• Kenosha Kid
    900
    When we look at examples of evil, we always see a privation of some perfection -- of good health, of justice, of compassion, of rights, etc. So, while you may use words as you wish, I prefer to analyze examples to understand what terms mean.Dfpolis

    A "privation of some perfection" is, again, poetry. If, for instance, you were to take pleasure in the pain of someone you did not cause, no one and no thing is literally being deprived. One might say that an ideal is being lessened, but this has no meaning outside of a poetic sense. And while I like poetry, it is metaphor. Having established the metaphor as metaphor, one cannot also treat it as literal.

    Cancer in and of itself is a mindless and inevitable consequence of terrestrial biology. It was not created with purpose, does not proceed with purpose, and knows nothing of harm. It is only with respect to someone it impacts that it takes on the quality of evil and only in a poetic sense. It is our arrogance and bias that says we do not deserve it, should not have it, are being deprived. 'It is unfair because it effects *me*.'

    As I say, I don't object to the poetry, but it mustn't be then treated as a literal example of evil. If one wishes to speak of harm or privation in a literal sense, whether by evil or by accident, those words are already accurate. I find it intensely egomaniacal to believe that anything that harms one is evil, like a teenager throwing a tantrum because they do not get what they want, when they want, and hang the consequences. (You might infer correctly that I am blessed with two such teenagers :D )
  • Dfpolis
    1k
    A "privation of some perfection" is, again, poetry. If, for instance, you were to take pleasure in the pain of someone you did not cause, no one and no thing is literally being deprived.Kenosha Kid

    No, it is neither "poetry" nor a metaphor. It is a literal claim. If you took pleasure in harm to others, you would lack the disposition to empathize proper to a social animal, which humans are. So, you would be a defective human being.

    Cancer in and of itself is a mindless and inevitable consequence of terrestrial biology. It was not created with purpose, does not proceed with purpose, and knows nothing of harm. It is only with respect to someone it impacts that it takes on the quality of evil and only in a poetic sense.Kenosha Kid

    No thing is evil in abstraction, for existence is a perfection, and so intrinsically good; however, cancer does not exist in abstraction, but only in organisms. In an organism it interferes with physiological processes, depriving the organism of its health. This privation is not poetic, but literal.

    It is our arrogance and bias that says we do not deserve it, should not have it, are being deprived. 'It is unfair because it effects *me*.'Kenosha Kid

    I am not saying cancer is a physical evil because people don't like it or have an adverse psychological reaction to it, but because it deprives their bodies of their proper function.

    I find it intensely egomaniacal to believe that anything that harms one is evil, like a teenager throwing a tantrum because they do not get what they want, when they want, and hang the consequences.Kenosha Kid

    If I confined the application of the term "evil" to things that harmed only myself, I might be ego-driven. Clearly, I am not doing that. I'm saying that any privation, anything not properly formed, any lack of proper perfection, is an instance of evil -- not necessarily moral evil, but ontological evil.
  • Kenosha Kid
    900
    If you took pleasure in harm to others, you would lack the disposition to empathize proper to a social animal, which humans are. So, you would be a defective human being.Dfpolis

    That is perfectly reasonable as a description of cause. I behave this because I lack, e.g. empathy. The act itself is not its own cause.

    because it deprives their bodies of their proper function.Dfpolis

    Again, this is not a description of the thing, but of the impact of the thing on the sufferer. Also, were we to die of nothing else, we would die of cancer due to the small carcinogenic properties of the very oxygen essential to our life. Death is not evil unless life is; it is built into life. Cancer is a fact. Death is a fact. Describing such things as evils is precisely the adolescent temper tantrum I mentioned, nothing more than an inability to accept facts that don't happen to suit us. There is little that is more subjective.
  • Dfpolis
    1k
    The act itself is not its own cause.Kenosha Kid

    I never implied that it was.

    Again, this is not a description of the thing, but of the impact of the thing on the sufferer.Kenosha Kid

    So? The evil is still a privation -- the lack of a perfection in a human being.

    were we to die of nothing else, we would die of cancer due to the small carcinogenic properties of the very oxygen essential to our life.Kenosha Kid

    I did not say that it was evil because it might kill us, but because it interferes with our physiology.

