• RogueAI
    191
    As a cosmic-mind idealist, I tend to agree.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    557


    The answer is still the same, their judgements is wrong from my point of view. I have my moral views as I've been raised in a particular moral tradition. But it's not not like there's a overarching universal standard to which I can measure whether their judgement is wrong outside of my point of view, other than maybe pointing out inconsistencies in their view. The question doesn't make sense in a constructivist view, as you are probably well aware.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    The question is whether you take your point of view, or their point to view, or any particular point of view, to be the end of moral inquiry — i.e. because someone thinks so, such-and-such is moral, to them, but to someone else who thinks differently, the same thing might not be moral — or if it’s possible that one or more of you is wrong in some sense stronger than just that someone else disagrees.

    Basically, might you be wrong right now, even though of course you currently think you are right, or is thinking that you are right all that there can possibly be to being right, such that if you later change your mind, what is right then has just changed, but what you’d thought was right before WAS right before (because you thought so), rather than you having been wrong before and now being, at least, less wrong?
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    This "objective is what many subjects will agree about"boethius

    That is not objective in the relevant sense. If it matters who or how many people think something, then it’s not objective.
  • Congau
    224

    Let’s construct a relativist argument even an objectivist would seem to agree with: “Joe thinks it is right for him to study philosophy, therefore it is right for Joe to study philosophy.” (How a person treats himself is also a moral issue.) This could be based on the assumption that anyone should pursue whatever calling seems right to them, and that does appear to be a common relativist standpoint that even objectivists could subscribe to. But let’s suppose Joe can’t even read. A relativist would still have to recommend him as a philosophy student, while the rest of us realize that that wouldn’t be such a good idea. What seems right to the person isn’t really right. Let’s now suppose Joe is highly qualified for pursuing philosophy. In that case we would be more likely to recommend it for him, but just like in the first instance, the reason for our recommendation is not only his personal idea of what is right. We do look at objective factors and if we let Joe’s own idea weigh heavily, it is because in this case it is indeed an indication that it is objectively right, but we are aware that it is only an indication and it may be wrong.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    Quickly looked up some etymology of "objective" on Wiktionary and Etymology Online. The former has a second sense of "Not influenced by the emotions or prejudices" (antonym "subjective"), from French "objectif", which also has a second sense of "objective; impartial" (antonym "subjectif"). The latter says "1610s, originally in the philosophical sense of "considered in relation to its object" (opposite of subjective) ... Meaning "impersonal, unbiased" is first found 1855, influenced by German objektiv" (NB that 1855 is 50 years before Rand was even born). Looked up that German "objektiv" on Wiktionary (because EtymOnline doesn't have it) and it just says "objective (not influenced by emotions)", but lists a bunch of synonyms like "neutral", "unbeeinflusst" (uninfluenced), and "unparteiisch" (impartial, unbiased).

    So, this sense of objectivity meaning just impartiality, neutrality, unbiased-ness, and opposition to "subjectivity", comes from way before Rand.
  • Luke
    985
    And (in agreement with you), as @boethius himself already quoted:

    Moral realism (in the robust sense; cf. moral universalism for the minimalist sense) holds that such propositions are about robust or mind-independent facts, that is, not facts about any person or group's subjective opinion, but about objective features of the world.Meta-ethics
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    It's not surprising that that's in agreement with me, since I wrote that. (Most of the current state of that article is my doing from like a decade ago).
  • Luke
    985
    Fair enough. I was only trying to make clear that I wasn't disagreeing with you.
  • TheMadFool
    6.6k
    I don't know how this bears on the issue you raise here but there's a very basic problem with morality seen as a system of oughts and it is such a system, no?

    If so, morality will begin with, first, a dissatisfaction/satisfaction - a particular action that we like/dislike - and then, second, either an encouragement of what we like or a prohibition ofP what we dislike. This, in my humble opinion, clarifies the matter of all morality being a system of oughts.

