Frost wrote: ↑
January 22nd, 2018, 12:50 pm
Moving from the heart to the body cannot establish function. Functions are teleological and there is no teleology in non-conscious aspects of biology or in physics. Teleology can only result from consciousness
, which is why I say that functional concepts are Intentionality-dependent. You can only take an intentional stance, in Dennett’s terminology, when claiming a non-conscious biological feature has a purpose or function, but this is and can only be metaphorical.
Well, the function of the heart on its own would just to be what it is. A heart on a plate would also be a heart. It can only have a function if we bring in something apart from the heart. Certainly I agree it is intentional dependent in that it is the observer that decides what that extra something is, i.e. they could decide whether the heart's function is relative to the body, (in which case the heart is functional if it is in place and beating), or whether the function is as something to eat (in which case if it is nice and fresh).
There are four, and only four categories of well-being, which are material, psychological, social, and spiritual. There are two temporal aspects, which are short-term and long-term. You may claim that these are vague, but the field of positive psychology is continually working to improve what psychological and social well-being means, and there are certainly reasons why some conceptions are better than others. You are making an egregious error of rationality by attempting to claim that if there is not absolute epistemic objectivity in a definition that it must therefore be arbitrary.
If and when these psychologists complete their work and persuade everyone they are right, then you can say I am in error. But pending that I do not see how you can know that they will be successful.
The reason it is unlikely to be successful is that moral issues are precisely those in which humans have different opinions. If those disagreements could be reduced to something objective, some question of fact, I think they would have done so by now.
Meanwhile, I certainly would claim they are vague. Even if we could define what constituted something like 'spiritual well-being' we would then have to weight it against all the other types of 'well-being'. How much spiritual well-being is the equivalent of how much material well-being, etc.?
Isn’t that why I used the word murder? Murdering has an explicit legal definition, and killing in self-defense, for the death penalty, or in war is not murder. In the definition of murder, particularly first-degree murder, there is the intentional killing of a person with no justifiable reason. Just rephrase “murder” in this way. I used the word because that’s what it means. That this is bad for people is a normative claim with strong epistemic objectivity. A person cannot rationally disagree with this normative statement.
Surely this continues to beg the question. Certainly 'murder' has a legal definition, but that does not solve the question of its morality because we can disagree with that law. Likewise 'justifiable reason'
; the pacifist and the soldier, those pro and anti capital punishment, the two sides of the abortion argument - they can all agree that you should not kill without a 'justifiable reason
', but that is no help because they do not agree what counts as a 'justifiable reason'
Me: Is the 'intentional causation' the thing that is good or bad? Or is it the 'impact with respect to well-being'? In other words, if we say something is 'bad' are we judging the state of mind of the actor, or the action in itself?
When saying that something is morally bad, it is saying that an Intentional state of an agent brought about a state of affairs which was harmful for the well-being of himself or others. In other words, the Intentional state of the agent, whether a prior intention or an intention-in-action, caused the harmful effect. It is not an either/or, since both are necessary for it to be morally bad, although there is reason to consider harmful thoughts alone as morally bad considering their impact on the individual’s mind.
This is still unclear. If we had the universal agreement on an objective standard of 'well-being' that you say is being worked on, then we would have a clear understanding of what counts as a 'harmful effect'. In that case, if I chose to produce a 'harmful effect' it could only be because I had chosen to act in an immoral way.
But meanwhile, suppose I do something that you consider to have produced a 'harmful effect', but which I think is not
a 'harmful effect'? Can I be said to have acted immorally when my intention was good? Pending agreement about objective standards, why should your judgement be better than mine?
Me: In either case we have the same problem we had with well-being. If we say the morality is in the mind of the actor then we must have an idea of what the 'right' way to think is. We must be putting our individual choices up before a standard that judges between them. But then our choice of standard also needs to be justified, which requires a meta-standard, and so on.
I like to use concrete examples. I will continue to use the example of murder, in the explicit legal definition, as an example of a normative moral claim that has strong epistemic objectivity. Where is the supposed infinite regress to claim that murder is harmful for the well-being of people?
Where is the epistemic objectivity? I can know that a killing falls under a legal definition of murder, but it does not follow it is immoral. Not unless we make the additional claim that the law also represents morality. That fact of it being the law cannot do this; we have to justify the law against some external standard...but then we have to justify our choice of external standard and we are into the regress again.
If we are using concrete examples, then consider abortion. The law on abortion is different in different countries and has changed over time. What was once a form of murder is sometimes now permitted. It would be hard to argue that the morality of abortion is something decided by geography or time, that it used to be immoral but has now become moral, or can become moral/immoral if you take a plane to a nation with different laws.
And if you are right in that psychologists are going to come up with an objective standard for well-being and hence morality, given the variation in laws around the world, in some cases the law must already be immoral.