Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

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Ranvier
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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Ranvier » September 2nd, 2017, 2:43 pm

GE Morton
Ranvier
This is where Philosophy such a yours GEM fails because human consciousness exists in the context of the evolutionary empathy, where "Ought's" can't be logically deduced as a philosophical exercise but must be based on such reality of the conscious mind (experience).

GEM
Sorry, Ranvier, but I don't know what you're trying to say there. The "context of evolutionary empathy"? Are you saying that all moral beliefs and systems are driven by empathy? Surely you realize that is false. Mills' utilitarianism is clearly not based on empathy. Sure you also realize that empathy is far from being a universal human trait. And that even if it were, that fact would not be an argument for any particular moral belief or theory.
That is exactly what I'm asserting.
em·pa·thy
[ˈempəTHē]
NOUN

the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Through the process of evolution, animals (dolphins or chimpanzee) including humans, posses awareness not only of self but others. With the evolution of consciousness, human's are capable of empathy (presumably so we don't eat our young). This is what I meant by "evolutionary empathy".

It took so many posts to realize that our concept of morality differs significantly, to the point of apples and oranges. What you propose, is a "code of conduct" that has nothing to do with morality that should encompass the "human condition" of benevolence in empathy. You are thinking in terms of the "manual" or "code of conduct" for a psychopath, incapable of emotion, just to know how to behave "properly" within a social setting.

Our starting moral premises are just different.

-- Updated September 2nd, 2017, 3:25 pm to add the following --

I assert that there were most likely other "humanoid" species coexisting with Homo sapiens, not just the Neanderthals. We know this through genetic studies that provide evidence that human genome contains on average about 2.5% of Neanderthal's DNA. This is evident in the human omnivorous nature that I propose resulted from "fusion" of a carnivore and herbivore humanoids, which can be observed in human behavior of herbivorous/hoarding and carnivorous/type A personality. This is further confirmed by human "forward" set eyes for hunting pray (carnivore) but lateral hearing (ears on the sides) for almost 360 degree awareness of the environment (herbivore). There are myriad of such phenotype expressions as empirical evidence for such "fusion" of the carnivore and herbivore traits. However, I postulate that only the Homo sapiens had the greatest percentage of the carnivorous genes (psychopath) that dominated all other humanoid species, rendering them extinct. However, the herbivorous gene heritage persisted within the gene pool of Homo sapiens, which in consequence became positively selected for through the evolutionary process in reality of strength in "community" vs "lone wolf" hunter. This resulted over the 100, 000 years of human evolutionary history in much grater percentage of herbivore genes vs carnivore genes, hence the prevalence of Empathy.

That is not to say that there aren't "Dexter's" out there.

GE Morton
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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by GE Morton » September 3rd, 2017, 12:04 am

Ranvier wrote:(quoting): "Are you saying that all moral beliefs and systems are driven by empathy? Surely you realize that is false. Mills' utilitarianism is clearly not based on empathy. Sure you also realize that empathy is far from being a universal human trait. And that even if it were, that fact would not be an argument for any particular moral belief or theory."

That is exactly what I'm asserting.
You're asserting that despite the abundant evidence that claim is false? Is Mill's utilitarianism based on empathy? Kant's moral philosophy? Aristotle's?
Through the process of evolution, animals (dolphins or chimpanzee) including humans, posses awareness not only of self but others. With the evolution of consciousness, human's are capable of empathy (presumably so we don't eat our young). This is what I meant by "evolutionary empathy".
Ok. Now, what has that to do with moral philosophy?
What you propose, is a "code of conduct" that has nothing to do with morality that should encompass the "human condition" of benevolence in empathy.
Well, yes, with respect to what I'm proposing. That is the aim of moral philosophy --- to develop a theory, a set of principles, from which a code of conduct can be derived and delineated. Those principles should reflect all relevant, empirically verifiable features of human nature and human societies, and the theory should be coherent and logically consistent.

I take it that the goal of moral philosophy is, in your mind, to (somehow) persuade (or force?) everyone to be empathetic. I don't think you understand the reason that moral philosophy, as a subject of rational inquiry, arose in the first place.

As I mentioned earlier, morality, as a formal subject of inquiry, like law, developed just because the interpersonal bonds that bind members of tribal societies cannot form in civilized societies. Empathy is an emotional response to others' suffering that is normally triggered by personal contact. It is fairly effective in tribal societies, where all of the members know one another personally; where each member's life is entwined with the lives of every other member. In civilized societies --- which are "societies of strangers" --- people do not, and cannot, feel empathy for everyone else in their society. The required interpersonal relationships cannot form. Christianity has been exhorting its followers to "love they neighbor" for 2000 years, and has had utterly no success in accomplishing that goal. Nor will it ever accomplish it.

If everyone loved everyone else, or felt empathy with them, there would be no need for moral rules, or for laws. But that is not possible, and will neved happen, in societies of the kind in which most humans live today.
You are thinking in terms of the "manual" or "code of conduct" for a psychopath, incapable of emotion, just to know how to behave "properly" within a social setting.
Yes. That is indeed the aim --- to devise rules of proper behavior in a social setting wherein most of the people around one are strangers who have no personal interest in one another's lives or any overriding concern for one's own, or one another's, welfare.

Like many religions, and all totalitarian movements, you seem to be seeking to resurrect the "tribal consciousness," with its unity, intimacy, and feelings of brotherhood. You're tilting at windmills.

-- Updated September 3rd, 2017, 8:48 am to add the following --
Ranvier wrote:What you propose, is a "code of conduct" that has nothing to do with morality that should encompass the "human condition" of benevolence in empathy.
PS: Nothing. of course, prevents you, or anyone, from acting on your own feelings of empathy and adopting benevolence as a guiding principle of your own private morality. But given that those feelings are not universal, they cannot serve as a foundation for a universal public morality.

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Gertie » September 3rd, 2017, 11:09 am

Gertie
Not only human conscious life, as I've said 'the well-being of conscious creatures' means we should radically change the way we treat other species too. But it wouldn't extend to carrots for example, because (as far as we know) they have no quality of life. So chopping up a carrot is fine, smashing a rock or a toaster or a computer is fine. But if one day computers became conscious, had qualiative experiential states, then we Ought to treat them in a way which recognises their quality of life matters.

This is clear to the point of obvious. However, the failure of logic stems from NOT articulating the basis for the premise. We are so "impregnated" with the cultural and religious rational, without realizing, that such premise seems obvious. But one can't build a moral theory of "Ought's" based on a premise without justifying or rationalizing that premise. What are these "Ought's" and where do they come from?
This seems to be a key hurdle, yes? So I won't keep repeating previous answers, I'll circle back to where I started!