    It appears that there was/is no rational basis to our likes/dislikes; however, these likes/dislikes seem to lead to an empathy-based morality: I dislike being insulted, ergo, I ought not insult someone else; I like being helped, ergo, I ought to help others; and so on. This is the so-called golden rule - treat others as you would like to be treated.

    The reason why an empathy-based, golden rule type morality has no rationale is because if it so happened that, for no particular reason, I happen to like being insulted or dislike being helped, the moral system I endorse will be reversed, flipped on its end. No one can reason with me and convince me otherwise regarding my moral beliefs.

    What of utilitarianism and deontic ethics? Don't they provide systems of objective morality and provide morality with a rationale, a logic?

    Well, utilitariainism does make an effort, in addition to making happiness morally relevant, to elucidate those things that should make us happy; nonetheless, these are, on analysis, just another one of the countless possible combinations of what are eventually our likes/dislikes

    Deontic ethics too is ultimately about our likes/dislikes which have been formulated into principles that shouldn't be violated at all costs.
  • SophistiCat
    1.3k
    Broad agreement with those things.fdrake

    I think you are conflating facts about moral evaluations, moral conduct, and all that which influences them - with moral facts:

    [1] It is a fact that moral conduct depends on social facts.
    [2] It is a fact that such and such conduct is right.

    Of these only [2] would be a moral fact (if it were fact).

    Psychopaths can be quite competent with factual knowledge about moral agency, but that doesn't make them competent moral agents themselves. As with other empirical knowledge, knowing facts about the way people make moral evaluations can help you anticipate moral attitudes and predict moral conduct in other people and even in yourself, but that knowledge cannot tell you what you ought to do - not without some bridge principles or intuitions.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    557
    The question is whether you take your point of view, or their point to view, or any particular point of view, to be the end of moral inquiry — i.e. because someone thinks so, such-and-such is moral, to them, but to someone else who thinks differently, the same thing might not be moral — or if it’s possible that one or more of you is wrong in some sense stronger than just that someone else disagrees.Pfhorrest

    No I don't take anyone's personal point of view, or even a cultures morals as the end of the story. Arguments can be made, for instance by appealing to our biology, to try to change the moral rules, but this more a question of convincing other people, of rethorics, rather than strictly proving something is right or wrong.

    The 'moral force' of morals comes from agreement in a certain group, not directly out of rational arguments. To take a contemporary example to illustrate this maybe, mouth masks. A couple of months back the idea in my country seemed to be that the covid-virus was not necessarily airborne, but spread mostly by touching surfaces or sneezing, and so the emphasis was on keeping distance and washing hands etc... not so much on wearing masks. The moral consensus seemed to be at that time that it was ok not to wear a mask. Now experts do seem to think that the virus does spread via the air in closed environments more so that via touching surfaces etc... and so the moral consensus is shifting towards obligatory wearing of masks in public places. But the fact that we have gained more scientific insight that sheds a new light on a moral rule we previously had, doesn't retroactively render not wearing a mask back then immoral. It was the moral consensus we had at that time, which was based on the incomplete knowledge we had then.
  • fdrake
    4k
    As with other empirical knowledge, knowing facts about the way people make moral evaluations can help you anticipate moral attitudes and predict moral conduct in other people and even in yourself, but that knowledge cannot tell you what you ought to do - not without some bridge principles or intuitions.SophistiCat

    And you find it unpersuasive that the event corresponding to "my partner and I agree I should try to be more courteous towards her after a shit day at work" entails that I ought to try and satisfy the agreement? I think the bridge from what we do to what we ought to try is already operative within what we do as implicature. What would (A) "my partner and I agree I should try and be more courteous towards her after a shit day at work" mean if it did not entail (as implicature) that (B) I ought to try and be more courteous towards her after a shit day at work? I suggest that the use of (A) requires moral commitments like (B), on pain of (A) not meaning the same thing as it does. What more is required?
  • Isaac
    2.8k
    the event corresponding to "my partner and I agree I should try to be more courteous towards her after a shit day at work" entails that I ought to try and satisfy the agreement?fdrake