    Describing such things as evils is precisely the adolescent temper tantrum I mentioned,Kenosha Kid

    I am not having an emotional outburst, but presenting a reasoned analysis. So, please refrain from demeaning mischaracterizations.

    nothing more than an inability to accept facts that don't happen to suit us.Kenosha Kid

    This is also incorrect. I, and most other people, accept the fact that bad things happen. I do not wish to continue if you are going to engage in further ad hominem attacks.
  • MMusings
    13
    Let me join forces here (though I speak for no one else). I ignore any ad hominems (are they just instances of adolescent "pitching a fit" against their opponents view, where people accepting the opposing view should be "just a fact" to be accepted, as a "part of debate" ?).

    A squirrel can be healthy or unhealthy, defective, diseased, injured, or properly functioning. A squirrel should have 4 legs. This does not mean that the average squirrel has 4 legs, or that most squirrels have 4 legs. It is not reducible to these statistical notions. A squirrel-chopping fiend might remove a leg from all the squirrels, and still it would be true, objectively true (if that's different) that a squirrel should have 4 legs, and that the chopped squirrels are defective, should not be like they are. A squirrel might even gain a survival advantage if it had 3 legs (perhaps a squirrel-killing predator comes along that prefers 4 leggers). If this is to deny the fact/value distinction, then so be it. There are other excellent reasons to reject it. Perhaps, for instance, you think that people not only do sometimes apportion their belief to the evidence, but that they *should* do so, that they positively *must*, are *obligated* to do so. Like W.K. Clifford, you may accept "It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything on insufficient evidence." (despite the absurdity of the regress). Was he just pitching an adolescent fit against those who do ? Is what he said not supposed to be true, objectively true ? Are we to believe that there are objectively true (I'd just prefer "true") *epistemic* value propositions, but certainly not objectively true *moral* value propositions, for the former do not derive an "ought" from an "is" (really ?) though the latter clearly do ? "We should believe some things and not others", certainly, not just a matter of preference ! "We should do some things and not others", absurd, just a matter of preference ! Perhaps you want to say that if we don't believe some things we will reduce our chances for survival. Very well. So also with performing actions. But "adaptive" and "true" are quite different properties. No doubt, there are false beliefs that are highly adaptive and true ones that are not. If theism turns out (it *is* an empirical question) to have an adaptive advantage (as even some of the Four Horsemen of Atheism agree), would you count theism as true ? Do non-athletic physicists have an adaptive advantage over non-physicist athletes ? We can go here, to fact/value if you like. Next up would be some interesting inferences.