My starting position is asking if it's possible for us to find a consensual foundation for Oughts, in a world in which a consensus on the independent existence of Objective Morality (discoverable through eg divine revelation or reason) no longer holds sway? Or are we left with the conclusion that there is no basis for Oughts in the absence of Objective Morality, that all is permissible?

I think that to find such a consensus, we have to take a fresh approach. Yours is one such fresh approach, which claims there is inherent value in everything-that-is, and then notes the tendencies in how how the universe has developed, and draws from that a claim that some states of affairs are 'better' than others (eg diversity and complexity). As I understand it, maintaining or achieving those 'better' states of affairs you infer is your basis for Oughts, in a nutshell. (Correct me if I've significantly misunderstood).

My approach is founded on Mattering (an idea Goldstein is pursuing, and I'm running with it in a slightly different way, and still muddling through it). And I say Mattering is an inherent feature of qualiative (nice and nasty) experiential states. I think using the language of 'Mattering' rather than 'Morality', while clumsy sometimes, helps to remind us this is a fresh approach which doesn't necessarily have to have the baggage associated with old approaches to 'Morality'. So while it's aim is to find a new shared foundation for Oughts, the methodology and 'rules' don't have to be same as the previous failed model of Objective Morality.

And I believe the well-being of conscious creatures is a solid foundation, because it matters. Whether your quality of life is nasty or nice matters to you. When your body dies you lose the thing which matters to you - the very experience of being a Me - which is the sum total of your qualiative experiential states.

You rightly point out that there's a leap from knowing my quality of life matters to me, to being obligated to treat others well, even if you acknowledge their quality of life matters to them.

Now I can say that their quality of life is just as valuable from an objective pov, therefore reason and logic suggest that you should treat them well, as a guiding principle. And I think that resonates logically with most people, as well as with our social nature. And imo, without an Objective Morality to refer to, a tablet of stone to check against, that's probably about as good as we can hope to achieve. (The real world isn't obliged to fit our notions of tidy logic, which is probably part of why we invented the notion of Objective Morality, and the relationship between the Subjective and Objective generally is one we're still grappling with, including philosophy).

You might disagree, and say we can look to the nature of the universe as our rosetta tablet of stone. But when I look at the nature of the universe, I see a lot of cruelty and overall indifference, and I think we can do better.

-- Updated September 3rd, 2017, 4:20 pm to add the following --

GE
Gertie wrote:
I'm saying that the qualiative nature of experiential states is what makes them matter. We live in a world of stuff and experiencing, and experiencing has this subjective qualiative nature. It feels like something to be Gertie or Ranvier or a particular homeless person or a dog or a chicken. And it matters to each of us whether that feels good or bad. Our well-being, our quality of life, matters to each of us.
So far, so good.
I'm saying that fact, that 'Is', entails 'Oughts'. I Ought to be considerate of your quality of life because it matters to you, you have a stake in the state of affairs which I contribute to. We all do.
Well, that is either a very bold move or a very careless one --- sticking your neck under Hume's Guillotine and risking the ridicule of nearly every moral philosopher since.
Lets go with bold ;)

Gotta run, more later, but my reply to Ranvier above might give you the gist of where I'm coming from.

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Ranvier » September 3rd, 2017, 12:58 pm

I think we established that all three of us are using the term "morality" starting with different premises. I'm personally much more comfortable with Gertie's concept of "mattering" as it comes from a "good" place. However, if I follow that logic it leads me to three unfavorable conclusions:
1. I must do everything possible to not only improve my "quality of life" but also all the other "moral agents", otherwise I'm a hypocrite in my premise for morality.
2. In deriving the universal system of "Ought's", I'm creating a totalitarian system where everyone must adhere to it or become accused of immoral behavior.
3. It's the overall direction of the premise towards pure benevolence in strive for equality, which is nice but it violates my own premise of "Diversity".

As for GEM's model, in my perspective it's much closer to the philosophy of the law, rather than morality. Humans, even in large population of strangers are capable of compassion and "Empathy".
- Primary awareness, is perception of self and own needs
- Secondary awareness (dolphin or chimpanzee) beside the primary awareness, it is capable of empathy towards others.
- Human multiple awareness, is capable of Empathy even for those we have never met (victims of hurricane Harvey) or even fictional characters (crying watching a movie)

What GEM proposes is a "Code of conduct" as in Decalogue of commandments as the "moral law". As you mentioned GEM and so did Aristotle, morality should be based on the empirical evidence, which implies actual life experience not just philosophically deduced principles. A good moral character arises from knowledge but also the personal life experience. The virtues and values are based on some premise that supposed to guide our "Ought's", only in a general direction in which to proceed but it must be in the context of given circumstances and personal experience. To tell the child "not to touch the stove" is not morality, which is much more fluid and changes with life experience. The "moral principles" of two thousand years ago, were in the context of different reality and life's experience.

As Gertie points out, I derived my own premise from my own knowledge and life experience that is derived from observation of the "Natural principles" objective of human individual experience. However, as I mention before, I also got stuck on the 5th principle of "good vs evil" from the human perspective in subjective morality. This as I point out, can take us in the route of Gertie's premise of "mattering of consciousness" or GEM's pure logic outside of empathy. According to my principles, "better" is only a direction and the need for "Ought's" but not the constraint of any Universal Moral Law of definitive "Ought's", which should always be in the context of the human experience and empathy.

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by GE Morton » September 4th, 2017, 11:02 am

Gertie wrote:My starting position is asking if it's possible for us to find a consensual foundation for Oughts, in a world in which a consensus on the independent existence of Objective Morality (discoverable through eg divine revelation or reason) no longer holds sway? Or are we left with the conclusion that there is no basis for Oughts in the absence of Objective Morality, that all is permissible?
I'm curious about your interest in finding a "consensus." A couple of issues: 1) What do you mean by a "consensus"? Per the dictionary, a consensus is a unanimous agreement.

"1 a : general agreement : unanimity"
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consensus

"agreement among all the people involved"
http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dict ... /consensus

That word is, however, often used (incorrectly) to denote a mere majority opinion.

If you're using the word correctly, to mean unanimity, then surely you realize there will never be a consensus on any particular moral issue, much less on the foundation for a moral theory. So you've set yourself an impossible task. But if you're using the term in the loose sense to mean merely a majority or some other popular agreement, then 2) you're beginning your quest with the ad populum fallacy.

The popularity of an opinion has no bearing on its truth. If we're trying to do philosophy here, and not merely contriving sophistic rationales for pre-conceived conclusions, then we need to begin from premises that we're sure are true, regardless of how popular they are (or how useful they are for validating our preconceived conclusions).

