Objective vs Subjective Morality

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Judaka
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Judaka » January 25th, 2018, 3:12 am

However, my position is saying more than just that morality has a biological function, since from the biological function we can then construct an epistemically objective basis for moral judgments once we understand that function.
I don't reject that you can create an epistemically objective basis for a moral argument using the biological function. My moral arguments are always based on epistemically objective bases and that includes a variety of functionalities that I value across various fields including biology, psychology, sociology, politics and so on. You may argue that moral arguments based on biological functions enjoy increased efficiency and precision and I'm sure you'd have some good points to make about that. Relative to many other axioms that exist, I consider yours to be highly practical.

You say the purposefulness of human action is your axiom and not well-being and let me tell you, nobody is more concerned with purposefulness of action than me. I consider this to be a highly valuable way of looking at the issue of making distinctions on behaviour. Particularly because I believe values do not possess intrinsic value, my way of appraising them is by how well they carry out their intention function and then I appraise the overall worth of that value by whether the intended function was able to give the individual what they wanted. This process continues nearly forever, until you are doing everything for a reason that makes sense within the context of all the things you want.

You laughed at me before for saying capitalism has an influence on people's' behaviour but it's precisely things like capitalism that develop my interests that lie outside of biology. A big question for me has always been - to what degree society is ordered on the nature of humans versus the political, social, cultural and economic systems which we have created. What I mean is to what degree would something like capitalism have similar or identical impacts to an intelligent species other than humans as it does on humans? Causality and it's child purpose exists everywhere and in everything, people often seem enamoured and consumed by it - their design distorted by it. I like to look at capitalism as a separate entity from human civilization and study it's causality in order to make out what exactly it is.

This interest for me extends to morality and values, they too seem to have their own nature and causality which has evolved beyond what human's got from evolution. Moral distinctions exist today which were simply not possible before, values have changed substantially over time and the cause appears to be outside influences. Moral values travel as all infomation does, over boats, books, stories and now the internet. I could become consumed by entirely new principles after being exposed to an enlightening document on the internet which challenged my current thinking.

So I don't reject that biology is significant or that you can't use it as the basis for your arguments. It's just that morality, ethics and values appear to be more than just biological constructs. Hence holding opinions purely based on their biological function seems to me, itself a value. Perhaps not in nature but I know it's not the same as my perspective.

We may do things for the sake of reducing uneasiness but this is yet another biological function which I do not have to place any importance in. I am happy to have a debate about causality and efficiency regarding this but as far as objective morality goes - I don't see it. If you do not see functions as making distinctions between behaviour redundant then what's the basis for your objection to moral relativism? It seems to me you are confusing the best approach with the right approach - I believe I have the best approach too but I recognise it's my opinion, though I don't recognise it's merely my opinion.

Londoner
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Londoner » January 25th, 2018, 6:38 am

Frost wrote:
January 24th, 2018, 1:33 pm

Me: “The subjects you mention involve science but they are not distinct sciences. That is indeed because they involve concepts like 'health' which are not objectively quantifiable.”

Now please explain.
The science used in the subjects is the same. Physics works the same way, whether we are describing a plant or Pluto. So all the subjects involve the same science. But the subjects you mention differ, both from pure science and each other, because they have non-scientific considerations. For example, medicine has the central object of preserving 'life'. But a physicist does not see 'life' as significant, in that physics is the same for both living and non-living substances.
Epistemic objectivity: 1 + 1 = 2
Epistemic subjectivity: ‘Vanilla tastes better than chocolate.”

Ontological objectivity: mountains and planets
Ontological subjectivity: pains and tickles

I apologize, I didn’t think that in a philosophy forum in a topic on the epistemological basis of morality that I would have to explain such a basic epistemic distinction. The answer is right above.
It is an answer, but not one that makes sense. I cannot face trying to work out where you got this from; I'd guess it is something to do with reading something about 'qualia'. It is hard to know where to start, but just consider the first pair. The first is analytic, it is necessarily true, it cannot be falsified by experience. The second is an empirical observation, it may be either true or false. So, two entirely different types of proposition. What is served by bracketing them together under the meaningless label 'epistemic'?

Likewise, in the second pair by 'ontological' you seem to mean 'empirical'. Our knowledge of 'mountains and planets' is obtained through experience, in the same way as our knowledge of 'pains and tickles'. So in that respect the ontology is identical. How we might differentiate between them i.e. the division between our thoughts about a thing and what that thing might be 'in itself' is a basic problem of philosophy.

That is why I have been unable to make sense of these phrases when you use them in your posts.
As an aside, it is a rather strange comment to say that “He did not theorise about the 'cause of gravity' because such a theory would be metaphysical and outside science.” I hate to break the news to you, but the cause of gravity is one of the major areas of work in contemporary theoretical physics.
No it isn't. Science cannot discover 'cause' in that sense. It can only look at events. It might be that every time an object falls to earth it is because God wills it. Or it might be because we are all in the Matrix and are being fed the perception that objects fall. There is no way for science to decide between these two theories, since in either case, our observations - that objects fall - will be identical.