    How does "my partner and I agree I should try to be more courteous towards her after a shit day at work" differ from "my partner and I agree I ought to try to be more courteous towards her after a shit day at work", and thus render the entailment a tautology?
  • fdrake
    4k
    How does "my partner and I agree I should try to be more courteous towards her after a shit day at work" differ from "my partner and I agree I ought to try to be more courteous towards her after a shit day at work", and thus render the entailment a tautology?Isaac

    A reached agreement should be followed? Otherwise it's not an agreement.
  • Isaac
    2.8k
    A reached agreement should be followed? Otherwise it's not an agreement.fdrake

    What I'm trying to get at is whether a reached agreement is anything more than just a state of two parties having the same idea about what course of action will be tried next. If so, then I'm not quite seeing any way in which it avoids subjectivism. The mere fact that you both agree about your intentions doesn't make those intentions objective, they just happen to coincide at that time. I may be missing the point, but it seems you might want to make the 'ought' objective by saying it's a property of the agreement (which is a state of the world). But it seems to me that that agreement is about the state of each other's minds (where the 'ought' resides), and so is only a temporary symmetry in an otherwise fluid landscape of mental states.
  • fdrake
    4k
    What I'm trying to get at is whether a reached agreement is anything more than just a state if two parties having the same idea about what course of action will be tried next.Isaac

    I don't think that a course of action is specified in the agreement above. In my experience, whenever I should improve my conduct or avoid doing something based off of an agreement, the details of what to do are always left up to me. The agreement doesn't commit me to a specific course of action, just that I try something relevant and be more mindful.

    he mere fact that you both agree about your intentions doesn't make those intentions objective, the just happen to coincide at that time. I may be missing the point, but it seems you might want to makevthe 'ought' objective by saying it's a property of the agreement (which is a state of the world)Isaac

    If you want to think of it as a property of the agreement, I think my point in that framing translates to it's a property of the agreement without which the agreement could not be understood. An agreement necessitates that it be followed. If the moral imperative to try and satisfy it wasn't a property of the agreement, it would not have been an agreement.

    But it seems to me that that agreement is about the state of each other's minds (where the 'ought' resides), and so is only a temporary symmetry in an otherwise fluid landscape of mental states.Isaac

    The agreement isn't about her mind or my mind, it concerns how I treat her. Whether what I do succeeds or fails to satisfy the agreement (and brings about an improved relation between us) does not succeed or fail based upon my intentions or thoughts, it succeeds or fails based upon my change of conduct. The mind states don't suffice. Consider:

    Partner: "You said you'd not take a bad day at work out on me any more."
    Me: "Oh, I thought I was succeeding at that"
    Partner: "You weren't."
    Me: "No, you misunderstand, because I thought I was, I was."
    Partner: "..."
    Me: "If I think I'm not mistreating you, then I'm not mistreating you"
    Partner: "You were very prickly just now."
    Me: "So if you think I'm taking my day out on you, I am taking my day out on you. But if I think I'm not taking my day out on you, I still am taking my day out on you?"
    Partner: "..."

    The fluidity of that landscape requires that it is under-determined by the mental states of both me and my partner; it really depends upon a lot of contextual factors. We'd have to assess the situation, I'd have to trust that I was prickly, and maybe there's some factor that explains my partner's sensitivity on that day.

    I think the broader point I'm making is that moral imperatives aren't mysterious things carved in stone tablets, nor are they properties of an indifferent nature, they're part of our social fabric. If we're willing to deflate morals into social facts, then we should treat them like social facts.
  • Isaac
    2.8k
    I don't think that a course of action is specified in the agreement above. In my experience, whenever I should improve my conduct or avoid doing something based off of an agreement, the details of what to do are always left up to me. The agreement doesn't commit me to a specific course of action, just that I try something relevant and be more mindful.fdrake

    I've probably confused things a bit by talking about intentions. I'm trying to avoid the word 'ought' because it seems to beg the question.