Finally, 3) What is the basis for your assumption that there is a "consensus" (in either sense) that "the independent existence of Objective Morality (discoverable through eg divine revelation or reason no longer holds sway"? I see no evidence of a consensus on either of your options --- many (mostly non-philosophers) still believe that God is the source of "objective morality," and many philosophers believe there is an objective, rational basis for moral theory.
And I believe the well-being of conscious creatures is a solid foundation, because it matters.
I believe your claim there is equivalent to the Axiom I offered in a previous post: "All agents in the moral field should adhere to rules per which goods can be maximized, and evils minimized, for all agents." Is it not?
You rightly point out that there's a leap from knowing my quality of life matters to me, to being obligated to treat others well, even if you acknowledge their quality of life matters to them.

Now I can say that their quality of life is just as valuable from an objective pov, therefore reason and logic suggest that you should treat them well, as a guiding principle.
There are no values "from an objective point of view." What is objective, however, is the fact that other people are moral agents who do value things. That their quality of life matters to them is also an objective fact.

A valuer must be stated or assumed for value statements to be objective or even cognitive. I.e., "X has value V" is not objective; "P values X, or "P assigns value V to X" is objective. So if we add a postulate of Equal Agency to our theory (all agents subject to the theory have the same moral status and are equally bound by the rules), then we'll be obliged to devise rules which give equal weight to the goals and interests of all agents.

The upshot here is that we need not value others or their interests in order to become obliged to "treat them well." To value something is a subjective, emotional reaction to a thing that cannot be commanded. But that they are moral agents, with all that implies, is an objective fact we cannot deny or ignore.

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Ranvier » September 4th, 2017, 12:04 pm

GE Morton
A valuer must be stated or assumed for value statements to be objective or even cognitive. I.e., "X has value V" is not objective; "P values X, or "P assigns value V to X" is objective. So if we add a postulate of Equal Agency to our theory (all agents subject to the theory have the same moral status and are equally bound by the rules), then we'll be obliged to devise rules which give equal weight to the goals and interests of all agents.
Problem:

Not all moral agents are equal or even qualify (as per previously stated a), b), c)) to become subjects of the theory:
- Chimpanzee
- Human child
- Not very intelligent (cognitive) human adult
- Human adult that doesn't care about his own life or life of others
- People with different (subjective) convictions or beliefs

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by GE Morton » September 4th, 2017, 3:37 pm

Ranvier wrote:Not all moral agents are equal or even qualify (as per previously stated a), b), c)) to become subjects of the theory:
Creatures who do not satisfy all three criteria are not moral agents (by definition). If they satisfy a) but not b) or c), they're "moral subjects" (e.g., many animals and all infants). If they satisfy a) and b) but not c) they're "moral imbeciles" (sociopaths).

The theory does not apply, or applies differently, to those categories.
- People with different (subjective) convictions or beliefs
Er, no. If a creature satisfies all three criteria he is a moral agent and the theory applies, regardless of his beliefs/convictions.

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Ranvier » September 4th, 2017, 7:46 pm

GE Morton

Therefore, under such theory:
- The sexual acts of a pedophile on a child, rape of mentally ill or with impaired cognition, or those performed on the psychopaths would be morally sound?

Lastly, a Universal theory must apply to everyone and for everyone to be a sound moral theory. Therefore, the Universal Moral Theory is not possible.

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Gertie » September 4th, 2017, 7:59 pm

GEM
Gertie wrote:I'm saying that the qualiative nature of experiential states is what makes them matter. We live in a world of stuff and experiencing, and experiencing has this subjective qualiative nature. It feels like something to be Gertie or Ranvier or a particular homeless person or a dog or a chicken. And it matters to each of us whether that feels good or bad. Our well-being, our quality of life, matters to each of us.

So far, so good.

I'm saying that fact, that 'Is', entails 'Oughts'. I Ought to be considerate of your quality of life because it matters to you, you have a stake in the state of affairs which I contribute to. We all do.

Well, that is either a very bold move or a very careless one --- sticking your neck under Hume's Guillotine and risking the ridicule of nearly every moral philosopher since.

http://www.philosophy-index.com/hume/guillotine/

Attempting to derive an “ought” from an “is” is also called the "Naturalistic Fallacy," and it is logically impossible.

https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/too ... ic-Fallacy

You can get where I think you want to go. But you need to begin from some ethical premise from which “oughts” can be derived.


I think you're saying that if my quality of life matters to me, why should I have to be considerate of yours. And I'd say because mattering doesn't only belong to me, other critters with interests/a stake in the state of affairs/whose quality of life matter to them, exist too. [


Same fallacy:

1. Bruno has interests (or is conscious, sentient, can experience pleasure or pain, has hopes and dreams, etc.)

2. Therefore I ought not harm Bruno or thwart his hopes.

That is a glaringnon sequitur


ou can reject that, but I think it's something people naturally understand (psychopaths excepted) and could cohere around as a foundation for Oughts, in a world where belief in Objective Morality no longer holds sway as a binding foundation for Oughts.

That is essentially the "empathy argument." But it is an example of the same fallacy. While (most) people may be naturally empathetic and allow their "consciences to be their guides," that fact is not aphilosophicalargument for any moral "oughts."
Hume was a smart bloke with a gift for getting to the heart of the matter, and bringing clarity to difficult issues - my type of philosophy.



So lets look at why you can't get an Ought from an Is in a world where there is no objective, independently existing morality for us to discover and be guided by.

I think we end up with the apparently irreconcilable differences between the Objective Public World of Quantifiable Stuff, and the Subjective Private World of Qualiative Experience. We simply don't have a settled theoretical framework which encompasses both, in which we can build satisfactory (to us) relational bridges between the two. Maybe such a theoretical framework is beyond our cognitive abilities, but at any rate, for now we don't have one. So for us the Ises lie in the observed objective world, and the Oughts lie in the experienced subjective world. And there is no obvious bridge of logic, no mutually lawful roadmap, to get us from observing what is, and deriving what should be.



Hence, imo, we just have to accept as brute fact, that some things matter to experiencing critters, and that is its own axiomatic justification for Oughts.

The Ises, the state of affairs in the world, affect people's quality of life, including the actions of conscious agents who make choices which contribute to the state of affairs. And so that's where the Oughts come in, we Ought to act in ways which are overall beneficial to the well being of conscious creatures. (You could call such agents Mattering Agents, if it didn't sound so naff lol). In a nutshell, try to be happy, and try to be kind (the 'platinum rule' allows for recognition that what matters to me might not matter to you, trying to be kind encompasses this consideration).