    So, as a first approximation: the good of a thing is to perform its species-defining functions. An action is right insofar as it non-defectively promotes its species-defining functions. Part of the rationale for thinking so is that these core views best explain our considered views about many things, including morality. Of course the very notion of a "best explanation" is a normative one. Perhaps there is "a better one" ?
  • MMusings
    13
    Some background preemptive moves do not take us out of topic: Should we say "Disagreement" certainly conflicts with Knowledge or Rationality or Objectivity or Truth ? So the Disagreements over some *moral* evaluations (despite widespread Agreements) count against their Objectivity, while Disagreements over some *epistemic* evaluations do not ? Surely we all agree that instances of universal generalizations confirm, and so make it more reasonable to believe, their generalizations (Nicod's Condition), and that if something confirms a proposition then it confirms any proposition logically equivalent to it (Logical Equivalence of Confirmed Propositions, as opposed to Logical Equivalence of Confirming Propositions). And surely we all agree with Classical Foundationalism, that the only beliefs that are properly basic are evident to the senses, incorrigible, or self-evident, and that any belief that is not properly basic can only be rational if it is ultimately supported or justified by beliefs that are properly basic. Surely we all believe that Induction is justified by a track record of success (that is, by an Induction), and that theories are not underdetermined by evidence. And surely we all agree about observations at least, "what we experience, what is evident to the senses", say, in seeing a space with 3 electrons (any honorary partless things, call them a, b and c) that we see, and there are, 7 objects (a, b, c, ab, ac, bc, and abc, using an obvious naming convention). But no, we don't. And we should be very careful about just what Disagreements, of what sorts, in some area of inquiry, are supposed to show. And we should not forget that "rationality" is an normative notion. We should certainly not suppose that just any Disagreements have skeptical consequences, or presume too quickly what those consequences are ("It's hard to keep a good local skepticism down"). Perhaps we want to say:
    1) Prolonged, intractable disagreements, among experts, over the truth of a proposition p, within their area of expertise, entail that (or, very different, are evidence for believing that) the proposition p is not known. Or not knowable. Or not rationally believed. Or lacks some other "epistemic value".
    But we do not agree about that at all. Many, perhaps most, philosophers demur (Who are the experts in the case of moral judgments ? Can't a maverick be right once in a while ? If I disappear in the wilderness, being a great woodsman, and the expert woodsmen come to disagree, for a long time, over whether I still exist, do I cease to know that I exist ? If all the doctors & surgeons say I will feel no pain on receiving the anesthetic, am I wrong in screaming at the cut ? If most people agree to racism is it OK ?) and in any case, philosophy is not a matter of how many people are on a band-wagon, is it ?
  • SophistiCat
    1.4k
    This all just comes down to whatever we believe ought to be the case ought to be the case - a truism. The halfhearted proper-functionalism with which you attempt to justify this position doesn't actually do any work, because as you yourself admit, what constitutes proper function is itself a normative stance, so this is just like trying to pull yourself out of the swamp by pulling on your own hair.
  • Kenosha Kid
    900
    This is also incorrect. I, and most other people, accept the fact that bad things happen. I do not wish to continue if you are going to engage in further ad hominem attacks.Dfpolis

    I wasn't describing your discourse but the general railing against death of mankind.

    I never implied that it was.Dfpolis

    Actually you did, but if you agree that a cause of a thing is not the thing itself, then you agree yours was an irrelevant point since the claim is that a thing like cancer is objectively evil in itself.

    So? The evil is still a privation -- the lack of a perfection in a human being.Dfpolis

    But again this is meaningless poetics. It isn't based on fact. If we are designed to rely on carcinogenic substances to live, thus assuring eventual deterioration of health, then there is no meaningful perfection of human life that is deprived by this deterioration. That's not evil, it's just irrational, immature, arrogant, egotistical railing against our own nature's. Again, not crediting you with this feature: it seems to be a constant.
  • Dfpolis
    1k
    if you agree that a cause of a thing is not the thing itself, then you agree yours was an irrelevant point since the claim is that a thing like cancer is objectively evil in itself.Kenosha Kid

    This makes no sense. Cancer is a physical evil because it, itself, is a privation of health.

    If we are designed to rely on carcinogenic substances to live, thus assuring eventual deterioration of health, then there is no meaningful perfection of human life that is deprived by this deterioration.Kenosha Kid

    First, we're not designed to live on carcinogens. If we were, they wouldn't harm us. Second, the very fact that you call it a "deterioration," means that it is a lesser state. i.e. one in which some perfection is no longer present.

    That's not evil,Kenosha Kid

    It is not a moral, but a physical evil.

    it's just irrational, immature, arrogant, egotistical railing against our own nature's.Kenosha Kid

    It is neither immature nor ranting to call things by their proper names. You are confusing accurate reporting with an emotional reaction.
  • Dfpolis
    1k
    I substantially agree with what you said, because I think that humans can grasp teleology, and so what "should" be. We may have some differences as to detail, perhaps on foundationalism, and perhaps not.
  • Dfpolis
    1k
    The halfhearted proper-functionalism with which you attempt to justify this position doesn't actually do any work, because as you yourself admit, what constitutes proper function is itself a normative stance, so this is just like trying to pull yourself out of the swamp by pulling on your own hair.SophistiCat

    Not quite. We can understand, scientifically, the purposes of many things, aka teleology. We know that if you have a defective heart, your blood will not circulation will be in adequate. It is on this basis, that we decide on norms for heart function. There is no circularity here, just openness to reality
  • Kenosha Kid
    900
    Cancer is a physical evil because it, itself, is a privation of health.Dfpolis

    This makes no sense. Something cannot have a property in and of itself if that property depends on other properties of other things. If the ball is objectively red, it is so independent of the state of any observer. To say it is red because people with red-green colour blindness see it as such is not a statement of its objective properties.

