• baker
    44
    What do you mean by "good"? For this, one has to go to the source, the primordial actuality, the "intuition" of pain or bliss and everything in between, the raw thereness, the value qualia--just take a hammer, bring it down hard on your kneecap and observe. You are not facing a fact, a caring, a negative judgment, an aversion, a denunciation, a condemnation, and so on. What is that there, in your midst, that screaming pain "itself"?Constance
    For one, I wouldn't deliberately hit myself with a hammer, tyvm, not even for a philosophical experiment!
    I will remember some instances of where I injured myself when working in the garden. Such as when I accidentally hit myself with a handsaw on the back of my hand. The blade hit a vein; I've never seen so much blood! It was gushing out, I held the palm of the other hand below the wounded hand so as to not drip blood everywhere, and it was full in a few seconds. (The wound healed quickly, and a year later, there wasn't even a scar anymore.)

    So, graphic details aside, what was there?

    It hurt, but the hurt was overshadowed by the fear that the injury might be serious or that the wound will get infected.
    There was also, "I need to take care of this wound."
    And, "This shouldn't have happened."

    What did you have in mind?
  • Constance
    49
    See I don't know if I agree with this. I spoke about meaning and identity, and added the examples of rape and racism to my previous post, probably after you read it. It seems to me that meaning and identity as part of a larger social context, play a large part in why we consider certain things immoral. And those are I think underdetermined if you would view them only from a present moment. Meaning and identity precisely play out in time, over extended periods. What is the most damaging thing about racism I'd say, is not any direct physical pain or direct material consequences it may have (those are bad too to be clear), but social exclusion and the fact that it prevents people from building up a meaningful life in society.ChatteringMonkey

    If it were a matter of what you call mundane qualia, being appeared to redly, and the like, then I would agree that what presents itself to inquiry is a blank when considered apart from (conceptual) meaning and identity, which is reducible to pragmatics, I would add. But qualia is infamously vacuous. A spear in your kidney is not. What makes a spear in your kidney "bad" at all, in any possible disputed judgment, is not mundane qualia, but value qualia.
    I do share your thoughts about rape and racism. But this argument is really very different as it asks more fundamental questions. I say rape is morally bad, not to put too fine a point on it, but then, why? I say the same about many things, but the matter always turns to some pain or gratification, some discomfort or joy that is THE determining ground at the level of basic questions. No pain or pleasure, suffering or bliss in play: NO ETHICS.
    I am dismissing the particulars of a given case, in the same way Kant dismissed such things, such accidents. Kant was looking into a specific dimension of experience, the rational structure of judgments. Here, I am abstracting from all the is an accident, a mere contingency, vis a vis ethics, like the conditions of a rape AS a rape: not all ethical affairs are rape affairs, nor are they stealing affairs, not this nor that, and on and on. No specific conditions are essential, and are therefore dismissible in determining what the nature of ethics is. it is the essence of ethics I am on about: what has to be the case in order for ethics to be possible. Value is this, or, metavalue. Yes, you can also look to conflicts of value acquisition: no conflict, no competing value-things, no ethics, but note: it is the value that is at the heart of what makes an entanglement what it is: all issues turn on what is at stake, and this is always value.
  • Constance
    49
    So, graphic details aside, what was there?

    It hurt, but the hurt was overshadowed by the fear that the injury might be serious or that the wound will get infected.
    There was also, "I need to take care of this wound."
    And, "This shouldn't have happened."

    What did you have in mind?
    baker

    Alas, the proof in IN the graphic details. You are looking at the post wound, the overshadowed hurt, the taking care of and the regret, and all of this is extraneous to the argument. The argument is far less complex. It has an implicit premise that what it is that grounds ethics is staring one right in the face, kind of the way Heidegger talks about being: the furthest from being understood, yet the closest, most prevalent in everyday affairs. But Heidegger didn't get it. Caring is an essential part of his phenomenological ontology, but caring is ABOUT something that is cared about, that is, the embedded yet most salient feature of caring: the concrete event of having your eyes gouged out by vultures!