How to go about that, what methodology will optimise the well-being of conscious creatures at a societal level, well I think this is where we get stumped by the subjective nature of experiential states. That's why no philosophical approach has shown itself to be foolproof and emerged as the obvious answer. This is why Harris talks about a Moral Landscape, and Goldstein talks about the Moral Map. We might have to consider more appropriate ways of dealing with the conundrum of subjectivity. Rawls' idea of the veil of ignorance appeals to me as a way of encouraging us to put ourselves in the moccasins of other Subjects, and noticing effects which might not be obvious from our usual pov, and thereby helping us come to a rough consensus on structural and policy society-wide issues. But how that would work in practice I don't know, and overall I don't think we can expect perfect outcomes. Just ones based in a foundational approach we can roughly cohere around.

A crucial issue which tends to arise, is balancing the 'common good' against individual freedom, which is where you and I have disagreed in the past. You treat individual freedom as one side of the equation, vs the good of others, where-as in my model it's one element of well-being, which will inevitably be in the mix along with other elements, in creating a society which inevitably involves compromises. I believe my model is more congruent with the foundational principle of the well-being of conscious creatures, which I think we share.



Currently we use politics as a roughly consensual process for drawing lines at where those compromises should be, but underlying that is our Judeo-Christian (or other) traditions rooted in centuries of cultural norms, and even further back our tribal past and evolved neurobiology. But there could be a problem on the horizon, as people more widely learn that those traditions weren't based in some objective moral truth. And the 'all is permissable' issue arises. We already see it in elements of post-modernism, a fragmentation and loss of trust in our institutions, politicians, the very basis of knowing - 'my truth is the truth'. And some people are seeking their security in the politics of tribalism and demagoguery, or the certainties of fundamentalist religions. So I believe this need for a foundational basis for Oughts is something we should be thinking about right now not just in an abstract theoretical way which has to have its philosophical Is dotted and Ts crossed, but for pragmatic reasons too.

-- Updated September 5th, 2017, 1:26 am to add the following --

I'm struggling a bit to keep up with this 3 way convo, please excuse any bits I miss, overall it's fascinating.

Quick aside - Ranvier
I assert that there were most likely other "humanoid" species coexisting with Homo sapiens, not just the Neanderthals. We know this through genetic studies that provide evidence that human genome contains on average about 2.5% of Neanderthal's DNA. This is evident in the human omnivorous nature that I propose resulted from "fusion" of a carnivore and herbivore humanoids, which can be observed in human behavior of herbivorous/hoarding and carnivorous/type A personality. This is further confirmed by human "forward" set eyes for hunting pray (carnivore) but lateral hearing (ears on the sides) for almost 360 degree awareness of the environment (herbivore). There are myriad of such phenotype expressions as empirical evidence for such "fusion" of the carnivore and herbivore traits. However, I postulate that only the Homo sapiens had the greatest percentage of the carnivorous genes (psychopath) that dominated all other humanoid species, rendering them extinct. However, the herbivorous gene heritage persisted within the gene pool of Homo sapiens, which in consequence became positively selected for through the evolutionary process in reality of strength in "community" vs "lone wolf" hunter. This resulted over the 100, 000 years of human evolutionary history in much grater percentage of herbivore genes vs carnivore genes, hence the prevalence of Empathy.
We're now beginning to put together a basic evidenced account of the evolved origins of care for others, which can be seen as the evolved under-pinning of what we eventually came to call Morality. If you're interested, here's a brief intro by Churchland, a 'neurophilosopher', who imo does a great job in bringing together the research to construct a plausible and accessible understanding of this (her book Brain Trust goes into more detail, and she has longer lectures on youtube if you're interested)

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by GE Morton » September 4th, 2017, 10:03 pm

Ranvier wrote:GE Morton

Therefore, under such theory:
- The sexual acts of a pedophile on a child, rape of mentally ill or with impaired cognition, or those performed on the psychopaths would be morally sound?
No. Children, animals, AND psychopaths are moral subjects (psychopaths are moral imbeciles, but are also moral subjects, because they satisfy condition a)). I said that the theory did not apply or applied differently to moral subjects. Moral subjects have moral status; they are not moral nulls like rocks or raindrops. The chief difference is that while moral agents have some duties and must observe some constraints with respect to moral subjects, the latter have no duties to agents.

http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/1 ... -chapter-3

Note that the title of the cited work includes "moral patients." "Moral patients" and "moral subjects" are different terms for the same thing. If you pursue this subject you'll find that some philosophers include such non-animate objects as artworks and "the environment" as moral subjects, based on the belief that moral status derives from the "inherent value" of things. Since there is no such thing as "inherent value," I reject that inclusion.
Lastly, a Universal theory must apply to everyone and for everyone to be a sound moral theory. Therefore, the Universal Moral Theory is not possible.
The theory applies, in some fashion, to all creatures who satisfy condition a).

-- Updated September 4th, 2017, 10:12 pm to add the following --
Ranvier wrote:GE Morton

Therefore, under such theory:
- The sexual acts of a pedophile on a child, rape of mentally ill or with impaired cognition, or those performed on the psychopaths would be morally sound?

Lastly, a Universal theory must apply to everyone and for everyone to be a sound moral theory. Therefore, the Universal Moral Theory is not possible.
PS: Some philosophers also draw a distinction between moral subjects and moral patients. The difference is subtle, rather fussy, and not important for this discussion.

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Ranvier » September 5th, 2017, 1:12 am

Gertie

Thank you for the link. It's a great TED lecture that's well presented in concise 21 minutes. Although, perhaps not a new ground breaking revelation, where any med student even 20 or 30 years ago could be capable of delivering such a lecture. Of course with modern technology we have much better means of investigation of Neurosciences and Endocrinology to support such conclusions. However, I think the greatest achievement of human cognition observed through that lecture, stems from the palpable evidence of the tremendous impact of our information age.

I was the first kid in my school enjoying the newly emerged Pentium processor PC of that day but it's not the evolution of the computer science, as much as the accessibility to the information that is profound achievement of (wo/m)ankind. Even people with an average intelligence can learn any subject in a matter of days or hours for more gifted and driven individuals. We can observe the explosion of ideas and sophistication in our scientific pursuits but most of all the integration of multiple disciplines of science and thought into a rainbow of amazing concepts. It's that integration that allows for much more... complete perception of our reality.

With this in mind, one can also observe a reductionist trend of merging everything into materialistic terms, in conviction that everything is reducible to simple physical mechanisms. The concepts of free will, consciousness, or morality become just states of the human brain controlled by neurotransmitters and hormones, both just coded by our genome and phenotypically expressed. The philosophy of religion, art, or even human emotions become the expression of selected for traits arising from the practical evolutionary necessity. This is fine to some extent but the true ingenuity is born out of the courage to resist the temptation to simply succumb to current of the trend pursuing to expand upon the already existing ideas.