    Is not "trying something relevant" a course of action? I don't think the lack of specificity detreacts from the point that the 'ought' (ought to try something relevant) is already present in the two agreeing minds rather than being something which emerges from agreement over some other matter. The matter over which there is agreement is that you ought to try something relevant. Keeping the 'ought' firmly in individual minds.

    I think the broader point I'm making is that moral imperatives aren't mysterious things carved in stone tablets, nor are they properties of an indifferent nature, they're part of our social fabric. If we're willing to deflate morals into social facts, then we should treat them like social facts.fdrake

    I can definately go along with this, but only with the huge caveat that social facts also massively underdetermine. There is a huge quantity of moral dilemmas the resolution of which do not have existing social facts regarding them. My concern with moral realism is a political one really, a leveraging of the authority 'facts' carries to enforce socially novel, ideological moves.
  • fdrake
    4k
    I've probably confused things a bit by talking about intentions. I'm trying to avoid the word 'ought' because it seems to beg the question.Isaac

    I think it's pretty close to question begging too. Moral imperatives show up as part of social contexts. Maybe one way of phrasing it is that function of social contexts comes along with a moral component - of commitments, responsibilities, duties, pledges, plans and attempts to change toward better functioning. If we look in an entirely external realm to social contexts for a validation procedure for our moral conduct, we're no longer attending to the nature of moral conduct.

    Maybe inverting Heidegger is useful here (from SEP Heidegger article):

    The second distinction between different kinds of inquiry, drawn within the category of the ontological, is between regional ontology and fundamental ontology, where the former is concerned with the ontologies of particular domains, say biology or banking, and the latter is concerned with the a priori, transcendental conditions that make possible particular modes of Being (i.e., particular regional ontologies).

    Looking to an entirely external realm from social conduct for a validation procedure for our actions actually does violence to the very intelligibility of moral conduct, since it is social! In other words, moral conduct is part of the regional ontology of social life. Thus we should not go looking for moral values beyond this (rather vast) territory. Or expect that looking "beneath the hood" of the regional ontology of moral values into nature will sanctify any prescriptions based on accounts that come from looking beneath the hood.

    I still think there is an intersection between our "indifferent nature" and moral conduct. If we didn't need food, we wouldn't have social means of resource access+distribution that are more or less adequate for our food/health needs, and we would not evaluate that adequacy based on morally inspired criteria. Negotiating those criteria is a moral+political problem.

    I can definately go along with this, but only with the huge caveat that social facts also massively underdetermine. There is a huge quantity of moral dilemmas the resolution of which do not have existing social facts regarding them. My concern with moral realism is a political one really, a leveraging of the authority 'facts' carries to enforce socially novel, ideological moves.Isaac

    I think that underdetermination is radically anti-authoritarian, no? A social fact might engender that a person or institution acts in some way, but by itself it does not make that act satisfy any criteria other than those included within the behavioural commitments of the person or institution involved in the act. IE: "I did what I had to do because I thought it was right" always comes along with the possibility of critique. The question of identity between the social fact and the standard of moral evaluation that says the behavioural commitments that come with that social fact are always right will always be open since the sheer contextuality blocks the equivalence between what I did and what was "objectively" right; there will always be contextual defeaters that block the equation of what I did and The Good.

    Which is why I was focusing on doing better; it's much easier to establish flaws and improvements to attempt than whether what one did was The Best Possible Thing in context. It will always be true that I can do better regardless of the context. Moral realism through trying to be less wrong.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.8k
    Which is why I was focusing on doing better; it's much easier to establish flaws and improvements to attempt than whether what one did was The Best Possible Thing in context. It will always be true that I can do better regardless of the context. Moral realism through trying to be less wrong.fdrake

    :up: :clap:
  • Mww
    1.7k
    The agreement isn't about her mind or my mind, it concerns how I treat her.fdrake


    “...The vice** entirely escapes you as long as you consider the object. You never can find it till you turn your reflection into your own breast, and find a sentiment of disapprobation which arises in you towards this action. It lies in yourself, not the object. So that when you pronounce any action or character to be vicious**, you mean nothing but that from the constitution of your nature you have a feeling or sentiment of blame from the contemplation of it....”
    (THN, 3.1.1., 1739)
    ** or, its complement, virtue, implied.

