perusing a very interesting recent book on ethical philosophy, The Quest for a Moral Compass by Kenan Malik, which 'explores the history of moral thought as it has developed over three millennia, from Homer’s Greece to Mao’s China, from ancient India to modern America. It tells the stories of the great philosophers, and breathes life into their ideas, while also challenging many of our most cherished moral beliefs.' I haven't read it yet, but from the reviews I've read, it makes a point of considering the role of the transcendent in belief systems - for instance I note there's a chapter on Nirvāṇa. Is that a 'made up story' also? I notice the ease with which most people on this board will simply relegate most of the religious history of ethics to that category, but I wonder how much about they actually know about it.

    You mention Steve Pinker. I actually rather like Steve Pinker, his book The Blank Slate was the last meaningful Christmas gift I ever received from my dear departed mother. And I generally agree with that book. I like that Pinker presents the case for Enlightenment ideals and scientific progress. But I question that Pinker is philosphically literate. In her critique of one of Pinker's scientistic manifestos, Gloria Origgi notes that

    Philosophers and humanists are interested in what has been called, in 20th-century continental philosophy, the human condition, that is, a sense of uneasiness that human beings may feel about their own existence and the reality that confronts them (as in the case of modernity with all its changes in the proximate environment of humans and corresponding changes in their modes of existence). Scientists are more interested in human nature. If they discover that human nature doesn’t exist and human beings are, like cells, merely parts of a bigger aggregate, to whose survival they contribute, and all they feel and think is just a matter of illusion (a sort of Matrix scenario), then, as far as science is concerned, that’s it, and science should go on investigating humans by considering this new fact about their nature. I think that Pinker makes a “slip of the tongue” in his article when he writes: “This is an extraordinary time for the understanding of the human condition”. He clearly means human nature and he moves back and forth between these two expressions in his article when they should be kept distinct.

    _____

    Sorry about your dog!Thomas Quine

    Thank you.

    We therefore have a much greater capacity and resources to draw upon when trying to answer the question, "What best serves our own flourishing and the flourishing of our species?"

    But the grounding is the same.
    Thomas Quine

    That's where we differ. Furthermore, I see this as one of the malign influences of evolutionary biology on modern culture - this flattening of the distinction between humans and animals. Humans are blessed, and cursed, with reason, language, technology, the ability to shape the planet, or even destroy it. In evolutionary history, h. sapiens crossed a threshhold when these abilities burst forth, and became something more than, and other than, just another species. That is something which various 'myths of the fall' re-tell in mythical form, and by disregarding them in favour of a purely external account, the underlying tension or predicament of 'the human condition' is also forgotten, or more likely just suppressed, to emerge again in various malignant forms (like many other eruptions from suppressed unconscious traumas).

    So I'm sorry, I find your presentation thus far amounts to a kind of paean to material well being. And hey, material well-being sure beats poverty, no contest there. But isn't it simply the ideal of progress? Whilst I think there are much larger and more desperate issues at stake - like how the new generations emerging at the peak of the greatest population explosion in the world's history, are going to be able to deal with climate change and resource exhaustion, without falling into global conflict, for instance.
  • Pussycat
    358
    No, Eugenics assumes we know which human qualities best serve human flourishing, and it turns out, who could have guessed, the people who want to make these sorts of decisions tend to conclude their own qualities, even their own race, are the best. But for sure there is a lot of promise in gene therapies.Thomas Quine

    What you describe here might well be "eugenics gone wrong". But since you rely on science for flourishing and consequently morality, you must rely on some form of "flourishing eugenics", giving the best chances to the individual for individual flourishing, eg. being born the smartest, healthiest that can be, as one cannot imagine anyone dumb and weak to accomplish anything at all in life.

    There's a lot of disagreement about population control, I tend to think we need to leave these decisions to the individual, and as it turns out countries with an adequate social safety net, so people don't have to rely on the support of children in their old age, show a falling birth rate.Thomas Quine

    Reading this, the movie "Idiocracy" comes to mind.