    First, we're not designed to live on carcinogens. If we were, they wouldn't harm us.Dfpolis

    We are designed to breathe molecular oxygen which is a mild carcinogen.

    Second, the very fact that you call it a "deterioration," means that it is a lesser state. i.e. one in which some perfection is no longer present.Dfpolis

    That can't seriously be your argument. So if I say "There is no God," do you then think there must be a God in order for him to not exist? Fun! I was describing the absence of a deterioration, not a presence.

    It is neither immature nor ranting to call things by their proper names.Dfpolis

    Correct. But not pertinent here.
  • MMusings
    13
    We can begin to fill out the picture by asking which principles or rules are the ones "written in our natures", or determined by the kinds of things we are, or rules toward which human beings naturally incline because of what they are. One likely candidate is the Golden Rule. This, if anything, has a claim to being an "ethical universal", that transcends individuals, customs, and cultures. It appears practically everywhere. People didn't "get together to decide upon it", and where it was "transmitted", why did so many accept it ? It has been found since early recorded history, appearing "independently" (without cultural mingling between cultures accounting for its pervasiveness), and stated in nearly the same words. Every ethical system has to state what rules it enjoins, justify the ones it can, elaborate, explain, and defend them. In Natural Law Theory, we may say that these rules are derived presuppositions of practical reasoning. We are creatures that can reason, and reasoning about what to do has structure and "presuppositions". Even children and mentally challenged adults have a sense of "fairness", use questions like "what if someone did that to you ?" etc. So such rules seem not to be matters of local taste, preference, desire, attitude, reinforcements etc.

    Variations on The Golden Rule have appeared throughout the world for thousands of years. Some form of that rule is found in most secular moralities and in most of the major religions of the world (including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, and Buddhism). It is also discussed by the major ethical philosophers (including Aristotle, Augustine, Butler, Clarke, Epictetus, Hobbes, Locke, Maimonides, Mill, Reid, Seneca, and Spinoza)

    Some of these variations include:

    Mahabharata (5:1517, from the Vedic tradition of India, circa 3000 BC): "This is the sum of duty. Do not unto others that which would cause you pain if done to you."

    Talmud, Shabbat 31a (from the Judaic tradition, circa 1300 BC): “"What is hateful to you, do not to our fellow man. That is entire Law, all the rest is commentary."

    Agamas, Sutrakrtanga 1.10, 1-3 (from the Jain tradition, circa 500 BC): “One should treat all beings as he himself would be treated."

    Tripitaka, Udanga-varga 5,18 (from the Buddhist tradition, circa 525 BC): “Hurt not others in ways that you find hurtful."

    Zoroaster (630-550 BC): “That nature alone is good that refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself.”

    Buddha (563-483 BC): “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful”.

    Confucius (551-479 BC): “ Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you”.

    Rabbi Hillel (70 BC – 10 AD): “ Do not to others that which you would not have others do to you.”

    Jesus Christ (6 BC – 29 AD): “ Do to others whatever you would have them do to you” (Mathew 7:12)

    A follower of The Golden Rule may wish to respond to the following questions (a question is not a defeat or course, these are answered by Harry J. Gensler in his "Formal Ethics") :

    1) A masochist would have people cause him pain. Following the Golden Rule, would he have to conclude that he should cause other people pain ?

    2) Suppose someone would like to be bribed (to make some extra money). By the Golden Rule, would he then have to bribe others ?

    3) If I like to be served red wine with fish, should I therefore serve red wine with fish to my guests (some of whom do not like red wine) ?

    4) If I were a judge and guilty of a crime I might like to be excused from any punishment. Should I therefore excuse any criminal, eliminating all forms of punishment ?