    “....Nor could anything be more fatal to morality than that we should wish to derive it from examples. For every example of it that is set before me must be first itself tested by principles of morality, whether it is worthy to serve as an original example, i.e., as a pattern; but by no means can it authoritatively furnish the conception of morality....”
    (F.P.M.M., 1785)

    “...Do. Or do not. There is no try...”
    (Yoda, 1980)

    The object of the ought to try, is the trying; the proper object of the ought to agree, is the agreeing.

    Trying does not necessarily include a volition of will, but only suggests trial and error in the thinking of it, which is hardly the means to a determination in which mutually congruent self-interest as ends, is given, for it necessarily excludes the best interests of the subject to whom the ought ultimately relates. Unless the trying succeeds at first instance, which equates to already knowing, which isn’t trying at all.

    The proper object of the agreeing, the agreement, is a set of mutually congruent willful volitions, in the form of judgements, but as yet, still does not suffice as evidentiary reconciliation of mutually exclusive self-interests, insofar as the agreement remains to become conscious acts.

    The agreement does concern “how I treat her”, iff the volition from which the ought to agree arises, translates to its corresponding act, but is nevertheless strictly given from the practical reason of both subjects, which implies “is not about about her mind or my mind” contradicts the reality of its establishment.

    All of which raises the question........why does there need to be an agreement? That an agreement is necessary to satisfy particular ends says nothing about how the disparity in ends came about in the first place. Which is why examples serve no purpose in moral discourse, other than to illuminate moral effects (1785), but without any examination of moral causality (1739).

    So either the example never was a moral dilemma, which seems odd because it has as its bottom the question of worthiness of personal happiness (I do this because I’m the warrant for her unhappiness”), intimating a permanent solution, or, hypotheticals are themselves sufficient for pragmatic reconciliations, which is itself odd because these reduce to nothing but the pathetic contingency of sheer inclination out of desire (if I do this I get the bitch off my back”), intimating nothing whatsoever about what happens tomorrow.

    Editorializing.......for what it’s worth.
  • Mww
    1.7k
    If we look in an entirely external realm to social contexts for a validation procedure for our moral conduct, we're no longer attending to the nature of moral conduct.fdrake

    If I’d seen that first..........(sigh)
  • creativesoul
    8.4k
    There is an argument that goes; (1) moral evaluations depend upon minds and mind derived structures, therefore (2) there are no objective imperatives. I agree with the premise and the conclusion (with some qualifications), but think the implication from (1)=>(2) is false.fdrake

    Needs unpacked.

    Rests upon drawing and maintaining a meaningful distinction between what counts as a "mind derived structure" and what does not. That path is long, winding, and unnecessary.

    Drop "mind derived structure" in favor of focusing upon just what it means to be dependent upon a mind. I would even take it one step further and clarify... existential dependency. All mind derived structures are themselves existentially dependent upon a mind. However, the converse is not the case. Not all minds are themselves existentially dependent upon mind derived structures. So, the former exhausts the latter.

    Then there's the bit about being objective...

    Nothing objective can be dependent upon a mind in any way, shape, or form. All things ever thought, believed, spoken, written, uttered, and/or otherwise expressed are existentially dependent upon a mind. Therefore, nothing ever thought, believed, spoken, written, uttered, and/or otherwise expressed has been(or can be rightfully/coherently called) objective.

    So, regarding the 'argument'...