Here is what Newton said:

I have not as yet been able to discover the reason for these properties of gravity from phenomena, and I do not feign hypotheses. For whatever is not deduced from the phenomena must be called a hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, or based on occult qualities, or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy. In this philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction
Me: On the contrary, that is precisely when they (moral problems) arise. If everyone agrees that unprovoked murder is bad then they would not see it as a moral problem.

Ah, so if everyone agrees that beating babies with baseball bats for fun is wrong then there cannot be anything morally wrong with beating babies with baseball bats.
You are not reading what I write. If everyone thinks something is wrong then it is not seem as a moral problem. Moral problems arise where people disagree. We have a choice; should we do X or Y? You suggest you have a system for resolving moral problems.

Or do you? Underneath all the 'epistemic' and 'ontological' ornamentation, your system seems to amount to saying that if nobody could possibly have any reason or desire to do X, then they should do Y instead.

This doesn't seem very helpful.

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Frost
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Frost » January 25th, 2018, 12:31 pm

Judaka,

It seems we are in more agreement than I realized.

Generally speaking, I, too, agree that values do not possess intrinsic value with one exception: General Well-Being has intrinsic value due to the necessary relation of life to feeling states. It is the only value which can have intrinsic value in a quite literal sense since it is literally internal to conscious life, which is the only way anything can be intrinsic in the world. All other values are intermediate, and they cannot have intrinsic value. Their value only derives from the individual valuations and ability to achieve the intrinsic value of General Well- Being as I described.

I apologize for laughing at your comment. I would like to point out the lack of causation in what you said. The point of causation is that economic transactions are necessarily individual transactions, and the causation is Intentional rather than an economic system causing anything. Yes, advertisers influence consumers, but consumers make the ultimate choice and demonstrate preference. Capitalism in its pure sense is simply people making individual voluntary exchanges. It does require a Network of social institutions in order to function, however, and that is part of the reason why it has been less successful in non-Western nations. I don’t want to spend too much time on economics, but I would like to at least say that you cannot separate capitalism from civilization since economic exchange goes to the most fundamental level of human action, which is also why “economic liberty” and “personal liberty” are inseparable. Capitalism is constitutive of modern civilization.

When you say that “It's just that morality, ethics and values appear to be more than just biological constructs,” I completely agree with you! What I am trying to get at is that the fundamental purpose of action if toward removing felt uneasiness, but due to the infinite complexity of the world we need to use rationality in order to determine what really works best, rather than biological impulses which very often get it wrong.

However, when you say “We may do things for the sake of reducing uneasiness but this is yet another biological function which I do not have to place any importance in,” I would like to point out that what this purposefulness of human action adds to moral epistemology is teleology, and teleology permits functional concepts and epistemic objectivity in assessing moral claims. Teleology and function allow a physical object to be a “knife,” for example, which cuts things, and this teleology and function permits one to say, in an epistemically objective manner, that a knife made of butter is a bad knife :)

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Frost
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Frost » January 25th, 2018, 1:09 pm

Londoner wrote:
January 25th, 2018, 6:38 am
“The science used in the subjects is the same. Physics works the same way, whether we are describing a plant or Pluto. So all the subjects involve the same science. But the subjects you mention differ, both from pure science and each other, because they have non-scientific considerations. For example, medicine has the central object of preserving 'life'. But a physicist does not see 'life' as significant, in that physics is the same for both living and non-living substances.”
I’m sorry, but what is a “pure science”? I’ve read quite a lot of philosophy of science and I am wondering what this is supposed to mean. Can you please elaborate?

When you claim that neuroscience has “non-scientific considerations” you are assuming that ontological subjectivity implies epistemic subjectivity, which is clearly false. You continue to conflate these. The fact that neuroscience has progressed so much is evidence that ontological subjectivity does not preclude epistemic objectivity. The same goes for all the other sciences. Are you claiming that the knowledge gained in these fields is illegitimate?
Londoner wrote:
January 25th, 2018, 6:38 am
“It is an answer, but not one that makes sense. I cannot face trying to work out where you got this from; I'd guess it is something to do with reading something about 'qualia'. It is hard to know where to start, but just consider the first pair. The first is analytic, it is necessarily true, it cannot be falsified by experience. The second is an empirical observation, it may be either true or false. So, two entirely different types of proposition. What is served by bracketing them together under the meaningless label 'epistemic'?”
Wait, when you say that “The second is an empirical observation, it may be either true or false,” are you claiming that a taste preference for vanilla or chocolate has truth conditions? It would be quite a philosophical revolution if it is possible to demonstrate that vanilla in fact tastes better than chocolate. Please elaborate.
Londoner wrote:
January 25th, 2018, 6:38 am
“Likewise, in the second pair by 'ontological' you seem to mean 'empirical'. Our knowledge of 'mountains and planets' is obtained through experience, in the same way as our knowledge of 'pains and tickles'. So in that respect the ontology is identical. How we might differentiate between them i.e. the division between our thoughts about a thing and what that thing might be 'in itself' is a basic problem of philosophy.”
No, when I say ontological I mean ontological. Ontologically, a pain only exists if it is experienced in consciousness, while a mountain does not depend for its existence on Intentional mental states. In other words, pain is constituted by conscious experience, while mountains are not. When you are aware of a pain, the awareness is an awareness of constitution, but when you are aware of a mountain, the awareness is an awareness of Intentionality.