    5) If I want Ann and Becky to do what I say, then I should do what they say. But Ann tells me to do something, and Becky tells me not to do that same thing. How can I obey the rule ?

    6) If I would like to be kissed on the cheek by a passing stranger, should I therefore kiss the passing stranger on the cheek ?

    Notice that we cannot qualify the rule by saying “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you, as long as it is right”, because the rule is supposed to tell us what is right to begin with. If we already have to know what is right in order to apply it, then the rule cannot serve that purpose. The rule would reduce to the unhelpful exhortation: “Do what is right”. See Gensler op.cit . for an excellent discussion.

    So we have a claim about goodness, right actions, a start on why some principles might be considered "natural laws", and a plausible sample to get started with...
  • Kenosha Kid
    900
    A masochist would have people cause him pain. Following the Golden Rule, would he have to conclude that he should cause other people pain ?MMusings

    The earlier formulations are prohibitive, not compulsions. Yes, Jesus would have a masochist hurt others, but you could not reach that conclusion from the others except Jainism.

    I didn't appreciate til now what a mental midget Jesus was. Everyone managed to get it right for centuries and he still fluffed it.
  • MMusings
    13
    This forum would be much improved (and much smaller) if Moderators filtered out ad hominem attacks, and the sort of "name-calling" one doesn't expect among parties sincerely engaged in trying to find the truth...From the Site Guidelines "A respectful and moderate tone is desirable".
  • Dfpolis
    1k
    Cancer is a physical evil because it, itself, is a privation of health. — Dfpolis

    This makes no sense. Something cannot have a property in and of itself if that property depends on other properties of other things. If the ball is objectively red, it is so independent of the state of any observer. To say it is red because people with red-green colour blindness see it as such is not a statement of its objective properties.
    Kenosha Kid

    Good and evil are relational. It is the relation between what is and what is adequate that makes things good or bad. There is nothing bad about cancer cells growing in a petri dish, only cancer cells interfering with health are a physical evil.

    We are designed to breathe molecular oxygen which is a mild carcinogen.Kenosha Kid

    I am surprised to find that you think we are designed at all.

    We are not designed to live forever, we are designed to be born, flourish for a while, and die. In the course of dying, our health will decline, and that is a physical, but not a moral, evil. So, what point are you making?

    Second, the very fact that you call it a "deterioration," means that it is a lesser state. i.e. one in which some perfection is no longer present. — Dfpolis

    That can't seriously be your argument. So if I say "There is no God," do you then think there must be a God in order for him to not exist?
    Kenosha Kid

    I can make no sense of your objection. If God did not exist, we would not say His existence "deteriorated." To deteriorate is to become worse. In other words, something was better and has now lost its previous perfection.
  • Kenosha Kid
    900
    Good and evil are relational. It is the relation between what is and what is adequate that makes things good or bad. There is nothing bad about cancer cells growing in a petri dish, only cancer cells interfering with health are a physical evil.Dfpolis

    Exactly. Ergo there is nothing objectively evil about cancer, only subjectively evil about my cancer or the cancer of a loved one, or my general reduced life expectancy because of the existence of cancer (immature railing against death).

    I am surprised to find that you think we are designed at all.Dfpolis

    In the blind watchmaker sense :)

    In the course of dying, our health will decline, and that is a physical, but not a moral, evil. So, what point are you making?Dfpolis

    That there is nothing 'evil' about it. It's merely a fact of life, without which we'd have nothing to complain about... Or with!

    To deteriorate is to become worse. In other words, something was better and has now lost its previous perfection.Dfpolis

    I was saying that nothing deteriorated.
  • SophistiCat
    1.4k
    That's a lot of words for a basic appeal to popularity.

