John Bruce Leonard wrote:
Spectrum wrote:One perspective, what is clearly purpose [personal or group] is when humans deliberately establish objectives on their proposed actions. In other perspective, actions based on instincts may be associated with some general purpose of a group or the species.
And can we further say that those purposes which are rooted in instinct have a more fundamental importance than those purposes which are deliberately established by human beings?
There are many perspectives to this point and we need to consider the context involved as far a particular instances are involved.
In general what I have been proposing in one perspective is whatever purpose we abstract from instincts must be complemented with what is to be deliberately established by human beings with the objectives for the positive overall well being of humanity towards preservation of the species.
In particular cases, the possible dilemma events are infinite. If a person has an instinct of being less mathematical inclined [easily tested] but deliberately has a conscious aspiration want to be a mathematicians, so which is more fundamental. The potential cases for such dilemma is endless.
Spectrum wrote:Basic human dignity is the lowest level of dignity that is common and should be recognized and accorded to all humans [regardless of gender, race, color, etc.]. e.g. the right to live, not be enslaved and own as property of another, free speech, and the likes. I don't see how this cannot be real?
Yet it appears we cannot merely take its reality for granted. I will present two difficulties.
1.) There have been in the history of the world, and are still now, a great many nations and individuals which not only disputed the idea of basic human dignity, but even detested it as a principle for organizing human society. One might claim, of course, that the rejection of basic human dignity has been superseded or is being superseded in the evolution of the race; one might say something to the effect that the recognition of basic human dignity represents an elevated level of human consciousness, so that the denial of basic human dignity must represent an inferior level of human consciousness. But this position is not so easy to hold as it appears.
Among the most notorious cases of the denial of human dignity were certainly the Nazis and the Fascists of a century past. Now, these regimes, despite and indeed because of their anti-egalitarian policies, attracted the interest and support of such men as Heidegger, Knut Hamsun, Julius Evola, Gabriele D’Annunzio, and Ezra Pound. It is obvious that most people today will loathe the choices and philosophies of these men and disagree with them in a great many ways; but that is very different from claiming that these men had an inferior level of consciousness. These men were all brilliant and keen thinkers to a one, and they cared deeply about the fate of humankind and about the potential richness of human life. If we are to claim that they lacked human consciousness—as I think we would have to do, if we are to equate a high level of consciousness with an advanced awareness of basic human dignity—we must posit a human capacity (consciousness) which is distinct from human reason and passion. Put otherwise, this capacity cannot be determined merely by intelligence, merely by deep feeling, though it may be influenced by these things. It is also evident that it is a capacity which can be developed over the course of a single human life, for we speak of such things as “raising awareness” and “changing hearts,” which evidently refers precisely to augmenting the consciousness of basic human dignity.
My question becomes, what is the nature of this capacity? How can we define human consciousness, and how can we give an account and justification of it, given that it seems strangely absent in certain otherwise even excessively gifted human beings?
You missed my point here.
I merely state it is because humans has the type of human consciousness [not animals] that humans can deliberate on the concept of basic human dignity.
It is nothing to do with difference in degree of human consciousness between humans.
We can easily differentiate human consciousness from those of animals from the degree of human actions [intellectual, rationality, arts, technological advancements, etc. ] that is different from animals.
I don't think the Nazis and the people you mentioned, e.g. Heidegger, etc. are ignorant of what is basic human dignity as least to themselves. It is just that they do not respect the the basic human dignity of others. In any case, I don't believe Heidegger would agree with gassing and killing 6 million Jews and others. Being in Germany at those time, he must be been trapped by various factors in dilemma and his moral competence was not very high. Perhaps Heidegger was unfortunately born a marginal psychopath.
2.) We must interpret evolution in the light of the consciousness of basic human dignity, else we will be compelled to interpret evolutionary morality in an unacceptably cruel “social Darwinistic” manner. Yet there is nothing to suggest that the ends or purpose of evolution and the ends or purpose proposed by our consciousness will coincide. It may be that our consciousness will produce radically different moral precepts than will an empirical review of evolution. This tension has already been suggested in our conversation by the fact that evolution considered in the absence of basic human dignity would seem to permit certain kinds of atrocious acts for the benefit of the species.
There are only two ways out of this conundrum, so far as I can see. One is to embrace the principles which issue from our consciousness over all other principles, including empirically derived principles, and to attempt, rather than an empirical deduction of moral precepts, a morality based on the principles of consciousness of basic human dignity. This of course will run foul of that trouble which you with your system would like to avoid—namely, the “firefighting” between various moral theories.
The other alternative is to make the claim that our consciousness itself is the purpose of evolution—that it represents the highest evolution to date, and that it is for this reason empirically valid as a principle for human morality. This alternative, however different it might seem from the first, appears to end at the same conclusion. For if human consciousness is the purpose of evolution, and if this same consciousness must change our understanding of evolution such that we must rely on it rather than the simple derivation of precepts from the raw data of evolution, then we must allow that the foremost moral imperative which we might derive from evolution, is to follow the principles of our consciousness, even when these contradict the principles of a lower evolution. Thus, for instance, while the overall economy evolution would seem to permit and even in some cases encourage infighting and killing between members of one and the same species, we must conclude, based on the principles of higher consciousness, that these empirically observations are insufficient for human morality; we must impose, instead, an absolute prohibition against killing as the ideal toward which we should work.