    I use extreme examples for they are the most poignant, and this is not unusual in philosophy to illustrate a point. Utilitarians have their utility gluttons as counterexamples, after all. I could talk about how yummy pizza is or how inconvenient having to do homework is, but nothing says a moral issue quite like the extremes.

    Anyway. what I have in mind is an ontology of value, a metavalue. Not at all interested in how things are practically worked out, how they get entangled with the affairs of others, with value hierarchies, and the the rest. These are important, of course, but not the concern here, where all simply want all eyes on the experience give a proper, objective analysis. My claim is that once all "accidental" matters are put aside, the particulars of entangled cases, there is the, as I have said, residual metaethical: the "badness" the pain, or the "goodness" of the pleasure. If Hitler smoked a fine cigar and it just hit the spot right when he issued extermination orders, this latter would in no way whatever metaethically intrude upon the pleasure he experienced, for we are considering only the pleasure as a phenomenon, the pleasure itself as Husserl might have put it (maybe he did. Haven't read all of his works).
  • bert1
    609
    If you don't care because you are, as you say, selfish, you are looking in the wrong place: Your regard for others doesn't matter.Constance

    You mean my regard for others is ethically irrelevant? And which person I am is ethically irrelevant? If we divorce ethics from particular interests and a point of view, doesn't it just become irrelevant to that person? I mean I need a reason to do the right thing that is consistent with what I want. If x y and z are ethically correct, but I don't give a shit about them, I'm not sure where we go from there. Objective ethics are irrelevant ethics. They don't connect to anything.

    EDIT: convergent intersubjective ethics are quite different from objective ethics. They are still wholly relativist.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    782
    If it were a matter of what you call mundane qualia, being appeared to redly, and the like, then I would agree that what presents itself to inquiry is a blank when considered apart from (conceptual) meaning and identity, which is reducible to pragmatics, I would add. But qualia is infamously vacuous. A spear in your kidney is not. What makes a spear in your kidney "bad" at all, in any possible disputed judgment, is not mundane qualia, but value qualia.
    I do share your thoughts about rape and racism. But this argument is really very different as it asks more fundamental questions. I say rape is morally bad, not to put too fine a point on it, but then, why? I say the same about many things, but the matter always turns to some pain or gratification, some discomfort or joy that is THE determining ground at the level of basic questions. No pain or pleasure, suffering or bliss in play: NO ETHICS.
    I am dismissing the particulars of a given case, in the same way Kant dismissed such things, such accidents. Kant was looking into a specific dimension of experience, the rational structure of judgments. Here, I am abstracting from all the is an accident, a mere contingency, vis a vis ethics, like the conditions of a rape AS a rape: not all ethical affairs are rape affairs, nor are they stealing affairs, not this nor that, and on and on. No specific conditions are essential, and are therefore dismissible in determining what the nature of ethics is. it is the essence of ethics I am on about: what has to be the case in order for ethics to be possible. Value is this, or, metavalue. Yes, you can also look to conflicts of value acquisition: no conflict, no competing value-things, no ethics, but note: it is the value that is at the heart of what makes an entanglement what it is: all issues turn on what is at stake, and this is always value.
    Constance

    Can we just assume there has to be an essence? A lot of philosophy historically has been about trying to extract essences out of things, to its detriment I would say.

    I do agree that if there is something at the heart of ethics than it would be value. But I don't think value is something unmediated, directly given like you seem to be pointing to with value-qualia, but rather something constructed socially.

    I'm not sure I have much to add here, it seems i'm going the opposite direction. I think more can be learned if you look at morality from a societal and historical perspective, rather than trying to look for essences or basic principles.
  • Constance
    49
    Can we just assume there has to be an essence? A lot of philosophy historically has been about trying to extract essences out of things, to its detriment I would say.

    I do agree that if there is something at the heart of ethics than it would be value. But I don't think value is something unmediated, directly given like you seem to be pointing to with value-qualia, but rather something constructed socially.