    This forum would be much improved (and much smaller) if Moderators filtered out ad hominem attacks, and the sort of "name-calling" one doesn't expect among parties sincerely engaged in trying to find the truth...From the Site Guidelines "A respectful and moderate tone is desirable".MMusings

    Was that in reaction to anything specific? If you want to complain about the running of the forum and moderation, there is a Feedback forum, or you can flag specific posts for moderators' attention.
  • Dfpolis
    1k
    Exactly. Ergo there is nothing objectively evil about cancer, only subjectively evil about my cancer or the cancer of a loved one, or my general reduced life expectancy because of the existence of cancer (immature railing against death).Kenosha Kid

    No.
    I am surprised to find that you think we are designed at all. — Dfpolis

    In the blind watchmaker sense :)
    Kenosha Kid

    The fact that it is relational does not make it subjectively dependent. Whether or not you like it, cancer cells in people deprive them of good health.

    There is absolutely no basis in reality for Dawkin's view -- a discussion for another time,

    That there is nothing 'evil' about it. It's merely a fact of life, without which we'd have nothing to complain about... Or with!Kenosha Kid

    Evil is not about complaining, it is about objective inadequacy. As we grow old, our bodies become increasingly inadequate to support a healthy life. That is an objective fact, whether or not one is reconciled to it.

    I was saying that nothing deterioratedKenosha Kid

    But you did. Don't pull a Trump and deny what is on the record.
  • SophistiCat
    1.4k
    Not quite. We can understand, scientifically, the purposes of many things, aka teleology. We know that if you have a defective heart, your blood will not circulation will be in adequate. It is on this basis, that we decide on norms for heart function. There is no circularity here, just openness to realityDfpolis

    One can make an argument by way of analogy for a kind of teleology inherent in homeostasis and biological adaptation, but this "teleology" does not possess any normativity on its own, without us attributing it to these features of the natural world.
  • Kenosha Kid
    900
    The fact that it is relational does not make it subjectively dependent.Dfpolis

    True, but in this case it is. The fact that it frame-dependent does mean that it is not objective.

    There is absolutely no basis in reality for Dawkin's viewDfpolis

    What, evolution?

    Evil is not about complaining, it is about objective inadequacyDfpolis

    This is a straw man and I think you know that.

    As we grow old, our bodies become increasingly inadequate to support a healthy life. That is an objective fact, whether or not one is reconciled to it.Dfpolis

    No disagreement. We grow old, we die. No 'evil' involved.

    But you did. Don't pull a Trump and deny what is on the record.Dfpolis

    Yeah, I confused myself. Nothing is deprived. Point being, there is no perfect human state of health that we can be deprived of by cancer. Perfection is good for poetry and theology, it has no place in reason. We're rotting from the second we slop out.
  • MMusings
    13
    (Notes from a book in progress, tentatively entitled "Ought and Is")
    There are very wide-ranging issues behind the cluster of problems going by names like "the fact/value distinction", "deriving an ought from an is", "the naturalistic fallacy", and "ought implies can". It is important to dig beneath the slogans and develop a synoptic view of the matter. The present book developed in the course of a project to state and defend a "Natural Law" ethical theory. I consider it a prolegomenon to Natural Law Theory.

    What is the fact/value distinction ? What are "facts" ? And what are "values" ? What are the derivation problems ?

    It's not enough to quote a passage from Hume, like "For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, 'tis necessary that it should be observed and explained; and at the same time that a reason should be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it.". That's not very clear, and not really getting at the core of the problem. p "is entirely different from" q doesn't come near to stating what logical relations (if any) hold between p and q, or whether they have truth values. What is it for "a relation" to be "a deduction from others" (other relations) ? Asking how a thing is done is not of course stating that it can't be done. Is it a *fact* that "tis necessary that it should be observed and explained", and that "a reason should be given" ? Both contain this odd little word "should" (a significant point to be developed as we go). Or are those "evaluative statements" *, by which some people mean that they really have no truth values ? Are they "grammatically complex expressions of feelings or attitudes", with possibly more linguistic structure than "Wow !" or "What a sunset !", but like the latter, have no truth values (any more than a chair or a warm vibe have truth values, as opposed to propositions about those things which do have truth values) ? Does "tis necessary" express a property ? On common accounts of properties, a property is something that can be said of something. One can surely say of a person that he is good. So "is good" expresses a property. What property might that be ? Can a warm emotional glow express a property ? Is a warm emotional glow what "is good" (and many like it) expresses ? Is Hume just exuding a warm glow toward "a reason being given" ? To paraphrase a far better author "What is that glow that we should be mindful of it ?" Can something be both factual and evaluative ?