Furthermore, epistemologically, the way in which you determine if a person is in pain is clearly not the same way you determine if a mountain exists.
Londoner wrote:
January 25th, 2018, 6:38 am
“No it isn't. Science cannot discover 'cause' in that sense. It can only look at events. It might be that every time an object falls to earth it is because God wills it. Or it might be because we are all in the Matrix and are being fed the perception that objects fall. There is no way for science to decide between these two theories, since in either case, our observations - that objects fall - will be identical.

Here is what Newton said:

I have not as yet been able to discover the reason for these properties of gravity from phenomena, and I do not feign hypotheses. For whatever is not deduced from the phenomena must be called a hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, or based on occult qualities, or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy. In this philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction”
I suggest you write a letter to the prominent M-Theorists and Loop Quantum Gravity theorists and let them know they aren’t looking for the cause of gravity.

Your notion of causation appears to be the naïve Humean conception. Fortunately, we have learned quite a bit about causation and Hume was way off.
Londoner wrote:
January 25th, 2018, 6:38 am
“You are not reading what I write. If everyone thinks something is wrong then it is not seem as a moral problem. Moral problems arise where people disagree. We have a choice; should we do X or Y? You suggest you have a system for resolving moral problems.”
So your comment amounts to “there is moral disagreement if people disagree.” What does that have to do with the epistemic status of morality?

I am claiming an epistemic basis for morality by seeing morality as a functional concept. It’s not a decision algorithm, but it provides the epistemic basis to use various methods to determine whether or not something can be considered true, and if so, what level of epistemic objectivity it has.

Judaka
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Judaka » January 25th, 2018, 2:29 pm

Generally speaking, I, too, agree that values do not possess intrinsic value with one exception: General Well-Being has intrinsic value due to the necessary relation of life to feeling states. It is the only value which can have intrinsic value in a quite literal sense since it is literally internal to conscious life, which is the only way anything can be intrinsic in the world.
My view on this is that in order to determine something's value you need to start with something. If you are a completely blank slate, nothing will have any meaning to you. Causality, physicality and so on, these things will impose themselves upon you and you are subject to them even though you're a blank slate - that's what objectively existing things do. The value of something is lost on a someone who's a blank slate, they will not value general well-being and so there's no intrinsic value. They need to learn or choose to value it. Just as you have chosen to value it while others, so clearly do not. Indeed I don't either, there are plenty of people and creatures for which, I don't give a damn about. I am at times amused by people being humiliated, frustrated, disappointed, depressed and so on - amplified is this feeling if I dislike them.

Where does that leave me in your view? More on this later.
I would like to point out the lack of causation in what you said.
Capitalism functions much like biological influences, it is an influence or pressure on free thinking individuals significant enough to create observable trends. That it exerts this observable and recordable influence is essentially causation. My point is that if you take two otherwise identical civilizations and impose one of them with capitalism and it's assisting structures and the other with another political and economic framework, will we see differences in cultural attitudes, values, behaviours and so on. My second interest is that whether the differences are the result of a human being being in a capitalist structure or if the capitalist structure is always going to exert those kinds of pressures on almost any somewhat similar species.

What I'm pointing out is that you're very happy to argue biological pressures exert their influence over our behaviour but won't recognise influences outside of that despite their existence being rather self-evident. If I chose to centralise my views around a single subject then I may have come to your conclusions but when you recognise that biology is just one cog in the machine - perhaps your rhetoric will become less passionate.
I would like to point out that what this purposefulness of human action adds to moral epistemology is teleology, and teleology permits functional concepts and epistemic objectivity in assessing moral claims. Teleology and function allow a physical object to be a “knife,” for example, which cuts things, and this teleology and function permits one to say, in an epistemically objective manner, that a knife made of butter is a bad knife
As I asked earlier it would be less confusing if we could separate the biological function and our ability to understand it and implement strategies based on our understanding and the objective truthfulness of the claim when separated from its context. Epistemic Subjectivity is not necessarily a feelings based judgement, often times it's quite the opposite. Your epistemic subjectivity claims can have an epistemic objectivity basis, they can have evidence, logic, validity and be aimed at producing specific results.

Objective morality is the idea that moral distinctions are objectively correct, the basis for this cannot be teleological because those distinctions need to have intrinsic correctness to avoid being relative.