My contention, which is clearly visible in our three way debate, contrasts my opponents reduction of multiple concepts into a single term of "Morality". This is similar to love, where we use such term to describe emotions involved with: intimate partner, friend, family member, dog, country, or even an object such as a car. In the TED talk the presenter uses the term "Morality" several times, explained as mostly the mammalian evolutionary ability to derive behavioral patterns through learning mechanisms in context of endocrine and neurological control, all of which is genetically coded. I propose that everything that was discussed in that TED lecture is valid and conclusive but it's far from the justification of the use of the word "Morality". This is something that was profound in it's implications to my mind, even in early stages of my education, that the genetic makeup can have such immense impact on the human behavior. As an undergraduate student, I was involved in a research on "bird song". Deceivingly simple and uninteresting but the findings were spectacular. It turns out that the individual bird song is genetically coded for each species, not only the desire for the bird to sing but the actual "phonetic quality" of the song, even for birds that were never exposed to another bird in its life (excluding the environmental factors). How in the world can such complex behavior be genetically coded? The implications were staggering, including the possibility to code for Chopin's "Revolutionary Etude" into a human DNA, spontaneously expressed in a child that had never seen a piano before.

However, it turned out that the conclusions were not fully appreciated in the context of the bird's physiology that was conducive to expression of only specific set of "burst" in frequencies. In other words, it's not the genetic makeup that codes the behavior but the physiologic expression as the phenotype that drives the "ease" of certain behavior. To put it crudely, if one finds to be in a possession of genitals, one will find a creative way of physiologic use to accomplish procreation. In a different thread spanning with several posts about "morality", someone had asked me if my conclusions lead me to postulate that the "moral compass" is a innate quality. In my reply I had stated that "I can't reject such possibility, since this world did not make sense to me even as a child".

My own mind was skeptical about the "accuracy" of any religion, even in the earliest memories of my childhood, with emerging logic of a young mind unable to "marry" family driven faith in the awareness of several major religions. How could it be possible for so many other people to be so "delusional" in the light of the "truth"...
The skepticism persisted to the Agnosticism of the adult life but also the question about the "delusion". It's easy to become swept by the current of the modern realism in rejection of thousands of years of "superstitious" philosophy. However, there is an "ease" of my scientific mind in parallel perception in the reality of my own mind's imagination. With such "ease", I must conclude that there is much more to the Natural Laws of Nature that I had proposed, with awareness of such mind, only now able to access the consciousness beyond my own.

Gertie
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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Gertie » September 5th, 2017, 9:20 am

GEM
Gertie wrote:My starting position is asking if it's possible for us to find a consensual foundation for Oughts, in a world in which a consensus on the independent existence of Objective Morality (discoverable through eg divine revelation or reason) no longer holds sway? Or are we left with the conclusion that there is no basis for Oughts in the absence of Objective Morality, that all is permissible?

I'm curious about your interest in finding a "consensus." A couple of issues: 1) What do you mean by a “consensus”? Per the dictionary, a consensus is aunanimousagreement.

"1 a : general agreement : unanimity"
https://www.merriam-webster.com/diction ... /consensus

“agreement among all the people involved”
http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dict ... /consensus

That word is, however, often used (incorrectly) to denote a mere majority opinion.

If you're using the word correctly, to mean unanimity, then surely you realize there will never be a consensus on any particular moral issue, much less on the foundation for a moral theory. So you've set yourself an impossible task. But if you're using the term in the loose sense to mean merely a majority or some other popular agreement, then 2) you're beginning your quest with thead populumfallacy.
Yes I'm using it in a looser way, a guiding principle which a society can effectively cohere around, which is a bit ungainly to my ears, if there's a better word you can suggest I'll use it, or I can stick with 'effectively cohere around' talk for precision if you like.


The popularity of an opinion has no bearing on its truth. If we're trying to dophilosophyhere, and not merely contriving sophistic rationales for pre-conceived conclusions, then we need to begin from premises that we're sure are true, regardless of how popular they are (or how useful they are for validating our preconceived conclusions).
Fair point. There are two connected issues for me, the pragmatic one of what do we as a society do in the absence of a basis for Oughts to loosely but effectively cohere around. And can we come up with a philosophically valid new basis for Oughts in a world without Objective Morality.

For the latter I've offered what Harris pithily describes as 'The welfare of conscious creatures', and offered my supporting arguments based on mattering.


Finally, 3) What is the basis for your assumption that there is a “consensus” (in either sense) that "the independent existence of Objective Morality (discoverable through eg divine revelation or reason no longer holds sway"? I see no evidence of a consensus on either of your options --- many (mostly non-philosophers) still believe that God is the source of "objective morality," and many philosophers believe thereisan objective, rational basis for moral theory.

I see a trend away from belief in Objective Morality in the larger population, which will increase as knowledge of the way in which our evolved predispositions and emergent cultures eventually resulted in us creating particular concepts of Objective Morality, which has been key in how cultures developed, institutions were created, laws, social mores, cultural narratives and so on, which still under-pin societies today. This is information people, including philosophers, didn't previously have, and for many God filled that gap. Some philosophers took different approaches, but no dominant settled moral theory has emerged. So if I'd lived a hundred years ago it's highly likely I'd have believed in a certain type of theism which encompassed moral values, but today I have a po-mo smorgasboard of ideas to pick and choose from to create my own tailor made morality. Fine for me, and generally works OK for how I interact with people on a one-to-one level, but a problem for society overall.


And I believe the well-being of conscious creatures is a philosophically sound foundation for society overall, and one which resonates with people on an emotional and intellectual level, which makes it potentially workable.

I believe your claim there is equivalent to the Axiom I offered in a previous post: "All agents in the moral field should adhere to rules per which goods can be maximized, and evils minimized, for all agents." Is it not?
Yup I think so.

Here's where I think we part company. It seems to me you tag on your foundational guiding principle at the end, as if it's derived from your definitions, roles and rules - your methodology, where-as I see it as the starting point for coming up with Oughts, which then require methodology for implementation. So I think your construction here has a problem -
A Theory of Public Morality

Definitions:

AMoral Agentis a sentient creature who
a) has interests and some capacity for pursuing them, and
b) is capable of recognizing other qualifying creatures as moral agents who likewise have interests, which may differ from his own, and
c) is capable of understanding and formulating moral principles and rules and acknowledges the need for them in a moral field. (Note 1)

AMoral Fieldis a setting wherein there exists more than one moral agent, and wherein it is possible for each moral agent to interact with at least one other moral agent (i.e., a social setting).

AnInterestis a good or an evil.

AGoodis a thing, condition, or state of affairs which an agent seeks to acquire or retain.
a) AMeans Goodis a good sought because the agent believes the good is necessary or useful for obtaining an end good.
b) AnEnd Goodis a good sought by the agent “for itself,” i.e., because he believes itin sewill afford him some benefit or satisfaction.