    It is important to see that the very question whether something is "an evaluative statement" or "a factual statement" cannot be answered by some grammatical or lexicographic test, like finding the word "should" or "ought" in a sentence. Surely any list of "evaluative statements" must have entries containing words like: should, ought, must, may, permissible, obligatory, forbidden, considerate, defect(ive), perfect(ive), injured, healthy, diseased, malfunctioning, kind, exciting, conspiracy, too early, weed, rational, courageous, queer (as in Mackie's claim that moral values are "queer", from which "evaluative statement" he infers they do not exist, a "factual statement"...how some things can be queer and not exist, or would be queer if they did exist, are unexplained, along with how "queer" escapes the indictment against "moral values". "x is queer therefore x does not exist" is not an impressive inference, see Russell Farr, "How Queer ?"), prejudiced, racist, arbitrary, slob, ...but enough. No "word test" will do it.
    >>>
    What's at stake ? An enormous amount. On some accounts, "The Derivation Denial" and "The No Truth Value Claim" (both to be elaborated), mean that most meta-ethical theories are false, stopped at the gates. Theories that entail there are T/F ethical propositions include Cultural Relativism, Subjectivism, Social Contract Theory, Utilitarianism (act and rule), Kantianism, Natural Law Theory, Divine Command Theory, Intuitionism, and Cornell Realism. All attempts, including some very interesting current ones, at Ethical Naturalism fail that involve "reductions" (Sturgeon, Brink, Railton, Jackson, Petit), discoveries that ethical statements are T/F after all, reducible to "naturalistic" facts about people, institutions, goals, purposes, biological traits etc.. John Searle's "How to Derive an Ought from an Is" should at least get a hearing. If Theories of Truth (correspondence, coherence, pragmatic) enjoin or allow truth values for moral statements their scope and application comes into question. Deontic Logic comes into question (where in the simplest of them, Op entails <> p, so ~<>p entails ~Op, and ~Op = P~p, which is as crisp a derivation of an ought from an is as one could wish for) . Some think that "Something is good" (which only looks like (Ex) Gx) is not T/F, it entails and is entailed by nothing (it's not even equivalent to ~(x)~ Gx ). I recommend Hilary Putnam's "Reason, Truth and History" to anyone wanting to dig into the problems. He argued powerfully against a "fact/value" distinction throughout his career, showing that truth, reference, epistemic values, reasons, rationality, categories, choice of "conceptual schemes" all stand or fall together. He argues that all facts are "value laden". If adopting a fact/value distinction has the consequences he details at such length, we should run from it. It is certainly worth looking before we leap. Is saying we should or shouldn't on the order of exuding a warm glow or a cold shudder ? The present book owes a great deal to Putnam's work, though there will be agreements and disagreements.
    * I will use the catch-all "statement" at times, though the distinction between sentences, statements and propositions will be observed in due course. Roughly, we use sentences, to make statements, that express propositions.
  • MMusings
    13
    (book notes cont'd)
    Now on some views, there are normative propositions: they actually do have truth values. There are "normative facts", But there is a hard line between normative propositions and factual propositions. Although, some say, there are inter-domain deductions (between normative propositions, or between factual propositions), there can be no deductions across the domains, or none in certain directions. One such position is:
    1) No normative proposition can be validly deduced from a factual proposition.
    Another is:
    2) No factual proposition can be validly deduced from a normative proposition.
    And of course one might conjoin (1) and (2) setting up a mighty wall against deductions in either direction. Other inference types may be implicated in the prohibitions:
    3) No normative proposition can be inductively inferred from factual propositions.
    4) No factual proposition can be inductively inferred from normative propositions.
    5) No inference to the best explanation (note: "best" and "explanation" are both normative) is possible from factual propositions.
    If there are true and false propositions on both sides of the wall, there are necessary and contingent propositions on both sides of the wall, including tautologies and contradictions. Since a necessary truth follows from anything, and a contradiction entails anything, inferences are hopping the wall in droves.