    I'm not sure I have much to add here, it seems i'm going the opposite direction. I think more can be learned if you look at morality from a societal and historical perspective, rather than trying to look for essences or basic principles.
    ChatteringMonkey

    Then the consequence to this needs to be made clear: If value is both given in the world, not some theoretical construct or simply part of the ethical equation which subsumes valuing under a complex contingent consideration, but an actual given simplicter, that is, irreducibly "there"; as well as being the foudation of ethics (and aesthetics, says Wittgenstein) then we must conclude the unpopular view is true: moral realism.
  • Constance
    49
    You mean my regard for others is ethically irrelevant? And which person I am is ethically irrelevant? If we divorce ethics from particular interests and a point of view, doesn't it just become irrelevant to that person? I mean I need a reason to do the right thing that is consistent with what I want. If x y and z are ethically correct, but I don't give a shit about them, I'm not sure where we go from there. Objective ethics are irrelevant ethics. They don't connect to anything.

    EDIT: convergent intersubjective ethics are quite different from objective ethics. They are still wholly relativist.
    bert1

    No, I don't mean your regard for others is ethically irrelevant. I am saying that in the analysis of a given ethical issue, what drives the whole affair prior to any and all possible entanglements, what is essential for the matter to be at all ethical in the first place, is value, and value qua value is not "relative" or contingent or context dependent, but is a stand alone given in the world, in the, to quote Mackie, "fabric of things". This certainly and by no means, means that we can produce ethical principles in our lived affairs that apply absolutely, as Kant tried to do. It does mean that value as such where's its determinations pretty much on its sleeve. If I don't like something, if it causes pain, misery, I know it, and for simple physical matters, well, the judgment is generally very clear: it's hard to be mistaken about splinters and broken bones: they're bad, bad as hell, often. And of course the same goes for good experiences as well.

    What makes ethics contingent is value's embeddedness in the muddy waters of things that are extraneous to value, as with beliefs, competitions for valued things, value hierarchies, ethical institutions, legal complications, political lying, and so on. The point is that beneath all this dynamic play of human affairs there is this stand alone foundation, and tis makes for moral realism.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    782
    Can we just assume there has to be an essence? A lot of philosophy historically has been about trying to extract essences out of things, to its detriment I would say.

    I do agree that if there is something at the heart of ethics than it would be value. But I don't think value is something unmediated, directly given like you seem to be pointing to with value-qualia, but rather something constructed socially.

    I'm not sure I have much to add here, it seems i'm going the opposite direction. I think more can be learned if you look at morality from a societal and historical perspective, rather than trying to look for essences or basic principles.
    — ChatteringMonkey

    Then the consequence to this needs to be made clear: If value is both given in the world, not some theoretical construct or simply part of the ethical equation which subsumes valuing under a complex contingent consideration, but an actual given simplicter, that is, irreducibly "there"; as well as being the foudation of ethics (and aesthetics, says Wittgenstein) then we must conclude the unpopular view is true: moral realism.
    Constance

    At first I was kind of surprised that you would come to conclude that moral realism follows from what I said about values, because I would conclude from values being socially constructing that something like a constructivist metaethics would follow. But yes, from the point of view of an individual in a certain society, morality would look largely the same no matter if constructivism or moral realism were true. Where I think those metaethical theories would make a difference in practice is that in a constructivist metaethics you can have different societies construct different values, whereas in moral realism values would be the same over different societies.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.8k
    in a constructivist metaethics you can have different societies construct different values, whereas in moral realism values would be the same over different societies.ChatteringMonkey

    Beware to differentiate between descrfiptive and metaethical moral relativism here. Moral realists (or more broadly moral universalists, not all of whom are robustly realists) don't deny that different societies come up with different value systems, they just don't say "...therefore no value system is any more correct or incorrect than any other". It's possible for there both to be disagreement, and for the participants in that disagreement to be more or less correct or incorrect than each other because there is such a thing as universally correct despite disagreement about what it is.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    782
    in a constructivist metaethics you can have different societies construct different values, whereas in moral realism values would be the same over different societies.
    — ChatteringMonkey

    Beware to differentiate between descrfiptive and metaethical moral relativism here. Moral realists (or more broadly moral universalists, not all of whom are robustly realists) don't deny that different societies come up with different value systems, they just don't say "...therefore no value system is any more correct or incorrect than any other". It's possible for there both to be disagreement, and for the participants in that disagreement to be more or less correct or incorrect than each other because there is such a thing as universally correct despite disagreement about what it is.
    Pfhorrest

    Yes, agreed, I should have said, "should be the same" instead of "would be the same".
  • baker
    44
    all issues turn on what is at stake, and this is always value.Constance
    Agreed.