AnEvilis a thing, condition, or state of affairs which an agent seeks to avoid or be rid of.

TheValueof a good is given by what the agent will give up to acquire or retain it (positive value), or to avoid or be rid of it (negative value).

AnInteractionis an encounter among two or more moral agents whereby an interest of at least one of the agents is affected, either positively (pursuit of the interest is furthered) or negatively (pursuit of the interest is hindered).

AMoral Dutyis an obligation upon a moral agent to perform a specific act given specific circumstances, derived from and commanded by a sound moral theory.

AMoral Constraintis an obligation upon a moral agent to refrain from a specific act, given specific circumstances, derived from and commanded by a sound moral theory.

Postulates:

1. Postulate of Liberty: There are noa priori[/i moral duties or constraints. The only duties and constraints binding upon moral agents are those derived from a sound moral theory.
Corollary: Postulate of Free Agency: The agents in the moral field are not parties to nor bound a prioriby any universal agreement or compact.
Corollary: Postulate of Autonomy: The agents in the moral field are not related as elements of an organic unity, and are not subject to any external imperatives or constraints other than those imposed by the laws of nature.

2. Postulate of Relativity: All goods and evils, and the values thereof, are relative to moral agents, and are not defined except with reference to moral agent (a valuer). I.e., “X is good (or evil)” is ill-formed and non-cognitive. “P deems X to be good” is well-formed and cognitive. Likewise, “The value of X is V” is ill-formed and non-cognitive. “The value of X to P is V” is well-formed and cognitive.

3. Postulate of Individuality: Goods and evils and the values thereof differ among agents in the moral field.

4. Postulate of Indifference: Agents do not necessarily take an interest in the interests of other agents.

5. Postulate of Equal Agency: All agents in the moral field are of equal moral status, i.e., all duties and constraints generated by the theory are equally binding on all.
Corollary: Postulate of Neutrality: The theory is neutral as between goods and evils, and the values thereof, as defined by agents. (Note 2)

AXIOM (The “Fundamental Principle”): All agents in the moral field should adhere to rules per which goods can be maximized, and evils minimized, for all agents.


1. Two additional definitions, not required for the present theory, can be derived from these criteria:

A Moral Subject is a sentient creature for whom a), but not b) nor c) is true.
A Moral Imbecile is a sentient creature for whom a) and b), but not c), are true.

2. The rules generated by the theory govern only the acts of agents, and is indifferent to the ends of actions. However, if a certain end should entail a violation of the rules, i.e., it cannot be pursued without violating a rule of the theory, it is effectively ruled out as a permissible end (a malum in se).



Is this genuinely the formulation you'd come up with starting from the axiomatic guiding principle of 'the welfare of conscious creatures'? It seems like you might be deriving your foundational axiom from your constructed categories, rather than the other way round?

If I'm right, how do you justify this? If you think I'm wrong, could you reformulate it, begininng with the foundational principle and showing how your rules and categories meet the the goal of optimising 'the well-being of conscious creatures'?



Take this -



1. Postulate of Liberty: There are noa priori[/i moral duties or constraints. The only duties and constraints binding upon moral agents are those derived from a sound moral theory.
Corollary: Postulate of Free Agency: The agents in the moral field are not parties to nor bound a prioriby any universal agreement or compact.
Corollary: Postulate of Autonomy: The agents in the moral field are not related as elements of an organic unity, and are not subject to any external imperatives or constraints other than those imposed by the laws of nature.



and



2. The rules generated by the theory govern only the acts of agents, and is indifferent to the ends of actions. However, if a certain end should entail a violation of the rules, i.e., it cannot be pursued without violating a rule of the theory, it is effectively ruled out as a permissible end (a malum in se).


It's not looking for ways to work towards an end goal, the well being of conscious creatures, rather you're using a formulation which picks out and prioritises the freedom of the individual, imo. And I would say that's only one part of optimising the wellbeing of conscious creatures.



That's why people like Ranvier and I see it as effectively the morality of psychopathy, it's structured around, rooted in, your construction of a moral agent who should be free to pursue her own desires, and only curtailed if these cause your system to fail.



So while my approach might be accused of being rooted in what Haidt would call our evolved 'moral intuition' of Harm/Care, yours is imo rooted in our 'moral intuition' of Liberty. Despite the well presented structure built around it.





You rightly point out that there's a leap from knowing my quality of life matters to me, to being obligated to treat others well, even if you acknowledge their quality of life matters to them.

Now I can say that their quality of life is just as valuable from an objective pov, therefore reason and logic suggest that you should treat them well, as a guiding principle.



There are no values "from an objective point of view." What is objective, however, is the fact that other people are moral agentswho do value things.That their quality of life matters to them is also an objective fact.

A valuer must be stated or assumed for value statements to be objective or even cognitive. I.e., “X has value V” is not objective; "P values X, or “P assigns value V to X” is objective.



Right, that needs clarification. In the sense of an objective 'God's eye pov', there is no reason to value my quality of life above yours, the objective logic suggests this quality of mattering belongs to you as much as me.



It's one of those cases where the Subjective pov butts up against the Objective pov, and in Objective pov terms our mattering is logically presumed equal.



So if we add a postulate of Equal Agency to our theory (all agents subject to the theory have the same moral status and are equally bound by the rules), then we'll be obliged to devise rules which give equal weight to the goals and interests of all agents.




But if our theory is built from the foundation up, based on the axiom of optimising the wellbeing of conscious creatures, then we have to look at the context. In the context of a complex interacting society, then it will of course be that people don't start from the place, aren't equal in that sense, and to work towards optimising the welfare of all some might have to help out others more, by taxation and redistribution for example. How does your formulation provide for this?



The upshot here is that we need notvalueothers or their interests in order to become obliged to "treat them well." To value something is a subjective, emotional reaction to a thing that cannot be commanded. But that they are moral agents, with all that implies, is an objective fact we cannot deny or ignore.




My justification for designating someone as a Moral/Mattering Agent would be that they are capable of acting in ways which support or undermine my foundational axiom. And my foundational axiom relies on Mattering, which lies in the Subjective realm of qualiative experiential states.



So it goes from the bottom up -

Qualiative Experiential States bring Mattering into the world. AKA the welfare of conscious creatures matters.



From this we can derive Oughts, which help optimise the welfare of conscious creatures.



Those capable of understanding and acting on those Oughts are Moral Mattering Agents.



The methodology/system of achieving the outcome of optimising the welfare of conscious creatures is inherently problematic, in that different experiencing Subjects will have different priorities regarding their wellbeing, tho there will be many areas in common around which rule-making will be straightforward (don't murder or steal, agree which side of the road to drive on etc).