In your example you are using teleology as a subjective axiom, a knife that cannot cut is a "bad knife" is the result of this. If I were to value a knife based on my subjective axiom that beauty is all that matters and this knife is more beautiful than others by my standards, then this knife is a good knife. You may argue that it is impossible for humans to think in any other sense than a teleological sense, it doesn't matter. What matters is that functional exclusivity is not the prerequisite for objective correctness. Objective correctness can't be relative to the capabilities and limitations of humans - it has to be intrinsic.

It is my position that objective morality is an implausible concept, it doesn't make sense as a concept and only God, who breaks the rules of subjectivity can create a "coherent" argument for objective morality. He can make distinctions between behaviours and still be objective because *insert theist logic*. Ultimately I don't understand what it even means to be wrong about a distinction between behaviours. If you say "this rock exists" and I say "it doesn't" then each option is easy to understand. There is a rock to touch or there isn't, there is a rock which interacts the world or there isn't. However when you tell me "well being has intrinsic value" and I say "no it doesn't", from here I don't know what it means if you're right. Intrinsic means it is not based on causation - so it's not necessarily true that your view benefits you more than my view benefits me. I can hold my view forever, nothing will stop me. You'll never use that well-being's intrinsic value for anything - it may as well not exist.

It's a meaningless distinction you're making, one that can only serve to give authority in the eyes of some, to an idea which would otherwise in your view, be a mere opinion. I don't believe your opinion that well-being is important is a meaningless one - ideas can change the world, improve people's lives and so on. It is the highest form of distinction that exists and it's far more important than actual epistemic objectivity claims in determining how one should live. Making it exceedingly valuable and something we need to take good care of, morality being relative does not diminish its importance and it still has functions we would like for it to excel at. I take my morals and values very seriously and you would too.

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Frost
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Frost » January 25th, 2018, 3:20 pm

Judaka wrote:
January 25th, 2018, 2:29 pm
What I'm pointing out is that you're very happy to argue biological pressures exert their influence over our behaviour but won't recognise influences outside of that despite their existence being rather self-evident. If I chose to centralise my views around a single subject then I may have come to your conclusions but when you recognise that biology is just one cog in the machine - perhaps your rhetoric will become less passionate.
Judaka,

I hope you don’t mind my focusing on this one part, but I feel this contains a central issue. When you say “won't recognise influences outside of that despite their existence being rather self-evident,” I would both agree and disagree with you here. I think you are absolutely right that there are influences outside of biological evidence. What I take this to mean is that there are desire-independent reasons for action. I disagree in your assessment of my position.

This is actually something I have been trying to argue for, since classical rationality theory, which is still quite dominant today, claims that one only has a reason for action if one already has a corresponding desire in their internal motivational set. This very Humean and this was also seen in Kant’s trouble with how reason provided motivation for action. I look at it both philosophically and biologically, and reasons can be recognized which is then valanced like all cognition, which is part of the internalization of that reason which then provides motivation for action.

I have avoided deontological and virtue ethics considerations to keep things simple, but I believe deontology in particular is a major source of desire-independent reasons for action. What I do not believe in is a Kantian deontology but rather a Searlean deontology. I believe deontology emerges from the logical structure of language and speech acts, which is fundamentally a result of representation of our conscious Intentional mental states, i.e., rooted in neurobiology. This is how, for example, John Searle derives an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ statement which he did in Searle, John R. (1964) “How to derive "ought" from "is." " The Philosophical Review. This provides desire-independent reasons for action that compete with mere biological moral impulses.

So in sum, I do believe there are desire-independent reasons for action, and in fact they are all over the place. They result from deontology and empirical evidence. They are an important element in moving beyond limited morality based on mere biological desires and impulses. In other words, it moves us beyond “chimp morality.”

Gertie
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Gertie » January 25th, 2018, 6:53 pm

My own view is that Objective vs Subjective Morality isn't that useful or relevant an approach in view of our recent understanding of evolved neurology.

We now have a fairly good idea why we have both 'selfish' and 'altruistic'/social predispositions. And these are moulded by environmental factors, including culture. Eventually we came to view this in terms of Right and Wrong, and created the concept of Morality. Many believing our notions of Right and Wrong were self-evidently objectively True, or sourced from a perfect god, and in that sense objectively grounded. However, this was all before we understood our evolved predispositions.

The question facing us now imo, in light of this new knowledge, is whether there is still a rational grounding for notions of Right and Wrong? Can we still get a credible Ought from this Is?

And I would suggest that the inherent qualiative nature of Subjective Experience (consciousness) ironically provides us with such a grounding which can at least treat as a quasi-objective basis for judging Right and Wrong. It is subjective experience itself which brings value and meaning into the world, because it brings quality of life into being. Without consciousness, there's just stuff interacting, with consciousness there are pleasant and unpleasant experiences, harm and well-being.

To put it another way, consciousness brings Mattering into the world. It matters how I treat you, because you're a conscious Subject with a quality of life. This can be called objectively true, but that's not really the key point, the key point is it Matters. And that alone provides a basis for Oughts.