    In all, I think that your concept of "flourishing" bears a resemblance to Nietzsche's "life affirmation", although I doubt that N. thought of it as being equivalent to anything moral.
  • Philosophim
    107
    I'm sorry if I'm interrupting the current conversation here, but I think the concept of "assists human flourishing" is too self-centered on humanity. What about what "helps dolphins flourish"? Especially if both humans and dolphins can flourish together.

    But beyond this, such morality seems like subjective validation of humanity existing. We want to exist and do well, and we like that. But "good" or "moral" seem to imply something more than an assertion of a desire, but should try to explain why we should act in that way despite our personal desires.

    Morality in essence is asking, "What makes one action or existence special over another action or existence?" I think that question goes beyond humanity. If humanity vanished, the universe would still exist. Would we say that morality disappears with them? It would be irrelevant at that point if a plague then wiped out all other living plants and animals on Earth? I think our intuition would say that such an event would be tragic and wrong.

    After the plants and animals were gone, what if next the Earth would disappear? Then the galaxy? Then the universe itself? What if an event would happen that would cause all of existence to vanish? Would we find that a tragedy as well? We as humans sometimes forget that we are an organization of atoms combined into a particular expression within the totality of existence. "To flourish", means "we should exist". But I don't think stating, "We should exist, and do everything in our power to continue to exist", really answers the question of why humans should exist as an expression in the sea of existence.

    I'm a fan of a foundational approach. I believe our morality, or what we should do, is based off of the blocks that make us. Back when the big bang occurred, existence was expressed in many ways. If we are to assume there is no higher guiding force in the universe, then there was no reason matter should, or should not have formed. We can theorize that some matter formed that faded out over time. After all, the inception of the universe should be a completely lawless event. Matter and antimatter clashed, and about an estimated 1% was not annihilated in this crash. That matter and energy which continued to exist billions of years later has not expressed itself as us, and everything around us.

    The existence within us is the stuff that won't quit being. And slowly over the eons it has formed itself into a unique expression called "Earth", where it has then over time formed itself into greater and greater complexities of interactions called, "Life". This expression of existence is not merely a reaction that burns out, but reactions that actively act to sustain themselves, and have gained sentience over what they are.

    This is the existence expression of Earth. I think morality is the continuation of existence, for the alternative, is the void. Further, existence on Earth seems to want to express itself in more complex reactions. Yet it does not express itself in just ONE life, but many lives and the complications of ecosystems. Finally we have one portion of existence that has gained self sentience, humanity. Humanity believes it should continue to exist, because the matter building us continues to express its existence instead of going quietly into the night. But this is also the other plants, animals, and non-life around us too. I think morality is how we as humanity, continue to express our existence in a way with other existences, that elevates the complexity and results to something greater than just ourselves.

    Just like the pattern of existence has done, so we should continue to do.
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    If humanity vanished, the universe would still exist. Would we say that morality disappears with them?Philosophim

    I think you are right to see a pattern, to see human morality as just one expression of a deeper logic at work in the universe. This is a departure from our current topic, and I might start a new thread at some point.

    I'm still trying to figure out how the second law of thermodynamics sustains the motion of the universe, and how the laws of physics create an algorithm that requires all things to either persist or perish. But I think this is the motor driving the imperative for all living things to flourish, which I see as the motivation of all morality.
  • tim wood
    5k
    I think you are right to see a pattern, to see human morality as just one expression of a deeper logic at work in the universe.Thomas Quine

    Only the "pattern" of conceivable (by human mind) possibility and consequence reified. Not in itself worth a whole lot.
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    Only the "pattern" of conceivable (by human mind) possibility and consequence reified. Not in itself worth a whole lot.tim wood

    Well, most scientist agree that life exists somewhere else in the universe, because given an apparently unlimited number of planets, the conditions that brought forth life here might well have brought life elsewhere.