    What to do with a conditional that has an antecedent in one domain, and a consequent in the other ? With Classical FOL only caring whether a proposition is true or false, taking no notice of its country of origin, what's a logical border control officer to do ? We seem to have "bridge principles" to contend with. What to do with cross-domain conjunctions, disjunctions, and other mixed marriages ?
  • Kenosha Kid
    900
    No factual proposition can be validly deduced from a normative proposition.MMusings

    On the contrary, you cannot have a normative proposition with a positive truth value without a fact being implied.

    One ought to help old folk cross roads implies that old folk exist, roads exist, old folk sometimes wish to cross roads, and, with or without assistance, old folk can cross roads, all of which are factual propositions.
  • MMusings
    13
    Now some might want to allow the reverse:
    1) Ought
    2) Therefore Is

    For example that you ought to be kind to animals perhaps entails that there are animals (does it ?) Any inference from p to q can be packaged into a conditional p -> q, so the new idea sanctions "Ought -> Is" conditionals as well. Our Oughts and Is's may be distinct, there may be "Mixed" cases, but here the inference "Ought -> Is" is sanctioned, it's OK. This is OK under our assumption:
    1) There are no Martians.
    2) Therefore it is not the case that you ought to be kind to Martians.
    This, under these assumptions, as it stands, is an Is -> Ought entailment.
    It won't do to claim that the negation of an Ought is not an Ought, because there are others waiting:
    1) If it is not the case that you ought to be kind to Martians, then 1 = 0. (Is -> Is, an "Is conditional")
    2) It is not the case that 1 = 0.
    3) Therefore you ought to be kind to Martians (by modus tollens and double negation elimination).
    Again, the point is not that the deduction has profound premises or conclusion, it's that it's an Ought from an Is (one of many to follow), under the given assumptions.
  • MMusings
    13
    (another note, a draft, not finished)
    If "Compassion is good" is equivalent to "Compassion is approved of by the community or culture", then we can easily “derive an ought from an is”. Where is the problem ? If “Compassion is good” is an expression of approval, then we cannot “derive an ought from an is”, simply because one cannot “derive” anything other than a proposition from a proposition, and “an expression of approval” is not a proposition. We can no more derive an ought from an is than we can derive a pork chop from an is. But who ever thought we could ? A proposition about God's will, or human nature, or someone's approval/disapproval, or the greatest happiness of the greatest number, or what the people of a culture accept, or a social contract, is something we can “derive something from”. Oughts are not derivable from is's only if they aren't propositions of any sort to begin with, The only way to avoid “ought from is” is to maintain one of the few meta-ethical theories that affirm and defend that "the oughts' are not propositions at all. And that is no small task.
  • MMusings
    13
    (and another, draft)
    Hume also states that these “deductions” are commonplace:

    “An action, or sentiment, or character is virtuous or vicious; why? because its view causes a pleasure or uneasiness of a particular kind."

    This is certainly a prime example of deriving “an ought from an is” :
    a) The view of x (an action, sentiment or character) causes pleasure or uneasiness of a particular kind.
    b) Therefore x is virtuous or vicious.

    This is not Emotivism, or any form of Expressivism. It's a kind of Subjectivism. It posits moral facts, true propositions, about “pleasure or uneasiness”. So of course Hume accepts that one can “derive an ought from an is”. The “oughts” already are “is's”.

    Yet Hume also says:

    “The approbation or blame which then ensues, cannot be the work of the judgement, but of the heart; and is not a speculative proposition or affirmation, but an active feeling or sentiment.”

    And this sounds like Expressivism, not Subjectivism. I will leave the interpretation of Hume for another time.
  • SophistiCat
    1.4k
    You seem to be using the forum as a personal blog or scratchpad. There are better platforms for this. The point of posting on a forum is conversation. I don't know what your purpose here is, but seeing that you apparently aren't interested in engagement, I am no longer reading your posts. No offense, but if I just wanted to read something, there are thousands of things I would rather read than your musings (indeed, I am reading some interesting papers right now.)
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