I think this gets us around the problem Judaka points to here, and gives us foundation for Oughts we can still cohere around -

1. There’s no such thing as objective, inherent value.

My honest belief is that the validity in objective morality comes from the lack of explanations offered for moral claims with “inherent value”. We measure the value of something, using axioms or other values – to determine whether something is important to us or not. Famous claims of “inherently valuable” concepts such as human life cannot provide any proof for their claims. That is because all arguments for value rely on intangible axioms and values which are validated subjectively. The definitions of value, as being something which is determined by how people feel about it, preclude the possibility for an objectively good value.

Judaka
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Judaka » January 26th, 2018, 12:01 am

I can't help but feel this is a complete deviation from the topic and I am not even convinced you still have an argument in favour of objective morality but I can briefly comment on some of this stuff.

Firstly to analyse Searle's arguments about getting an ought from an is, the qualitative aspect is that "one ought to fulfil his promises", there is always an undying qualitative aspect to the word ought and it always follows some kind of rationale which doesn't need to be accepted. All language is subjective to begin with, if the word "promise" is used with a feeling or desire attached to it, either in the word or in intention - there is only obligation or consistence which one could choose to follow.

Searle did define an evaluative statement without any moral imperative or intrinsic meaning so in my view this is only part of what an evaluative statement is and especially within the context of objective morality, evaluative statements which speak of intrinsic or necessary elements that are not descriptive shouldn't be included in the way he is using the word "ought". My point being that "ought" is being talked about as an issue of consistency rather than moral imperative and I don't think what he's saying can be extrapolated to any sort of moral imperative, at least not an inherent moral imperative.


"The underlying reason for these differences is that evaluative
statements perform a completely different job from descriptive
statements. Their job is not to describe any features of the world
but to express the speaker's emotions, to express his attitudes, to
praise or condemn, to laud or insult, to commend, to recommend,
to advise, and so forth."
-John Searle

Language may provide the building blocks by expressing wishes within the definitions that means for the sake of consistency and logic, something which can still be rejected and make the use of the word "ought" awkward and presumptive. Well I've only just read the argument and I'll take some time to reflect but these are my initial feelings.
This is actually something I have been trying to argue for, since classical rationality theory, which is still quite dominant today, claims that one only has a reason for action if one already has a corresponding desire in their internal motivational set.
I read your earlier explanation about an obligation (I believe) and how one could choose to fulfil it against his wishes. I think your definition of desire is too limited, clearly there is a reason he fulfils his obligation and there must be a desire correlated with this. Well I'm not clear on the details and I have too much uncertainty as to where things stand to really comment with confidence. I think if you dig deeper you will always find a reason for an action but I don't think for example when I itch myself that I have rationally decided or desired anything, although you could say subliminally that I desire to be free of itches so I scratch them I think I whether I itch or not is more habitual or subconscious than rooted in desire.

As far as consciously deciding to do something without a reason, I don't see the logic to that. If the desire isn't explicit then it's connection lies with a desire in something else which shares some perceived link to the initial action. So I begrudgingly fulfill my obligation because I want to be a good friend for example.

My argument with capitalism was that it influenced people's desires and perspectives, not subverted desire, replacing it with something else.

Though I don't think any of this is relevant to my argument against objective morality.

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Frost
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Frost » January 26th, 2018, 12:29 am

Judaka wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 12:01 am
All language is subjective to begin with
Another example of conflating the ontological and epistemic sense of subjective. This error is what is holding you back from seeing how morality can be epistemically objective.
Judaka wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 12:01 am
Firstly to analyse Searle's arguments about getting an ought from an is, the qualitative aspect is that "one ought to fulfil his promises", there is always an undying qualitative aspect to the word ought and it always follows some kind of rationale which doesn't need to be accepted.
His point is that the ought is internal to the logical structure of the language. It's not about having a desire to fulfill obligations. It's purely a logical derivation. But I have to come back to the ambiguity in subjective and objective, because we can't ever get to deontological considerations without that understanding.

Also, you seem to insinuate that objective morality must be followed, or in other words, objective morality would compel one to act in accordance with its rules, perhaps in the naive sort of sense of how people would say that a falling body acts in accordance with the law of gravity. Am I wrong on that?

Judaka
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Judaka » January 26th, 2018, 12:58 am

Another example of conflating the ontological and epistemic sense of subjective. This error is what is holding you back from seeing how morality can be epistemically objective.
As I said, I'm not sold on the value of the distinction and I haven't thought a single time you corrected me to be meaningful. Language is both epistemically and ontologically subjective, in any case I don't even know what you're getting at.
His point is that the ought is internal to the logical structure of the language. It's not about having a desire to fulfill obligations. It's purely a logical derivation.
I don't even want to debate this until I hear why you think it's relevant to objective morality. Language is not relevant.
Also, you seem to insinuate that objective morality must be followed, or in other words, objective morality would compel one to act in accordance with its rules, perhaps in the naive sort of sense of how people would say that a falling body acts in accordance with the law of gravity. Am I wrong on that?
I've already stated my opinion about this:
It is my position that objective morality is an implausible concept, it doesn't make sense as a concept and only God, who breaks the rules of subjectivity can create a "coherent" argument for objective morality. He can make distinctions between behaviours and still be objective because *insert theist logic*. Ultimately I don't understand what it even means to be wrong about a distinction between behaviours. If you say "this rock exists" and I say "it doesn't" then each option is easy to understand. There is a rock to touch or there isn't, there is a rock which interacts the world or there isn't. However when you tell me "well being has intrinsic value" and I say "no it doesn't", from here I don't know what it means if you're right. Intrinsic means it is not based on causation - so it's not necessarily true that your view benefits you more than my view benefits me. I can hold my view forever, nothing will stop me. You'll never use that well-being's intrinsic value for anything - it may as well not exist.