In either case it seems to me that the empirical research into evolution is of derivative or secondary importance, compared to the principles which we might derive directly from an analysis of the human condition as such. Now I suspect you will probably disagree with this. How can you justify the importance of the empirical, given the evident necessity of importing principles from non-empirical sources in order to regulate the conclusions which the empirical suggests to us?
Consciousness is too complicated a subject to delve into details.
For the moment I would take 'consciousness' as something general and encompassing in all aspects of humanity.
As such instead of moral consciousness, I would deal with it as moral intelligence, like in Linguistic-Mathematical intelligence [IQ] and other intelligences.
Yes, I agree there is no certainty the ends of evolution may not coincide with ends of morality.
However the starting point is we need fix grounded absolute moral laws and maxims to establish the most effective Moral & Ethical Framework & System, else it is fire-fighting.
To do so we have to make good use of the brain/mind we have, we optimize however we can.
So we apply Abductive reasoning in our quest.
see w:k: for details.
This is how we arrive a moral maxims from empirical evidence using our available mental resources. [note I have provided the proofs earlier]
The other alternatives are guessing, opinions, speculations, wild conjectures, and the likes.
Btw, I stated there is a need for a model and the need to test this model at least theoretically that it will work. We have not got into this yet.
Why the empirical evidences is important because that is the basis of proof based on facts and the non-empirical ideal is the driver for improvement.
Specter wrote:Basic human dignity must be recognized because humans has the consciousness and ability to recognize it. Non-human [in their present state] cannot deal morally with the concept of basic dignity between individual[s] or collectively within their species.
Unfortunately there are also many racists today who hold that certain human groups “cannot deal morally with the concept of basic dignity between individuals.” What can we say in response to such unpleasant claims?
These responses are far from the ideal, thus there is a moral gap.
What is needed is to narrow this moral gap by analyzing the root causes from every angle, e.g. genetics, neurosciences, psychology, biology, social, political, etc. and to propose solutions which if cannot be implemented, then in the future when such is possible.
On the subject of racism, there has been a lot of improvement as compare to hundreds year ago. Apartheid for example is banned and there are many other improvements worldwide. This improvement seem to be progressing on its own slowly. But if we get to the root causes we could expedite it and wean off racism for good.
Specter wrote:I am very sure the Pure and Applied can be applied to Morality.
I certainly believe this to be possible. But you seem to believe it is certain. Wherefore your certainty?
In Philosophy there is no absolute certainty, thus my reference meant a high confidence level.
My optimism is based on the extensive research and literature reviews I have done so far.
One good clue is humanity's full knowledge of the human genome which was once thought as an impossible task. We are now moving into the connectome [perhaps currently at 5-10%] but once we get to >50%, [tracing the neural circuitry in the brain to its end results] there would be a lot humanity can progress towards. As I had mentioned there is a trend of an exponential expansion of knowledge.
Specter wrote:Imagine if you are omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, omni-whatever, what sort of moral standards would you set and how [since omnipotent] would you go about it. This can be easily thought out and improved upon.
I think the difference between us, Specter, is not so much in our awareness of the importance of ideal moral standards—this we share—but rather in the fact that I very much doubt there is anything “easy” in thinking through the perspective even of a moderately wise human being, not to speak of an omniscient entity. Do you not think that a god would, for his unimaginable excellence of intelligence, be able to see complications and implications that we do not so much as begin to intuit?
I never said it is easy especially from our current state of competence.
My view is, it is not impossible as the human brain and mind is very malleable and can be rewired and moldable. Note the change [improvements, note double-edged as well] of the human brain/mind since 10,000 or 1,000 years ago. So from extrapolation I am very confident we can progress by leaps in terms of morality. What I propose is not expected to be achievable within the next 10 years but rather in 75-100 years and point is we have to start the baby steps now.
Specter wrote:Why I am optimistic on the above in the near future is the trend of the exponential expansion of knowledge from many advance fields, e.g. genomic, connectome, IT & its technologies, etc. which can contribute [fool proof] in the Pure and Applied aspects of Morality and Ethics.
We should be wary of unwarranted optimism. Our successes in any number of fields do not guarantee equal successes in all fields of endeavor. We can only take the trend you cite as a promise of similar progress in morality and ethics, if we can be sure that morality and ethics can be reasonably subjected to the same methodology which has produced such spectacular advancement elsewhere. Now, the fields you mention are scientific fields. What makes you believe that science will have the same success with morality and ethics that it has had in other fields?
Normally I am very rational, risk adverse and conservative, but in this case, my optimism is not based on 'feel' but based on existing empirical evidences and real possibilities plus knowledge gathered to date.
Btw, what I am proposing for morality is not based on Science nor Scientific per se but merely rely on Science as a tool together with other tools, especially philosophy.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.