At present the grey areas of prioritising are settled via politics, for better or worse. However, the principles underlying our norms and institutions are weakening as our knowledge of their non-objective roots increases, which points to the need for a more solid foundation for societies to cohere around (I propose the wellbeing of conscious creatures), and methodologies appropriate to that foundation - a suitable field for current philosophy of morality to explore. I think Rawls could be onto something, but it's an open question imo, which by its nature probably doesn't have a perfect one-size-fits-all methodological solution. And if that's the reality, we can only do our best.

GE Morton
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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by GE Morton » September 6th, 2017, 9:47 am

Yikes. The exchanges are getting longer and longer. This one responds to your last two posts.
Gertie wrote:So lets look at why you can't get an Ought from an Is in a world where there is no objective, independently existing morality for us to discover and be guided by.

I think we end up with the apparently irreconcilable differences between the Objective Public World of Quantifiable Stuff, and the Subjective Private World of Qualiative Experience. We simply don't have a settled theoretical framework which encompasses both, in which we can build satisfactory (to us) relational bridges between the two. Maybe such a theoretical framework is beyond our cognitive abilities, but at any rate, for now we don't have one. So for us the Ises lie in the observed objective world, and the Oughts lie in the experienced subjective world. And there is no obvious bridge of logic, no mutually lawful roadmap, to get us from observing what is, and deriving what should be.
As Ranvier mentioned, we all seem to be attaching somewhat different meanings, and hence different understandings, to the same words. I'll try to make clear what I mean by some of them as we go along.

It is interesting that you combine "objectively" and "independently existing" in the same statement, as though they imply one another or have some other logical or natural connection. That association, I suspect, derives from the association of morality with religion, per which morality is objective (if one has faith) and, being the word of God, is independent of us.

I take the words "objective" and "subjective" to be properties of propositions, just as are "truth" and "falsity." They don't apply to other things-in-the-world. Those things may be real or imaginary, tangible or hypothetical, etc., but they are not objective or subjective. Only the statements we make about them can be objective or subjective. A proposition is objective if it has public truth conditions; subjective if its truth conditions are private. "Paris is the capital of France" is an objective proposition; its truth conditions are known and are public --- anyone can make the observations necessary to determine whether it is true or false. "That painting is beautiful," or, "This soup is too salty," are subjective propositions. The truth conditions for them are internal to the agent, and are inaccessible to anyone else.

No moral theory or moral rules will be independent of us. We are the authors of them all. But they may still be objective, if the propositions they assert have public truth conditions, or are logically derivable from propositions with public truth conditions.

(The truth conditions for a proposition, for anyone not faniliar with that term, are the set of facts which must exist for the proposition to be deemed "true").

But I wonder why you consider "oughts" to belong to the "Subjective Private World of Qualitative Experience." Indeed, they are quite the opposite: moral codes and theories were devised, and are intended to be, general, public rules of conduct. They are not codifications of "moral" feelings or intuitions and are not co-extensive with them. They were devised precisely because those intuitions and feelings (which are indeed subjective) are idiosyncratic; they differ in strength, scope, and content from individual to individual, and are therefore useless as regulators of conduct in civilized social settings. A civilized society in which everyone followed their "moral" feelings or intuitions would a short-lived anarchy.

I watched the Churchland video you linked (I'd read several pieces previously by the Churchlands on consciousness, another topic that interests me). She makes the same mistake --- she argues that "morality" has its roots in the neural wiring of many mammals and birds, and is an extension or expansion of the parental instincts developed by those species that requires them to look after their immature offspring. But it is misleading --- indeed, erroneous --- to call those instincts and innate dispositions "morality," or the source or foundation of morality. Morality --- moral codes and rules, moral theories --- is what replaces those intuitions in civilized societies.

Those instincts and dispositions work well in tribal societies, wherein all members have personal relationships with all other members. They do not work, and cannot work, in "societies of strangers." For most people they extend only to the members of one's own kinship-based tribe: members of tribal societies, far from feeling empathy with or benevolence toward non-members, typically regard them as threats or enemies. As Jared Diamond noted, "With the rise of chiefdoms 7500 years ago people had to learn, for the first time iu history, how to encounter strangers regularly without attempting to kill them." That is, BTW, exactly what you would expect given the parental instincts Churchland cites. That instinct compels mammals and birds to protect their own against threats, including threats from members of their own species. It would be surprising if evolution relaxed that wariness of strangers and expanded that instinct to embrace them.

Churchland's own examples reveal the flaws in her thesis: she asks, "Why should we care about, say, the extinction of elephants? And yet, many of us do." Yes, many of us do --- but many of us don't. Another example she offers: " . . . when somebody helps somebody else lift their suitcase into the overhead bin on an airplane." Yes, many people will do that, but many won't. She mentions persons who travel to Third-World clinics to care for Ebola virus patients. Yes, a few people will do that, but most won't. Thinking a moment about her own examples shows that those instincts she admires do not operate consistently, uniformly, and certainly not universally, in civilized societies. That is why systematic moral codes were developed and publicly promulgated.

Churchland defines "morality" thus: "By 'moral' . . . I mean that an individual will incur a cost to themselves in order to benefit another."

Well, that is not a definition of "moral;" it is a definition of altruism. Many people, of course, likely due to the influence of Christianity, consider "moral" to be synonymous with altruism. But equating the categorical term "moral" with a dogma from a particular moral view or system is begging the question. As philosophers, if we wish to ponder moral problems and construct moral theories in an open-minded, impartial way, we can't pack a specific moral thesis into the very definition of "moral." That definition must have no normative content.

My definition of "morality" is: "A codified set of rules regulating interactions between moral agents in a social setting." If altruism is to be regarded as a moral imperative it must be argued for, beginning from the postulates of a coherent moral theory. That some people sometimes act altruistically, instinctively or intuitively, is not an argument for a moral rule commanding it.
Hence, imo, we just have to accept as brute fact, that some things matter to experiencing critters, and that is its own axiomatic justification for Oughts.
It is only a justification for people to whom those particular things matter. And it is not an axiomatic justification; it is only an idiosyncratic, subjective one. It is, however, a perfectly good reason to try to identify some universal "oughts," codify and justify them.

(I'll break here and post this much while working on the rest --- coming soon. :-)

Gertie
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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Gertie » September 6th, 2017, 2:31 pm

Ranvier
I think we established that all three of us are using the term "morality" starting with different premises. I'm personally much more comfortable with Gertie's concept of "mattering" as it comes from a "good" place.


Right. I'm using Mattering rather than Morality partly because I think we need a fresh look at how to get Oughts. But many previous approaches have inevitably failed on their own terms because they rely on Oughts being treated as independently existing 'out there' to be discovered through revelation or reason. But now we have a basic naturalistic explanation for how our concepts of moraility arose, and they are based in our Subjective/Experiencing nature, not gods or reason.

So I'm saying forget those past types of approaches, there is a valid basis for Oughts which acknowledges the reality of the source of our 'moral intuitions', and this new basis is founded in the qualiative nature of our experience.
However, if I follow that logic it leads me to three unfavorable conclusions:
1. I must do everything possible to not only improve my "quality of life" but also all the other "moral agents", otherwise I'm a hypocrite in my premise for morality.
2. In deriving the universal system of "Ought's", I'm creating a totalitarian system where everyone must adhere to it or become accused of immoral behavior.
3. It's the overall direction of the premise towards pure benevolence in strive for equality, which is nice but it violates my own premise of "Diversity".
Re 1 and 2, I think there's a real dilemma here - if you take a foundational approach to Oughts it can potentially lead to a dogmatic totalitarianism, but if you don't what do you use as a guiding principle?

Institutions like democracy can guard against state totalitarianism, and as for individuals, well I don't think there has to be an expectation of perfection. Very few people worry about leading perfect lives. Someone like Singer I admire for trying to walk his talk as an individual, but he does far more good with projects like Giving Well, aimed at less 'rigorously moral' people just trying to do a bit better. Which I'm sure is most of us.

You suggest a safe-guard with the premise of Diversity. Which my approach sorta includes, in that it acknowledges our different ideas about what makes for a good quality of life, but you see it as a safe-guard against over-zealous striving for perfect benevolence and equality. Do you think I could somehow incorporate that or another safe-guard into my formulation, without losing my guiding foundation?

As you note, with your formulation, the place where you feel stuck is the 'good versus evil' problem, and I think it is a sticking point because you haven't included a guiding foundation. Would you agree that you have the observed Ises, but you're struggling to get to the Oughts because you're lacking a guiding principle to base them on, beyond the trends you note?

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Ranvier » September 6th, 2017, 5:18 pm

GEM and Gertie

GEM, very interesting comments
Gertie, very good questions that are of value to explore.

Before I offer my further thoughts on the subject of "Morality", it would be pertinent to define the meaning of the term from my subjective perspective. I perceive morality to be a "description" of the general "moral standard" within the society. Such moral standard stems from several cultural sources, which I mentioned before: religion, politics, economy, history...etc. The given "culture", in context of all these factors, contains certain "values" that are important to most members of the society: marriage, family, life in general, freedom, or even equality (gender, race, physical attributes such as disability). It's important to make a distinction in "values" from "value", which are two entirely different concepts.

Value - is a strictly economic concept (well described by GEM) of allocating measurable "currency" of time, money, or effort to obtain and maintain possession of certain "services" or "objects". For instance "slavery" can be viewed as both, as object or as involuntary service.

Values - stem from the individual psychological perspective on reality in a context of the culture. For instance, a homosexual or extremely introverted individual will have a different perspective on marriage or the concept of family. A romantic "love" may mean something different is the US than in Asia or Morocco reflected in literature and gender roles. These "values" for instance will affect US with 51% divorce rate differently than in places with polygamy or gender "inequality". Prostitution may be a "moral" issue in some countries, while spending a night with someone's wife may be a "polite" thing to do when visiting certain places.

With this in mind, "Morality" becomes a different conversation in a society with less than 1% of racial minority or 94% of certain religion, where "Ought's" are much more straight forward to ascertain. At some point "Morality" became wildly "abused" in myriad of interpretations, where for many thinkers such term is used in terms of "the law" that could or should apply to everyone uniformly. I personally reserve the right to view "Morality" as simply taking the "pulse" of a given culture, rather than a set of rules imposed on the people. Of course, the more uniform the culture is, the more social pressure there will be for any individual to conform to the "social norm". Therefore, discussing any "universal morality" must imply conscious "equalization" of the culture. However, as GEM points out in one of his posts, in the "society of strangers", it's virtually impossible nor it would be wise.

As a child faced with the "absurdity" of human behavior on the TV news of that time, led me even then to a conclusion that this world doesn't make sense. Our reality is illogical and even irrational in human presumably "conscious" behavior. Human myopic "logic" is that of children only in subjective perception of the immediate reality, without taking account for the much wider implications. I wrote in another post that this can be easily observed in a heavy pedestrian traffic, where most people are predominantly on an autopilot, unable to predict events beyond the immediate 3-5 seconds of their immediate personal space.
As GEM described, in a "society of strangers", even with many individuals with high intellect, the most we can wish for is the "Morality of the populace of mob".
I stated that I'm stuck on the "good vs evil" principle because "Morality" is an illusion of the "civilization". One can turn off electricity for few weeks and watch people "revert" to their basic survival instincts. "Ought's" become meaningless in reduction to my first principle of being "better" than others. It's as simple as that.

In a deficiency of modesty, I'll postulate that my four principles of the "Natural Laws" are the "best" and only way to view the "Ought's" to derive the meaningful perspective of the fifth principle of "right and wrong" direction to proceed. Once we have that direction, the "Morality" will emerge spontaneously as it should. The question becomes: "which direction we wish to take?" that will guide our "values".

P.S. to Gertie
I would incorporate "Balance" in to the concept of "mattering of consciousness" by "clipping" or shifting the polar opposites into the right of the bell curve. One can argue that this would violate the "Diversity" principle but the greatest diversity of distribution is in the middle of the bell curve. The trick is in the method of the "shift" to the right, only to intervene in conviction of the "value" to maintain the diversity in protection of those who are all the way on the left of the bell curve without violating the diversity of the middle and the far right. What this means is that we need more variables in "Complexity" of the bell curve distribution. The social standing in modern society is predominantly established by the income, which drives tremendous pressure on the middle, pushing large number of individuals to the left of the bell curve: poverty, homelessness, disenfranchisement of those who are of no "value" to the economy. This is a systemic problem, and not that most of these "kids" were genetically predisposed to become "bums".

bum
[bəm]
NOUN

a vagrant.
a person who devotes a great deal of time to a specified activity:
"a ski bum" · [more]
synonyms: enthusiast · fan · aficionado · lover · freak · nut · buff · fanatic · addict

VERB

travel, with no particular purpose or destination:
"he bummed around Florida for a few months"
synonyms: loaf · lounge · idle · wander · drift · meander · dawdle · mooch · lollygag
get by asking or begging:
"they tried to bum money off us"
synonyms: beg · borrow · scrounge · cadge · sponge · mooch

ADJECTIVE

of poor quality; bad or wrong:
"not one bum note was played"
synonyms: crummy · rotten · pathetic · lousy · pitiful · bad · poor · second-rate · [more]

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