It's a meaningless distinction you're making, one that can only serve to give authority in the eyes of some, to an idea which would otherwise in your view, be a mere opinion
I said this merely a few posts ago and you chose not to respond, now telling me I "seem" to "insinuate" something completely different from that. I have not stated what the world would look like if objective morality existed - ontological or epistemological - of which I've heard both argued for. I have not limited the discussion on what objective morality is, instead allowing you to define what it means. Your seeming inability to do so is unsurprising.

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Frost
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Frost » January 26th, 2018, 1:12 am

Judaka wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 12:58 am
Another example of conflating the ontological and epistemic sense of subjective. This error is what is holding you back from seeing how morality can be epistemically objective.
As I said, I'm not sold on the value of the distinction and I haven't thought a single time you corrected me to be meaningful. Language is both epistemically and ontologically subjective, in any case I don't even know what you're getting at.
No, language is emphatically not "both epistemically and ontologically subjective." That's an absurd claim. Really, if you do not understand a basic epistemological distinction then there is no way to proceed with more advanced questions of moral epistemology. Perhaps reread the distinction I made and pose questions so that I can help to clarify.

Judaka wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 12:58 am
I don't even want to debate this until I hear why you think it's relevant to objective morality. Language is not relevant.
This is absurd. Language is the very foundation of social ontology But again, if you do not understand basic epistemology then we cannot even go here. I'm sorry I even brought up deontology since we weren't ready for it.

Judaka
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Joined: May 2nd, 2017, 10:10 am

Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Judaka » January 26th, 2018, 1:42 am

Still not hearing why any of this is relevant, just hearing a lot of corrections and accusations and not many answers.
No, language is emphatically not "both epistemically and ontologically subjective
Language is epistemically subjective because we need to interpret the meaning of words. Words hold meaning outside of their definitions that needs to be interpreted and the definitions themselves categorise things together which we may not agree with and so on. Language is ontologically subjective because when I say the word "love" for example, your experience of "love" is not something which can be expressed to me - how you feel about it defines the word but it's an experience which is unique to you. Language is supposed to communicate our feelings using the similarities but how you experience words I would classify as ontologically subjective.

My understanding of the terms is:

Ontological subjectivity = our experiences the way we experience them

Ontological objectivity = that which is interpreted by the senses

Epistemological subjectivity = Logic espoused from a position of your own particular perspective

Epistemological objectivity = Logic espoused from objective validity

Upon reflection with regards to that, could it be that all this time you are arguing that morality posses objective validity?

Londoner
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Joined: March 8th, 2013, 12:46 pm

Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Londoner » January 26th, 2018, 7:35 am

Frost wrote:
January 25th, 2018, 1:09 pm
When you claim that neuroscience has “non-scientific considerations” you are assuming that ontological subjectivity implies epistemic subjectivity, which is clearly false. You continue to conflate these. The fact that neuroscience has progressed so much is evidence that ontological subjectivity does not preclude epistemic objectivity. The same goes for all the other sciences. Are you claiming that the knowledge gained in these fields is illegitimate?
Sorry, but as I have explained, I cannot really answer such points because I do not think these terms like 'ontological subjectivity' or 'epistemic objectivity' make sense.
Wait, when you say that “The second is an empirical observation, it may be either true or false,” are you claiming that a taste preference for vanilla or chocolate has truth conditions? It would be quite a philosophical revolution if it is possible to demonstrate that vanilla in fact tastes better than chocolate. Please elaborate.
It is quite easy. Eat some vanilla and eat some chocolate. See which taste you prefer. Say ‘Vanilla tastes better than chocolate This will be either true or false, depending on your preference.

Or, if the intended meaning was Everybody agrees that vanilla tastes better than chocolate or Vanilla always tastes better than chocolate we could find out whether that was true too, by empirical methods.

If we are to say that Vanilla tastes better than chocolate is neither true nor false i.e. meaningless because how something tastes to me isn't directly observable by you, then we would have to say the same about every experience. I do not know what you see when you see 'red' or experience 'hot' and what combination of experiences you understand as 'a mountain'. So, 'grass is green' would not be an empirical proposition either.

(You mention 'truth conditions'. These is a term in analytic philosophy, or semantics. The 'truth conditions' of Vanilla tastes better than chocolate would not be our ability to conduct some sort of experiment to see if this was scientifically true, rather they concern the nature of propositions.)