    All moral evaluations are existentially dependent upon a plurality of minds. Not all moral imperatives are existentially dependent upon moral evaluations. All moral imperatives are existentially dependent upon a plurality of minds. Nothing objective is itself existentially dependent upon minds. All moral imperatives are. Therefore, there are no objective moral imperatives

    I agree with the statement called the 'premise' and the statement called the 'conclusion'. However, there is no immediate and obvious implication between the two. The second does not follow from the first.
  • SophistiCat
    1.3k
    Arguments can be made, for instance by appealing to our biology, to try to change the moral rulesChatteringMonkey

    Hm? I wonder how such an argument would go?
  • ChatteringMonkey
    557
    Hm? I wonder how such an argument would go?SophistiCat

    I meant our biology in the widest sense, including what general kind of psychology that comes with that.

    For instance the whole covid-crisis is an interesting case for moral philosophy I think, because you can see how morals are created and evolve... almost in real time. One of the discussions concerning the crisis was around the whole distancing and lock-down measures that should or should not be taken. A lot of arguments in that discussion come directly from the effects the virus has on our biology. How lethal is the virus for us, how easy and in what way does it spread etc etc... But then we also know that social isolation is generally harmfull for us. All of those biological and psychological facts played a part in determining how we should adjust our behaviour to best deal with the pandemic... but they also don't fully determine what kind of norms that should be adopted as is evident by the different reactions in different countries.

    But so a simplified version of such an argument would be:

    - we know the virus has certain adverse and lethal effects on us
    - we generally agree that those effects are bad and should be prevented as much as possible
    => Therefor we should have a moral norm that people should stay indoors as much as possible and otherwise keep their distance if they can't.
  • Bert Newton
    27
    I believe I am both. I made a post about it.
  • Isaac
    2.8k
    function of social contexts comes along with a moral component - of commitments, responsibilities, duties, pledges, plans and attempts to change toward better functioning.fdrake

    Again, I don't see the determinism here that any kind of moral realism or universalism would require.

    To me there's two things going on here. There's the question of what is/isn't morally good. For a large number of questions I think there's a right answer to that question. It's a linguistic question, no different to asking "what is the correct way to use the term 'morally good'". In proper Wittgensteinian sense the answer is not clear cut, it's fuzzy at the edges, but this fuzziness cannot be resolved ever. Likewise with social contexts. When the grocer delivers potatoes, you 'ought' to pay him because that's the meaning of the work 'ought'. It means 'that action which the social context places an imperative on you to do'. So if someone were to say "When the grocer delivers my potatoes I ought to punch him in the face" they'd be wrong. That's not what 'ought' means.

    The rights and wrongs of question 1 can be resolved by studying language use. Similar to this is another type 1 question about determining one's next actions "what should I do next". Here it's obviously not about the meaning of 'should' because language need not be involved. As you know I advocate the active inference model of mental activity, so for me there's only inputs, predictions, and resolutions. The inputs here might also be social information, they might be internally generated. In each case they are an attempt to model the cause of some collection of affective states "why am I feeling this way?". The grocer delivers his potatoes and I feel an urge to pay him (or in some other way resolve this indebtedness). The best model for that is moral obligation, we pay him to test this prediction, he goes away smiling, all is well, we've resolved the uncertainty. Likewise with empathy, a desire to cooperate etc.

    So with you and your partner, you have this conversation, it results in a series of affective states in your physiology, one of which is this desire to act in accordance with the spirit of the agreement made. You model this, resolve it by acting in that spirit and (hopefully) get the expected result.

    But...

    These are all type 1 questions - what to do, what can be said. The second type of question, which often gets conflated with the first, is - why, when we ask, does everyone else come up with a similar/different answer in the same context. We can ask this of models about the physical world, morality, logic, aesthetics...

    With models about the physical world, the best answer is 'there's an external reality'. That's why I think that dropping my keys will cause them to land on the floor, and so does everyone else, because we're all interacting with the same external world which has patterns and rules.