    Anyway. what I have in mind is an ontology of value, a metavalue. Not at all interested in how things are practically worked out, how they get entangled with the affairs of others, with value hierarchies, and the the rest. These are important, of course, but not the concern here, where all simply want all eyes on the experience give a proper, objective analysis. My claim is that once all "accidental" matters are put aside, the particulars of entangled cases, there is the, as I have said, residual metaethical: the "badness" the pain, or the "goodness" of the pleasure.Constance
    So, if I'm understanding you correctly --

    I'll illustrate on an example:
    There are three major Viennese schools of psychology, classified by what a person's will is considered to be centered on:
    the Freudian will to pleasure,
    the Adlerian will to power,
    the Franklean will to meaning.
    The idea behind this classification is that a person is driven by will; there is difference as to what exactly that will is about, but the agreement is that the will is the essential driving force of a person and that this is the optimal way to approach psychological issues both theoretically and practically.

    It seems to me that you are after a similar principle of classification as above (not specifically in terms of psychology, the example with the Viennese schools of psychology occured to me because it seems to be structually the same as what you're looking for).
  • baker
    44
    What makes ethics contingent is value's embeddedness in the muddy waters of things that are extraneous to value, as with beliefs, competitions for valued things, value hierarchies, ethical institutions, legal complications, political lying, and so on. The point is that beneath all this dynamic play of human affairs there is this stand alone foundation, and tis makes for moral realism.Constance
    The illustration above aside, what you're saying here seems to be in line with Adler's will to power, related to Nietzsche's Wille zur Macht.

    If we start from the premise that what drives a person is a will to power, then this also lends support to moral realism.
  • Constance
    49
    At first I was kind of surprised that you would come to conclude that moral realism follows from what I said about values, because I would conclude from values being socially constructing that something like a constructivist metaethics would follow. But yes, from the point of view of an individual in a certain society, morality would look largely the same no matter if constructivism or moral realism were true. Where I think those metaethical theories would make a difference in practice is that in a constructivist metaethics you can have different societies construct different values, whereas in moral realism values would be the same over different societChatteringMonkey

    I think it works like this: If you admit that there is within the analysis of the essence of ethics something that is NOT constructed, then one has crossed the boundaries of meaningful discussion and it must be "passed over in silence" just as one must pass any qualia over in silence. Ethics remains an entangled affair, in relations, politics, jurisprudence, and so on. E.g., it is rarely an issue that murder, rape, theft, torture are bad for obvious reasons. The issue rests with how be bad cashes out in complex, irreducible actual cases which deal with responsibility, accountability, constructed collective sentiment, legal precedents, and all of the things that make the world a morally messy place. Free will, for example, is always compromised in descriptions of accountability, yet it is has a essential place at the foundation of legal justification. This does not get resolved if there is something apriori right or wrong at the basic level of analysis.

    R M Hare argued that if there were something in the fabric of things in ethics, it would make no difference. He writes;

    ‘Think of one world into whose fabric values are objectively built; and think of another in which those values have been annihilated. And remember that in both worlds the people in them go on being concerned about the same things – there is no difference in the “subjective” concern which people have for things, only in their “objective” value. Now I ask, “What is the difference between the states of affairs in these two worlds?” Can any answer be given except “None whatever”?’

    I would argue against this: While affirming an absolulte foundation to ethics does not yield an inviolable body of practical rules, it does issue some that apply to all. Mill's harm principle comes to mind. But much more than this is, if ethics is, call it eternally grounded, then what does this say about US? For such a grounding transforms the conception of the self as a valuative creature. Saying value as such is eternal means that WE and our world are so grounded.
  • Constance
    49
    So, if I'm understanding you correctly --

    I'll illustrate on an example:
    There are three major Viennese schools of psychology, classified by what a person's will is considered to be centered on:
    the Freudian will to pleasure,
    the Adlerian will to power,
    the Franklean will to meaning.
    The idea behind this classification is that a person is driven by will; there is difference as to what exactly that will is about, but the agreement is that the will is the essential driving force of a person and that this is the optimal way to approach psychological issues both theoretically and practically.

    It seems to me that you are after a similar principle of classification as above (not specifically in terms of psychology, the example with the Viennese schools of psychology occured to me because it seems to be structually the same as what you're looking for).
    baker

    Not this. It is prior to this. If Freud thinks the pleasure principle rules egoic motivations, I ask, what is pleasure? A reasonable question for philosophy, not for psychology, though. I ask this as a phenomenologist who wants to take the honest confrontation with with the world at its foundation: the first encounter that is presupposed by empirical science. So, before psychology even makes an appearance, we can examine what things are at a more basic level, not unlike what Kant (the father of phenomenology, before Husserl) did with reason.

    What is pleasure, joy, happiness, misery, and so on? This is a metaethical question, which is generally dismissible, for one cannot "speak the world' so to speak. But in the argument I laid out above, I claim pleasure, pain and the rest of our value words designate something metaphysical that has a presence which can be talked about, and this is the injunction, in the case of pain, misery, and all the other "bad" experiences possible, not to do X. Torture possesses absolutely the defeasible directive not to do X: sounds contradictory, but it's not. In and of itself the injunction against doing X stands absolutely, but entangled in accidental affairs. It stands as a prima facie obligation, only.
  • Constance
    49
    The illustration above aside, what you're saying here seems to be in line with Adler's will to power, related to Nietzsche's Wille zur Macht.

    If we start from the premise that what drives a person is a will to power, then this also lends support to moral realism.
    baker

    I always take issue with "will". I simply have never detected such a thing. I will something. What does this come to outside wanting it, and doing what is required to get it, the driveness of the whole affair no more than this? Will seems superfluous, reified out of bad metaphysics: a will? Is this a noun? To will is just to want, desire.

    But here, it is simply descriptive. I ask, what is pain? and you are invited to be the dutiful scientist and observe, then see how it conforms to "normal science" (Kuhn's term) paradigms. It simply does not. Pain, joy, and all that belongs to these are sui generis, all because of that non natural property, the ethical badness and goodness (as opposed to contingent badness and good ness; see above).
  • Pfhorrest
    3.8k
    will something. What does this come to outside wanting it, and doing what is required to get it, the driveness of the whole affair no more than this? Will seems superfluous, reified out of bad metaphysics: a will? Is this a noun? To will is just to want, desire.Constance

    To will is not just to want, but to want to want. Weakness of will is when you want to want X (you will X), but nevertheless you do Y. Strength of will, also freedom of will, is when wanting to want something causes you to actually want (and so try to do) something.
  • Constance
    49
    To will is not just to want, but to want to want. Weakness of will is when you want to want X (you will X), but nevertheless you do Y. Strength of will, also freedom of will, is when wanting to want something causes you to actually want (and so try to do) something.Pfhorrest

    So will is not in play until you want to want. Does it have to be explicit wanting to want, or if I want it and I pursue it I am implicitly willing it? I want a new computer and I go to the store, pick one out and purchase it. No will in this? Not until I put the wanting before me as a want, review its contents, and determine to satisfy it is it a will. this puts will as a reflective positioned perspective as the wanting is no longer simply the spontaneous drive to acquire, but it reviewed at a higher order: I reflect on the wanting. But how does this differ from regular wanting, for all it adds is a second guessing of the wanting, then a reaffirmation that the wanted thing is truly wanted. If I am choosing veggies in the produce department, turn to the broccoli, reach for it, then remember I want squash instead, is this a matter of simple want turning to willing? Or is it a matter of just wanting intelligently?
  • Pfhorrest
    3.8k
    this puts will as a reflective positioned perspective as the wanting is no longer simply the spontaneous drive to acquire, but it reviewed at a higher order: I reflect on the wantingConstance

    Yes, exactly. Much as belief differs from perception in the same way. You see something in the distance on a hot day that looks like a pool of water. But from other knowledge, such as of the local geography and climate and of the refraction of light in air of different temperatures, you do not believe there is a pool of water there, even though you perceive one. You believe there is a mirage, the false appearance of what looks like water, but isn't.

    On my account, willing is thereby also equivalent to what might otherwise be called "moral belief". It's not just having a want, but judging a want as the correct thing to want, the thing you ought to want; just as belief is not just perception but the judgement of perception.

    (Both perception and desire, on my account, factor into judgements of either kind: you must perceive your mental states and desire them either to remain as they are or to change. The difference between a willing, or an intention as I prefer to term it, and a belief, is which kinds of mental states you are judging: the first-order perceptions, or the first-order desires).
  • Isaac
    3.5k
    You see something in the distance on a hot day that looks like a pool of water. But from other knowledge, such as the local geography and climate and of the refraction of light in air of different temperatures, you do not believe there is a pool of water there, even though you perceive one.Pfhorrest

    Actually, when you see something like a pool of water in the distance, what happens is that the little people in your brain ('numbskulls' is the technical term), check the image your eye-cameras project against a database of images accessed by Wi-Fi (which our brain naturally receive). If comes back labelled 'pool' we're good to go, if it comes back labelled 'illusion', it's a non-starter.

    I mean, whilst you're just making shit up you might as well have it interesting.
  • Olivier5
    1.5k
    Try again, that wasn’t interesting at all.
  • Constance
    49
    Yes, exactly. Much as belief differs from perception in the same way. You see something in the distance on a hot day that looks like a pool of water. But from other knowledge, such as of the local geography and climate and of the refraction of light in air of different temperatures, you do not believe there is a pool of water there, even though you perceive one. You believe there is a mirage, the false appearance of what looks like water, but isn't.

    On my account, willing is thereby also equivalent to what might otherwise be called "moral belief". It's not just having a want, but judging a want as the correct thing to want, the thing you ought to want; just as belief is not just perception but the judgement of perception.

    (Both perception and desire, on my account, factor into judgements of either kind: you must perceive your mental states and desire them either to remain as they are or to change. The difference between a willing, or an intention as I prefer to term it, and a belief, is which kinds of mental states you are judging: the first-order perceptions, or the first-order desires).
    Pfhorrest

    You know, there is a lot in this a take to instantly. First order beliefs and thoughts of any kind puts one in the mode of existing whereby past predispositions naturally and fluidly become present realities and the future openness is closed, predictable, fixed. If you read enough existential theory, you take this idea as central to grasping what a self is: it is a temporal "event" structured by historical familiarity determining one's reality. existentialists typically look upon the everyday living affairs of people as inauthentic, sleep walking through lives.

    I think you're right calling it a moral belief, for when one realizes one's "freedom" one is placed in the midst of choices, and choices are value laden, not merely factual, and value is the very heart of ethics. What is right or wrong is always built into choice, even if one is not aware; indeed, it is awareness that makes freedom possible. A good Nazi perhaps never gave an order a second thought, for, if you will, he knew not what he was doing, and to use the concept of "will," this was simply not there, and technically, no "decision" was really made, for without the will, that is, without the second guessing, the standing apart from one's beliefs and autonomic behavior, one remains innocent!

    Kierkegaard is an interesting read on this in his Concept of Anxiety, which is a study on the nature of sin, entirely removed, in most of the analysis, from Christian exegesis.

    First order perceptions and first order desires? I think these talk about the same kind of thing, the stepping apart what would claim one otherwise immediately, in an unquestioned way, and this is the way we live our day to day lives.

    Still not fond of the concept of will. It can be a useful term, but it is misleading for the will would be reducible to things that have a clearly meaning, like existential freedom.
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