In other words....its complicated! So when you throw in phrases like 'ontological subjectivity' or declare:
Epistemic objectivity: 1 + 1 = 2
Epistemic subjectivity: ‘Vanilla tastes better than chocolate.”
as if they were philosophical facts or knock-down arguments I do not know what to make of them.

Again:
No, when I say ontological I mean ontological. Ontologically, a pain only exists if it is experienced in consciousness, while a mountain does not depend for its existence on Intentional mental states. In other words, pain is constituted by conscious experience, while mountains are not.
So, what do you mean by 'mountain'? All the things you might list; its shape, its colour, its hardness, etc. are all experiences in consciousness, just like pain. You have no option of perceiving the mountain except through your own consciousness. Yes, you can argue that the mountain is 'ontologically' different from the pain, but not on the grounds that it doesn't appear in consciousness
When you are aware of a pain, the awareness is an awareness of constitution, but when you are aware of a mountain, the awareness is an awareness of Intentionality.
So you say, but you need to explain how we could know this.
Furthermore, epistemologically, the way in which you determine if a person is in pain is clearly not the same way you determine if a mountain exists
.

As I say above, you seem to think of 'epistemology' - and 'ontology' - as if they were some sort of tools or techniques.

In philosophy, there are great thick books on how we might understand or use the term 'exist'. Saying 'epistemologically' is not helpful.

'Ontology' and 'Epistemology' are labels on the philosophy bookshelves, along with Ethics and Aesthetics and Phenomenology and the rest. And the librarians can have endless debates about which section any particular book should go in. These words are descriptions of types of problem, not answers.
Your notion of causation appears to be the naïve Humean conception. Fortunately, we have learned quite a bit about causation and Hume was way off.
If you say so. Now, to return the subject we are supposed to be discussing.
I am claiming an epistemic basis for morality by seeing morality as a functional concept. It’s not a decision algorithm, but it provides the epistemic basis to use various methods to determine whether or not something can be considered true, and if so, what level of epistemic objectivity it has.
I cannot make sense of that. what is the 'something', the 'it'? Is it 'morality' as a concept? Or is it a specific moral judgement on a particular issue?

You see morality as a 'functional concept'. What 'function'? The function of humans? Suppose I have a different idea of my function to you?

'Various methods' are no help. People already use 'various methods' which is why we do not all agree about moral issues. If there is an objective morality, then there can only be one method.

What is the 'something' that can be 'considered true'? Wouldn't the 'various methods to determine whether or not something can be considered true' be different, depending on what that 'something' was?

Your example of 'epistemic objectivity' was '1 + 1 = 2'. If the 'something' is morality itself, or a specific moral question, I do not see that it contains any 'level' of maths. If it somehow did, then I do not see how it could only possess a 'level' of epistemic objectivity'. It would either be true in the sense that 1 + 1 = 2 is true, or it wouldn't. There isn't some half-way house.

And so on. It makes medieval theology seem a model of straight-talking.

If the concept is so opaque at this stage, it is no wonder that we never get near applying it to any concrete examples of moral questions.

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Frost
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Joined: January 20th, 2018, 2:44 pm

Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Frost » January 26th, 2018, 12:30 pm

Judaka wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 1:42 am
Language is epistemically subjective because we need to interpret the meaning of words. Words hold meaning outside of their definitions that needs to be interpreted and the definitions themselves categorise things together which we may not agree with and so on. Language is ontologically subjective because when I say the word "love" for example, your experience of "love" is not something which can be expressed to me - how you feel about it defines the word but it's an experience which is unique to you. Language is supposed to communicate our feelings using the similarities but how you experience words I would classify as ontologically subjective.
Think about this for a moment. If language were epistemically subjective, how could there be such a thing as English class? How could there by syntax if language were mere opinion or whim? There is varying degrees of epistemic objectivity depending on what is being considered. When you get into the philosophy of language there is a deep logical structure to language which is not epistemically subjective.
Judaka wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 1:42 am
My understanding of the terms is:

Ontological subjectivity = our experiences the way we experience them

Ontological objectivity = that which is interpreted by the senses
While I think you may be correct, could you please provide several examples of each? Where would you place social institutions?
Judaka wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 1:42 am
Epistemological subjectivity = Logic espoused from a position of your own particular perspective

Epistemological objectivity = Logic espoused from objective validity
Could you please elaborate on what each of these means? In particular, what is logic espoused from objective validity? I’m not clear what sense of the term objectivity is being used here. Since you are trying to define a sense of objectivity, it would be best to not use objective in the definition, no?
Judaka wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 1:42 am
Upon reflection with regards to that, could it be that all this time you are arguing that morality posses objective validity?
Since I am not quite sure what you mean, if you could explain that in the context above I can determine whether I am or not :)

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Frost
Posts: 510
Joined: January 20th, 2018, 2:44 pm

Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Frost » January 26th, 2018, 1:57 pm

Londoner wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 7:35 am
Sorry, but as I have explained, I cannot really answer such points because I do not think these terms like 'ontological subjectivity' or 'epistemic objectivity' make sense.
What do you not understand about them? We really cannot have a conversation on moral epistemology without understanding this.
Londoner wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 7:35 am
It is quite easy. Eat some vanilla and eat some chocolate. See which taste you prefer. Say ‘Vanilla tastes better than chocolate This will be either true or false, depending on your preference.