    Again, given the vast number of possibilities provided by an infinite universe, it is not unreasonable to speculate that a species of intelligent social creatures may have arisen on some distant planet.Such a species might be similar to our own, or it might be very different, but let's imagine a species that is intelligent and social.

    Now if this species were both intelligent and social, it's not unreasonable to think that they might have worked out a matrix of social rules to enable them to get along together and to flourish. I can't imagine creatures with a level of sociability and intelligence comparable to ours without such rules to smooth social discourse. Let's call this set of social rules and norms "a moral system".

    Well if there are moral systems out there in species unlike our own, this means that morality is species-specific, this means that morality has a natural grounding, this means that humanity did not invent morality out of the air, and this means morality arises out of the logic of the universe.

    In which case Philosophim has a point.
  • tim wood
    5k
    this means that humanity did not invent morality out of the air, and this means morality arises out of the logic of the universe.Thomas Quine

    Or evolves from experience. By all means be poetic, if you like, but that's not substance - and to be sure, substance has a poetry its own.
  • Philosophim
    107
    Thomas Quine, thank you are gracious to both consider, and defend my line of questioning as a possibility. You have the mind of a true philosopher! Tim wood, I did not intend the idea to be a fully fleshed out theory, just a different line of questioning to consider.

    Thank you for your time Quine, I did not mean to detract from the current conversation.
  • Pussycat
    358
    Moreover, if all morality is grounded on human flourishing, and someone does not contribute to this 'flourishing', then this means and implies that they are morally indifferent, or even immoral. This can't be right, can it?
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    I would say if someone does something that hinders or sets human flourishing back, something that is detrimental to human flourishing, that would be immoral, yes.

    If someone intentionally released this coronavirus into the population, yes, that would be immoral.

    If someone launches a suicide attack on innocent civilians, or someone is a serial child molester, or steals from charity, etc., these sorts of things harm humanity and are immoral.

    If someone's actions are completely neutral, if they are not harming anyone else without just cause, then obviously they are not doing anything immoral. It is I think just to do a certain amount of harm to those who are committing immoral acts, there is self-defense, there is jail, there is such a thing as a just war in the service of human flourishing, but if someone does not want to contribute to human flourishing, or to their own flourishing, then they can be left to their own devices. If they intend to do harm to themselves I think we are justified in trying to intervene.
  • Janus
    9.2k
    Or evolves from experience. By all means be poetic, if you like, but that's not substance - and to be sure, substance has a poetry its own.tim wood

    So, substance has a poetry but poetry has no substance? What is or has substance for you?
  • tim wood
    5k
    and this means morality arises out of the logic of the universe.Thomas Quine
    So, substance has a poetry but poetry has no substance? What is or has substance for you?Janus

    "Logic of the universe" I credit with being poetic, because otherwise I find no relevant sense in it. By substance in this context I mean that which if not univocal, is at least reasonably clearly meaningful. I am assuming here that "logic of the universe" is not the same thing as that messily evolving work-in-progress called morality.

    By poetic in this context I mean an accident of quality of description, not that which is itself poetry.
  • Janus
    9.2k
    OK, I missed that you were responding to "logic of the universe". To be charitable I would interpret the latter to mean something like the 'logic of sociality' where social animals as well as humans are included and the logic consists in responsiveness of each to each in the group context.
    The the "messily evolving work-in-progress called morality" could be seen to be a linguistically mediated evolution or elaboration of that basic pre-linguistic social logic.
  • tim wood
    5k
    I believe you are charitable. And indeed you must be if you think of the universe as a sociable kind of place, Eddington's description of its strangeness in mind. .
  • Thomas Quine
    63
    I am assuming here that "logic of the universe" is not the same thing as that messily evolving work-in-progress called morality.tim wood

    Tim, if I understand you correctly you believe that the evolving work-in-progress called morality is somehow not a product of the logic of the universe.

    Of course morality evolves, as far as I can tell pretty much everything evolves, evolution is part of the logic of the universe, visibly at work wherever we care to look.

    So can you explain why you think the evolution of morality is following a different logic?
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment