• Isaac
    3.7k
    The evidence is in the presence of punishments and rewards in all societies. Why do you think they exist and are so universal?Olivier5

    You're seriously telling me you can't think of a single other explanation? I'm not sure how to interpret that.
  • Olivier5
    1.5k
    Huhun... While in science you can approximate truth asymptotically, there are still lies and statements that are demonstrably not true in science. So the concept of truth is necessary for science, if only to rule out what is certainly not true.

    In philosophy you need the axiom of truth to say anything. Because the subject matter in philosophy is not quantitative but conceptual, logical (or not), i.e. qualitative; it's about the conceptual framework that is a prerequisite for any measurement. In conceptual terrain, you get lost in logical contradictions if you assume that none of what you can say can be true (the liar's paradox).
  • Olivier5
    1.5k
    You're seriously telling me you can't think of a single other explanation? I'm not sure how to interpret that.Isaac

    Can you think of a single other explanation yourself?

    Take for example the incest taboo. Why would you think it is there, almost universally?
  • khaled
    2.1k
    In conceptual terrain, you get lost in logical contradictions if you assume that none of what you can say can be true (the liar's paradox).Olivier5

    How about “None of what I can say is true except this”? Paradox resolved.

    Or something like “I cannot know that what I say is true but I don’t see how this can be false so I’ll believe it”. Paradox resolved.

    So the concept of truth is necessary for science, if only to rule out what is certainly not true.Olivier5

    I didn’t say the concept makes no sense. I said it’s unachievable. If a scientist comes out and says he’s “figured it out and there is no longer reason to doubt his findings” then he’s not a scientist.

    Philosophers do that all the time though. I haven’t found one whose findings have not been critiqued as of yet. Maybe that says something.
  • Olivier5
    1.5k
    How about “None of what I can say is true except this”? Paradox resolved.

    Or something like “I cannot know that what I say is true but I don’t see how this can be false so I’ll believe it”. Paradox resolved.
    khaled

    Yes but note that in both cases you have to assume that you can say something true about the world.
  • khaled
    2.1k
    Only in the first. Not in both.
  • Olivier5
    1.5k
    In the second, you still believe something is true. So you believe you can possibly say something true.
  • khaled
    2.1k
    You don’t know it is true though. That is the point. You require undoubtable knowledge not just belief.
  • Olivier5
    1.5k
    No, I only require the assumption that one can possibly say something true, even without being certain of it. The possibility of truth has to be assumed, that's all.
  • khaled
    2.1k
    even without being certain of it.Olivier5

    We agree if this is changed to “and one cannot be certain of it”. I also assume the possibility of truth. Not that there is any way to confirm such a possibility though
  • Olivier5
    1.5k
    We agree if this is changed to “and one cannot be certain of it”.khaled

    I propose instead: "and sometimes one cannot be certain of it”. For I can say for certain that the earth is not a flat rectangle, for instance, or that the heart is a muscle that pumps blood.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.9k
    You’re proposing an inaccessible objectivitykhaled

    But an approachable one. All we need is some notion of what makes something closer to or further from correct in order to comparatively evaluate opinions and show that some are less correct than others. That doesn’t require we know what the completely correct one is, but it implies that there is such a thing as completely correct in principle, at the limit of less and less incorrect.
  • Constance
    82
    In a forum discussion long ago, someone proposed to have solved this problem by pointing out that ethics was originally a part of aesthetics, and that it was aesthetics that dictates what is ethical.
    How do you feel about this?
    baker

    We know where this comes from, Wittgenstein in his Lecture on Ethics (Tractatus, too). Ethics and aesthetics are value themes, and at the center of value is what Witt thought has no place at all in discussion, which is Moore's non natural property. Mackie thinks like, is influenced by, Witt, and they are both wrong: In the proffered idea above, the one thing that stands out is this: take the extreme example of a finger put to flame and abstract from this the ethical, well, "badness", and I mean badness simpliciter. All that could be predicated of the event removed, the physical observables, the evolutionist's claim that pain is conducive to survival and reproduction, the possible ethical contexts, the regard one might have toward the event (all of which beg the question: Oh, you are averse to having your finger in the flame, you abhor it, denounce it, are disgusted by it, and so on...The question begged being about the unexamined value simpliciter: the literal horrible suffering event unnamed; or, the value qualia of pain, if you prefer). Remove all that falls safely within the boundaries of standard meaningful utterances, and there is the residual ethical; the metaethical, which isn't as "meta" as one thinks
    Flaming fingers are not like the "facts of the world" as Witt noted regarding his great book of facts, facts like Mars being closer to the Sun than Jupiter or that my shoe is untied. All are equal, AS facts, according to Witt, and value never reveals itself sufficiently, as with logic, to discuss its nature, and thsi is true! BUT: It does reveal in its nature very explicitly, with the sharpest "presence" possible, the injunction not to do something (as well as to do something, on th e positive side of the metaethical).
  • Constance
    82
    Of course there are. Especially if they’re religious. Those can mitigate the badness of anything. But thankfully I don’t agree with any of them and I hope no one here does either.khaled

    No, I say rather firmly on this. What is mitigated is not the inherent badness of the torture of the the one child: the thumbscrews still are equal in there pain production, and the pain production is not one whit diminished. It stands outside the ethical dilemma, as an independent, unalterable, for the badness in play is not contextual, does not depend on anything form its being bad. This is the point.
  • Constance
    82
    Well, I'm not sure about that. From the perspective of someone who most of us would think is a selfish asshole, simply not being the kid in question renders their torture ethically neutral. But I'm a relativist, so I would say that. That's the contingent set of circumstances, the fact that I (i.e. selfish asshole bert1) could have been the kid, but phew!, I'm not.bert1

    But you are being called upon to remove your being the kid, not being the kid, being selfish, and so on. These are quite out of consideration, for the argument looks directly to, and only to, the pain simplciter. THAT pain is not diminished. 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. Consider this an argument about value qualia. Qualia is usually just easily dismissible (see Dennett, e.g.), note what qualia is supposed to be: the simpliciter "presence" of color or the sound, and nothing more. Here,. it is the same.
  • Constance
    82
    as with logicConstance

    Sorry, this should read: Just like it is with logic. the point being that Wittgenstein saw that certain themes in philosophy are simply pseudo themes, like metaethics or metalogic. The are off the grid.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.9k
    In a forum discussion long ago, someone proposed to have solved this problem by pointing out that ethics was originally a part of aesthetics, and that it was aesthetics that dictates what is ethical.
    How do you feel about this?
    baker

    I think aesthetics and ethics have the same relationship to each other as logic and metaphysics.

    Despite those relationships, "descriptive" things still factor into aesthetic things (verisimilitude, "truthiness", is a factor in the aesthetic evaluation of things), and logic still applies to "prescriptive" things (deontic logic is a thing).

    But logic naturally has connections to the philosophy of mathematics which naturally has connections to ontology, and likewise aesthetics just like ethics is evaluative. The concrete-abstract distinction relevant to ontology and philosophy of mathematics is analogous to a "good at" vs "good" distinction in ethics and aesthetics.
  • baker
    241
    I would say wanting agreement precedes the meta consideration of whether or not a correct version exists.khaled
    Yes, because despite all the subjectivism, individualism, or relativism, or what is in-effect, solipsism, that so many swear by, they still cannot ignore that they are in some vital ways interconnected with other people and dependent on them for their livelihood.
  • khaled
    2.1k
    for the badness in play is not contextual, does not depend on anything form its being bad.Constance

    False. I think it's very clear that badness is contextual. Murder is bad, killing in self defense is not for example. Similarly, torturing a child is not bad, if they are a child of Satan.
  • baker
    241
    All we need is some notion of what makes something closer to or further from correct in order to comparatively evaluate opinions and show that some are less correct than others. That doesn’t require we know what the completely correct one is, but it implies that there is such a thing as completely correct in principle, at the limit of less and less incorrect.Pfhorrest
    In daily social life, this works out in such a manner: the person who holds a position of more power gets to have the say over what is closer to objective reality than the person who has less power.

    For an epistemic approach like yours to work in some meaningful way, people would need to at least temporarily be willing to put down their hierarchical roles and their expectation of deference, and work together for the greater good.
    From what I've seen, people resent to do that.

    I can see how your approach works for things -- such as for solving engineering problems.
    But humans seem to be primarily interested in power games.
  • baker
    241
    It stands outside the ethical dilemma, as an independent, unalterable, for the badness in play is not contextual, does not depend on anything form its being bad.Constance
    How about injuries to one's body that are intended as part of the greater good? Think, for example, of that mountainhiker who fell into a crevice, got stuck, and cut off his arm in order to free himself and get out.
  • Pfhorrest
    3.9k
    For an epistemic approach like yours to work in some meaningful way, people would need to at least temporarily be willing to put down their hierarchical roles and their expectation of deference, and work together for the greater good.baker

    Yeah, the problem at hand is "how do we figure out what's good?" If someone doesn't care about what's good, then they will be unpersuaded by means of figuring that out.

    I think there are in principle reasons -- even self-interested reasons, so long as they care about anything at all -- for every person to care, in the long term, and the big picture, what is good. But people are often stupid and will do things that are against even their self-interest just because they couldn't be bothered to think about it.
  • Constance
    82
    False. I think it's very clear that badness is contextual. Murder is bad, killing in self defense is not for example. Similarly, torturing a child is not bad, if they are a child of Satan.khaled

    Yes, I know. One does have to look more closely at the argument. I am not arguing that the judgment against the child isn't a contingent matter. I am arguing that such cases are not, qua ethical, analytically simpliciter. You may say that it is right to torture the child of Satan because s/he is a child of Satan, by definition evil, and therefore evil is what is deserved. But this has no place in these thoughts here.

    Here, we are examining the anatomy of an ethical act, judgment. There are usual suspects, the contingencies that are complex and are responsible for much of the messiness of our world, and it is this that brings ethical ambiguity into our lives. But here, I am doing what Kant did with reason and judgment: Abstracting from the many convolutions of disagreements in our everyday lives and giving analysis to determine its basic structures and contents. So, put aside all that is there in the complexity of ethical problems, and ask, what makes this ethical at all? It is here that the metaethical makes an appearance. It is wrong to torture others for fun, say. But this "wrongness" looks to the nature of torture, the pain itself which is the basis of the ethical in actuality, apart from how it fits into the many complexities. THIS pain as such is an absolute in the what I will call "pure injunction" against inflicting it.
  • Constance
    82
    How about injuries to one's body that are intended as part of the greater good? Think, for example, of that mountainhiker who fell into a crevice, got stuck, and cut off his arm in order to free himself and get out.baker

    Of course I know this case. And the greater good is certainly a moral priority. But the metaethical question is begged: 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"?
  • ChatteringMonkey
    811
    How about injuries to one's body that are intended as part of the greater good? Think, for example, of that mountainhiker who fell into a crevice, got stuck, and cut off his arm in order to free himself and get out.
    — baker

    Of course I know this case. And the greater good is certainly a moral priority. But the metaethical question is begged: 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

    I don't think "greater good" is entirely reducible to pain, value-qualia or something like a primordial actuality... it also has to do with the identity and meaning we give to our lives. This is I'd say what is missing in most of these account, we are also beings who live in societies, have certain roles to play, identities to assume, societal goals to reach etc... all of which give our lives meaning. And this is what determines morality for the most part. Ofcourse some of this bigger story will be determined by these value-qualia to some extend, but I don't think you can skip straight past this bigger picture from value-qualia to morality and still have something that would be remotely the same.
  • Constance
    82
    I don't think "greater good" is entirely reducible to pain, value-qualia or something like a primordial actuality... it also has to do with the identity and meaning we give to our lives. This is I'd say what is missing in most of these account, we are also beings who live in societies, have certain roles to play, identities to assume, societal goals to reach etc... all of which give our lives meaning. And this is what determines morality for the most part. Ofcourse some of this bigger story will be determined by these value-qualia to some extend, but I don't think you can skip straight past this bigger picture from value-qualia to morality and still have something that would be remotely the same.ChatteringMonkey

    Frankly, I don't see your position on this. Do you think there is something of the "identity and meaning we give to our lives" that intervenes between you and the screaming pain? Do you think pain is an interpretative event?
  • ChatteringMonkey
    811
    Frankly, I don't see your position on this. Do you think there is something of the "identity and meaning we give to our lives" that intervenes between you and the screaming pain? Do you think pain is an interpretative event?Constance

    Morality is not only about screaming pain is my point. In some extreme case it might be the only thing that matters, but it usually is not.

    And yes and no, I think suffering is an interpretative event, which I would argue we care more about than pain.

    Edit: Here's an example, I think it would to simplistic, if not plainly incorrect, to say that racism is morally wrong only because of the physical pain it causes.

    Edit 2: Another example, rape even if it would be relatively painless physically (for instance by drugging someone), would be morally wrong.
  • baker
    241
    I think there are in principle reasons -- even self-interested reasons, so long as they care about anything at all -- for every person to care, in the long term, and the big picture, what is good. But people are often stupid and will do things that are against even their self-interest just because they couldn't be bothered to think about it.Pfhorrest
    I think it's more complex than mere stupidity. So much in social interaction is said and demanded between the lines, without it ever being explicitly stated, and people are used to this. People also hate to be pushed. Which leads to the stalemate situation where it is impossible to have a discussion without people reading it as some kind of demand. So for them, even a mere discussion is felt as an imposition. Which they would rather not comply with, simply because they don't like being pushed.
  • Constance
    82
    Morality is not only about screaming pain is my point. In some extreme case it might be the only thing that matters, but it usually is not.

    And yes and no, I think suffering is an interpretative event, which I would argue we care more about than pain.
    ChatteringMonkey

    Suffering is an interpretative event after the fact, no doubt, when it is contextualized, weighed in theory and among competing justifications, and so on. But pain as such? How can this in any way be interpretative? Interpretation requires language, consideration, a taking something up AS something. How is this there, in scorching of the live finger? One receives this instantly, not deliberatively.

    Morality is analyzable, and so I agree morality is NOT only about screaming pain (or intense gratification), and I would add, obviously. But the argument then asks about what this complex affair is and finds that the essential part of it is the element of the presence that carries its own measure of valuation. We cannot say what this is, and this is why Wittgenstein would never talk about it (save in the Tractatus and the Lecture on Ethics where he essentially says it should be passed over in silence), but its presence does, as with logic, "show" itself in the event.

    A loose way to put this is to say that pain and pleasure speak for themselves, but looseness like this invites casual responses, and is not that kind of question. It is an analytic of ethics that tries to bring out this salient features at the level of basic questions.
  • ChatteringMonkey
    811
    Suffering is an interpretative event after the fact, no doubt, when it is contextualized, weighed in theory and among competing justifications, and so on. But pain as such? How can this in any way be interpretative? Interpretation requires language, consideration, a taking something up AS something. How is this there, in scorching of the live finger? One receives this instantly, not deliberatively.Constance

    If you have a persistent headache, focusing on it seems to make the pain worse. Or rather the pain is probably still there, you just don't notice it as much if your attention is elsewhere. Is that an interpretative event? Maybe not.

    Morality is analyzable, and so I agree morality is NOT only about screaming pain (or intense gratification), and I would add, obviously. But the argument then asks about what this complex affair is and finds that the essential part of it is the element of the presence that carries its own measure of valuation. We cannot say what this is, and this is why Wittgenstein would never talk about it (save in the Tractatus and the Lecture on Ethics where he essentially says it should be passed over in silence), but its presence does, as with logic, "show" itself in the event.Constance

    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, is not any direct physical pain or direct material consequences it may have (those are bad too to be clear), but social exclusion, imposition on identities, and the fact that it prevents people from building up a meaningful life in society.
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