Or, if the intended meaning was Everybody agrees that vanilla tastes better than chocolate or Vanilla always tastes better than chocolate we could find out whether that was true too, by empirical methods.

If we are to say that Vanilla tastes better than chocolate is neither true nor false i.e. meaningless because how something tastes to me isn't directly observable by you, then we would have to say the same about every experience. I do not know what you see when you see 'red' or experience 'hot' and what combination of experiences you understand as 'a mountain'. So, 'grass is green' would not be an empirical proposition either.

(You mention 'truth conditions'. These is a term in analytic philosophy, or semantics. The 'truth conditions' of Vanilla tastes better than chocolate would not be our ability to conduct some sort of experiment to see if this was scientifically true, rather they concern the nature of propositions.)

In other words....its complicated! So when you throw in phrases like 'ontological subjectivity' or declare:
Epistemic objectivity: 1 + 1 = 2
Epistemic subjectivity: ‘Vanilla tastes better than chocolate.”
as if they were philosophical facts or knock-down arguments I do not know what to make of them.
In the first option, if you like chocolate the statement would be false, and if I like vanilla it would be true, which would make the statement both true and false. That’s an obvious contradiction.

The second option is changing the assertion.

The third option is not meaningless, but rather epistemically subjective.

You, however, claimed that it is “an empirical observation, it may be either true or false.” Your explanations certainly have not justified this claim. You either end up with a contradiction, trying to change the assertion, or end up with epistemic subjectivity which was my original claim to the epistemic status of the assertion. In terms of philosophy of language, it is an expressive illocutionary act rather than an assertive illocutionary act as you claimed.
Londoner wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 7:35 am
So, what do you mean by 'mountain'? All the things you might list; its shape, its colour, its hardness, etc. are all experiences in consciousness, just like pain. You have no option of perceiving the mountain except through your own consciousness. Yes, you can argue that the mountain is 'ontologically' different from the pain, but not on the grounds that it doesn't appear in consciousness
When you are aware of a pain, the awareness of is one of constitution. When you are aware of the mountain, the awareness of is of Intentionality.

To this, you said that “So you say, but you need to explain how we could know this.” The existence of the mountain does not depend on your conscious awareness of it, while the existence of your headache does depend on your conscious awareness of it.
Londoner wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 7:35 am
I am claiming an epistemic basis for morality by seeing morality as a functional concept. It’s not a decision algorithm, but it provides the epistemic basis to use various methods to determine whether or not something can be considered true, and if so, what level of epistemic objectivity it has.
I cannot make sense of that. what is the 'something', the 'it'? Is it 'morality' as a concept? Or is it a specific moral judgement on a particular issue?
Sorry. The “something” is simply a moral judgment.
Londoner wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 7:35 am
You see morality as a 'functional concept'. What 'function'? The function of humans? Suppose I have a different idea of my function to you?
It’s function is to promote the well-being of conscious organisms. This is a biological concept. You are welcome to have a different idea of function, but this is like saying you want to have a different idea of the function of auxin in plants. We discover biological functions, and morality is no different.
Londoner wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 7:35 am
'Various methods' are no help. People already use 'various methods' which is why we do not all agree about moral issues. If there is an objective morality, then there can only be one method.
Rubbish. Praxeology is used to determine moral claims related to economics and has absolute epistemic objectivity. With claims along the lines of the promiscuity prior to marriage empirical methods must be used and has weak epistemic objectivity. With moral claims related to obligations, the logical structure of language is used to determine its status and has absolute epistemic objectivity.
Londoner wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 7:35 am
What is the 'something' that can be 'considered true'? Wouldn't the 'various methods to determine whether or not something can be considered true' be different, depending on what that 'something' was?
Yes, as described in the response immediately prior to this.
Londoner wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 7:35 am
Your example of 'epistemic objectivity' was '1 + 1 = 2'. If the 'something' is morality itself, or a specific moral question, I do not see that it contains any 'level' of maths. If it somehow did, then I do not see how it could only possess a 'level' of epistemic objectivity'. It would either be true in the sense that 1 + 1 = 2 is true, or it wouldn't. There isn't some half-way house.
Mathematics was just a simple example of absolute epistemic objectivity. Verbal logic, as mentioned, falls into the category of absolute epistemic objectivity. Logical analysis of the structure of language can dictate the status of obligations, for example, and praxeology uses verbal logic to construct economic theory. For example, the claim that socialism is bad is absolute in its epistemic objectivity due to its basis in praxeological economic theory. There is no valid room for disagreement due to this epistemic status.

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