    Asking this question of morality is where questions of moral realism come in. The how of making moral decisions is not via any meta-ethic. We can prove that using fMRI scanning, we definitely do not need to consult areas of our brain responsible for things like meta-modelling to make moral-type decisions. There does seem to be some similarity in some moral decisions, there's also a lot of dissimilarity. So there's an interesting question as to what causes this. My preferred answer is long and complicated because I tend to think morality is a messy combination of numerous, often conflicting, models. The point is, though, that whatever model we come up with to explain the similarities/dissimilarities, it has no normative force for exactly the reason you gave.

    If we look in an entirely external realm to social contexts for a validation procedure for our moral conduct, we're no longer attending to the nature of moral conduct.fdrake

    The objectivism being discussed here is an attempt to take a model of why there are similarities and dissimilarities, and then treat the model as if it were the source of the moral imperatives we're investigating in our second order question. It speculates that the similarities are because there's and objective universal 'ought' among us, the dissimilarities are the result of inadequate thought given to accounting for other people's 'oughts'. It does this with absolutely no evidence whatsoever, but that's another matter. The important thing is that it then treats this model as if it were the source of the moral imperative it was originally collating. That if the model predicts your 'ought' is one of the dissimilarities, the your 'ought' is wrong. We know the dangers of treating outliers as errors just because they don't fit the model.

    So basically, I agree with you completely that "looking to an entirely external realm from social conduct for a validation procedure for our actions actually does violence to the very intelligibility of moral conduct". Meta-ethical models cannot tell us what is right and what is wrong, nor even how to work that out, because meta-ethical models are outside of the social context within which morality makes sense. That's why I'm so opposed to them.

    I think that underdetermination is radically anti-authoritarian, no? A social fact might engender that a person or institution acts in some way, but by itself it does not make that act satisfy any criteria other than those included within the behavioural commitments of the person or institution involved in the act.fdrake

    Exactly. To be anti-authoritarian it needs to remain under-determined. The opposite of the 'we can work out what is morally right/wrong in every case' project. Moral 'oughts', as they actually exist in the wild, are complex, but always take the form of parameters, never pointers. One cannot continue to be 'less wrong'. One eventually reaches a point where one is simply no longer wrong. everything within that category is equally 'not wrong'.
  • SophistiCat
    1.3k
    And you find it unpersuasive that the event corresponding to "my partner and I agree I should try to be more courteous towards her after a shit day at work" entails that I ought to try and satisfy the agreement?fdrake

    Logically entails (or implies), yes.

    I don't think that what you are talking about here is the same as what the OP and the rest are talking about. I like to think of "objective morality," or moral realism, as a kind of correspondence theory. Just as with the non-moral correspondence theory, where the truth of a proposition is judged by its degree of correspondence to a putative true (physical) state of the world, a moral proposition is supposed to be true to the extent of its correspondence with some true normative state - this "objective morality." And this correspondence cannot be trivial; it cannot simply be implied by what the words mean - otherwise, of course, seeking moral truths would have been a trivial matter.

    For your moral attitudes to be really, truly, objectively right it would not be sufficient for you to have them, nor would it be sufficient for them to be consistent with other moral attitudes that you might have, such as acceptance of social commitments. They have to be true to this third thing that is independent of what you or anyone else thinks about it (the reality that doesn't go away when you stop believing it).

    To take a stock example, in a Nazi world where everyone believes that it is right to kill Jews (which beliefs would of course manifest in social facts, i.e. people committing to act together on their beliefs - guard concentration camps, manufacture poison gas...) it would still be objectively wrong to do so.

    It is also worth lingering a minute on the impersonal character of social facts. The existence of Amazon the company existentially depends upon the collective action of humans, but it does not depend existentially upon the individual action of individual humans. It does not disappear if an individual ceases to have it in mind, it does not cease to exist when unwatched. It only ceases to exist if it ceases to function as an institution. That old Philip K. Dick quote about reality applies to institutions as much as it applies to nature; "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.". Emphasis on the "you".fdrake

    There is a difference between accepting the reality of other people's beliefs (and the social facts, such as institutions, that depend on those beliefs) and being a participant in those beliefs. An anarchist is well aware of the existence of the state as an actual institution, even though she doesn't believe in states. A psychopath is usually aware of the existence of moral forces that act on other people, even if he is not subject to them himself. He still has to contend with how those moral forces impinge on his life through the social facts that they create, and the most socially adept psychopaths can live quite comfortably in this world (just look at Trump).
  • SophistiCat
    1.3k
    I meant our biology in the widest sense, including what general kind of psychology that comes with that.ChatteringMonkey

    - we know the virus has certain adverse and lethal effects on us
    - we generally agree that those effects are bad and should be prevented as much as possible
    => Therefor we should have a moral norm that people should stay indoors as much as possible and otherwise keep their distance if they can't.
    ChatteringMonkey

    Then why single out biology? Why not geology, for example?

    - we know that building in a seismically active zone has certain adverse and lethal effects on us
    - we generally agree that those effects are bad and should be prevented as much as possible
    => Therefore we should have a moral norm that people should build earthquake-resistant houses in seismic zones.

    All moral norms are entangled with non-moral facts, otherwise they would have no relevance, like those Jewish laws about sacrifice in the Temple.
  • boethius
    761
    That is not objective in the relevant sense. If it matters who or how many people think something, then it’s not objective.Pfhorrest

    I don't see what you mean by "not objective in the relevant sense".

    The sense in the case I was describing was the contemporary use of "objectivity" as referring to the agreement of different subjects on a topic (whether contemporary subjects, such as witnesses in a case or experts in a field, or some hypothetical indefinite discussion between subjects - that what we mean by scientific truth is what scientists will eventually agree on given enough time). When a judge talks about the "objective facts" he is referring to the agreement of the participants in the trial, and not in a process of full consensus but in a process of further layers of agreement on who is acting in good faith and who may be lying. Likewise, when scientists talk about the "objective facts" about an issue they are referring to what a community of scientists (with some tangential support from exterior credible critical thinkers) agree about, and again excluding bad faith actors (which refers to some similar parallel agreement on who is acting in good faith or bad; that there is no experiment to differentiate between good and bad faith actors, is the crisis of contemporary science).

    The point of bringing up the use of objective in this sense (the sense of objective as it's normally used in society: an assertion of agreement between good faith actors) is that it's clearly dependent on subjects and not independent from subjectivity. If we want to define "objective reality" as independent of subjective experience, we are essentially talking about the noumenon (of which, most philosophers would agree, we know nothing about as it exists independently of our experience, other than, for some, to presuppose that it does indeed exist somehow). If we want to define "objective reality" as simply the agreement of good faith actors - independent of the people that might be lying or delusional about it - then this is begging the question of how do we know who's lying or delusional (the concept still makes sense, and is what I mean when I talk about "objective reality", but it's not a simple concept, but bring with it nearly all the nuances and complexity of both past philosophical debate as well as what we debate now and may imagine debating in the future).

    The point is, none of these definitions of "objective" can be applied to make a definition of "objective morality" that is clear and simple, and redefining a word far from what it normally means is a recipe for confusion.

    The reason "universal morality" does not lead to such confusions is because it's simply stating that there are moral assertions that are true for all subjects; this still leaves open exactly why they are true for all subjects (because these moral assertions exist in some way independently of the subjects whether abstractly or by some common sense-data, or because all moral agents should eventually arrive at the same moral conclusions though entirely dependent on what it means to be a subject, or because God has so decreed all moral agents God has created are bound by the morality God has also created, or by any other argumentative structure that results in "there are moral assertions true for all moral agents").

    "Objective morality" does not have the same on first appearance meaning as "universal morality", and so equating the two, sets up all sorts of bait and switch fallacies that now need to be constantly guarded against (for instance, "objective morality" seems to imply some secular scientific like reasoning process arriving at "facts", so seems to imply divine command or divine creation morality as not "objective", but "universal morality" easily includes divine command or creation morality; so if we need to constantly remind the reader that by "objective" we are not excluding a divine source for morality, then this is confusing at worst and simply clumsy at best).
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.